THURSDAY (8/16) TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good seeing everybody – really appreciate you guys being here. [We're] back off of our off day, came inside. As you can see, the fields are being re-sodded, which we appreciate. First-class organization all the way. The footing was getting a little bit loose, and Dick Cass and Steve Bisciotti just stepped up and said, 'Hey, we have to put our guys on the best fields possible,' and they're being re-done. So, they'll be ready when we get back. That's why we were inside today. And then, we're getting ready to head to Indianapolis this afternoon, and we're excited. We're ready to go."
Coach, what's going to be the setup with the Colts? Sort of what you did with the Rams, as far as communication, alternating plans for each team? (Todd Karpovich)"Yes, the setup with the Colts will be very similar to what it was with the Rams. Practices are almost identical. We have a couple different drills in there, a few different situations, but generally speaking, I think it will be very similar. I think most teams have kind of the same setup in these practices. You try to get as much done against each other as you can. You try to minimize what you're doing against your own team, because this is an opportunity to work against each other. Frank [Reich] has done a great job, and his staff, of organizing, helping us organize it together. There's been great communication. We expect it to be very professional. We expect it to be all about football. We expect to go in there and take the opportunity to improve as a football team."
When was the last time you had two sessions of joint practices, and what went into the decision to do it this year? _(Aaron Kasinitz) _"We never have had two in one season. Probably the long training camp as much as anything – and two teams that really wanted to do it with us – those were probably the two biggest factors. It seemed like it made sense because of the length of training camp, also the length of time in between these two games. When Frank called, I felt like that made a lot of sense, too, to break it up a little bit."
G/T James Hurst
On how the offensive line is coming together with having G Marshal Yanda back:"It's great to have Marshal [Yanda] back – always. He's an incredible player, incredible leader, too. Just to have that veteran presence that's played so well for so long [is important]. We're really glad to have him back. It gives us more depth, gets us back to full strength. We're excited about that, to be able to move guys around and start thinking about, 'Hey, this is what we're going to do Week 1.' So it's exciting to have him back for sure. I'm really happy. It's obviously great to play next to him."
On the key to his versatility:"I think just trying to be coachable, understanding that everyone has a role on the team. If you're not a starter, you're a backup. If you're not starting, you're going to have to be able to play all positions. We only dress seven on gameday, so [it's about] just having that mindset of, 'Hey, I'm going to do the best I can for the team. I'm going to play my role as well as I can and work to get better every day.'"
On if the new helmet rule has changed the way he pulls or goes out on screens: "Obviously, it's a big safety concern for everybody. It's a little different for sure. Some people lead with the helmet, and you just have to keep your face up. It's good for us. At the end of the day, they're just trying to keep everybody safe. It's going to be tough to call, I'm sure. But we just have to go out there and play. They're coaching us up to keep our face up, to keep the crown of our helmet out of it and always see what you hit. That's what you have to do – you have to practice it and go out and play on Sunday. If you get a call you, you just have to move on."
On if he has gotten clarity on the rule: "Yes, I think we have. We've had the refs in, I think, three times now. Every time we've had a lot of questions to them, and they have provided clips for us to watch on Sundays of, 'This would be a foul; this wouldn't be a foul.' Just seeing those and then asking questions to the refs and getting confidence and clarity on, 'This is legal; this isn't,' that's what we're trying to do. That's really what the preseason is for. It's for us to learn how to play within the rules and for them to learn how to call it. That's what we're doing right now, and that's part of it every year. They have the rule changes and points of emphasis, so we're just working on that."
ILB Patrick Onwuasor
On what his mother calls him:"'Patty,' or something. Patrick." (Reporter: "She didn't call you 'Peanut?'")"She sometimes does. When I'm around my friends she calls me 'Peanut.'"
On how he got the nickname "Peanut":"When I was little, my basketball coach … I was running around playing basketball, and he was like, 'Peanut!' I'm looking around and he's like, 'Peanut!' I'm like, 'Who are you talking to?' He's like, 'I'm talking to you!' So ever since then the 'Peanut' started. I got it tatted on me. That's how I got my name."
On if he is a good basketball player: "Back then – not anymore."
On the linebacker competition with LB Kenny Young:"I feel like it's great. I feel like we're both competing, both playing fast. He's coming in as a new guy, so he still has a lot to learn. This is going on my third year … We both are coming in and competing. He's pushing me; I'm pushing him. I'm teaching him things, certain things I could work off of him, for him playing linebacker. It's been great though."
On how tough the transition was from being a college safety to an NFL linebacker:"I felt like it was really tough, because at first, I came in the building thinking I'm with [secondary coach] Chris [Hewitt], with the DBs. Then Chris is like, 'No, you're with "Wink" [Don Martindale, then-linebackers coach].' So I'm like, 'Uh, I don't know how to play linebacker.' The first thing Wink said was, 'Fly around, play fast, be physical, and I'll teach you the basics after that.' I think after he saw me flying around to the ball – and he knew I could run – he figured out that he could turn me into a linebacker. That's one thing I remember Wink told me when I first got here. He said, 'I'm going to turn you into a linebacker.' So ever since then, I believed him, and we've been riding along with it."
On if he feels like a linebacker:"Yes, now I feel like a linebacker. When I tell people I play linebacker, they'll be like, 'You do?' And I be like, 'Yes.'" (laughter)
On how he has developed in pass coverage:"I've been working a lot with Mike [Macdonald, linebackers coach] with my pass coverage, and 'Wink' and C.J. [Mosley] and all the guys, and Eric [Weddle] in the back and then 'T.J.' [Tony Jefferson]. I'm just trying to pick up on certain things in a cloud drop with one releasing inside, kind of like settling in my drop, just little stuff like that. I'm starting to read routes and figure out things like that and just working on stuff like that."
