Ravens Thursday Minicamp Transcripts

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement:"Good seeing everybody. I appreciate you being here. This wraps up our offseason phase of our preparation. [We are] just very happy, very pleased. I'd grade it very highly with what the guys have done. We've had tremendous participation, and the participation has been 100-percent effort. Whether it's guys like Joe [Flacco] rehabbing or guys who are out here practicing or in the weight room or wherever it's been – in the meeting rooms – it's been really good. [We are] really happy with those guys. This next part of it you won't hear much about it, but this next part of it will be very important as well. We're going to be going into a phase now [for] about four weeks, where individually, guys have to prepare themselves – as an athlete preparing for the season, as an individual thing now for the next four weeks. They're going to have to get themselves ready physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually – all of those ways for what's ahead of them – training camp and then on into a long NFL football season. That's what we left those guys with, and knowing our guys, they'll make the most of it."

John, did you get a lot of answers this week? And are there still many to be solved? (Dave Ginsburg)"We did. Sure, we got a lot of answers, but maybe more questions in the end because this is just part of it. The physical part is not in these practices, but we saw speed. We saw how guys process information. We found out we have a lot of smart young players that can learn really quickly, and that's a good thing to know. [We'll] take the next step into training camp and see how they do with the next thing."

John, QB Joe Flacco just said that he would be ready for the first day of training camp. Are you going to allow him to practice on the first day of training camp? (Jamison Hensley) "In all seriousness, that's really up to the doctors and to him and the rehab people. If he's ready to go, nobody will be happier than me – maybe besides Joe and the receivers. If he's ready to go, great. If he's not, there will be some sort of a process for that."

John, we have talked to most of your prominent players coming off injuries this week. OLB Terrell Suggs we haven't. What is your expectation for where he is in recovery? (Jeff Zrebiec) "That's, again, in the hands of the rehab people and Terrell. He looks good. He is working hard. He's been here for quite a few weeks now, rehabbing and conditioning and all of those things. To my eye, he's doing a really good job. He's working really hard. He's here consistently on a regular basis. He's been interacting with the guys in the meetings this week and done a good job with that. The Achilles [injury] was early. It was early September last year, so from a timeframe standpoint, he has real chance to be ready to go. When we decide to practice him or how much and all those things, I think will depend on what's in really his and our best interest, as far as having him at his best when we start playing games. We'll just have to play that out when training camp starts."

*You meant he has a real chance of being ready to go at the start of the season? You weren't talking about training camp? (Jeff Zrebiec) *"I think both, but it just depends. You can't guarantee anything. I think [we'll] see what the doctors say, but he's looking good."

Does the same apply for WR Steve Smith Sr., who continues to work? Steve said yesterday if he can't play during the preseason, his goal is to be ready for the regular season. (Luke Jones)"I don't know how much we'll play either one of those guys – or Elvis [Dumervil] – in the preseason. We'll just have to see. It will just be based on what they have to do to get ready. Steve's Achilles was much later than Terrell's, so it's a little bit of a different timeframe there."

John, can you assess T Ronnie Stanley and where he is at this point in his development? (Matt Pencek)"Ronnie is a rookie, and I think he's on schedule in that sense, as far as his development goes. He's the sixth pick in the draft; he's very talented. All of the things that everybody knows who follows football, his attributes are all there. He doesn't say much, he goes to work, he gets better every day, and he doesn't repeat mistakes. Those are the things that we learned in the last few weeks. It's going to be up to him to earn the job, win the job and be ready to go."

Are there any players that you're certain will start on the Physically Unable to Perform list? (Jeff Zrebiec) "What's the list of guys? I can't think of anybody off the top of my head that I'd be certain about. Unless you think of a guy you can ask me about him specifically."

John, the rookies and guys that haven't been in this organization, do you have a special session for them before you go out on the long break? (Bill West) "They've been tremendous, but obviously, you never take anything for granted. [Director of player engagement] Harry Swayne's program has been in effect now from Day One when they got here, right on through every day. They have these seminars and symposiums. They're still here next week. The rookies aren't leaving.  They'll be here next week for the rookie symposium, which goes Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They'll be working out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday is the rookie symposium. That's the type of stuff they'll be talking about with those guys before they leave."

