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Ravens Transcripts: Friday Podium Interviews

Head Coach John Harbaugh


Opening statement: "Ok, [it's] great to see everybody. Thanks for being here again. It's a great day, fun day, as you saw. We got all the kids over there getting autographs. Players are doing a great job with them, and it's just been a really special afternoon. Maybe the most special part of the day – I'm looking forward to meeting Erika. Erika Brannock is here, who was involved in the Boston Marathon. She's just a courageous, courageous person who is fighting like crazy to live a normal, great life with her family and her friends and in her profession. We're proud to have her. [I] can't wait to meet her. Some of our players have already made a connection with her before and have a relationship with her, and some more will, obviously now, too."

How did Bryant McKinnie do in his first day? (Aaron Wilson) "He worked very hard. He competed. He did not make it through the whole practice, as you saw. He's carrying a little too much weight right now, so, with this heat out here right now, it made it tough for him to finish. I know he's been working really hard to get some of the weight off, so he might be a little bit … He's not eating as much as he would normally, so he's going to have to tough it out. He's going to have to fight through that and get in the kind of shape we need him in and that he wants to be in."

Was Kelechi [Osemele] not being involved in practice a precautionary deal? (Joe Platania) "Kelechi [Osemele] had a little issue – kind of a strain in his leg. It's not a serious deal. He should be back in a day or two."

Did you get a quick report on LaQuan [Williams]? (Aaron Wilson) "I do not have a report on LaQuan [Williams] yet, no."

What are your thoughts on Tandon Doss so far? (Kris Jones) "Tandon [Doss], to me, has looked good. He made a number of nice plays down here in the competitive third-down period at the end. It's a tough, long practice. We take a lot of reps. He had a lot of balls thrown to him, so there were a couple in there – I remember a couple drops – but I sure remember a lot of catches. He looks fast to me. He looks more explosive than he's probably ever looked before."

*It seems like you guys are rotating between Tandon and Deonte [Thompson], David Reed [and] Jacoby [Jones] all with the first-team offense. Is that the plan for training camp? (Matt Zenitz) *"That's exactly the plan. We're rotating those guys by period usually, and we're giving them all a chance to work with the first group and work with Joe [Flacco]."

You used to be a secondary coach and today, the DBs seemed to be more aggressive than usual. Did somebody light a fire under them? (Joe Platania) "[Secondary coach] Teryl Austin lights a fire under them every single day. 'T.A.' [Teryl Austin] does a great job. He's a great coach. We do want our guys to be aggressive. Our guys are big, physical, fast, long-armed guys, and they can run. So, we expect to be very good back there."

Do you anticipate Albert McClellan playing more inside or do you want him to be versatile? (Garrett Downing) "Albert McClellan is an inside 'backer at this time. As someone pointed out at [the] last press conference, we are pretty deep at outside 'backer. Albert has played both, and he's competing for a spot as an inside 'backer."

*With so many new players on defense, what do you look for as a coach, especially early in training camp, to see this group come together? *(Brett Hyman) "Well, that's the thing about defense. You do look for cohesion. Communication is going to be very important. There are a lot of timing elements to it, especially with the pressure package, so that's why we practice the way we do. We want to get those guys oiled up."

**Are you starting to see what the potential of the defense can be, because you're bringing guys in from different places, but you're bringing them together? *(Brett Hyman) *"We see the potential, and I think you guys see it as well. It's not hard to see. We can tell we have a chance to be a very good defense, so the expectations are high, the bar has been set high by our own guys."

John, so much talk about the player additions – how are Juan [Castillo] and Steve [Spagnuolo] fitting in in their new roles as coaches? (Mark Zinno) "[Run game coordinator] Juan [Castillo] and [senior defensive assistant] Steve [Spagnuolo] are doing a great job. Juan has added so much to our offense in terms of scheme. He has helped us make some major adjustments in our pass protection and our run scheme, as well as continuing to help coach the offensive line with [offensive line coach] Andy's [Moeller] help and with [assistant offensive line coach] Todd's [Washington] help. We've got three great coaches in there doing a great job. We have a bunch of young guys, so we need it. Steve has done a tremendous job as well. Steve has added a lot from two perspectives. He's added a lot from the head coach perspective. He's helped me tremendously – a lot of different ideas, training camp ideas, in-season ideas, practice ideas – things like that we've incorporated. Obviously, he's been a big help to the defense as well."

It was reported in the Newark Star Ledger that Vonta Leach was going to make his decision today, and that he's leaning towards returning to the Ravens. Do you have any updates or heard anything? (Kris Jones) "I don't know where that came from, so we have no update. [There is] nothing new on that. As far as I know, nothing has changed. We're patient about it right now. We haven't forced the issue. We're looking at some of our guys and seeing where we're at with our roster right now, but I believe Ozzie [Newsome] and Vonta [Leach] are still talking."

