Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "A couple things: [We had] a good day at practice. [It was] more of a preparation for the game. We toned it down, took them out of the pads and slowed it up a little bit. We've had some great practices. Yesterday was really a good, tough practice, and we wanted to do that. It was more of a mental-type day. We've got some special guests here. Emma McGraw is here. She's a special friend of ours and is doing great with her rehab, and we're proud to have her here and her family here. The women's lacrosse coach is here – Gary Gait. Some would say the all-time greatest offensive player in history, right? Dave Pietramala being the all-time greatest defensive player. Just ask him, right? *(laughter) *[He's a] great friend of ours, too, so it's good to have those guys here. We've got military here, and some other special guests."
**Thursday night, is it going to be pretty standard when you put starters in? *(Aaron Wilson) *"We're not going to play the starters the whole game. How much we play them remains to be seen. We've got a plan. It's a little different because we play on Thursdays, so we play a little sooner than we do most years, so we'll try to factor that in as we go."
**Will some starters not play even without injuries just to be careful? *(Aaron Wilson) *"We'll see. Right now, we're planning on playing guys. We need to play, but we'll see."
**Could you talk about that battle for the third receiver slot and how these games will separate, Deonte [Thompson] and Tandon [Doss] and the other guys, gunning for that spot? *(Jim Corbett) *"Sure. LaQuan [Williams], David Reed [and] some of the rookies are also probably in that mix. To me, it all goes in there – the games being the most important aspect of it. Practices are very important. You've got to be able to prove that you've got staying power. You've got to prove that you're not a one-hit kind of guy. You've got to be durable. You've got to come back one practice after another practice and make plays and do the right thing and be physical and all those things. The game is a big part of that. It won't just be this game. It will be all the games."
**Do you have any updates on Omar Brown or Chris Johnson? *(Aaron Wilson) *"Here's the thing about the injuries: It's training camp, so guys have things. The serious stuff, we'll try to let you know about. The stuff like that, it's just going to be … Guys are going to miss days and all that stuff, but it's nothing serious. Those guys are fine. The issues we have now are Dennis [Pitta]; Dennis is an issue. Ed Dickson is an issue. He's got a hamstring. Like I said yesterday, within a week or so, we'll reevaluate that and see where we're at, but he's got some healing to do. It's not going to be a long-term problem, but it's going to be something that's going to have to heal. Other than that, unless I'm missing somebody off the top of my head, all the other guys are just day-here, day-there kind of guys."
**Your impressions of Justin Tucker so far through camp? He's carried over some of his success from last season. *(Ron Snyder) *"Justin [Tucker] has worked hard. He's improved. He kicks the ball even with more consistency. We chart all those kicks. The kicks are tighter as far as his target and aiming points. He's got some new specialty kicks, which we're appreciative of. He seems to be improving, [so we'll] see how he does in the games."
You've talked about [Visanthe] Shiancoe coming along over the course of the last week or so. Is there anything in particular that you want to see from him over the course of the preseason? (Matt Zenitz)"I'd like to see him run [and] block well. I'd like to see him catch passes and run routes correctly and get up field after the catch. All the things that tight ends do, we'd like to see him do well. There's really no magic to it." (laughter)
I didn't know if there was anything specifically more important than anything else … (Matt Zenitz) *"We just want to see a good player – a good, hard-nosed player who plays according to our style, which he's always played with that kind of style. So, I just want to see him be who he is – be his best. If he does that, he'll have no problems, and I'm real confident that he's going to play well." *
**I know you expressed optimism with it not being a long-term issue with Ed [Dickson]. Is there any best or worst case scenario at this point? Is there any concern that this could be something that would be long term? *(Matt Zenitz) *"No. Long term in what sense?" *(Reporter: "Just if this would be something that could stretch into the regular season.") *"Not right now. No, I don't see that. It has not been termed as a major hamstring issue."
