Press Conference Transcript - Training Camp 8/4

RAVENS TRAINING CAMP

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "OK, thanks for coming. Obviously, a big day for us because it's the middle of training camp, and we had another tough, hard-nosed practice this morning, and then we'll have a special teams practice this afternoon. Of course, we have the commissioner [Roger Goodell] here and coach [John] Madden, so that's a special day, too. I think that's the Madden Cruiser right back there. It's not quite painted up yet, so… The commissioner told us that… or coach Madden told us that the commissioner ordered the first-ever salad on the cruiser. Did you get that story? (laughter) Yeah, so he said he didn't have any. 'Can't help you. You've got to have a hotdog.'"

On what it's like having the commissioner attend practice:"Well, it's exciting, it's different. You know, it's not something that you're used to, so you feel like you want to do a good job and show him that we know what we're doing. The players are excited, just a lot of jokes in the huddle. But, he's going to meet with them at noon, and I think that's just a really powerful thing – one-on-one, players only. So, I think the guys are interested in how that's going to go."

On how he categorizes the camp so far in terms of intensity compared to previous years:"No, I think we've done the same amount of hitting that we've done. We follow the same basic format. I think things have been sharper and crisper. We've had, knock on wood, we've had far fewer little injuries. We've had the one major injury, but that was really before we got started. So I think the guys are in better shape than they've been in the three years for the type of camp we run, so I think we're further ahead of where we've been."

On how WR Mark Clayton is contributing while WR Derrick Mason is sidelined: "Yeah, well Mark's had a really good camp. Mark's caught the ball really well. Mark's a polished receiver. Last year he had the hamstring in training camp; he missed most of training camp, so this year he's getting a lot of good work. I put Demetrius [Williams] in that category, too. Demetrius Williams has played exceptionally well."

On T Michael Oher switching to the left side: "Well, he's looked great, great, he really has. His body, the work he's done, you can see it when you watch him come out here. I mean, I know you guys see it. He's moving really well. All those reps… The guy is here every single day throughout the offseason getting all that work and all those reps. It shows, and he's done a great job."

On S Ed Reed's status: "Right, well you know, his status obviously is the same, but I like what I see when I see him working, and I think he's excited. He talked to the defense at length yesterday about some things, so he's into it. But, he looks like he's progressing in his drills."

On the difference between Commissioner Goodell and his predecessor Paul Tagliabue: "Well, that's a great question. I probably have to give that one some thought. I just appreciate... I never knew Mr. Tagliabue that well. I've gotten the chance to know Mr. Goodell a lot better, and I just really appreciate what he's done. I think the stuff in terms of player safety has been huge. I think the player and coach and staff behavior – in terms of living up and being a role model – I think that's something we all appreciate. And he feels strongly about those things, and he's followed through on them."

On if he enjoys the competitiveness of the kicking battle or if he'd rather have a set kicker: "It's probably both. That's a great question, but I think, yeah, we'd rather have our kicker set. We intend to have our kicker set. I like this kicking battle better than last year's kicking battle. There's a lot more going through the uprights, and these two guys really know what they're doing."

On QB Joe Flacco being knocked to the ground in practice: "We've had that conversation a couple times. We do not want our quarterback getting roughed up unnecessarily, but sometimes you get tangled up, and that's what happened on that one."

On what John Madden thought of his team: "That'd be a great question for him. We talked briefly. We didn't get a chance to talk about that. I think he appreciated the atmosphere of the training camp. He liked the feel of what we were doing, so that was… We felt good about that."

On C Matt Birk's recovery: "Matt [Birk] is getting very close. I think he is getting antsy. He had a lot of things taken out of his elbow. [He] says it feels a lot better, so I think we'll be seeing him very soon."

On the injury to G/T Tony Moll: "Tony had a concussion, so he's got symptoms from a concussion. [It's] just [that] the symptoms have to clear up. Obviously, they'll always be very careful with that."

C Matt Birk

On if he has noticed the NFL taking steps to stop concussions: "I think so. I mean, I think there's always… Everyone's striving to make the game safer. Obviously, there's certain risks that are inherent in football, but just as long as it's a priority with everybody – with the players, with the teams, with trainers, doctors, ownership, everybody – just trying to do whatever they can do to make it safer. Whether it's funding research or taking new steps for different equipment, whatever it is, I think it's in everybody's best interest to keep the players as safe as they can be. Data has come out the last few years, not just concussions, but just the cumulative effect of playing football for a long time, and not just concussions, but blow after blow after blow. I think it's obvious that we have to at least try to make it better."

