TRAINING CAMP: DAY ONE
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"OK, welcome. Good to have everybody here. Thanks for coming. First post-practice press conference of the 2013 season, so I guess that means that 2012 is behind us, right? (laughter) Sure we can assume that's true with all the questions. Just getting started with the rookies, they have had a couple of really good days. They came in ready to go – very sharp for where we're at. Worked the kinks out a little bit yesterday and they seem like they're even sharper today, so we'll keep building on that and try to have them ready for Thursday when the vets are here. As far as the injury situation, we have two guys on PUP: Marshal Yanda is on PUP; he's working the shoulder, he's doing great. He'll be involved in the walk-through practices in individual periods and things like that during the walk-through. He will not be involved in the regular practice stuff. The other PUP player is Jameel McClain. Jameel is a tougher one to predict because he's got the back issue – it's a spinal cord issue. That just has to heal. Until that heals and we have proof that it's healed, he's not going to be out there. Doctors had anticipated that he would be out here by this time. It's a little slower maybe than we had hoped, but when he's ready, he'll be out there. So he's going to continue to take some tests, he'll take some more tests tomorrow, and we'll have more for you on that on Thursday. Any other questions on injuries?"
With Lardarius Webb, he did some things, but do you think he will be on PUP to start out? (Jamison Hensley)"No, he will not. Those are the only two guys [McClain and Yanda] that will be on PUP. In that sense, Jacoby [Jones] is on PUP right now for the conditioning test. Lardarius [Webb] is practicing; we will bring him along as we see fit, but, you saw him out there today, so he's doing well."
John, with Jacoby Jones, do you expect him to get up to speed quickly, to be able to do that test? *(Aaron Wilson) "I do. I'll be very surprised if he isn't. He's really close on it. Never make any excuses for him, he should pass it, but he was traveling and things like that. We'll see. It's up to him. It's his job to do. That's the fact. Facts are stubborn things." *(laughter)
Terrence Cody and Haloti [Ngata] and some of those guys were able to be out here, come back from some limited activity in the offseason. Are they coming along? (Aaron Wilson)"Everybody else is 100 percent. We don't have anybody else – unless I'm missing somebody – that has an issue."
When it comes to competition at center, the fact that Gino [Gradkowski] has one year of an edge over the other guys, does that give him a bit of an edge? (Joe Platania)"Well, A.Q. [Shipley] has got probably an edge, experience-wise, in the National Football League. Reggie [Stephens] is probably the least experienced guy, but it's not like he's new to it. He played with Kelechi [Osemele] at Iowa State and was a heck of a center. So, they've worked together – that doesn't hurt. All those guys are young in one sense and veteran in another. So no, I think A.Q., as a veteran guy, doesn't give Gino an edge that way, probably."
John, with [Joe] Flacco – new contract, you obviously expect some progression. Will there be anything about the new contract that'll be hindrance to him, in terms of … Do you expect to see the same old Joe and maybe even better because he's another year experienced? (Dave Ginsburg) "To me, that's the factor that's relevant, is the fact that he continues to grow. The contract really doesn't have much to do with how hard you work as long as you continue to work, which he will and he has. He'll just continue to grow as a quarterback, and we sure hope he continues to get better."
Is there anything that you'd like to see [Flacco] do better or anything that you'd like to see him maintain the most, I guess? (Dave Ginsburg) "I think everything. You can name every stat – you'd like it to be a little bit better. [He] couldn't be much better than the last five outings that he played. But overall, there are a number of things that he's working to improve on, and Joe's determined. Joe looks very hard at all of his … Whether it's technique, or whether it's understanding the offense, and that's usually a group effort, too … Quarterback stats are his, but by the same token, it belongs to the whole offense, too. So we've all got to do that and we're going to try to just improve."
John, as a coach, how much of a luxury – because there are other teams every year, they're searching for their quarterback. Other than your first year – you didn't know, you had your hopes – but, every year after that, you knew who your starting quarterback would be. As a head coach, how much of a luxury is that for you? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, it's a great thing to have your quarterback in place. It's very important – it's a big advantage. Every team in the league is chasing that that doesn't have it. And it's something that we feel we're very fortunate to have our quarterback in place. I would add that we're very fortunate to have a backup quarterback in place that we feel very good about in Tyrod [Taylor]. Caleb [Hanie] is doing a great job as well. So, we're in good shape there."
