*TRAINING CAMP: AUG. 13 PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS
Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen, OLB Matthew Judon & DT Michael Pierce
Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen
Opening statement: "It's a beautiful day out here in our practice facility; the sun's out shining. It's great to see everybody. Sorry, I'm a little late. I forgot for a second, and I saw Kevin [Byrne, senior vice president of public & community relations] and Chad [Steele, vice president of public relations] yelling and screaming – so, that's why I'm breathing a little heavy. But, any questions or anything you want me to start with? I'll tell you what, let me start with a brief overview of our group, and then we can go from there. I think we have a really deep group. I think our guys … Everybody's healthy. I mean, you look from Terrell Suggs on down. He's come back in great shape – hasn't missed a rep or a practice. Shoot, we tried to keep him out the first preseason game, and he said, 'Heck no! I want to get my work in.' He looked really good. He's a great leader for us – shoot – he's a Hall of Famer, great in the classroom and everything like that. It's a deep group. You know, from coach [John] Harbaugh and Ozzie [Newsome] and Eric [DeCosta, assistant general manager], the scouting staff, we drafted some guys, [signed] some undrafted free agents, guys that have been hurt in the past – Willie Henry, Carl Davis, Brent Urban is healthy – it's really a deep group. From top to bottom, they're working really hard. Our first outing against the Redskins … We have a lot to improve on. It was a good start. I thought we were physical up front. I thought we did a good job in bottling their run game and really hustling to the ball, which coach Harbaugh and our trademark is the 'Raven Way.' I was impressed with some of the guys inside, not necessarily … You always have to get the pressure on the edge, but we had good push by Michael Pierce on the first couple pass plays, by Brandon Williams and by Brent Urban. When Anthony Levine Sr. had the sack, [Urban] lined up over [Washington's] guard and did some good things. So, I'll start with that."
You mentioned DT Michael Pierce. How special is it to have a guy that big and that agile in that position? (Jamison Hensley)"Well, there are not many like him. Brandon [Williams] is agile like that. I've had big guys in the past, Shaun Rogers, but they were real big, but these two are real special. Michael has great short area quickness, where he can stick his foot in the ground and redirect. He's a guy that brings his hard hat every day and works to get better every day. Last year at this time, you didn't really know who he was until the pads came on and you thought, 'OK – wow. This guy might be something.' As the year progressed, he played well. He's really playing well right now – working hard."
You mentioned some injured guys. I wanted to get your assessment of DE Bronson Kaufusi and what you've seen from him? (Ed Lee) "I tell you, Bronson is … Again, when I mentioned Carl [Davis] and Willie [Henry], Bronson is right up there with them. He never even had a live practice last year. I thought he's really coming along. He got cleared in March to start lifting full speed and all that, and his strength isn't quite yet there, but, I was really pleased with how he's been progressing in camp. It showed in the game against the Redskins. He showed some of his quickness and strength to be on the edge like that in the early downs. He played with a good motor, and he did a good job getting to the quarterback. I was happy for him. He's still progressing, and the strength isn't quite where we want it to be, but I'm really pleased with how he's playing."
**Can you talk about what you've seen from DT Willie Henry and DT Carl Davis? *(Ryan Mink) *"More consistency. Both of those guys … Willie is playing both spots – nose and three-technique. He's really consistent. He's playing the run; he's showing great progress in the run game. And he's always had the ability to rush the passer – even from his college days. He played hard the other night, and he's consistently getting better. He's pushing everybody. With Carl, you know, I'm really pleased with Carl. He's come to work every day, and he played well on Thursday night. He can play better. When he keeps his pads down and does the things we want him to do – he's a powerful guy. He's been healthy."
We've seen DE Patrick Ricard move around quite a bit. How impressed have you been with him at this early stage in his NFL career? (Luke Jones)"We noticed him … He was a great find by our scouting staff. I've been really pleased. He has a great motor, and I thought he played well. He's been consistently getting better, day-in and day-out. He definitely can play."
**You said the Redskins game was a good start. What did you see where the guys could improve on after the Redskins game? *(Kevin Richardson) *"They can still improve at their pad level, coordinating their rush, making sure all four – when we do have a coverage call – that we're not blitzing, [making sure] we're all on the same page, our effort to the ball. I thought we did a great job getting the ball out, punching the ball out. We've emphasized that with [linebackers] coach [Don] Martindale and Thomas' [Hammock, running backs coach] drills – takeaways and recovery. We had the ball on the ground like four times. We have to go get the ball. That's effort. That first group, I thought did really well, and the second group was good, but they can improve in that area."
