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Ravens Wednesday Transcripts

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Thanks for coming out. [It's a] beautiful day. Walking onto this practice field, sometimes you fight through the different challenges and the adversities that life brings you or football brings you. But sometimes you walk across that line, and sometimes I wonder – it's like Field of Dreams – once I cross this line, am I going to be allowed to step back? This is paradise out here from a football standpoint. It's great to be here with our players. [We] had a couple things come up today. We've been very fortunate so far as far as the injuries [go], but we had a couple things come up today. We had Brent Urban, Timmy Jernigan and Jeremy Zuttah all have issues; they got tangled up a little bit. Jeremy looks fine, Timmy looks fine, and then Brent I'm a little more concerned about. We're going to have to see. He's going to get an MRI tonight. We'll have more for you on that later. We'll just hope and pray for the best on that one."

We were watching the play in front of us. Was it a knee or ankle injury? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It's his knee we're looking at."

John, we talked to T Eugene Monroe a little bit ago. How important was it for this team to re-sign him and kind of answer any questions you would've had at that left tackle spot? (Bo Smolka) "No question. The most important thing, really, is signing your own players. It's really hard to lose a bunch of players and then … Heck, you're just trying to break even if you do that with the draft or anybody you might sign. The more players you can hold on to, [the better]. You know them; they know what you're about. They know you; you know what they stand for. [If they] know how we practice – all those kinds of things – you're ahead and have a chance to go forward to become a better football team. [That's] especially true at left tackle. That's really important. For him to be here playing left tackle … And hey, he has a long way to go. It's not like he's arrived or anything like that, and he'll be the first to tell you, which is what I love about Eugene Monroe. He works every day; he wants to improve. He'll be holding down that spot, God willing, for many years to come, and it helps us."

Before the mishaps today, is this looking like the deepest, youngest defensive lines you've had since 2008? (Joe Platania)"I'm really happy with the defensive line. You're going to practice hard; you're going to have some things. You're not going to practice hard; you're still going to have some things. [If] you look all around the league, that's what happens. We're somewhat fortunate there because we do have a lot of good players in there. We'll just move forward if we have to. I'm not really … I'm still hopeful that [Brent Urban] will be back, but we'll have to see."

John, RB Ray Rice will be having his press conference tomorrow after practice for the first time. What will you say to him to counsel him to try to get him through the next couple of days? (Sal Paolantonio)"Our P.R. staff, [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin Byrne and Ray are very close, and I'm sure they'll talk about those kinds of things. I'm there for Ray as a friend and also as an older male figure in his life to try and give him advice and wisdom, maybe, and just be there for him. A friend is born for adversity, and that's really what it's all about with Ray. I love the way he's handled it. I hate what happened. What happened was wrong – flat out. The thing I appreciate about it is how Ray has handled it afterwards by acknowledging that it was wrong, and he will do everything he can do to make it right. That's what you ask for when someone does the wrong thing. I'm proud of him from that standpoint. For anybody out there that's going to misconstrue that and just write, 'John Harbaugh is proud of Ray,' then shame on you. I'm proud of him for the way he's handled it. I'm disappointed in what happened, but you go forward. You go forward. And that's what we're going to do as a football team, and that's what we're going to do as [individuals and] what [Rice will] do as an individual. You'll see his heart tomorrow just like you saw it last time. He's not going to be polished. He's not going to give you some polished press conference. That's not Ray. Ray is going to speak from the heart, and he's going to do his best, just like he's doing going forward."

There's been a lot of negative reaction to just a two-game suspension handed down by Roger Goodell. What's been the reaction to some of that noise from inside this building or from yourself? (Sal Paolantonio) "There's no way I'm going to comment on the length of it, but I know this: Those who make those decisions do so with great seriousness. They aim to be just and fair, and they aim to do right by all parties involved. Public opinion, often times, will push those decisions in certain directions, but both of the decision-makers – not the opinion-makers, but the decision-makers – all the knowable facts of the case came from the same direction on it. They're the ones that know the facts, and they came from the same direction on it. We said all along [that] the circumstances will determine the outcome of this. And we've said all along that we will respect the outcome. It's going to be tough for us. It's going to be two games without one of our very best players, but we'll move forward and deal with it. Beyond that, there's really nothing else to say."

