Baltimore Ravens Training Camp Transcripts 08/01

BALTIMORE RAVENS TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Great to see everybody. We had a good practice and guys are working hard, and basically, it's training camp."

With Pernell McPhee starting to ease back onto the field, how much does he mean to this team? (Aaron Wilson) "I don't have a measuring stick on that one. Do you want to ask it in a different way?"

I guess just how happy are you that Pernell McPhee is starting to work back in? (Aaron Wilson) "[I'm] very happy that Pernell McPhee is starting to work back in – very excited to see him back. He is an important part of our defense, and we need him in there. But, he needs a lot of work, too."

How much weight do you put on the field goals that are made here in practice versus those made in the preseason games? (Kris Jones) "We put weight on everything. The guys get evaluated in everything they do, even the drills. So, we don't have a weighted measuring scale for that, that I could give you. I think you go by your instincts a little bit, but we know the stats inside out, and you certainly factor all that in. You get more kicks here, so that's pretty important. But the kicks in the game, probably weigh more per kick, because they're in games."

How much does experience play a factor when you're talking about kickers? (Brent Harris) "Experience plays a factor in everything. It plays a factor in everything. So, you factor that in."

Do you have any updates on Haloti Ngata? (Kevin Cowherd)"Haloti's coming along. Haloti thinks he's pretty close; we're probably working him a little slower than he'd like us to. But, he's starting to run now, and he's going to be fine very soon. I don't really have a timetable."

You added a tight end today, and how do you think Davon Drew is coming along, getting a few more reps with Dennis Pitta being out? (Garrett Downing) "Davon has done a good job. We were talking last night with [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] … We're going to find out if Davon Drew is a player for us, and I think he is. Davon Drew has got all the skills; he's come so far. He's a guy that played one or two years of tight end at East Carolina. He's come a long way as a pass-receiving tight end, but what we really want to determine is if he can be a blocking tight end for us. [He is a] big, strong guy, and that'll probably come down to games as much as anything."

Were you OK with the contact in practice today, particularly the hit between Omar Brown and Matt Balasavage? (Aaron Wilson) "Well, it wasn't a live drill – it was a thud drill – but they thudded pretty good. And we had game-like situations. If you noticed, we worked on two-minute at the end of the game, and we worked an overtime. So, we played two overtime games basically out there. We like to put guys in situations that are the game. We try to create as many of those as we can, and it's good for those guys to be in those situations."

Secondary Coach Teryl Austin

What have you seen from CB Corey Graham? It looks like he has had a really strong start. (Ryan Mink) "Yeah, he has. Corey is a really good football player. He has a lot of savvy, great ball skills, understands the game and what you're doing. You see him in the team situations, and he gets around a lot of balls, and when he does, he has the ability to finish."

Coach, did you kind of feel all along that Ed [Reed] would come back to you guys to play? (Aaron Wilson) "I did. The one thing about Ed is he's a professional, loves this game, prepares like no other, and to stay away from it would probably have been really hard for him. But, I'm glad he's back with us, moving full speed ahead."

How much better does it make you to have someone like that [Ed Reed]? (Aaron Wilson)"Any secondary, if you take a Hall of Famer out of it, they would be hurting."

What have you seen so far from Jimmy Smith with his progression as he gets to know the NFL a little bit better? (Kris Jones)  "With Jimmy, the big thing with him is he is continuing to improve his technique. He's starting to understand the game a little better, how it works. And, I think those are things you that you see. So, he's getting a lot closer to balls, and things that might have confused him last year don't confuse him this year. We are really expecting something's from him, really see some great growth from him."

Is this secondary further ahead than it was last year? (Ryan Mink) "I think so. We had … Obviously, this year we had the OTAs, all the things that we didn't get last year. With me coming in new, they don't know me. No offseason and, 'Here we go. Let's go.' So, we should be a lot further ahead this year than we were last. And, we are just going to try to build off of that and improve each day. And that's each guy's goal in the [meeting] room, 'How good can we get today?' and keep parlaying that each day and each week, and by the end of the season, hopefully be good enough to get to our ultimate goal."

