Press Conference Transcript - Ravens OTA Transcripts

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "OK, thanks for coming. It was a really good practice, high energy, a lot of work. I think the point is that we've had… I don't think there's anybody in the league that works harder than our coaches and our players, and it showed up again today. I'm waiting for the obvious question that's coming. I saw you smile over there, but I want to put that out there, first of all, because that's where I'll start. Hard work is a foundation of what we do. We've got a bunch of guys out here today working. We worked on the Bengals today. We worked on the Jets yesterday. Tomorrow will be the Browns. Thursday will be the Steelers, and that will culminate our offseason OTA program, as you know. So what do you got?"

On if he was surprised that the NFL cancelled the final two OTAs: "No, because we had gotten great communication from our player reps. Todd Heap and Chris Carr did a great job of letting me know what they were thinking, and what happened was they came to me shortly after the first OTA week and said we had an issue. They felt like we had an issue. We had six players that ran over [time limits] in some meetings. We had two players that ran over on their on-the-field time, and they felt like it was an issue, so they told me about it. We stopped it immediately. The league came back and called us about it. We sent everything to the league immediately, that we had, all of our tapes, all of our schedules, everything we did. Then they came back with taking away the last two OTA practices, which I agree with. I'm accountable for that. As an organization, we want to do things the right way. We want to be within the rules at all times. We want our players to communicate with us when they have an issue, and they did, and we deserve to lose those last two days, so that's the way it goes. I think we've had a great offseason program anyway, and after this week, it'll be time to move on to the regular part of it. Now, we'll have the rookies in next week. They don't fall into that, so they'll get a chance to lift and run and do the football work, kind of in a rookie format."

On how it will hurt the team to have two OTAs cancelled: "I don't think it will hurt us at all. I think it hurt us, in the sense that… I'll be honest, in the sense that it's a little bit embarrassing. I feel like I don't want the Ravens' name out there with losing two OTA practices, but we've gotten so much done through the offseason. Our guys have worked so hard every single day, just like today. I think we've more than accomplished what we hoped to in the offseason already."

On if it bothers him that a player may have blown the whistle on the infractions: "Why would it be you that would ask that question in those terms? That does not surprise me. I think it's perfect that you'd ask that question. (laughter) It doesn't bother me at all, because you know what? We want to be transparent in everything we do. We're not trying to hide behind, 'Hey, we're going to meet longer,' or something like that. We made a mistake. We ran over and we shouldn't have. I want our guys to be transparent about it, tell me about it when they know about it, which they did, and we'll correct it. And that's what we did."

On if they were keeping guys too long: "Well, we kept six guys too long, and two guys too long on the practice field. That's what we did, and we acknowledge it. We did it, and we lost two days because of it."

On if the infraction dates back to the first OTAs: "Yes."

On if the infraction was during the mandatory mini-camp: "No, the first voluntary [camp], the first week of OTAs."

On how it was measured that the tempo of practice was excessive: "I think that's a little more difficult. We've got a bunch of guys that really like to practice. I think we've got a proud defense. We've got a lot of weapons on offense, and they're out there competing. We try to do everything we can to kind of make sure that they take care of each other, and that's the word we use. It's really important to take care of each other. We need everybody going into training camp. We need every one of our guys. We don't want somebody falling and hurting a shoulder. We don't want somebody getting pulled down and pulling a hamstring, and the only way that we can do that is for the players to take care of each other. So, we work really hard to do that. I'm sure there were instances where it got a little more competitive than it should have, but I think our players, all and all, do a really good job of taking care of each other."

On if the main priority is player safety: "Absolutely. We want to make sure we keep our guys healthy. You want to get as much work as you can done, and you want to keep guys healthy, and it's not contact practice. It's non-contact practice, and we need to keep it that way."

On if the practice was too physical: "Well, I think what I read in the letter, there was no specifics… They said there were a few plays where things were a little more than they should have been, but they didn't specify which plays they were, and I'm not sure which ones they were. Generally, I think it's just a reminder to us as coaches, to me as the head coach, to the players… Let's take care of each other. Let's keep each other healthy, and we need to do that."

On T Jared Gaither signing his tender yesterday and why he wasn't present today: "He practiced yesterday and did a nice job. He told me the foot felt a lot better. The injection worked. The orthotics really made a big difference. I have not seen him today. It was not an injury, so I have not talked with him today. I don't know what his reason for not being here is."

TE Todd Heap

On where his expectations and confidence level currently stand: "Well, I think my confidence level is extremely high right now, for the most part. I've never said it was low. I never think of it that way. Feeling good – that's the biggest part. So going into camp, it's going to be a lot of fun knowing that my body is where it needs to be."

On what his role is as a player representative when an issue arises: "Our role is just communicating, making sure we're talking to the guys, to the coaches, to everybody. That's it. And, as far as that's concerned, I think coach [John Harbaugh] addressed it, and he addressed it with the team. I think it's only been a positive thing as far as everybody's concerned, so that's all I have to say about that."

On how the formal complaint is reported: "The players don't have to come to us. It's a union. You're part of the union. You can communicate with whoever you want to. With this team, our process has always been open communication, so that's how we handle it. Coach [Harbaugh] has really been good with that. I think he addressed you guys with kind of what's gone on, and like I said, it's been more of a positive thing than anything."

