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Ravens Training Camp: Wednesday Podium Transcripts


Head Coach John Harbaugh, Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris, TE Nick Boyle, CB Jimmy Smith, T Ronnie Stanley & TE Benjamin Watson

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "I appreciate you guys being here. [Another] camp practice, and the guys are fighting. You get in the middle of camp here, and the legs and the camp and it is hot – that is what camp is all about. I feel good about their work ethic. Our governor was here – Governor [Larry] Hogan. We sure appreciate that, and he was out here at practice. We also had members of our military – Air Force guys here from Andrews Air Force Base. We sure respect those guys, and we are very appreciative of what they do, and they are welcome out here any time, as you guys know. We love those guys. I just want to say two things: Nico [Siragusa], you guys already know. That was an accurate report about the knee. He will get that done, and he should be ready to participate – probably if you look at it – next offseason toward the end and certainly in training camp. That will be good for him. The only other thing on injuries I would say is: This is training camp; things are going to happen. If we have one of these injures like this – like Nico – [injuries] that are season-enders, then we will let you know. Beyond that, it is really hard to put a time frame on them. I know everybody wants a time frame, and we do want to keep our fans informed. We do want people to know basically what is going on. But, I have learned the lesson the hard way. You just do not know how long things are going to last. You start putting dates on them, and everybody starts questioning you. Sometimes, we maybe keep guys [out] longer or get them back quicker. It is just unpredictable. We will let you know if it is serious. If it is not serious, it is not serious and it is a number of days or even weeks. That is where we are at."

How comfortable are you with the current group of tight ends? (Todd Karpovich)"I am never comfortable with anything, so start with that. I am very confident in the group of tight ends that we have. I am never satisfied with anything – how we are playing or any part of it. I do believe the guys that we have can play very well and get the job done. We are very talented there. We have guys I like that are practicing hard. I am excited about the tight end group. We were very deep going in. There were articles written about, 'How can you keep all these guys?' Ozzie [Newsome] said it at one of the big press conferences: You just can't have enough depth. Boy, that has proven to be true at that position."

With TE Maxx Williams and what he has had to undergo, how has he looked out there? (Jamison Hensley)"He has looked good. It is the type of deal where it is pretty complicated with what they did. His leg has to kind of relearn a little bit, muscularly. He can explain it better than I could. I think he has just to get the feel for moving and playing football. But, I have seen so much progress every single day – really big steps from the first day to how he looked today. He is on track."

TE Nick Boyle, what have you seen from him out there? He is taking a lot of first-team reps. What has he shown you so far? (Ryan Mink)"He has played well. Nick has played well – very steady, very good run and pass. Nick is playing well. I am happy with Nick."

How valuable is this time for some of the young offensive linemen that are getting moved around, and how valuable for you guys that are evaluating that you are able to move them around? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It is two-fold. Part of it was by design. We had planned it. Yesterday was the day to start moving guys. I think you saw Alex [Lewis] go to right tackle, and you saw James [Hurst] go to left tackle. We were moving some guys to get reps at center. Nico [Siragusa] was getting reps at center yesterday. When you do that, guys work with different groups. That was part of the plan. I also think what has compounded it has been the injuries. With John's [Urschel] retirement and then a couple injuries, then Marshal [Yanda] not practicing, we probably have to do more of that than we want. Part of it is just to make sure we get through practice, and we can run the plays. But in the end, it is good. It is good for guys to get working at different spots. I also want to make sure our starters are getting work at the spots they are going to play at, so that will be the main focus."

What are the characteristics of a cornerback playing in the slot? (Ed Lee)"Characteristics of a nickel slot corner? I would start with this: I would start with a pit bull mentality in coverage. You are going to be playing quick, fast guys. You are going to have to deal with picks and a lot of traffic in there. A lot of it is main coverage. Secondly, you have to be smart and understand routes and how the coverage matches the route. It is a little quicker inside than outside. You have to be a little bit like a linebacker, except you are going against all the route combinations from extended receivers, so you have to pass things off certain ways, and you have to know what you are doing. It takes intelligence, it takes experience, and it takes a guy with a feel for the game who can sort stuff. Then, the third thing is you have to be tough against the run, because you are essentially a linebacker in there when it comes to them running the ball. It takes a unique cat to play that position, and that is why those guys are considered starters and they stick around for a long time."

