Ravens Training Camp Transcripts: Aug. 18

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement:"Appreciate you guys being here for the last day of the official training camp phase of what we do. Of course, we're still in camp next week, but it's the third preseason game, which everybody knows is treated a little bit differently. This is when the fans have their last opportunity to be here. The fans have been great. They've been here every day. They've been fun. The stands have been full. Kids have been numerous. I feel like the kids have all been getting their autographs and getting an opportunity to meet the players. The players have been great. The military has been here. The first responders, policemen and firemen have been here every day. We've had Wounded Warriors here. We've had kids groups here from every walk of life that you can imagine – some kids in tough situations most of the time. It's just been phenomenal. I'm really proud of our players for the way they've handled it. [Director of community relations/executive director of the Ravens Foundation] Heather Darney and her community relations department are phenomenal; they do a great job. The people running the camp and the interns we've had out here were providing a first-class experience for the fans. I've gotten a lot of emails from friends and people that come out who say they just can't believe how well they're treated when they come out here and how much fun it is. I couldn't be more proud of the organization and what we've done with training camp. From a football perspective, we had a good practice. It was a walk-through, as you saw. We're focused on Indianapolis right now and that game. We're excited to go play the game."

How was it to see No. 89, WR Steve Smith Sr., out there? (Jamison Hensley) "It was exciting. It was fun. I saw him when I was standing next to Justin Forsett, and it's a walk-through, but he snatched the ball and like shoved it in somebody's face. I looked at Justin [and said]: 'He's back.' (laughter) He's definitely out there, and he's enjoying it. He was going, I would say – I don't know – maybe a little stir crazy in the training room. I think he wanted to get back out on the field and get going again."

OLB Terrell Suggs said that it feel like the Ravens are really the Ravens again with him and WR Steve Smith coming back. Does it feel that way to you this week? (Ryan Mink) "We haven't changed our name. But I'm glad he has that perspective. I would expect him to have that mindset – all of those guys. They're definitely at the core of this team. They're the leaders and they're the playmakers. They're the guys that make a difference, and they've been doing it for years and years. They still have what it takes to be those guys again. Just having those guys back is huge."

At the end of training camp, the work doesn't stop, because at some point soon you guys will have to cut the roster. But in terms of the way you approach practice, that doesn't change, right? (Jerry Coleman) "Correct. It's the same practice. We do a little bit of a different – as you guys will see in the media – a somewhat slightly different practice format; that's all a part of the process. We'll be going to work when we come back out here on Monday after we play the Colts."

**Given the timeline on WR Steve Smith Sr.'s injury, were you surprised at all that he made it back at this point in camp? *(Don Markus) *"I just let it play out. We just let it play out the way it played out, and he's back."

*John, what does OLB Terrell Suggs mean to the team? Not just sack-wise, but leadership and comic relief. What are the things he brings? *(David Ginsburg) *"The first thing is he's a great football player, and when he's on the field it does look different. As a coach, you appreciate that. But also, [there are] all of the other things he bring to the table. He's high energy. He brings energy to everything he does. He's excited to be back out here. He's another one who has been away for a while, and he's like, 'I really love this. I love playing football. I love being a part of the team.' He loves the meetings. He loves the weight room. He doesn't love the training room. *(laughter) He doesn't love that as much anymore, but he's just been great with the players. Of course, the energy level, the things he says, they're just irreplaceable."

What is the significance of this preseason game with the Colts? What are you looking to get out of it? (Shawn Stepner) "We're looking to get better. We're looking to improve. We're looking to continue to make our way toward becoming the football team that we want to be – and we know we can be, which is a winning football team. What goes in to that? We'd have to sit here for probably an hour to go through all of the little details of what we're trying to accomplish, but it's all of those things rolled up into becoming a winning football team. It's another step in that direction."