As far as Matt Elam progressing, what have you seen from him as you've had this time with him throughout the spring and now? (Aaron Wilson) "Nothing negative whatsoever – positive in every way. Certainly young, certainly he'll make a few mistakes here and there, but Matt will make them fast. He's a very aggressive player, very smart, and he's going to be a key contributor for us."
Coach, do you think winning the Super Bowl can make players more eager, already having won? (Peter Schmuck)"Sure. It's good to have been there. It's good to have experienced it. When you've been down a road before, it certainly doesn't hurt. You kind of know that you know the way. By the same token, we've got a number of guys that haven't been there. We've got a lot of guys that are hungry because they haven't been there before, so we'll just see how that mix plays out."
Coach, have you been thinking a lot about who will become the face and the voice of this franchise this season? (Matthew Scianitti) "No, I've given it no thought whatsoever." (Reporter: "Why is that?") "It's a pretty general question. Who was the voice and the face of the franchise?" *(Reporter: "Ray Lewis.") *Oh, OK, well that's your interpretation."
Rookies all around the league with the new CBA are signing quicker in camp. How much do you think that helps them, as far as getting acclimated and playing right away? (Cliff Brown) "It helps them tremendously. The fact that those guys are in camp, they're not distracted, they're not worried about it. The negotiations have been boiled down to really almost nothing – so it's pretty cut and dry. I thought it was really interesting what Matt [Elam] did – he had his brother as his primary advisor, and he got the same contract he would've gotten with an agent. I don't know that anyone's ever done that before, in the modern era. He did it and it was kind of interesting."
John, for this year's team, what is the best thing about last year's team winning the Super Bowl and what is the worst thing? (Reporter) "Well, I really haven't thought about it like that. I don't have that categorized in my head right now. I can think of probably some good things and some not so good things. There are challenges and there are advantages that go with that. We will be the only team that has an opportunity to do it again. That's about where it stands. I can tell you that for sure. Everything else, I'm really not sure about."
Do you worry about a sense of entitlement? Do you need to articulate to the guys that last season is over? (Rick Maese)"I don't think so. I just watch our guys work. To me, it's not about what you say, it's not about what you think might happen, it's about what guys do. In the end, that's what accomplishment or achievement is – it's what you do. Those who talk usually don't know. And those who know usually don't need to talk. So, I don't think there's much to say other than let's go out there and work hard and do what we always do, really – become the best football team we can be every single day, and see where that takes us, see what we can accomplish."
In terms of Matt Elam, at Florida, he was always around the football. You have only seen him a little bit, a few workouts, but it seems like the case here. What have you seen from him in terms of his instincts and his tendency to always be around the ball? (Matt Vensel)"He's definitely a natural. He's got a gift for understanding the game from back there – his spacing, his awareness of routes, his understanding of where he needs to be relative to the guys around him. He's got a good feel for that, so he should progress really quickly. Now, he's going to make his mistakes, but they all do. He is going to be a big factor for us."
How did Arthur Jones look out there? (Aaron Wilson)"Arthur looks like he's in great shape – tremendous shape. [He] looks like he's trimmed up a little bit. How could he not [considering] the two guys he's working out with every day [in brothers Jon and Chandler]? So, he's very motivated. Obviously, it's a contract year for Arthur."
How about Arthur Brown? He looked like he was running around out there. (Aaron Wilson)"Arthur looks good with the sports hernia surgery. Arthur looks good. He's 100 percent, no problem."
John, it's almost cliché as they say "Super Bowl champ takes everyone's best shot." Do you buy that? It's not like you guys are a team anyone would overlook. (Cliff Brown) "Is there some data on that? If I could see some proof of that, I'd probably understand how to answer it. It's not something that we've studied. I feel like we get everyone's best shot for the last five years. I feel like people are always ready to play the Ravens. They understand what kind of game they're going to be in, and they respond accordingly."
