RAVENS FIRST ORGANIZED TEAM ACTIVITY
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. It's been awhile. Good to have everybody back. What do you think of our patio? You like it, right? It's pretty nice. We're going all out for you guys."
What about the first OTA? The veterans are here, the rookies, the mix… (Jerry Coleman)"It's been good. It's our second day, obviously, so we're just getting started. We've had good work leading up to this point, obviously, in the Phase Two part of the program. This is what we call Phase Three now with the new CBA. This is the OTA portion. So, the rules are a little bit more practice-oriented. It looks a little bit more like a practice – still no contact. I thought the guys handled it really well. We got a lot of work done. As you can see, they are in good spirits."
John, what have you seen from Bryant McKinnie? How much has he been around here and conditioning? (Aaron Wilson)"He's been working really hard. He has been around here most of the time. Conditioning has been a paramount priority, and he has done a good job. We'll just have to see how he does as we go forward. I think he'll do well."
John, with Dean Pees being the new defensive coordinator, you have been here now about four years, how do you think he is going to be different compared to the other defensive coordinators? (Jamison Hensley)"I haven't really thought about it that way, as far as how he will be different. I think that he will be Dean Pees. It's his personality. It's a unique style. The guys have already seen it, and I think our guys are real excited about Dean in the meetings. [He's] a very detailed coach, very organized, very creative. He set the system up in a way that evolves a little bit and grows it and makes it, in some ways, easier to learn. Our guys are excited about that. [We're] still very creative. We've added a lot of stuff, so we have a lot of good stuff in."
How difficult is it not to have Ray Rice here? (Sal Paolantonio)"It's really not a problem at all. You still run practice. It's no different. The young guys are doing a great job. [I'd] love to have all the guys here. [I'd] love for every guy to be here, but it's not realistic in today's, probably, business environment and all that. So, we're just moving forward, but Ray [Rice] is working hard. I don't worry about Ray. Ray Rice is working hard. Both Rays [Rice and Lewis] are working hard. They'll be ready to go."
How much do you worry about whoever is going to back up Rice? How much do you have to find that? (David Wilkey)"Well, I'm not worried about that either, because I know we have a lot good, talented guys that are working hard that are very good players. Who's the next great player? We never heard of a lot of stars before they came out and became what they are. A lot of these guys that you don't really know about right now are going to become great players. That's just all around the league."
John, what did you see from Jacoby Jones as he tries to get his feet wet? (Aaron Wilson)"He's done really well. Great attitude. Really hard worker, really, really hard worker. Very fast, big, physical guy. He's done a really good job."
John, all eight of your draft picks last year made the 53-man roster. You got contributions from Torrey Smith and Jimmy Smith and all them. They weren't able to have this offseason last year. Can you just talk about what this is actually able to do for them in terms of their development? (Matt Vensel)"We're doubling down on the offseason. The rookies didn't have the offseason last year, and the second-year guys didn't have the offseason last year, and that's a huge offseason for those guys. Two groups of guys are getting their first real offseason. They've made a lot of progress, those guys have. I would think it's probably that way everywhere."
People talk about distractions, whether it's a contract, an injury, things like that. Have you ever been on a team where distractions have affected a team's results? (Jamison Hensley)"Well, Sal [Paolantonio] can probably talk about that from the Philadelphia days. *(laughter) *Sure. Our guys don't seem distracted. I don't think our situations are serious situations. They are just part of doing business. It's the way it works. It's the nature of it. The players have handled it really well. Obviously [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] and [vice president of football administration] Pat Moriarty have handled it really well. We all want to get the deals done, and we're going to work hard to try to get them done."
John, have you spoken with Ed Reed? He kind of said some things and then backed off his comments. Do you expect for Ed to play this year? (Aaron Wilson)"Ed is a guy that I really trust and really, really care about and believe in. There has been no indication that he's not going to play this year, as far as I am concerned. But, I don't worry about Ed. Ed is a mature guy, he's a superstar, he's a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. He's a leader, and Ed will be here. We're counting on Ed being here."
Did it surprise you when you heard that he said on the air that he wasn't committed to playing football? (Jamison Hensley)"You know, what does he really mean by that? He's talking about the offseason, I think. He's got a lot of things going on. It's what he said, and he's working on the personal things. I guarantee he's training. I guarantee he is getting ready for the season. That's just Ed."