John, do you anticipate everything, once RB Ray Rice speaks, will end tomorrow or do you think this will drag on? (Jerry Coleman)"Honestly, we all understand it's going to [continue]. It's never going to leave. That's the thing about making choices, and that's the thing that you try to impress upon your guys. Hey, I try to impress that on my daughter. I try to impress [that] upon myself when I make choices. It used to be that no one would know, or it wouldn't last, so it might be forgotten. It still was in your heart – you still knew. Now it's you and everybody else still knows, and that's the ramifications for the choices that you make. The main thing is that people need to learn from it. Our players need to learn from it; players from around the league should learn from it; kids should learn from it. And then really, how do you respond to something like that, which is what Ray is trying to do right now."

John, you talk about adversity. I know Kevin Riley talked to the team today, and he's overcome some great adversity. What did he say about that? (Stan White)"That's exactly right. Kevin Riley was here, and Kevin Riley is a great man, great speaker. He played for the Eagles way back when. He's a very successful businessman. Half of the left side of his body was amputated in 1975 due to cancer. He's an avid golfer, and there's nothing he can't do. He tied his tie one-handed. He was told he couldn't tie his tie. He was told he couldn't tie his shoes by the first person he talked to, and he's overcome all of those things. It was a good message for our guys. Thanks for bringing that up."

Coach, I wonder what your thoughts are on G/C John Urschel – a guy that math comes so easy to him, but he's worked very hard to get where he is today. What kind of respect do you have for a player like that? (Jamie Thomas)"John Urschel is a guy that we drafted and we have high expectations for John. He's really smart. I ask him some math questions sometimes and he's not always right. He says, 'Well we don't do that kind of math anymore!' (laughter) And I'm like, 'Multiplication? We don't do that anymore?' (laughter) But [Urschel is a] great guy [and he's] going to be a really great player. He just works so hard every day. We do a little thing at night [where] the guys have to get up and sing a song, and sometimes you have to wear an outfit to sing a song. One of our guys was in a penguin outfit – we didn't put John in the penguin outfit – but the guys thought that sufficed that appearance. But, he lit it up – sang a song, had a lot of enthusiasm with it and understood the idea. [Everyone] got a big kick out of it."

Defensive Line Coach Clarence Brooks

How tough is it to see two of your guys [DT Timmy Jernigan and DE Brent Urban] go down on the same play, and have you heard any updates?* (Jeff Zrebiec)* "No, we haven't heard anything. We'll go inside, and I'm sure we'll get all the details from coach [John Harbaugh] later on and [head certified athletic trainer Mark Smith]. It's tough to see anybody go down. You have two young kids that were working pretty hard and working pretty well for us, so we'll see how serious it is when we get in and they'll be examined. We've got great medical people here, and we'll get the scoop later on."

How impressed were you with rookie DE Brent Urban up until today?* (Jamie Thomas)*"Brent has made steady progress since … From the first day he walked in here … We liked him when we drafted him, and after he was here for a couple days, we understood, we knew exactly what we liked about him. He's [a] great kid who worked hard. He's got a tremendous work ethic, and he's going to be a very, very good football player."

Dean Pees was talking the other day about how this is one of the best young groups of defensive lineman he's seen. What's been your take on them and how impressed are you about how much depth you could have assuming everyone stays healthy? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's a good group, and essentially, we've got some good, young talent. Considering a guy like DeAngelo Tyson is only in Year Three, that's really something. Brandon Williams is in Year Two, so those guys have already played a lot of ball for us. Everybody knows about Haloti [Ngata] and Chris [Canty], but you have the two rookies in Timmy [Jernigan] and Brent [Urban], and then we have Kapron [Lewis-Moore], who essentially is a rookie. So, we have three young guys. Then we've got four young kids – free agents that we signed – undrafted free agents we signed working their butts off, and it's a really good group. Part of the reason is from the leadership they get at the top, from Haloti and from Chris, and that's really a big help to me as a coach."

What have you seen from Brandon Williams? How has he progressed?* (Ryan Mink)* "Brandon [Williams] has progressed quite a bit. You see him around … I mean, he's got a lot of strength, he's got a lot of toughness, he understands the scheme, and he understands what's expected of him. He's really going after … Trying to be a starter for us, that's what he wants to do and he's going after that. But, he's been tremendously serious about how he's working. His offseason was good. He's in great condition, so we feel good about where he's headed."