Have you changed the structure of this year's camp compared to last year's? Have you made any slight adjustments whatsoever? (Jerry Coleman) "Well, last year we changed a lot. We made a lot … I would say we evolved a lot in a lot of our things last year. We changed a lot. This year, not as much, but it's been some things."
Are you able to specify? (Jerry Coleman) "No, I can't really think of them. It's just maybe some scheduling things – when we lift, when we stretch – stuff like that. Nothing major."
The parades, the offseason, all the hoopla that went with being in the Super Bowl – what did it mean to just be out there and get ready for this season and concentrate on pure football at this point? (Ron Snyder) "Well, we've been doing that. That's kind of what we've been doing. We've been out here for the offseason program. As coaches, right away you come into the office, and as scouts, you go to work. Then the players come in, you go to work. Then the players get on the field, you go to work. And then we get to come to training camp as you're pointing out right now and we get to really go to work. So, it's the best part of it. It's what we enjoy the most. It's why we do this."
Does the fact that you have so many new guys on defense help ensure that you guys won't rest on your laurels from last year? (Kevin Tresolini) "That's for you guys to figure out. We're just going to try to become the best team that we can possibly be. We really are. Every move we've made has been with what's best for our football team to be the best team that we can be – period, for whatever reason. And there are a lot of reasons you have to make moves, but every one of them has been made to be the best that we can be. So, we'll just see where that takes us, and I'm pretty excited about it. I think we can be a very good football team, but we have to prove it."
S Matt Elam
On what the first day of training camp was like: "Very fun, very exciting – a great opportunity for me to get better and improve. So, like I said, I'm just going out there to have fun and keep on improving."
On what contract negotiations were like and what kind of advice he received: "I felt like I built a great team that gave me knowledge and taught me a lot of great things I didn't know. So, I felt like I built the team that helped me learn a lot of things about a contract. I mean, I knew all the language and everything about the contract. So, I felt like the team I built helped me out a lot."
On if he decided not to hire an agent to save money: "Yeah, I saved a lot of money. It was beneficial to me and my family, so I felt – like I said – I'm invested in the program and to the organization. And like I said, I built the team that helped me, that gave me the knowledge and taught me a lot of things for me to look over the contract and know it to a 'T.'"
On if he had his brother, Abram or lawyers on his contract team: "I just feel like I built a great team that gave me the knowledge and gave me the ideas to help me along this way."
On what it means to him that John Harbaugh says he expects him to be a big factor: "That's an honor. That's a great opportunity for me to come in and keep on improving and keep on learning, and hopefully I can be great one day."
On if he expects the same from himself as Harbaugh does: "I've got very high expectations for myself. I feel like if I go out and keep on improving, it will take care of itself."
On how much he has to balance his instincts and staying within a scheme: "I feel like I can rely on my skills and the way I work. And they give me confidence – the way I work and the way I study – it gives me confidence to help me. I can play fast and use my instincts to the 'T.' So, like I said, the way I work and the way I study, it gives me the confidence."
On if he reported lighter to camp: "I feel like I had to. I had to run around a little more. I lost eight pounds over the summer."
On the adjustment from being a college All-American to NFL rookie: "I really don't think about that. I just go out and keep on improving to be the best I can be. People have high expectations of me. They want me to do great things, but I've got to live up to my own expectations. The way I work and the way I study, I feel like that will take care of itself."
On why there is still optimism to get to the Super Bowl despite changes in the defense: "I just feel like it's the way we work and the way we push each other. The older guys bring in the younger guys and teach the younger guys. And the way we stick together and the way we work together on the field, I feel like that will take care of itself. If we can continue to work and improve, then the sky is the limit."
On if it is motivation seeing teammates with Super Bowl rings: "That gives me a lot of motivation. It gives me hunger. It gives me desire. It makes me want to go out – and I see what they do and see how they work to get the ring – and that makes me want to go out and work the same way, so I can do whatever I can to help the team get another ring."
On his Twitter account and the hash tag #EatGreedy: "I trademarked a thing called 'Eat Greedy.' Basically, it means grinding major – making sacrifices to be the best that you can be at anything you do. You know what I'm saying? I try to bring the kids up and be … Basically, I like giving the kids the opportunity and make kids feel like they have a chance. I try to keep that going and let the kids know that they have a great opportunity."
