BALTIMORE RAVENS TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Thanks for coming out. It was a good, hard, mid-camp work day. Our guys really pushed through it well, and we got a lot of work done. So, that's where we are at."
Some guys didn't finish practice today, Marshal Yanda, Pernell McPhee and Jacoby Jones … (Aaron Wilson)"Jacoby, I pulled him out about midway through it. I just felt like he had done enough. Marshal, I pulled him out early in the practice. I just felt like he had enough. Pernell, I'm not sure, but that wasn't me, so we'll have to find out about that. But, I did not get a report on any injury."
What did you see from Bryant McKinnie today? (Kelli Johnson)"He worked hard. He made it through the whole practice, which is something, because football shape is different than regular-conditioning-test shape. So, he pushed through the whole practice. I thought he looked athletic. He looked like he was moving well. Now, he's just got to stack them and go compete."
What are your thoughts on Michael Oher and moving him back and forth between right tackle and left tackle? (Kelli Johnson)"It's not ideal. It's not the perfect scenario. You always want to be set at all of your positions, but that's not always realistic either. It's training camp, it's football. Guys compete for spots. You've got a bunch of highly-competitive guys, and they all want to be on the field – those tackles no less. So, it's going to be our obligation to our team and to those guys to just put it out there and let them compete and see who plays the best."
The tempo from Saturday was obviously picked up. Do you feel that the tempo carried over to today's practice? (Mark Zinno)"That was a big challenge for us, as you know. We wanted to make sure that we took the details into that environment, because that is always the big challenge. The same is going to be Thursday night. Do you get the snap count right? Do you get your assignments right and still play fast and all of those things? So, we did that well, brought it back here. Today was more of a grind day. It's hot, it was on the grass, and there is no crowd. We were kind of grinding today a little bit."
John, what's the balance of this week with having the first preseason game and how you approach each day leading up to it? (Morgan Adsit)"Right now, there really is no balance for us as much. We're in training camp mode. We're not pointing to the game, other than emotionally. We know we are playing a game Thursday, so the guys will get ready to play a game, but we're in practice mode. We are in preparation mode for the season. So, we're not backing off, we're not putting a game plan together. We're not looking at the Falcons' tape, nothing like that. We're just getting ready to go out and play football."
John, it's a very sad day for [Eagles head coach] Andy Reid and his family. Did you reach out to Andy, or just your thoughts? (Aaron Wilson)"I texted Andy as soon as I heard about it, the morning it happened, at about 10:00 a.m. I just told him how sorry I was and told him that his beautiful son is in God's hands right now. There is no greater family man; there are no greater parents than Andy and Tammy Reid. I learned so much from Andy and Tammy – [Harbaugh's wife] Ingrid and I both did – about raising kids, about raising [Harbaugh's daughter] Alison. Alison was born in Philly, and Andy was one of the first ones to talk to me about being a good parent, besides my dad and mom. I remember the first thing Alison did when Andy held her, she grabbed his mustache and just grabbed it as hard as she could. Garrett Reid, 'G,' was a great guy. When Andy first got there, he was 15 years old. He was a quarterback at the high school there, Harriton High School, working out every day – just a great guy. He was on a good track from everything I had heard. We shared a lot of moments with him after games in locker rooms and things like that at practice. It's a tragedy, but all things work for the good for those who love God, and that's where the Reids are, and that's where Garrett is."
John, for some of the younger guys on the team that come from small schools, what are the biggest adjustments that they have to make to stick around at this level? (Matt Vensel)"One of the biggest adjustments for younger guys – and it's a really good question – is the fact that football is much more voluminous and complex. They are being introduced to schemes and volume of football that they haven't been accustomed to. If you played at Alabama or some of those places, the football is a little more similar. It's still more here, but there, it's a big jump. So, they are learning a lot of football that they are not used to."