DT Brandon Williams talked a lot this offseason about wanting to be a bigger contributor from a pass rush standpoint. What about him do you think is holding him back, or maybe, taking that next step to be that guy on the field, even in passing situations? (Luke Jones)"He's really a pretty good pass rusher. When we go sub [in] third-and-long, he wasn't on the field at all last year. So, all the throwing downs he wasn't on the field; he's first and second down. But the other night, the thing I was impressed with the front four was the first play of the game was play action, and you don't get up for run, and all four of those guys. Mike [Pierce] had great push, the one that was tipped, overthrown. Brandon [Williams] triggered to a move, 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] had a nice inside move, Brent [Urban] had a good push – so they went from running the pass really quick. It was a good job. The push that he's going to bring, and that Mike is going to bring, is consistent. We can create a good pocket collapse, quarterback can't step up, and that enables our rush guys to get around the edge. I think he's going to do a great job of that. Dean [Pees, defensive coordinator] has talked about it, of giving him more opportunities, and we will. He'll roll in there and in the red zone. To have a guy that's big like that, that can push the pocket … He will improve. You look at a nose tackle – and he gets five sacks – most of those guys are in the Pro Bowl. He had one-and-a-half, and missed a couple … I mean, he'll get there."
**Did you get a sense that OLB Tim Williams seemed a bit tentative on Thursday? *(Ed Lee) *"I thought all the edge guys – Matt [Judon], 'Flash' [Brent Urban], Tyus [Bowser], all those guys, Kaufusi when he was on the edge … A little bit … You know, he's had a good camp. But, when the lights go [on] in your first pro game … The first run got outside of him, but he did a good job knocking the tackle back. He just has to make the play. The next one he was held. But, just a little bit. I think he'll play a lot faster."
What's been the biggest difference for OLB Matthew Judon from Year One to Year Two? (Ryan Mink)"He's come back in great shape. When we break down our linebackers … Our RUSH linebackers are with me, more of a pass rusher. The SAM linebackers are with coach [Don] Martindale, so Matt really learned all that. He's done a great job. He's become a really good student of the game. He was big and athletic. Now he's leaned up a little bit so he can do a better job in coverage. I think he's really explosive. He's done a great job in the weight room with Steve [Saunders, director of performance] and his guys as well."
When you have as much depth as you do on the defensive line, what's going to stand out to you when it's time to make tough decisions? (Ed Lee) "Those are great problems to have – I can say that. But, I think it keeps everyone pushing each other. What we don't ever want to have is 'one' and then the next guy that comes into the game is a hug drop-off. We want it to be right there. I think our guys are pushing to get to that level. Those are great problems for coach 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] and Ozzie [Newsome] to have."
OLB Matthew Judon
On defensive line coach Joe Cullen's comments that he looks more explosive this season:"I feel a lot more explosive. It helps with a little bit of weight gone and transitioning more muscle and just toning my body. It helps me out on the field."
On how much weight he lost: "I don't know, probably like 10 or 15 [pounds]."
On if the coaches asked him to lose the weight: "No, I just felt like it would be better for me, and the coaches liked what they saw when I came back to OTAs, and they said to keep it that way."
On where his swagger and talking on the field comes from: "That is how we are out here on the field. We talk to each other, we communicate, and when you are winning and when you are playing well, it translates to having fun. We are all out here competing, so when we are out here doing what we love to do, it is just fun."
On how the transition has been to becoming more of an every-down player: "That is what I came here to do. I came here to play, and I came here to be on the field. I worked towards that, and I'm just reaping the benefits of all my work, and hopefully it shows up in the games."
On if he feels a lot of pressure of being counted on this season:"No. It is not a lot of pressure at all. I feel like out here you should apply more pressure on yourself than the coaches apply to you and [more pressure] than your teammates apply to you. You should always want to be the one, and that is what I want to do, so there is no pressure at all."
On his impression of the starting defense against the Redskins: "We played well. There are some areas we can fix, but from what I saw and obviously from what you guys saw, we played dominant. We have to continue that, and we just have to get better."
On if he has set a goal for the amount of sacks he is hoping to get this season: "You always say, 'I want to get as many sacks as possible.' What if I get double-teamed and chipped or we are running the game and I am opening up sacks for other guys? I'm not setting any goals, but as many sacks as I can get are as many sacks as I want."
