RAVENS TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS: July 23
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On how training camp is progressing: "The guys are having fun. They are working hard at what they are doing, they're competing, and that's what this camp is really for. We're just getting ready for practice."
On whether he was having fun at practice today: "Did you see me go down out there? No flags though, so no penalty. What's that machine called when you fall and you can't get back up right away? Lifeline? Well, I needed one of those today."
On whether the weather conditions affected players' footing: "Cleats would have helped. That's what all the coaches have been saying. But the coaches were actually saying that the corners, and Trevor Pryce playing corner, had a good day against the wide receivers yesterday."
On what the atmosphere is like before the veterans report and camp: "Today is neat back at the hotel because all the varsity, so to speak, will be coming in. You guys will all be around to see it, which is neat and is something always to look forward to."
On how rookie LB Tavares Gooden's speed will help the defense: "This is a defense built on speed, running to the ball and being physical. We felt, coming out of Miami, that he was all those things. We think he's a good fit."
On the intensity level of the rookies: "Rookie camp is a little different because it won't be as fast pace as what you will see come Friday. I think the rookies are practicing each play like they should."
On whether rookie S Tom Zbikowski has met expectations: "Well, I think that he's our kind of guy. He's Rex's [Ryan] kind of guy, and he's a Ravens' kind of guy. I would put [Haruki] Nakamura in that same kind of category. We wanted two safeties that could run around and hit people and make plays on the back end. Hopefully, we got two guys like that."
On whether dropping some weight has helped Zbikowski's mobility on the field: "It's been noticeable. He's changing direction better, and he's covering more ground. He looks more athletic than he did [in mini-camp]. He looks like we knew he would."
On how well rookie RB Ray Rice has performed: "Ray Rice has done a great job fielding punts. I don't think that it's something he'd done at Rutgers too much, so it's developmental right now. He's got good hands, and it seems like he's got a knack for it."
On how big of an asset it is to have guys who can play multiple positions: "Well, we're building a 53-man roster, and we want to be the very best that we can be at one through 53. Special teams is a big part of that, and it takes up a lot of those roster spots."
On the tight ends situation and the new additions to the team: "You know who the guys are? We got one of them out here on the field today, [Aaron] Walker. He's played in the NFL, practiced in the NFL, and he's been in this system before. He's working himself back into shape. These four practices are really valuable for him. He has a chance to make our team."
On what it will be like for him to address the entire team for the first time Wednesday night: "I have been preparing the message for the first training camp as head coach. It's going to be fun to deliver tonight. I'm looking forward to it."
LB Tavares Gooden
On his position switch to middle linebacker: "[Miami] coach [Randy] Shannon gave me the opportunity to move to middle linebacker. At Miami, if you were on the outside, then you are a guy who doesn't really get a lot of recognition. Coach Shannon was on the spot for me on defense my senior year. He told me that by coming back he would help me out and that would give me the opportunity to go to the next level and play."
On how Shannon prepared him for the NFL:"He told me that the position I was at would not have been the best decision for me. So, we talked and said that we would try and find a way to get me as many plays as we could to try and show me off on defense next season."
On whether he had always wanted to play the middle linebacker position:"I had asked coach Shannon around my sophomore year, and we were joking around about it. He told me, 'Tavares, I wish I would have moved you to the middle earlier because you are starting to come along.' With a couple more years, I probably would have been an even better player in college than I was this last season."
On whether his interaction with Ray Lewis has inspired better play:"I was number five-two, but that is the original five-two. He makes you want to go out there and play harder. I wore that number in college, and everyone would call me Baby Ray. I was trying to make those big hits and trying to live up to those linebackers that we had coming out of Miami. I think wearing the number 52 put a lot of pressure on me to be a better player."
On what Ray Lewis has taught him so far: "Ray basically taught me about energy. Even when I'm tired I can't let my opponent know that I am tired."
On which players or coaches from Miami he contacts most for advice:"I talk to everyone from Miami. It's like a brotherhood. I talked to Ed [Reed]. I asked him about the game. He told me that you have to want to miss it. So, this offseason I went home, and I went back to my youth. I missed it, and I told myself that when I come back up here that I want to miss the game of football. I talked to Willis [McGahee]. Willis is a 'have fun' kind of guy. He says that you should have fun, and you should have fun. Ray is so focused. So, I take all three of those guys, and I put them into one, and took all their advice, and it helped me out this offseason."
