RAVENS MINI-CAMP INTERVIEW QUOTES
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On how players responded to the first two days of minicamp:"They practiced hard. There was some tempo. It was enthusiastic, so I think they enjoyed themselves."
On his initial goals for minicamps:"Well, it's football practice. I don't think there's any big philosophy to it. I think we're trying to get on the same page offensively and establish a tempo on offense. We're going to establish the fact that we're going to run to the ball on defense. Get the guys working together a little bit, the coaches working with the players and vice-versa. It's just football practice."'
On TE Quinn Sypniewski's injury:"I'm not sure what it is. It happens. You get bumped into, so we'll see how it is."
On how his quarterbacks looked:"I think they're doing a nice job. There is a lot on their plate right now. The thing I've been most impressed with – and we talked about this last night – is how fast they've been able to operate the offense, because we've done a lot of no-huddle drills. Cam [Cameron] calls them 'thunder drills.' They've operated very quickly, and I think they pressure our defense a little bit with it."
On how the camp felt for him as a head coach:"I was just trying to find a spot to stand. Right there in the middle seemed to be the best spot. It was a good spot to get a hold of everybody. (laughs)"
On what it means to have guys like OLB Terrell Suggs and LB Ray Lewis on hand:"The fact that most all of the guys are here, and the guys who were here and who they were, I think it's impressive that No. 53 [the 53rd man on the roster] is here. I think it's impressive that No. 1 is here, whoever that is. It means a lot. It's powerful to see a room full of guys. We've got a lower bowl in [the auditorium], and it's full of players. That's a strong statement about who they are and what they're about."
On if team-building starts this early:"Yes. Team-building started back when we were lifting weights, you know? It started when I was making phone calls. It's part of the process. It's relationships, guys getting to know one another and trust one another.
"And you know what? These guys have been a team. These guys care about one another. That was pretty obvious with the Steve McNair meeting yesterday, when Steve got up. This team has strong bonds already."
On if his offense changes without McNair:"No. I think it's the same offense we were installing. McNair was going to run the plays, but there are no changes."
On if the players are focusing on learning the verbiage:"It's different because the West Coast system is names of the routes and numbers of the protections. This is just the opposite. I think they're tying the concepts together with the numbers right now, and doing a pretty good job of it."
On if it would be difficult for a first- or second-round quarterback to compete with Kyle Boller and Troy Smith for a starting spot:"It will be tough for anybody to come in and win a job against those guys. Those two guys are solid quarterbacks. They can both play. But, whoever we draft is going to be a really good quarterback, too, so it's going to be a competition. We're going to roll the balls out and let them fight for the job."
On the qualities he sees in Boller and Smith:"Well, I think they're hungry. They are guys that feel like they have something to prove. They can do all the things quarterbacks do. It's interesting to see the progress from first practice to third practice, in terms of the huddle and the body language. They're getting confident making the calls now. That's interesting. Those two guys are leaders."
On what it has meant to have his father at practice with him:"He sat in the first meeting, two. I forgot he was in there. You forget he's here, and then you see him when you come off the field. That's deep-rooted stuff, I guess, but it's a good feeling."
QB Kyle Boller
On the first couple practices: "It's definitely been high-tempo. I'm really proud of our guys. It's an adjustment, learning a whole new offense. A lot of guys have been here in the offseason and I think that has really helped out a lot. Anytime you have a new offense, the installation is huge. You need to be out here at these mini-camps. If guys haven't been in their books and don't know what's going on, it's not going to look pretty."
On why he considers practices a success so far: "First and foremost, a lot of guys have been here in the offseason. That has helped out, as far as the installation. When we get out here, we're going from drill to drill to drill. There is not any wasted time. I have a meeting here in 20 minutes and then I have to throw a lunch in between that. The tempo has been a lot different. In the meetings, everything is very detailed. You've got to know it; they are not going to spoon feed it to you. You've got to keep learning it. I think that's important. It makes guys be accountable, and that's what we need for our offense to be successful."
On if he feels like the offense's unquestioned leader now that Steve McNair is retired: "Not really, no. I am just trying to earn a spot on this roster, compete and do everything I can to be the starting quarterback on this team. That's how it goes. The best guy is going to be out on this field. All can do is put in, from sun up to sun down, all the work I can do to prepare myself and get ready for the opportunity when it presents itself."
On seeing McNair retire: "It was tough. He has been so good to me. He is such a great player and guy that I've looked up to and have really had the opportunity to learn from. I'm extremely happy for him. I think he'll be able to spend a lot of time with his family now. He's just a great guy – a class act guy. He's a guy I'll always remember."
On what McNair taught him: "He's taught me a lot – how to study the game, how to play a lot smoother and not be so franticy and not worry about everything so much. [He taught me] to relax a little bit. He was really good with that."
