BALTIMORE RAVENS TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS
Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
What did you see from the punt team in the game when Atlanta had the long punt return? (Aaron Wilson) "It was really a classic situation where there were a number of things that all went wrong at the same time, and it started with the punt. It was a bad punt. [Sam Koch] punted it right down the hash, it didn't have enough hang time for our gunners to come home, and the leverage on our punt coverage unit – our net – was not good. And the ball went right through us, and then we lost leverage on it. [It was] a bad play turned into a disaster, because we lost leverage on the ball. So, it's really a great teaching opportunity. You hate to see those happen, and we don't want them to happen at all. But I'll tell you this: It got attention in practice. We got a lot of opportunities to practice that this week, and I think we fixed some things that some guys perhaps didn't have a clear understanding on, and hopefully we'll be better going forward."
Did you like what you saw from Bobby Rainey as a returner? (Matt Vensel) "Other than the first muffed punt, I did. So, it was a mixed bag in that regard. But the thing I liked about Bobby later in the game is that when he caught the ball, he went north. He made a couple guys miss and got vertical, and two of those returns were 15 yards, or thereabouts, and he didn't look flashy, but that's 15 good yards. And as you probably saw, it's usually that way in all preseason games; it was a very vanilla plan. It was them rushing, us blocking, and it was kind of one-on-one all the way across the board. And they played it pretty much the same way we did, and on those plays there wasn't a lot of room, and he got through there and got some positive yards, so that was encouraging."
What has Sean Considine brought to the special teams unit? (Evan Washburn) "He's got experience in virtually every phase, and I appreciate his veteran leadership. I appreciate the fact that he can come in here and run a punt team that he's not familiar with, and from the first day, he understood the concepts. He just had to learn the terminology, and it was a benefit that he played for coach [John] Harbaugh previously, because the systems are very similar. And the other thing I would say he brings is a lot of toughness. He's a tough dude, likes to practice, likes football, and he's been a real good addition to our club."
With the kicking battle, is there a plan for who will go out first or get the bulk of the action in the second preseason game? (Mark Zinno) "We're trying to get both guys the same number of kicks. Billy [Cundiff] is going to go out first, and then we'll see how the game plays out. Because as you say, you really can't predict – and you'd like to get a number of field goal opportunities for both guys – but you really can't say how it's going to play out. So, we're just going to play the game as it goes on. We'll have them both ready and then we'll see how it goes."
Is it good to have competition like you have right now going on? (Bill West) "It's good to have competition at every position; it's no different at the kicker spot in my view. We've had really good competition. They've both had good camps, and they've both had their misses. But at the same time, they've come back, and Billy [Cundiff] had a good day today, hit the ball well. And I'm interested to see what happens this weekend – or actually this Friday. It'll be another good opportunity for them to show up, because we hope they have opportunities to kick field goals. That's really what we want to see."
What have you seen from Billy [Cundiff] mentally? Has he moved on from his last actual game to where he is now, competing against a younger kicker? (Aaron Wilson) "I couldn't answer what his mental state is, because I'm not inside his head. But just watching him practice, he's out there swinging at the ball firmly and he's got a smile on his face when he's going through the building. He's operating business as usual, so I think whatever residual effect someone might be looking for, I don't see it evidenced in his practice."
Have you sat down with him and talked to him face-to-face about the last game? (Ed Lee) "I've talked to him quite a few times, yeah. I see him a lot. (laughter) Oh sure, we talked about it after the game, but after that … When you're a player, when you're a coach, you don't have that rearview mirror. You're not looking backwards, you're looking forwards. And I know that's the way I look at it, and I trust the fact that he's looking at it the same way, because there are other opportunities out there for us all. So, we're not going to be looking backwards. We're looking forwards."
Has Justin Tucker made the competition closer than you would have expected from a rookie? (Mark Zinno) "I don't think it's closer than I would expect; I think he's a really talented kicker. I liked him in college. I thought that he demonstrated a lot of skills that we could work with, and the thing that I like is that he's adapted to the techniques that we've tried to introduce him to, and he's caught on quickly. So no, I don't think it's a surprise. I think it's a credit to him that he's been able to quickly adapt to some new techniques, but I think he's … I don't know how you hide at the University of Texas, but he wasn't a surprise to us."