On if he has leaned on former Ravens OLB Adalius Thomas, a coaching intern with Baltimore in training camp:"Most definitely. He is a crafty veteran. He probably still can play with how he is out here moving around. He did it for a long time, and he was really good at it. It was a really good defense when he was out here. Anything I can pick or if I can just pick his brain, hopefully it will translate on the field."
On the best tip Adalius Thomas has given him:"I can't give away trade secrets."* (laughter)*
On the advice he has given OLB Tim Williams: "Tim is going to be a really good player for us, and he is going to help us. So, [it's] just stuff I learned last year about playing fast, finishing, being physical. He is a really good player, so we are going to see. Hopefully we can get him some more reps in the preseason."
On if he noticed that OLB Tim Williams was tentative as defensive line coach Joe Cullen mentioned:"I'm going to let the coaches coach, and I am just going to watch and keep giving them positive pointers. I am not going to talk about him playing tentative."
On the biggest lesson he took from last season:"Playing fast and finishing every play. All the games … It was a lot of games that came down to the fourth quarter – some we finished well, some we didn't finish that well as a defense. This year, we are going to try to finish everything, and I'm going to try to finish better."
DT Michael Pierce
On how he transitioned from playing linebacker in high school to later moving to defensive tackle:"It was challenging at first. I made the switch right out of high school. I started off at defensive end – I was around 290 [pounds]. Then, I kind of beefed up a little bit. It has kind of helped me, though. I still have pretty good hips for a big guy, and I'm still pretty quick. It was tough at first, but I got the hang of it now."
On if some of his defensive end and linebacker skills help him now: "Yes. Being a guy who is around 340 [pounds], quickness is still important, especially in the pass rush. That is something I definitely try to use – my quickness and my awareness. Spatial awareness is kind of unique for big guys. I use everything I have."
On if Year Two feels a lot easier compared to last year: "Most definitely, just recognizing blocking schemes and knowing how guys want to attack our defense and what they expect out of nose guards in our scheme. Spending time over the summer watching Brandon [Williams] again, watching guys like Kelly Gregg and how Haloti Ngata played, has helped me a ton."
On if it is crazy to think that he is on the starting defensive line after fighting to make the team last season: "Yes, it has been a journey. I can't explain it. It has been awesome. I just work hard; I don't really worry about working with the starting guys. I just want to come out and put everything I have on the line. That is what I am doing right now."
On how he would assess the defense's performance against the Redskins:"It went great. [There are] definitely some things we have to work on, assignment-wise, and some fits we still aren't completely a full-on go with, but I think we did great. There is definitely some stuff we have to work on, but it was a great start for sure."
On if he and DT Brandon Williams talk about being the best run-stopping tandem in the NFL: "Yes. I think it is kind of understood. You see the kind of confidence we have in him with the amount of money we just paid him. He is the best nose guard in the league, in my opinion, and I am just following in his footsteps. It is kind of expected; we don't really have to say much. He wants to be great, and I want to follow in his footsteps, so it goes without saying."
On his personal goals for the season:"Coach defined our roles for us at the beginning of the year, so my job right now is to be the best guy I can be and to be a run-stuffing nose [guard] and follow in the footsteps of those guys, like Kelly Gregg and Brandon [Williams]. [My goal is to] just make plays and be a primary playmaker for this defense. I want to control the line of scrimmage and be the best player that I can and follow in those guys' footsteps – that is what I am working on."
On if he is impressed with how deep the defensive line group is: "We are really deep. Even down to our undrafted guys, again. Guys like Patrick Ricard can play. He can flat-out play, and he is going to get more comfortable, and he is going to be awesome. You see what Willie [Henry] and Carl [Davis] can do – of course Brandon [Williams]. I am proving myself every day. We have a ton of guys, and it is going to be a great preseason. We will see how it works out, but we are extremely deep and we are happy – especially our five-techniques, too. It is awesome."
On if he has talked with DT Patrick Ricard about coming in as an undrafted guy:"Yes. I have kind of taken him under my wing, kind of like what Brandon did with me last year. We are a family, especially for now. We have four preseason games, and I just want to help him just like Brandon helped me. Brandon has had his hand in it, too. I love to see Patrick play, and anything he is willing to take in, I am willing to give."