Friday Mini-Camp Transcript

Head Coach John Harbaugh

General statement: "[We had] a lot of enthusiasm [and] an excellent meeting this morning. It was a fast-paced practice, but obviously, we have a long way to go and a lot work to do. But, it was a good start."

On starting the 2009 season: "The building began, really, the first week back during the offseason program. We've been doing football schools, which is why I think they were pretty strong today – lifting, stretching and all those different kinds of things. The most challenging thing is the pace of practice, being able to process information quickly in a game setting. Really, as far as doing that, for the first day, I thought we did that well."

On seeing the new players compete: "They've still got black helmets with the big Raven on the side. So we're still the Ravens, right? We're always trying to get better. I think even with the guys who have been here in the past, we see differences. Individual players have improved; the scheme has improved. And then adding the new faces is exciting. It's fun to watch the draft picks and the guys we signed. So it all goes together."

On having a new defensive coordinator in Greg Mattison and how the changes went: "Sure, everybody is fine."

On the wide receivers trying out: "We have three wide receivers in here for tryouts right now, and that's what it is – a tryout."

On what he thinks about the Ravens' wideouts: "We love our wide receivers. We have good players playing wide receiver. I guess people can write and believe what they want, but watch them play. Put on the tape. But, just like every other potion on our team, they're going to try to improve – improve every spot by improving the players, individually and all as a group."

On the passing game improving and opening it up this year: "I thought the passing game was pretty open last year. It's kind of a term, a catch phrase – I don't even know what it means. But we want to expand everything we are doing, do everything better. If we can expand the types of throws we throw well, the types of routes we can run and catch, the types of protection… The run game makes the pass game better. All those things are important."

On seeing players who were on IR last year being back in action: "It's great to see. Kelly Gregg looks great. Dawan Landry, Dwan Edwards – all those guys are moving around really well. I think it's a credit to what they've done in the offseason, as far as rehabbing. Also, to [head athletic trainer] Bill T. [Tessendorf] and his group in there because those guys have been in there every day rehabbing, and obviously, [they've been] with [strength and conditioning coaches] John [Dunn] and Bob [Rogucki] in the weight room. It's been really productive. To see those guys out here is a combination of that kind of work."

On if he's talked to franchise LB Terrell Suggs about his contract situation: "No, not about the situation. That's being worked out between his agent and Ozzie [Newsome]. Football-wise, we're in contact with him. He wants to come back, and you can bet on that. He'd like to be here at practice, that's for sure."

On T Willie Anderson's absence from practice and how rookie T Michael Oher played: "Michael, first of all, I thought did well. There was nothing glaring, but we'll go back and watch the tape and take a look at it specifically. I'm sure [offensive line coach] John Matsko has opinions on it. I didn't see anything jump out that didn't look right. Willie has some injury issues with the knees. He's working with the trainers in there, so we've just got to see what he's going to do. He's got some things that just don't allow him to practice right now or to be out here. So, he's inside."

On rookies trying to make a name for themselves on Day One: "It'd be a great story to say, 'Yeah, the rookies are trying to get the coach's eye.' But I think they are just trying to swim right now; they're trying not to drown. They did a good job. We didn't have a lot of issues with rookies not being able to line up – there were a few – or guys bumping into each other. We didn't have two guards pulling and running into each other behind the quarterback. So, it was a good day."

On how far QB Joe Flacco has come in one year: "You know we don't make comparisons (laughing). Well, the biggest difference, the thing that jumped out to me about all the quarterbacks, especially Joe and Troy [Smith], was the way they handled the play clock. We had the full play clock going. Last year at this time, how many times did that buzzer go off? We couldn't get a play off. We fumbled the first snap of practice, of course, but after that it was pretty good. I thought there were situations where guys didn't get lined up quite right or we didn't have the right personnel out there, but the quarterback was still able to manage the clock and get the play off on time. That's probably his biggest thing in what you're talking about."

On evaluating QB John Beck: "John's really smart, and first of all, he picks up the offense quickly. He's been in this offense before, which probably helps him. He can really throw. He's got a quick, compact release. He throws a good, tight, accurate ball. So, he's a very talented guy."

On the defense this season under Greg Mattison: "For Greg, it's an opportunity to be the coordinator and run the defense. We haven't changed the defense too much. I'd say we have evolved the defense. All things, probably if Rex [Ryan] had stayed and Mike [Pettine] had stayed, would have evolved a similar way. It's just an on-going process with our defense. I think the guys were excited to be out there with Greg – maybe the start of somewhat of a new era, defensively. I think it's really more of the same. I thought the defense looked good. They flew around – they played fast like they always do. You've got a guy like Ray Lewis, who has been here form the beginning – Ray has been the constant of this defense when you talk about the defensive tradition in Baltimore – and Ray is still out there. Ed Reed is out there. Trevor Pryce, all those guys came out ready to work, and they did a nice job."

