Ravens Training Camp Transcripts: Aug. 16

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming. It was a good practice, a tough practice. A lot of situations we were working on today. You saw various situations that come up during the game that are just critical. Our guys did a good job competing and practicing fast. We also had some special guests here. We had a couple of kids here. [University of Maryland pediatric surgeon] Dr. Strauch brought them over – kids who are just doing great and wanted to be with the Ravens and are working in and out of the hospital. We're glad to have those kids here. Rob Burnett was here and talked to the team. Coach [Tom] Coughlin is here; it's great to have coach Coughlin here and have him watch us a little bit. He's going to be working with the NFL and is going to do a lot of good things to foster communication between the coaches and the teams and the NFL office, so we're happy about that. Matt Stover is here. It was 'kicker day.' We had Matt Stover here; Dave Akers was here. Dave is going to be here for a couple of days working with our kickers. Two guys – you look at Matt and Dave Akers – [they are] two of the most technically-sound kickers in the history of football. It's great to have those guys here lending us some of their expertise. [It was] a big day for the Ravens."

*We're in the home stretch of training camp now. Does the tone of the sessions change? *(Joe Platania) "It always changes. Through the whole camp, every day is different. No practices are the same. The way we build our practices, every practice is structured differently. Today was a situational practice, so we worked different situations. I would say the answer is 'yes,' we work on different things every day through camp. It's all organized; I would like to think it's organized very well, to try and prepare us for the season."

As well as the running backs have been playing as a group, is it going to be a challenge to balance the carries in the next preseason game (Todd Karpovich)"It is going to be a challenge balancing the carries. We all want to make sure we get enough work, and we have four guys that are doing very well. We're going to have to let that shake out. During the course of the game, we're just going to have to see how it goes and try to balance that out."

How have you seen TE Benjamin Watson get acclimated to a new team and the atmosphere here? (Garrett Downing) "You've had him here [at the media podium], so I guess you probably asked him that question, as far as getting acclimated. I can't wait to read the answer. I haven't seen any issues at all. He's very thoughtful. He works really hard. He is diligent, conscientious, smart and a very talented player. He's not a guy that I'm worried about being acclimated. He's going to make plays for us. He's playing very well." 

**John, about a week ago you talked about FB Kyle Juszczyk's snaps. How have you seen him embrace the need to be really good on special teams and to get involved in other aspects of the game? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"That's a great point with Kyle. Kyle is one of our very best special teams players – Top 5 at the worst. All of those guys that have been here and have been a part of the anchor – the core group – are really a bunch of good players, and he's a part of that. That's really versatile to have an offensive player that plays like a linebacker on special teams. He has embraced the other part of it, too. He has played a lot in different spots, as the other tight ends have, because we've been down with wide receivers. We've been in base a lot and we've been in two tight ends, two wide receivers a lot. He's been a big part of that."

The last couple of days S Matt Elam has made some plays. He looks like he's playing better. What have you see from him this year? (Don Markus) "I see just what you're talking about. That's what we wanted to see with him, and the jury is still out with all of those guys. The ability to do it day-in and day-out, week-in and week-out, to be consistent and to establish that you've really got a feel for the game, I think that, for any young player, is really important. Matt is doing that. He's made a bunch of plays. I'd say Terrence Brooks is in the same category. He hasn't quite had the flash plays that Matt has had, but he's made a lot of solid plays as well. Both of those guys are playing well."

Coach, having OLB Terrell Suggs back, it seems like he hasn't lost a step from last year and it looks like he's getting more physical with each day. What's the plan for Terrell? (Jerry Coleman) "Just to keep building for Terrell, just to keep building. A lot of the plan is based on how he feels about it. Here's a guy that has played 13 years in the National Football League. He knows what he needs. He did more than he did yesterday, and he'll do more tomorrow than he did today."

Is there anything serious going on with G/C John Urschel? (Jamison Hensley) "No.  John has a contusion of some kind. I don't really … I wouldn't tell you anyway, but I don't remember exactly where it was."

But you don't think it's anything too serious? (Jamison Hensley) "No. That's the thing about the injury thing. I don't want to get into any specific … My point is not to get into every bump and bruise. If there's a serious injury, you're going to know about it. If there's something that's going to keep somebody out of the regular season or it's an IR-type of situation, or a long-term thing, you're definitely going to know about it, and you're going to know the details on it. We don't have anybody. You saw Chris Moore out here today. He's coming back from his issue. Those are things that you like to have these guys back sooner rather than later. Tavon [Young] is another guy. Any day he'll be back, but I don't know when – hopefully by the game. Guys who aren't out here, that's what they're dealing with right now."

