Training Camp: Rookies, QB's & Injured Vets Practice

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "It was our first couple of days with the rookies and veterans who are working through injuries. It's a chance for those guys to get acclimated. It's a pre-training camp period. You have five days to do it, and I think we've taken three, and it's going well."

Tell us about the conditioning and what goes into these conditioning tests these days with the new CBA. Has it changed? (Jerry Coleman) "No, it hasn't changed. It's the same basic rules, the governed conditioning test. What else do you want to know about it?"

What goes into it to pass it? What do you have to do? (Jerry Coleman)"We have a test that is six 150s [150-yard sprints]. It's 25-yard intervals, so you have to go down, back, down, back, down, back. You have to make it under a certain time. You have a certain recovery time. It has to do with each position, bodyweight-type guy. Obviously, the bigger guys have more rest and a slower time. The idea is to get a basic ability to recover between sets, a basic ability to get your wind back, to get your legs back, and then to change direction, put stress on the muscles, stop, start, change direction, which is what happens in football. [You] make sure the guys can do that, recover the next day so they can get through a basic practice. To me, it's a fundamental, a baseline level of conditioning, and that's why we do it."

John, what does it mean for you guys to have Ed Reed committed to playing, and also that you guys have taken care of the Ray Rice contract? (Aaron Wilson)"It means that we'll have Ray [Rice] here for a long period of time, which is a great thing. Congratulations to Ray. I thought both sides did a great job of getting the deal done. Nobody was happier than me, except for Ray. Ray was really happy. [RBs coach] Wilbert [Montgomery] was happy. Everybody, all the Ravens, it's just great for everybody. Ed Reed plans on being here. I talked with Ed, had a great conversation, and I'm looking forward to seeing him. Since you made me think of it, I thought I would give you guys a little update on the injury situation going into camp. Don't expect much after this. (laughing) No. Jah Reid has a calf strain he is working through. He strained it at the end of minicamp, re-strained it a couple of weeks ago, so he is working through a calf strain. Kelechi [Osemele] has got the same deal. What Kelechi had was muscle spasms in his back. So, we're just going to take it easy and just make sure we're OK with that, but he is looking really good as we build him through these couple of days. He should be ready to practice very soon, very, very soon, like hopefully tomorrow or Thursday. David Reed continues to rehab. David, we are going to take slow. We're talking about an ACL that was toward the mid-to-late season last year. We've got hopes for David Reed, but if David Reed gets back in training camp, I think that'd be a huge upset, although he actually is looking really good. But, let's just take it slow with an ACL. [Pernell] McPhee had surgery – just had a little thing cleaned up in his knee, nothing major on his knee. He had a little personal issue, so he missed about a week of rehab, so we are easing him in slow right now. He should be practicing very, very soon."

How lucky are you to have such a veteran guy like Matt Birk, who is really able to tutor a guy like Gino Gradkowski, and have him right here? (Joe Platania) "It's great. Anytime you get experience from a player … A player can give him some ins and outs through his career, and it's not just football, it's probably how to approach becoming a pro and all that. It's really important. It's also important to have a great O-line coach. [Offensive line coach] Andy Moeller does a great job. All those young offensive linemen are benefiting from the veterans, and the veterans are benefiting from the young offensive linemen pushing them. We have a good situation there."

Is having a guy like Eric Steinbach in here a symptom of just wanting to look at as many players out there and cover all your bases? Or are you still looking to upgrade the offensive line depth? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Well, it's like we say every year, 'We are always looking for players. We are always looking to upgrade.' We had some outside 'backers in here, too, today. So, you've got an opportunity where you've got good players who are available. We are going to take a look at them and try to make the roster better any way we can at any time. If we can create even better competition and put more good players into the mix with the financial resources that we have, we always want to do that. Eric Steinbach is a heck of a player. I don't know where we stand, but we are going to look for any good player we can at any time."

[Pointing to Harbaugh's goatee] Fashion statement? (Gerry Sandusky) "Not really. Fun statement, you know? (laughing) I just thought I'd get somebody's attention. I wanted to divert you guys. It's like the car wreck; divert you guys away from some issues, right? But it didn't work. You already asked me all the tough questions. I had a great vacation. Excited to have the players back. The guys came back in really great shape, for the most part. A couple of guys will learn their lesson the hard way, as far as the conditioning test and getting out and practicing at our pace, but that's a good thing, too. This [gesturing to his goatee] will come off very quickly, but it's been a good few weeks."

