RAVENS TRAINING CAMP: JOHN HARBAUGH OPENER
Opening Statement: "Just want to welcome you all back to beautiful McDaniel College and the Best Western here. They couldn't be nicer to us; they couldn't be set up any better. The fields are in incredible shape, and the hotel is in great shape, and the town seems like they're excited, so we're thrilled to be here. This will be the third phase of our offseason preparation. You know, we go through the football schools early on – the conditioning part of it – then we move into the minicamp and the OTAs, then we give everybody a chunk of time to get away and get themselves ready in their own way – physically, mentally, spiritually, all those things. And then we come back for training camp. Training camp really is when foundations are put under football teams. This has been going on for years and years. As long as there's been football, there's been training camps. They've been around forever, and they have the same value that they've always had. And they're run differently maybe than they were in the Lombardi era or way back when, but they're still valuable. And we will try to get as much work as we possibly can in this training camp to make ourselves as good a football team as we possibly can, and also be as smart as we can possibly be. We want to come out of this thing as strong as we possibly can, as healthy as we can, just as good as we can. That's our goal, to be the best Ravens football team we can be when we break camp here. So, that's the goal. Plus, there's kind of a team-building element to it. There's a chance to get guys together with camaraderie and just be around and just be together. There's more to that than meets the eye, and that's really important, and that's also what football teams are built on. So, that's what we're about to get started. The rookies are coming in here soon enough, and the veterans will be here in a couple of days, and we're ready to go."
On not running away with expectations being higher for the Ravens this year:"Well, I mean, are they higher? I thought the first year we were going to win the World Championship, and I thought the second year we were going to win the World Championship. And we were pretty disappointed when we walked off that field in Pittsburgh after the first year, and I know we were pretty disappointed last year when we walked off the field in Indianapolis without that win. So, in that sense, I think [expectations] are exactly the same as they always are. Now I'm going to say this, and I want to make sure that you guys quote this right. So, if you use this quote, make sure you use the whole thing: 'My expectations are really, really high – for tomorrow's practice.' *(laughter) *I mean, I expect that practice to be the best rookie practice in the National Football League tomorrow. That's our expectation, and that's the way it's going to be through training camp. Every single day that we take the field at 8:45 to start our practice, we expect it to be the best practice in the National Football League. And that's how you go about taking care of business, right? That's how you get yourself in position to talk about playing in the Super Bowl. They have a press conference on Tuesday morning before the Super Bowl, right? Every team in the National Football League [has a] goal to be there answering questions. And that's our goal, too, but we've got a lot of work to put in between now and then. So, we'll be talking about tomorrow's practice right now."
On how rookie LB Sergio Kindle is doing and how he first found out about the incident:"With Sergio, [we're] really disappointed about that. That was tough for him. We first found out about it on Friday, that he had had the accident with the steps the night before. It didn't sound like it was too serious, and then it sounded like it was serious and they held him back because he was showing some signs of concussion and things like that. So, he's still in the hospital; he's not in any trouble, but he's in the hospital for a reason. I think he has a fractured skull right now and a little bit of swelling. So, that's where he's at. He's not going to be able to travel for a few weeks, at least, so we won't be seeing him in here during training camp at all. And after that we'll just have to see where he's at and just kind of play it by ear and see how well he develops. But I know one thing: We're going to be very careful with that. You're talking about a head injury, playing football. That's not something we're going to be in a hurry to mess with. So, just from a football standpoint, I think we'll move on with the guys we've got and get ready to play this season."
On whether the team has to expect for Kindle to not be ready by Week 1:"Well, yeah, I think it's like any injury. If a guy gets hurt, you move on to the next guy right away. So, we'll be preparing without Sergio. So, you're putting your team together because he's not out there as if he's not out there. That's the same with any injured player. So, anybody that's not out there practicing, we're preparing to play without, and that's what you do. And then if at some point in time he can come back and play, that'll be a great bonus for us. But he'll have a lot of catching up to do at that point, too. The main thing right now is his health, him taking care of – along with his doctors – what he needs to, to make sure he's OK long term, and then we'll take the next step as it comes."
On whether he's been able to speak with Kindle at all or if he couldn't because of the head trauma:"No, nobody has been able to talk to him right now, as far as getting through with a phone call or anything like that. I talked to his father; we had a really long conversation. His father is doing well. He feels comfortable that everything is being handled the right way, and that's where it's at."
