Introductory Press Conference Transcript


(HARBAUGH)"I just want to welcome these three gentlemen to Baltimore, and I know that our fans, Raven Nation, our media, are going to be excited when they get to know these three guys. You guys know them already – I know you've all done your homework – and you've studied them as football players. We've studied them as football players, obviously. We think they are a great fit with our team. We think that they fit our personality. They are tough, physical, hard-nosed, rough, tough kind of guys. They are also men of high integrity. We think they are very good people. They are guys that care about their family, care about one another, and they are going to be great teammates, too.

"Just on behalf of our coaching staff, on behalf of the organization, we want to welcome these guys and open it up to you guys."

Courtney, you played in a very good college defense, and now you are coming to a pro team with one of the best defensive reputations in recent NFL history. Does that kind of heighten your expectations of the kind of guys you are going to be surrounded with? (Joe Platania)

(UPSHAW)"Yes, sir, it does. I just want to come in and produce, and I am very happy and honored to be a part of this defense, to play for this organization, coach and [general manager/executive vice president] Mr. Ozzie [Newsome], great guys. I wouldn't want it any other way [than] to be here."

Coach, could you talk about these guys competing for starting jobs? Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. None of them were first-round picks, but all of them have that ability to be starters at this level. (Jerry Coleman)

(HARBAUGH)"As you know, and we talk about this every year, in reality, every spot is up for grabs every day. It's always competitive. You are always one play away from being a starter anyway. All three of these guys right down the row consider themselves starters. They consider themselves football players. They all want to contribute in whatever way they can and be a part of this thing right out of the gates. They will be fighting for playing time and certainly that includes starting playing time."

John, with these three guys that you are surrounded by, in addition to the guys you picked today, it seems like you have replenished some of the holes that were created during the offseason. Is that the way you look at it, given the draft thus far? (Dave Ginsburg)

(HARBAUGH)"That's part of it. You always try to draft the best player out there and try to make your team as strong as you can, but there is also the element of need. We still have some other things we are looking for as we continue on the rest of the day, and also even after the draft. We will be looking to improve any way we can. But, all three of these guys are probably at positions where they could certainly help us right away. We do have some opportunity in there for these guys to play."

John, when did the contact start with each guy? I know some of it stayed up through the draft. (Morgan Adsit)

(HARBAUGH) "Probably the scouts way back at the beginning. They see scouts coming by their schools right from when you first get there. The scouts, going into their senior year, start interviewing these guys and getting to know them. As coaches, we kind of catch the train while it's rolling after the season a little bit – mostly at the Combine. I met all you guys at the Combine, right? We had a chance to meet them. We brought these guys in for interviews, all except K.O. [Osemele]. But at the Combine we met. Phone calls and text messages. We [Harbaugh and Pierce] had a little text thing going here the last couple of days – just getting to know people. These are great guys."

John, last night on the conference call, Bernard was talking about your text conversation. Did you have to lobby for that pick to get him, to trade up to get him in the third round? He said you were in contact with him. (Jason Butt)

(HARBAUGH)"I would like to take credit for doing that, absolutely, but that wouldn't be the total truth. (laughter) We were united. When Bernard was still there at that point in time, we were pretty thrilled. It was definitely unanimous, as far as that pick."

K.O., we heard your conversation a little bit from Ozzie and John's side in regards to when they were in the war room. You were asked if you were disappointed because you expected to be picked a little bit earlier. Can you talk about your response to that?* (Pete Gilbert)*

(OSEMELE)"I wouldn't say that I was disappointed. I would say that I was probably a little taken off guard. But, I am happy about the situation that I landed in, being on a team like this, a very physical type of team, a very smash-mouth team. It's just the way that I like to play. You know, it all worked out in the end. I am just ready to have the opportunity to show what I can do and to prove myself."