Has Terrell Suggs been able to start his rehab yet, as far as you know? Have you had any conversation with him? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Well, the situation is that there is a certain time that you have to let the scar heal, the wound heal and that kind of thing. The rehab doesn't start until all that healing takes place. He is going to have a doctor's appointment the first week of the minicamp. Then, he is going to come up here, and then we'll start to rehab at that point."
John, do you have any kind of status report on Ray Rice's negotiations? (David Wilkey)"No, I don't. Are you surprised by that?"
John, you have this slogan, "What's Important Now? [W.I.N.]" How does that apply to moving on from what happened at the end of last season? (Sal Paolantonio)"I'd have to tie that one together and think about it. It's something we've had, really from Day One. It's been a part of the program from the first day we got here. The Team, the Team, the Team and What's Important Now? That's been on a banner in the big building from the first day. Really, what it applies to is if you take care of today, the future takes care of itself. You try to take care of business today, what's important right now. What drill, what meeting? Today, let's do our job, and then the future takes care of itself. That's how it applies."
How do you guard against a hangover from what happened last year, in terms of creeping into your plans for this year? (Sal Paolantonio)"I would probably not use that term. Take two Aspirin. That's what you usually do, right? (laughter) I don't think we have that problem. I don't think it's an issue. You go back to work; it's a new season. Our guys, they're in great spirits, so we're excited. We've got lots of things to accomplish, things that we have yet to accomplish. But no matter what, when a new year starts, if you won the Super Bowl, the team that won the Super Bowl last year, it's a new year for them, too, and they have a lot of accomplish this year, too. No matter what you did in the past, you have to go to work the next year, and that's what we do. We've done it every year."
John, as you continue to see Courtney Upshaw, Nick Saban has described him as a guy who had so much responsibility in college, he thought that would translate well. Are you starting to see that even though it's very early? (Kim Jones)"He's a very smart player – very football-knowledgeable guy. He has been very well-coached down there. He understands the game, he works hard. He has been everything that we anticipated he'd be so far."
NT Terrence Cody
On if the OTAs give a sense of what the defense could look like without the guys who aren't here:"We really can't tell right now because it's OTAs, and it's not mandatory, and we've got the young guys out here. So, we really can't tell right now."
On what he can tell about OLB Courtney Upshaw:"I can tell he can play. Do you know why? Because he is from 'Bama – the National Champions." (laughter)
On how he feels:"I feel good. I feel good, look good, talking good, smell good. (laughter) I feel good."
On what he has done to change his workout from last season:"Just working on the little things, because being around here, watching the veterans, just taking care of my body right [is important]. Most of all, it's just eating right and just staying in shape."
On if he feels stronger this year:"I feel like I am getting a lot stronger. Losing that weight last year kind of made me a little weak because I lost it a little too fast, but working out with [strength and conditioning coach] Bob [Rogucki] and those little 'Superman' workouts and stuff, I am feeling good."
On how he would describe defensive coordinator Dean Pees' personality:"Dean has many personalities. I'd have to say just play wild – just be you and just go out there and whoop somebody's behind."
On how he feels going into the season knowing he will need to contribute even more with the loss of some key veterans:"I feel good going into this year knowing that we need guys to step up, especially on the D-line. I feel good. I have been working out good, doing things to help me with my game and a few other things."
On how he would describe the difference without the guys that he is usually playing with on defense and their personalities and leadership they bring:"It's different not having 'Sizzle' [Terrell Suggs] out there and Ray Lewis, because 'Sizzle,' especially, kept up laughing and kept us loose. But right now, we are trying to keep that going. It's working. We have me, Bryan Hall and Jameel [McClain]. We are out there trying to keep the defense loose, so everybody can have fun and fly around."
On if he has told Upshaw anything about contributing right away in the NFL and how he can take his experiences at Alabama and translating that into the NFL:"No, not yet. *(Reporter: "Will you?") *Yeah, I'm going to talk to him."
On if he looks at Upshaw as a guy the team might need this season:"Yeah, he is a guy we are going to need, because we might not have 'Sizzle' coming into the season, so we are going to need him to step up."
