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Training Camp Transcript - Aug. 2

Opening Statement:"OK, great to see everybody. We got a beautiful day for football, and I thought our guys came out and did a really good job. We had a lot of situational football today. Short yardage – actually it was a short-yardage scrimmage. We had a lot of coming out work, which is pretty physical, and red-zone work, which is pretty fast. So, it being the third day of training camp and guys are a little sore, I thought they pushed through it very well. We also had a 'plus-30' day today, so the guys that are 30 years or older were off today for recovery – except for [Justin] Bannan, because we were a little short on the [defensive] line. He's the youngest of the 'plus-30' guys, so he had to go."

On having WR Derrick Mason back:"It's great. You saw the route he ran out there on Domonique [Foxworth]. So, Domonique got a chance to cover Derrick for the first time, and he reminded me of what a great route runner he is – probably the best route runner in the game. That was a pretty good example of it right there."

On Mason's timing to return to the team: "The thing that Derrick and I talked about was, 'Come back when and if you're 100-percent ready to play football and be a part of what this team needs.' And that's what he wanted to do, and I think that was probably the thought process behind his thinking anyway with some of the things that were going on. He felt like he was ready to play, and he really couldn't wait to get back, and he had a good practice today."

On whether the best part about Mason's return is not having to answer any more questions about it:"The best part is having Derrick Mason back on our football team. I've said it from the beginning and I've told Derrick this: We're a better football team with Derrick Mason. We thought we'd be a good team no matter what, but we're better with Derrick."

On whether Mason's presence on the field gave other players a boost: "I don't think, in a sense, I don't think the players get a boost by Derrick being out here, in the sense that they practiced any harder. They've been practicing well. They had fun with it; they were able to give him a hard time. In training camp you look for anything to laugh at, so they had Derrick to laugh at now and they'll move onto the next guy tomorrow. But, that was kind of fun."

On whether getting rid of some off-field distractions now will benefit their football team: "We had just football before. We weren't writing any articles or doing any stories about Derrick Mason not being here. You guys were. Our guys were focused on what they were doing anyway, so I don't really think it changes anything. But, it's a good question – it's just what these guys do. It's not a distraction if it's not something we're involved with, and guys were taking care of their business."

On the status of LB Antwan Barnes: "He got dinged a little bit – probably a minor concussion of some kind. So he should be OK."

On whether he is surprised that Mason came back: "I wouldn't categorize it that way. I just tried to not even put a value on it. So, if he comes back that means he's 100-percent ready to go, and if he doesn't, we'll just get ready to play. What else can you do?"

On the addition of Al Saunders and his role with the team: "Al, right now, is a visiting coach, and that's where it stands right now. We're thinking about him being involved in some sort of consultant-type basis, but he's in a stage of his career [where] he needs to decide how he wants to fit that in. Obviously, him being around – and he's doing some staff meetings, he's in some of our meetings, he's watching practice – he gives us some insight. That's always valuable. It helps our team."

On the status of WR Mark Clayton: "He tweaked his [hamstring] a little bit, so we're going to be very careful with that and give him time to come back and be 100-percent [in the] next couple of days. He's had what, a week of practice now because he came the very first day? He hasn't missed a rep from the beginning, so he's got a lot of good work under his belt."

On if the defense has been playing well the past couple of days: "Yeah, but you know the offense has had some moments, too. The offense [was] pushing the defense around a little bit two days ago when we first went live with the run stuff. So, it's a two-way street. We always say it: Both sides of the ball make the other side of the ball better. The better we play on defense the better our offense is going to be, so we want to see one side dominate. We want to see one side try to bury the other side if possible, because that's going to make that side better the next day. We've had a little give and take so far in camp, and we want to keep that going."

On how rookie LB Dannell Ellerbe has performed in camp:"Ellerbe has had a good camp, so far. He's making a push."

On whether C Matt Birk has settled into his role on the offensive line:"I think he already settled into it, it's just a matter of getting all the terms down. The more you understand the terms – and he's getting Cam's [Cameron] offense down – the louder you tend to be. He's obviously a smart guy, so he's taking charge of the offensive line."