There's been talk about Bernard Pierce having a more expanded role. How does he look compared to last year? (Cliff Brown) "Bernard Pierce has gotten bigger and faster. He's done a great job with his offseason conditioning program. He looks good, and I'd say the first two days of practice, he's a better player now than he was last year, even at the end of the season."

Is Chykie Brown someone who emerged last year and has bigger things ahead? (Aaron Wilson) "Chykie [Brown] is in a situation where he's sitting there as the fourth corner right now, and that's a pretty important spot. He's going to play a lot of football for us – both defensively and special teams. From there, it's up to him. And Chris Johnson, I'd put in that fourth corner slot, too – both of those two guys. Chykie being the younger player, it's up to him from there what he does with his career from here on out. Both of those two guys give us so much as the corners after the top three guys. I think they're both starting-caliber corners, talent-wise."

How much improvement, just from the mandatory minicamp last month to now, have you seen from Haloti Ngata, just in terms of movement and what kind of shape he appears to be in? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's obvious that Haloti [Ngata] really went to work in the five weeks between when we left here and the start of the season. He couldn't do as much as he wanted to because he had tweaked his knee, and he's coming off the knee [injury] from the Super Bowl game. But he went to work, and he's in great shape."

John, when you're grading receivers … From our perspective, it's as simple as he either caught it or he dropped it, so he's got decent hands. But I'm sure you're looking at more than that. How are you gauging these guys, as far as getting their hands in better shape and teaching them how to catch a football (Mark Zinno) "As far as gauging them, don't give us too much credit. The bottom line is catching it – that's what matters the most. After that, we do have a lot of things that we do. One of the things we do that we incorporated today for the first day in this camp, we've done it for a number of years … You know, last year, we were tied for the No. 1 team in the league in terms of catch efficiency. We count every catch. We chart every single catch. We do a catching circuit every single day in the morning, and then during practice, every guy gets every catch charted. We have teams, and they compete against one another. So, like we try to do with everything we do, we try to make it competitive and try to make sure they focus. That's the main thing. If you pay attention and you focus 100 percent on everything you're doing, especially catching the ball, it obviously gives you the best chance to be successful."



Defensive Line Coach Clarence Brooks


Can you talk about the last time that you have had this much depth? (Samuel Njoku) "Every year – that's what you try to do every year with every roster every year to have depth at the position. What happened right now is we have some guys, we have some depth – some veteran depth – which is a little different. It's been a little while. We have been a little on the young side before. The guys have developed well and played hard. This group is a different kind of group, as every year the group is. These guys have been developing well. It's two days in. They are trying to get to learn each other – know each other. We have some pretty good leadership, so hopefully, this will continue to go. We have a long way to go on this preseason, though."

How good can this group be? (Garrett Downing) "Like any group, I think they can be as good as they believe they can. I think there's a lot of belief amongst these guys. I know this: They want to be good. They want to be very good. They want to be coached. They want to be coached every day. They want to be challenged. They want to be challenged by me. They want to be challenged by John [Harbaugh] every day. From that standpoint, it's a great group to work for, and I look forward to coming out and working with these guys every day, because they really want to be good, and they work like it."

What does Chris [Canty] mean in terms of what you can do in terms of his dimensions? (Aaron Wilson) "Chris [Canty] is a longer, leaner athlete. He's a little bit more on the body type of … He's just a longer guy. We haven't had that [type of] guy in a while. He's versatile, though. He can play outside. He can play inside. He can do a lot of different things. He fits the scheme very well as far as taking pieces and moving them around and playing with them."

Is Marcus [Spears] kind of a swing player, too? (Aaron Wilson) "We will see. The one thing in this scheme, if you are a nose [tackle], you have to be able to play the three-technique. If you are three-technique, you have to be able to play the end. We don't have any really … Based on how they are going, based on what we see from the offense, we will decide who is in there and how we deploy them. We have always tried to develop some kind of position flexibility. You have to be able to do more than one thing. I think that's what all those guys want to do. They've done some of that before, so they understand the process. They have been very much with it."

Do you think this could be one of your best groups you've ever been around? (Aaron Wilson) "I like this group, and I think we will go on to say time will tell how good we get. We have an awful long way to go work-wise, but it's a great group to work with. The thing is we brought in a couple of veterans, and they have been really, really great with those guys, and they mix well with the guys that were here. We brought in some young guys that we really feel good about. They are playing their tails off, and they have all spring, and so far this preseason. So yes, I do feel good about the group, and I'm happy. I look forward to watching them get better as we go."