On what NFL players he has reached out to for advice: "A lot of them. Anquan [Boldin] for one – he and my brother are real close. Eric Berry – there were a lot of players that I reached out to for the help, for the contract and different off-the-field marketing things. Just the people that have the great experiences and been out there to learn new things. So, I've reached out to a lot of NFL players to learn new things. I love to learn. That's one thing."
On the transition of coming to his first NFL training camp: "I feel like it's a great opportunity for me. I feel like I'm in a great situation, and I feel like I'm around a bunch of great guys, a bunch of winners and champions. So, I feel like there wasn't a better situation for me. It's an honor to be around these guys and work with these guys."
On if they were trying to focus on anything in particular at this practice: "I mean, we're just continuing to get better and work on the small things and continuing to get better at your craft to be great. You go out and you work to be great every day."
On his weight: "I'm down to 200 pounds right now."
QB Joe Flacco
On if C Gino Gradkowski has an edge at the center competition since he was here last year:"I doubt it, [but] I'm not the one making the decision. It's up to the coaches and how those guys play, so you really just have to get down to how they play in practice and how they perform in the preseason games."
On if he feels any different entering training camp this year than he did at this time last year:"Not really. It's still training camp, so you still feel that same."
On if he has changed at all after winning Super Bowl MVP and getting a new contract:"I don't think so. I guess you guys can tell me that after a few weeks of being with me, but I don't think so. When you're here you're really thinking football. Yeah, I'd be a liar if I didn't think about that stuff a little bit, but it doesn't affect anything [I] do out on the field."
On if there is a point during the summer when he gets eager to return to football:"You definitely become bored pretty quickly. You always think you're going to go and enjoy five months or whatever you have off, but you definitely become bored pretty quickly. I don't know if I'm always eager to get back in here, but when you do come back in here, it's refreshing and you realize how much fun you have doing it – just sitting in the meetings, going out on the practice field, joking around with the guys. So, I think to some extent we're all kind of eager to get back in here. To some extent we're all kind of like, 'Oh, another camp.' But when you get back here it's just refreshing to know that this is what we love, it is a lot of fun, great guys, great coaches. So yeah, it's been fun the first couple of days here, and I think now being here I'm definitely excited to get going."
On if he thinks about what he can do for an encore this year after the way last season ended:"Not really. I think we were a good team, I think we've been a good team, and I think our expectations for ourselves are to be a very good team again. But I don't think we think about last year at all. Our team is different, just like it is every year. We've got a lot of guys that are hungry to get to where we were last year. We have a lot of guys that are hungry to get back to where we were last year. Every season is a new season and you kind of approach it in little different ways and ways you think you can get better. I haven't really thought about an encore; I've just kind of thought about getting the best we can get so that we can go out there and win some more football games."
On his impressions of rookie S Matt Elam and if he had an extra eye on him out there:"He seems like a cool dude. I have no idea who's out there though when I'm playing. *(laughter) *I'm just trying to go wherever the defense isn't. I honestly don't have an extra eye on him or anything. I couldn't have told you where he was on any of those plays, but he seems like a pretty good dude and a good football player from what you can see on tape."
On if he's started to learn any of the new guys' names and numbers yet:"I don't think being here for a couple days and then being gone for month really helps you out in that. *(laughter) *It's a process every year; our team turns over every single year. Jameel McClain was just telling me that when me and him got here in 2008 … Me, him and Ray Rice are the only people from our class that are still here, and there are four other guys that were on the team at that point that are still here. So, that's seven total guys that were here in 2008 that are still here. And that's every year. That just lets you know that every single year there is a ton of turnover and you have to get used to getting to know new guys and learning new faces and names. And that's really part of what's cool about our job, is we get to meet so many different people and hang out with so many different people from all over the place and try to stay the same successful team that we are every year even if we have to add a couple of new guys in."
On what the key is to transitioning and meshing with new players but still being successful each year:"Getting good players; that's the easy answer, I guess. And I think we've got a good culture in our locker room. Everybody knows how to work, and I think it's gotten passed down from generation to generation, and I think that definitely helps."