QB Joe Flacco
On his experience at the Orioles game last night:"It was good. It was a lot of fun. I haven't been to many of them, so it was good to get out to one. (Reporter: "50,000 seats and you end up in sitting in the seat where you are on television.") *I know. That's what the people around us said. When the lefty is up, you can be on TV right over his shoulder. I hope I didn't do anything stupid. I don't know." *(laughter)
On how important this time of the year is and getting acclimated with the receivers:"It's good. It's good to get out here and be with a lot of these young guys, a couple new faces, and get a lot of work in. It's still a long way from the season and a long way away from training camp, where we'll get most of our work done. It is always good to come out here, run around and kind of really get a feel for what we're getting ready to do. We've been off for a couple of months now, and it's good to get back to football, because we love to do it, and it's a lot of fun for us."
On what he has seen from WR Jacoby Jones so far and what he brings to the table:"He's another big guy. He looks good, can run, can track down a ball and go up for it. I think he'll be a good addition for us, and he seems like a great guy so far with great skills. So, I'm excited to really get going with him."
On if it is strange not to have RB Ray Rice to hand off to:"There are so many people that aren't here on a normal basis. You don't really think about it. You come out here and you run around, you practice, and it is what it is. You kind of just go with the flow. Honestly, you don't really notice it too much."
On if this year's OTAs are better than last year's OTAs (when there weren't any due to the NFL lockout):"Last year's OTAs may have been a little bit better, actually, because it didn't involve actually being here. (laughing) We went around and threw around [last year]. We weren't able to come here and use the facilities and get with absolutely everybody on the team. I say that joking around. It's a lot of fun to be out here, and it's great to get the work done. It's pretty good."
On if there are certain guys that can help out the running game until Rice returns:"There are always guys. We got Anthony Allen last year, and I think he's a great running back, and I think he is going to do great things for us. I haven't seen enough of the other guys so far, but there are guys out there that look good. A lot of the top running backs in the league are guys that you don't really know too much about until, all of the sudden, they come out here, and they have a breakout season. I think we have guys that definitely have that potential, and it will be interesting to see."
On if he thinks the team can replace Rice easily:"No, not at all. Not at all. Ray has been great, especially out of the backfield, and his pass [protection is great] for me because of his understanding of how to run the routes and where the holes are and things like that. That's why I love Ray so much, is his ability to do that kind of thing. We'll definitely miss him out here once that time comes for real."
On Rice missing the OTAs and it having a great effect on the team:"He is working out what he has to work out and [doing] what's best for him. I'm in his corner. Ray Lewis isn't here, Haloti Ngata is not here. We have a lot of guys that aren't here. We're professional football players. No matter what, we know how to play football. We didn't have anything last year, and we came out here and went to the AFC Championship game. These [OTAs] are good for us, no doubt. We get a lot of work done. We have a lot of young guys, and that's who it is really critical for. The young guys we had last year weren't able to get that. So, maybe a couple of them that may have been able to help us out might not have been able to just because they didn't get those couple of installations over the summer that may have helped them out once they got into training camp so they wouldn't have fallen behind. I think that's what it is big for. It's good for me to be here, because I am the one that needs to make those guys go, and I am the one that needs to make our offense go and bring those guys along as fast as we can. For them to have me here, throwing to them and seeing what I go through, I think it's going to be a help for us."
On how he put the AFC Championship loss to New England behind him mentally:"It was a tough loss. I think we were all pretty crushed after that one. But once the season is over, once New England and New York had played it out and it was all over … We've all lost big football games before. It probably won't be the last time that we will lose a big football game. I think the true test of a good team is how you get back up and get back after it. So far, since I have been here, we have been able to do that, and we are going treat it the same. Obviously, it hurts and it stings, but you have to get back out here. We are all tough guys and understand that that kind of thing happens sometimes. I think time is one thing, and getting back out here and running around and realizing that it's not the end of the world. We have to come out here and we have to become ready to play so that we can get right back there and have the same opportunity next season."
On if he pays any attention to Rice's contract situation:"Not too much. You hear a little bit here and there about it, but I don't really pay too much attention to anything unless I am in the building here and somebody is telling me about it. The only thing I know is his contract is up, and we should probably pay him." (laughing)
S Bernard Pollard
On what has been the biggest difference with Dean Pees being in charge of the defense: "I think they kept Dean for a reason. And Dean is in here, he's stepped in [and] it's like he's been here the whole time. He's a great coach. I've always respected him since I got here, and I knew of him in New England, and he's just like Chuck [Pagano]. He wants to use all of his weapons. He's not going to let anybody sit; he's going to use everybody to the best of their ability, and he's going to play you."
