Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Thanks for coming over. That concludes the rookie minicamp portion of what we are doing. [I am] just pleased with it. Guys worked hard. It's a good group, and we had a good weekend."
What is the big thing you want to impress upon these guys this week and try to get them started on? (Aaron Wilson)"There's no big thing. It's just an introduction, really, to how we do things here. It's a chance to evaluate a little bit. There [are] a lot of things going on: evaluation, teaching, indoctrination into the way we do things. [It was] very productive. They came a long way in three days."
How does a basketball player like Murphy Holloway get on your team's radar, and how much of a different adjustment is it for him to make it and stick around here? (Matt Vensel) "The radar question would be good for [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome]. He's right over there, so he can answer that one for you, because I really don't know how they found him. (laughter) But, it's a tough adjustment. It's different playing basketball and playing football. The thing about Murphy is he has some skills. He can catch. He has nice ball skills. He showed that he has no problem snatching the ball. So, the rest of it – just everything from a stance to understanding the plays and all of that – just the way you move in football is a little different than basketball. But he's got the chance. He's a very good athlete, a very hard worker, very willing guy, smart guy."
**You guys did this before with Joe Reitz, and he's gone on to have a productive career. Does that kind of prove to you that you can do it and also to these players that if they work hard they can make it? *(Matt Vensel) *"Sure, yes. Joe is a guy that we had. Obviously, around the league now you can go back to [Antonio] Gates is an obvious example. But there have been guys who have done it before. Jimmy Graham played a year in college before he did it. So, guys can do it."
John, how excited are you to have Steve [Spagnuolo] join the staff – a guy you have a background and friendship with? And how do you see him fitting in as far as a role on the defensive staff? (Luke Jones)"We've added Steve Spagnuolo – obviously, a tremendous coach, great experience. His accomplishments speak for themselves. I think it adds to an already very strong staff and just makes us that much better. The more great coaches and great players that we can build into what we are doing, the better we are going to be. He'll build into the defensive side. He'll assist where needed. I think we will build that in as we go, but he can really work with any position. So, it's a big plus for us."
You guys get Bryant McKinnie back. How much does that bolster this line to add him back to left tackle? (Aaron Wilson) "Having Bryant back is a big plus for us. We were hoping that would be the case. I'm looking forward to seeing him next week and getting him in here and going to work. We want our line to be as strong as it can possibly be, and that makes us stronger."
Are you pleased with what he has told you in conversations as far as his conditioning and what he has been doing in the offseason? (Luke Jones) "Yes, I'm always pleased with conversations with Bryant McKinnie. I enjoy talking to Bryant. He's one of my favorite guys. He's a sterling conversationalist. (laughter) We talk a lot about stuff – a lot of different things, [a] broad range of topics. I always enjoy that. I think he does as well."
How exciting is it to be able to pull local talent like [Gerrard] Sheppard from Towson? (Bill West) "Yes, that's big. It's good to see … They have done such a good job over there. [Towson head coach] Coach [Rob] Ambrose has done such a great job, along with their staff, recruiting. I think their talent level is really at an all-time high. You can see the way they played LSU, and all the big teams, the way they play in that conference – which is a good conference – they have talented guys. [Grant] Enders and [Gerrard] Sheppard looked really good in this camp. They are NFL-quality guys."
**Other local products, Brandon Copeland, Jeff Braun, guys like that: What did you see from them throughout the course of this weekend? *(Matt Zenitz) *"Right, those guys played well. They all fit. Every single guy fit – those two guys specifically. [Jeff] Braun and [Brandon] Copeland looked really good. [They are] big, good, athletic guys, smart players, guys that can definitely make it in the NFL. There's a lot of great talent. You watch the high school football around here … Having recruited all those years in college, this is a hotbed of talent –football, basketball, a lot of sports – but we all know about lacrosse, right? I think there are a lot of good football players that get plucked out of here every year or go down and play at Maryland. Yes, we like the local talent."
John, one of the things addressed about Matt Elam is how he loves to practice; he loves to be out there. Was that on display this week, and what did you think about getting kind of your first extended look at him? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Matt really picked things up quickly – the same for Arthur [Brown] and really all of those guys. He really did a nice job of communicating in the backend, which is not usual for a rookie. Most rookie defensive backs – even all defensive players – have a tough time with the communication part of it, because they aren't confident enough to make the calls. He's smart. He picked it up quickly. He jumped right back there and made calls with force; he was very forceful back there. He played fast. He looked good."
On a weekend like this, how quickly can you start to see which guys can really get it down and play at a high level and guys start to separate themselves? (Garrett Downing) "There's always separation right away. Guys do start separating themselves. As a group … I think they all did well as a group, but individually you could see where guys might be a little further ahead than other guys."
The undrafted free agents, there hasn't been a place kicker or a punter added yet. I know Sam [Koch] didn't have any competition in camp last year. Is it going to be the same this year and for Justin [Tucker]? (Kris Jones)"It will be pretty tough to find competition for those two guys right now. There aren't too many guys that want to come here and kick or punt. I don't think they see it as being a very fruitful opportunity. But, we will find somebody to help us – somebody that wants a chance to kick or punt in the National Football League. I'd like a guy who could do both, if possible – punt and kick. You'd love to have a lefty, so you can see how hard that is to come across. But, we will get the best guy we can."