With all that being said, is it easy to find those kinds of players?* (Ed Lee)*"It is never easy to find an NFL player at any position. That is really the truth of it. That is a unique position, too. Every position has its unique traits that way, so it is tough to find these guys. Then, there are a lot of guys that can do it, but then you are talking about doing it at a level that is better than the guys you are going against, because it is competitive out there. That is why we all love football – it is tough."

You have the open practice at Navy on Saturday, and it will probably be a discussion moment for WR/RS Keenan Reynolds. How much has he grown from last year to this year? (Jamison Hensley)"I really think he has made a lot of progress. I am looking forward to … I think he did a really good job [this past Sunday] – good solid play – but he didn't really have too many opportunities at the stadium. He has done some things at practice that you guys have seen. He has really flashed. I hope he shows it. There would be no better place for him to break out a little bit. Keenan is in the heat of it; he is competing and he is fighting for a spot and doing very well."

Understanding what you said about time frames, how is QB Joe Flacco progressing? (Luke Jones)"I think well. Again, you can't really say exactly when or when we might even decide to do it. But, all indications from Joe and from our [head certified athletic] trainer Mark Smith have been very positive."

Time for the obligatory Colin Kaepernick question: are there any updates? (Jamison Hensley)"I do not have an update on Colin Kaepernick or our quarterback situation. I will frame that this way: There are other positions we are looking at, too, and I don't have any updates on those either. I think they are all in the same category."

Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris

What have you seen at center and left tackle so far this training camp? (Ryan Mink) "I've seen a lot of good guys working hard and making improvement daily. James Hurst has done a very nice job. Stephane Nembot has done a very good job. Marquice Shakir has really made a nice jump at the left tackle position. [Ryan] Jensen has been nice and steady inside. Matt Skura has been very good inside, and we've got [Jarrod] Pughsley in there. Yesterday we put him at center, and boy, has he made a nice jump in the last two days. Brandon Kublanow has been nice and solid for us, too. So, these guys have all been growing. This is training camp; this is instillation time, so a lot of material and information is given to them, and they have to decipher through a lot of stuff. Our defense – as you well know, a very good defense – they resent us a lot of problems, and we have to try to cure those problems."

With the young line, I've been seeing you working with them – with a step-and-release and recognizing different techniques. How is everything grasping with the linemen? (Kevin Richardson)"They're doing a very nice job. They're working hard at it, and they're taking steps each day. That's one thing about offensive line play: It's a growth each day – one step at a time. You try to grasp a concept, grow with it, when it shows or presents itself tomorrow or the next day, we see some more growth."

In the last week or so, you've had two guys who were projected to be 53-man roster guys, but one retired and one went down for the season with an injury. How difficult is that? Are you OK with the depth you have right now? Or is it difficult to even have practice? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Whatever presents itself outside of our room – it happens, right? It's football. You're going to have injuries; you're going to have guys retire. John [Urschel] did a wonderful job here, but I didn't get to know him other than through OTAs. But, he did a marvelous job here, and I wish him the absolute best. I only worry about the guys in my room each day. Whoever comes in that room, I coach. Whoever comes on the field, if we have an injury, and you coach him. You don't worry about what you have behind. You have to move forward. We'll see with the 53. We have a lot of time yet to decide our 53."

Specifically, what have you seen from T James Hurst through training camp, and where has he made improvements? (Ryan Mink) "I think James is very coachable. He's consistent, dependable – everything a coach could ask for. I see nothing but plus, plus, plus."

You mention all of the youth that you have. How big has it been to have G Marshal Yanda – even though you're bringing him along slowly, just having him on the field as another leader? (Luke Jones)"When you have a six-time Pro Bowler, I invite him [to practice] every day. Just the simple things that he can give our guys – a term, a concept – that he's done over time, and to share the knowledge and his experience, is valuable. It's valuable to me as a coach, and it's valuable to those players."

