Training Camp Transcript - Aug. 1

On the kicking situation and what he likes about K Graham Gano and K Steve Hauschka: "We've had two good days here where both guys were kicking in the same practice. What I notice now is – generally what I notice during our spring practice – that is both players have improved significantly since their arrival here. A lot of credit goes to them because they've studied hard during the offseason. They've studied themselves. They've studies others. Now, the value of this is they're out in front of their teammates, in full pads and fans. They're kicking in live situations. We're moving the ball and they have to go out and go onto the field. This is all great practice for these two young players because they both need a lot of those reps. We're going to have to make those reps up before we make a decision. So, what I see from Steve at this point is that Steve has really refined his technique. He is getting through the ball very well. He's a strong-legged young man. Now, he is using those skills much more efficiently to be an accurate, strong, young man. Graham Gano is a very athletic young man as well. He's very flexible. He's got spring in his step. If you watch him run around out here, he is a very athletic guy. He has great hand-eye coordination. In this case, foot-eye coordination – he's able to put his foot on the ball if it's not just right. He's just a really all-around good athlete. He's a very competitive guy. He loves being out here. He has a really good football spirit about him. This is going to be an interesting competition throughout this camp because both of these guys are very capable young NFL athletes. They belong here, both of them do. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch this progress. When every kick matters in practice, it's a lot of fun to practice."

On if the kicking competition will go through the four-preseason games: "It is my opinion that it is, yes, because I think that, again, both of them are very capable guys. So, I think this is a situation that's going to need every rep evaluation that we can possibly get. I don't think this is going to be an easy decision. Now, I may be proven wrong, but I think this is going to be one of those decisions where you'd love to keep them both. But we can't."

On if the team has done a lot of work on kickoffs in training camp yet: "We haven't done a lot of work in this camp yet. We've had, I believe, just three apiece – charted kicks. That's all we've had. But, that's yet to come. A lot of that… We haven't done any full field kickoff cover drills. We've just had a couple 'take the lines.' They've both hit the ball well. There is more to kicking the ball off than just kicking it straight down the field. We're working on those things as well. There are some placement things that we have to get better at with both of them. In particular, both guys need consistency in placing the ball. We've got a lot to work on there."

On if the guys are grinding the tape from practice:"Sure, yeah. The great thing about training camp is, if you need them, you just go up one floor and there they are. We meet after every special teams meeting at night. We go through every rep, every individual rep and every team rep. There is a lot more time spent in that meeting room this year than there was evaluating Matt Stover last year, I can assure you that."

On the impact of the new wedge rule: "I think that has yet to be seen. I think it will be really refreshing in a lot of ways, because there is going to be new schemes to evaluate. There is going to be new methods of coaching that are going to be interesting to watch. I think like anything else – anytime the rules change in the NFL – the coaches will adapt to it and ultimately the players will adapt to it. Then, as we get into the preseason games, we're going to find out what teams are doing. So, I think there is going to be a wide variety of things. In my opinion, some guys are going to try to find out a way to run their old system, with the new rules. Some guys are going to try to just say, well, we can't run this, so we're going to have a new way of doing it. So, it kind of remains to be seen what everybody's going to do because the film is not out there quite yet."

On if the wedge rule will change whom he puts out on the field: "It may. I think what it does, perhaps, is it opens up a little bit more space. You're not going to see as many big guys on the field, perhaps. It just depends on how teams approach it. If some guys say, 'Well, we're still going to do the same thing; we're just doing it differently,' then they won't. They will just leave the same guys on the field."

Opening statement:"This is the first time in 12 years I've ever been up here."

On whether he has stepped into a leadership role amongst offensive linemen: "First of all, it's great to be with them. That was one of the things that attracted me to wanting to come here, was the offensive line and the group and the way they worked and the way they played. So, I'm trying to – I think of myself as a new guy trying to fit in. Obviously, as a center, you have to learn the offense and you have to make the calls. So kind of by default, you're going to be in a leadership position. Everyone thinks because I'm older, more experienced, automatically that makes me a leader. You know, I don't think so. I don't think you're anointed as leader, I think it's something you earn. I'm just out here, just trying to work and get better – obviously I've got a lot of ground to make up being the new guy – but, just trying to earn the trust of the group. That's what I'm trying to do."

On the process of learning a new offense:"Well, it's ongoing. We've installed very little of the offense having only really three practices. It's just like being a rookie again. For years, to be quite honest, I never really had to crack my playbook. And now I go after lunch, after dinner, at night, all those things. I'm back to the book studying again. It's kind of nice to be, in a way, starting over again."

