BALTIMORE RAVENS TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "'Approach this day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind.' – Jack Harbaugh. I see you guys have that enthusiasm today, even in this heat. (Reporter: "Did you have to pay for the naming rights?") Naming rights? I hope he's got that trademarked. I hope. We've got the children and the wives of armed services from Aberdeen, [Md.]. You saw all the kids in the yellow. Thanks for the sacrifice that these families make, and thanks to their parents, who are overseas right now. We've got the [Walter Reed National Military Medical Center] Wounded Warriors here. You guys saw these guys. Thanks for the sacrifice they've made, and for the contribution that they are going to continue to make all these years to come. We're very grateful as a nation. OK, what do you got?"
Coach, you look over and you see these guys at practice. When it gets hot and you're an hour-and-a-half into it, does that do something for you [gesturing to the Wounded Warriors]? (Pete Gilbert) "You know what? I wish I would have thought of that. You're exactly right. That would have been perfect. I didn't think of it. If I had said that to the guys, it would have been just right on. Well done."
Is it good to get Kelechi Osemele back out there and kind of knock the rust off? (Aaron Wilson) "Yeah, K.O. [Kelechi Osemele], this was a good day to get him back. We were going to not put him in full force. We wanted to ease him in, just make sure the back didn't cramp up on him. It looks like he got through pretty well. Lardarius Webb was not here on a personal issue at home. No problem, just something he had to take care of at home with his son."
Do you expect him [Webb] back tomorrow? (Jeff Zrebiec) "We expect him back tomorrow."
As far as Haloti Ngata, is it just being more cautious, careful and letting him take his time? (Brent Harris) "Yeah. That's a hamstring. It's not a major hamstring, but Haloti has been around a long time. We'll bring him back when the time is right here. It won't be real long, but it's going to be a few days."
What is your reaction when you hear from the talking heads on the TV when they call your defense old? (Matt Vensel) "I get mad as heck. (laughing) It doesn't make me happy. But then I say, 'What do I care what they think?' It's great to be underestimated. That's a big advantage in life. They spread the word and tell everybody that we're old, over the hill and that the window is closing and all those great clichés they want to use, because they can't put a good article together like guys like you, Matt. We'll take that. We'll take it every time."
It's clear though also that you guys did want to go younger. You have a ton of young talent in here; you've trimmed your roster down, the average age, by a couple of years. It's clearly something you wanted to do, right? (Matt Vensel) "I think you always have to do that. You always have to get younger in this league. It's a cycle. Nobody lasts forever. It's a tough game. It's a hard sport. To me, it's a credit to guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. It's just an incredible accomplishment what those guys have done. To play at the level that they have played at all these years, to me you should celebrate that. Then, they are bringing up the young guys underneath them."
Coach, can you talk about the tight end position, what you've seen out of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson? (Kris Jones) "I saw a lot of plays today. Those guys looked good today – made a bunch of plays in the red zone and what we call the 'fringe area,' moving into the red zone. If your tight ends can be a factor up the seams, that's huge."
John, your thoughts on the kickers so far. They're off to a fast start. (Aaron Wilson) "The kickers have done well. Have they missed one yet? I don't think they have. We put them in pressure situations as much as we can out here. They are all kind of game-type situations. I'm very pleased with both those guys."
Have you spoken with Bryant McKinnie or his people, or is it still the same? (Aaron Wilson) "As far as I know, there is no communication from Bryant. He does not have an agent. We heard from a chiropractor actually the first day, and that's all we've heard."
It was reported that he was getting fined per day. Is he subject to that (Clifton Brown) "The CBA [collective bargaining agreement applies] to his situation, yes."
At this stage of camp, is the offense comparable to where it has been in the past? (Pete Gilbert) "Well, the comparison to me is from one day to the next. I thought the offense looked good today. We try to put our team in game situations as much as we can. We're not a big script practice team. We want to get out there and we want to play the game. To me, that's how you learn how to play football. It's a game on Sunday – it's not a practice. Our offense looked good today."
Is it important to get your offensive line set to have more practices together? (Brent Harris) "Yes, the sooner that you can determine who your best five guys are, the more work they get together is a plus. But, you have to determine your best five guys first. All those guys are going to get lots of reps, because we get lots of reps. The main thing right now we need is to get those guys healthy and practicing. I'm talking about those three guys. We need get them out there getting those reps."
Have you seen enough of K.O. [Osemele] to make a judgment whether where you can plug in and start? (John Eisenberg) "Absolutely, we definitely feel like he is a guy we could plug in and he can start. I would say that about the other two players, too, about Ramon [Harewood] and about Jah [Reid]. But K.O. is talented, he's tough, he's really smart. [Offensive line coach] Andy [Moeller] is doing a great job with him. Absolutely, yes."