What have you seen from Asa Jackson, Christian Thompson, a couple of your rookies in terms of their development? (Aaron Wilson) "Asa was one of the guys that wasn't a participant in OTAs because of school, but Asa is really sharp, really quick, picks up things fast, and I think he is going to have a good future. I just don't know when that will be, but he really picks it up, he competes like crazy. That's one of the things that when you look at a young guy, you always want to know, 'How does he compete when things aren't going so well?' And, no matter how it goes for him, you never see him drop his head; you never see that. You just see the guy get up the next play and go as hard as he can the next play. And, I think that's great. Christian, 'C.T.,' [is] doing a good job. [It's] a big adjustment for him, I think, coming from a smaller school, but he's doing it. [He] works really hard in the classroom. [He's a] big, fast, physical safety, who we are going to groom in there, and I don't know what his role will be behind Ed [Reed] and 'B.P.' [Bernard Pollard]. But, we are going to see what we can do with him, and continue to work him like crazy out here and see how far he can go by the time we get to that first game." 

A lot things for rookies to prove, but when a guy like Omar [Brown] has a pop like that, what does that show you guys? (Aaron Wilson) "Omar's a good football player. I know he was an undrafted, but the thing I know [is] when we go up and look at the tape every day, he gets an interception. He knocks the ball down. He does something that stands out on film, and you never discount that. As a coach you always say, 'Hey, we can drop all the schemes, we can drop all the techniques, we can do all this stuff,' but if the guy never makes play, he never makes play. So, the thing that he has going in his favor is he makes plays."

Did teams completely avoid Ed Reed last year? (Ryan Mink) "They don't throw at him very often, and I think we gave up a league low in touchdown passes last year. I know everybody was writing a lot of stuff about Ed, but a lot of that [success] is due to Ed, because that ball doesn't just fly down the field. Because if it does, there is a good chance he is going to track it down and get it."

How much easier is it for you to coach somebody, to coach a secondary, when you have a person like Ed [Reed]? (Lamont Williams) "It makes it a lot easier, because I think the one thing is that Ed's been around long enough, and those guys have to work together. We give them the blueprint in the meetings. We come out and coach him, but those guys have to really kind of have to figure out how to work with each other on gameday. He's a giant part of that, because he makes all the calls, how things should look, and Ed makes it a lot easier for me. I coach, and we do our stuff, but in our [meeting] room, the thing we like to talk about it is all of us. It's not a dictatorship – certain times it is (laughter) – but most of the time we try to decide together, 'OK what's best for our team? What's best for our secondary so we can do our job effectively?'"

How much better will Cary Williams be this be year, especially playing with the hip last year and having it taken care of this offseason? (Luke Jones) "He can play a lot better. One thing that Cary does … Cary has good ball skills, and it surprised me that he went through the season last year with no interceptions, and I think that's the part of the game that will be a lot better. He will make some interceptions this year."

Now that he's gotten his second contract, do you see Lardarius Webb taking more of a leadership role out there with some of the younger guys? (Kris Jones) "Yes, 'Webby' is 'Webby.' As he learns the game and as he is growing … As a young guy, you kind of get in and follow, and then as you start to become an established player and earn your way, then you start leading other guys, and that's what he's doing right now. He's great. I'm so happy for him that he got his contract, but he deserved it. It hasn't changed him a bit. He comes out, he's one of the hardest workers we got.  He talks to the young guys all the time, and I think he is … He is embracing that part, and he's very happy to be a Raven."

Speaking of leaders, there are a ton of them on this defense. Where does Bernard Pollard rank in there? You hear him all the time. (Ryan Mink) "I don't think we rank them. It kind of goes back to what I said: Our guys take a lot of ownership in the defense together. There are a lot of leaders; we have a lot of strong personalities. That's why we have a strong defense. So, those strong personalities, they are going to pick each other up, and certain times, different guys will step to the front and lead. Bernard has been great. He started off last year coming in, new to everything. [He] had a little different system [in Houston], how we did things, and once he grew and he made the move to be a starter, boy, he was really an impactful player for us."

Have you used the [Terrell] Suggs' injury as extra motivation for the secondary to play even better than last year, with the thought of not knowing what you are going to get as the pass rush? (Luke Jones)"No. I think our concern is us. We're really concerned about what we do and how we do it and making sure we do it the best we can. It's like anything else. The things that you can't control, you don't worry about. We can control us, and that's what we do."

What do you need to see from Danny Gorrer and Chykie Brown in training camp? (Ed Lee) "The big thing with both of those guys is they have the skills to play in the league. They have to show some consistency and the ability to make and finish plays." 

