Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see you guys. I appreciate you being here, as always. We had a good day today. Governor [Larry] Hogan was here, which was a lot of fun. He had some good words for us. I think he could be a good coach. He had a good little motivational talk for the guys. He did an excellent job [and is] a really likeable guy. He was over there with the fans and getting pictures and everything. It was neat to see. We have a game Thursday night. [Senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] asked me to mention that to the fans. (laughter) [We would] love to see you guys out there, would love to see you watching WBAL. The Ravens on WBAL. Is that good, Gerry [Sandusky]? (laughter) We are excited, and it's an opportunity now to go play a football game against the NFC Champs. We're playing a really good team. They have great players. Obviously, they have hit the pinnacle of success in terms of being in the Super Bowl last year. It's going to be a big test for us, and not just for us, but mostly for our young players. It will be mostly our young players playing. It will be guys that we want to find out about. They're going to be in there from the beginning playing the game, and we're going to be looking forward to seeing who makes the blocks and who makes the tackles and who makes the plays. That's where we're at."
John, how do you feel about QB Ryan Mallett as your backup quarterback? He's got the experience. (David Ginsburg) "Ryan is a heck of a guy. He's a hard worker. He's a pro. He's gotten himself in very good shape. He's kind of a football … What's the word for it? He's always thinking football, talking football, studying football. He's really into football. He wants to learn the game and does a good job with that. He's playing better and better as training camp goes on. I think he had a rough patch in the OTAs and all of that, but he's really smoothed it out and he looks good. It's going to be fun to watch him play. As far as a player for us, he's 1-1, so he's .500. It's time for him to win some more games for us, and he'll have a chance to do that in the preseason."
**John, I know you guys like to make your own evaluations, but have you been really impressed by how QB Ryan Mallett has bounced back from his rough patch and how he has gone about his business since he's been here? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Absolutely. Ryan has been nothing but a pro. He's been a hard worker; he's been a pro. Players like him. He's charismatic. He knows the game. He has talent; there's no question he can throw the football and he can move around. He's got a lot of great football in front of him, and we're happy he's our guy."
You mentioned when he signed there were a lot of questions about baggage with QB Ryan Mallett. Is it good to see a guy take that opportunity and go a different direction? (Jamison Hensley) "That's the thing about life, football, whatever. It doesn't end at your first mistake. You have a chance hopefully to do the right things, to bounce back. We all grow up. We all look back on the things that we could have done better, been smarter [and] the bad decisions we make. I'm driving in the car sometimes and some memory hit me and I'm like, 'Argh!' But you know what? We're redeemed. We're past that, and that's what God does for us, and that's what we do for one another. To me, an opportunity like this gives guys a chance to bounce back. It's not just Ryan and a quarterback, too. Josh Johnson has had a really good camp, and Jerrod Johnson has had a really good camp. You're going to get a chance to see those two guys play. They've done a nice job. They've both made plays for us. I'm looking forward to seeing those guys, too."
You talk about how you can rein QB Joe Flacco back a little bit. In your plan for him, elaborating more for Thursday, what can we expect – specifically with how he wants to keep going? (Britt McHenry)"Joe wants to play for sure. If you got that out of me right now, these guys [the local reporters] would all be really mad at me. (laughter) *It's very impressive, your effort, but … Oh, so you banded together? I see, that's smart. *(laughter) We're not making any announcements, but we will be commonsensical about it. We do want to see our young players play. The only reason I say anything about Joe … I think everybody can figure out what's going to happen. I just don't want to get into everybody. I don't want to be talking about who's going to play and who's not going to play. It's going to be the young guys. It's going to be the guys that need to play in this game that we want to find out about. Anybody that has a health issue or anything like that is not even going to be thinking about playing. It's just going to be one of those kinds of camp games that we learn about our young guys."
John, what were you trying to get out of today's practice compared to a regular practice? (Don Markus) "Today was more mental. It's probably twofold: It's an opportunity to recover a little bit. We've had some really good practices, some really physical practices. This is an opportunity for us to recover a little bit from that and get ready for Thursday night and just focus on attention to detail. We emphasize technique and communication. We want our guys to exaggerate technique and exaggerate communication in this setting to build muscle memory in the way we play, and that's the idea for a practice like this."