On if he feels any pressure to be a more of a leader after signing the new contract or if he feels he needs to become the face of the franchise:"I'm always a leader; I'm not really going to change my role. We don't have Ray Lewis here anymore, if that's what you're asking. But me and him are probably different in the terms that we lead anyway, and I'm not going to change what I do at all just because I make more money. That has nothing to do with leading a football team. I'm going to go out there, I'm going to play well, I'm going to lead by example, and I'm going to have fun with my guys and get them to trust me. And we're going to be a good football team because of it."
On how he personally would like to build off of last year:"I think we did some things pretty good at times on offense, and especially at the end of the season we started to really hit the ground running. And I think we've just got to build on that and be consistent and do it throughout the 16-game season and into the playoffs again. I think we have the guys to do it; it's just a matter of staying healthy, working hard and getting on the same page and then having that hunger to go do it again."
On if he might be running more outside of the pocket this year:"It's really just whatever it calls for. I know at the end of the season when you're getting really, really good protection and you have some room to move in there, yes, stuff like that tends to happen. I hope I don't have to do too much of it. It's not something that I necessarily look to do, so I doubt it will come really any more. You hope that you have some room in there to move around and look for guys, and then if you have time make a play downfield if you have to, but I'm not going to make a living doing it, and if I was to do that I'd probably be out of the game after like four of them and on the sideline for the rest of the season. So, I'm not going to make my living doing that."
On backup QB Tyrod Taylor: "We've been here for a couple days. Tyrod is a good quarterback. He has all the physical skills, and he's a smart kid. He's going to do nothing but get better and better as time goes on and the more reps he gets. I'd like to keep his reps at a minimum – not necessarily during training camp – but all the other times. (laughter) That's the thing with him – the reps that he gets, [he has to] take as full advantage as he can and continue to improve. Like I said, he's got all the physical skills and all the mental skills. It's just a matter of getting out there and getting a chance at some point."
On being one of the team's most-tenured players:"You don't really think of it until something like that comes up and somebody says something to you or you guys ask about it. You don't really think about it. You just roll with the flow, and like I said, you develop relationships with the guys. It's a business and it's a football team. It's just a lot of fun. Like I said, it's a shame that you don't get to spend as much time with all the guys you came in with, but that's the business side of it. New guys roll in and out of here. Those guys are on other teams, so it kind of makes it fun when you play them and you know guys on there and you can compete with them a little more."
On if there's more or less pressure on him to perform this year: "I don't know. I just really don't know. I think if we didn't win, you all would still be saying that we suck, and if did [win], you all would still say the same – well, I don't know about you guys here [in Baltimore] – but a lot of people [would]. I don't think it really matters either way. All we can do is go out there and keep winning – just like we've been doing every year we've been here – and not really worry about what people say or what our expectations are and what the pressure is going to be. Who really cares? I can't really complain at this point. We won last year, I have a lot of money (laughter) – *or *I'm going to get a lot of money – and we're going to win football games. That's the way it is around here. That's what we're going to get used to and that's what we want to be used to, is winning football games. We're not going to apologize for acting like a good football team. Our expectations are high, and we don't care if that comes with pressure or it's not pressure – whatever it is. We expect to win."
On if it's weird with Ray Lewis being gone: "He'd be taking three reps out here at these [training camp] practices. He wouldn't even be here at this practice. All the three reps that he was in there, yeah, you'd know that he was in there. He'd jaw back and forth with you, acting like he's Superman. *(laughter) *Believe me – he brought a lot of fun to the practice field. That's never going to be replaced. A lot of the guys that we lost, they were a lot of fun to be out here with. We'll miss that part a little bit, but everybody has a little bit of that. He just happened to be a little bit extra special. The guys that we have, we're focused on being good and having a team of our own, so you don't really think about that too much."
On if he takes pride in having never missed a start: "It's something you don't really think about. I don't think it's the end all, be all. I'm definitely proud that I can say that I'm there for my team every Sunday. It's not about being hurt, not being hurt. It's about being durable. As a player and as a quarterback, there really is only one of you on every Sunday. You just take pride in that you can show up for your teammates. You hopefully give the best performance that you can give each and every week. I definitely think that helps out a lot just in terms of being a leader on a team, as all the other guys can trust that you'll be out there for them."