Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron
On game performance vs. practice performance:"These practices, the good news for us, are pretty much like games. So, we put a lot of stock into these practices because of going against our defense. This is, especially the last three days, our defense has really stepped up. These last three practices are probably as tough of offensive practices that I've been a part of. Now, the game is another set of evaluation, but our practices are very game-like, and I think that's a huge advantage."
On how WR Marcus Smith has advanced from his first year:"I don't think he has any confidence issues. He's a physical player. There's a guy, you mentioned the game, I think these preseason games are really big for him. I mean, really big for him. The blocking that he does, the crack blocking, his route-running is 10 times as good as it was a year ago, and we're going to push the ball to him here in the preseason and give him some opportunities to make some plays."
On if he sees T Jared Gaither getting better and better every year:"You know, especially the last three days, he's pushed through and has gotten better. He has to. He has to get better. The one thing young guys have to realize is everybody gets more familiar with them and you do. You get better, you get worse, you don't stay the same. I think he's gotten better, but I think he'll realize too as these games start, people know a lot about him now. And they know the things he needs to improve on from last year. We know what they are, and now they need to show up on tape."
On what he would like to see from QB Joe Flacco in the first preseason game:"We just want to throw completions. I think that would be the first thing. First of all, you want to command the offense, which I think he has a great command of our offense. But I want to see us… In the preseason, I want to throw completions. That could be up the field [or] underneath. I want to see completions inside the numbers, up the field, sideline to sideline. That's what we're going to try to do this preseason. We need… For us to improve our offense, we've got to throw the football better. Obviously, it starts with the quarterback."
On how RB Jalen Parmele is progressing and where he may fit on this team:"Another guy that preseason games are going to be big. My gut feeling is that he will really shine in these preseason games. He's a guy who… My gut feeling is he can break tackles. When we're not going live, every time he's touched, he's theoretically down. I have a feeling that this guy is powerful. He's got some explosion. He's got some speed. I'll be very surprised if he doesn't really play well when the lights come on."
On the balancing point for the amount of playing time to give Flacco in the preseason so he can get experience but not be exposed to injury:"Absolutely. Really, that says it all. I mean, it really does. It's a balancing act. You're not going to max protect all preseason, because you're not going to do that all year. So there are certain things you're going to need to work on. But, you've got to be smart. There might be some different lineups in the offensive line. Our protections, primarily in the preseason, will be based on which offensive line group is in there. Other than taking care of the football, running the football, the third thing we're going to do is protect our quarterback. That's what we believe in. That's not going to change. But it is a little bit of a balancing act."
On how it makes him feel to see interior linemen moving from center to guard, switching sides and picking it up well:"That's what we believe. You've got seven linemen active, a tight end's got to be able to fall. If three guys go down, the tight end's got to be able to play on the offensive line. If all our tight ends go down, one of those linemen has to be the tight end. Our coaching staff does a great job of cross-training their players. John Matsko is one of the best I've been around at teaching guys to play all five positions. Our tight ends having to play all our skill positions, our backs – Wilbert [Montgomery] has been training guys for years. Obviously, you see we'll even sneak our quarterbacks, cross-train our quarterbacks a little bit. It's what we believe in. Our defense believes in it. I think it's really a little bit about what being a Raven is all about."
On what kind of a look RB Willis McGahee is giving the team:"I told him – and I'll see the tape, I'm going to run over and look at the tape in a couple of minutes – but I told Willis, 'I don't know what the tape's going to look like, but I love the way you came to work.' And that's what, to me, is important. Very seldom have we been around guys that come to work consistently that don't eventually play well. We focus on the work. We focus on the preparation, and I loved his work. I love the work that he put in today. That goes for anybody on offense. We've got guys coming to work like we're getting… They're going to play well. That's just the way it works."