Have you noticed a difference in chemistry on the field with OLB Terrell Suggs and other injured guys returning? (Lila Bromberg) "It's a great point. The chemistry with those guys … We're not complete without those guys right now. Those guys, they add to that. I was bad at chemistry, so I'm trying to think of an equation or formula. *(laughter) *But I think when you take one piece out of a formula, it's not the same thing anymore, right? We keep adding those pieces and those elements into who we are – a chemistry word *(laughter) *– we're whole. We're better."


RB Kenneth Dixon

On how much he is looking forward to the second preseason game: "I'm excited. As I got into the first game, I was kind of nervous. Once I got out there, I realized it was just football. I could kind of tell [that] all the things that coach was coaching me up to do kind of came in effect. Once you see the outcome like that, you are very happy to get back. You see the outcome [when] you go out and play hard."

On transitioning from being the star player in college to fighting for a spot in the NFL:"It is great. Coming from college, I was the main guy, like you said. Coming here, you get a chance to compete and roll up your sleeves and put some work in and actually earn it. In college, it is kind of, 'He's the guy; he's got it.' Here, we have four guys fighting for a spot and fighting to win. I'm just trying to put my best foot forward and do everything I can to help this team."

On RB Justin Forsett as a mentor:"Justin is very great for me. He is a great guy to learn from. He is always coaching me up. Him and [running backs] coach [Thomas] Hammock are always coaching me up. [They ask], 'What's my assignment? What's my blocking?' Even on recovery days, he asks me, 'Hey, do you have somebody to give you a massage?' Things like that. Justin is great. He is a great guy to look up to, and I am very thankful to have him around."

On what area he is trying to improve on:"I would just say catching the ball more out of the backfield. In the first game, I really didn't catch the ball much. I just want to show my versatility out of the backfield and show people that I can catch the ball out of the backfield."

On if he had a lot of receptions in college: "Yes. I caught the ball quite a bit out of the backfield in college."

On if he prides himself on making the first defender miss:"That is the priority. I feel like one guy should never tackle you in space. Just go in and make a guy miss and do your job."

On if he could see himself being a kick returner: "Yes. I will do kick return. I will do anything that is going to help us put this team in position to win. It is my first time doing kick return since high school, but I'm very excited to do it. [Special teams coordinator/associate head] coach Jerry [Rosburg] is coaching me up very well to do it. I'm happy to get out here."

On if he did special teams in college: "No. Not at all."

On the importance of playing special teams in the NFL:"All the rookies have to be on special teams. It is exciting to get out there and help the team win."

On if he can be a change of pace to the running back group with his quickness:"I have some lateral quickness. I just pride myself on if I have to get in and block, if I have to get in and run a guy off, I'm with it. I'm just here to help this team win and do whatever I have to do."

WR Steve Smith Sr.

On how it felt to be back on the practice field:"It felt really good. It was the first day of practice, so it was good. [It was] a light practice, so I'm starting it slow and easy and building from here."