What is it about the University of Michigan that can turn out great offensive linemen? (Joe Platania) "That's a good question for Andy [Moeller]. Big, tough guys. Big, Midwest, corn-fed guys."
Coach, your thoughts on Sergio Kindle so far. (Tony Lombardi) "Sergio has done exceptionally well. You saw him rush the passer today really well. Like someone had mentioned, we're not in pads yet, so we will see. But, his quickness is back. He seems to have his balance back from what we saw in college, and he's done a great job of learning the defense. I can't wait to see him when we put the pads on and when we get into preseason games."
With Ray Lewis dropping weight this year, is that something you talked with the coaching staff about, and what do you think that can do for him? (Luke Jones) "Ray came into the league as one of the premier linebacker run-and-hit athletes. He kind of looks the same as he did then in his body. It's pretty amazing, and he's moving around well. Ray controls his own career. Ray understands what he has to do. We've got a lot of trust in Ray. He tried to keep it a secret. He didn't want anybody to know. Then I saw him at a function, I saw him at [Under Armour President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board] Kevin Plank's function before the Preakness, and I was just like, 'Who is this guy?' He had a big grin on his face. He is pretty proud of himself."
Coach, have you seen more quickness from Anquan Boldin as he is coming into this year? (Ryan Mink) "I haven't really thought about it that way as compared to last year, but he looks very quick. He looks really healthy. He looks good."
Do you pay attention at all to what's going on with the referees? (Brent Harris) "That's down the road. Both sides are doing everything they can to get it organized. We have great officials in this league. We respect them, I know the league does. Hopefully something will get done quickly."
Terrence Cody mentioned early this offseason that he wanted to stay on the field longer. What have you seen so far out of Terrence? (Jason Butt) "I'd say he has accomplished that. He's made it through two grueling practices here, and he has had a bounce in his step at the end. He is in great shape, Terrence Cody."
Coach, how much more can you get done with the pads on at tomorrow's practice? (Pete Gilbert) "You can get more done, but it's not dramatically more. It's just enough more, just what we need to see when they put on the pads. I can't wait. I know the players can't wait either. You heard them out there talking about it, right? On some of those plays that were in question, when Ray [Lewis] was talking about whether that would have been a first down or not. We'll find out tomorrow."
Offensive Line Coach Andy Moeller
With just a couple of days with them, what do you think about the line, and what do you see? (Aaron Wilson) "I think, overall, our offensive line has been very good assignment-wise. We're experienced. We've done a great job communicating. Our pass protection has been good. Our run-blocking has been limited in the situations we've been in so far. But, we've been good. Guys are upbeat. We've got a great group of guys, energetic guys. It's been good."
How much easier is your job made knowing there's a guy like Matt Birk who is willing to tutor and mentor a guy like Gino [Gradkowski] and "K.O." [Kelechi Osemele]? (Joe Platania) "It's a huge help. Matt's the kind of guy, and really Marshal [Yanda] has gotten to this point, and even Michael Oher, to where when a guy like Bobbie Williams comes in who is an experienced veteran and knows how to do things but doesn't know our language and our system to do things, I'm doing something … [I] tell Matt [or] one of them older guys to talk to guys and coach them up on what to do. Absolutely."
With a guy like Bobbie [Williams], is there much coaching that you need to do? (Garrett Downing) "It's mostly language and understanding what to do. Different terms mean different things, not only in the plays, but in the calls and the communication up front. But, the schemes are somewhat similar. The techniques are somewhat similar. We might do a couple of things a little bit different, adjustment and how we are calling and looking at things. He's played 13 years, and this is his 13th year. He's smart. He's sharp. So, it's just more of a language thing than it is actually physically what to do."
What are some of the strengths with Michael Oher at left tackle, and what are some things that need to get better? (Aaron Wilson) "Well, I think Michael Oher at left tackle allows us, running-the-ball-wise … It's as quick as a lineman as we've got. [Oher] can move, run, cut off, reach [and be] physical at the point of attack, and Michael, really, when you think about it, since he has gone from right to left to right, to [have] the ability to go back to left, is versatile on both sides and can set and play left tackle … His experience has been great. Of course, the guys we have to block here on a daily basis, he gets great work on there. He just plugs in and goes to whatever side we put him on; he just plugs and goes. So as far as what he can work on, he can work on things that we all need to work on, pad level, consistency, both in the running and pass block, but that's no different than any of our guys up front. He's been great."