John, on the decision to part ways with Eugene Monroe, he's a guy that you guys made a big commitment to a couple of years ago. How disappointing is it that it didn't work out? And is that a reflection of how much confidence you have in T Ronnie Stanley? (Luke Jones)"These are tough things. These are the difficult situations in our league. I have the utmost respect for Eugene Monroe – a family man. Nobody works harder. As a football player and as a person, he's just a wonderful guy. You build relationships with these guys over the years. I saw him every day in here in the offseason [for] early morning workouts. We were both in there working out. Not together. He does a little more weight than me. (laughter) Then all of a sudden, you're here, you're a part of it, then boom, the next day a guy is not here; he's moving on to the next thing. That's the difficult thing about it; that's what's always tough. Then the other tough part about it is the speculation that people want to throw in there, just making statements that have no basis in fact or reality whatsoever. But they will – people will believe what they want to believe. You just have to move past that and know things are done for the right reasons and keep the relationships intact. With Eugene, they're firmly intact. He has a lot of friends here, he's well thought of here, and it will always be appreciated what he did while he was here. Football circumstances changed. From the end of the season until now – football circumstances, 100-percent football circumstances. That's it. That's all it ever was. Everybody here … It's well documented the circumstances and situation. It's no reflection on Eugene Monroe in any way. It just has to do with the circumstances and the Ravens and that position. He's going to play. He's going to get picked up, he's going to play, and he's going to play very well, because he's an excellent football player. All of the rest of it is … I'll just leave one last thing, because I think it's a compliment to the organization, to [owner] Steve Bisciotti and to the organization historically: When you look all the way back on this organization, this organization has always been very forward thinking, very open, very in front of all kinds of issues and have always allowed their players to speak out, speak their mind and be who they are. You can take it all the way back to Art Modell and Jim Brown, take it all the way back that far. Then bring it on to Steve Bisciotti with Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden and Ed Reed and these guys who have been very outspoken. Since I've been here, you can look at the Matt Birk and Brendon Ayanbadejo stuff. We have a really good track record for all of that. I'm proud of that, and I know our organization is. I think it speaks well for who Steve Bisciotti is. We always allow people to be who they are, believe what they believe and stand up for what they believe in. That doesn't have anything to do with any football decisions that are ever made."

**So anybody that insinuates that Eugene Monroe was released  because of his stance on medical marijuana would be wrong? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"That's correct – 100-percent correct."

You obviously have a lot of guys competing for a few spots at running back. What has RB Terrance West, a local guy, done to stand out? (Jake Lourim) "Terrance has done a great job. I would say he's in the best shape of his life. I think he would tell you that. He looks good. He looks quick. He looks fast. Young guys, young running backs, the thing that they always have to learn … They usually know how to run the ball, and he's proven he can do that. The next part of it is the pass protection and the alignments and assignments and lining up outside the box and those kinds of things. I think he's really done a good job with improving on this spring, and I can't wait to see him in training camp."

John, did DT Brandon Williams just have a rest day? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Brandon Williams had a personal issue. Can I say what it was? His wife's having a baby. Say your prayers for that going well. That's why he's not here."

And RB Trent Richardson? (Jamison Hensley) "Trent is a physical issue. He was out for a physical ailment."

It seems like this offseason, you guys did a lot to make more flexibility on defense. How important is that going forward to have guys you can move around and improve the athleticism on defense as a whole? (Jeff Zrebiec) "The ability to play guys in different spots, make it difficult for offenses to identify as far as their structure and who they're supposed to block [and] whose playing what coverage, those are all really important things. Having the players that can do that, that can play multiple positions, goes right hand in hand with that. Having guys who can run and are athletic is really important. We've tried to do that. I think it's been something that a lot of you guys have written about over the years. We have high expectations for our defense this year, we really do. I really like the players out there running around, young guys and veteran guys. We'll see how it gels in training camp and in the preseason."

QB Joe Flacco

On if it's tough watching minicamp and if he's missed minicamp before: "I've missed one before, but that is because my first child was born, and that was a great situation. It's kind of been ... I've known that I was going to miss it. I find myself looking out and watching. I come out and watch every other day, so I'm not on my feet a ton. At the same time, it hasn't been a bad thing. It's been a time to get a little rest and get better and better. These things are huge for young guys – all these camps. I think the more work those guys can get, including the quarterbacks that we have, the better it makes our team. There are good [parts] and bad [parts]."