You had a plan to replace Terrell Suggs coming into camp. How is that plan working out? How has that altered at all with Courtney Upshaw's situation? (Scott Hanson)"It really hasn't altered at all with Courtney's situation. We're just a little bit more delayed than we'd want to be, because we'd like to have him out there practicing. We've had situations with different guys. It's part of training camp. You don't ever want to overreact to that. It's a long training camp. Courtney is going to get plenty of reps. He got lots of reps in the offseason program earlier. We just need to get him out there participating, obviously. Sergio [Kindle] is a big part of that. Albert [McClellan] has gotten a lot of reps. Paul Kruger has been out there the whole time. Courtney is a piece that we need to get out there and evaluate and develop, and he will be in there soon enough."
John, Torrey Smith is going into Year Two now. How is he looking at this point compared to where he looked last year? (Matt Zenitz)"Well, sure, he's a year ahead of where he was at this point last year, obviously, but he's … Last year was tough for the rookies, too, because they didn't have the offseason. So, he's just not a year ahead, he's a year and an offseason ahead. He's a veteran now. The gains are going to be a little more one-step-at-a-time gains, but this is a guy that comes to work every single day. All he thinks about is how he can get better. He is the most efficient improver – if that's a word – that I've ever seen. He gets the most out of every day, and that's why he's going to continue to become a great player."
Anywhere in particular you have seen him improve? (Matt Zenitz)"Sure, route-running has improved. He's improved with his hands. He's improved with understanding the blitz package. When he's hot and when's not, he's improved downfield with the ball. He's improved his blocking. Really everything has gotten better."
With Sergio [Kindle], can you talk about sticking with him this long and now seeing him take, regain his form and his confidence. (Kelli Johnson)"That, to me, is the most satisfying thing for an organization. I give Steve Bisciotti a lot of credit. Steve made a financial commitment to hold on to Sergio. I don't know how many other owners would have done that. We had the hope that Sergio's going to become a player, and that hasn't happened yet, but we see it happening now. We were told by most doctors that the chances of him ever being able to play football again at any kind of a high level were very slim, but yet, the Ravens made the commitment to Sergio. He appreciates that, and he made the commitment to himself, not without bumps in the road – because he's had them, and there will be more bumps in the road – but the healing process taking place has pretty much astounded most of the doctors from what I'm told. So, we have had people involved with the technology, with the helmet, that is pretty striking. The U.S. Army's been involved with that. Colonel [Geoffrey] Ling, who is retired from the U.S. Army, has been a big part of that. It's really been a group effort, and Sergio really appreciates that. And, let's see if he can make his dreams come true."
How optimistic are you that Kindle can step in and maybe give you guys something in the form of a pass rusher? (Matt Zenitz)"Very optimistic, because we have seen it in practice. Sergio is going to give us a pass-rush. To what extent, we will just have to wait and see. But, he is playing very well. I can't wait for Thursday night for him and all those guys to see how they do."
Tight Ends Coach Wade Harman
Wade, what have you seen out of Ed Dickson? (Aaron Wilson)"As players come in and out, Ed [Dickson] is getting a lot of work. He didn't get a lot of work the other night; he got poked in the eye and got a little blurry and stuff. He is running very well, which is one of the reasons we drafted him, but he is really working on the other parts of the game – run blocking, pass blocking. We're moving him around a little, so I am real pleased with where he is at. [I'm] not satisfied, but he is on target."
He's a guy with good hands, but every now and then he will have drops in a game. Is it something where he has a lack of concentration? (Aaron Wilson)"I think it's more of a concentration [thing], sometimes maybe trying to take off before he gets the ball. He knows that if he gets that ball in his hands and he runs, he is going to get some more yards. He made some freak catches for us last year. We know he has that ability. Every once in a while you let you let your focus wane a little bit, and that's what happens. So, we're concentrating on every one and we're going to try to get them all."
What would you say is the best part of his game? (Joe Platania)"His ability to get down the field and catch the ball. If you put him on [defensive backs], his size and his speed is still really good. Inside, not many people can run the way he does – linebackers, safeties. He's really learning the game; he's understanding things. The ability for him to get down the field and still be able to block is tough, because you can't really say, 'All right, he's just going to go out for routes, and we don't have to worry about the run game.' He's doing a great job blocking for us."