On the toughest part of camp thus far: "Learning a new offense, it's different these first couple days. They are days you'll probably look back on and laugh at yourself. But, it's a lot of hard work. The new offense is not going to be easy to learn, but I think once you learn it, the sky is the limit."
On how he labels Cam Cameron's offense: "I don't know if you can really put a label on it. Everybody is saying it's the San Diego Chargers' offense when he was there. It's going to be similar to that. It's going to take advantage of the players we have and what they're good at. Obviously, Todd [Heap] will have a great year if he stays healthy. We'll get him the ball and just mix it around. [We want] a good running game, mix it around and to take some shots downfield. But I don't know if you can really label it as a certain term."
On competing with Troy Smith for the starting job: "I think it's awesome. None of these guys would be here on our team if they weren't competitors. For me and Troy [Smith] to keep pushing each other back and forth, I think it will only make our offense better – and definitely our team better. I look forward to it. I would like it no other way."
On if he feels like this is a fresh start for his career: "Most definitely. I really do. It's new eyes, new people seeing things. I think guys are really excited about the change. We're excited to get this thing going in the right direction. Last season was tough, it was hard. To be able to get out here – I think it's the first time we've ever had a mini-camp in April, which seems kind of weird – but we want to put last year behind us and move forward."
On having so many veterans in camp: "This is where it starts. It's huge. To have these vets here in the offseason to throw with and to get that timing down [is great]. In this offense you've got to have a lot of repetition of routes. Guys don't have to be here, but they're doing it because they want us to be good. We want to be a good team, and that's what it takes. It takes the little things to make that happen."
QB Troy Smith
On competition to be the starting QB with Steve McNair's retirement: "It's definitely a situation where from the beginning, I've been training and getting my mind ready the same way. It was very, very sad for me, but great for Steve McNair and his family. I'm sad to see him go as a person. I said it time and time again, that was my buddy, that was my dude, that was my guy, a guy who I could really confide in at any time. I'm not even talking about football at all. It was a sad day for the organization, but I know we have to move on. I'm not thinking of being No. 2, being No. 1, being No. 3… I'm just thinking about learning this offense as much as I can because that's what it's about. We'll worry about that stuff later."
On his first impressions of the coaching staff: "Tough, tough. Mentally, it's going to definitely challenge you, physically, it's a different kind of tempo. We are reiterating, a new common thought. They're setting up a new kind of thought process in between the whole team, offensively, and it's transcending over to the defensive side of the ball, and I think it's great, because you've got offensive guys chasing and flying after the ball and now the defensive guys are being challenged, because that's what our defensive guys are know for – getting to the ball. Cam [Cameron] challenged us today to make the defense be the second-best unit in the league as far as running to the ball and we're going to do that, and the offense is going to hustle and make plays."
On how much he and Boller help each other: "Without a doubt, 110 percent. I can't get through this by myself, and I couldn't get through any of this situation without Kyle. Kyle has definitely helped me in ways that I'm going to need in the future, and my hat's off to him for that."
On what Smith brings to the competition: "At all times, I'm going to be a leader, I'm going to conduct myself in a way that I know how to conduct myself. I'm going to control the things that I know how to control and I don't worry about, 'May the best man win.' I don't worry about things like that, I just worry about the things that I can perfect, within my day-to-day actions."
On if he can project that more now that Steve is no longer here: "I can't say that. I can't say that because Steve helped us in so many different ways. And with his absence, we definitely feel it. Without having 'Mac' here, we feel it. He was a leader on and off the field. But I have to step up and be Troy Smith, the only Troy Smith I know, and that's to be an accountable guy, be a leader, control the things that I can control."
On one of the biggest differences he's noticed under John Harbaugh: "It has to be the tempo of everything, starting with the weight room, starting with the workouts. That started off something totally different. I wasn't able to be a part of the offseason training program last year, but then when I joined in, it was just a different tempo now. Not to say that anything last year was any worse than this year."
On having the experience of last year that will help him now: "It helped me a little bit, because now I've got a little taste. It's nowhere near real starting quarterback, but a little taste of what's going on out there will definitely help me, so yes, a little bit."
On what he's been learning from Cam Cameron: "Oh, incredible things. The thing I appreciate most about Cam is he's going to be a man at all times. And when I say that, there are things that he's going to say to you that you should take into consideration, there are also things that you're going to say to him that he's willing to listen to. Again, not to say that anybody last year, [former offensive coordinator] Rick Neuheisel, [former head coach] Brian Billick, [former quarterbacks coach] Jedd Fisch, the list goes on, they didn't listen to us, because they did. It's just this year, [they've placed] more of an emphasis on letting us know that our opinion counts."