**What are your impressions of Brandon Williams? *(Garrett Downing) *"Brandon [Williams] is a talented, power player. I like everything about him. He can play with power. He can play with a little bit of movement inside. He's a pretty good athlete. He's a thinking player. He understands what we expect of him. He understands the scheme. He is good with his hands. He's just a guy that as a young, developing player has a tremendous upside. We are happy with that."

*Assuming you don't have too many injuries, you have a lot of guys to rotate during the regular season. Do you have a rotation in mind, or is it a lot by feel and injury and all those different things? (Stan White) *"Unfortunately, as it goes during the week, things happen. You might have a … You don't know exactly how many guys you will have up and active. You have an idea, and you try to work that way in practice. You always have to have in mind, 'OK, if I have this many guys, we are going to rotate this way. If I have that many guys, I'm going to rotate that way.' The thing is we try to practice that way during the week so that come Sunday the guys understand how the rotation goes and when it works."

**Does the game situation kind of change that? *(Stan White) *"The game situation sometimes changes that depending on … There are situations where we think, 'OK, I want that guy at that spot at that particular time.'"

**I know Haloti [Ngata] talked some about Will Pericak and Cody Larsen. What have you seen from them? *(Matt Zenitz) *"Just the same that we've seen of them through the spring – tremendous work. [They are] really, really tough, hardnosed kids. They both work their butts off. They are both very, very smart football players, and they are both physical football players. We really, really like what we are seeing in them. And, again, the whole group has worked tremendously well. We are happy to have them. We are happy to have everybody – the veterans that we have working with us. It's great. It's been good."

DT Haloti Ngata

On how his health has been since June minicamp:"It was awesome. Once I left here, I was able to start running a little bit and the weight kind of went down at the same time. It was great to be able to run for the last month and a half. It was great timing."

On how he is doing health-wise: "Right now, my knee is doing good. I don't have problems after practice, but we will have to see once we start putting the pads on and actually hitting. We'll see where it is, and we'll just go from there."

On how the defensive front is going to look this year: "Awesome. We can be really, really good this year. [There is] so much depth, and our younger guys are so good. Not only Brandon Williams, but Will [Pericak] and Cody [Larsen]. Those guys are working and working hard, and they look really good."

On if the defense will be able to give a lot of different looks: "Definitely. With Chris [Canty] and Marcus [Spears] in and Arthur [Jones] doing his thing, we can do a lot of things with pass rushing. It's going to be tough, because you have our outside guys with [Courtney] Upshaw and Elvis [Dumervil] and Terrell [Suggs]. It's going to be real tough, I think, to block us."

On being next to DL Chris Canty:"It's pretty cool, because you just kind of play off of him, because he's so long. You kind of just see what he can do. It's fun to watch him, because he just stands up and blocks balls. I have to jump up to block balls. It's kind of fun. He's a great athlete to play against."

On having a lot of new pieces on defense: "It has been [fun]. It has been an easy transition. Upfront, they didn't lose too many guys, but [they] got a lot of new faces with good athletes. It's been pretty easy so far."

On how practice was on Day Two of training camp:"It's just the second day. Legs are kind of tired, but everybody is just fighting through it and trying to have some fun with it. Just listening to Terrell [Suggs] and Joe [Flacco] going back and forth, it's fun. It's fun."

On if having an exchange with QB Joe Flacco is new for him:"No, I just like to mess around with Joe [Flacco], because he's so cool. You just try to get in his head and get him started, but he's just so chill."

On if he has seen any improvements in DE Arthur Jones: "Definitely, Arthur [Jones] has come in this year in better shape but is confident. His confidence is amazing.  He's believing in his athletic ability and is doing a lot of good things. It's great to have a player that is not second guessing himself and is just going out there and making plays."

On who he believes the leader on the team is: "To me, it's always been Terrell Suggs – not always – but once Ray [Lewis] and Ed Reed left. Terrell Suggs has been here the longest. It's just kind of fallen on him and Joe [Flacco] since he's our quarterback. Not any one person is a leader. They have a bunch of leaders in different groups. I think there are a bunch of guys, not just being one guy."

On if it is healthy to have many leaders: "Yes, definitely. I don't think we are all like Ray Lewis who can take over a team. But, I think some guys are comfortable just leading their group and some guys don't mind being in front of the whole team."

On if he is looking forward to being in one spot this year or if he enjoyed playing several positions last year: "I don't mind moving around, but I'm more comfortable inside. And, I think that's what will happen; I will move around inside, but won't go outside as much. That's going to be real fun."

On if QB Joe Flacco has taken on more of a leadership role since winning the Super Bowl:"No, he is the same. He's just 'Joe Cool.' He still doesn't say much, but I think he understands that he is one of our leaders and will say something if he needs to."

On if he feels like he is ahead of where he was last year when it comes to conditioning:"Yes, definitely – way ahead of last year. Last year [with] having a new baby and things like that … This year, [I] came in in better shape. I'm feeling great."

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