[Brandon Williams] was obviously strong when he walked through the door. How has his technique improved? (Ryan Mink)"[Brandon Williams] was strong when he walked in, but now his strength is a lot more functional because he understands the technical part of the game a lot better. He understands how we play a lot better and how we want things done. He understands that, and he was able to take his natural strength and work it into what we want. So far, everything is on the upswing."

Coach, the last two offseasons, Ozzie Newsome and Co. have been spent a lot of time and resources adding to the defensive line, whether it's been through the draft or free agency. What in particular would you really like to see improve based on last year's performance? (Jeff Zrebiec)"There are a lot of ways we can improve off of last year. Putting it quite simply, last year wasn't good enough. Whatever is more than what we did is where we want to go. Last year was not where we wanted to leave things, so if you have to measure it by that, we say, hey, anything north of those numbers is where we want to be. [The coaching staff believes] we have the ability to be a Top 5 defense, and that's the only way we're going to try and head it." * *

DeAngelo [Tyson], you mentioned him … What has he done to improve? (Garrett Downing)"DeAngelo [Tyson] came in as a seventh-round draft choice and lined up and played for us in that Super Bowl game. Tremendous kid. Tremendous human being. He [has] been very valuable – plays all over the front for us. He's trying to get himself a starting job, so there's real good competition in the whole group across the front. He wants to start, Brandon [Williams] wants to start, Chris [Canty] … We can't start everybody, but we can all go out there and compete, and that's what they're doing every day."

DE Chris Canty

On how training camp has been so far: "It's the beginning, it's the start of the foundation. Right now we'll just continue to try to improve individually each and every day, coming out here and working on the fundamental things. We understand that football is a team game, but the more guys that we have that improve on their fundamentals and their technique, the more individual battles we can win and the better off our football team is going to be. So, I think that's where my focus is, and that's what everybody on this team focus is right now."

On how tough it is to see other defensive linemen go down with injuries: "That's tough. Obviously, all of us as players recognize that injuries are a part of the game. Hopefully, there's nothing too serious. Our prayers are with our brothers, especially those guys with the defensive line. We're a tight group, so we want to make sure our guys are good. We recognize that injuries are a part of the game. We understand that when somebody goes down, the next man has to step up and we have a job to do – we have a responsibility. It's tough to see, but at the same time we have to focus on the task at hand, which is continuing to progress this football team and continue to improve."

On becoming a leader on the team as a veteran player and talking to younger players: "Sure. I always try to help guys improve, and to be honest with you, I learned a lot from those guys as well, the younger guys. There's always opportunities to learn on the football field. When you think you're done learning, that probably means you're done playing. So I always look for opportunities to get better, to improve my game, but also to help other guys to get better to become the best football players they can be. If we get a whole lot of guys that are really good around here, we're going to be really good as a football team, so that's what we're trying to do."

On how impressed he has been with the defensive line as a whole this offseason: "I've been very impressed. I've been very impressed with what our young guys have been able to do. All have a little bit different skill sets, but all are tremendously talented. It's just a really impressive group; it's one of the best young defensive fronts that I have ever been around in the game, or I've ever seen of or heard of. So, I'm excited about what they're going to be able to do. I'm excited about how they're going to be able to help our group and help our football team. The sky is the limit for those guys; they're going to determine how good we're going to be, ultimately. But, they're continued improvement, they're continued focus throughout the training camp process [will be important]. We're just finishing up the first week, and you usually see a jump from Week 1 to Week 2 as guys start to get into that groove. So, I'm excited to see those guys progress and continue to see them improve."

On his expectations for this season: "You look at last season – it's over, it's said, it's done with, but it didn't go the way we wanted. We didn't end up in the postseason. Ultimately, we want to give ourselves an opportunity to compete for championships around here. That's the culture, and that didn't happen, so it's a disappointment. We put that behind us, we try to focus on what we can do to improve, so we can be where we want to be at the end of the regular season."