What has impressed you? You hear the name "Marshal Yanda" as an offensive line coach around the league, but then when you get up being able to coach him every day. What is the impression he makes? (Jamison Hensley) "You know what? You wouldn't even know he's a veteran as he is. He's quiet, he listens, he writes information down, gathers information, and that's why you see him as a Pro Bowl player. He takes every day in, grasps the information, then comes out and takes coaching and applies [it]. As a coach, that's all you can ask for. It's those that take the information and will apply it."

*With the injuries on the offensive line, might you call up G/T Alex Lewis' dad and see if he wants to come in? (Ryan Mink) *"Yes, I might see if Billy has any more reps. *(laughter) *As a center/guard, he can do both."

*So G Jarrod Pughsley has never played center before? (Jeff Zrebiec) *"No, to the best of my knowledge. He did it in high school. I asked him that, and I think he played in high school and he brought that to my attention. I said, 'OK, let's work with you here.' Guess what? I'm glad we did, because we need him."

When you're moving pieces, how much do you stress versatility among those guys and make sure they get reps? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Quite a bit. We try to teach that in the classroom. To make this team, you better be versatile, because you're not going to be able to just play one position, unless you're just a superstar. In offensive line play, they need to know multiple positions and communication."

An area on the offensive line that's not a question mark is the left side with T Ronnie Stanley and G Alex Lewis. What are your expectations with how good those two guys could get? (Garrett Downing) "Time will tell with them. I think they're both quality football players. They're working together. Let's just see how it continues to pan out. I know they're both good, quality football players. Continuity and consistency are most important with those two working together."

TE Nick Boyle

On how tough it has been to see the amount of recent injuries the Ravens have had, especially with TE Crockett Gillmore:"It is tough, and being a tight end, we get so close with everybody in the [meeting] room. First, seeing Dennis [Pitta] and then seeing Crockett, it is extremely unfortunate. I feel really bad for those guys, especially when they come back from all the injuries they had the past. It is really tough to deal with. You reach out to them, you give them the best, and you go from there."

On handling increased reps: "It is awesome. I think I am a rep guy. I think I do better with the more reps I get. I think that is who I am. You have the opportunity to get better, [and] the more reps you get, the better you will get and the more you will learn from your mistakes in those reps. I think that is how I get better as a football player."

On if he is excited to show what he can do this year:"Yes, it is exciting. Like I said, how I look at it is I really go out there every day and take it play by play and have a positive impact on each play. Lately, I have been leaving practice, and there is that one play at practice that I want to take back. It kind of keeps you unsatisfied and keeps you hungry to come out the next day and do better."

On if the loss of the other tight ends puts a lot of pressure on the remaining tight ends to fill a void:"I do not know about 'pressure to fill a void,' because I think we have a bunch of great players in the room. I do not think we look at it as a void to fill. I think we look at it as, 'It is an unfortunate situation for them, but we come in and it gives us opportunities to go out there on the field and do good things.'"

CB Jimmy Smith

On if his 3-year-old son is his toughest matchup (note: Smith's son joined him for the session with the media):"It is. He is 3 years old. You already know how 3-year-olds get down – climbing on everything, says anything, repeats everything." (laughter)

On his son's nickname: "He is 'Little Beans.' I am 'Big Beans;' he is 'Little Beans.'"

On how the secondary is shaping up:"I think we have a pretty talented secondary. We get along really well in the meeting room, which shows out here on the field. Honestly, I am just really excited to see what we look like against another team. It is fun going against your own team, but to really prove what we have been working on, we have to see what it looks like against another team."

On how difficult it has been to see all the team's injuries:"It is crazy, because coach just said it … I have been here for a minute now, and I have been on a team where we have had 20 people on IR. Honestly, it is not the craziest thing I have seen. It happens all around the league, but it hurts that right now we are just having the year of the meniscus. Everyone is going down with that type of injury. But, everything happens for a reason. We can't sit and lick our wounds; we have to get ready to go."