On getting his contract extension and knowing that he is going to be in Baltimore for a long time:"Well, this is a blessing for me. You hear so many times when guys get extensions and they don't play the same, they don't do the same thing, they don't have the same hunger. I stay hungry. I play with chips on my shoulders. Playing with these guys is truly an honor – a privilege. You hear about guys trying to get contracts all the time. Our biggest thing is to go out there and play football. Whatever happened last year was last year. We're moving on to this year. The 2012 football season is going to be exciting. You've got so many people saying what we can't do, who we're facing, how many quarterbacks can do this, what offenses do that. It does not matter, because when the whistle blows and you're between those white [lines], you can't stop us. And we're excited with what we have."
On whether he's trying to take on more of a leadership role with the young guys by being out here in OTAs:"I'm not changing what I do or what I've done. I can't change that about myself. I couldn't care less what I've just got. I talked with coach [John] Harbaugh, [and] I've got to be me. And I'm the type of player where I come up, I play. Obviously, this is a point where we're all kind of learning this defense, coming back in, running again, getting back pulling again, kind of putting things together. But when it counts is when we start training camp, when we start getting ready for preseason. And then when those bullets are live, when those things hurt, when you get wins and losses in those columns, that's when things are live. And so, with Ray [Lewis] and those guys being gone, it doesn't matter. They're going to step in and they're going to be ready to go as soon as they get here, Day One. So, like I said, with this team, we're excited with what we have. This front office has done a great job as far as getting players in here to help this team win, and obviously, that's what we're about. It was a tough loss [in the AFC Championship]. We were a catch, a field goal, whatever, we were that away from the Super Bowl. But now, we've got to go prove to a lot of people and to ourselves that we can do the same thing again, but end up in the Super Bowl."
On how he sees Pees putting a stamp on the defense and if there is a trademark to his philosophy for the defense:"Well, you know what? Dean wants us to play hard and fast. And I think he doesn't want to change the 'Raven way.' As long as we go out there and play Raven football, coach Pees is stepping in and he's the signal-caller. He's letting us know what to do. We've got to go out there and play. As long as we're playing hard and fast, as long as we're playing Raven football, we can't be beat. I think whenever we start to get tired, whenever we start to think, 'We can't be beat,' or [we] just get lackadaisical, that's not Raven football, and we've gotten those losses. And I think you guys have seen that all of last year, when we stepped away from it, we lost. But I think we're untouchable when we play Raven football."
On the absence of RB Ray Rice at OTA practices:"As far as Ray Rice, he's a dynamic player. He's a great, great player, and you want that guy on your team. His situation is his situation, and we as players understand that. He'll be here. I think he knows and understands that football pays the bills. I think he knows that. So, as far as anybody else … We have a plethora of running backs. These guys can come in and play. But when it's all said and done, [No.] 27 is going to be in the backfield. You know, they drafted Bernard Pierce. And Anthony Allen, him and [Damien] Berry, they're hungry. So, I think it's exciting for us. There's going to be competition back there, but you want [No.] 27 carrying that ball."
On whether it's strange to be wearing a Ravens uniform and not see S Ed Reed, LB Ray Lewis and OLB Terrell Suggs out there with him:"Not now. I think a lot of people kind of misunderstand [that] this is voluntary. And Ray, Ed and them, they've played this game for a long time. It's not about showing up to OTAs; they know the defense. Yeah, we switched some names up, but it isn't going to be hard. Once they know it's the same thing as it was last year, just with a different name, we'll put a little spin on it. That's all it is. They're going to be ready to show up to play football, and like I said and continue to say, we're excited about what we have. And we know we've got. What is it, four guys that aren't even in our lineup right now? But we're going to be excited to play."
G Marshal Yanda
On what the coaches told him he needs to work on when he comes back this season: "They didn't really tell me anything. Just lift weights and stay in shape and come back ready to go. And, I was back in Iowa working out and staying strong and just [ready to] come back ready to go. I would say they really don't need to say anything to me. I know what to do, and then [I] stay in shape."
