BALTIMORE RAVENS TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Great to see everybody. Thanks for coming. This is a good start. Obviously, we've got the perfect weather for training camp. The guys did a great job. Our team is in shape. It was a fast-paced practice. Obviously, we have a lot of rough edges to grind off right now, but I am real pleased for the first day."
John, in terms of guys breaking the mold, what did you think about how the defensive backs practiced? (Aaron Wilson)"I thought the secondary was really sharp. Obviously, they made a lot plays, a lot of plays in the red zone – a lot of PBUs [passes broken up], a number of interceptions. The secondary, the whole defense, pass defense-wise, looked really good."
Do you expect Bryant McKinnie out there pretty soon? Is he close get to a point where he can get out there? (Aaron Wilson)"He contacted us through a representative. He is dealing with an issue right now. I don't really want to speak for him on that. Just let him speak for himself on that when the time comes."
Coach, as far as the conditioning, today is a good barometer, isn't it, the first day and the weather? (Jerry Coleman) "That's what it's all about. That's why guys need to be in great shape. That's why you need to prepare in the offseason and to get yourself ready in the interim period before training camp, because camp is tough. Anybody that has played the game understands – training camp is tough. You start off in 95-degree weather, 95-percent humidity, and you end up with the snow blowing all around you. It's one of the beauties of the game."
As a coach, do you prefer weather like this, just to kind of test your guys early? (Jamison Hensley)"I am a summer guy generally. I like hot weather. I like hot weather better than cold weather, if that's what you're asking."
As a coach though, because of the conditioning, it does test your conditioning a little bit more, right? (Jamison Hensley)"It's good to have hot weather. It's good to get yourself out there and get acclimated to it. All the doctors will tell you that you have to be in it to get used to it. It takes about a week to a week-and-a-half to get used to it. But, you don't want to be out here every day in it, because that can be debilitating. So, if we get a long period of hot weather, we'll go in there and turn the air on and be smart about it."
The undrafted guys, Jameel McClain heading into his fifth year, how has it been to see the progress he has made? It doesn't always work out for undrafted guys, but it has worked out for him, to say the least. (Joe Platania)"You're right. Jameel is one of those guys that made it. He is an undrafted guy that … You always kind of gauge guys through their first contract to see if there are going to be guys that you are going to want to have back the second time around. Jameel was one of those guys, really, right from the beginning. He is becoming one of the top linebackers in football. I know that's his goal."
Coach, with the weather aside, you always like to have high-tempo practice. Being that you can't hit as much as you used to be able to, how do you duplicate that tempo to get these guys ready for the regular season? (Mark Zinno) "As far as the hitting part of it? We'll get enough hitting in. You don't get quite as many practices, but even before, with the rules, you really would never hit more than one time a day, if you were in two-a-days. We usually didn't go at it twice a day, at least in the last 10 years ago. Maybe back in the olden days, back when you were playing. But, we'll get enough hitting in in camp."
Coach, is Torrey Smith OK, because he grabbed his leg? (Barry Barnes) "I think he cramped up. I think he cramped up. Torrey is a guy with a very low percentage of body fat, so the cramping is always going to be an issue for him."
John, how many less practices do you have during camp than you had when you first started? (Steve Davis)"You know, I don't think we have really any less practices in the sense that we take that early practice, and we call it 'Alignment, Assignment, Communication and Technique' practice. It's a very detailed, walk-through-type practice. It's not quite as fast as the old practice was, but that was out of pads anyway, so we count that as a practice. If you want to just count it is a walk-through, than you have to say half as many. I think it's a practice though."
John, how has Bobbie Williams played? (Aaron Wilson) "Bobbie has done a great job. Bobbie lost about 12, 13 pounds since he came here in June. He passed the conditioning test with flying colors. He looks to be in very good shape. He looks good."
How nice is it having Ed Reed out there to coach and see him back out there? (Garrett Downing) "It's very nice, to answer your question. It's great to have Ed. Ed loves football, and Ed is our most enthusiastic guy out here today. I don't think there is any doubt. All of us understand what kind of person he is, and he's ready to go."
I know it's only one day, but a number of good catches by the wide receivers were really good hands grabs. Is that kind of a focus this year to drop the drops? (Ryan Mink) "Is that going to be your headline? (laughter) You know, that's the No. 1 job for a receiver – to catch the ball. You can talk about speed, size and separation all you want. But, the bottom line is, can you catch? If you can't catch, in my mind you can't play receiver. We were not as good of a catching team last year as we need to be. It's definitely an emphasis."