On what went into his decision to come back after his Achilles injury: "I've kind of said little things here and there. I kind of stuck with, 'I have 36 catches [to make], so to get 1,000 receptions would be cool, and that's my ultimate decision.' Really, I just said that because it was an easy question and it was an easy answer to the question. But the real reason I decided to really come back is because when I got hurt … Prior to me getting hurt, me and my wife were discussing – I think the Oakland game, the night before – we were discussing some things about possibly coming back and playing this year. A number of people and one of my good friends, Jordan Gross, when I spoke to him prior to me coming to [the 2015] training camp, he told me he thought it was a horrible idea for me to announce it. Then after I got hurt, we had lunch back in Charlotte, and he emphasized how it was a horrible idea, and that's why I got hurt. (laughter) Three years ago, I had the opportunity to go to a few different teams. I remember sitting, at that time, in Ozzie Newsome's office. I'm sitting there, and I'm like, 'This is Ozzie Newsome.' Being a huge football fan that I am, I remember what Ozzie Newsome's name meant when you say, 'Cleveland Browns' or when you say 'tight end.' He was a trendsetter. He made the game of football for tight ends relevant. They just weren't blocking people. When I sat there, he told me some things on why they thought I'd be a good fit here. Ultimately, it was [that] I'm on the back nine of my career, and I have the opportunity to play for another – emphasis on another – great organization. He said, 'If you can't be yourself, we don't want you to be here.' Obviously, after the logistics of contracts, I told my agent that I want to be here. When I got hurt, my wife, myself, Ozzie and coach [John] Harbaugh talked to me, and they told me to take as much time as I want for me to decide that I'll come back. I really came back not to really set any records, but more because this organization gave me an opportunity. When I got hurt, I felt like I let those guys down in the locker room. For me to come back and play, it's to show that I am dependable and that they can depend on me, and to show you jackasses that at 37 years old, I can still play. I'm sick of y'all [saying], 'How can you depend on a 37-year-old to play this game after a ruptured Achilles?' We're going to see, because I have people that believe in me, and I have a team that trusts me. I rehabbed for nine months. While y'all were sitting there twiddling your thumbs, I was sitting there four and five days a week for nine months trying to rehab to get back on the field. And I intend to lay everything out – not for myself, but for the people who believe in me and the people that invested in me 16 years ago [and] for the people that thought that I was only going to be here for a minute. This is just a chance for me to say 'thank you' to them by finishing what an organization allowed me to start. That's why."

On if he will go on a "farewell tour" and pay respect to every city before he eventually retires: "I'm not in this business to make friends. If you're not in the same jersey as me, I plan to rip you to shreds – bottom line. There's a number of guys in this league … Everybody I go against, I respect. I'm not trying to make you feel like I fear you, but I also respect them. This is competition. This is football. In competition, guys are hitting, so I'm going to hit back. We're going to have fun and smile. I probably smiled more in these last couple of months than I probably smiled in my whole career."

On if he will have more interaction with fans: "It's on the football field. There isn't too much interaction during the game. I'll still be hated in every city. I enjoy that. I'm going to enjoy it the way I'm going to enjoy it. Some days are going to be tough. And some days where … Nobody goes to their job every single day and they're ecstatic if it's 110-degree heat out there. A few times I was lucky I was hurt, because I cannot imagine what those boys were going through. They were fighting their tails off."

On if he has more left in his career than he can even imagine: "Than I imagine? I've been rehabbing for nine months. I know exactly what's left. I'll be alright. Contractually, this is my last year, and I'm just going to play ball."

On if the team is coming together with so many players returning from injury: "The bully is back. *(laughter) *That's all I have to say. Vacation is over for the DBs."

On how his return will impact the team's performance this season: "Time will tell how much of an impact I'll have."

On if this is his last year playing: "We're just going to play ball. That's all I'm going to do is play ball. Y'all worry about all of the wrong things, and all the good things that happen, you glance over. We're going to have a good time. We're going to have some fun, and we're going to make some plays. Oh yeah, and I happen to be 37 years old while I'm doing it."* (laughter)*

On his decision to come back to practice today as opposed to next week: "We're just taking it slow. I have to slowly build up – just a little bit at a time."

On WR/RS Keenan Reynolds' development: "Honestly, I haven't been here for the last three months. I've been rehabbing. I know, obviously, playing quarterback and where he was when he first got here and where he is now, he's making plays. Obviously, he's doing well. We all have room for improvement. I'll be able to see it better on the field. I'll be able to look at it and talk to him more about it."

On if he has taken Reynolds under his wing: "We're in the wide receiver group. We're in the meeting rooms, so we coach and discuss every position. There's something that he will do this year, multiple times, that I will be able to take from him. There's a guy, Dobson [Collins] … He used a release; the release he used for the route did not benefit him, but I saw that release that I could use on a different route. So I told him I stole that one and I put it in my pocket, and I'll use it. When I kill somebody for it, I'll thank Dobson for that. We can all learn from each other. I don't believe we cannot learn from each other. That's a selfish and arrogant statement if you can't learn from a young guy."