This is for all three of you guys: Coming to a team that was just one play away from going to the Super Bowl and being a part of it and taking it to the next level, I am sure you watched what happened with the Ravens last year and thought, maybe in the back of your mind, what it would be like to play for this team. (Jerry Coleman)

(PIERCE)"I actually kept up with the Ravens a lot last year. The tough loss was tough. I was actually upset because a caliber of a team like this should have definitely made it all the way. I am a Raven now, and I can't wait to contribute in any way needed, necessary – it does not matter. I am willing to do whatever it takes to make the roster."

(UPSHAW)"I am ready to strap on the pads and be a part of this. We all watched the game. Coming off of a championship of my own, I am ready. I love winning games, and that's what they do here. To be a part of this defense, and to be on the watch of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and guys like that, I am ready to strap on the pads."

(OSEMELE)"Very similar. It's a great team, great organization, and they know how to win. It will be interesting to be alongside guys like Michael Oher and Marshal Yanda and just learn what it takes to be a great offensive lineman, to be able to contribute to a team and have that leadership, have that solid camaraderie that you need to play that position."

K.O., are you a guard or a tackle? (Damon Yaffe)

(OSEMELE)"I am both. I am a versatile player, have quick feet. I am aggressive. It really doesn't matter what spot I am in, I will just fill whatever void the team needs me to fill."

Courtney, you mentioned Terrell Suggs; he is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Do you see any similarities in your game? He got a lot of accolades last year for his sacks, but he is one of the best at stopping the run at his position. Do you see yourself as being a dual threat in that regard where you can do both those things? (Matt Vensel)

(UPSHAW)"I honestly feel I can be, but Terrell Suggs is Terrell Suggs, no other. I am just trying to come in and learn from him. I am sure he can help me out, become a better football player overall. The things he does and the position I am asked to play here, I want to come in and learn from the best, and Terrell Suggs is one of the best."

John, your quick take on the last couple of picks you just made in the fourth round …* (Aaron Wilson)*

(HARBAUGH)"Christian Thompson, big, physical. He fits the mold of these three guys right up here. There is a theme to our draft right now. He is a hard-hitter. As [secondary coach] Teryl Austin says, he is a thick-hitter. He really gets after people physically. He ended up at South Carolina State for various reasons. He has learned from whatever mistakes he has made. He is a humble guy, and he has a little bit of something to prove in his mind. Gino Gradkowski, a center from Delaware. Who would have thought? We were going to bring Joe [Flacco] some more weapons, and we got him a Delaware center. Joe is excited about that. He is here today, as a matter of fact, if you haven't seen him working. Gino is a really athletic guy. It's a great football family. He is a tough kid. Obviously, he comes with a football family in Pittsburgh. So, he is thrilled to be in Baltimore he said. He's a quick-footed, really athletic center, who also has the ability to play guard, too. We are going to start him off at guard probably and move him in at center as we go and see how it goes."

Coach, can you talk a little bit more about the physical nature of all of these guys. You had a physical team before, but did you guys really go into this draft thinking you wanted to get some more big bodies and physical guys? (Ryan Mink)

(HARBAUGH)"Yeah, probably we did. We always feel that way. That's kind of been the philosophy from the beginning. We had an opportunity to build on that with these players, and they are also very talented athletically. All these guys can run for their position really well. They are all really good athletes. I know the position coaches are really excited. Bernard was one of [running backs coach] Wilbert's [Montgomery] very top guys in the draft. [Linebackers coach] Ted Monachino and Courtney have already built a relationship. Ted has been fighting for Courtney from the get-go. [Offensive line coach] Andy Moeller has been talking about K.O. since the season was over. He started watching offensive linemen, and he saw him against Iowa a couple of times, saw him beating up on the Hawkeyes. So, that's kind of the personality that our coaches are looking for, and that's what we've got with these guys."