Do you have any type of update with WR Breshad Perriman? A lot of fans are wondering how he's coming along. (Jerry Coleman) "I don't. I wish I did. They talked about this being the time frame right about now in mid-August when he would be back. That was the date that I was given back in June. He's running, and he's on the ground running right now, but I haven't been told that he's going to be back to practice tomorrow. I'm just like the fans. I'm waiting for him to get back out there. When he's ready, he'll be back out there."

You talked about WR Chris Moore being back. Before he went out he was making some plays. Can you talk about the potential to be a playmaker for you this year despite missing this time? (Cliff Brown) "He was showing that. Chris Moore was showing that potential playmaking ability. We all knew he was a deep threat coming out of UC [Cincinnati], and he has definitely shown that. He's made some plays down the field, but he's also shown route-running ability and shown willingness to block. We have to get him back on track. Now we have to get him back out there. He was in individual [drills] today. We have to build on that. He is a rookie. He has a lot of work to do to be ready to do that, but yes, he has potential."

John, with WR/RS Kaelin Clay being released, was he just a situation where based on his injury you didn't think he would be back and you needed a body? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Kaelin Clay, thanks for asking that. He fractured his foot in practice just running. I can't remember what day it was. Whatever the day was that he left the practice field, it turned out to be a fracture in his foot. He's going to be out for an extended period of time. That's why he was released."

Another guy who came back is TE Crockett Gillmore. Where do you see him evolving in this offense since you have so many tight ends? (Ryan Mink) "You know Crockett's ability, so he will play a role that befits his talent and his skill set. I think exactly what guys do is going to be based on what guys do. That's going to play itself out in terms of how they play throughout the preseason and even into the season. It's good to have options. As we say, 'It's a good problem to have.' I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out. We're planning on utilizing all of those guys."

Was it nice to have Michael Phelps starting the Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry early in Rio? (Lamont Williams) "That was fun to watch. He had so much fun with it. Watching him at the medal ceremony with the 'Ooohh' chant was awesome and huge. My wife and daughter and I, we all knew exactly what it was and started laughing. We all knew it. Maybe the rest of the country didn't know, but all of us knew, right? (laughter) They didn't know, but we did. We were so proud of that. He's awesome. The guy is a great guy. He's going to be out here, I'm sure, soon watching practice. I'm going to try to talk him into speaking to the team – maybe now he will."

Is he going to bring some of his hardware so the guys can see is? (Lamont Williams)"Yes, bring them all! Can he carry them all? (laughter) How heavy are those things?" (laughter)

QB Joe Flacco

On if he is eager to play this week: "I haven't really thought about it, to be honest. I've just been focused on coming out here every day and trying to get better [and] feel as good as I can. I'm excited to get back out there, but I haven't really thought about it."

On the difficulty of establishing chemistry with injured players: "It is just part of the process. You would like to get some of the guys out here that we haven't worked with a ton in the past. But it is just the nature of the beast – of this game. Guys get injured, and you have to adjust to it on the fly."

On if it is difficult to measure progress in practice: "Yes. Even the preseason is tough, because you aren't out there a ton of time. Practice is probably as good a tell as any, but you really have to go out there Game 1 and lace it up against some live competition. We are confident that we are good, and we are building something really good here."

On if he expects to play this weekend: "I haven't really talked about it with John [Harbaugh] yet. I discussed it with the trainers and the doctors early on, but we will see."

On if he would be ready for the regular season without playing much in the preseason:"Yes. I'm not worried about it; I've played plenty of games. I think the biggest reason to get back out there is to get back in live action and see what it feels like again. But it doesn't really take too long to do that, so whatever we do is going to be for a reason. It's not going to be not for a reason. Whatever happens, happens, and I'm going to be comfortable either way."

On if he thinks it makes sense for other teams to sit their quarterbacks in preseason games:"Well, you have to assess, 'Does one series or two series really make a difference?' Because that is all you are playing in the first two preseason games. [You have to assess] if missing out on that really makes a difference. If you don't really think it does, you probably decide to do what they are doing. I would be curious to see what they are doing late in the preseason. That fourth preseason game is usually not a time for those guys, but at the same time, maybe it makes sense to get those guys a couple series here and there. The problem is you are in there with a bunch of guys that are fighting really hard to make the team, and you kind of, as a coach, have to deal the same situation that you are in the first two games. Is it really worth it? We will see what those teams do. Obviously, they made a decision in the first game or two to say, 'You know what? These guys have probably played plenty of games. I think they know what they are doing. We will rely on our training camp practices for the most part to get them ready.'"