On how this injury will affect contract negotiations between Kindle and the Ravens:"You know, I really don't know. That's something that Ozzie [Newsome] is talking to the [NFL] Management Council [about] right now. They'll just figure out how to work all that stuff out. I'm sure he'll be signed at some point in time. He's a part of our football team. He's a Raven, he'll be here, but [with] the timing of all that, they'll just have to work all that stuff out."
On if he is familiar with the nature of Kindle's accident: "Well, he fell down steps. He was in some kind of a function for some friends. He stayed overnight, got up in the middle of the night and took a wrong turn. It was pitch black where he was at – he couldn't see where he was going – and he fell down two flights of steps, so that's what we know."
On if he is excited about the signing of DT Terrence Cody:"Yes, very excited about Terrence Cody. That's, I guess, an announcement to be made that we've agreed to a contract with Terrence, so he'll be in on time, ready to go. We'll be looking for him in the parking lot right out there, so we're excited about that. That means, really, all of our guys that can practice, are signed."
On how much the new wide receivers accomplished during OTAs: "I think we got as much done as we possibly could through the course of the offseason. They were here all the time. Anquan [Boldin] was here all but one week. Donte' [Stallworth] was here every single day. The rookies were here every day that they could be from when they reported after the draft. Joe [Flacco] has thrown with those guys extensively during the summer. He's made trips to Arizona. They've been here working out, so I think we're as far along as we can possibly be, but we've got a lot of work to do with every part of our team, but I'm like everybody else. I'm excited to get out there, and really, Friday will be the first day that we really see them competing against our defense, and see how they do."
On if he has talked to S Ed Reed regarding his recent comments: "I talked with Ed on the phone. I talked about that last week a little bit, and we had a great conversation. That's when I said there's no doubt about where Ed's coming from as far as from a football perspective. He wants to play. He wants to get the hip healthy as soon as he possibly can. He's got some different injuries that he's working with, he's been working with. I agree with Ed. I think he has fought through injuries as well as anybody in the National Football League over the last two or three years – the two years that I've been here. I really respect that. I admire him for that. I know that our coaches do and our players do, and he continues to deal with those things. He will be playing for us as soon as he possibly can, and I believe it'll be as early as he possibly can because that's the kind of player he is, and that's the kind of guy he is. We want to do everything we possibly can to help him get healthy and then be the best player he can possibly be. As far as the other stuff, the thing we talked about on the phone, and the thing he wanted to do and I agreed with was: Let's talk about that stuff one-on-one. So when he gets in, we'll have a chance to sit down and work out the football part of it – I guess that being that tape part of it – when he gets here. We have a policy for information that pretty much every team in the league has. Game tape, practice tape, cut-ups, notebooks, game-plan stuff, all that stuff, we handle, kind of, with care. We try to control the information as much as we can, but we send it out to our players. There's a certain communication that goes on, that obviously didn't go on very well this summer since Ed is upset about it. But when I get a chance to talk to him one-one-one, we'll get it worked out. Ed studies football, and if Ed needs tape, he'll have tape, and that's very straightforward."
On if he has spoken to CB Cary Williams about losing his suspension appeal: "No, I haven't spoken to Cary since he left [following OTAs]. We knew this was going on. We weren't sure how the appeal was going to go. Obviously, all that stuff happened when he was still in Tennessee. Ozzie [Newsome] was aware of it when we brought him in here, and we won't have Cary for the first two games. Cary's still got to make our team. He's still got to prove that he's going to be a guy that can play corner in this league, but we have high hopes for Cary. We think he's very talented. We think he's come a long way since what happened in Tennessee happened, and he's just got to put that behind him now. But right now, he's got to have a good training camp."
On how the knee injury recoveries are going for CBs Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb: "Yeah, I think all the corners… We're probably bringing more corners into this camp than we have any camp since we've been here because of that. We'll know more about their situation after we get the physicals today. All indications are positive. We've seen them working out at the facility – both Fabian and Lardarius – and they both looked very good. But until you get them out there, practicing, changing direction, competing, you're not going to really know for sure. That's why we've signed some extra corners. A guy like Prince Miller certainly had a good OTA period, so he's put himself in position to compete. We've got a couple veterans in there competing in Travis [Fisher] and Walt [Harris], so I think we're in pretty good shape at corner, and we'll see how it shakes out."