Courtney, pass coverage isn't something that you did a ton of at Alabama, but how fluid do you feel that you are in pass coverage?* (Aaron Wilson)*

(UPSHAW)"Well, I feel good actually. I did a lot dropping in coverage in practice more so than I did in the game, because at Alabama, coach [Nick] Saban just told me to go pass rush, and he preferred me to be a pass rusher because I was one of the better pass rushers on the team. But, I am willing to do whatever is asked of me, and I am going to come in here with that mindset, just producing at any position or to do whatever. So, that's what it is."

*Courtney, when did you become a physical player, and how much do you like that part of the game? *(Ryan Mink)

*(UPSHAW) *"Honestly, I love that part of the game. I feel that's the best part of the game, that physical part of it. Honestly, I've just been physical throughout my career playing football, even in high school. At a young age, playing DB, I was smaller back then, but just running in and throwing my shoulder into somebody, man, I just love that part of it."

(HARBAUGH) "Really?"

(UPSHAW) "Yeah, I was smaller, I was skinny. But, it is something that I love to do, that contact part. I don't shy away from it. Like I said, I'm just ready to strap on the pads."

*Bernard, there has been talk that physical issues held you back from being drafted earlier. Do you feel you were held back because of that? *(Jerry Coleman)

*(PIERCE) *"I had some lingering issues. I had a couple of hamstring issues, and I separated my shoulder. But besides that, I'm ready. I'm ready to go. Nothing has been bothering me since, I would say, the beginning of this season. So, I'm just anxious."

John, K.O. talked a little bit of how he was taken aback that he wasn't drafted higher. How much of a motivating factor is being drafted later than expected?(Kevin Cowherd)

*(HARBAUGH) *"Everybody appreciates being underappreciated. That's something that is a great motivator. We say it all the time: It's a great advantage. We talked about that on the phone, as a matter of fact, when it came up, and I knew he'd feel that way, and I think all three of these guys probably should feel that way. We've all got something to prove. It just gives you one more thing to prove."

*K.O., how much did that game against [former Iowa DE] Adrian Clayborn a couple of years ago boost your confidence? *(Aaron Wilson)

*(OSEMELE) *"I think you're talking about my sophomore year. That did a lot, actually, to boost my confidence, because he was a guy that my coaches were ranting and raving about how great of a player he was. As a competitor yourself, when you hear that, you want to find out for yourself. So that game did a lot to boost my confidence, and I was like, 'Hey, I'm pretty good at this game.'"

Courtney, what were you thinking on Day One of the draft when four of your college teammates walked across that stage and you're in the green room? How much will it motivate you going forward?(Ryan Mink)

*(UPSHAW) *"First, I was very happy for my teammates. I love my teammates to death. We just developed that bond at Alabama, and that's what made us good, especially my defensive players, we just became close friends. So definitely, I was very happy for them. I was just wishing and waiting and hoping and praying. It didn't happen, but we prayed about it, and I'm a Baltimore Raven now. That's in the past, that first day of the draft is in the past, and I'm here now, hoping to do great things here."

*Courtney, your teammate Trent Richardson will be playing for the Browns. How tough will it be to tackle him twice a year? *(Joe Platania)

*(UPSHAW) *"I'm looking forward to that. We always joked around about it, once we get in the league how we'll be playing against each other. So, we're just going to have fun with it. It's going to be a little rivalry of its own. He tried to run me over a couple of times in practice, so I got a little vengeance out for it. So, it's going to be fun."

*John, you mentioned that Kelechi will be an option for tackle. I just wanted to clarify, is that immediately? *(Glenn Clark)

*(HARBAUGH) *"I knew you'd be all over that, as soon as I said it … I think it goes back to this: All things are possible. All positions are up for grabs, and certain guys obviously have a certain hold on positions. Joe [Flacco] is our quarterback, and I said Tyrod [Taylor] is our No. 2 guy, and certain guys are the lead dogs, there's no doubt about it. But I'm not ruling anything out. You've got a fight in this league for your spot every single day, and that goes for all the guys on our offensive line as well. They know that, and I think our guys embrace that." 

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