Coach, staying on the topic of the younger wide receivers, what have you thought about the young guys over the course of the last days, guys like Tandon Doss, Tommy Streeter and Deonte Thompson? (Matt Zenitz)"Tandon just got here today, but Tommy is a guy that's a developmental guy. He's got all the tools in the world. He's got a good vision for what he wants to become as a player. It's going to take some time, it's a matter time, but I don't think it's going be as long as some people think. Deonte Thompson is looking really good. He is fighting for a spot just like Tommy is. [He is] another [rookie] free agent who has got a chance."
With Paul Kruger, his playing time has increased pretty much every year. Now, he is taking on a bigger role. What do you think his biggest challenge is transitioning into an every-down guy? (Jamison Hensley) "Just that – being an every-down guy [and] the responsibility that goes with that. You've got to understand the whole game plan, you've got to know the defense, you've got to know the base package and all elements of the sub package. Before, he was more of a part-time player, just had to know part of the package. I don't think he'll have a problem with the run. He's a very physical guy. The mental part of it, he's worked hard at it. He looks good."
Coach, some of the young guys like Courtney Upshaw are getting the chance to work with the first team. Do you talk to them about expectations as far as working with that first team? Or is it just about getting reps and understanding what is going on? (Mark Zinno)"You do talk about expectations a little bit, but really, they are just trying to swim right now, keep their head above water. He is just trying to make sure he doesn't lower the standard, because he is learning. It's all new for him. The pace of play is new. The defense, obviously, the volume is new. So, I don't think you have to talk about [expectations] too much. It's pretty self-evident."
Coach, you've got some great individual players here. The cover of the media guide says "TEAM," your shirt says "TEAM." Is that the theme for this year? (Jerry Coleman) "You've been here for four years. What's the theme always been? (Reporter: "It's the first time I've seen it in print.") You haven't seen all of our T-shirts probably. (laughter) Does it have to be a T-shirt to be a theme? (Reporter: "I guess I've seen it twice now. Is there a pattern perhaps?") I would say it's a principle. It's a principle of our program. The team."
Offensive players have been verbal about not relying on the defense to change what this team is known for. Have you seen anything this offseason or just a spark in guys that the Ravens can be known for their offense, too? (Morgan Adsit) "We're going to try to be the best team we can be, borrowing Jerry [Coleman]'s term. But, our offense has a lot of pride. Our goal, as every year, is to be the best defense in football. It's also to be the winningest defense in football. That goes true for our offense as well. Our offense, maybe this is the first year that some people on the outside think we have maybe a better chance to do it. Maybe that's what you're saying. I don't really know. But, we are going to try to be the best offense in football, too. Those two units are going to go against each other every day. It's going to be fun to watch. But sure, we've got some weapons. We've got a quarterback that is ready to continue on his path to becoming a great quarterback. It's going to be fun to watch."
John, you spoke to the team in a video on your website about in order to get over the hump, you have to get to the hump. To get back to the hump, it all starts with the first practice. (Aaron Wilson) "You're right. Get over the hump, get to the next level, that stuff is just a cliché. Yeah, we're starting from scratch. We're going to build a keel. We're going to build a keel to this ship. We're going to sink the pilings deep. We're going to make that rock solid foundation built on bedrock. Those are principles. That's where it starts, so we have to get back to that place. You want to talk about 22 seconds left in the AFC Championship game, that's fine. We have to get back to 22 seconds left in the AFC Championship game first, and before that, we have to have a great preseason. But what we're really interested in is a really great practice tomorrow. That's what matter. That's what's important now. That's what we need to take care of."
Coach, is everything alright with Haloti Ngata? We didn't see him out there. (Jason Butt)"Haloti tweaked his hamstring a little bit. He's doing the conditioning test, and we're going to take it slow and make sure he is OK."
How about your right tackle, Ramon Harewood? (Mike Preston) "Ramon. K.O. [Kelechi Osemele], I'll talk about him, too. Ramon had an ankle issue. We'll find out what it is after practice. It looks like he rolled it. K.O. is still working with the back. There is a good chance he'll be out here tomorrow. Is there anybody else? Jah [Reid] has the calf. That may take a couple of more days."