**Where have you seen OLB Za'Darius improve? And do you see him having the ability to play that OLB Pernell McPhee role that you guys drafted him to do? *(Ryan Mink) *"I think the Pernell McPhee comparison is fair, but I think it's getting a little old. It's time to move on from that. He is his own man. He is his own player. He's a really good player. He's having the best camp he's had here by far. You know he's young to the game. He just started playing in high school late. [He is] a junior college guy [and then went to Kentucky]. We have really high expectations. I'm on him all the time. I tell him all the time, because my expectations are so high, 'I'm going to be riding you on a regular basis.' And he loves it. He wants to be coached and he just gets better every single day. We're excited about him. We're looking forward to a good year from him. Again, I'll say, he's his own man."
**Coach, with all due respect, I'm just curious why you decided to keep who is playing in the preseason a little more secretive as opposed to the regular season when it matters? *(Jerry Coleman) *"It's not secretive. It's just do I really want to stand here and go through every single guy and how much he's going to play? Where do you draw the line? If I start with that, then you talk about how many plays this guy is going to play or how many quarters he is going to play. Really, that's not something that you really know. The general principle, really, is what's at stake. The general principle is the young guys are going to get as many reps as we can get them. There will be guys here and there that will get a few reps that we think they need. I just don't want to get into the laundry list of who is going to play how many snaps; it's just not worth it."
**Was it good to see T Ronnie Stanley back, not only from a physical standpoint but also the fact that he wanted to be out there? *(Don Markus) *"That's a great point. He wanted to be out there. I think he said right after the [Saturday stadium practice]: 'It's nothing.' I don't know if anything is nothing, physically in this league, but we'll see if he can play Thursday night with how it feels out there and everything. It probably is a game-time decision, to be honest with you, to use in-season terminology. But he wants to play, that's for sure."
Could you give us a status update on OLB Elvis Dumervil, OLB Terrell Suggs, WR Steve Smith Sr. and WR Breshad Perriman? Do you expect them to play in the opener? Do you expect to see them on the field soon? (David Ginsburg) "We do expect them all to play in the opener. As far as the preseason, it goes back to, 'We'll see.' They all want to play, I know that. They're all working really hard to play in the preseason, but we're certainly expecting them all back for the opener. We'll just have to make some decisions. Terrell Suggs is the closest. He had the injury the soonest. He's already on me about practice, and I'm holding him back right now. He'll be out there soon practicing. How much we play him remains to be seen. The other guys are probably a little longer away than he is – him being ready – but we'll just see where we go. But they should all play in the regular season."
John, you've been playing a lot of offensive linemen in different spots. When it comes to preseason games, how much do you weigh the chemistry and what pieces fit best together? (Cliff Brown) "It's part of it, no doubt, but you do put your best five out there, because I think all of the pieces can fit together well. Sometimes you have an issue, to your point, when you have some guys that don't know things as well and you have to put somebody next to him that can help them do the right thing. We don't have that. We have a bunch of smart linemen. The guys all stand on their own. They all know what to do on their own; they don't need help. They make all of their calls and they work together, but I think any combination we put out there is going to be able to work together really well. It's really going to be the guys who play the best. It goes back to the playmaking thing. For them, it's who makes the most blocks the best. Those will be the five guys out there. You know we're experimenting. We've moved guys to different spots, so we're still in that mode a little bit."
Quarterbacks Coach Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement: "Right in the middle of camp, it has been a great camp. All the quarterbacks have been doing very well. You have seen Joe [Flacco] coming off the knee [injury] extremely well. As you know, Joe – big guy, smart guy, big arm, really good decision-maker, really accurate – he has had a terrific camp. Ryan Mallett – big guy, big arm, really sharp – he has had an outstanding camp. You guys have seen his arm as well. He can make some tremendous throws down the field. Josh Johnson has had an excellent camp. You can tell he has played in league games before – very productive in the team-type atmosphere. J.J. [Jerrod Johnson] has not played in any league games, but he sure has had a big camp. Both of those guys [are] very talented. The challenge there is getting enough reps for all four quarterbacks. We are all excited, I'm sure. I know I'm excited about getting to the game Thursday night, and that is to see our veterans and see where we are at, and then especially the younger guys. Some of them get their first opportunity to rock and roll in an NFL stadium. I know I'm excited."