On his impressions of WR Mike Wallace:"Mike is awesome. He fits great in the locker room. I don't want to say I've been surprised by him, because I didn't really know much about him. We all know he can run. But just the way he runs his routes and how good is he at the top of it and coming back to you, and how sure his hands have been – I don't know if I've seen him drop a pass. That stuff has been great. I think he is going to be a really big hit for us."

On what he likes about the offense going into his second year with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman:"I think we are out there and we are operating with a ton of command. We are playing fast. We all know what we are doing. I'm very sure about it. Our protections are doing a really good job, and we are able to go back there – I feel like at least I am as a quarterback – I'm able to go back out there, stand behind everybody, play really fast and know where I'm going with the ball. I think it allows you to make more plays on the run here and there when your first two guys aren't open. I just think that we are setting everything up to play fast and play consistently throughout the four quarters and throughout 16 games. "

On if the team has really emphasized pass protection this year:"It has always been a concern to protect as well as we can. But you are going to have good guys on the other side of the ball, and at the end of the day, it comes down to how talented our guys are versus how talented their guys are. I think we have a great group. I think we are adding a bunch of depth there, and our starting five is as good as it comes. I'm excited about it."

On if he is concerned about his chemistry with WR Breshad Perriman, if Perriman can't make it back for the preseason:"It is tough to say, and it is tough for me to really worry about it, because we have so many other guys that we have to worry about getting better and getting on top of it. But he is definitely one of the guys that I wish … I haven't really spent a ton of time with him on the football field – really just last offseason. It would definitely be nice to get him out here at some point, but at the same time, you can't bring him out here too early if he is not going to be ready."

On if he has been monitoring himself and deciding if or when he needs to rest:"No, it is really tough to do, and I knew it would be tough to do. They have got me off my feet in a couple of the walk-throughs in the afternoon. Really, the walk-throughs and standing here for large amounts of time is what ends up being worse on my knee than going out and practicing for two-and-a-half hours. In practice, I don't think I have taken one of my reps off. It is tough thing to do – to say, 'Hey, pull me out.' My knee feels great, so I can't complain."

On if he has felt any soreness or felt anything in his knee:"Yeah, I feel my knee. (laughter) My knee is not 100-percent, but it feels great. I don't think about it when I'm out there. It is not perfect; I can feel it standing here a little bit. It is not totally normal, but as far as going out there and operating on the field and running around and doing things, I don't pay attention to it."


FB Kyle Juszczyk

On if his playing several different roles has fazed him at all: "No, it hasn't fazed me at all. Like you said, I might be listed as a fullback, but I don't know if I really have one position on this team. I'm going to go wherever they put me and wherever I can help, and I'm going to contribute as much as I can." 

On if that is the nature of the fullback position league-wide: "I do. I think a lot of times, if you're strictly a fullback, and you can't contribute in another way – whether it's special teams or pass protection on third down – you're probably not going to have a job for very long. To try and extend my career, I've tried to help in as many places as I can."

On how he prepares for the season knowing he will play several roles on the field: "I relate it back to when I was in college. My position coach was also our head coach. When we were in meetings, we didn't just go over tight end stuff; we went over the entire offense. That's kind of how I have to prepare myself each week – looking at the entire offense as a whole and just be ready. If they're going to put me at running back, fullback, tight end or whatever it is, I need to know what I need to do there."

On the next step in his development: "You're never done growing, and you're never finished refining your craft. There are always things I can work on. For example, I can always become a better blocker. I can always work on running better routes downfield. Blitz protection and pickups, those are all things I can continue to work on."

On if he feels he is a mismatch problem for defenders: "I don't think about it too much. I try not to look into who is over me that much. It's more about myself and having confidence in my own game."

On if he has spoken to offensive coordinator Marc Trestman about getting the ball first to start each game and the second half, much like it happened in 2015: "No, I haven't said anything. I promise that wasn't my doing last year. It just happened to work out that way. You guys have kind of sold me out. I don't know if it's going to keep happening. (laughter) If you guys just want to hush up on it, that would be good." (laughter)

On what fans should know about the mental aspect of the game: "The game is incredibly mental. When it comes to knowing your assignments and being able to adjust on the run, it definitely can be mentally taxing. I don't know if my Harvard education necessarily helped with that, but just being a smart football player definitely helps."