**Could you talk about the team motto "Here We Are?" *(Kevin Richardson) *"No, I really don't have anything to say about that. It's cool. I like it. It's a neat motto."
**Could you talk about the special practice coming up on Sunday? I know it's close to your heart. About 3,500 military people are going to be there. They're going to get special gifts and stuff. Could you touch on that? *(Bill West) *"Military Appreciation Day – that's going to be special. Military Appreciation Day is very important. We have military personnel here, as you can see, pretty much every single day. Most military [members] are always welcome. The Maryland National Guard is here today. That's why we went to Navy – the sacrifices that are made on our behalf to give us a chance to do what we love to do. You can have a political viewpoint all you want, but the real world says that the military is important. If not for them, we are not living in freedom, so we just try to say thanks every chance we can. Thanks for asking."
**How about the progress that Aaron Mellette has made? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Aaron Mellette has made good progress. He continues to get better every single day. He's got lots of talent. I don't think it's too big for him, coming from a small school, but at the same time, he's got a long way to go."
**Just following up on the military appreciation question, I'm sure you've been in camps where the public was allowed in every day and here where not so much. Which one do you prefer? Is it easier to get things done when there are not so many people around? *(Dave Owens) *"I prefer whatever the Ravens organization decides is best for the Ravens. I really don't care. We loved it at Westminster. We got tons done there. The fans were great. There were drawbacks. We love it here. The facility is great. There are drawbacks. You can take it really whichever way it works best for the organization, and that's what we're for."
**What are some of the drawbacks? *(Dave Owens) *"I don't have my list with me. I tell you … Let me see … *(Coach jokingly looks for a list in his pocket.) *Seriously, I didn't bring my pros and cons list, so I'd probably leave something out, and it wouldn't be fair to a pro or a con, and then we'd be missing something. It just doesn't matter. We're here. We love it here, and we're working to get ready to go play."
QB Joe Flacco
On if he has talked to TE Dennis Pitta after his surgery:"Yes, of course. I talked to him one of the nights he was at the hospital, and then I've been over [to Pitta's house] a couple of times."* *
On the emotional effect of Pitta's injury:"You feel bad about it and you feel sorry for him. But then, when you go hang out with him and you see how he is doing … His spirits are the same, and he seems to be great. He's handling it really well, so that helps you get more at ease with it. It's been good. It is what it is; it's a shame and it's one of those freak things, but we'll just have to adjust."* *
On the changes to the offense because of Pitta's injury: "It's not going to change what we do or anything like that. Obviously, you're going to miss a guy like that. He's a good target, he's a good player, but we'll adjust. We'll do everything we can to go out there and play the way we always do."* *
On TE Visanthe Shiancoe and WR Deonte Thompson: "'Shank' [Visanthe Shiancoe] is catching on pretty quickly and he is learning the offense and getting better and better each day. You can see the improvement with his confidence in what he is doing. And then Deonte [Thompson], he is a young guy with a lot of speed. His potential is really high and he is getting better and better each day. He knows what he is doing. He's a really good player, so it's just a matter of getting some opportunities in these preseason games and seeing what he can really do to get that confidence going."* *
On the competition at wide receiver: "I think they are all pretty good. I think it's going to be a matter of getting some game time – getting in some game time situations to see how they react."* *
On his comfort level with three-wide receiver sets: "I think if you've got guys that you have confidence in, are good route-runners and can catch the ball, well then yes [I'm comfortable] And I think today's game sets up well for that kind of stuff, which is playing at a high pace and letting those guys get open on some guys. So, I think that will be a big part of who we are. I hope it is, and I think that we have the guys to do it. I think it's just a matter of, like I said, getting them some confidence in game-time situations so that they really believe they can go do it on a consistent basis. "* *
On the effect of not having Pitta and WR Anquan Boldin:"It doesn't do anything really to me. You love those guys when they're here, and it's pretty easy to realize the fact that they're not here. So, what are you going to do about it? You've got to move on. Like I said, we've got a lot of talented players out there, and I think we feel really good about what we have the ability to do and we're just excited to go do it."* *