On the performance of S Dawan Landry thus far: "I can't believe how fast he's playing. Dawan is playing incredibly quick. He's covering a lot of ground out there. It's a credit to how hard he works, and I'm excited to see what kind of a season he has."

On how QB Joe Flacco has looked so far, being that he's thrown a few interceptions: "Well, it's training camp. I think the point is that we're throwing a lot of stuff at him. We don't build our installs around building a guy's confidence. We just try to throw everything at guys from Day One, and we don't care how good a side looks or how bad a side looks or if a guy has a good day or a bad day. We think it all makes him better because we're going to try to improve from one day to the next. So, we want to put as much pressure on Joe as we can, just like all the guys. If he throws picks, he's going to learn from them. If he makes good throws, the defense is going to learn from that. So, we just challenge him every day."

Opening statement:"They promised me a band… Shoot. T.O. [Terrell Owens] was in Buffalo a day, and he went to the airport and got a band. (laughing) I'm like, 'Man, I've been here four years and I can't even get the Girl Scouts to come out.' That's bad, man. But hey, it is what it is." (laughing)

On what the factor was between July 13 and today that brought him back:"I just had an opportunity to think, sit back and re-evaluate the situation, my career and everything else that goes along with it – career after football, things that I wanted to do. [I] discussed it with my family, with other people, and I just wanted to make an informed decision about retirement. When I made it, I was sincere about it. It wasn't a situation or issue where it was a ploy or anything contractual. It was a decision I made from the heart, and it had nothing to do with anything else but things that were going on. I got the opportunity to re-evaluate it and think about it, talk to people, and we felt that it was best for me to finish this thing out. I think it sends a good message to my children to finish what you started. I'm going to finish this thing out and see where I go from here."

On reporting to camp at an earlier date when he could have waited longer:"Why wait? It wasn't that I was getting antsy. Of course, I could have waited, but who would that have helped? Nobody. I promised coach [John] Harbaugh when he sat down in my living room that I would make a decision and it would be a decision in due time, and I would tell him at the right time, I wouldn't linger this thing on. Once I discussed it with my family and we had made a decision, I didn't want it to linger on any further. So, I called [Harbaugh] and told him I was on my way down here. I called Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti earlier that morning, early Saturday morning, and told him I was coming back."

On if he's going to pull a "Favre" on them:"I don't know what [Brett] Favre is doing. I guess he's able to do it. He's been playing 18, 19 years. He's got a couple of years on me. So no, once I say I'm back with the team, I'm back with the team. I told coach Harbaugh if I was coming back I was going to be 100-percent with the team. So I'm back, so I'm 100-percent with the team."

On if Steve McNair's passing had anything to do with his decision to retire:"It impacted my decision on whether to continue to play or retire. When something like that happens out of the blue, it makes you think about certain things – where your life is headed, where your football career is headed. That was a factor, but then there are a lot of other things that were a factor also. I think all of those things combined together brought me to that one decision in early July to retire."

On if the talks he had with coaches and other players had any say in his final decision to come back:"It meant a lot to have your coach come over to your house and players call you. It meant a lot. They just wanted to express to me that they respected my decision and they were with me either way. That's all you want. Honestly, when you leave this game, that's all you want is the respect of your peers and the coaches that you played for. To know that in that situation I was in, when I decided to retire, all those guys respected it and they were going to let me make my decision. They told me to take my time with my decision, and that was a good thing. I didn't want to feel like I was rushed. They didn't want to feel like they were rushing me. But, it was good to hear from guys. I heard from Jared Gaither, he called me. When one of your offensive linemen calls you, that means a lot because you really don't interact with the offensive linemen as much because they're in their own world. But when one of your offensive linemen calls you and asks what's going on and wants you to come back, especially a young guy, that means a lot. I really appreciate all the guys that called me and the coaches that came by – coach Cam [Cameron], coach Harbaugh, my coach, coach [Jim Hostler] called me, a whole bunch of the coaches called me. I appreciated it. They understood where I was mind-frame-wise, and I was going to make my decision in due time."