On RB Ray Rice and the good shape he looks to be in: "Well you notice that. He is a little bigger, and he's actually leaner, bigger, faster, quicker. He really practiced hard. And, he's in great shape. He looked good."

On position battles this season: "Every position is a battle. You guys laugh when we say that, but Joe Flacco has got to compete for his spot. Everybody else… And I guarantee you Troy and John feel that way about it. A key position that's going to be interesting is the offensive line to see how that shakes out. Obviously, corner is going to be interesting, tight end is going to be interesting. Wide receivers, you guys mentioned that… So, have we named the all? Running back will be interesting. And kicker will be quite interesting."

On LB Tavares Gooden: "Yes, Tavares looked fast today. To me, he looked like a linebacker. He was really patient on runaways, stayed square, played downhill, stayed on the backside of the play. It wasn't just running around like crazy. He played fast as a linebacker, which is good to see."

On if he took any time in the offseason to reflect on the success he had last year:"I guess so. I mean, I don't know, the season is over and really the only thing you do is look forward to some time off, some time to relax. If you get back into it, before you know it it's next season, so you really don't have too much time to think about it. But, I think we definitely realized what happened, and we want to get back there, but we also want to get a little bit further."

On points he's trying to fine tune in his second year:"The biggest thing right now is that we get a chance to go back over the offense, start from scratch and re-install everything. Even though I like to think I know the offense, there's always more you can learn, and when you go back and install it from the very basic parts of the offense, you can see things that you really missed the first year. I'm sure next year will be the same way, and the next year will be the same way. So, I'm trying to go back over the offense and see what else I can learn that I missed before."

On if T Michael Oher looked like he understood the game:"Yeah, we had a lot of good new guys out there today. They all seemed like they knew where to go and knew what to do. The biggest thing is, if you don't know what to do, to go out there and do something aggressively, and I think they all had the right ideas."

On if he feels different now than he did last year at this time:"I feel a lot different now. It's so much more comfortable. You have a comfort level with all of your teammates, with all your coaches, with the offense. Last year I didn't know anything, I didn't know anybody. Now, coming out here I have that comfort, and it's a lot easier. Like I said, you're able to focus on different things. I'm able to see what I missed in the offense. Trying to learn as [many] new things as possible, rather than worry about coming out here and seeing… I'm not really worried about what I look like right now. I'm worried about going out there and trying to get better. What happens, happens. I expect to do well, but last year you want to come in and you want to do a great job, you want to complete every single pass, but that ends up not happening. And then you feel bad about it. But this year, like I said, I feel more comfortable, and I'm able to come out here and practice, and have a good time doing it."

On how he sees the wide receiver position shaking out:"We've got a lot of guys right here today that are new faces – I don't even know if I know them, really. But we're throwing to them, and we're throwing them right in the mix. That's the way we do things. We put them out there, and see what they can do. They're all doing a pretty good job right now. There are a couple of guys who went up for passes today, seeing some improvement, going up and getting some deep balls. Hopefully over the next couple of days we'll see if we can get somebody to really stand out for us."

On if he's comfortable with the current group of wide receivers:"Definitely. As you grow as an offense, I'm going to grow, they're going to grow, our offensive line is, and therefore we're going to become a better passing team. We had a pretty darn good team last year, and obviously it was with the guys we had, so we don't need anybody else. We feel like we have the guys to go get it done. We feel like we have the guys to run the field. So we've got to work hard now and make sure that we do all the right things building up to then and do that."

On if he feels stronger and quicker:"I think I've always feel in pretty good shape, but we've been working out the last month, so I'm definitely getting stronger, and my legs feel good. So, I feel like I'm doing pretty well. But like I said, I always feel like I'm in pretty good shape."

On if he threw a lot in the offseason:"Not really. Honestly, I'm not worried about picking up the ball too much and throwing the ball. I know I'll do it a bunch of times in the season, and obviously we got back here March 16, that time of the offseason, and we started picking up the ball then. Before that, I may have held it in my hands. But I wasn't too worried about throwing the ball; I just wanted to give my arm a little bit of rest. We'll get a lot of throws done in the offseason, and hopefully we will in the season."

On RB Ray Rice's improvements:"Ray improved immensely during the season last year, and then he ended up getting a little banged up and he couldn't play the last three or four games. But Ray's going to make huge improvements. And you can already see that out there. Again, today he probably feels the same way I do – a lot more comfortable with what he doing. And his job is to get in there and do what he does and help out the other guys."

On if his leadership role has naturally evolved since he's gotten more comfortable with the guys:"Yeah, definitely. I'm a guy who likes to come in here and mind my own business, let everybody do their own thing and not really step on anybody's toes. And now I know who everybody is, I know everybody better, so I feel more capable of having a real relationship with a lot of the guys. So therefore, that helps me grow as a leader."