On if he could play if it was September or October: "Yes. I said two months ago if I had to go play in the Super Bowl today, I'd be out there playing in it."

On if he expects to be on the field the first day of training camp: "I expect to be on the field for the first day. We'll see how I feel at that point. I'm kind of curious to see as training camp goes along. Am I going to have sore days and stuff like that? But I expect to be out there and ready to go."

On if he's still having sore days in the rehab process: "Towards the end of the week. I wouldn't say it is soreness, it just gets a little stiffer than it is at the beginning of the week, but it feels great. When I'm working on it, it feels great. Running on it, it feels great. The things that make it feel like that the most are just standing and doing nothing. That is why I try to limit my time out here watching practice and all those things."

On if there is anything he can't do or he hasn't tested: "No."

On if he's thrown: "Yes. A little bit, not a ton. I'm not throwing out routes or things like that, but I've had a little 'catch' and tested my dropbacks."

On how he would describe not playing after being healthy his whole career: "I've come to grips with it at this point. Missing the offseason is not the biggest issue in the world. It is missing those six games that I missed, that was the toughest part. You don't get a lot of time to adjust to that. A week later, we were playing, and I was sitting on the couch watching it. I had to come to grips with it really quickly, because it was my reality. Like I said, the offseason wasn't the toughest part. That was the toughest part – not being able to be out there on the field with the guys for the last six games. At this point, it is a few months past that point. I'm looking ahead. I'm not in that reality anymore. I'm looking ahead to this year and going out and winning football games."

On if seeing guys like TE Benjamin Watson and WR Mike Wallace practice gets him excited: "It goes both ways. It gets me excited to go out there and work both ways with them. But those are two guys that haven't been here before, and they have now seen the reality of what our practices look like. When they get back in the locker room and you can tell they are exhausted, there is part of me that is happy I wasn't out there for all that. *(laughter) *It's always good to see new guys and welcome [them] to the organization with two-and-a-half-hour practices and minicamp. Those guys have been great. I think they are great additions to the team. I think from what you see out here, they are going to be great players for us. It's big-time to have them. I can't wait to get out there with them."

On how he will spend his time until training camp: "I continue with what I'm doing. I'm going to be here around the building and continue to work out. There are a couple guys in the building – a couple guys are going to be around here, and we will be able to throw together, and I can ramp that part of it up a little bit more just so my arm [will] go into camp ready to go and I don't have to fight any issues with that. I think that will be the biggest thing, just getting my arm to the point where is really in shape to take on the load of training camp and the year."

On if he expects a reduction in repetitions in training camp: "I really don't know. The last couple years, it is not like they have been killing us starters. We take five reps; take five reps off. We have so many reps built in our practice that if I took half the reps, I'm probably still getting 60. I expect it to be pretty normal."

On if he has given guys advice, specifically the quarterback group: "A little bit. I sit in some meetings, and you can talk about things there. Other than that, it is kind of tough. They have been out there doing their own thing, and I haven't necessarily seen a ton of it."

On his impressions of rookie T Ronnie Stanley: "He is a good kid. I've talked to Marshal [Yanda] about him; I've driven Marshal to the facility the last couple days. Marshall has nothing but great things [to say] about him. He [Yanda] said he [Stanley] is going to be a great player; he is asking all the right questions in the meeting. He is a really good kid. I know he [Yanda] is excited about him. I trust him, so I feel good about it, too."

On if he has talked to other quarterbacks who went through the same injury about what they did: "No, I haven't. It is funny, when I'm out there running around and cutting on it and doing those things, there is no tentativeness, because I didn't hurt it that way. I hurt it getting hit. I'm curious. It will probably be a little different, the first time I take a couple dropbacks and feel a little bit of guys coming in my face. I'll have to step and throw still. But I don't expect to have those kinds of thoughts linger in my head. But you never know until you get out there and do it again."

