RAVENS DAY 3 MINICAMP: PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh, Senior Offensive Assistant/Tight Ends Coach Greg Roman, Former Ravens TE Dennis Pitta, OLB Terrell Suggs & S Eric Weddle
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Well, you just heard from Dennis [Pitta], and, Dennis, we love you. That was indicative of his whole career here and how he has carried himself and the kind of man he has been. We will see where it goes in the future, but it has just been an honor and a privilege to coach him – but even more so to be around him every day, to compete, to know his family and be friends. [He is] just a great guy – a great Raven. I am very proud of everything he has done here. The other thing is the hat [I am wearing]. The hat is in honor of a foundation, a group called 'Not Forgotten,' which takes care of the families and the children of service members who have lost their life or are missing in action. I want to give a shout out to them – it is a great organization – and to all the organizations that do all great things for families and for kids and for spouses of service members who have given so much for our country."
Can you talk about what WR Jeremy Maclin brings to your offense? (Al Thompson)"Probably the big picture answer to what Jeremy brings is that he brings us a quality, experienced receiver that knows how to play the game. Not only that, but he knows how to play the game in this offense, because he was with Marty [Mornhinweg] for so long. And then, that is the Andy Reid offense, as well, in terms of the passing game that we have. He fits right in. You saw him today. He fit right in and ran the routes exceptionally well. He was very productive in our passing practice today. He is another good player who I also think, based on how he fits specifically, is that he is going to be a chain-mover for us. He can make big plays, he can run, but I also see a chain-mover for us which, is important."
Coach, what do you tell the team as they get ready to be away from the facility for a few weeks heading into training camp? (Shawn Stepner)"There are a lot of things, and there are a lot of things that I think you don't have to tell them. I know our guys who we certainly talk about the next five weeks … Now, the rookies are going to be here for two more weeks training. The veterans leave today. But, the break [message] for everybody is, 'Let's keep an eye focused for what is ahead. Let's get ourselves ready emotionally, physically and spiritually. Let's take care of our families, and let's not lose any ground to our conditioning and our training.' All those things are talked about. Take care of yourself, be smart – all of those kind of things – and let's get ready to roll."
A healthy OLB Terrell Suggs worked here over the camp and seems like he is really determined to make this a big year for him. (David Ginsburg)"I think you are right. He has always been determined; it has always been important to him. But, I have never seen a more motivated Terrell Suggs than we have right now. He has put an incredible amount of work in – intensity. I think that he is going to be in the best shape of his career, even at this stage of his career. I'm looking forward to seeing how he plays."
Do you think he has embraced the leadership role? He is obviously the last guy standing from the big guys with Ray [Lewis] and those guys. (David Ginsburg)"I do. I think he has always embraced it. It probably is better than ever right now certainly. What I am so impressed with is the leadership by example that he has demonstrated in this offseason. He is out there doing it, and he is out there competing with the guys every day in the conditioning program. It is impressive to watch, and that is a great way to get guys attention if you want to be a leader. He has done it the right way."
With QB Joe Flacco, have you noticed a difference now that it has been longer since the injury as you are seeing how he is moving out there? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, absolutely. Injuries are tough, and it takes time for a high-level athlete like this. It is one thing to get yourself back and live your life. It is another thing to compete in sports at the highest level, especially probably the toughest position to play is quarterback. I think we all see it. You have seen it, right? He looks good, and it is different than it was last year."
The next thing will be training camp. Do you feel really good about this team that you are going to be bringing in this summer and that it is vastly improved from last year? (David Ginsburg)"I do feel really good about this team. I do not think comparisons do you any good, because a lot can happen. That team went through a season and competed as hard as they possibly could right down to the wire and came up a little bit short in the end. That happens. We have to be a much better team to even get back to that same place next year. That is how we look at it. We have goals, we have aspirations. We have things we have talked about with our guys; we are very determined. But, that is in-house, that is among us. We have to work to make it happen, and if we want to be great, if we want to be at the best at what we do, then we have to make it happen ourselves."