With Bryant McKinnie not here and a couple of the other guys banged up, how important is it going to be for a lot of those guys to be versatile, because you'll need to move them around? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's going to be really important. Right now, Bobbie is going to take most of the work at right guard, and with our situation Michael Oher is the left tackle. And just for the record, we've always believed Michael Oher is a left tackle here. We're going to put the five best linemen out there, and last year to do that, Michael was a right tackle. I am very comfortable with Michael at left tackle. Until further notice, he is a left tackle. My point is we have to find a right tackle. There will be heated competition for that spot."
Without going into specifics of what the issue is, but with McKinnie, is this something that could be a long-term issue or is this something that you expect him maybe in the next couple of days. (Jamison Hensley) "In all honesty, I really don't know. We should know more here soon."
If McKinnie comes back, can he be the right tackle? (Mike Preston) "No, Bryant is a left tackle. Bryant is a left tackle and has been. That's why we did it that way last year."
John, last year you knew who your backup running back was. Now it's a little bit up in the air. How do you handle getting these younger guys reps and determine the best guy? (Steve Davis) "Reps aren't a problem, as you noticed out there in practice today. We get lots of reps. Those guys are getting all the reps they want, so it will just be a competition, and we'll see who plays the best. It will be a fight."
Do you expect the same thing out of each of guy, whoever is going to be your backup running back? Or, does each guy bring and do different things better? (Steve Davis)"Well, all these guys have roles, no doubt. You say this guy is the No. 2 guy, but what's the No. 2 guy? The No. 3 guy is the third-down passing guy? You could say he is your No. 2 guy. I think they're all fighting for various slices of the role. Ricky [Williams] had most of that last year. These guys could divide that up this year, possibly."
Is there anybody standing out on special teams, any of the young guys? (Mark Zinno)"They are just learning right now. It's hard to tell, as you know, in special teams until you get to those games. You get to those preseason games and you see a lot more."
Thoughts on Nigel Carr? (Glenn Younes) "Nigel Carr has done a great job. He is another guy … I'll tell you, this rookie class is the deepest one we have had since we have been here, and there's going to be some guys making the team that people hadn't heard of going in."
QB Joe Flacco
On what it is like being back: "It was fun. It was a good day. Our receivers are probably dying right now, and they would tell you the opposite. But, it was a lot of fun. It was a hot one, and we got a lot of good work in."
On if he is getting a better night's sleep in the hotel since he has a newborn son at home:"I actually got a pretty good night's sleep last night, but it hasn't been bad. My wife's been doing a great job. I've been sleeping, unless he is crying too long, and I happen to wake up. But if I do happen to wake up, I try not to let anyone know." (laughter)
On if it is hard not seeing his son as much: "Yeah, it was definitely different leaving home this time having him around. You usually pack your bags up, and it's not too big of a deal. Sorry to my wife, but even when I just left her it wasn't as big of a deal. But, to leave both of them behind, it was definitely a little bit different, but it's not like he's not going to come back to me."
On what he thinks he can improve upon this season:"We have to go out there, and I think we have to attack – just become a little bit more accurate, a little bit more precise on everything we do, and I think I start that. I think it's my job to get everyone on the same page, so when we go out there, there is no error, we are hitting on all cylinders, and if something goes wrong, it's because something crazy happened. I think if we can all get on the same page and all see the defense the same way, we are going to be tough to stop, and it's my job to get everyone on the same page and then execute."
On if he feels more comfortable after being in the league four years:"I'm sure. As you progress in the league, you get more comfortable with protective schemes; you get more comfortable with what the actual defense is giving you. When you know what they are throwing at you, no matter how crazy or complex it can be, then your mind is more at ease. You know where to go, and I think the more you run the plays – the more you rep them – then obviously, you get better at them and the more you see the defenses, which our defense is great for because they run so many different varieties of things. It really prepares you to kind of react quickly and go out and play."
On his thoughts on new QBs coach Jim Caldwell: "Jim is a great guy, and it's a real joy to sit in the room with him and have the back and forth talk about the different plays we run, and about how we can improve this, how we can improve that – what we are doing well. He's just a good guy that, like I said, we can have in there and bounce things off of and actually have some dialogue and dialogue that helps us get better."