On which position he feels he will have the most impact:"What Ray says is just run to the ball. If you get a chance, then show your speed. You can run a fast time at the Combine, but you have to play that way. You can't just go out there and high-step it. If you are a 4.5 [40-yard dash] guy, then play 4.5 the whole time. Don't run 4.7 because then you wasted your time at the Combine."
On his reaction to those who think he's undersized for his position: "I'm 245 pounds; I don't know how much bigger you can get. My whole thing is that this is just an opportunity, and anytime you can get drafted, you're blessed. There's a lot of people who wish they could be in these shoes, and I'm just happy that the Baltimore Ravens have selected me. So, now it's time for me to show it."
On whether he is ready for the full-team practices: "Yes, this camp helped us out a lot because it makes you mature. You don't know what to expect when you get here, but we've have two practices. Actually, this is our third practice. So you begin to bond with your teammates. And guys who are upperclassman are just like we are. I was talking to Troy [Smith], and Troy went to Ohio State, and I went to Miami, but there's still a bond there, and I have fun with him. There's a lot of people that you kind of develop a relationship with here. So, this camp helped us bond more with our teammates."
On if he is excited for his teammates to arrive:"Me and Ray are roommates. I'm waiting for Ray to get here."
On how much more prepared he is after rookie camp: "We are getting a lot of individual time. Coach Rex [Ryan] and coach [Greg] Mattison and even coach [Mike] Pettine, have been in my ear making sure that I understand the defense before the veterans get here. So, that's a plus for us. Anytime that we can get those extra days is a bonus for us because we are getting more one-on-one time."
RB Ray Rice
On practicing at training camp with only rookies:"It's still a regular practice for us. But it is great, because we're getting individual attention. So, when the vets do get here, I'm not sure they'll have a step on us because we'll be just as caught up as them. They're veterans; they've learned the stuff. But the offensive perspective is definitely good for us right now because of the new system. For a guy like me, and the other guys, getting these reps is really crucial."
On if there will be a change to the feeling of training camp after the veterans arrive:"It always feels like training camp when you're out here working. There's no other feeling when you're out here working. Even when we were doing the OTAs and mini-camps, everything feels like camp. But when they get here you know that it's going to be cranked up a little more. Obviously pads going on, the intensity and everything else that comes along with training camp."
On his progression with special teams:"Special teams has really been great. I'm catching punts, kick returns and even running down on kickoffs. Anytime you can be good on special teams, you know you can play some different roles on offense. I think special teams just opens the door for you."
On how players like Maurice Jones-Drew helped pave the way for running backs of small stature:"They definitely made it really well. I idolize Maurice Jones-Drew, just what he did last year and what kind of back he is. It's just special to see a guy that size. Size doesn't matter; it's all a bunch of hype and everything. If you're a football player, you're a football player – you get the job done."
On if Rice plays like Jones-Drew:"I do have some similar attributes. I definitely think I'm good. I can catch the ball. It just comes down to can you make plays? He's a playmaker, and when I put myself in a position to make a play, that's when we'd be compared."
On the last time he returned a punt:"I worked on it a little bit at Rutgers. I was not the punt returner. I did start off as a kick returner at Rutgers before I became a starting running back, so I have a little bit of special teams history. But the last time I actually returned a punt was in high school. Getting out here and doing the reps – the JUGS and the drills the coaches have me going through – especially the individual attention right now has really been helping me out. I really think I have good hands, so it's just getting the form and getting in the position to catch the ball that is the biggest thing with punts."
On his mother being a role model:"My mom has been a role model for me all my life. She's been my biggest fan, my No. 1 supporter. It's always good to keep your mom happy. That's one thing about me – I'm a family oriented guy, and go mom!"
On his mental approach to practice now as opposed to being the No. 1 running back in college:"You just have to go back to a beginner's mentality. Honestly, it is a beginner's mentality with this new offense. But I just go back to when I was a freshman, when I was at Rutgers fighting for the job. It's the same process. This is your job now. You just have to come in with a beginner's mentality. Everyday you have to take a different note for different things, and you go back on it. That's how you become a better runner. After three years being at Rutgers, I was just fine with the offense, I knew everything inside-out. I'm not sure I'll know everything inside-out [now], but the things I need to know, I'll know this year."