How big of a challenge is it for Courtney Upshaw and Paul Kruger to take that extra responsibility in Terrell Suggs' absence? Is it just going about their business, or is there more to it than that? (Peter Schmuck)"There is a lot to it, because it's an opportunity to start for the Ravens. It's an opportunity to start in the National Football League. Our goal is to be the best defense in football, and that's not going to change. Those guys have an opportunity to be, obviously, a huge part of that, so yeah, it's a huge responsibility. But I don't think it would be any different than any other position. Any one of those 11 spots is a pretty big deal."

Coach, do you miss not being out at McDaniel College? (Loch Winspur) "I haven't thought about it. Love McDaniel. Love the people in Carroll County, but I have really kind of focused on this training camp right here."

John, just with Bryant McKinnie, has he made the progress? A couple of times he has said he has dropped some weight. He said things are going well. Did he come back feeling good? (Aaron Wilson) "I haven't seen him yet. We'll see. Reporting is tomorrow, so we'll see. I have my fingers crossed. One thing about Bryant, and I will say this, Bryant is a hard worker. He is a hard worker. He is going to do everything he can from a work standpoint to get it done, and hopefully he will be able to do what he needs to do."

C Matt Birk

On Joe Namath having anything to worry about with Birk's legs:"My legs? Well, you guys can tell that my legs are tiptop now, fueling multiple offers to model them both."

On if the rookies are asking anything that you normally wouldn't expect: "Normally, I just tell them I have six kids, and they are just in disbelief and then they say, 'What year were you born?' No, I mean nothing really. We are just getting started here, and as things come up, I'm sure more questions will happen. I remember what it's like being a rookie. I just let those guys know that I'm here for them if they need me or want me. Once in a while I might say something if they don't ask, but most of the time – being a rookie – your head is spinning, and it's a lot to try and figure out at once. So, I try not to confuse them and try to stay out of their way and encourage them, especially with Gino [Gradkowski]. With the way the offseasons are now, he's had some time here. He's done a great job of, I think, grasping the mental part of the position and starting to figure stuff out, and he has a great base heading into training camp."

On what the function of the surgery was: "I feel better. They say it will help me feel better during the season. My leg won't get as fatigued or swollen. It's a good thing."

On making excuses with how much Birk's leg problem affected his play:"None. I mean it was, none. That's all I can say."

On what training camp is like after being involved in it so many times before: "It's a little bit of both. I think you understand it does have a purpose, and as much as you might try and to deceive yourself as a player and think that, say that you don't need it, you do. You do. It's important from a team standpoint to be out here and going through the two-a-days and doing the hard stuff, putting your body through it to get it ready, kind of get it calloused, get it ready to endure the physical rigors of the season. So, to be honest with yourself, you embrace it. It's part of the process and also to your biological clock, it ticks this time of year, late July, August. As a football player, you are supposed to be sweating on the football field."

On what the offensive linemen needs to figure out within the next month: "Obviously, with Bobbie [Williams] coming in – new guy, veteran guy … But it takes some time there to gel and kind of get on the same page. It's great when you're in the classroom going through stuff, and you can pause a picture and you can walk through stuff and talk through it. But on the field, it doesn't always happen like that. So, you just want to get on the same page, and sometimes when you don't have time to make calls or things don't happen the exact way you think they are going to happen, you just anticipate what the other guys are going to do. But, he is a great addition. Obviously, we have some good, young guys, Gino, K.O. [Kelechi Osemele], Jah Reid. This is a talented, deep group. Tony Wragge. This is a deep group. So, that should just not only lift up the level of our unit, but lift up the play of everyone individually, and I think it will just help everyone get better and help us collectively as a unit."

On if it's good having a veteran offensive line:"It's nice for me, someone to talk to. (laughing) I think it is. Experience is important. Certainly, there is a way that we're going to do things and sounds like coaches are deferring to the veteran players, 'Hey, how should we do this?' But, veterans can give valuable input, sometimes on scheme, but a lot of times on approach, maybe mentally, 'How do you approach this?' or 'How do you think about this?' Really. [it's] a lot of things. There's really no substitute for experience. I think the veteran guys we do have are good guys, are right-way guys – guys that have made their way in this league doing things the right way. So, it's good examples for the younger players."

On being called "old" in the league:"I think it's a great compliment to be called too old in this league. That's a heck of a deal. I guess it is. You have so many personalities as a young player. People were saying where I came from, you can't do it. During the course of your career, you are always going to have naysayers, and that's fine, that's a source of motivation. But, I think your main source comes from within and trying to prove to yourself that you can do it every single day. You come to work every day and punch in and put in a good day's work. That's what you have to do to be a successful lineman in this league for a long time."

On if he has talked to T Bryant McKinnie:"I'll see him tomorrow. We'll see. We'll see. I've been with Bryant a long time. We kind of have a telepathic relationship."