S Ed Reed

On the difference between New Orleans hot, Miami hot and Maryland hot: "Yeah, huge difference. That humidity in New Orleans is ridiculous. Makes it feel like it's about 110 [degrees] when it's probably about 95 [degrees] or something. But, in Miami you get a little breeze. Here, it's just hot."

On LB Ray Lewis' interception in practice and then lateral to Reed:"It was pretty nice. We might have had to bring it back though, because I caught it in front of him or right even with him. That just shows the instincts that he has and the trust that he has to know that I was right there, and us just knowing each other over time."

On how he is holding up physically and mentally: "I'm good. This is training camp. Training camp is always tough. It's always different to get acclimated during training camp. You're carrying pads around, something you don't do in the offseason. It's more mental because you are doing a lot more thinking and trying to get guys on the same page. It's always different when you're trying to get acclimated and carry pads around coming back towards the beginning of the season."

On if he is getting a little more rest this year: "I'm good. The guys are good. The CBA [collective bargaining agreement] changed a lot of things. [It] still needs to be tweaked a little bit, but you are taking baby steps to better things. So long as we always are getting better, that's what it is all about."

On if playing alongside Lewis had anything to do with him coming back:"That had nothing to do with it. That has nothing to do with right now, man. We're practicing football right now."

On what his decision process to coming back for another season was:"I'm here. What transpired months back transpired. What happened because of what I had to deal with family-wise and what I have been going through for the last 11 years now in the league, there's always a time where you have to assess yourself. Once you get to a certain point … I am sure Ray [Lewis] has been doing it, maybe not being as vocal. Guys don't be as vocal with it, but when you're dealing with the business side of it, too, that's something that you have to deal with. I choose to deal with it the way I deal with it and put it out there. That way, young guys know it, kids would know as they come up with it, their parents would know it. I'm not a guy to hold things back. That's why you get what you get, and if I didn't do it that way, you wouldn't have the information to write about it." (laughter)

On if he hopes the talks start between himself and the Ravens: "The talks have already been there. I know [executive vice president and general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and them know I want to be here. We will get that done when it's time to cross that bridge. I'm dealing with football right now, and they know that. I am focused on the season. That's all I am worried about right now – getting my teammates better, getting myself better and getting ready to go forward this season. Like I said, they know I am assessing myself year to year. Would I like to play more? Of course, but what the body tells you is something different. That's something that you always deal with after the season. When we cross that bridge, you guys will know, of course."

On if he hopes to wait until after the season to talk about his contract: "Being that I don't have an agent, I don't know how they are going to go about it. I know we tried to deal with things last season. That's why things have been talked about the way they have been, because I am dealing with it myself – that's the way I choose to go with it. In this business, because there's a lot of stuff that you have to deal with, I didn't want a middle man in between it. I felt like we could have handled it. But, you do need somebody to say the things that you're not able to say because you're in the business. I have a lot of respect for this organization. Obviously, they gave me a chance back in 2002 to come here and play. I know they have respect for me. The disrespectful thing that I talked about was something that was dealt with when it came to me seeing doctors and stuff like that. That's something you deal with. It's no different than what regular folks go through on their jobs. This is a job. That's what a lot of people miss. There's a lot that we deal with because it is a physical. Like I said, I know the Ravens know I wanted to be here. I wouldn't give myself to the football team like I do if I didn't want to be here. But, there's a business side to it. Not every story plays out to be what you want it to be. When we cross that bridge, like I said, you guys will know."

On how he is dealing with his past injuries:"Those things are still there. I haven't had a nerve impingement surgery yet. It's still there. I had stingers against Jacksonville – a stinger against Jacksonville – [but] nothing that I haven't had since high school. Those things are a part of football. You just have to be a smart football player to make sure you are doing the rehab, the things that you need to do to get yourself ready for the grueling part of a season. I cross those bridges when I do in a game. I might lay on the ground for a half of a second or two seconds or may come out for a play, but I have always come back and finished the game. If ain't nothing tragic – God forbid – and I can come back and play, that's what I do. If it's something that is going to take me out of the game, I would hope that they do what they are supposed to do to keep me out and protect me from myself."