Coach, can you compare Bobbie Williams to Ben Grubbs? (Tony Lombardi) "Bobbie is a little bit bigger than Ben, a little bit taller, longer-armed and has a little bit more range. I think Ben was a little bit smaller and quicker initially, but Bobbie gives us the ability to be physical on that side, and he's done well on cutting off and reaching and getting his hand outside, and he's done well. So, he gives us just a little bit more of a size presence in there at left guard."
How have K.O. [Osemele] and Gino [Gradkowski] been picking up the mental aspect? (Kris Jones) "They've been great. Gino is a sharper guy than I've coached as a rookie coming in, and K.O. is not far behind him at all. K.O. started off playing some left guard and is now working at tackle, so we are asking him to do a couple more things than Gino, really locking him at center. Of course, he knows guard as well. But, they're both sharp. They both learn well, prepare well. They've been great."
How much better prepared do you think Michael Oher is now at left tackle than he may have been a couple of years ago? (Jeff Zrebiec) "At left tackle, a lot. He already has a year under his belt over there. He knows the personnel he is going against. His sets are more consistent on the left, and the great thing about Mike is if we have to come over here and he has to go back on the right side, you do it and it's no big deal for him. Michael Oher is a tremendous asset. He is a great, versatile football player, and you just line him up and let him go. He'll be fine on the left side; he'll be great."
How challenging is that for a typical tackle? (Luke Jones) "It's challenging in that your footwork is the opposite of what it is. We all know it's the blind side of the quarterback on the left side. So, the footwork and that … But he is really fluid on both sides and really moving to his right or to his left and his right to left in the stance. It's easier for him than most, really more so than anybody I can think that I've ever coached. So, for him it is. The assignments aren't so hard; it's just flipped over right. But, how to do it and the technique setting and particularly the pass-rushers you will get on the left side is different."
I know you're coaching the guys on the line, but is Bryant [McKinnie] missed on the line? (Aaron Wilson) "Oh, I think our guys … Sure, because of the bond that they have developed with him a year ago. Yes, so I would say yes. But, as far as what we have, we have enough right out here right now to be the kind of linemen we want to be."
The O-line at Michigan has produced a lot of quality linemen. You and John have ties there ... (Joe Platania) "Yeah, back when I coached five years ago, just the tradition of running the football and getting linemen over the years goes clear back to the 70's – the lines that they had there and just a place where an offensive linemen had gone."
What does getting Bobbie Williams, a veteran in that left guard spot, what does that mean for you guys in terms of trying to shake out the starting four or five guys that you can plug in right away? (Garrett Downing) "Well, it's great. You're a proven commodity. We don't want to have to develop Bobbie Williams. He just has to learn our system and play like he's been playing. So from that standpoint, that makes my job easier. But, his experience, he brings a lot in there from an experience standpoint. As things happen out here today, we are getting new blitzes and new things our defense is doing, because we aren't studying to prepare for them. We are seeing them as they come, and bam, takes them up right now. And like I said, he is a great asset, and he's going to be great for us at left guard."
T Michael Oher
On his comfort level playing at left tackle: "It's really no big deal. I got a lot of snaps at left tackle in the spring and [at] right tackle. I played both [positions] my first year and second year, so it's no big deal. I'm a good enough athlete to play either way, so it's no problem with me."
On whether he has talked to T Bryant McKinnie at all recently: "I've talked to him a few times. I talked to him a couple times, and I just told him to take his time, and we'll be here if he needs us, and things like that, and just take care of anything he has going. So, I'm pretty sure he'll get everything squared away."
On whether he thinks McKinnie will be back with the Ravens: "I think so. He sounds positive, and like I told him, 'Take your time, and we'll be waiting for you.'"
On how his rapport is coming along with G Bobbie Williams: "Oh, Bobbie is a great guy, man. He communicates great. He's been around – this is his 13th year – he's a veteran, he's a great player. I like being on the side of him. He's physical and things like that, so I think he's a great addition to the team. I'm looking forward to playing with him this year."
On whether the biggest difference in the tackle positions is footwork and where you're lined up: "Yeah, it's just muscle memory and things like that. It's the same footwork, but it's just like going from left hand to right hand. It just takes repetition to get your technique back down, and it shouldn't be a problem."
On whether he'll be dealing with different types of pass rushers: "Yeah, it's different guys, but nowadays, you've got great pass rushers on each side of the ball. So, it really doesn't matter. You've just got to do your job."
On what it's been like practicing against OLB Courtney Upshaw: "He's going to be a great player. [He's] physical. He comes from the best conference in [college] football – the SEC – so you know how that goes. (laughter) But I expect him to do big things this year. He's physical, he has good speed, and I think he's going to do big things for us."