You've had this job for quite a while now and you've coached Todd Heap and Shannon Sharpe. Where would you put Ed Dickson in the hierarchy of all the tight ends that have come through here? (Joe Platania)"Ability- and speed-wise, he runs as well or better than those guys – no question about it. It's just a matter of time to find out. Both Shannon [Sharpe] and Todd [Heap], over longevity, caught balls and had production year after year after year and did it for a long time here. Shannon with Denver, here, then back to Denver, and Todd has moved on. Hopefully, we'll talk about Ed in that someday, but this is Year Three, and I hope that he keeps working to get better and keep improving himself, which he should. If he does, the sky is the limit for him."
Do you expect Dennis Pitta to recover quickly? (Aaron Wilson)"Yeah, I expect him to. I'm not qualified nor authorized on that, but from what I've been told, hopefully we'll get him back soon."
How has Joe Flacco looked to you in the first week? (Scott Hanson)"He looks great. I focus on the tight ends, but I'll tell you, the ball is coming out quickly to us. I can just say as a tight end group, the ball is where we want it. It's coming out quick. He's had really good dialogue with us about, 'Hey, do this,' or, 'I was expecting you to do that.' I think he has done a great job of getting the tight ends and him on the same page."
Would you say Ed is far enough along in his career where he can turn around and be a mentor for the young guys? (Joe Platania)"We got a young group to start with, so obviously, the young guys are going to look up to him and Dennis [Pitta] because they are the guys that have been here. We just picked up Billy Bajema, who is a veteran guy, but he has only been here probably less than a week. So, definitely the young guys in our room look up to him. He has a long way to go. He'll say that. He's got a lot to learn, but they can pick up things off of his game for sure."
That third tight end, is that kind of Billy Bajema and Davon Drew? (Aaron Wilson)"We've got Billy, we've got Davon. Those guys are definitely the guys that have been here. We've got a couple of rookie free agents – Bruce Figgins and Matt Balasavage. All those guys are in the mix. A good group of guys are going to push each other. I'm looking forward to all of them and to find out, especially in these preseason games, what they can do."
What have you seen from Billy Bajema and what he brings to the table in the few days since he's been out here? (Garrett Downing)"Billy is a veteran guy, so he's very smart. He's played in a couple of different systems, so he picks things up very well. But the thing about him is he is a tough kid, and he works his tail off. He is a hard-working guy. He's been around for a bunch of years, but you see him busting his tail out there down the field, catching balls. Whatever you need him to do, he is out there hustling. In drills, he gives 100 percent, and it's great for those guys to see. In line, he can block. He's got great toughness; he is not going to back down from anyone. He brings that element to us."
The way the game has evolved over certain positions, certain schemes, how do you see the tight end position evolving? (Joe Platania)"I think part of it is you get some really good, athletic tight ends based on a lot of the things that the colleges are doing. They are splitting tight ends out. Ed and Dennis, both of those guys came out of systems where they weren't traditionally always lined up by a tackle – they were spread out. So, they've got a little bit of advanced work in the passing game – the skills, the techniques, the fundamentals of that part of the game – which is outstanding. It gives them a lot of work. Now you have to work a little bit more on the run game with those guys, but they've got that part of the game, which is really hard to find guys that can do that with their size and abilities. They play like wideouts, but they've got the bodies of tight ends. I think the college game, the way that people have spread out and have done a lot of that, I think that's really kind of helped some of those guys develop in those roles."
TE Ed Dickson
On his eye clearing up fast after being poked in it Saturday:"It was unfortunate. A couple coaches said I need to get a visor. I said, 'Man, it's too humid out here to put a visor on my helmet right now!' But yeah, [I'm feeling] pretty good."
On whether he would need some windshield wipers with a visor:"Something like that. *(laughing) *Accidents happen though. I was fortunate it was in practice and not a game."
On whether he feels back to normal today:"Oh, yeah. I'm perfect."