Would there be any apprehension in going with a rookie kicker and putting him in that spotlight? (Ryan Mink) "He'll be in there this Friday night. He'll be right out there in front of everybody and kicking, and I don't have any apprehension. The best player plays. That's just the way it is. It's that way at kicker, it's that way at defensive line and at wide receiver. So, whoever is the best player, that's the guy who's going to play."
When you have a guy like Deonte Thompson competing to make it as a wide receiver, what can he bring to the table with his speed as a special teams player? (Luke Jones) "He's working at a variety of different positions. He's one of those guys that we like to cross-train, and we have this expression: 'The more you can do.' So, for example, on kickoff coverage, he's worked as an inside player, he's worked as an outside player. And on punt return team, we've had him work at the end where he's rushing punts. We've had him work at the vice, where he's holding up gunners. And so, he's got enough skill where he can play a variety of positions, so we're trying to expose him to all those different opportunities. And, depending on how the roster all works out, and depending on where the opening is, we can insert him there and see what he can do. So yes, his speed and his agility – and he's a football player – you watch him play offense and you can see that, because he has the ability to get open. He's got good hands, he's got good spatial awareness and a football sense, and it shows up in special teams as well."
Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron
You looked at film, a slow start the other day with the first team. How do you improve on that for Friday night? (Jerry Coleman) "Well, [it was the] first preseason game. I thought Atlanta did a couple of nice things. It really … If you scripted it, you almost script it just like that. Now you have to overcome something. Now you just kind of come to the sideline, get a couple of adjustments made. I thought Joe [Flacco] had a couple of great thoughts of what he was seeing. We made a couple of adjustments. [We] called two or three things that we thought would work in the one series, I think, 10- or 11-play series for a touchdown. That's kind of the one we are focusing on. But, I thought our adjustments were good, and then I think the rest of the guys came in and picked right up where that group left off. And, that's what we are trying to get done. We always want to come out and get a fast start, but there's nothing better than a great finish. If you have to choose, you are going to want to finish well. I thought our guys finished well. I thought the first group finished well on their last opportunity, and that's a big thought for us, finishing everything we are doing. [I] came out of there with that perspective."
Cam, how would you break down what you saw from the offensive line? (Matt Zenitz) "Everybody did something really well. But at the same time, somebody had at times a breakdown, and that's normal this time of year. That's happening to our offense right now. You will see eight guys doing exactly what you want, seven guys doing exactly what you want. Every now and then you will get all 11 guys, but I can't remember the last time where all 11 were getting it right on a consistent basis this early. But, now we are getting – this week – nine guys are getting it right, and we want to build that through this preseason so we are all on the same page. Getting that offensive line, whatever that combination ends up being, you'll see those guys improve once we decide what that starting unit is going to be. I saw a lot of good things. I saw things that we need to get done get done in that game, probably just not as consistently as we want them done."
Is there anyone in particular that stood out on the offensive line? (Matt Zenitz) "Like I said, I think they all did something really well. No one played poorly the entire game, and everybody had at least one mistake. Michael Oher, I think, rated out close to 100 percent in his 21 plays. Let me think, I think he is the one guy, and probably Marshal Yanda, those two rated out at 100 percent in their 21 plays. Everybody else probably had a miscue here or there. But, everybody did something exactly the way we wanted it done."
Having Bryant McKinnie back in the first line now for the last couple of days, how is that helping you out? (Bill West) "Well, we are just rotating everybody. We don't have a first unit right now, so we're rotating guys. I think you have seen that. He's rotated in with the first group. He's rotated in with the second group. We have played him some at tight end. He has played the left tight end; he's played the right tight end. We don't have him on a seven route yet, but we are thinking of getting him in the passing game. (laughter) He's doing good, and so is the entire offensive line. Guys are getting better. We are going on our second preseason game, and we're not where we want to be. But, we might be in some ways further along than we have been in the last four years."
