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Press Conference Transcript - Training Camp 8/2



Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "OK, just finished up the morning practice. We'll have a special teams practice this afternoon after three straight days of padded two-a-day practices. Special teams will be in shells, and then we'll come back in the morning with another one of these practices. So, we had a good morning; guys worked hard. Now they're moving to… We do this phase, post-practice-type of work. We split the team into thirds. The team will be doing what we call 'back school,' which is core work, which is important during training camp – keep up the core strength, lower back and abs. Another group will be lifting, then another group is free to sign autographs."

On T Jared Gaither returning to practice and what was bothering him: "You know, I really don't know what was bothering him. We learned that it's nothing major. They did blood work and things like that, and they found out that's it's not a major thing, which is what they were taking precautions on. So, they cleared him to go this morning, so he was out there and did a nice job."

On if he has talked with Gaither about adding weight: "No, I haven't talked to him about that. The only thing we're talking to him about right now is playing. I think the weight thing will take care of itself, one way or another. He's going to lift. He's going to work hard in the weight room – and I'm sure he's going to eat – so, I think the weight will work itself out in the natural way. The main thing is that he gets his technique right, take care of playing the game."

On if it will be tough for Gaither to play tackle at 311 pounds: "Well, we'll find out. I don't think so. He's a big, strong guy – and he's got long arms – so we'll find out. We'll just put him out there and we'll see."

On CB Chris Carr sitting out practice: "Yeah, he just had a little tightness in his lower back, and he's taken a lot of reps the last two days. I think it was smart to have him not practice this morning."

On TE Todd Heap having another strong day of practice: "Yeah, Todd came out pretty well yesterday. He ran the conditioning test in the morning, and then he came right out and practiced a half hour later, and pushed through it really well. And he looked good today, so it looks like he's in good shape. I thought our tight ends generally had a really good day today. You guys saw it, so that was good to see."

On if Heap made the choice to practice on an over 30 rest day: "Well, yeah, you have to actually put in three days before you get an over 30 day. We've added that to the rulebook now."

On how LB Jameel McClain has looked: "Jameel has looked really good. We've had… All the linebackers have looked good. I think it's a great competition. It's going to be fun to see how that shakes out, but he and Ray [Lewis] have been a good combination back there so far."

On what he has seen from S Tom Zbikowski and S Ken Hamlin: "Zibby [Tom Zbikowski] is playing very fast. He's really covering ground. He looks really quick. And then Ken, he's picking up the defense very quickly. He's been in a lot of systems, so he's got a base foundation of knowledge, but he's done a great job picking up the system."

On CB Fabian Washington's quick recovery: "You know, I've probably been more cautious with him than he's been. The reason we've held him back probably is more me than anything else. He's been pushing every day to do more, and he just refused to wear the red jersey today. And he looked fine, so that's a good sign."

On getting players back rather than losing them to injury: "You're out there and you get short, and it always seems like it happens at a position. In our case, it's been two positions. It's been corner and offensive line. We're still a little bit light at corner today. I thought those guys pushed through hard. It showed up at the end of practice. They started getting tired, and they're probably a step behind a little bit. But O-line, we had some numbers back there, and that was nice to see."

On if newly-signed T Devin Tyler was on the team's radar previously: "You know what? He's a guy that was on our list. You'd have to ask Ozzie [Newsome] or Eric [DeCosta] or Joe [Hortiz] specifically where they had him."

On whether they're able to do a little bit more with the temperatures being cooler than normal:"No question. I mean, there are two sides to that. You get some hot weather – [and] we'd love to have a couple of hot days probably just to get acclimated under the pads under some hot conditions – but getting the work done is more important. So for it to be a little bit cooler, we get more done."

On whether players are tested more mentally when it's hotter:"Sure. Well you know, National Guard, that's the mindset you guys have. So, it's always good to get a little bit of that, but more important is the execution, I think, for us right now. Our guys are pretty tough and they know how to play in those kinds of conditions, so I'm happy with the cool weather. But you know what, if it's hot tomorrow, what do you think I'm going to say?"

TE Todd Heap

On how he felt out at practice today:"Oh, it felt great. We had a good day at practice. You know, coming off my first day yesterday – two-a-days – and getting in today and mixing it up, it felt great. We had a good practice offensively [and we were] able to really connect it down the field quite a bit. It was good to see Joe [Flacco] laying them out there for us and then guys making plays for him. So, it was a good day today."

On having a little scuffle with OLB Edgar Jones today:(laughing)"No, that's my fellow tight end last year, so we were just doing a little bit of talking. But hey, that happens when you're playing football."

On how the group of TEs is this year, especially the new guys that just came in:"We've got a good, young group, and it's fun having guys to come in. Both of these two young guys, it's their first year, so they're learning a lot on the fly and they've done a great job so far. It's fun, they've come in, and they've really… You can tell they came in with a willingness to learn, a willingness to work hard, and they just keep getting better every day. I think both Ed [Dickson] and Dennis [Pitta] have made a lot of plays, and you can see their potential. So now, it's just time to keep learning and take it to the game."

On whether the offense is ahead of where it was at this point last year:"It's hard to tell right now. We're early in camp. We've got some different pieces this year, and I think we're building with those things, so we're just trying to build our identity right now. That's what camp is all about, is getting everything together, seeing what we're really good at and developing those things and working on the things we're not so good at. And that's what camp is all about. That's what we have preseason games for, and that's what we're working on right now."