You say reps for all four quarterbacks, but would it be OK if QB Joe Flacco sat out most, if not all the preseason? Or at least Thursday night? (Joe Platania)"We will see. That will come from the head coach, John [Harbaugh]. John will take care of all of that. We certainly have the plan in place, and then John will do the announcing on how much and when any player is going to play."
As far QB Ryan Mallett goes, he got to play the last two games last season and now he has to go back to the mindset of being No. 2. How do you think he has been dealing with that?* (Dave Ginsburg)*"Training camp is a battle. We are all battling, and we are trying to get better every day. Ryan's challenge is high-level play on a really consistent basis. That is what his focus has been on. Once we get into the season – I suspect that is where your question is going – much of that comes from getting your hard work in, because there is no substitute for that, and then your preparation is key when you are in a backup type of role."
How much does QB Joe Flacco want to go [on Thursday]? It has been a while; he is probably anxious. How is it managing him and if he would want to go on Thursday? (Britt McHenry)"We have discussed that, but you would have to ask Joe. I can't speak for another man. I know he is excited. He is really, really excited. The challenge there might be trying to hold him back."
What percentage would you put on the installation [of the offense]? (Scott Garceau)"Most of it. We still have a little bit to go, but most of it."
Have you been impressed with – just out here in training camp – how much QB Joe Flacco has been able to do? It doesn't seem like he is taking himself out of any reps. (Jamison Hensley)"He has not missed any reps; that is an amazing thing. The doctors and our trainers [have done] a tremendous job. However, the man has to do it himself, so you have to give a lot of credit to Joe, because he appears ready to go. You have to give him an awful lot of credit. I'm sure he will talk about it one of these days, but he spent all offseason, all summer, for the most part, right here [at the training facility]. There is a lot that goes into coming back seven months, seven-and-a-half months off of an ACL [injury]."
There is still some question about his ability once he takes a hit. Is that something that you just have to wait and see? (Dave Ginsberg)"Really, I will tell you this: I haven't even thought about that, because it will happen naturally. You will have to ask him if he has thought about it, but I certainly have not."
How have you seen the development of QB Ryan Mallett? Did he really benefit from having those opportunities early in the summer? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Yes, there is no question these preseason games will be important for him, as far as those reps. The man is certainly talented and is a really sharp young man as well. When you are trying to get that high-level play every day, day-in and day-out, play-to-play, week-to-week, it takes hard work, preparation and then reps. So yes, I would agree with you that these reps he is getting in training camp and the reps he will get in preseason will be really important for his development."
QB Ryan Mallett
On his feelings heading into the first preseason game where he may play a significant amount of snaps:"It's exciting. Football is back, so it's exciting to get started. I'm just ready to get this season going."* *
On if his mentality to prepare as if he is the starter is different with QB Joe Flacco coming off of an injury and his two starts at the end of last season:"No, I'm still going to prepare like I'm the starter every week. That's the only way I'm going to be ready to go if something happens and my number is called."
On if being behind QB Joe Flacco will be different with Flacco coming off an injury: "I've never been behind him before. He's a great player, and he's a good dude. It's a lot of fun in that meeting room, I know that. Like I said, I'm going to prepare like I'm the starter regardless. That's the only way that I'll have a chance to be successful if I get my number called."
On what it is like to finally practice with Flacco: "It's good. It's good to see him out there. He looks good. He's throwing the ball well, so I'm ready to see him play when it's that time."
On what he has learned from Flacco: "It's football. It's more like a quarterback discussion in a meeting room, and for us, that stays in the meeting room."
On how different a player he is now than he was this time last year: "It's definitely spending more time in the offense. I'm a lot more comfortable. It's not just a week of preparation. I've had a spring now and this summer to prepare myself, and then these first weeks of training camp, so I feel more comfortable in the system."