On if he learned anything missing those six games: "I wish I could tell you exactly what it is. I think you definitely learn some things. I know that was when I was watching those games, there were definitely some things that you learn – just how long the game is and how many different things can happen throughout the course of a game. Sometimes when you are there and when you are in the moment, you are so emotional about certain things, but when you can watch it, you have the ability to step back and see things. I just think watching TV copies and hearing people talk about the game gives you a different perspective. Sometimes when you are in the moment, you totally lose sight of it. But when you watch it on TV, you realize how long of a game it is, how many chances you have. It just gives you that fan perspective. You can see why we are not winning, where the frustration comes from. That is for sure."

On if watching those games on TV will help him: "I don't know. I'm sure I'll forget about that perspective when I go out there." (laughter)

On if the mental aspect is the biggest hurdle of coming back: "I don't know. I feel like, mentally, I can attack things pretty well. I think once I get on to that field, there is going to be another mental component to it – like I said, just having bodies fly around you and knowing I've had [an injury] happen to me before. But that's what putting the brace on is for. There are things that can help me along the way with getting used to all that."

On if he feels good enough to do something today if he had to: "Yeah, I feel good enough."

On if he relates to QB Aaron Rodgers discussing how much you realize you miss football when you miss games: "No doubt. Are you kidding me? I love to do this. We all love to do it; that is why we are here. It was definitely very tough. I wanted to be the guy that played 15, 16 or 17 years and didn't miss a snap. To come to grips with that was definitely tough to begin with. To see your teammates out there and not be out there with them, [to] see them come back in the locker room on Monday or Tuesday after the game and see the fun they had or even the distraught [feeling] that was in their eyes because they lost a game [was hard]. It was all stuff that you missed out on being a part of. You very quickly get isolated and tossed aside when you're not on the team and not playing. That is just the reality of this game. It goes very quickly; it moves on very quickly. You have to make adjustments quick in order to win football games. Yeah, there is no doubt about it. I would love to be out there with those guys, and it was tough."

QB Ryan Mallett

On how everything has been going in camp:"It's going good. It's been a good training camp – well, not a training camp, a good minicamp. OTAs have been good. I'm looking forward to getting to go into training camp."

On how valuable it is to take all the first-team reps: "It is very valuable. You never know what is going to happen during the season; you've got to have two or three guys ready to go. [We] learned that last year. Being able to build on what I learned last year and the system has been good for me."

On how prepared he is to step in and start: "I prepare myself like the starter every day. That is the only way I'm going to be ready if something were to happen. I think I will be ready to go if my number is called, and we will go from there."

On his comfort level is better after having played with the Ravens last year: "After those two weeks [I played], yes. It was good to come and get a full offseason here and get the whole gamut of the playbook and not just a limited version for a guy that has been here for two weeks."

On what he thinks about the receivers group: "We've got guys out there that can make plays. Training camp, we will see who comes back, ready to go and to make those plays. I think we've got a lot of options – a lot guys we like getting the ball to. We will see what happens in training camp."

On his interactions with QB Joe Flacco: "This is a football team. We are normal guys, too. We joke around, mess around a little bit. I ask him questions about what he might do, and he gives me his input whenever I ask."

CB Jimmy Smith

On where he is physically: "Physically, I feel pretty good. It has been six weeks since the surgery, so I feel good. I just did a little bit of individual [work] to get my feet back under me."

On if he expects to be back at the start of training camp: "Absolutely. I'll be up here training every day to get ready for that."

On if he has had conversations off the field with his teammates: "Just regular talk. I've been here for the OTAs, obviously getting to know [Eric] Weddle, getting to know Jerraud [Powers] over the couple weeks that he has been here. That is pretty much all the talking we really do."

On if the surgery is the last step required to put his foot injury behind him: "I'm hoping. The screws were really bothering my foot; it had my bone swelling up. I think taking them out was the best decision for me. Obviously, it feels way better than it did before. I can practice. I can run and do other things now without the next day feeling too bad. Hopefully over this next six weeks, it will heal up even more, and I'll be able to go 100 percent."

On how much the defense could be improved: "It's all kind of finesse [without pads during minicamp]. Come training camp, we will know what we have after a couple preseason games. Right now, it looks good with what I see on film with the new guys – even the young guys out there. They look pretty good."