On if he has thought about where he fits in the offense in terms of snaps:"It would be easy to, like you said, look at how many tight ends we have. We have a plethora of them – great players. You look at how deep our running backs are this year. I think we probably have the best group that I've been a part of the last four years. It's easy to wonder where you might fit in, but honestly, at the end of the day, I just know that if I take care of what I can do and I perform at my best, I'll find my way on the field. The coaches will find a way to get me in there. It's not necessarily in my hands. I just know if I take care of my job, it will take care of itself."

On if an invitation to the Pro Bowl is a goal for him after he politely declined joining P Sam Koch in Hawaii last season: "Hopefully I can't go to the Pro Bowl, because we're in the Super Bowl – that's the real goal. But in the case that that didn't work out, definitely being a Pro Bowl player is a goal of mine. The reason I turned down Sam [Koch] and [Justin] Tucker's invitation was that the first time I go, I want it to be because of me, because I got myself there. Hopefully that's something that will happen in the future – hopefully not – but hopefully I get invited and I can turn it down."


TE Benjamin Watson

On if getting reps with other tight ends who are injured have helped him get comfortable with QB Joe Flacco: "Reps always help. One of the things about training camp is there are a lot of guys, and usually, a lot of reps to spread around. Part of training camp is getting everybody a chance and trying to get to the season with everybody healthy. But anytime you can get more reps with the quarterback, more reps in the offense, hearing the play in the huddle and getting to the line and going through the checks in my brain over and over again, it always helps for me."

On how long it takes to get immersed in a team's culture:"It is an ongoing process that lasts years, honestly. I remember being in New England – that was the longest time I had been anywhere – by Year 6, I was obviously a lot more entrenched in the community and the team. It felt more like the norm. Being in New Orleans for three years, by the third year, I definitely felt more comfortable, more like family than the first year. It is always a process, but every day has been better. I can say that this organization has opened their arms to me and my family 100 percent. Everything from letting us know about different restaurants, to schools, to doctors, all of those sorts of things. [It has been good] coming into a locker room that has established veterans in the locker room – guys who have been in the league – but also a good group of young players."

On if he has noticed teams playing their starters less in preseason games:"I think every coach is different. As I look over the course of my career, I remember in New England, where [Bill] Belichick wouldn't have any of the guys play in the last game and just a little bit in the first game. Then, you go to a new team and have them do it totally different. They will have guys playing three quarters in the third game and none in the first. I think every coach is different when it comes to that. I don't know if it is a league-wide thing, as far as just it being different coaches having different philosophies. As strength training and conditioning evolves, trainers, as well as strength coaches, have different recommendations about how much guys should play, when they should play, what type of game situations they need to prime themselves for the season. I think it depends from coach to coach."

On if he understands why some coaches are hesitant to play starters, due to injuries:"I understand. Also, if a guy is coming off of a big injury the year before, you may not want to put him out there immediately. You may want to take some time. There is always a risk [vs.] reward in football. The reward for the player, for me especially, is being in a new place, getting used to game-type situations, doing stuff under game pressure and getting the calls and stuff like that. On the other side, football is a contact sport. It is a game where people get injured, sometimes for the length of an entire year. You always have to weigh that as a coach of the organization and understand that there is an inherent risk when you put guys out there, but you also want to get the team ready for the season."

On if he can be on the same page as QB Joe Flacco, if Flacco doesn't play in the preseason:"Well, we all have the same amount of time across the league. When you have a veteran quarterback, you are in a better position than when you have a guy in his second year who hadn't played at all the first year. You may want to get him out there more. Obviously, if you were to talk to Joe [Flacco], I would imagine he wants as many reps as possible, like all of us do. But we also … Like I said before, we understand that we are trying to prepare for Week 1 against Buffalo. It will be a coaching decision [on] how much he plays or how little he plays. Joe, like the rest of us, is going to do what they recommend. It is something that they will have to decide or maybe they have already decided what the plan is going to be."

On what he expects his role to be in the offense:"I think that as a tight end … One of the great things I love about the position is you have the chance to do a lot of everything. Sometimes, that is the difficult part of the position – you are asked to block guys that are twice your size, but then run with guys that are half your size. I think that my role will be some of both [blocking and catching passes] – a lot of what I've been doing the last 12 years of my career. I'll be doing a lot of those same things. I think that roles also change week to week, depending on personnel and things like that. Basically, my role coming here was to learn what to do, learn the offense and then be available for whatever [offensive coordinator Marc] Trestman and [John] Harbaugh have for me."

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