On if his family and children were the No. 1 factor in his decision:"I think so. When you make a decision like this, it doesn't just affect you. It affects everyone around you. So you have to make a very informed decision when you do decide to stop doing whatever you're doing, whether it be even working as a CEO somewhere or a president somewhere. When you decide to stop working in that particular field, something you've been doing basically your whole adult life, to a point, it affects everybody around you. That's why you have to really, when you make a decision, it has to be an informed decision. You have to make sure you gather up enough data, if you want to say that, talk to enough people, and make sure your family is very involved in your decision."

On if this is going to be his last year:"I'm just concentrating on this year, honestly. This season is very important to me. It's very important to this team. I'm not going to look past this year. I'm going to enjoy each day I'm out here. I'm going to enjoy each practice. I'm going to enjoy each game that we have, preseason or regular season. I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to worry about next year when next year comes. I've got too many problems today to worry about tomorrow. We're going to deal with what happens today. Tomorrow will be another day to deal with that."

On his thoughts about a contract extension: "You know what, I haven't said anything. I haven't talked about a contract extension. You can talk to Ozzie [Newsome] or any one of those guys. I told coach Harbaugh, I said, 'If I come back, it's going to be because I want to come back. I don't want to discuss contracts or anything. When I decide, or if I decide to come back, it's going to be because my heart is in it.' I don't want to hear anything about contracts because I don't want that to be a carrot hanging over my head – people saying, 'Well, he just came back for the contract.' No. I didn't get an extension. I haven't been talking about an extension. I'm coming back to play football, and I'm coming back to try to win a Super Bowl. That's basically it."

On if he is worried about not being enthusiastic about playing a few months down the road: "Nah. (laughter) I'm 100-percent in. I'm not going to worry about three months from now. Right now, I'm glad to be back. I'm enjoying it. What happens three months from now is what's going to happen. I told coach Harbaugh that I was in it 100 percent. So, I'm not going to go back."

On if he is mad he missed the start of training camp:"No, it was hot man. (laughing) Are you crazy? I did not miss it at all. You know, I missed the guys. But running around and playing – no I didn't miss it. It's too hot. It's just like anything. When you've been doing one thing for about 20-years-plus – if you count high school and college – when you were doing something for so long and you just stop, you're going to miss it a little bit. So, I'm not going to sit here and lie and say, 'Well, my mind was occupied with other things.' Yeah, it was, but at night, when everything settled down, I started to think about being out here with the guys, catching footballs, playing on Sundays and all that other stuff. So, yeah, I did miss it."

On if the media should stop looking at as a resource: "It was a good resource, wasn't it? It told you all I was retired and I did. I told you all nothing is permanent. Didn't you all hear the interview the same day on ESPN? I said, 'Nothing is permanent but death and taxes.' That's what I said."

On his agent comparing his retirement to Barry Sanders' retirement: "If you all understood… Barry wanted to come back, but he just didn't want to go to the Lions. (laughter) I mean, you all weren't up on that one. Being from Detroit, Barry would have came back, but not with the Lions."

On the status of his shoulder: "The shoulder is fine. It didn't get hit today, but it's fine. I'm waiting to get hit one of these days. Then we will see how the shoulder reacts. But for now, it's doing pretty good."

On how much fun it was to be out there catching the ball:"It was fun. I enjoyed it. I'm having fun right now. I'm enjoying be out here with the guys, catching footballs and joking around. I didn't get an opportunity to get to joke around as much as I want to because Sizzle [Terrell Suggs], for some reason, he wasn't in there [when I was playing]. After we caught like two or three passes in a row, Sizzle left. Before that he was yapping. He left out of practice and went on the sideline. So, I was looking for him to talk. But, I'm going to have my day. You all will hear a lot from me. Then again, if I decided to retire, who would smile for you guys? (laughing) Come on, man. This infectious smile – where would you get this from? Not from Sizzle, I'll tell you that."

On if he heard the fans screaming his name: "Yeah, you know what? I think that, more than anything, is what I miss. It's the fans. They come out every Sunday. They come out here to Westminster every day we're out here in the sun. I don't know how they do it, because it's hot out here. They come out here. They bring the kids out here, and they're enjoying having fun. For me to get that applause coming down the walkway here – it felt good, it really felt good. I was looking for the marching band. I've got to get with Kevin [Byrne] to get that marching band. We'll get it sooner or later. Either that, or Girl Scouts come on down and cheer me on the next practice or something. I don't know." (laughter)

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