RAVENS TRAINING CAMP
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good practice. It was great to have the Maryland coaches and the Navy coaches here. I just got a chance to visit with them, and talk a little football, practice organization and different stuff. That was pretty exciting. It's like coach [Ralph] Friedgen said – kind of ties the state together football-wise with all three of us, people understanding that we're supporting each other. Even though they've got to play against each other, after that they support each other's programs. So, great environment with the kids out here signing autographs. You saw a bunch of our players signing. Fans were fired up, and they saw a real good practice, very physical practice, hard practice, and I thought our guys gave a good effort.
On WR Derrick Mason's injury suffered during practice: "Just looks like a sprained ankle right now."
On if there is any timetable for his return: "I just came off. I was just talking to Ralph, and I haven't talked to the trainers about it yet. So, at this stage, there's no timetable as of yet, but thanks. Good question. You're right on top of it, no doubt." (laughter)
On if he worries about an injury as practice goes on: "Well, you do. You just have to move on. That's the thing. You play the next play. You move the practice on, but you do [worry]. You always think about that. We want to bring our guys through this thing. The goal is to have everybody. We want to bring everybody through two-a-days if we can. It's hard to do that. You look around the league… Guys get tweaked and nicked all the time, and sometimes it's more serious. It's very important."
On the balance between hitting and preventing injuries in practice: "It's not a balance with those kind of injuries. On one hand, you try to get as 100 percent as much done as you possibly can to become as good a football team as you can. On the other hand, you try to go as 100 percent as much as you can to try to protect one another in those situations. So, there's no line to walk. The fluke injury is the fluke injury, no matter whether you're running a contact drill or you're running a non-contact drill. You can't come out here and pack these guys on ice. If you do that, you're not going to have a football team, so I think you try to do both as best you can."
On CB Doug Dutch's first practice after trading QB John Beck for him: "I had a great conversation with John yesterday afternoon. He was really playing well. He had his best practice yesterday. I think John's excited about the fact that he's going to go there and have a chance to really do well. * *For us, it was a situation where we needed a little help at corner, plus we've got our top two quarterbacks pretty well set up. So, I think it's a good opportunity for him. And Doug… We'll just see what he does. We've heard good things about him. He looked good today, and we'll just take it day by day."
On the intangibles RB Ray Rice brings that are so important: "It's funny. Every single day the guy lifts me up. You come out here, and he's excited. He's talking with everybody. He's having fun with everybody. Nobody practices harder. I think he's a real leader. For a guy that young to be the kind of leader he is, is pretty amazing really."
On the impact of QBs coach Jim Zorn, especially on QB Joe Flacco: "Well, I tell you, I saw an impact today in that red zone period. It looked like they're throwing the ball well. Just watching them work… They have a great working relationship. They enjoy being around one another. They get a lot done in their meeting room, but the results so far have been very good, too."
On how competitive it is with the depth of the defensive line: "It appears that we do have some depth there. They've all played well so far. We'll just have to see how it goes through the preseason games. It's a very competitive position."
On the versatility of C/G Chris Chester: "Chris has done a really good job. I think part of this week, the eight padded practices so far, plus whatever he gets in the next couple of days as a starting center, is an opportunity for him. It's an opportunity for us to kind of see where he's at, too. And he's handled it really well, so it's a big plus for us."
On the leadership of TE Todd Heap for the two rookie TEs: "I think Todd's really done a great job with those guys from Day One since they got here in mini-camp and on through the OTAs. They're very talented guys, both of them. Ed Dickson kind of, he kind of took over the practice at times yesterday. You guys saw it. Dennis [Pitta] has done really well. Davon [Drew] is fighting through the hamstring, but he was doing well before that. So, it's a credit to Todd, but Todd's practiced well also."
On the progress of the offensive line: "It was good to have 12 guys. We felt like we had an embarrassment of riches out there with 12 players. That was good, and we've got a couple more guys coming back later. It's been a real opportunity for certain guys to get a lot of work – guys like Ramon Harewood, guys like Chris Chester, Marshall [Yanda], Stefan Rodgers – all those guys have gotten a lot of work, and that's good for us."
On T Jared Gaither putting weight back on and if they are on the same page: "Yeah, I think we are. It's tough. The business side of it is the business side of it. He's made some offseason moves that he feels like he has to make, and it's something we talk about all the time. I thought he'd come in a little bit heavier than he did, but I also know that we've got time to get him right where he needs to be. And, I think it's got to be a collaboration with all of us – coaches, trainers, weight staff and Jared – and get him where he needs to be to start the season."
