Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "I want to introduce Shayne Graham, who some of you guys speculated correctly that we were in the process of trying to make a Raven, and it's been ongoing for a couple of months. June was the best time for us to do it. We had to wait and see, and he had plenty of opportunities and options, and we didn't start talking, really, until yesterday, about the contract. I think Ozzie [Newsome] did a great job of getting it worked out along with Shayne's people, so he's here to compete for the kicking job for the Ravens. He's the fourth-most accurate kicker in NFL history. He's a veteran. He knows how to handle pressure situations. He's had a lot of success in this stadium, as we all know, and he's a good kickoff guy. So, in that case, I think you can put Billy Cundiff right in that same category. Billy's a veteran kicker that did a heck of a job for us last year under tough circumstances, and he's getting better every single day. So, for us to be in a situation where we've got two quality, veteran kickers competing, and both guys embracing the opportunity to compete for the job, that's what it's all about. That's what makes football players better. That's what makes anybody better, and I think we've got to be excited that we're in that kind of a situation."
On what makes Graham so good: "Well, accuracy. The bottom line… He can make kicks. Fundamentally, he's really solid, but maybe the difference in the guys that are the 78-percent guys and the guys that are the 88-percent guys, it's the mental part of it. They've been in those situations. They know how to handle it. They find a way to kick it between the poles, and he's done that really well."
On Graham overcoming two big misses in the playoffs: "Well, I don't think it's tough for a guy like Shayne Graham or the guys that I've been around. David Akers is in that category, Matt Stover, Billy Cundiff… I mean, those guys have missed big kicks in their career, and that's what makes them who they are. They come back and they make the next one, and that's the one you really look for. How does he handle the next kick? I look at Billy's year this year – the toughest kick that anybody could have had for us was coming back and making the first kick – I think it was in our stadium, if I recall. Everybody was sitting on their hands and wondering whether that kick was going to go through the uprights, and there was a lot at stake for him, and for us, and he knocked it through. So, those are high pressure situations. Guys will miss kicks occasionally, and he's been able to overcome that his whole career."
K Shayne Graham
On what it feels like to get a deal finished: "Well, I'd say that the best part about it is me not having to answer questions I don't have answers to, for a long time. I've been at my home in Virginia working out, training, making myself ready for whatever opportunity I had. This is a great fit for me. I've been excited about it all day, and once we got everything taken care of, I felt like I was at home, so it felt nice."
On playing at M&T Bank Stadium:"I've had some of my best games in this stadium. I've always enjoyed playing here, and it's always been a great atmosphere. The conditions are something I've been used to every year I've played here. I've been really excited about getting a chance to play in these colors, in this stadium."
On not returning to the Bengals and if he will have extra motivation playing against them: "I had the opportunity to go there, go back there, and there's really no true motivation, or any type of a spite or any type of a feeling. I mean, they were very good to me. I love the organization. It's just like among a lot of other things: You move on and you make changes in life, and this is where it's brought me, and I'm happy to be here. When I play there, I'll have friends in the stands, and I'll have friends across the sidelines, but other than that, every kick is just as important as the next, so I won't really have any more importance on one game more than another."
On how it will feel walking into Paul Brown Stadium as a visitor: "I always enjoy that. I've always enjoyed… It'll be different being in a stadium that was home for me for so long, but I've always enjoyed that feeling when you walk into a hostile situation. The fans are booing your whole team and you when you're walking on the field. It's kind of something I've always enjoyed, whether with college football, NFL football, it's always been fun to feel that. It'll just be a little different when it's a team that used to cheer for me."
On if he feels he has to prove that he can handle pressure situations: "I don't think I would put so much pressure on it to have to prove anything, but that is motivation for myself that I know I'm better than that. Even the best have bad days. That's what I feel has made me better over my career, is when I've had things not go my way, I never folded and just walked away from it. I kind of came back and kept trying and kept fighting. Really, that's what I've based everything on. I've been cut several times before I ever played for Cincinnati, and it's all those times that you feel like things are hard that you kind of appreciate what you have a little bit more, and you want to fight for it a little harder. I think that's something that will give me an edge when I come into camp here. I feel like I'm not proving anything, but I'm fighting for something and I'm hungry."
On competition with K Billy Cundiff:"I've been in a lot of situations where I've had to compete for a job in camp, with long-term veterans, with rookies. I've been a rookie. I've been in all the situations, and really, I wouldn't expect anything else. That's what the NFL is. Nothing is guaranteed for anyone. Nothing is free. I think both of us are going to look forward to the competitiveness, but also, there are no enemies. When you compete against someone, you're not going to be an enemy. We're not going to be bitter towards each other. We're going to get along great, and it'll be a friendly competition. I think we both expect to walk in and win the job. That's what we both want to do, and at the end of it, we'll see what happens. But I think we both are looking forward to the challenge of it."
On being a few years since he's had to compete for a job: "It has, but sometimes in order to keep a knife sharp, you have to grind it up a little bit. I think that'll be better for both of us in the long run."
On being iced by an opposing coach: "I think I've played in games where I've been iced, and not been iced and had the same outcomes, made them or whatever. It really gives you a chance to breathe and gives you a chance to kind of gather yourself a little bit. The whole thing that coaches do that is not really something that I necessarily can agree with, but that's why players play and coaches coach."
On if he knows Cundiff: "I've met him a few times, yeah. We've been on opposing sides of the field before, and we usually have pregame time to talk to each other and catch up. We don't know each other on a very personal level, but we'll be spending a lot of time together, so I'm sure that'll change for a while."
On if he always felt he would end up in Baltimore: "There's never any certainty, but I always kind of felt comfortable with the situation that I thought I could be in. Like I said, there was no certainty to it, but that thought was definitely in the back of my head that I thought it could happen."