On if his two starts last season helped him get acclimated with his teammates and offensive scheme: "It was kind of quick with the system, being it was a week before I got to play, but I think more the spring and being around the guys in offseason workouts and OTAs and all of that you really get to know everybody and get to see how everybody plays. You get to know your teammates better."
On how important the preseason is for him: "It just depends. You never know what's going to happen during the season. [This] might be my only film to get out there, so it's always important to go out there and try to play your best."
On if his ultimate goal is to be a starter again this season: "Of course. I wouldn't play if I didn't want to be a starter. That's not the situation right now. I understand my role on this team, and I'm going to do that to the best of my ability."
On if it helps that there haven't been any distractions this offseason: "I really didn't even know what you were talking about until you just said it. (laughter) I'm here to play football. I'm ready for the season to get started. I'm ready for Thursday night. We play a pretty good team. They were in the Super Bowl last year, so we have to be ready to go."
OLB Za'Darius Smith
On where he feels his progression is in his second NFL season:"I feel good about everything. Right now, I'm getting a lot of reps. I'm just getting ready for the week and preparing for one of the best teams in the league that we play on Thursday. I'm ready for it."
On how valuable the first-team reps have been in training camp:"It has been good – just knowing that I can get in and get more reps, just from my mistakes, so I can learn from them. Seeing guys like 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] in the meeting room correcting me on my mistakes [has been important]. It has been good getting a lot of reps with the 'ones.'"
On how much better he is than last year:"I feel good about myself. I think I will do a lot of great things this year. Just like I said, getting a lot of reps and learning from my mistakes is making me better. Coach put me situations in which I can do a lot of things, to dropping in coverage, playing inside and playing outside."
On where he has seen the most improvement from last year:"I would say setting the edge and being a better pass rusher. You said give you one, right? But I gave you two. *(laughter) *Those two positions … I know that is why I was brought here – to be a great pass rusher and set the edge. From Year One and Year Two, I think that will be a big improvement for me."
On how different an experience training camp is this year, compared to last year:"The learning process [is different]. I'm learning a new position now, but the previous year I was here, I was more hesitant about everything I did, because I wasn't so sure. That was just me being a rookie. Now, coming in to Year Two, I feel more comfortable about the whole playbook at each position."
On his expectations for himself this season:"Be a playmaker. Like I said, coach wants to put me in a lot of different situations, so however it plays out, [whether it's] being a pass rusher and setting the edge."
On if he feels like he is in a position to be similar to Ravens OLB Pernell McPhee:"Yes, I agree with that. I can be. That was my role, and like I said, that is what I was brought in here to do – to replace him. I think I'm doing a good job at it. I know one thing: We were in the meeting room yesterday, and coach Harbaugh was playing a couple of big plays we had in practice. I think I had two plays back-to-back at pass rusher and got after the quarterback, and he was like, 'OK, I see you 90!' That got me more hyped, like, 'OK, now I'm doing my job and filling that role.' That was a good thing for coach to say to me to make me feel more confident in myself."
On how important playing well in the last few games last season was for him:"Just to be in the rotation and get more reps [was important]. Like I said, I'm getting more reps now. Last year, I was getting more reps at that time. Just by getting a chance to feel a guy going into the game and feel what his sets were going to be – watching film, that is something else, too. Just getting a chance to feel for him and get more reps in a game … It really transitioned for me the last three or four games. What did I have, four sacks? Three-and-a-half sacks? Just getting more reps [was important]."
On if he has to make up for the losses of OLB Elvis Dumervil and OLB Terrell Suggs with his play:"I'm not going to say that. I'm going to play my part. That is something I have to do – play my part. Those guys are great leaders, and I can't wait until they get back. For right now, my job is to be with the 'ones' and set the edge and be a great pass rusher."
On how he can help the younger players in his position group, such as OLB Victor Ochi:"I would say for those guys – the younger guys, Victor Ochi – just to be more consistent. That is something we get coached up on every day, to stay in our rush lane and not get past the level of the quarterback. So, me just telling those guys to not be more hesitant and go – that was my problem last year. Seeing the younger guys come in, I know I can help them with that situation."