Do you think Birk will get some time this week or will you be resting him and get Gino [Gradkowski] some time? (Jason Butt) "We haven't put down the time slots yet. We will do that either tonight or tomorrow. We'll look at how long Joe [Flacco] is going to be in the game and talk to John [Harbaugh]. John will let us know what he wants us to do with the starters, and then we will go from there."
What's the reason behind doing more hurry-up offense, and what kind of changes to the overall offense have to happen in order to make that work? (Ryan Mink) "You guys have seen … We've dabbled in [it] a little bit over the last three years. When Joe [Flacco] was a rookie, it was more of a slow no-huddle. So now, we are just working on different tempos. Really, what it carries into is your two-minute [drill]; it's a version of your two-minute offense. You see it; I don't think you can turn on a game anymore at any level, high school, college or the NFL, where someone isn't running no-huddle – some kind of tempo. I think it's good for us to see if it's a fit, and then if we use it, we use it. I think it's something your defense can work on. It's what football really is these days. We are just working and trying to get as good as we can and see where it takes us."
Does the offensive line have to be particularly in good shape? (Ryan Mink) "Actually, it's easier. It's easier for the offensive line. They don't have to keep going back and forth and over here and over there. They kind of know where they need to be, where they need to go. If you chart a lot of the running that the offensive line does, if you no-huddle, you can really trim it down for those guys. Most times you no-huddle at any level, the linemen are the first ones that want to do it. So, I guess that's the good news."
With increased reps, what has Billy Bajema shown you? (Mark Zinno) "He's just a good football player. He can block. To some degree, he's good at everything. I'm still getting a feel for him, but I know he can block, I know he's smart, I know he's tough, I know he can catch. Now we just have to see how he fits in the passing game and how he can complement the other guys. But what I see, I like."
Coach, can you talk about Joe's [Flacco] mental progression? A lot of the times in camp he's been using kind of dummy counts to identify the defense where the pressures coming from and his ability to adjust the offense accordingly. (Mike Fast) "If you graded him last year, he's phenomenal at it. It's from, Ryan [Mink] mentioned the tempo stuff, but that's really nothing new. But, Joe just gets a little bit better at everything, every day. I think you guys see that. I think we've seen that, and it's just another part of his game where he's really growing. That's a big plus, obviously."
Bernard Pierce is back at practice. How has he kind of brought the attention going for that second running back spot, just talk about him being back in it? (Mark Zinno)"It's just nice to have him back. We haven't seen a lot of him. He got injured a little bit in the spring, and then he's had that tight hamstring. So, we will find out. I think the last few days have been nice to see him get some work. If he can stay healthy the rest of this week, maybe [he will] get some work on Friday night. We know he's a talent. We know he can play. We know he's tough. We like what we see, [we need to] just get him back in the groove and maybe get to look at him Friday night."
Do you feel like the fast tempo suits Joe [Flacco] well? (Ryan Mink)"I don't know a quarterback it doesn't suit well. I think it needs to suit your offense. You mentioned the offensive line; it's got to fit your offensive line, it's got to fit your receivers. But obviously, your quarterback will drive anything you do offensively. So, quarterbacks love it. Offensive coordinators love it. So, we just kind of let it play out. You'll have to ask Joe, I guess."
Why do you love it so much? (Ryan Mink)"We'll talk a little bit afterwards, how does that sound, Ryan? Huddling, personnel-wise, the one rule the NFL has when we substitute they changed that gives the defense a little bit of an advantage is we have to wait for them to substitute. We just manage that a little bit. It's just good to get a tempo going and keep a quarterback in rhythm; that's the ideal scenario. It's easier said than done, because defenses aren't going to just roll over and let you roll them down the field. Execution, no matter what tempo you run, you have to execute, or you'll be standing over there watching."