On if he wears visors for games or not:"No, not at all. I did in college. I didn't want anything to distract me like with the humidity and then when it rains [and] have to take it off. So, I don't wear visors now, but I might consider going back, because I don't want that to happen in a game and have to miss any time playing."
On how he has seen the tight end position evolve over the past few years:"In general, it's tremendous. It starts back with [general manager/executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome]. It makes the defense have to account for the tight end, and [Todd] Heap taught us very well, his one year he was here [with] myself and Dennis Pitta and those young guys. We just want to carry on that tradition here with the Ravens at tight end, and actually be a blocker for one, and to be able to stretch the field out."
On what he has seen from TE Billy Bajema since he joined the team:"I call him 'Crazy Bill.' He's very intense; he's high energy for him being in the league eight years. He plays every play like it's his last, and for myself – I'm three years in the league – I can really appreciate that from a guy coming in eight years and out there with me. It's just an honor having him here with me and the other guys."
On what Bajema thinks of the nickname "Crazy Bill":"I've just been joking around with him. It hasn't stuck with him yet." (laughing)
On how QB Joe Flacco looks in camp so far:"Oh, he looks really good – just carrying off of that playoff game he had last year. I think Joe's playing at an all-time high, and I'm just excited for him to be my quarterback this year. Keep him healthy, and he can strut up any defense out there."
On whether he and TE Dennis Pitta ever talk about the success of the two young tight ends in New England:"Yeah, we look at those guys and we feel like we can be just as good as those guys. With our offense we're running here, we're not quite like them with the stuff that we do, but with opportunity and time, we could be just as good as those guys. And me and Dennis joke around all the time. We said if we scored any touchdowns in that game [AFC Championship], we were going to mock their touchdown celebrations. And we're very close friends with those guys, so it would have been all love." (laughter)
On whether he is getting more repetitions outside the tackle box in practice:"A little bit now. *(laughing) *It's tough to have my buddy [Pitta] down, but I'm pretty sure he's going to work hard to get back."
On the expectations for himself going into this season:"Just be a leader out on the field, and take what I did earlier in the season and carry that throughout the whole season. And [I want to] help this team get our personal goals, that's championships – multiple championships, divisional championships and overall world championships. And individually, it takes me stepping up, because I'm going into my third year, growing up as a man, and leading this offense."
On how much differently he feels now from his rookie year:"A lot different. I mean, I've probably been up here shaking and stuff like that. I feel really comfortable [now]."* *
On if he has seen a difference in Flacco in terms of the command he has in the huddle:"Joe is just … He's merging into his position. With experience, with the years here, he's become very comfortable. And I know he lost a couple guys, a couple receivers in Derrick Mason and Todd Heap that he got really comfortable with, and he had to regain that trust with his wide receivers. And now, with myself, with Torrey Smith, with Dennis Pitta and Anquan [Boldin], he's building that. Every single practice we go out, every single offseason we have, it's going to develop more chemistry throughout all of us receivers and Joe."
WR Torrey Smith
On how he feels camp is going so far: "I think it's going well. I think I picked up kind of where we left off with OTAs, which was a blessing for us. Obviously, we didn't have that last year during the lockout. I can see myself getting better and better each and every day, so it motivates you to want to work to continue to progress."
On what he feels the next step is for him: "Just being consistent. I can do everything. It's just a matter of doing everything right all the time, and that's how you become a great player, and that's what I'm working towards, just trying to be as consistent as possible."
On the presence that QB Joe Flacco has had: "He's taking control. I'm on the Joe Flacco bandwagon. He's been taking control of the offense, and just the way the throws … He is throwing … He's very consistent in his play, and it's on us to play catch-up with him. And, our chemistry is growing, getting better and better each and every day. During OTAs, he was here all the time. He was here during the offseason; we were throwing all the time. I think there's a huge difference compared to last year when the only receiver he had that he had ever thrown a ball to in a game was Anquan [Boldin]. So, it was a big difference, and I don't think people realized how tough it was on him for us to kind of catch up to his pace."