On whether he has lost a little weight:"Yeah, I've lost a little bit of weight, but I'm probably at 305 right now. But I'm within my playing weight. I've shed a few pounds during the offseason, which I usually do. I usually go down a little bit, and then I start working my way back up. I definitely want to do that rather than go the other way – you know, go up after the season and then have to lose it. So, that's usually the way my body works."
On how much he finds himself turning around to see who's carrying the ball without RB Ray Rice in attendance:"Not much. Obviously, we all miss Ray and we love him and he'll be here soon enough, but not right now. We're working with the young guys, the O-line is, just helping them out and working on your craft, too. We're working every day on our craft and not really paying attention to who's behind us/ [We're] just blocking."
On his early impressions of the rookie offensive linemen, like G/T Kelechi Osemele and G/C Gino Gradkowski:"They seem like good guys so far. I've had two days to meet them, but they seem like they want to work hard and they want to get it. And in the classroom, too, when we're going through plays, they seem very into it and professional-like for young guys. So, I think they're going to be good. We'll take it one day at a time and we'll see how they progress, but I think they have the right attitude and they brought in two good guys."
On what the key will be for the offensive line to come together without Ben Grubbs being here:"I think we just need to find one guy to fill that spot. There's no really complicated equation to that. They're going to pick the guy that blocks the most consistently day-in and day-out, and whether that's 'K.O.' [Kelechi Osemele], whether that's Gradkowski, whether that's Justin Boren, who knows? So, they just take it one day at a time, and the guy that obviously plays the best is going to play there. So, that's it."
On whether he ever envisions the day that he will not be out at OTAs:"I just take it one day at a time, and I'm a simple guy. One day at a time, work hard, put a good day's work in, then call 'er a day and then move on. But no, I'm just a grinder."
On why he thinks T Michael Oher is present at OTAs:"Mike's a hard-working guy. He doesn't miss practice, he works on his craft, and he's just a hard worker. He's got a great attitude, and that's the reason [why he is] where he's at right now, is because of his hard work and dedication. So, that's why he's out here, that's why he's working and getting better."
On whether the offense feels obligated to do more with the loss of a player like OLB Terrell Suggs:"No. Personally, I would say no. We have a job to do no matter what the defense does. Obviously, they're a great defense and they do their job over there, but we're worried about what we're doing out there, trying to take care of the football, run the ball and not turn the ball over. So, whether Terrell is out there or not, that doesn't change our mindset of what we're going to do and what we're trying to do. Obviously, we're going to miss the heck out of him – we all understand he's a great player – but our job doesn't change."
On what he thinks the potential of this offense is with a lot of the key players being veterans:"I think the sky is the limit for us. With Ray [Rice] and Joe [Flacco] … We just continue to keep getting better every year, and we flashed some really good things last year. We just need to be more consistent. I think we've flashed tools to be the No. 1 offense. It was like last year, we just needed to be consistent. We could run the ball, Joe could pass the ball, [but] we've just got to put it together. And we've got the tools, which is great. You can see the guys out there that we have, the tools, with Ray and Joe, Anquan [Boldin] and Torrey [Smith] and those guys. So, we're excited about it. I am very excited about it, and we'll just take it one day at a time, like I said. Pretty methodical, but that's all it takes."
On what it takes to have the versatility to play either guard or tackle:"[You] just play where the coaches tell you to play, obviously. When you're a young player, any way that you can get out onto the grass and get out and start in the NFL, you want to play wherever they put you and where there's a spot open. Left guard is open right now, so obviously, those guys are going to be plugged in there and see what they can do one day at a time. They just need to take each day and not waste it – just get a little bit better each day in the classroom, a little bit better on the field, and just stack days, and then we'll see where we're at. Obviously, we're really early into this thing; we don't play until September. So, they're plugging guys in and out, putting Gino and 'K.O.' and Jah [Reid] in there. So, we'll see."
On the challenge of putting the loss in the AFC Championship behind:"Yeah, it was [a tough loss]. It's still in the back of our minds. That was a tough loss. That was the toughest loss I've ever had to deal with, tenfold. I've never lost a game like that, so it was really tough. It's one of those ones where you'll never forget. Sometimes, I'm the type of guy where you forget the bad ones more than you … You can't forget the hard losses like that rather than the good wins. So, that was a tough one to swallow, but we're obviously moving on, and 2012 is a new year. So, we'll hopefully pick up right where we left off – to play good football and get after teams."