On what would be the strength of the TE position with the combination of both he and the two rookies:"I think we've got a lot of guys that can get down the field and make plays. I think we're going to be pretty versatile; I think that's going to be our biggest strength. We've got some guys that can really… If you put all three of us out there, everybody can make plays. And you can see [the rookies'] willingness to block already, and they're going to keep getting better at that, keep learning at that, and I think we've got a lot of threats on the field with all three of us."

On whether we'll see a lot of three-TE packages in the offense:"I'm not going to speak for [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron], but I'd like to see it."

RB Ray Rice

On his haircut: "No, man, this is training camp – just letting the hair grow a little bit. Makes me feel good. I feel like if I'm out here, and my hair's growing, I'm going through something. It's training camp, so… During the season I'll keep it clean, though."

On how QB Joe Flacco looks entering his third season: "I see Joe Flacco is… This offense is becoming his, becoming his, meaning he knows what everybody's supposed to do, including the line, receivers, me. If I have a problem in the huddle, I don't have to go to the coach and try to flag down their attention. I can ask Joe what route I have. Sometimes you have a little brain freeze, and he's the one that can pull this offense back together. It's putting the ball in the right places. It's just one of the things where me and Joe are going into our third year, so we figured the learning curve part of it is over. Now we're just trying to go forward with our game."

On his goals going into the season after breaking out last year: "Well, personally, I definitely want to win. That's the overall goal is to win. And, I did [produce] over 2,000 all-purpose [yards] last year, so anything over 2,000 all-purpose [yards], within the team aspect, I'm definitely going to be proud to do. If I had 2,000 yards and we didn't win any games, it wouldn't mean anything to me. So, if I had to take lesser yards, and we won every game, that would be a great season for me. But overall, I want to win. Anything over 2,000 yards, I'm good with."

On what he thinks of the offense with the new additions:"I mean, one thing you could see is that when we're out here practicing in the two groups, it's a great feeling knowing that both groups can move the ball. We can spread guys out, and when we want to run the ball… We have our run periods where the defense seems like they're stuffing us, but there's no wide receivers out there, and we know that we're going to be able to move the ball up and down the field. One of the guys that impresses me is the tight ends, you know, the tight ends with Todd Heap and the two young guys that are out here. They make it… [They] enable us to stretch the field, they can block, they can run, and we should be able to do many things with the football when we have it."

On if he has to change his routes knowing teams will be planning for him: "Well, last year I had to take an approach like that toward the end of the year when I knew guys were preparing to do different things to stop me. So, I'm going to take what I learned last year at the end of the year and build it into this year. And that comes with more film study, knowing when I'm going to be double-teamed. If I'm getting double-teamed, somebody else is going to be open, and then I did my job right there. But, I'm just ready to go out every game knowing that I'm a guy where the defense has to pay attention to. I don't want to get out there and they think that I'm just a decoy or anything else. I can catch the ball outside, I can run the ball in between the tackles. So whatever they have to do to prepare for our whole team is going to be the thing, but when they know that I'm going to be in the game, a lot of things are different."

On if there was a specific area he tried to improve during the offseason: "Well, I wanted to come in this year, this camp [weighing] 210, 211 [pounds], playing around that weight. It'd give me more leeway running in between the tackles. But one thing I always think I need improvement on is pass blocking. When guys see me in a game, their first initial move is to try to bull-rush me over, which, if I'm staying stout, and I can cut a few times to slow them up. But that's something where I want to protect Joe, and I don't want anybody giving my quarterback no missed protection, no missed assignments. So, I take that very personally. Running the ball, I have a great running back coach [Wilbert Montgomery] who teaches me more than just running the ball. He teaches me the fundamentals of running ball. So, running the ball's always something that I believe I can do."

On if he'll be utilized in the red zone this year: "I know I could be a red-zone back, but one thing about our team… Willis McGahee's in great shape. We're all in great shape, so if a guy needs a spell, we'll all come out. I'm sure we'll do the series thing, because there's not one back that's taken a load. I'm sure if I'm the future guy, we'll all definitely get in. We got [Le'Ron] McClain, the younger guy… But definitely, I want to be used in the red zone. If there are opportunities to score, I definitely want to embrace that opportunity."

On if he genuinely enjoys being at camp: "I mean, it's the best time of the year for me. There's nothing more to enjoy than being around your teammates. There's only one sorrow I feel today: It's my mother's birthday, and I couldn't be with her. But, I bet she's more proud that I'm here having fun at camp, and she's enjoying her birthday. But, there's nothing like it. This is a time where… Camp is a time where you build on your team. There's no one else around but our fans, our people, and we get to be around these guys. I'm roommates with Le'Ron McClain. He comes in the room bothering me at night. If I want… Last night I tried to go to bed. He came in plucking with me. That's time you never forget. These are times that you embrace, you never forget. Just having dinner with a rookie, meetings… We see funny things on film, we get to laugh. Even at camp, some people cry, but it's just a moment that you have to embrace."

On what he's learned from RB Willis McGahee: "I learned a lot from Willis McGahee. One thing I learned from him was you battle through adversity, and you come back, and you try to model yourself to be a better person and player. The injury that he went through [in college], a lot of people thought he wasn't going to play again. So, for him to come back and not only play through it, but be successful playing, was remarkable. One thing… We feed off each other. If you notice the way we play the game, Willis McGahee's different than I am, and I'm different than Willis McGahee. We play two different roles on the team. He's 240, I'm 210. But, when we're both playing the game, there's certain things he tells me and there's certain things I can tell him, because we're both gradually in a system where we can both learn to do different things."

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