Cam, you've coached against Dean [Pees] in practice, but also you've faced him in games. What is he like as a defensive coordinator in terms of being able to not show his hand and maybe you don't know what he's thinking? (Aaron Wilson) "Dean, I've known about Dean, and known Dean for a long time. When he was in New England, I went against him several times. He's the best I've gone against. And the reason I tell you that is because you can't decipher – or he's very difficult to decipher – what they're trying to do. He does a great job of teaching fundamentals to get his corners and safeties to disguise what they're doing. Again, I've been going against him … [He is] the toughest defensive coordinator that I ever had to go against, and I was thrilled when we were able to get him here and thrilled to go against him in practice, because like you guys heard me say before, our defense gets our offense ready for the season with the way they practice and the looks they give us. Dean has been tremendous for me, personally, going against our offense."
Cam, how would you describe Tyrod's [Taylor] progression through training camp and obviously, having a game under his belt to take a look at? (Evan Washburn) "Similar to Joe's [Flacco] progression, everybody can see the talent that Tyrod has, and it's easy to get impatient. But, he's going to go through the same process that Joe's gone through. He's a very good player, and he'll get better the more and more he plays and the more experience he gets. I don't see any limits on what he can be as a quarterback either. I really have a lot of confidence. I know Jim Caldwell and our staff do as well. He's a very good player, but he's a very good, young player. There's no shortcut. They just have to keep getting better, better and better, and I think he will continue to do that."
Do you sense a comfort level this season, obviously, the second year for [Taylor]? (Evan Washburn) "I don't know if you're ever comfortable with a second-year quarterback, because they are just learning so much as they go. There is so much they don't know. There is a lot they know, but there is a lot that they haven't experienced, and there's no substitute for getting out there and getting the game experience. Until quarterbacks get that game experience, it's hard to play at a high level consistently, because people get on to you, and they making you play to your weakness and then you have to get those corrected. Tyrod hasn't had that experience yet. People will realize, 'We can't let these guy move around.' They are going to lock him in the pocket, find out what he can do in the pocket. Then he his game will continue to evolve. I'm confident if teams decide to do that, he can light you up in the pocket; I believe that. He's accurate, he's quick with it, he's smart. He just doesn't have that game experience yet."
Have you guys started to figure out exactly how many wide receivers you want to keep on the roster? (Garrett Downing) "No, and a statement I heard Jerry [Rosburg] say: 'The best players here play,' and the best players will be kept on the roster. And you may be heavy at a position, but I know John [Harbaugh] believes that, and Ozzie [Newsome] believes that. We are going to keep our best players, and if you have a bunch of receivers that are your best players, that will dictate that. If you have receivers that aren't, than you probably will not have a lot. I'm confident that we have a really good group of receivers on this offense. How many? We are probably going to have more than maybe we can keep. So, we'll see."
Cam, Jacoby Jones hasn't practiced the last couple of days. Is there any update on him? He looked a little gimpy during Sunday's practice at Navy? (Luke Jones) "He's done a great job this camp. There are no concerns from my prospective or the offense's. He's good to go. (Reporter asks: "There are no physical concerns?") I think he's having a child, right? (Said to Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne). (Byrne: "I think he might be. We'll let him address that.")
In the midst of all the shifting on the offensive line, Kelechi Osemele has played both right tackle and left guard this week. Do you foresee him getting time at both positions during the preseason game? (Kris Jones) "We haven't decided yet. You know he played left guard a lot in the spring. The good thing about him, this guy can play guard, and he can play tackle, and that's why we drafted him. We want tackles that can play guard, and every now and then, you need a guard that can play center. But, I think you will see him some at tackle and some at guard. Whether we will do that in a game or not, like I said, we haven't really decided how much time we're going to play each guy yet, and then who is going to play what. That will take place probably the day before the game."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
In getting good pass-rush pressure, do you feel like you might have to be a little more creative in terms of how you scheme things without Terrell Suggs? (Aaron Wilson) "It depends on the team that we're playing, their protections, their receivers, the formations that they are in. There are just so many variables to that. Sometimes you can get there with a four-man rush if you are having one of those nights. Sometimes it's not bad to play coverage and get a good four-man rush. Other times you feel like, based on the way they protect … A lot of times it's based more on the other team's personnel sometimes [more] than it is really on your own. You can sit there and blitz sometimes, too, and if it's a quarterback that's really, really good at picking up the blitz all that kind of stuff, it may hurt you more than it helps you."