On the biggest thing he had to learn about the linebacker position: "I would probably say the pass – knowing when it's boot, when it's time to get out, turn open and run and things like that. Or probably like seeing a puller, knowing I have to react to that fast – little things like that that I'm starting to pick up on a little faster now."
On when he understood that as an undrafted rookie, he could make the team: "I think when Wink told me. He was like, 'I can turn you into a linebacker.' So right then and there he's trying to build confidence. I think that's what I've been lacking, is confidence in myself in playing. So that's what Wink and Mike are trying to do, and they're doing a great job with that – just building confidence in me, knowing that I could play. And it's just me playing fast; that's really about it."
On if he has clarity on the new helmet rule: "I think it's great; I think it's good. What I don't want it to affect us is we don't want to play slow. We're still going to play fast and physical – that's how we've been trained – and I think that's how we're going to play. It's a rule that's in place, and we're going to try to abide by the rule and follow the rule. But we're still going to play fast and physical."
On if it has changed the unit's philosophy on tackling: "I think it's changed, probably, just the strike zone. You probably just have to aim a little bit lower, not too high. Just try to keep your head up."
On how LB C.J. Mosley is different this year compared to past years: "C.J.'s reads have been way better, his communication has been way better this year, and now we're starting to get into a rhythm, a flow with 'E. Dub' [Eric Weddle] behind us. 'E. Dub' is talking, C.J. is talking, everybody's communicating. We're just playing faster. The communication has been great."
On what he means by the communication being better:"More vocal. Everybody's talking, everybody's talking and everybody's into it and everybody's knowing when the tight end moves we can go to another play just that fast. C.J. is checking the play that fast, and it's been great.
On if that has anything to do with Don "Wink" Martindale being the defensive coordinator:"A little bit with that. Wink opened up the playbook a little bit and [has been] letting us fly around and just play ball."
On how tough it is to tackle RB Alex Collins:"He's more shifty, so you have to run your feet with Alex. You can't try to break down, because he will make a move and cut on you. You just want to come inside out to the ball, as we've been taught, and just making a play on it."
On if he has enjoyed getting to know LB Kenny Young:"Kenny came from UCLA, so we're starting to try to build a relationship. I think I hung out with him one time. We all had, as you would say, a 'stretch party,' where everybody came over. We had a stretch guy come over. So yeah, that's just getting to know him off the field as well. We're going to start teaching him things off the field, too."
G/C Matt Skura
On how it has been playing center and developing into the position: "It's been feeling good. I played it all through college, and it's kind of like getting back on the bike again. It feels good, and definitely getting more reps – especially in games, practices – has really helped a lot. [It's] feeling really natural again. I'm feeling good and ready to keep it going."
On how much of an asset G Marshal Yanda is:"First of all, you have a six-time Pro Bowler, hopefully a future Hall of Famer, right next to you, so you're definitely [confident in that]. You can rely on him to pass off a twist. Just his presence alone, I think, just builds everyone up. They want to play well for him. The communication, he's always someone that's communicating, making sure that we're always on the same page. He just has that veteran leadership and presence that I think every offensive line needs."
On the biggest things he's trying to prove at center: "The biggest thing for me is being able to hold my own against the big nose tackles and also being able to manage an offense – being able to take Joe's [Flacco] call in the huddle, decipher it, and then go out and read the defense and make sure everyone's on the same page. That's someone I've always been as a center, is someone who likes to communicate, making sure that both the left and the right side of the line are all on the same page, because usually good things happen. That's the biggest thing for me. And, just continuing to improve on my technique, everything."
On the potential of the offensive line this year: "It's definitely good, because you need as many guys as you can, and you want the best five out there. I think we're really excited, especially after last year. Me coming in on a short notice and still being able to play well and at a high level, I think, really helps out, as well as depth, and it shows that we can also move guys around. James [Hurst] went from playing mostly tackle in the preseason to starting all 16 games at left guard. Myself, I played left guard, center, right guard, all through the preseason and ended up having to play right guard all year. So, I think it definitely helps, and I know we're really excited."
On working with G Alex Lewis after he missed last season and sharing reps at center:"I think it's really been great for the both of us. We've been helping each other. When he goes to center, if he has something, 'Oh, what's your technique here, when you play center, on your pass sets?' and this and that, we can help each other out. Or, when I'm at left guard, I'm like, 'Hey, when you see this defensive lineman line up like this, how do you take your set?' So, we've been really actually helping each other out a lot, and I think it's really helped us both learn the offense a lot better. You see it from different angles, different perspectives, so at left guard I'm making as many calls when you go to center. It really definitely helps you think. Also, you know your problems that your guards have when you're playing guard, and you know your center's problems when you're playing guard, as well."
On how beneficial the different look at joint practices is: "That's definitely been awesome. Every team has their own personality and style about how they want to play defense, and going against the Ravens' defense is really good, because you're getting a lot of exotic blitzes, a lot of exotic looks. But, you kind of start understanding the patterns of our defense. The defense understands our patterns as an offense. So, being able to go out there and see new looks, see new guys and learning new techniques, as well, has been awesome for sure."
On if he's adopted former Ravens C Ryan Jensen's "nasty" style due to going up against the first-team defense:"Yes, definitely. I save those things for the game for sure. The biggest thing for us in these joint practices, I think for everyone, is we don't want these bench-clearing brawls that you've kind of seen. I definitely still have to take the physical mentality in practices, making sure I'm holding my own, and making sure that I'm protecting Joe [Flacco] or making sure that I'm finishing my blocks in the run game. Definitely, taking that physical and nasty attitude to the game is something I want to continue to do, and yes, Jensen was great at that last year."