On whether this training camp has been different from last year's camp: "I noticed the difference even in our minicamp in just the emphasis from the coaching staff on attention to detail, focusing on the particular things, the little things, making sure that we're really honed in, we're locked in on our assignments and that we're executing at a high level. That's something that slipped at certain points last season, so we want to make sure that we continue to develop that edge as a football team, continue to focus on those things that can give us that competitive edge when live bullets are flying. That's one of the things that we've carried over from the OTAs, then minicamp into training camp – just the focus on the attention to details, making sure that we can execute at a high level, not just individually from a technique standpoint, but also as a group collectively."

On whether he has been approved to wear a special face mask this season: "I have no choice but to wear the face mask. I know I let the trainers take care of the paper work stuff, but I'm pretty sure that won't be an issue."

On if it is tough to keep fit after 10 years in the NFL: "It has [been]. I've learned that you have to work harder when you get north of 30 just to keep what you've got. You just have to understand your body, you have to listen to it, you have to become more aware, you have to take better care of it. From nutrition to the way you train, the specific exercises that you're doing, the body work, the flexibility work just to make sure that you can do everything that you can to stay healthy, to keep everything going, so you can continue to work hard and improve your game as a player. So definitely, this offseason, that's something that I focused on, making sure I concentrated on my nutrition. I switched up my training regimen a little bit, did a couple of things a little differently, so hopefully that bodes well for me moving forward this season."

On how the team has moved on from offseason distractions: "Well, what I found is, being a part of the National Football League, that football in between these white lines is like a haven for a lot of guys, and I don't see that being any different for this football team. When we come into this building, when we come onto these white lines, this feels like home for us. This is where we're in our element; we love to be around it. So, I don't think those distractions even come into this building. When we're here, we're focused on being a family and making sure that we give our team the best opportunity to be successful."

T Eugene Monroe

On his thoughts on the new changes made on offense:"I would definitely hope that we're more productive. We're grinding every day to be successful. Only time will tell."

On if pass protection is one of the offensive line's biggest goals this season:"No. I would say we want to be well-rounded. We want to excel both running the ball and protecting the quarterback. You have to be able to do it all to win games. We're working on everything."

On if the new offensive system was difficult to learn:"I would say no, and particularly, I had experience with this before. For me, pretty much the past couple years of my career, I've had a new offense to learn each season. I know how to adapt and learn it. I like what we're doing – I do."

On if there will be more combination blocks this season:"Yes, more combination blocks. And hopefully we're running the ball a lot more."

On if it was advantageous to be here for a full offseason:"Being here all offseason working with the guys through the spring [and] going through training camp now only gives you an advantage. We've been working together building our relationship. I had a chance to work with K.O. [Kelechi Osemele] a little bit last year. He went down [with an injury last season], but we've had a whole offseason working together and now training camp. That only helps add to the continuity on the line, which we need to be successful."

On if he has been impressed with G/T Kelechi Osemele:"He's a baller. He's aggressive, he's intelligent [and] he's exactly what you need."

On the experience of going up against OLB Terrell Suggs in training camp:"It's cool to have the opportunity to practice against elite players every single day, every single snap. I didn't necessarily have that in Jacksonville, so it's making me better every day going against guys like that."

On what was most appealing about re-signing with the Ravens:"It felt like home. I definitely loved the organization. I was welcomed like a brother as soon as I got here midseason last year. My family is close, my wife's family is right here – it was just a perfect situation for me."

On how the team gets past the negativity of the offseason:"That's in the past. The only thing that matters now is the next day – working every day to get better getting ready for this season. We open up in the division, so it's going to be key that we come out firing on all cylinders."

On what makes him feel good about the offensive line this season:"Well for one, everybody's healthy. You always have guys that will step up, but our core guys are ready to go at this point, and we've all been working together all offseason. We all know each other and those relationships are still building, still growing, and if we have that, we can have success. Without it, we can't."

On what G/C Jeremy Zuttah has brought to the table:"Jeremy is a really intelligent guy. He's putting us in the right places every play. He's very athletic; very strong. He's not the biggest guy around, but he's probably one of the strongest. He's an all-around complete player."

On if you have to be smart to play on the offensive line:"You have to. Things are changing. There's a lot that goes into an offense like this – a lot of different assignments. It's so much different than what we've done here before. The Ravens don't bring anyone in here who doesn't have the ability to learn this stuff." 

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