Steve Bisciotti talked with PSL owners about the possibility of adding a veteran offensive lineman if the right guy comes along. How have you felt about what you have seen from the offensive line throughout these practices? (Luke Jones)"They have done a really good job. I think 'Joe D' [D'Alessandris, offensive line coach] has done a tremendous job of coaching those guys. They have really picked up with Marty's [Mornhinweg] pass game stuff and Greg's [Roman] run game stuff. They are a very smart group – very attention-to-detail-oriented. They are a big, physical group, which is what we like and what we want. We will see where it goes, but I am pretty happy with them right now."
The rookies are going to stay behind a couple more weeks?* (Bill West)*"Yes, they are allowed to be here for two more weeks. They have a seven-week program. They have been here for five weeks of the program. That is the NFL-mandated program. They will be here for two weeks in the mornings working out with [director of performance] Steve [Saunders] and [strength and conditioning coach] Juney [Barnett] and the crew in there. It will be good for them. Get stronger, get faster and get ready for an NFL season."
Has the new CBA given you guys enough time to get ready, including the shortened training camp? Has it been tough to deal with or easy? (David Ginsburg)"You just have to deal with it. The new CBA, as far as the offseason workouts, has been very good in a lot of ways, I think in most ways. There are a few things that could be better, and I think the players would tell you the same thing. There are some things that are a little bit maddening that the players would want to change – to be able to work together more in some of their conditioning-type things. But, that will all get worked out in the next bargaining agreement, I'm sure, because there is a lot of talk about it now. But, all we think about right now is what we have to do to get ready for the season."
It seems like you got out of this week without any injuries. Are you pretty comfortable that all the guys, other than CB Tavon Young, will be on the field for training camp? Even if not the first day, they will be there early. (Jeff Zrebiec)"I am. There are some guys we will see. I think Maxx [Williams] will be interesting, whether he will be there for the first day or not. He is going to push it. Knowing Maxx – I guarantee you one thing – if it is humanly possible, he will be ready. But, he has that new surgery, so that is a little bit of a grey area for us knowing how he is going to respond. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of anyone else that is going to be a question mark, that I am aware of."
How did TE Darren Waller look this week? I know he had missed the OTAs. (Luke Jones)"He looked good. He is a little rusty with route running and catching because it is the first time he had done it because he could not really do any of that stuff, even through the football schools. From the first day to the second day to the third day, I think you saw it – he made major jumps. [He is] a very talented guy, a very smart guy, very good guy. He did well."
I know it is early, but are you beginning to see senior offensive assistant/tight ends coach Greg Roman's impact on the running game? (Ed Lee)"Yes, definitely. Well, as much as you can. As you pointed out, it is so early. We are not going against anybody yet. But as far as the install and the guys picking it up, they are doing a good job of it."
Maybe I have missed it, but the sign under the goal post for the players to see looks new. What was kind of the inspiration? (Jamison Hensley)"The inspiration for that message is an old coach named Dave Adolph. Dave Adolph coached at Ohio State, among other places, for many years. He was a great friend of my dad's. He is about 10 years older than my dad. My brother [Jim Harbaugh], had coach Adolph with him through all of his stops in coaching when he became a head coach from San Diego right on through to Michigan. Coach Adolph was a big part of our family and our football philosophy, and Jim especially embraced it. It is a little bit tweaked for the NFL, I have to be honest. It was a little bit more edgy, probably. But it is pretty edgy and we like it. I think it is a great message for players to get every day when they walk underneath the upright."
I saw you out there with the khakis. Are you trying to look more like your brother on the field? (Luke Jones)"Do I look like my brother on the field? *(laughter) *You know, if I look like my brother on the field, I would take that as a great compliment. I would be very proud to look like my brother on the field, absolutely. I do like this style of pants, though; I have to be honest with you. These are very similar to the old Sansabelt [pants]. Remember the Sansabelts from the '70s? Anyone have a pair? John Eisenberg is shaking his head over there. Those are very comfortable."