On young additions to the offensive line:"It's huge. The game of football starts out with the offensive and defensive line. So, if our defensive line is great, and our offensive line is great, and if we can make improvements to them, that's even better. It's not just our tackles, our whole offensive line is solid, and they're all pretty young. So we're hoping to keep that up, keep getting better."

On his reaction when he knew the Ravens' first pick was on his side:"It was an offensive guy and was another tackle. I know we already have Jared [Gaither] over there, and it was definitely cool to see Michael. I hadn't really known too much about his story, but I started hearing things about that, and he's a great kid. I think he's going to come here and work hard. That's pretty much what I got out of it. I talked to him, and it seemed like he was ready to get in here and work hard from Day One, and that's definitely exciting to hear as a quarterback."

On if it feels good to have the whole team back for mini-camps:"It feels good to get back and see all the guys and start all over again. You've got all the young guys coming in here with the big eyes, and they really don't know what they're doing or where they're going. It's always good to be back."

On how LBs Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain are learning:"Fast. Tavares is sometimes going too fast. At a jogging pace, he wants to hit somebody, like right now. So, I've got to calm him down. But I think the exciting part about those guys is what they learned off the field. On the field, athleticism, they're gifted in that area, but the way that Jameel and Tavares have already been over to the house, just to gain that knowledge, they're searching for it, and I'm giving it to them. But to see them apply it, it's a great thing to see what those guys are doing."

On how much he helps in the transition to a new defensive coordinator:"I think it's been the same transition for me, year in and year out, no matter if it was Rex [Ryan], Marvin [Lewis] or Jack [Del Rio], Mike Nolan, anybody. Whoever it may be, it's the same transition. You just have to get familiar with who it is. It just so happens [Greg] Mattison and I are really close, so with the conversations we've had on the phone, we've already caught up with probably where I've been years before, just having the same thought process and things like that. It's been a smooth transition. He and I think a lot alike. He's a very excited guy, very enthusiastic about a lot of things, so I think it fits hand-in-hand."

On how the defense looks with old players back, like NT Kelly Gregg, and new players added, like CB Domonique Foxworth:"When you step back and look at it, it actually looks more exciting, because you've actually got your two- or three-deeps back. You lose a Kelly, you lose guys like that, you lose [Terrell] Suggs late in the season last year, then you look very thin. But when you start to get these guys back, and now compete, with Foxworth here, you get the young guy from the third round [Lardarius Webb], and now you've got Samari [Rolle] back and all these guys, now you can see the whole core back. You get [Dawan] Landry back all over again. So now, the excitement builds up again. When you think you're losing, you're actually gaining, and that's what we were talking about today. We have so many pieces still here, and so many pieces that weren't here last year [due to] injuries or whatever. So, it's really exciting to get them back, and we're happy to welcome them back."

On the key to having a smooth transition between coordinators:"I think around here it's just relating to the player, and that's something coach Mattison is very good at. He relates very well, just like in the meeting today. He said it best – nothing changes. The game plan doesn't make the Ravens, the players make the Ravens, and that's what we have around here. Guys pull each other in to make sure we keep the same tempo going, and coach Mattison understands that. So, he's more of the facilitator. It's more the guys that keep us in order, keep us loose. I think that's the beauty of the transition that he's already made. And I think he made that transition last year, being the linebackers coach. He really made a great transition on a lot of guys and that's why a lot of guys respect him the way they do now."

On if he has any impressions of T Michael Oher:"The No. 1 pick? No, you can't talk about that now. You can't figure that out until you really get in the pads and really see what goes down. It's hard. Anybody looks good when you're out here in shorts. They'll figure it all out though."

On QB Joe Flacco now compared to at this point last year:"I keep saying this: Joe, to me, is light-years ahead of where he should be, just like last year as a rookie. Now, his knowledge is understanding what being a now second-year player [is], but [he] understands that he is the quarterback of our team. Just seeing the communication that he has with the guys, you see him. He's always trying to fix something, tweak something that the guy should be working on. That's the biggest thing. Joe is going to be Joe. Joe is staying humble. Joe is going to be Joe, but just seeing how he's grabbing guys in is a big move."

On if Mattison is old school:"Yeah. Coach Mattison is so old school, and that's why he relates to so many of us. He's so old school it's ridiculous. That's what you love about him. He's like your granddad. It's cool, because he has a great personality about himself, and his humble spirit is overwhelming most of the time. But just who he is, his knowledge of the game and how many years he's been in the game… Greg has been in the game for longer than when most of us were born, so just understanding that part of it gives him great credibility, really makes him who he is."

On if Mattison is similar to former Ravens LBs coach Maxie Baughan: "Absolutely. That's a great comparison. Him and Mattison are very similar. Maxie wasn't going to yell and do all that. 'Mattie' isn't going to do all that either. They're just going to really educate you the way they need to, and they're going to let you go out and do what you do best. That's what coach Mattison does well."

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