On how big the jump from practice to games is for rookies:"I think the way we practice prepares you for games. Obviously, it's tough – it's the NFL – but the way we practice, it's tough on us, and it's tough on your bodies. You also get to go against, from the offensive perspective, you get to go against the best defense in the league every day. So, it's a lot easier when you actually get in the games."
On if he has been impressed with the 2012 rookie class so far:"Definitely. They are all great, especially the drafted guys and also the free agent guys. I think they have brought in a great group of young men, and we are looking forward to how it all pans out."
On the main areas that he is critical on himself: "Everything. This will be my, I guess, I will be going into my sixth year receiving. For me, I just want to get better and better each and every time I walk off the field. That's being consistent in my technique, being consistent in catching the ball, being consistent in my routes, and that's what I'm working towards each and every day."
On if he had time to appreciate what he accomplished in 2011 this offseason:"I had a lot that instead of really concentrating on what I did, I was more focused on what I left out on the field. To me, it could have been a lot better, so for me, I know I kind of set … I have high standards for myself, and to know looking back at the end of the year, watching all of the plays that I left on the field, it could have been a monster season for me. So, for me, I know as long as I can be consistent, I can do that, and I can reach those goals. For me, that's what I'm working towards. For me, it's all about being consistent."
On how the NFL is different from his days at Maryland and people knowing his name: "It's definitely different, especially publicly. Before, I could walk anywhere and no one would say anything. I like going everywhere – I'm a mall guy, I'm a movie guy – and now it's a lot different. But, I just appreciate it and being in Baltimore, you definitely appreciate our fans."
On the chemistry of the team between offense and defense: "Everyone is competitive, and you want to win and beat each other down every single play. And that's what we get out of each other; that's what motivates us, and that's what's going to make us a better team by the way we compete with one another. As far as [Lardarius] Webb goes, I probably talk the most trash to him, between me and Anquan [Boldin]. It's fun to get him. He's real country, so when he gets mad, his voice gets very high pitched, and it's hilarious. (laughing) But, it's great for me, personally, going against Webb. Obviously, he is one of the better corners in the league. We just have fun; it's real fun on the field. We are a family both on and off. It makes us all better."
On how confident he feels this year compared to last:"A lot more confident. This time last year, I could barely walk and chew gum at the same time. *(laughing) *I was thinking so much about the assignment and kind of really worrying about things that I shouldn't have been worrying about. For me, coming into this year understanding our offense, just trying to develop as a player, it's definitely a lot less stressful instead of … I was going to yard sales and all kinds of stuff last year, and you get that phone call, and you are here just like that. I'm thankful for it. I'm glad everything happened like it did last year, because I think it forced me to develop, and I was kind of sharpened through the fire. I had some rough stages; I was able to go and learn it. I have been through a lot in my rookie season, and at this point, I feel like there's nothing that can happen to me that I wouldn't be able to handle."
On if there is one specific moment or play that he would not have completed last year:"No, not really. It's just … For me, it's just being consistent. My goal coming in is I just wanted to stack days on top of each other and, so far, I think I have done an OK job. I'm tough on myself, but I can definitely see some progress made during camp, and I just want to continue to do that."
On if he will lose speed in his game as he adds more elements to his game:"Maybe when I get older, but for me, no time soon. As long as I can run … It was God-given. So, I definitely need to take advantage of that. That's a strength of mine. Again, I just try to expand on everything else, and I think I'm doing a good job. I continue to get better in that way."
On if he feels quicker after the surgery: "Yeah, I feel a lot better. The biggest thing between the surgery is that everything that I was doing last year was painful. And, when it started to get cold, it was terrible. I was fighting that battle every day, and now I'm able to run and get out of my breaks; I'm not feeling any pain at all. So, thank you for the surgery."
On if he has kept the same speed:"It was harder getting in and out of breaks, the stopping and starting. I was kind of fine-cutting, and I was fine once I actually got going. But actually getting going and then transitioning was pretty painful."