Do you ever turn off the football when you have this break? I don't know if you will go on a family vacation or whatever, but are there days where you are not obsessed with the ideas you need to develop? (Bo Smolka)"No. I would like to say that there were. *(laughter) *There are days where you get distracted better than other days, which is good. I get distracted by my family, which is great. I am looking forward to some lacrosse, looking forward to a little beach time. But, it will always be 1A and 1B for sure. I can't wait. I can't wait for this season; I can't wait to get started with this team. I can't wait to put pads on. I can't wait for the first preseason game. I can't wait to see who emerges. I can't wait to see how our schemes develop. You can't wait for that stuff. But, there is a time for everything, and since you asked the question and I get to answer it, I guess I will give you the answer. The thing I am really starting to be more aware of in life is that life is short. We say it is short. The days are long, but the years are short. Well, you better enjoy those long days, because the years are going to fly by. I'm learning how to enjoy the car ride home. I'm learning how to enjoy a phone conversation with a friend and just enjoy that moment – be in that moment. It has been good for me, personally, to become more aware of thinking like that. I am going to try to do that for the next five weeks. Football is OK if it is there, but I am going to enjoy those moments."
How are you able to enjoy those moments? Most coaches are wired like you, so if you are talking to other coaches they are probably not going to tell you how to be Zen-like.* (Jason La Canfora)"That is a great question. Is that what it is? I don't even know. I think most people are. I think most of us sitting around here have a little Type-A [personality]. We are probably all Type-A. So, we probably all have that, and that goes for all of us in this circle right here. So, just take a deep breath and say, 'That is a pretty good song on the radio.' It is OK. If that guy wants to pass me, OK. Pull over a little bit and go, buddy. It is not a competition on the highway! (laughter) I see you shaking your head. There is plenty of competition in life without fighting on the highway." *(laughter)
Senior Offensive Assistant/Tight Ends Coach Greg Roman
Opening statement: "It's great to be back in Baltimore. I was here for a couple years [before from 2006-07]. I know what the organization's all about. I worked with John's [Harbaugh] brother, Jim, for six years, so I have some real familiarity with the 'Harbaugh Way.' I have to take a moment to talk about the group of players here, and how impressed I am with these guys, and how great it is to work with these guys. They are so adaptable, just a great group to work with. Offense, defense and special teams are really working hard this offseason, and I think we've covered some ground. Hopefully, we can pick back up where we left off when we come back to training camp."
A lot was made about the running game here, the past couple of years, productivity, not running the ball, in great volume. What was your biggest goal coming in here, seeing what was here, and then where you wanted it to be, at least, to this point? (Luke Jones)"The No. 1 thing I had to do was sit down with Marty [Mornhinweg] and John [Harbaugh] and see what their vision was. Once we got that clear, it was really an opportunity for us to sit down, look at our personnel and see what kind of team we could build, what kind of offense we really wanted to have. That process happened early in the spring. We've been working through it pretty hard. I think from a week-to-week standpoint, we want to be able to do whatever it takes to win the game. That's the goal – to win the next game. Every opponent is a little bit different. But, I think we definitely want to be able to draw on a lot of different things and a lot of different people to help us win those games."
What are you seeing from RB Terrance West right now? (Bill West) "I'm very excited about Terrance West. I think he's a guy that can run north/south. He can get the ball to the edge if he needs to. He catches the ball well up the backfield. I'm looking forward to seeing him toting that rock this year, because he's a big man that can move, and he has his feet and his brain tied very closely together. They communicate very efficiently, if you know what I'm saying? He can make really good cuts for a big guy. I love his attitude, like really all the players here."
**How much have you had a change to the offensive line blocking scheme compared to the previous regime? *(Ed Lee) *"I think we've worked and gotten together on that. I think we want to make a defense that won't just screw their cleats in the ground on us. At times, they're going to have to hopefully say, 'Man, where's this coming from? Over here? Over there?' We will describe that in very colorful ways to our players that I can't talk about right now. But, we're definitely going to push the envelope and try to be multi-dimensional with how we attack the defense."
We in the media have used terms such as "overhauling" or "revamping." Is there a term that you use?* (Ed Lee)*"No, I do not think there is any of that. I think we wanted to just really refocus, retool and come up with a plan that we felt suited us best moving forward for the organization, and I think a lot of staffs do it every year. But this kind of gave us an opportunity to really start at ground zero and see what we wanted to do."