On if he has noticed more progress in the younger guys:"It's tough, because with the minicamp, I was here one day [and then left for the birth of his son], and OTAs and stuff like that, you get a lot of reps with those guys because a lot of the veterans aren't here. And when you get back to training camp, all the veterans are back in there with you, and you don't a chance to see as much of those guys. But, I can tell you they have definitely made great strides. I am impressed just by how much they actually know what is going on. When you throw them in there, they aren't confused, and if they are, they ask for help, and that's great to see that we can just throw them in there. They've been ready to execute when we've put them in there."
On how much confidence Flacco has in T Michael Oher:"I have a ton of confidence in Michael. Michael is getting better and better. He is a great athlete, a lot of power, but he is one of those guys that has been in the offense a couple of years now. I think he is really starting to come into his own. So, I have a ton of confidence in him."
On if it is important to have T Bryant McKinnie at training camp now:"Yeah, I think it is important to have our whole team here. Bryant is on the roster, and we need to get him here. He is a good player, and we need to get him here, get him running the plays, and get him ready for the season, get him in football shape and make our decision from there."
On if Flacco feels that the offense needs to do more: "I don't know. As far as I'm concerned, we shouldn't be holding back because of our defense. That's kind of bogus, if you ask me. So, if that's what we are doing, then we have a problem. So, we won't look at it any differently. We have to go out there and try to score points; that's the biggest thing. I think we are getting better. We are getting more athletic and more skilled and we are doing a lot of things on the offensive side of the ball just in terms of personnel. And when we get out here, we are working on them in terms of getting better and getting to that point where we can be an explosive offense and score a lot of points."
On if he feels a sense of ease since RB Ray Rice's contract got done and his could be next: "Yeah, I'm not worried about it, especially when you are out here on whatever, however hot it was today, and you're practicing. That's the last thing that's on your mind. I was glad for Ray, and it is a big thing for our organization to get him done. Ray is a great back, and it's great to see that happen, and yeah, I'm not worried about it. I haven't been worried about it; I'm not worried about it. It will happen one day, and whenever it happens, I will be excited, but you probably really won't be able to see it too much."
On if Flacco will wait until the end of the season if a contract isn't done before preseason: "It doesn't matter to me. It's not like I'm up in the offices negotiating my contract. I really don't have any thought about it. It's up to my agent. If he happens to call me one day in October … It's not like I'm thinking about it in October. It's not going to distract me. Like I said, I haven't really thought about it all offseason, and I'm not thinking about it now. If something happens, it happens; if it doesn't, it doesn't."
On the if Flacco finds himself more nervous now in the role of being a father: "I'm not doing any diaper changing, so I don't have to be nervous for anything that he does besides keeping him healthy, keeping him safe, making sure he is progressing. He's doing well right now. I can't complain. To be honest with you, when I'm home with my wife and he's around, I'm useless. I have nothing he wants. (laughing) If he's crying, 'Hey, hun, here you go.' That's my job right now. If she wants a couple of minutes by herself, I take him out to the car because that's usually where he falls asleep."
On if Flacco feels a more of a sense of responsibility: "It's just exciting for me. I've always wanted to have a family of my own. To get to that point, it's kind of unreal. I'll look at him every now and then and be like, 'Oh yeah, man. I'm a dad.' It's a pretty crazy thing. It's indescribable. The day he came definitely changed my life. I don't know that I can describe it, like I said, but it's pretty special."
On if Flacco will be getting a minivan or not:"No, my wife's not a big fan of minivans, so I don't think we'll be getting one. Al Packer Ford's taking care of me, so … (laughing) Thanks, guys."
LB Jameel McClain
On being where he is now after entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent:"It's just amazing to be able to grow in this system, to grow within this organization. So, for me – everybody in here obviously knows where I came from – so, it's just, sometimes I just look at it and I'm just like, 'It's amazing.' That's my word for it. It's just amazing."
On what it was like having S Ed Reed behind him in the defensive backfield again: "It's great. It's great to have Ed, it's great to have Bernard [Pollard] back there, it's great to have 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] back there. It's great for everybody to be out there together collectively. But anytime you have Ed Reed on the field, that's a presence that everybody has to calculate for."
On how OLB Courtney Upshaw looked in his first full-squad practice: "Courtney looked good, man. He's a great player. We can all see that within him. He's strong; strong as an ox. That's what we know, but the real challenge for everybody comes when the pads come on. That's where we know when it's gut-check time, but I've got a strong feeling that Courtney is going to be even better with pads on."