S Tom Zbikowski
On getting started at camp:"It's been good, I think, with rookie camps and OTAs and everything, I think that helped out. And then getting these extra couple days of practice before the vets get here [was helpful], just to get some personal attention from the coaches and to make sure we understand the defense."
On his conditioning:"I was around 212 or 213 [pounds at mini-camp], and I came in yesterday at 205 when I weighed in. I definitely felt faster. I felt like I'm around balls more and closer to plays."
On his goals for camp:"Just getting down the defense and making plays. I think that's what defense is all about – running down the ball and making plays. And you want to be a core special teams player as a rookie."
On tackling:"We'll see when we put pads in. It's definitely at a different level now, but that's definitely one of the strong parts of my game. So, I'm looking to continue that."
On his special teams experience at Notre Dame:"It definitely helps that I had a lot of returns on kick return and I was on the punt team quite a bit, but this is a new level and there are a lot more things to learn. Pretty much, all kickoff returns and all special teams has more to learn, definitely."
On being mentally prepared:"Training camp is definitely a grind; it's not the most fun thing to do. You have to be mentally tough and prepared to get through it, but get better from it and get ready for the season."
On boxing at Madison Square Garden:"I had a lot of people from home come and I had about 30 or 40 guys from the team come, so I think it was better for all of us to share that experience. But, I was the one in the ring. It was a fun experience."
On former Notre Dame teammate QB Brady Quinn:"I talked to him during the offseason, and I will talk to him again once we get closer to playing them. I know a couple guys in Cleveland, and we play them twice a year."
On competing with S Jim Leonhard:"It's just going to help me become a better player. You have to stay on top of your game every single day and every single practice and every single rep. That type of competition is what football is, and if you don't like competition, you're in the wrong sport."
On gearing up for season:"I think everyone's a little more intense. Our OTAs and mini-camps were definitely pretty intense, even if they were slow-paced. I think we got a pretty good taste of things there, and now we have to step it up a notch as we're getting ready for the season."
On his family:"I was the youngest, so I was getting beat up all the time and always lost. Having an older brother, that's the way it is when you're youngest, I guess. My whole family is pretty athletic, so we were all pretty competitive."
T Oniel Cousins
On how camp is going after the first few days:"It's been good. I've been trying to get back into the football mentality, and just having a good time – trying to get better every day."
On if the coaches are yelling more now than at mini-camps:"They like to get after it, and they want the best out of everybody. They want everybody to get better."
On playing tackle and guard:"Right now I'm just concentrating on playing tackle, and I'm getting better every day."
On the heat here vs. in Texas:"It's hotter in Texas. It's just that it's dry in Texas [El Paso]. Here it's more humid. It was hot at first, and that's something you have to suck up with the football playing – get into shape and get better."
On having just rookies at camp:"It helps a lot. We get to spend time with the coaches, and study and all that stuff, and when the vets come in we'll be ready to go."
On his if his nasty streak would continue at training camp:"I just like to play physical and I like to finish. That's why I'm trying to get better, and that's what I'm trying to bring to this offensive line. Whatever it takes to help this team win."
On his transition from playing in college to playing in the NFL:"It's coming along good. I'm continuing to study everything and study hard, go the extra mile and get better."
On if his soccer background helps him with his tackle footwork:"I think it did a little, because in soccer we run around and do a lot of agility stuff. I think it helped a little bit."
On when he started playing football:"I was about 15 [years old]. My mentor told me to give it a try, because that's when I used to play soccer. I gave it a try and I fell in love with it. [Sports are] something to take your aggression out. And when you're disappointed or something, you can take the aggression out on somebody. Leave it on the field."
On if his family's relocations from Jamaica were tough:"No, I'm the type of guy who gets used to wherever I go. I try to blend in real fast and make it home."
On the transition to living in Maryland: "It's been good. I haven't been out much around here. I've been studying football because we have a coach that likes to get after it, and he appreciates that."
On advice from offensive line coach John Matsko:"It's just a grind. You have to be tough in the game all the time. You have to go that extra mile as a person and a player."