On the status of T Jared Gaither: "I have not had the chance to talk to Jared. [I'm] looking forward to seeing him today. I know he's done some things with his orthotics, and he's been rehabbing on his own. So, we'll see how he feels."
On if he expects a long PUP list: "Well, everybody's on PUP until they're not. So, right now the whole team's on PUP. They hit their physicals today, and as they pass their physicals, then we put them on that active practice list. I expect there to be a few guys on PUP that we'll be cautious with – the two corners, off the top of my head. Obviously Ed [Reed]. We'll just keep them on PUP until they're ready to practice in such a way that they can protect themselves and compete and be ready to go. You've got the issue with the inactive PUP and the active PUP. There's certain timing that goes into that. Hopefully, we'll have all our guys there for the first game. We're in shape to have all our guys healthy and playing in the first game who are able to play, that aren't suspended. But if we don't, we don't, and then they'll be on whenever we decide to put them on."
On how he contains his enthusiasm for the WR group: "It's hard to contain your enthusiasm for training camp. As a football coach, I want to get up there and I just want to start… I want to get in guys' faces, I want to hug them, I want to slap them on the back. I want to get out there and start running around, but we can't do that until tomorrow morning. And I think that's even more true with our players. So, you talk about our receiving corps. Yeah, I'm excited about our receiving corps. I'm excited about our offensive line. I like our quarterback situation. I like our tight ends. I like our defense. I'm excited about the kickoff team. You can't help but be excited to come into training camp. We've been that way the last two years here, and maybe even more so this year because I think what you're alluding to is the fact that we've probably addressed some positional situations that have not been able to win some games for us in critical situations in the playoffs. I think we've done that. I think we've looked at our team and said, 'You know what? We need to get better here.' And we've done that. But, you know what? You haven't done it until you line up and play. And that's why we're up here at training camp. I'm excited, yeah."
On having the fans at training camp: "Yeah, it's good to have the fans out. I'm sure we'll have huge crowds. We've even got plans to put crowd noise out there. Put everybody on alert. We're going to be on the road the first two games, three out of the first four. First one's going to be Monday night in the new stadium. I think it's a pretty big stadium last time I checked. It's going to be loud, and we're going to add in the crowd noise a little bit. So, we'll have however many fans we have out there, many thousand, and then we'll throw some crowd noise on top of it, and get our guys ready for our road games. "
On if he wants to see a shorter preseason: "I don't have an opinion on that in a sense. I don't really care. I like regular season games, but the preseason games serve a purpose. You get a chance to evaluate young players, you get a chance for the older guys to get as much work as they need to get to kind of get up to speed. Is it four, is it three, is it two… Whatever they tell us it is, that's what we'll do. We'll just try to prepare within that framework better than everybody else does because we'll all be under the same rules and come out of the blocks fast. That's our goal. So, whatever the commissioner and the league decide to do."
On if he has advice for how rookies should act around veterans, such as in carrying pads off the field: "We do, and we will share that with them in tonight's meeting. We are not a hazing team. It's not something that we believe in. We think all of our players are Ravens. That's why we brought them in here. They're Ravens until they're not. So, we try to be very respectful of all of our guys, and that includes the rookies. But, I also think there's a certain protocol for the young guys to have an opportunity to show some humility and some respect for the veterans and what they've done in this league. And if it means stepping back in line at dinner, stepping back in the taping line, taking care of pads coming off the field, that stuff is kind of… It's being deferential to a veteran, and we encourage that. And our guys are largely good about that."
On how he will adjust practices to the heat: "We just had a meeting with our trainer, Bill T. [Tessendorf], about that. It gets pretty hot in Maryland in the summer, we have found out. And I think we had a stretch of how many days over a hundred? Nine. So we're hoping for that the next nine days here. If we did, that'd be great. You change basically… You don't change the structure, you change what you do with the guys. We do, I think, a fantastic job pacing our guys through practice and making sure that they get hydrated properly. And not just with water, but with electrolytes and all different things they need to make sure they can perform properly. We'll slow practice down whenever we have to slow it down. We'll put guys over in the shade whenever we have to put them over in the shade. We do a real good job of monitoring body temperatures. There's different ways to do that besides just looking at a guy. We have specific tools to monitor body temperature. Whenever body temperature starts going up, they're out. And I like it a little bit cooler; I'd rather have it be a little bit cooler. I think you get more done when it's cooler. It slows you down when it's hotter. But if it's hotter, it's hotter. We still have to get our work done, but we'll be smart about it."