On if he agrees with defensive coordinator Dean Pees saying the secondary would surprise people: "Yes. I think we are going to be good, but I always think that. I think putting [Lardarius] Webb back there at safety – that whole competition right now is really good. You've got guys coming on really strong. Terrence Brooks [is playing well], [Matt] Elam is playing pretty well. [Eric] Weddle, obviously, he is commanding the defense back there and is making plays as well. Everybody in that room, including our coaches, kind of are putting it in our head to get turnovers. It's kind of a fight. It is a point system in there. Everyone wants to be on top of that board right now. So everybody, every day, is trying to strip the ball, pick up the ball, intercept the ball. I think it is going to be improved this year."

On who is leading the board right now:"Jerraud Powers is kind of dominating everyone. I think he has like five or six picks. The next guy down is – who knows who second place is? First place, second loser."

On who the best NBA team is of all time: (points to his Chicago Bulls hat) "Need I say more?"

On if he thinks the Golden State Warriors will beat the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight: "I think they might. I think they are going to outshoot them. I'm a LeBron James fan, but it is just the way things go. I think that Golden State is going to pull it out, but I hope LeBron wins. I want them to win the championship."

TE Benjamin Watson

On his transition to the Ravens' offense:"The hardest thing about going to a new place, obviously, is getting the terminology.  A lot of concepts are the same wherever you go, but everybody calls everything differently. My biggest thing during OTAs, as well as the minicamp, was getting used to hearing the calls in the huddle, seeing the picture in my mind, taking the meeting room to the practice field and getting familiarity with my teammates, with the quarterback – just getting a feel for the offense. I feel like the process is going well so far. Obviously, I still think there's a long way to go, and that's what training camp is for."

On his role within the deep tight end group: "The great thing is right now it's about learning what to do [and] doing it fast. When training camp comes along, you have the competition part of it going into the season. Coming here and seeing … I've seen the guys on this team before when I wasn't here. I've always know that the Ravens had great tight ends on down the line from the oldest to the youngest. It's an honor for me to be a part of that group. Hopefully, we push each other, we make each other better. I think that that's how you become better as a player when you always have people you can compete with."

On how he will build on last year's individual success with a new team: "I think there's two parts to that: Obviously, you always want your next year to be better than the one before. As an athlete, that's always your goal. No matter what field you're in, you always want to improve on things. The other part of that is realizing that things happen in certain places at certain times, and sometimes they're not reproducible, but you always strive for that. The hard thing for me, again, has been starting over at square one, not knowing where the heck the bathroom is or where the meeting room is. It's like I'm a kid going to school for the first day and don't know where to go, then having all of this terminology and having to process it. The great thing is I know what I'm capable of, I know what to expect of myself. I hold myself to a very high standard, and I think that what makes this organization great is that everyone here holds themselves to that type of excellence."

On TE Crockett Gilmore's comments that the Ravens have the best tight end group in the NFL: "He is a great player and he has a great football mind. I've already noticed about him that he's going to be a coach when he gets done, because of the way he evaluates players and the way he'll tell us, 'You need to do this, do that.' He has that type of mind. But I think it's a challenge. Obviously, it's very early. Every team right now is going through minicamps and OTAs, and they all feel like they're the best at whatever position there is, and there's nothing wrong with that. I think that if you come out here and you don't think that you're the best, then you're doing yourself a disservice. At the same time, you have to earn it. Nothing is given in this league, and it's not a matter of what we say. What we say is our standard that we want to hold ourselves to, obviously, as a group and as a team, but we have to earn that title."

On if it is easier to transition to a new team at this point in his career than it would have been earlier: "I think there's different parts of it that are easier. Obviously, my wife and I have been married going on 11 years next month, and we have five kids, so there's a tribe that has to move across the country. (laughter) It's not just me packing my bag up and go and close my apartment down and get another apartment. No, there is stuff that has to be done. Orchestrating all of that and getting all seven of us up here, and finding a home that's big enough and all of those sorts of things … Moving all of our stuff is a headache, and it's hard and it's difficult and it's stress on the family. There's that side of it that's tough, but then there's also that part of it when you realize at this point in my career that I'm confident in my abilities and I trust that God opened this door. You never know where your career is going to take you. You know that when God closes one door sometimes, he opens another one, and he opened Baltimore, so that's why we're here. There are some things that we have to get over and, there are some relationships that you have to sever, but we're already building new relationships at the same time."