How about disguising that stuff? How difficult is it to get that stuff done? (Aaron Wilson) "Well that's the key thing. It's tough for everybody because quarterbacks are smart, coaches are smart. They can figure that stuff out pretty good. But, that's the key – not only for our defense, but I think for everybody's – is trying to disguise the blitz, make them think you're coming and you're not and vice versa. Every time you put in a blitz, you try to put in – or pressure I should say, not necessarily a blitz – something coverage-wise that looks exactly like that. And the same way, every time you kind of play coverage, you try to have a pressure off of that. It's just hard sometimes. Obviously, linebackers can't sit five yards off the line and pressure from there – they'll never get home. So yeah, disguise is always a big part of it."
Jimmy Smith and Courtney Upshaw have both been able to get back on the field and participate in the 11-on-11 drills. What have you seen from them this week, and if they play on Friday, what are you looking to see? (Garrett Downing) "The thing is that they've got to get back into the groove of things. When you are off with an injury a little bit, sometimes you have to get your strength and all that kind of stuff back – not only playing tempo and that, but your strength and all that. It's just been great to have them out there this week. We are looking forward, hopefully, to seeing them play Friday night. That's valuable experience that they need to get. So, hopefully that will come through."
After what happened Thursday night, how important is it for the secondary to have a good showing against Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and the Lions' offense on Friday? (Ed Lee) "I think it's the defense. I don't think it's the secondary; I just think it's the whole defense. We need to get off to a fast start. That's the thing that disappointed us Thursday is we got off to a slow start, and we don't want to let anybody ever drive the ball on us, let alone go down and score on the first possession – certainly not a way you want to start the game. Now, that being said, I've played in enough games in 40 years of football that they have scored on the first drive, and we won the game 41-7. So, you have to also let that go and it's over with and done. You make corrections on the sideline, you come back and win the game. But, it's certainly not the way we want to start. But, I wouldn't say it's all secondary. We need to put more pressure on the quarterback in those situations. It's never one thing. You see a guy getting beat deep because that's what you see, but if there was pressure, that might have been a situation where we could have pressured. You never know exactly what happened up front.
"The one thing that we've really tried to sell the defense this week is, a couple of years ago, I had done it a long time, but I did it for [former Ravens defensive coordinator Greg] Mattison two years ago, and I did it for [former Ravens defensive coordinator] Chuck [Pagano] last year … I did a study on our defense. I do it every year, and it's kind of amazing. I can't remember the exact numbers, but two years ago, it was like 140 drives against us during the season, and only three times did a team score on us without a big play or penalty aiding them. So to me, that's a big thing. If you think about the other night, we give up a 37-yard pass. To us, a big play is any pass over 20 yards or a run over 15. We didn't give up the runs, but we gave up a couple passes, and I think we also had a penalty in there right in the two-minute [drill] right before the half. We had a holding call on defense, and they got an automatic first down on that and kicked the field goal. So, those are the two things we've really focused on – really three things: starting fast, don't aid them, they don't need any help. They are good enough without us helping them."
In that study, what did you chalk up the defensive success to? (Ed Lee) "Just making the offense drive the ball. If you don't give up a big play, chances are they may make a mistake. You are going to have enough opportunities in there. Even if they drive it nine or 10 plays, you get them stopped, there is an opportunity for the offense to make a mistake or for us to make a big play. If you give it all up in one chunk, it's just over with. The other thing is the offense gets the momentum in that situation, just like if the defense gets a sack, that kind of gets the momentum going for the defense, and then they are kind of in a hole. I've done that study for years and years, and it turns out the same way every year."
So what is the trick to not giving up big plays but also not being too cautious? (Ryan Mink) "I don't think you can [be too cautious]. You've got to call your game, and you've got to rely on the guys to get the job done. There is no secret to it. If you have man coverage out there, you have to cover the guy – it's not rocket science. So, if you pressure, they know that they are on an island out there. It depends whether we are giving him help or whether we are not giving him help, but that's why you play football, that's why you play defensive back in the NFL. And, if we pressure and you are put one-on-one, that's your job, just like it's the receiver's job to catch it. But on the other hand, it's like I tell all the guys up front, when you blitz, when I watch the film, I said, 'You stand back there and cover 40 yards of grass with one of those fast guys running down the field. So look, when we ask you to go, go.' There can't be any hesitation and waiting around. That guy's life is on the line back there, and that's the guy you have to save, so we got to get home on those things, too."