On if the interceptions that Flacco is throwing in camp concern him:"No. I'd be concerned if he weren't throwing some interceptions, because now's the time to test your limits. The only way your quarterback can grow is to try to squeeze some balls in at this time of year to find the limits – find the limits of the receiver, find the limits of the defender, find the limits of your protection. Then, as the season approaches, and obviously it starts to change, but that's… Now, if he's doing it every snap, which he's not doing that, [I'd be concerned]. But that's the only way I know. I remember Philip Rivers throwing four in a row one day, and I remember Marty Schottenheimer coming over [saying], 'What the hell is going on?' And I said, 'Coach, that's the best thing that can happen to this kid.' And he came back and responded with a touchdown, and I still had a job. (laughing) So, two good things came of that. But that's what we believe. You've got to test those limits now, because two weeks from now, now you're pulling off some of those throws and moving along in the production."
On how C Matt Birk is coming together as a leader: "Outstanding. It's very seldom that you can bring in a veteran leader and he's even better than you thought. He's even better than I thought he'd be. There's no doubt, on game day I just see, on game day it's going to be even another level, so he's outstanding."
On whether he knows about the injury to WR Demetrius Williams: "We knew that going into practice, and to Demetrius' credit, he fought through that. And then there became a point in time we shut it down. We wanted to be smart with him. The one thing that has been really good is some guys are pushing through some pain and some discomfort. That's just part of what we do. Obviously, we prefer not to push a guy to an injury point, but we knew that going into practice, and then we got him out right in time, I think."
On whether they knew about an injury to TE Todd Heap: "We knew the same thing with Todd. Todd was… We pulled Todd out of practice, and then he was smart enough… We knew his back was tight. I told him my back is tight, everybody's [is]. We just continue to remind these guys to get treatments in advance. So, we kind of had a heads-up on both of those guys."
On what he has seen from T Michael Oher and what he hopes to see in the preseason games:"Just technique. I want to see in this game, I want to see him display aggressive technique. And that's what I'm going to talk to him [about]. I know John [Matsko] already has. I want him being aggressive. We're going to put him in positions to be aggressive. I think that's what you have to do with a young offensive line or any young offensive player. The first game, put him in position to be aggressive – pass protection, run. If they're aggressive and they miss, they can grow. The last thing we want to do with any young lineman is ever put him into a non-aggressive position. Until they get game experience, we want our guys aggressive, and then we can teach him when not to be overly aggressive. But we're going to come out, we're going to get his hands on the ground, we're going to get his heels off the ground, let him come off the ball and get after people."
On the latest point they could bring in receiver:"We can bring anybody in at any point in time in the season as late as Wednesday that week and get them ready to play. That's the magic of – the risk and magic of this system – in the sense that a guy can learn the system quickly. Keenan McCardell, we signed him, I forget what year, 2000 something, on a Wednesday. [He] didn't practice until Thursday. We went on the road in Carolina, and I remember him, we went queen right zone, red zero 97. He's running motion going like that, and I go like that, and he caught a 20-yard completion. You find a way to get it done. He knew he had the seven route on that play. Our system, the three-digit system, that's what makes it good. If guys go down, guys can pick it up, the base offense, quickly. The rest, we just have the guy next to him tell him, 'Just tell him what to do.' We do."
Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison
On whether they will be showing much as a defensive unit in the preseason games: "No, no. We'll play a lot of our base and you know… Again, our philosophy is we think that this year we can play base. You know, I feel like we've got the players that if they play like they can – and they will – you don't have to be real exotic all the time. You should be able to get pressure with a four-man front, and with our secondary the way they're practicing, you feel confident that we should be able to cover people without bringing overloads and pressures all the time."
On LB Tavares Gooden: "Tavares, he started out last year a tremendous Raven. Now, he's just what you look for when you bring somebody into this family. It's too bad he got hurt last year, because he was showing it on special teams. He was right there, ready to give us some depth, and he worked all offseason – done everything he could possibly do – and he showed it on the field now this camp. He's getting better and better, and Ray [Lewis] does a great job with all our linebackers. Ray and Vic Fangio do a tremendous job coaching them, and Ray's out there always kind of giving them the pointers that you have on the field. That's been… His closeness with Ray has really showed in Tavares' improvements."