On first impressions of QB Joe Flacco and how much he is looking forward to working with him: "I'm looking forward to him coming out there on the practice field. I've been through an ACL [repair] before, so I know what it's like. I know you have this itch, this desire to get out there, but you're just not quite ready. I can relate to him on that level. Just watching him knowing that he has control of the offense and that he's one of the great quarterbacks in the league is exciting for me whenever he does get out there. The main thing is his health right now. That's for any player that's coming off of an injury. The hardest thing for a player is to be injured and to want to go out there and lead your team, especially at the quarterback position to know that your body is just not ready yet. That's why we have the training staff."

On if it is difficult to envision what the offense will look like without QB Joe Flacco on the field: "The thing about football is, you coach the guys that are on the field. Football is unforgiving in that way. It's going to end for all of us one day, and it's going to be some day when we're injured and we can't play. Whether it's a practice or it's a game or the end of our career, the train keeps going. You get on it and you ride it until it's your time to get off. On the one hand, we know, obviously, that Joe [Flacco] is the guy here, and even Ryan [Mallett] knows that. He's the guy who's led this organization for a very long time. At the same time, we have to come out here and try to perform. We still have to go out here and try to beat the defense every day. We still have to go out here and complete passes. We have to go out here and make the right calls, make the catches and make the throws. We're focused. I'm focused on the day to day, then once training camp gets here and once Joe gets out here, then I'm going to try to earn his confidence, obviously, because he'll be the starting quarterback."

On his role in the Ravens' reported CBA violation and punishment: "Basically, my role, if you can call it a role, was just to ask what the rules were. None of us really knew. We had a situation come up with the pads in the practice, and there were some questions in the locker room about if this was right or – I think even the front office, they had some questions about it. I simply inquired about if this was something that we could do. Obviously, it wasn't, and that was pretty much my role in it, simply asking to get clarity [on] if we could do it or not. There's obviously been speculation. Nobody really knows exactly what happened. Basically, my role was I asked the NFLPA if this was something that was legal, and they said it wasn't."

On if it is hard to get clarity on rules since they have changed often since he has been in the league: "They have, and honestly, that's why as player, we ask. The rookies come in and they go to different symposiums and stuff like that. The coaches get information as well, and things change over time. I joke with the guys all the time; I was back in the real two-a-days, back when we came out here twice a day, in pads, every single day, uphill both ways, in the snow. (laughter) We did all of that stuff. Now we have one practice a day. There is this overlap. I just think it's about communication and it's about just asking if there's any uncertainty. We all, as players, are a part of the Players Association. We are all the board, we are a part of the body of the Players Association. It's not an us-against-anybody thing. It's not us against the coaches or us against the management. It's nothing like that. But if we have questions, we ask. As [someone] on the executive committee, it's not my job to report anything, it's my job simply to disseminate information and to ask questions. If guys have questions – whether it's about HRAs or whether it's about their benefits or if it's about rules or if it's about continuing education in the offseason and stuff like that. I'm a guy that they come to and say, 'Will NFLPA pay for me to go back to school?' or 'What's this program they have about X, Y and Z? How can I get involved in that?' Then I give them information about that. It covers a wide gamut of different things. Being that I've been a part of the union from a leadership standpoint for a while, a lot of guys come to me with those types of questions."

On if he sees the good and bad of having only one practice a day among other CBA rule changes: "Believe you me, I definitely see both sides of it. The situation we're in now is it's being collectively bargained. Player safety, player health – whatever you want to call it – was a big issue whenever the new CBA came in. That's why we have different rules now. Guys have a little bit more time in the offseason, some of them, to continue their education. From different studies we felt like that was something that as a union – as a board of players – was very important to us, how much we're open to being injured and the ways we can be on the field and stuff like that. That was something that was collectively bargained between the PA and the league. It is what it is. Everybody is kind of under the same rules. As a coach, I know the more time the better, and the more time they want to get with guys, but that's just the rules we have to abide by."

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