Dean, what sets Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee apart in terms of on interior pass rushers when Pernell kicks inside? What makes those guys special? (Aaron Wilson) "Haloti, it's just his size and quickness. He is just such a powerful, powerful guy, and he is quicker than you think. It may not be long space, but he is very quick in a short space, and with that quickness and that power, that's hard to handle now. I asked Matt Birk – he was talking to me before practice a little bit – [and he said] it's tough lining up every day against that guy out here in practice. Pernell has gotten bigger, gotten stronger, which has helped him, but he is very, very quick, very active, good feet, quick hands. And, I would say this too about both of them: They are smart football players. They can read some scheme and see how they are getting blocked and know what the counter is to that, just like all guys. There are a lot of great specimens around that aren't necessarily good football players, because they also have to understand how to attack the guy that is blocking them."
As you approach the second preseason game, either individually or as a defensive whole, do you try to throw more at these guys now that they have a whole another week of reps? Or do you try to do some different things you didn't do in the first preseason game, or is it kind of just staying static all the way through? (Mark Zinno) "No, I don't think it's ever static, because you are never static during the season. I think you always want to change up things, whether we change a lot of calls of maybe we take a call and change it slightly. You're always adding to the game plan just a little bit as the fall goes on. Usually, you are fairly vanilla going into the first [preseason game], and then you try to pick it and pick it up a little bit. But, it's just like the season. You don't want to ever go in, and whatever you showed in the last game, you want to try tweak that a little bit so it doesn't look exactly the same for the next game."
Dean, when you watched the game, was Cary Williams close to making the plays that he could have gotten turned around and just played the ball? He seemed like he was sort of playing the man on some of them. (Aaron Wilson) "Well, I'll say this: Yeah, on the touchdown, he's close. He was right there and the guy made a good catch and got his feet down in bounds. On the one down the sideline, that's about as good of a throw and catch. When the guy gets it over the opposite shoulder fading away from him and the guy is there, that's tough. That's football. Like I tell these guys, they are on scholarship, too – they are allowed to make plays. The biggest thing is you have to forget it and go on. I was talking to [QBs coach] Jim Caldwell before practice today, and I said I used to marvel in pre-game … I'd always walk the field, and when he was with the Colts, I used to walk around the field and I used to stop down there and [former Colts QB Peyton] Manning would always come out early with [former Colts WR Marvin] Harrison and [Colts WR Reggie] Wayne, and he would sit there and throw balls, and those guys would catch the ball over the white line on the sideline like this (outstretching his arms below his waist). I just kept looking and going, 'How do you defend that?' because you can't stand out of bounds and knock it down. Sometimes that's going to happen. The key thing though, anytime you play in the secondary, you just have to forget it and go on. Sometimes those guys are going to make some plays."
Omar Brown, with the big game the other night, what does Omar do? What does he need to improve on? And what is the competition like for him at safety? (Matt Zenitz) "I think competition is the same for everybody. He is trying like heck. He had a nice night and had a hat trick [two fumble recoveries and an interception] there. He is in and around the ball. The guy has been working hard – all of those guys have. He just needs to keep improving and keep working hard. He will get his opportunities. There is a lot of competition back there for everybody and up front. He had a nice night, now you have to see if he can string two together."
Is there anything you would label as a weakness in his game? (Matt Zenitz) "Experience. He just hasn't played all that much. One of them, the ball was tipped, I think, and he caught, and the other thing was a fumble recovery [on] a snap from center. So, I wouldn't say in either one of those cases that he overly made either one of those. He was in position to make it happen, and I don't want to take anything like that away from him, but they all have a lot do, a lot to work on. I would say every part of his game, just like all the rest of them, they all need to improve on."