What have been your thoughts about the tight ends? Obviously, you lost TE Dennis Pitta, but it is pretty deep inventory you have even if there are some questions. (Luke Jones)"Yes, these guys are great guys and really good football players. I think they bring different, unique skill sets, each one of them. I think we will be able to deploy them in a variety of ways because of that. They are tough, they are smart and competitive guys. It really matters to them. That is probably one of the things that really just jumped out and hit me in the face – was that really every player here, [just] how much it means to them and matters to them. They are very serious about winning. I will say that about the tight end group. I was fortunate to be able to work with Dennis for a short amount of time, and he is just an amazing guy who an amazing career here. Unfortunately, I was on the receiving end of some of those really good games of his. *(laughter) *But, getting to know him has been a treat."
I think people use the term "zone blocking" all the time and they do not necessarily know what it means. With the struggle last year, people are saying the Ravens will abandon that. Are you saying that you will use a bunch of schemes and it may depend on the week and the opponent and you are not abandoning anything, you are just adding some things?* (Jeff Zrebiec)*"Yes. I thought that they did some really good things here – some things that we want to keep and build on. I think we are definitely going to try to expand on that. Some weeks will be a little bit more of this and some weeks will be a little bit more of that. But, we will come together on a week-to-week basis and figure out where we want to draw from. As we get to know the players even better, that will kind of let us know who is good at what, and we can create some matchups in the run game."
How many times a day or a week or whatever does John Harbaugh say or do things that you think back to Jim Harbaugh? How similar are they in a lot of ways? (Jeff Zrebiec)"You can't ask that question. *(laughter) *They have very similar principles, but they are their own unique person. I think they are both great leaders, and it did not take me long to figure that out once I got here. It is a pleasure and a privilege to work for them. But, they are not the same. We do not compare people. Something ends up getting diminished."
Former Ravens TE Dennis Pitta
On his hip injury and thoughts about his future:"I had surgery just over a week ago. I haven't put a lot of thought into what my future holds or what's going to happen. I'm just trying to focus on my rehab at this point, but I feel pretty good. Obviously, I dislocated and fractured my hip again, which is the third time. Surgery went well, and I'm feeling pretty good and hopeful that I can make a full recovery."
On if he still expects to play again:"I've dislocated my hip three times. Take it for what it is; I'm not delusional. I know and understand kind of what that means, but at the same time, I'm just taking it one day at a time and trying to get back healthy. That's all that really matters."
On if it's weird being out at practice in this capacity and if it was a déjà vu moment:"Déjà vu is one word to explain it. [It was] more of a nightmare, I would say, other than déjà vu. But you know, it is what it is. It's something I've gone through before. It is weird being out here and not being part of things. Just over a week ago, I was out here practicing and feeling really good, so things change in an instant, but I'm positive and staying in a good mind frame."
On the support from the Ravens organization:"The organization has been tremendous, obviously, and welcomed me back and allowed me to come watch practice and hang out and be a part of things, which I think is tremendous. I can't say enough good things about all that this organization has done for me and everything they've given me and my family, and the opportunities they've provided me. So, I'm just extremely grateful and happy to be around the guys again."
On what is most difficult about making the decision to come back or stop playing:"I think it'll be a little bit more cut and dry this time. I certainly don't regret coming back and playing last season. I felt great all year. I think I would have regretted it more being at home and feeling as good as I did and not playing. It was a tremendous year for me personally, just being able to overcome what I did and prove a lot to myself, and I don't regret it one bit. I'm happy I played and fortunate that I was able to get another year in."
On if he takes solace in having such a strong year last season after everything he did to come back:"Yes, I'll certainly feel satisfaction when I look back at that year and know all that I overcame and all that I was able to accomplish. As a team, we fell short of a lot of our goals, which was disappointing, but for me personally, I'll look back on that year and understand it was something special and something that I was able to personally overcome a lot of adversity."
On if he regrets coming back this year at all given what has happened:"No. Listen, I came back last year, and it wasn't going to be any different this year. I felt great and I felt like I could play at a high level again. There wasn't any indication that my hip would give out again. It felt great. I remember telling my wife just a couple of days before it happened that I felt better than I ever have. I felt like I was running well and moving well, and I made the decision to come back last year and I wasn't going to reassess that decision this year feeling as good as I did."