On if there were other teams he considered: "There were teams that my agent would have calls to and talks to, but as far as what things happened, this just ended up being the best situation to come be a part of. As far as logistics and everything, I don't really know the details of everything like that."
On if he knows how the Ravens will orchestrate the kicking competition: "I honestly don't know. The only thing I'm focused on is the 18 feet between the uprights. Really, anything outside of that, or what anyone else does, it's not in my control."
On if he takes pride in kickoff distance: "I've always like I had the leg strength to do my kickoffs well. It's a matter of hitting the ball consistent, and that's something I've been working on. I know I can put the ball deep, and you have to factor in placing the ball in different directions, things like that. You always have to factor that in. That's what the offseason is for, to get that work in, to get more consistent. I look forward to being able to show what I can do here."
On if he hopes to be the long-term solution: "I think in any situation, security and peace of mind is something you'd always want. Even when I went to Cincinnati for seven years, I was there for one year and then I signed an extension after that. So hopefully, things can work out. I'll take [being signed today] first off, [then] the preseason, get past the preseason hopefully, do my best to win the job, help the team win games, and then all that stuff is in the future. It's beyond my control right now. Obviously, I've always admired this organization from afar. Playing in this stadium every year, knowing some guys, obviously, it'd be a nice feeling to have. But I'll take what I have right now."
TE Ed Dickson
On how much TE Todd Heap has helped him with the NFL transition:"Tremendous. He's a great leader out there for one, and we just want to learn from him. He leads by example. He's not very vocal, but he leads by example."
On having just the rookies here this week, getting a little more one-on-one attention:"Well, it slows it down a little bit. I mean, just having all the rookies… At the first mini-camp, they throw everything at you, and then they go into OTAs and [it's] a little bit more. And then for rookie camp, they slow it down a little bit and you get a chance to grasp everything and learn it at a slower pace. So, for myself, it's been very helpful so I can practice on those technique things."
On how high the competition level is between he and TE Dennis Pitta:"Oh, it's very high – very high because we're both competitors and we want to play. Not next year or something like that, we want to play this upcoming season."
On what they say to each other about the competition:"We don't really talk about it like that. We help each other out, because we're total team players. But we compete on a high basis. So, if I drop a pass or something like that he'll give me crap about it, and then if he drops a pass I'll be like, 'See, I would have caught that.'"
On whether the Pac-10 is a tight end-friendly conference: "I think it is. I mean, they're starting to realize that in your offense, you've got to utilize the tight end. We're the big guys on the field, we protect ourselves more across the middle and stuff like that, and a lot of teams are starting to utilize the tight end a lot."
On what the benefit is to having three tight ends:"Well, just depth at the tight end spot, for one, because I know Todd Heap played about 1,000 snaps last year. [I'll] just give him rest when I can and just go out there and play every special teams [play] and just contribute to this championship that we're trying to get here."
On what the toughest adjustment to the NFL has been compared to college:"Just the speed. It's like playing in the All-Star game. Everybody is just as fast and stuff like that. So, you've got to master your technique in order to keep up with these guys."
TE Dennis Pitta
On the competition between he and TE Ed Dickson:"It's a lot of fun being a part of this kind of competition, having obviously a great player in Todd Heap ahead of you to learn from, and then a talented player in Ed to compete with. And so we're having a lot of fun, we're learning from each other, and you can never back away from competition. It's part of this game, and you're always fighting for a job, and so we're excited to be a part of it."
On about how many positions he has lined up at since he has arrived in Baltimore:"I've mainly played two different positions – the 'Y' and the 'F'. And you know, it's a big learning curve, obviously, as opposed to just learning one. But, the more I can do, the better off I'll be, and I think for us right now it's about finding our niche in this offense and on this team. And I'm going to do whatever I can to help this ballclub win, and so whatever they need me to play, that's what I'll do."
On how valuable this week has been with just the rookies in camp:"It's been very helpful. When we came in for mini-camp and the first two weeks of OTAs, all the veterans are there and nothing slows down for the rookies. And so, it's kind of like drinking from a fire hose the first few weeks, but this is nice because we get to slow things down. And we kind of just get to absorb things and start to understand the little things about the offense that maybe we didn't pick up before."
On what TEs coach Wade Harman has provided knowledge-wise that Pitta didn't have before:"Wade is a great coach, and I think he's pretty understanding with us young guys and knows the learning curve that's involved in being comfortable in the offense. And so he's very supportive and helpful in getting us in the right spot and helping us know our assignment, and he does a great job helping us with our technique and the little things that make you good at this level. Obviously, we have a ways to go, but it definitely helps to have a coach like him."
On what the toughest thing has been for him to adjust to going into the NFL:"I think it's just the knowledge that you have to have – knowledge of what the defense is doing, knowledge of what your assignment is, and the reads that you have to make at the line of scrimmage. I think the toughest part still is being able to process all of that information before the snap. That's something that takes time. Certainly, you can study all you want, but it's about getting those repetitions and being able to process it that quickly before the ball is hiked. And so, that's the biggest challenge, I think for me, right now and for some of the other rookies."
On how the blocking is going for him so far:"It's going good. You know, obviously, it's a little bit easier when you don't have shoulder pads on. But you know we're working a lot on technique and hand placement and footwork and all that, which are critical to blocking well. And so, it's about getting those techniques down, and then when we put the pads on, being able to have that translate into being an effective blocker."
On where he feels he can best make his mark in his rookie season:"You know what? I think, obviously, I have to be a contributor on special teams – as does every rookie. That's one thing that you have to get good at to be able to contribute. And whatever I can do offensively for this team, I'll do. Whether it's playing 'F', whether it's playing 'Y', whether it's being a backup somewhere and supporting the guy ahead of me, it's about contributing to this team in any way that you can."