On what his ideal weight would be for Gaither:"We don't put a number on it right now. I'd like to tell you something, but I'd just be throwing you some number. No, I think it's strength and body composition, and you watch how he plays and you say, 'OK, I think you need to be a little more physical here, maybe.' Or you say, 'You know what? Maybe you're a little too heavy.' Maybe not in his case, but in another guy's case you're not moving as well as you need to. So, it's kind of an ongoing process probably, but he needs a little more weight than what he's got right now."
On the benefits of having some older players around but also having young guys:"You know what? We have a good mix of leadership on our team. We tell our guys, we talk to our guys… We have 53 leaders once the team gets made. We've got a lot more than that out here right now, but Ray Lewis was leading the extra gassers. That's not anything that we're asking these guys to do. That's extra. Ray's out there with the guys that need to run extra and lose a little weight, and he's out there leading those guys. And you always talk about Ray, but it's not just Ray. Dawan Landry leads by example. So [do] many other guys: Ray Rice, Joe [Flacco] in his own way. I think this team has got a unique ability to hold each other accountable, and that's something that I think gives us a chance to do some real special things."
On how much stronger DE Paul Kruger looks and what he needs to do to get some extra snaps:"Well, Paul does look stronger and more physical. I think he's got to really hone up his technique a little bit. He's working on that. As far as his takeoff and coming off the ball and taking on blocks, keep working on that at his new position, he's doing a good job of that."
On OLB Terrell Suggs and his conditioning work during the offseason: "He did a good job with the conditioning, obviously. He's in really good shape, and he's practicing really well, and he's stacking practices, which is what we ask our guys to do. You've got to be in great shape to be able to do that."
On preparation for familiar opponents early in the season: "Well, it's nice to know our opponents so well, but they'll have some wrinkles in there. Of course, we focus on the first game first with the Jets. We do have a pretty good understanding of what they do, but they'll have some new stuff for us. I think training camp is to be as good as we can be coming out of training camp, because we play such good teams early. It's always the goal, but there's a heightened sense of urgency because of who we play in the first four games."
On Gaither's business decisions and if that affects him as a head coach: "Probably, if you asked every head coach in the National Football League that question, they would tell you that's something that you struggle with as a coach, because you want all your guys here every day working to become as good as they can be. But, you have to understand that there's another aspect to this thing because it's professional sports. The biggest thing I've learned – and this is advice that came from Andy Reid – is don't judge those situations. Just try to relate with the player through those situations as best you can, and try to come out the other end."
DT Haloti Ngata
On how everything is going at training camp coming off his pectoral injury:"Great, man. Everything is feeling pretty good. Coaches eased me into training camp. You know, I came early, and they kind of kept me out of live team stuff, but I think now they're easing me in. So, it feels pretty good."
On the No. 1 thing he thinks about most heading into the season:"Being healthy, basically – trying to keep my body fresh and dealing with what we have to do here in camp with two-a-days and making sure everything is functioning right and making sure I fix the things that I need to get done."
On whether he likes training camp:"I love camp."
On what the next step is for him to improve even more after a Pro Bowl season:"Many things. I still need to improve on my pass rushing. That's one of the things I'm focusing on more now. Getting off the ball, that's one of my things. I'm more stout on the run, so I get used to just playing run all the time, and so I kind of don't get off the ball as much. So, I'm trying to focus on getting off the ball more and getting into the offensive linemen."
On how many sacks a big guy like himself can expect:"I need to get more than I did last year."
On what he thinks he can improve on to get him back into the Pro Bowl this season:"Like I said, just rushing the passer, getting some more sacks and making plays in the passing game or pass defense. I think a lot of guys know that I play the run well, and guys around the league know that. I just need to make my game [stronger overall], broaden it out and become a better pass rusher."
On whether it makes his job more difficult that teams know a lot about him:"Yeah, I think a lot of teams know me. They know what I'm about and know what I'm going to do, and so they just kind of know that I'm going to come with power pretty much most of the time. So, I just need to make my game different, change my game a little bit."
LB Terrell Suggs
On if he feels different from last year:"What a difference a year makes. You know, last year I didn't get the luxury of participating in training camp [due to a toe injury], therefore, I didn't get to play at my desired weight. But, this year I'm taking the full-fledged advantage of it, and I feel good. I feel really good."
On how the offseason was before camp: "It was just pretty relaxing. I got to just kind of do the work and kind of enjoy what I was doing – just enjoy working out and just enjoy getting in shape, ready for camp."