On the depth that he has overall as a defense:"Well, that's the key. That's the key, and we always believed that if you're a Raven, anybody that goes in that ballgame has got to hold to that standard. Sometimes, you can't do it, because a guy is a rookie [or] he's maybe not as good. But, I think the depth has been established, where we do have guys, that the next guy goes in and he's expected to play just like the other guy. So, right now that's a real plus for us."
On the difference for him this year to last year and if he's had any surprises:"I don't think there are any surprises. You know, the difference obviously is instead of coordinating the linebackers – to get the linebackers to play as good as they can – you're coordinating the entire defense. And, again, you've heard me say this before and camp has only reaffirmed this, that coordinating this defense is really just about getting these great players, and these talented players, to play as good as they can. Scheme is scheme. Obviously you want to have a great scheme to be able to attack people, but scheme only is as good as the players you have. And our players at this camp have come out every single day trying to do as good as they can, trying to improve. That's what I figured would happen, and that's what has been the case with all Ravens."
On rookie LB Dannell Ellerbe getting a lot of first-team reps and if he feels he can make the team: "Yeah, a lot of it is going to be how he plays in these upcoming four games. But, he has really, really improved, and we knew that right away when he got there that he had ability. He shows to be a very intelligent player, because to be a linebacker in our scheme you have to have some intelligence. He's picked things up, he runs to the ball real well, he's athletic. You know, if he does what you think he's going to do, you could see the same things you saw from Jameel [McClain last season]. I know he's been working hard on the special teams, and as the case with our backups and even the first-unit guys, they have to be strong on the special teams, and he showed that."
Opening statement: "Excuse the heat. Mother nature came down on us today."
On how he feels camp is progressing for him: "I feel camp is progressing really well. Today was one of the hottest days of camp, by far. It's great to us, as a team, pushing through this stuff because these are when games are won in the fourth quarter. You're going to get these games where it's going to be tough. That's what training camp is for. You have to fight. You have to fight each day. It's hard waking up in the morning and coming out here. You see the same faces every day. There comes a time when you want to see another opponent, but when you're fighting through stuff like this each day, trying to get better – offensively, defensively, special teams – we put it all together. We'll be all right."
On if the time has changed from always having one dominate back on a team:"Times have certainly changed. That's one thing great about the [running back] position now that's different from back in the day. We have guys that can carry the ball – myself, Willis [McGahee], Le'Ron [McClain] – including the other guys that we have. There just comes a time where you know it's a long season. So, you have to train for a long season. Whatever is working, whatever works you've got to keep going with it."
On how it's different as a second-year player going into the first preseason game: "First off, last year was my first experience being in an NFL stadium and doing that kind of stuff. Emotions do run high. You're coming out – bigger stadium – a lot different atmosphere. This year, I know what to expect. Going out there, it's the preseason, but these are games to us. We have to go out there and play to the best of our ability."
On what he did in the offseason to put on a little bit of weight and still keep the explosiveness in his game: "Last year I was training for a Combine. That's totally different training than trying to become an NFL running back. Last year I was training for a 40-yard dash, a 225 [-pound bench press] and a vertical jump. This year, being around the team in the offseason [we were] pumping the weights each day, but at the same time the conditioning that we're doing helps maintain your speed and quickness in your joints. You learn how to train when you're a professional athlete. That's something – a lot of guys will miss the boat if you don't take your offseason serious. You've got to take your training serious. I came into camp at 210 [pounds] and I'm trying to maintain it, [but] at the same time, still have my speed and quickness."
On if he is interested in seeing what this offense can do going against another team: "I'm definitely excited. Football is football. If you get out there and see another color and don't get excited, I don't think you should be playing this sport. I'm excited just to get out there again. Football is the greatest time of the year – everybody will be watching. No matter if it's preseason or the Super Bowl, everybody's watching. For us, we're excited. I'm personally excited because all the work that I did in the offseason – you want to get out there and see how it's going to pay off for a longer year."