On how his family has been holding up:"They've been tremendously supportive. They were supportive of my decision last year, and my wife is running around with three little kids at the house and now a fourth with me. So, she's been unbelievable and they've just continued to love and support me, which is all I can ask for right now."
On if it would be easier to step away now knowing what he accomplished last season:"I think mentally it will be easier, just because there would have been a lot of doubt in my mind had I not come back and played last year feeling as good as I did. So, it will be easier to make that decision this time around when that time comes. But like I said, I'm happy and fortunate that I was able to play last year and get another year under my belt."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On his training routine in the offseason: "I was here, working out with Steve [Saunders, director of performance] and the rest of the guys. All through last season the guys were working out with him, and they were talking about how they were feeling really good. I thought this offseason, I want to give it a shot. It was my first year being a part of the offseason program. I waited until Year 15 to actually give it a try. It worked out pretty good. I like it. We still have a little bit to go, but I haven't felt this good in June in years. I feel really good."
On how the defense looks: "We have a tremendous amount of potential. We have to live up to it, as well. We brought in some really good guys. It's good to be optimistic, but we need to put in the work. It starts in camp, started in minicamp, and they had some really good OTAs. It feels good, but come July, we got to go to work."
On if he likes being a mentor and team leader: "It's an unusual feeling for me, because I'm usually the big kid, but I like it. I like having fun with the younger guys. They're always like, 'What year were you drafted?' And I'm like, 'I was drafted in 2003.' Then, they tell me how old they are, and I'm like, 'Holy [expletive].' (laughter) It's weird, but I like it. It feels good."
On if he will continue to be the "big kid": "I only know how to be Sizzle; everyone else is taken. I might as well just be myself. I'm going to have a tremendous amount of fun this year and in camp. I'm going to be a big kid."
On if he's upset on how last season ended: "Anytime you fall short, you're going to be disappointed. That's definitely going to add a chip and some motivation to your offseason, hence, why I've been here. You're definitely disappointed, but now we get a chance to erase what we did last year and create something great this year."
On if he sees himself as the "last guy" from the "last regime," which included LB Ray Lewis: "Yes, but it's a new era of Ravens. I'm the Vader of the group – the last of my kind. I like that, but you can't deny a C.J. Mosley or a Brandon Williams, Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson. The guys we have now are a new era of Ravens. It's very fortunate of me to still be a part … to be the last piece of that transition. It's a good feeling, but it's also exciting to see these young guys go out there and create the new era of Ravens with the statement they're trying to make, too."
On if he has thoughts on trying to match LB Ray Lewis's 17 years with the team: "I knew [that question] was coming! Well, you don't want to cap yourself. The NFL season, sometimes, has other plans for you. I haven't felt this great in June in a long time. You just take it one year at a time. As long as you can keep going, keep being productive, and keep getting better every year, then you can keep doing it. But, time is undefeated. I think when it's time to cross that bridge, we will. I don't think it's the time, yet."
On if he finds himself appreciating more of the little things in this stage of his career: "Absolutely. You're still one of the guys in the clubhouse. You just enjoy it all. Like I said, when it's time for me to be one of you [the media], then it's not going to be as awesome as this. *(laughter) *But, you just have fun with it."
On what his top goal is for 2017: "Playoffs. We can't fall short anymore. It's a terrible thing when you don't capitalize on your potential. We've always had a capable team; we've just haven't always capitalized on it. I think it's time to cash in and not be one of the odd teams looking in when it becomes the second season in January."
On TE Dennis Pitta: "It's heartbreaking. I talked to him. He understands it. I understand it. It's part of the game. Some of these guys look and say, 'Dang, Sizz, 15 years?' You know, some people don't have that long. That's definitely something to be fortunate about. But, I talked to him, and he's in good spirits about it. It's just one of those things. We play a very brutal sport, and sometimes it claims us all."