On the team nutritionist being proud of his improvement in his diet, specifically cutting out Popeye's chicken: "It wasn't just Popeye's. It was also the cookies. You know, I did like the cookies. It was kind of a reward once we started getting the weight down. It was like, OK, if you reach a certain goal, then OK, you can have a cookie. But then you have to work hard in practice. But, she did a good job, and she's the team nutritionist, so she did a good job helping me, especially down the stretch."
On what the key to the pass rush will be this season: "I would definitely say the key is just making it a priority for not just myself and all the other pass rushers. It's got to be everybody trying to get after the quarterback, therefore, if everybody's doing it, everybody's getting after it. Then the team will have a lot of success, because it's not just one or two men's priority, it's more of a group thing."
On who has stepped up since OLB Sergio Kindle hasn't been at camp: "[Antwan] Barnes has always been good, and I think we started adding some blitzes with [Jameel] McClain and 'T. Good' [Tavares Gooden], and… But also, E.J. [Edgar Jones] E.J.… He's been coming off that edge pretty well, so we've got a good looking group; we've got a good looking group. I'm anxious to go out there and just see what it looks like against another team."
On if the pass rushers are taking more responsibility since the cornerbacks have been getting injured: "Well, I think it's definitely more of an emphasis this year more than anything. So, that just added to it. We, I think, coming into the year, we knew we had to get at the quarterback a little bit more, and that can lead to two more wins, three more wins. But definitely, with our corners going down, we definitely… It's more of a point of emphasis to get there and take the pressure of those guys in the back."
On if issues surrounding him last year made him more motivated to get in shape this year:"Well, you've got to take the good with the bad. You know, I didn't really think it was going to be that big of an issue for the simple fact that I've been here for so long. I just didn't think the big contract was going to be a big issue, as big as it was. But, it turned out to end up one of the biggest issues. But you know, you live and you learn, and like I said, we got the year ahead of us now, and that's pretty much all I'm focusing and concentrating on."
On if some of the issues propelled him into this year: "No. I think the only thing that really propelled me to this year was just… I just wanted to be a better teammate for my team, a better professional. So, I just wanted to be the best player for the Baltimore Ravens, and that was kind of the motivation just to get to back what you all are used to seeing me as."
On Vikings QB Brett Favre announcing his retirement: "Good for him. I mean, they're not in our division, and we don't play them. So hey, he's a great guy, but that's not my No. 1 focus. I guess it's two lanterns now? Two lantern's that he's retired, one lantern if he's coming back." (laughter)
On if he sees himself as a teacher:"I think so. I'm getting there in years, not necessarily in age – I'm still only 27. But, I'm going into my eighth year. It's like wow, where did eight years go? But yeah, [I'm] definitely more of a teacher now than I have been in the past."
On going up against T Michael Oher in practice:"He's very… For a young tackle, he's very patient. You wouldn't expect him to be that far ahead in his game in only his second year. He's very patient with his hands. All tackles are naturally strong, so he's very strong, and he's very athletic. And his body is deceiving. He looks very… He's very lean. He's not as big as the typical tackle, so he looks very deceitful. But, he's quick on his feet. He's a very good athletic tackle, and we've got two great tackles. So when you've got two great tackles, you can do great things."
On his impressions of the AFC North division:"I think we got handed down the toughest division in the whole National Football League, because now, especially with those other guys in the black and whatever color they wear, those guys are a pretty good football team. And now, the Bengals, with their additions, they're a really good football team, too. So, we definitely… Every time we play somebody in our division, it's definitely going to be a smash-mouth game."
On what makes it the best division:"Just the physicality of it. And, just you don't know who's going to take the division; you don't know who's going to be the champion. So, I guess we've all got to just wait and line up and see. I think that's what makes us the toughest. I mean, you could go down in every other division and kind of [say], 'Alright, these guys are probably going to win it, and these guys are probably going to win it." But, our division is pretty much up in the air."
On if the defense can be effective by rushing four guys: "Yeah, I mean, Rex [Ryan] used to always rush with four guys; you all just didn't know where the fourth man was at. So, a lot of teams do it across the NFL. I don't see why we need to be any different. So yeah, I think we definitely still could be just as effective."
On if there were any moments last season where he was disappointed in himself:"There were a few games, but that's just life in the NFL. You're not going to always win every snap, and you just try to have your next snap be better than your last. There are a few plays, but you know, last year is last year. You live and you learn, and like I said, we're 0-0 now, and we're going straight forward."
On what he would tell Commissioner Roger Goodell he would like changed in the NFL:"I don't have any advice. I just play by the rules of the game. So, everybody knows the rules are built for the offense to score touchdowns, so naturally, we're the bad guys. So, I just kind of take it in stride and just play."