On ways to have RB Ray Rice and RB Bernard Pierce on the field together: "I'm sure there is. Ray [Rice], he can do … One of his biggest strengths … He is who he is because he can run some routes out of the backfield, he can run some routes out of the slot – little things here and there. I'm sure there are opportunities to do that."* *
On rookie WR Aaron Mellette and the other young wide receivers' progress:"You try and keep track of all of these guys. They all have ability. I probably couldn't comment well on any one of those guys, because I'm not in [the wide receivers' film room] regularly with them. It would be tough to get a full feel for how I think those guys are doing."* *
On which receiver will get targets over the middle: "We've got a couple of those guys at wide receiver – Tandon [Doss] and Deonte [Thompson]. I think the one thing Deonte gives you that you normally don't have in the middle is that speed. Normally those guys running outside ... I think he gives you some speed in there. But Tandon is that real strong-handed guy that can go up and make some catches for you, and he's got a good feel for how to run the routes in there."* *
On the competition at center between C Gino Gradkowski and C A.Q. Shipley: "I leave that up to the offensive line coach and whoever is making those decisions. I think they're both pretty good. It's just a matter of seeing how it plays out over the preseason."* *
On being a role model as an athlete, in light of current events:"I don't think it puts any more pressure on us. I think we are who we are. I assume you are talking about all the PEDs [performance enhancing drugs] and stuff like that. That's why they are fighting so hard to get that out of the game. There are so many things that go into that. The biggest thing for us as players is you don't want your guys to be put in situations where you feel like you have to do that to overcome guys that are doing that. So, it's bad for all sports as the whole. You want to go out there and you want to play on an even playing field, and you don't want that stuff to have any part in that. I'm sure the way it looks to kids out there, I'm sure it's not good. I think everybody is trying to head the direction where they are doing as much as they can to get that out of sports. I think we just have to continue to grow and monitor … We don't do any of that testing, HGH [human growth hormone] and blood testing in the NFL. I'm definitely one of the guys … Test me and the guys as many ways as you can to make sure that there is nobody in the league that is on anything. The last thing that I want to be doing is having my guys that I'm pretty sure are natural going against guys that aren't. It causes a lot of bad situations and definitely puts out a message out there that is not good to all the people around the country."* *
On preparing for the preseason games:"It's really an opportunity to polish up and see if all the practice you've been doing has paid off in terms of the game. You're not really playing long enough to get anything going anyway. So, you go out there, you get used to being back out there and being in and getting hit. I haven't been hit since Feb. 3, so my neck will be sore for a little bit after I get hit for the first time. It always gets you going when you get hit for that first time. It reminds you that you play football. It will be cool to just get out there and get the feel for your surroundings again and remember what it's like a little bit. But the first preseason game, especially, is really just to get out there, hopefully have a couple good series and be very polished and prove to yourself that the practice is paying off."* *
On how the defense is progressing: "I feel like they are pretty darn good. They have a lot of pass rushers, a lot of guys in the secondary that can run and can cover. Daryl Smith, he looks really good. I don't really notice those guys too much, but he's seemed to impress me for some reason. Those guys, they feel pretty good out there, especially with those guys on the defensive line, and I think that's a big part of being a good defense is having a solid defensive line. Same thing with offense, [it's important] having a solid offensive line."* *
On trash talking at practice with OLB Terrell Suggs:"We didn't do anything today because we weren't really competitive, but that's just fun. We've always done that kind of stuff, whether it was me and Ray [Lewis] just kind of kidding back and forth. When you're out here in practice, we play this game because we love to do it and we have fun doing it. That's just another thing that makes it fun is kind of going back and forth with your teammates. I think it builds camaraderie, I think everybody likes it and it gets everybody more involved in the practice. I think [Terrell] Suggs has a little more experience in the matter, so I don't know if I'd want to go too deep into it with him. It's fun."