On what he learned from the retirements of LB Ray Lewis, T Jonathan Ogden and S Ed Reed:"They were like … Ray [Lewis], we expected it. J.O. [Jonathan Ogden], we expected. Ed Reed was a shock. It may be cliché, but you have to make them all count. You have to capitalize, and Ray … How many people get to do that, go out winning the big games? I'm just enjoying my time. When it's time for me to cross that bridge, I'll cross it proudly. I just don't feel like it's the time yet."
S Eric Weddle
On what the last day of minicamp is like: "We talked about it last night and this morning: Don't take this practice for granted; let's still reach our goal of getting better each day, even though this is our last day, let's not have a crappy practice. That's the last thing on your mind. We're always having fun, always pushing each other. Every year is a great opportunity, but even more so this year. It's been a great offseason, just the participation, the work we've put in, and it's showing out on the field by the injuries and lack thereof. We need to carry it over this next month and keep pushing it and be ready to have our best year ever."
On what it meant to have OLB Terrell Suggs at offseason practices: "It's funny seeing him die in workouts and doing the running, lifting. It's great for him. I think he knows that at this point in his career, he needs to be in the best shape of his life. He needs to be as strong as he can so he can get through the season. We need him. He's an impact player, he's our leader, he's a once-in-a-generation-type player that when he's on the field, he's a difference maker. I think he understands that, and it's just a joy to have a player, personality, friend like that, day-in and day-out. It's a huge plus for our team to see one of our all-time greats working every day. It doesn't give anyone leeway to slip and say, 'I'm not going to come in. I'm just going to chill today.' No. Our leader is doing it. We all should be in here."
On the secondary: "We have more plays on the ball, no busts. We're competing. We have a great opportunity, and we have depth. Just seeing it mold together as OTAs went on and minicamp, of what we can become – but it's only going to happen if we strive to be great. We strive to keep each other accountable, including myself. You can't have a day off, a bad practice, if you want to be the best. Everyone has that mentality. Coming up short last year, that's on everyone's minds. Nothing is guaranteed in this league. We understand that we can't have a year not be successful, because a lot of changes had happened. We want to make due and give ourselves the best chance to win a bunch of games and be the best unit out there."
On working with S Tony Jefferson:"He's a unique personality. He's extremely explosive, eager to learn, eager to work on his mistakes. If he gets a ball caught on him, he wants to work on it. He gets in the dumps the rest of the day. [I then say]: 'It's OK. I know you're mad about it, but we've got to move forward. I can't have you down the next series.' You just love his passion, what he can bring, his physicality, his range, and we expect big things from him – not just this year, but the rest of his career to be one of the best safeties in this league."
On LB Kamalei Correa: "I think he has come in more confident. I think he hit a wall last year and didn't really bounce back from some adversity, and being humbled a little bit, as all rookies go through. He's confident, he's lighter, more explosive just running around, covering guys. That's what we need. We have [Michael] Pierce and Brandon Williams, and our front seven, that whole position can be running and making tackles, making plays. When you play fast, and you're confident and know what you're doing, that's when you can make plays in the offseason. It's going to be a battle for that spot, but he's No. 1. He's been playing great. He has to carry it over to camp and show that he can handle that job."
On G/T Marshal Yanda's beard:"He looks good, doesn't he? I can catch him, in like a month. I haven't really decided what I'm going to do. It's been three years since I haven't made the playoffs, so I'm thinking about sacrificing for the team. It's not a selfish desire, growing a beard, but maybe I need to not have the beard, and it'll bring us more wins. It's still up for debate, because I know people want it back, but it's about the team."
On the break between now and training camp: "You want to take a couple days off, mentally. You recharge your batteries, because it's been a long … Some of us have been here since February working out four days a week, all the reps, all the workouts. You want to take a couple days, but you don't want to lose what you've gained. We've gained so much as a team and individually – the running, strength, the fast, just practicing. So, if you take a week off, it's going to be bad when you come back for camp. We've stressed that from Steve [Saunders, director of performance], our strength coach, to myself and the leaders on this team, that we need to come back in the best shape, your best mindset, to have the best of your career for the team. We'll go out and reach the goals we want to accomplish. We can't wait for camp to come around, because it's going to be a special year."