On his impressions of rookie CB Marlon Humphrey:"He is a good player – a really good player. He is coming along really strong. His press technique is really good. He has his hands on the ball. Once he understands fully the grasp of the defense, he is going to be on the field this year, no doubt about it."

On how he has seen the offseason workout program pay off during training camp:"I feel like for the entire team, it is a major leap in strength and conditioning for everybody. We are out here, and we have some really long practices. They get physical. I think everybody has shown signs of improved strength and conditioning. I think it is working out pretty well."

On how he feels:"I feel great."

T Ronnie Stanley

On if it has been tough to gain continuity on the offensive line during camp:"It's definitely hard to get continuity, especially with Marshal [Yanda] not being out here and trying to figure things out on the O-line. To gain some kind of chemistry is going to be a challenge, and we expected that."

On maintaining a positive attitude despite team injuries: "You just have to stay out there and control what you can control.  Like coach was saying out there: Everything happens for a reason. We have strong faith as a team, and I believe everything happens for a reason, as well. Just keep on pushing, staying positive and controlling the things that you can control."

On how he is feeling: "I'm feeling fine." (Reporter: "Do you think you'll have issues going forward?"] "No."

On if his second year has been easier than his rookie season: "Yes, it's definitely dramatically different than the first year. I'm not as flustered, and everything feels a bit more comfortable."

On if he has found himself taking on a leadership role: "Yes, I do see myself helping a lot of the other guys, seeing as I had played a lot more than a good amount of them, and doing whatever I can to just make this the best offensive line in the league – that's all I want to do."

On offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris and his new schemes: "Every coach is different in the league, and it's our job, as players, to do what we're coached. That's what we're out there doing – just trying to be as good of players as we can be."

On if he thinks the offense's performance will surprise people this season, despite losing key starters: "That happens around the league all of the time – people lose vets a lot. It's up to the young guys to pick up where those guys left off. I do think that will surprise a lot of people."

On if he likes the young offensive linemen that were brought in: "Yes, I like everyone. Everyone comes with a good attitude, great effort, and they give it their all every day. I couldn't ask for more."

On if he stresses versatility when talking to rookies: "Right now, I'm not really trying to stress that part.  I'm really just trying to help them get the offense, their technique down and try to make this transition process – from college to NFL – as good as possible for them."

On his chemistry with G/T Alex Lewis: "The chemistry is great. There's no really lag between me and Alex. Everything is pretty seamless."

On if he and G/T Alex Lewis will be the anchors on the offensive line: "It's nothing that we talk about. It might've come up in conversation once or twice, but we're really just trying to be as good as can right now and try to make this team and offensive line as good as it can be."

TE Benjamin Watson

On his health: "I feel good, health-wise. It's been a process, a long process, and a tough rehab. [It was] about the hardest I've had.  I did most of it here with the training staff – they've been great. It's been good to get out here on the field and get my football legs under me. That's the next step – being able to do the football movements, and do it day after day, is what we're working on now."

On how challenging it is to practice amidst the team's injuries: "Injuries are always a part of football. Anyone that has played … You guys have covered football for a long time. You know that on any level, there's always going to be injuries. It always seems like your situation is the worst when you're in it. I swear, every training camp I'm like, 'Man, we have a lot of injuries,' and we, in fact, do. That being said, that's why it is a team game. It's incumbent upon other players to step in and play. Some injuries are severe, unfortunately. Some injuries will work themselves out in a few weeks. It's something that is unpredictable, but it's something that every team has to deal with. That's the hard part of football. Guys put in so much work. When you look at it from a personal standpoint … Obviously, there's the Xs and Os standpoint, and you're trying to [think], 'This guy's here, and now he's not. Who goes there next?' But, there's the personal side when you see a guy who was trained for X amount of years for his life, and he's trained all offseason, then something happened and they're unable to perform, and it hurts you as a player even when you come out here and play. It's been tough, injury-wise, but again, it's something that we'll overcome like anyone else would."