On if being surrounded by the younger talent in the secondary takes pressure off him:"That's something that is supposed to carry you. Father Time waits for none of us. When we start to get old, you would hope that that younger talent comes in and picks up your slack, so to say. That's what we're supposed to do. I feel good about those guys that are around me with Corey Graham, Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams, Jimmy Smith, Bernard Pollard. Those guys make me better also. So, when I am not making plays, they are, and vice versa. That's what we are here for. That's why it's a team sport."

On if it's too early in camp to tell if the chemistry is there on defense: "I wouldn't say it's too early. It's a long season, but at this point in training camp, I think we look really good. I think we are a more mature team. I think as a team and coaching staff, I think we have grown to understand each other, and that's things that you are going to grow into to understand each other better. Of course, you have more work to do. We haven't even played a preseason game yet. To put that full [package] together, we know who the core guys are, but we do have some key guys down and key guys out. We don't know what's going to transpire between this time and the end of training camp and the end of preseason. Until we make that 53-man roster and know who is going to go into that Cincinnati game, there are always going to be adjustments that you are making. That's the part of training camp and preseason that you need to go through. It's a growing time."

On if he will approach the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks the Ravens will face this year any differently: "So? Bring them on, man. I'm sure they are going to game-plan like they always do – write [my name/number] on their wristband and know I'm there and all that. I welcome them. I look forward to them. That's probably a question for you critics who said that Ed Reed has lost it, but they won't throw my way. How have I lost it if they are not throwing my way? It's a lot of respect for those guys. I never train any different or prepare any different for either game. It's always who I am going against and what we need to prepare for as a team. So, whether it's [Patriots QB Tom] Brady, [Giants QB] Eli [Manning], those guys know who we are, and they are going to run their game plan the way they want to run their game plan. All we have to do is be ready."

On if being the top-rated secondary in the postseason last year will carry over this year: "Last year is last year. We have to grow on that, of course, but like you said, we have new guys. We have gotten a lot better, a lot older. Guys are maturing now. Lardarius is a more mature guy who understands football a lot more. Bernard is having another year under his belt with us – Jimmy Smith, too. We are going to be much better than we were last year. Guys know what to expect now. We played a lot of good football teams last year and got a lot of good football teams coming in here this year. And also, those teams have changed. They added people, too. It's going to be some good football once this season gets started, but right now, we are about coming together and growing and getting ready for the first preseason game next week."

On what he has seen in QB Joe Flacco's progression and development: "Joe is smart. Obviously, I've been here since Joe has been here. He's grown every year. Joe is the leader. Joe understands where we're at right now and understands that this don't count for his stats or whatever. He knows he can take chances out here, but when he is in the game, he is a totally different guy. He is more in command. Joe, you just watch him. He has grown. Joe is a family guy now. He has a lot more on his plate off the field. That makes you grow as a man. So, it makes you deal with things differently. It makes you lead in the locker room a lot differently. If you sit around and talk with Joe, you know a lot more about him. You know he is a lot calmer and a lot cooler. We all get shaken at some times – that's football – but Joe is going to always come back. He is a fighter. He is a guy that you want taking that snap at the end of the game leading your team to go into that final drive to win the game."

On if he felt that teams were testing him following his injury in 2010, but didn't really test him last year: "No, man. I mean, I don't know what they were thinking. It's all about trusting your teammates and also going out and making plays, understanding defensive schemes and understanding what they're doing. When you make plays like that, obviously, they are going to give you a certain respect to not come your way, so to say. But now, it's like, 'Where are you going to go?' Because we've got other, guys making plays, so you've got to pick your poison. At some point you have to play football. Of course they want to know where certain guys are at. You want to know where Ray Lewis is at, Ed Reed, Lardarius Webb, Terrell Suggs. You're always looking for those guys, but you can't count out all of us. I don't know what other teams were thinking. I don't know what they were thinking, man."

On if he reported to camp at a lighter weight this year: "No. Actually, I was on a great diet. I have my strength. I still have my weight up, so I'm probably a little bit more leaner, a lot more muscle. I'm right where I was always." On LB Ray Lewis' weight loss: "Ray is a smart individual. Ray has been playing this game a long time, for almost two decades. But he came in young. Ray's still young and understands this game, he understands the teammates around him, and he understands what he needs to do going forward. He can make adjustments as the season goes on. So, he understands where he's at as a man, as a football player, what he needs to do to go forward with this."

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