On if the team quickly corrected the problem: "Yeah. The second we all sat down and talked, everything was corrected. Like I said, it's been a positive to come out of it. It's been something… The communication level has been great, so that's about all I can say about it."

WR Derrick Mason

On the complaint being filed with the NFLPA:Nowadays, any infraction is going to cause the [NFL Players Association] to come in and see what's going on in the locker room. And the only thing you're trying to do is help out the players – make sure your players are being treated well, make sure they're not spending any more time here than what they need to, and protect them. And as a union, that's what you're here for. You know, we pay our dues, and the union is here to protect us."

On what his role was in the whole process: "Just to listen to the other guys and see what their concerns were. I'm not [the only players'] rep – also Chris Carr and Todd Heap, and then obviously [Domonique] Foxworth; he's a part of the committee. So, guys voice their opinions, and what we're trying to do in this locker room is protect the guys. That's it. We're not trying to be whistleblowers here, or whatever you want to call us. We're trying to protect the locker room, and in essence, it protects the team and the coaches because you don't want guys out there any more than what they need to be, because the longer you're out there, the more you're susceptible to injury."

On whether the tempo of this OTA has been different from previous ones he's been a part of:"No, I mean, I think there is a misconception about the whole thing. Tempo? We're going to have tempo. I don't think it was necessarily the tempo. I think it was some other things. Like I said, it was just a miscommunication as far as the time we are allotted in this building. I think that's where the miscommunication broke down. It wasn't the tempo. I mean, the tempo on the field, you can't stop guys from going a certain speed. You can't say, 'Guys, back off.' Even though coaches might say it, or other players might say it, the natural instinct is to go. And if you're not going hard, then you open yourself up to injury. So, I don't think… People are saying, 'Well, it's the tempo of the practice.' It wasn't the tempo of the practice. Unless you were here, you can't say what it was, but it was just a miscommunication about the time allotted amongst the team and amongst the guys being out there at practice or whether it's at meetings."

On whether there is any concern that the coaches could get even at training camp by "ramping things up":"Well, you try to think positively. (laughter) *You try to think that coach [John] Harbaugh won't see it that way – wink, wink. *(laughter) No, it's a situation where there was wrong done. Whether it be by accident or not, I think it was a legitimate mistake. And when you have a situation like that, you don't try to punish the team because there was an infraction laid down on you. So, what you do is you learn from it, and you kind of reevaluate your schedule and see where you're going over as far as time-wise, and you try to cut it back. But you don't say, 'Well, the guys want to complain, well I'm going to get them back during two-a-days.' No, you don't do that, and coach Harbaugh understands that. It is what it is, and you move on from it and you just hope that it doesn't happen again."

On how much the current labor issues are on a player's mind at this time of the year:"I hope it's on their minds a lot. Honestly I do, because it's the big elephant in the room. You don't want to try to avoid it, because now the way it looks, something is going to happen, and it's not going to be good. So, you don't want to try to avoid it. You don't want guys here to be naïve about the situation and say, 'Well, it's not going to happen. I'm not going to worry about it.' No, you need to worry about it, because if it does [happen], you want to be prepared. You don't want to get blindsided by a lockout, and now all that you've done – especially younger guys – what you've done over the last two or three years doesn't mean anything because you were not prepared for a potential lockout. Whether the lockout is a half a season, a quarter of a season or the whole season, you want to be prepared as best as possible to know that if this thing goes on more than a year, you're well prepared for it. So, I hope and I pray that everyone is very open-minded and very astute to what's going on, because it's not going anywhere. You can try to turn a blind eye to it, but it's not going anywhere."

On whether he thinks any kind of a deal will get done:"I don't know. I really don't. We've been working as a union to try to get some things done, and you know, where it's at now is where it's been. So, hopefully after the season – hopefully before the season – I know that's real optimistic but, before the season [or] during the season, sometime we can get a deal worked out where there will be football in the 2011 season. Because it's not just hurting us – it hurts us some – but I think it hurts everyone else more than it impacts us, because if we were smart, we saved enough money. But for the people like the vendors and a lot of people that rely on Sunday football and the training camps and all that to get paid, it affects them more than it affects us. So, hopefully they can get some things worked out and we can play football, and in turn it helps out the community."

On whether players are adhering to the NFLPA memo instructing them to save 50-60 percent of their salary:"Well, I mean you should have been doing that regardless. Your financial advisor should have told you – whether we're having a lockout or not – your financial advisor should have told you [that] you should be saving more than half of your money. That's just common sense right there. But, there are memos telling guys to be mindful of what's going on and save your money as much as you can. So, I hope that their financial advisors and their agents have been telling them that and not been naïve to those situations themselves. So, hopefully they've been getting some good counsel as far as saving your money and what's happening in the next following year to let guys know and understand that, please, save as much as possible. Because you don't want to go into a lockout year and not have enough money to survive a whole year, because you're not just talking about yourselves, you're talking about your family. You're talking about health insurance and all that other stuff. So, save as much as possible, because these people around you are looking for you and looking at you to continue to be that support for them."

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