Baltimore Ravens Training Camp Transcripts 08/03


Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out once again and braving the elements. It's a hot one, and our guys did a great job. It was a very good practice. There are a couple of things I wanted to mention here before we get started. First of all, compliments to the entire organization here with the Ravens, starting with Dick Cass, our team president, and [vice president of operations] Bob Eller, who runs all the operations here, and right on through everybody that works here, marketing, PR, community relations, [facilities maintenance manager] Keith [Mathews], who was our disk jockey over there. It's been phenomenal. We have had not one glitch. The fans have had a great time; the kids have had a great. We have the Special Olympics [of Maryland] here today. For a football environment, our organization has just done a great job for our football team, and I want to thank everybody for that. We have a practice tomorrow at the stadium. I want to remind everybody [that] you are welcome to come on out. It's free and it's going to be fun, and it's going to be a lot of good football. So, we'd love to see as many of our fans at the stadium as possible. I believe it's 5:00 p.m. tomorrow night; gates open at 3:30 p.m. Parking lots open at 12:00 p.m. Cold tailgating only, no grills. Thank you.

"A couple of announcements that I am sure that you are interested: We had a couple of guys pass their conditioning test, and therefore pass their physical. Haloti Ngata passed this morning, and Bryant McKinnie passed, with a diving effort at the end, I might add. (laughter) It's a tough test. You have to be in shape to pass that test, so congratulations to those guys."

What does it mean to have those guys back and start getting them back in football mode? (Aaron Wilson) "It means a lot. It's another offensive lineman. Of course, Bryant is a guy that has played a lot of football for his career, but also for us last year. He is competing right in there with the rest of the guys. He can be a big part of us, and has been. Of course, Haloti Ngata, his presence speaks for itself. They both have to go in shells for two days for the acclimating period, then they will be in there on Monday with the regular practice."

With Jimmy Smith and Arthur Jones, do you expect them back quickly? (Aaron Wilson) "Arthur got an MRI. He had a hip flexor issue that he has been fighting through for the last couple of days, so we decided to get it looked at. I have not heard the results of that. [We] don't expect it to be serious, but we wanted to check it out and make sure. Jimmy's back locked up. It's all muscular. It's stuff that has happened to him in college before. It takes a couple of days usually for that to loosen up."

Is Matt Birk still just resting? (Pete Gilbert) "Yeah, Matt is resting. He had some back spasms, too. It's probably both me and Matt. Matt has had the back spasms, but I am going to probably slow him down a little bit more, especially this week, and then maybe next week after the game we will get him back a little bit more."

Coach, have you started to put a game plan together for Atlanta? Or, are you just focused on what is going on for you guys right now? (Mark Zinno) "The game plan for Atlanta, we don't have one. We will not have one. The game plan will be to run our offense, defense and special teams – pretty basic – and evaluate guys and try to execute. That's what we're looking for."

Tomorrow is still a practice, but it's more than a practice. How do you go about that? What do you have in store with the fans being there? (Pete Gilbert) "Like trick plays and stuff like that? I think the biggest thing about that … It's a practice, yes, but it's a ramped-up environment. Last year, some of our young guys went into that stadium atmosphere, who had been practicing well, and didn't practice so well. The environment got them. So, it's a chance for them to get into that different kind of setting – it's a little bit bigger than the practice field out here – and perform in that kind of a setting, be able to just take the whole thing, internalize it back to your own performance, cut that crowd out of it and play football."

Can you share what Marshal Yanda said to the team? (Tony Lombardi)"He said, his words were, 'Embrace the grind.' Perfect for training camp, right? Embrace the grind. He talked about 'physical' that being the foundation of being a football player and what this football team is all about, and he talked about having fun. It's a game that we should love. It's a great game, and we all love it, so even though it's 105 degrees, or whatever it is, make the most of it and enjoy yourself."

Does it surprise you that they are that spirited at times during this process? You said it's pretty grueling, but does it catch you off guard when they rally around each other like that? (Mark Zinno) "It's a good question. I think it's great; you enjoy it. They lift each other up; we push each other through it. We have an opportunity to come out here and play football, coach football, cover football, be a part of this. We say all the time to the guys, 'Where else would you rather be? Is there somewhere else you have to be right now? Is there something else you'd rather be doing that this right here?' Come on. This is a beautiful thing. It's a tough world out there; people are struggling. We have a chance to come out here and play football. Embrace the grind."

Has Bryant [McKinnie] passed the physical of what seemed like a physical issue when he wasn't in camp for the three days? Is he past that? Are you guys confident he's healthy and ready to go? (Brent Harris) "We are. He has passed the physical, the medical part of it, and then the conditioning test is part of the physical – and he's passed that, too."

I'm sorry. I didn't mean necessarily the physical – the physical by the doctor. I mean physically, his back. You guys are confident … (Brent Harris) "Yes, the back is cleared up. Yes, the back is cleared up."

Coach, can you talk about Vonta Leach and a lot of the running backs? Even Ray Rice, [they] are so young. Having a guy like him, a veteran leader in that group, what do you see from him? (Michael Fast)"First of all, [Leach is] a veteran leader. He embodies that physical presence that Marshal [Yanda] is talking about, and he tells great jokes. (laughter) So, he does keep everyone lose. He's a leader, he's a teacher. He knows football. He's been great for those guys."

Did [Leach] get a 30-and-over day today? (Aaron Wilson) "Yeah, I held him out. His back started to tighten up, too, so I held him out a little bit. That's part of the camp deal, especially those guys who are a little bit older."

John, after the three receivers, you seem to have a good rotation with the guys working in. Yesterday Deonte Thompson, today was LaQuan [Williams]. As you go through the evolution process of these young receivers, can you give us a sense of kind of the things that are separating them from one another? (Mark Zinno) "Sure, it's not much. It's a good group. There's not one guy in there that you would say that can't compete. Some guys are ahead of other guys. To me, the next thing is going to be consistency, because they've all flashed plays; they've all made plays. The ability to stack a good practice on top of a good practice, a good series on top of a series, a play on top of a play, will be the determiner."

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