On how difficult this rehab process was: "I'm a perfectionist, so there were a lot of points in there where I questioned myself. Yes, I believe that there were probably about two or three times when I really felt like, 'Man, I'm done with this.' I was in Charlotte doing a regular workout, and it was really hot one of those days, so they had the garage door open. I looked at my truck and I said, 'I need a tint. It's too light on my car. I need it darker.' That just showed me I was like, 'My mind is not in this today.' I just kind of grinded in there. I understand why guys … You'll start to see guys more and more in the offseason, I believe, retiring. Because what it takes in the offseason … To work out to look good on the beach is easy, but to run and play football at a high level and be physically fit, that's a requirement that I don't think a lot of people understand. Once you get older, your body does not respond the way it used to. Guys probably go online, look at their bank account and say, 'No, I'm good,' and shut it down and say it's not worth it."

On if it was emotional being back on the field: "No, not yet. I think when I'm actually playing, playing, I think I will be."

OLB Terrell Suggs

On how it feels to be back out on the field: "It feels good. That is where I naturally belong. I don't need to be in a bed with my foot up. I need to be on the football field. It definitely felt really good to be back out here."

On if his teammates enjoy his presence: "I don't know – they said practice was a little bit livelier. (laughter) I guess. It is good to be back. It is good to be out there practicing with the guys. They love having me out there, so it was really good."

On trying to create an electric practice atmosphere:"I think 90 percent of what we do is confidence. You want to be confident; you want to have all your working parts out there. Our team is a working machine. Once you get all the parts back, it can work how it is supposed to."

On his conditioning level:"I feel really good. I feel in really good condition, but the only thing that will get you in football shape is football. I still have a little bit to go, as far as that. But I feel really good."

On the key to him losing weight: "Diet. I'm not a big fan of food, but when I do eat, I like to eat. I like my fried chicken, I like my pizza, my peaches and my gefilte fish." (laughter)

On if he cut all junk food out: "I had to cut all that out. I still eat the peaches and a little bit of the fish. But that is about it."

On if he is on the timeline he expected to be, health-wise:"Yes. I'm actually a little ahead of schedule, to be totally honest with you. I didn't think I would be [practicing this soon]. I wanted to. I didn't know, considering the weight and everything. Getting the weight down and getting in good condition to go out there and practice [was important]. It was a lot of hard work, and I feel really good."

On if he can still be a dominant force:"Absolutely. We are going to find out. But absolutely."

On how much WR Steve Smith Sr. energizes him:"It feels good. It just feels like everything that we lost last year, we are getting it all back. All of us are back out here practicing. Now we are getting our swag back and our chemistry. Everything is starting to feel good, and now we are starting to feel like the Ravens again. It is key; it is big. It goes a long way for morale, too."

On if he is interested in playing in the preseason:"I have some interest. But collectively, between myself, the head ball coach [John Harbaugh] and the trainers, we are going to decide what is best for us. We aren't going to say when – well, we don't know when. But we are going to decide, and make a plan and go forward."

On if he wants to play at a lighter weight this year:"I want to be in phenomenal shape. That is definitely going to be discussed."

On how much he weighs: "I'm not going to tell you."

On how much weight he lost:"I'm not going to tell you. Because with all due respect, when the weight went up there, I'm going to say, 'No, I'm not telling you.' So when it goes down, it is the same thing. I'm not going to tell you. We lost a lot, and we worked really hard, and we are out here."

On if he is at his "fighting" weight:"I'm not giving that up either. But we feel pretty good. We feel really good."

On if the Ravens have a collective chip on their shoulder after last year's struggles:"Definitely. I think that was the purpose of this training camp. We have to beat that complacency of last year. We have to get rid of last year's team, last year's feel and everything that went terrible with last year and leave it back there. We have to be the Ravens that we know we are supposed to be, that we are accustomed to being and [know] that the standard was set here. That is definitely the No. 1 thing on our list as a chip, as a motivator."

On if this team is as talented as it has ever been:"Definitely. I would have to say since our Super Bowl year and the year before – the 2011 team. I think this is the best we have looked since then."* *

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