On if he is anxious to return to the field: "Yeah, I guess when you stand around and watch practice… I guess the one thing I know is I'm not ready to go into coaching, because I find it pretty boring to stand out there. But yeah, I'm getting close. Just working hard and trying to support the guys. I mean, they're out there busting their hump, working hard, especially O-line. You know, we've had maybe a little bit more than our share of injuries, so sometimes guys pulled double duty and stuff. [I'm] just trying to encourage those guys and help the young guys out and do whatever I can until I get back."

On the timetable for his return: "I'm going to see the doc today, but I'm feeling pretty good, so hopefully it will be soon."

On if he's given an 18-game schedule any thought: "I guess enough thought to know… I don't know if I'd like it. (laughs)

On what concessions would have to be made to change the schedule: "I don't know. I guess I haven't thought it that far through, but that's kind of more the business side of the game. If they want that give-take..."

On if it's a physical question of two more games:"It is. The season is a grind as it is, and two more games, that just adds to it. I guess I don't really have a good answer to that."

On T Michael Oher playing both right and left tackle: "I think Mike can play anywhere. He's just a football player. He works hard on fundamentals, and he wants to do everything perfect. At the end of the day, the guy is just a football player. Anywhere on our line, I like him, because he's a great player and a great guy."

On the evolution of the center position during his career: "Well, I think everything's cyclical. When I first came into the league, it was mostly 4-3 defenses, like the Tampa 2 was kind of the en vogue thing. You know, zone blitzes, zone dogs, those things were kind of becoming… Now, it's kind of almost gone the other way with more 3-4-based defenses. The blitzes are a heck of a lot more complicated. I think that's because over the last 12 to 13 years, athletes are getting better. They're getting faster, so the field's actually becoming smaller. A guy can be on this side, and then at the snap of the ball, he can be covering another guy over on the other side of the field in some cases. So yeah, it's definitely changed."

On if center has become more of a thinking man's position: "I think it's gotten more complex. Yeah, definitely. Or, maybe I've just taken a lot of blows to the head and I'm just dumber. (laughter) But either way, I find it pretty challenging. The mental side is definitely a challenge."

T Michael Oher

On if he still loves training camp:"Love training camp? Come on, man, you know you've got to love it to be here."

On how he likes the left side:"I'm on both sides. I'm the left side… Basically, I'm just playing football. I'm just trying to be comfortable on both sides, and when the season gets here, just be prepared for anything and just do my job."

On if this season is different than last year:"I basically know what's coming. Last year everything was coming so fast. This year I've been slowing a lot of things down. I know the offense a lot better. I know the defense and things like that. It's just taking it one day at a time."

On what motivated him to train every day during the offseason:"I just want to be the best player I can be. I'm just here to work every day and play in the NFL as long as possible and be great at what I do."

On how the movie "The Blind Side" has changed his life:"I mean, it's… I'm just here to play football and just leaving everything else up to everybody else."

On the biggest adjustment he makes going from the left to the right side:"It's basically… It's really not a big difference, but the difference is you get used to one position then to have to go and do something else. [That] is a big difference. Say, muscle memorization… Say you get a basketball player who's right handed, and he's got to go play the game left handed. It's that big of a difference. It just takes time to get used to it, and they're doing a great job of putting both of us on either side. Anything could happen. [Jared] Gaither could go down; I'd have to go play left, so…"

On if he has to change his mind set when he switches sides:"Yeah, I mean everything is just backwards. You've got the same calls on the right side as on the left side; it's just backwards. You've just got to, like I said, switch your mind and keep working."

On the if he approaches nutrition differently now than during college:"I've always tried to, since starting my senior year, tried to put the right things in my body, take care of my body, because if you're feeling good, you're going to play good, and you're going to be always ready for anything."

On working with Ravens team nutritionist Sue James:"She does a great job of sending us what to eat, what not to eat, and just like I said, taking care of your body and preparing yourself for a 16-game season."

On if he prefers playing on the left or the right side:"No, these guys took a chance on me and drafted me, and I just… I'm going to do what they tell me to do. I'm going to play football, and I love the game and have got much respect for it."

On OLB Terrell Suggs saying Oher has great patience for a young player:"Terrell Suggs is a great player. He's getting me ready every week, and he's doing an awesome job, and I love going against him every day."

On if he talks to Suggs on the field:"I mean, he's a great player. Like I said, he's preparing everybody for a game-time situation. We've got a lot of [defensive ends] in the AFC, and we're going to have to see them, so he's doing a great job." 

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