On if he shares with the rookies what it was like without the new CBA rules:"I was already alluding to that today. I told them when we went to practice that it was uphill to the practice field both ways when we went there and all those things. A lot gets made of the rule changes, and there have been some changes, but it's not like, it's not of a heck of a lot easier. You are out here two-and-half, three hours in pads. That's a hard deal, especially the way we do it around here – with everything, with the way we meet, the way we work out in the weight room, all those things. So, it's hard. Maybe sometimes if I want to play the old guy card and try and sound tougher than they are. I'm really not. It's still a tough deal, training camp."

On RB Ray Rice signing his deal: "I guess it's nice. You don't have to answer those questions. It's great for Ray. Obviously, on a personal level, I think to a man, everyone is happy for him because he's a hardworking guy, great guy to have in the locker room, great talent, all those things. It's always nice when the right people have success in this deal. We are happy for him, and I'm sure he's happy and can just focus on football."

On if his relationship with Gradkowski is unique:"How unique is it? I don't think it's that unique. I think it happens. I don't know. Like I said, it might have been a long time ago when I was a rookie, but it doesn't seem like that to me. I remember the way that Jeff Christy and Randall McDaniel and Todd Steussie and Korey Stringer and those guys looked out for me and kind of helped me along. Eventually I replaced Jeff Christy. So, it's just part of the deal. It's how this thing works, but I still remember what those guys meant to me and my career and how fortunate I was to learn from guys that really were the best at their positions. I just try to be a resource for Gino and for any of the young guys and help them along, because they are going to have bumps along the way, especially early on in training camp. I think most of our guys want to do well. They try really hard. They study. They do all the right things. It's just success doesn't always happen. I just want to encourage them and help them out any way I can."

On if Birk and Gradkowski converse a lot: "I don't talk to that guy. (laughing) We talk whenever. Sometimes we talk about important stuff, sometimes not. He knows I'm here for him. Good thing is he likes to joke around like I do. He's not quite as funny as I am, but that's all right. We have a good time."

On what he has learned from mentoring others, such as Vikings C John Sullivan: "The biggest thing with John [Sullivan] … John is a talented guy. [I've learned] just try to stay out of the way. Don't try to suffocate the guy. We have coaches; coaches are going to coach and they are going to do a job, and that's their job. I have a job to do as a player, just little things here and there, maybe little technique things. I think it's most important, for any type of player, but especially a young player, when there's something they just aren't getting and they feel like a certain technique and keep blowing the same thing, they really get down on themselves. Just tell them it's OK. Encourage them. Try to address the problem and try to fix it. But, most of the time with guys who are really competitive, it's just settling them down and getting them to relax a little bit and not trying too hard."

RB Bernard Pierce

On how training camp has been so far: "It feels great. It feels great to be back with the team. I'm full-speed now and just waiting for the vets to come tomorrow."

On how long it took for his minicamp injury to heal: "Probably, it was a couple days. But minicamp was over, so [head] coach [John Harbaugh] wanted me to take it easy."

On what he needs to do to win the backup RB job: "I need to do everything better than the rest, honestly. At the end of the day, everybody is trying to get a job, and I just need to beat whoever is in front of me out to get that job."

On if he's looking forward to full practices with contact: "I actually am looking forward to that, because you really can't do everything with no pads on, and with just a helmet, you can't really lower your shoulder or make certain moves. I'm actually really excited for that."

On how difficult it's been to pick up the Ravens' playbook: "When I first got here, the offense was … I didn't know right from left, honestly. It was a big adjustment from college. But, now that we've went through minicamps, OTAs and the rookies had another minicamp, they've been instilling the installs in us. I'm a lot more comfortable with the playbook."

On if he feels comfortable in the Ravens' offensive scheme:"I feel really comfortable in [the scheme]. We ran a little bit of that at Temple, actually, well, my first two years, but then we kind of got away from that my third year."

On his running style: "I'm a downhill, hard-nosed runner. I've got a knack for the end zone, with a nice combination of speed, quickness and power. Whatever you want me to do for you, I'll get it done."

On what he focused much of his post-minicamp and OTA time on: "Conditioning – that's really all I've been focusing on. I've been doing a little bit of lifting here and there, but I wanted to make sure I came back in order to do the conditioning test one time and get it done right then and there."

On how much he weighs:"I'm like 224 right now."

On what it's like trying to separate himself in the competition for the backup RB: "I look forward to every practice, being able to go out on the field and do my best every day. I'm definitely looking to turn heads every day on the practice field. The other two – 'Ant' [Anthony Allen] and D.B. [Damien Berry] – they are really good guys. We already have a friendship, so right now it's just competition."

On if he's recently weighed in at 224: "I was heavier than that. At minicamp, I think I was at 229."

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