On how he views the tight end injuries as a someone in that position:"When I came here last year, I said that this was probably the most talented, top-to-bottom, group that I've been around – as far as the number of guys who I believe can play in this league and in this league for a length of time. That hasn't changed. They're all big, fast, strong, and I'm the shortest one, as always. I don't know how I end up being the shortest one. (laughter) Again, it's tough, because you have relationships with these guys. We do a lot together; we're with each other almost 24/7 now. So, to see guys go down knowing the work they put in, is tough. That's football. So, it's the next man [that] has an opportunity to play, and that's why we all prepare. We all prepare as if we have to play so when that opportunity comes, we each have the knowledge. Then, we match the knowledge with the experience, and you're able to go out and perform and contribute to the team."

On if he has a goal for an amount of preseason game action: "I don't have a road map for game action in preseason. It's more of a day-to-day process. It's taking the rest that I'm being given – every single day. It's communicating with the training staff, as well as the coaches. They have a short-term plan for me, that I don't think goes to games right now. We don't know right now. We're simply worried about this first week, and now the second week, of instillation."

On his movement skills after rehab: "It's definitely a learning curve anyway when you've been out of football for a year. Then when you add the Achilles, the explosion, the balance and the strength in the calf muscles that Steve [Smith, Sr.] talked about … You know, I have the 'baby calf' now. I take care of it dearly. There's going to be some kind of new normal, but it'll get better, I believe, as time goes on. I don't think I've reached the ceiling of where my rehab is going to be. Again, it's been 10 months going on – I guess, 11 – and there's still some more to get. But, that's what this process is for. That's what this training camp process is for and allowing myself to get back into this football shape. The next step in any rehab is getting the football power, and that only comes from going on the field and going against guys that are bigger than you."

On QB Ryan Mallett: "He's been here. He's been here since before I got here, so I think it's been three years – two or three years since he's been here, so he has great knowledge. The one thing we do have at backup quarterback is somebody who has been here, been in the system, and that's very important. Obviously, coming out here, he's going through it as we all are. He's going through a process of acclamation, of getting all those reps. He hasn't gotten all those reps before, and now he's getting all those reps, so that's new for him. It's new for the receiver, tight end – all of us as a unit. There are some growing pains, obviously. But, I think there are growing pains for all of us, collectively. The good thing about him is that he keeps on going, and he has a positive attitude. He understands that one day it could be one way, but you build on that to the next day."

On possibly signing Colin Kaepernick: "My thoughts are that we bring in players that can help the team win – bottom line. That's what it boils down to. That's the decision that I think this organization has done a good job of in the past, which is why they've been successful, and it's what the organization will continue to do. They will make a decision for all the guys walking off the field right now. It's about, 'Can you help us win games?' That's it. Inside of our locker room, we have guys who have all kinds of political stances, religious stances, people that are from the country and the city, and people that are different ethnicities. We respect each other, we get along, and we come in here and we try to put a good product on the field and win games. That's what's respected in our locker room. [The front office] has coaches, I know, talk to a few guys. You guys know that, trying to get the beat of the team. But I think the biggest thing they have to decide is, in the process of deciding, is he a good fit for our football team? That's the hope that I would have for any team. I would hope that any team, when it comes to Colin Kaepernick, would look at his skills and look at their needs and say, 'OK, I'm going to give him an opportunity, because I have a need in that area, and he can fill it,' and nothing else. That's what you want as a player. That's the respect you want as a player. All the other stuff is important; don't get me wrong. But when it comes to football … The reason we call sports an 'equalizer' is because you can come in here, have a different view, but if you can perform and are respectful, then you can have a chance."

On if he was appreciative that the front office asked his opinion on Colin Kaepernick: "Honestly, I was surprised – mainly because I don't get a vote. But, it shows the respect that coach [John] Harbaugh and Ozzie [Newsome], the president [Dick Cass] and front office, the owner [Steve Bisciotti], have for the men that play the game and the men that are in the locker room. You don't have that everywhere.  Every relationship is different on different teams. Some organizations wouldn't ask a player, and that's fine, and some organizations do. This is one where there's that type of relationship, so when I was asked, and others were asked, I gave my honest opinion. But for them to ask, it just shows that they care what the beat of the locker room is."

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