On whether he noticed if Upshaw made any mistakes out on the field today:"I think there were [a few] mistakes out there for everybody at some point, but he didn't really make any glaring rookie mistakes, because he was always on his P's and Q's. He knew where he had to go, and he got there and he got his job done."
On whether he went back to California to work out again this offseason:"I did. I actually went out to California in the beginning part, and the second phase I just trained out in New Jersey and then Philadelphia the whole time. Getting it right, shedding some pounds, getting ready for this game that's changing."
On whether he weighs around 245 pounds: "Yeah, I'm in the lower 240-245 range. I'm in that range."
On what he means by "getting ready for the game that's changing":"I mean, like we all know, it's becoming more of a passing league, so the goal is to try to stay out there as long as you can and still stay strong and get all of those things done. But everybody wants to pass the ball; everybody wants to go no-huddle. So, the 255-, 260-pound linebacker, I know those days are disappearing – slowly, but surely."
On whether he made the decision to lose some weight on his own or if he discussed it with the team:"The great thing about this organization is they allow you to get better yourself as a player. We all understand that we're all professionals and we're going to do what's best for us, but at the end of the day, when you're thinking about yourself, it's always about the team. So, if I get better as a player individually, I help the team out consequently."
On whether he feels like the team is building something special with a few key players recently signing long-term contracts: "I feel like everybody knows when it's they're time to step up. We have leadership within this team – phenomenal leadership. A lot of teams wish they had the guys that we have. But, the great thing about our leadership is they teach the younger people how to become where they are, how to get there. And it's a progression and everything, so everybody knows when it's their time to step up within that time frame. So, that's what we're all focusing on."
On whether he feels like this defense is playing for injured OLB Terrell Suggs, to help him not rush back: "Definitely. Everybody knows that the next man has to step up. Terrell Suggs is a big void to fill; everybody knows that. But fortunately, we have some great young guys that are ready to go out there and put in a lot of work with Paul Kruger, Courtney Upshaw, Chavis Williams, Albert McClellan. We've got a lot of guys that are ready and understand what it takes to play on this defense. So, when we lose one, everybody else steps up to a whole other level, and that's what everybody's focused on."
On how much of an influence Suggs has been even on the sidelines now:"He definitely does [have influence]. He's a leader in its purest form. Like I said, the guys that we have in this locker room, it's amazing. But Terrell is always, he's always lending a good voice for all of the younger players, especially the outside guys. I'm on the inside; I'm in Ray Lewis' ear all the time."
On who will be the practical jokester until Suggs gets back: "Terrence Cody. Easily, easily."
On what it means to have some fans at practice today, adding some energy: "It's great. It's great to see them out there having a good time, and they're getting a chance to sweat with us. That's the sad part about leaving Westminster; we don't get a chance to interact with so many of the fans. But the few that we do get here, we're all excited to have them."
On where he sees OLB Sergio Kindle making the most progress right now:"He's understanding the game better. It's really coming to him, so that's what I really see out of Sergio. And now you can see him running around out there, doing things more freely. When you're younger, the game is so fast, because you never really catch on to it. But you can see that it's slowing down for Sergio, and we'll definitely – I believe – we'll be seeing a lot of Sergio. I'm a fan."
On his main point of emphasis this offseason: "The point of emphasis for me was to be a better player, like it is every year. Every year, I pick something that I can hone in on. For me, it was being more aware in coverage and then pass rushing, because it may be an opportunity for me to go out there and do something in the pass rush. So, I worked on those things to try to be better on that part. But, more importantly, being more of a leader, stepping up in that aspect. We lost some great leaders, so someone has to step up. So, I made sure I was here. I made sure I was aware. I made sure. I'm trying to live by the right example that the Ravens always set."
On if he finds undrafted guys coming to him for advice: "I think I spend time with anyone who is willing to ask a question. I don't think it is a matter of if I was drafted or if I was undrafted. The way I work or what I put in, I would hope the players would understand that I am someone that put in the time, and that they can lean on me for that information." On the importance of the Ray Lewis' speech after the AFC Championship defeat: "The game is bigger than we always think it is. The game always lasts longer than that 60 minutes. It's people that love you to death. What I took from it was family. That's the main thing I took from it, because in that moment, my stomach was so sick, like I couldn't feel anything else until he talked about the importance of outside the game. And then, at that point, alone is when I calmed myself down and I thought, 'Man, I have a loving family, a loving girlfriend, I'm good.' So, Joe Flacco is over there. Gentlemen, thank you for having me."