On what stands out about the Ravens that helped him decide to come here:"Just the attitude – the attitude out here. It's really, it just seems like it's a blue-collar, lunch pail group of guys. Football is one of those games [where] there are really no shortcuts. You do have to come out here and work. As players especially, we complain because of training camp, and the heat, and its July or August 1st or whatever. We'll complain about it, but deep down we know that's what you have to do. You have to get out here and you have to work, and I just think the way that this group embraces that challenge every day – good, bad, indifferent, doesn't really judge it – just keeps going out there and keeps working hard."

On the coaching style of the Ravens' offensive line coaches: "They're intense. A long time ago, my first offensive line coach in the league told me that a good offensive line coach – his players will take on his personality. I'm assuming you guys can see – unless you've got earplugs in during practice – coach [John] Matsko and coach [Andy] Moeller are pretty intense, and they don't cut us any slack. Again, it goes back to there's only one way to really do this thing and really succeed, and that's work hard. For me, it's good to be with coaches like that – that are going to push me – and I think it's great for the group. For the younger guys, to really be coached by guys that are intense and the techniques – I think overall for their careers – that's a great thing to have as a young player.

"All right, let's do this in another 12 years. Thank you." (laughing)

On how this defense is different than the one he's used to:"It's just the personnel. I've never been around a smarter group of guys, guys with a higher football IQ. It's just great to be around so many guys that are so smart. It reduces the errors, and it makes you lift your game."

On if it puts extra pressure on him, knowing that he's a part of an exclusive unit:"I say it does both – it makes you elevate to their level and also you feel that pressure. For good players, that pressure is going to make you better. It's going to drive you to be as good [as] or better than them."

On what is different for him individually:"It's nothing… There are no real new defenses in the NFL. Most people run pretty similar things. It's more personality of this team and terminology. That's easy – just study and you'll get the terminology, and I think I fit right in with the personalities on this team."

On playing for his hometown NFL team:"It's hilarious. I find new ways to say no every day. You've got to be creative. I come up with new ways to tell people I don't have tickets for them, they can't borrow money, 'No, you can't stay at my house,' all that stuff. (laughing) It's great. It's fun."

On if it's fun with all of the fans here:"Oh yeah. They're all here for me. (laughing) It's funny, when I… The first day, I signed autographs, and there were at least 10 or 12 people who either went to high school with me, or who currently go to the high school I went to, and that's all they're yelling about is the Western Tech Wolverines. It's pretty funny."

On how it's been playing with LB Ray Lewis:"Ray's a great guy. Like I said, he's one of the guys with that high IQ, and he knows what's happening before it happens. I'm just trying to stay close to him and Ed [Reed] and soak up as much knowledge as I can before the season starts."

On what brought him to the Ravens, besides the paycheck:"You said besides [the money]… (laughing) No, I'll say it's a little bit of everything. It's great to be home, there's nothing like it. I'm around friends and family every day, and obviously this team and being given the opportunity to be around this defense is… As much as I've been around Baltimore, I know that this city, that's pretty much what this city represents. You go anywhere in the country, they ask you about 'The Wire' and the Ravens' defense. I'm part of one of them now, so it feels good."

On Denver being known for its offense:"Absolutely. In Denver, we were… Definitely, we had offense and on defense we weren't as good as we are here. When I was in Atlanta, they were known for some other things, which, it wasn't fun to be around. But it's a good turn around they've had down there. Here, the defense is the focal point. I've never been anywhere where fans actually cheer for the defense. And on occasion they'll give a cheer for Ray and Ed. I'm trying to get to the level where, when I make a play, they don't boo, which is what they do now, because they always want the offense to catch the ball."

On if the Ravens' defense likes to cover receivers tighter than Denver's:"I don't think the Ravens necessarily like it tighter. I'm sure everybody would like their coverage tighter. I think they just expect it to be. It's something that I'm comfortable with, and I enjoy the pressure."

On if there was anything about the team's personality that surprised him:"I think it was just that they're a close group. There's no finger-pointing when people make mistakes. I think everybody knows their responsibility and accepts that responsibility. And I like that accountability and the maturity that we have on this defense, especially, and on the team."

On if he feels like he's a part of the group yet:"I definitely feel like a part of the group. I feel like I'm still trying to earn my wings and really be a part of this defense. I think that comes with the respect of making plays in season. I think they definitely have accepted me so far, but just personally, you don't really feel like you're truly a part of the team until you start contributing to some W's."

On if he has made connections back at the University of Maryland since he's signed:"Oh yeah. I've been up to the University of Maryland a couple of times to talk to the young guys. They look so young, it makes me feel old. It doesn't feel like that long ago [that I was there], but I guess it was an eternity ago now. But it's nice to be… I haven't really had a chance to get back to a game yet since I've been in the league, so it will be nice to see them give it a go out there and get a W."

On if this training camp is different than what he was expecting:"It's a little different. We have to stay in the hotel. I've never stayed in a hotel since college. We stayed in dorms. But, aside from that, it's… I mean, all training camps are hard, so it's the same."

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