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Training Camp Transcript - Aug. 20

Opening statement:"Great to see everybody. We had another good practice, goal-line and short-yardage scrimmage. Of course, we're healthy coming out of it. Guys are a little tired, but they're getting ready to go get lunch and lay down for a while."

On practices being streamlined:"We have, basically, a process through camp, and that stuff is all measured from one practice to the next, pretty much. You go with your gut a little bit, but today was a good practice, and we got all the work done and more that we needed to, so it was good."

On the status of G/C Chris Chester:"Yeah, he just strained his calf a little bit. It kind of grabbed on him a little bit. Nothing major, but nothing we wanted to mess with today. That's Chris Chester."

On how OLB Prescott Burgess is doing in practice this year:"I'm not sure how it feels for Prescott, but I think he's done really well. He's really good mentally, so obviously, over the last couple of years he's been paying attention in meetings and stuff. He knows the defense really well. He's got good hands, he's very physical at the point of attack, plays really hard. He's long and rangy. There's no reason he shouldn't be a good special teams player. He has been in the past. He's making a run to make the team."

On OLB Antwan Barnes' improvement:"Antwan has gotten better at everything, that's the thing. And he needed to get better at everything. Even what his forte is supposed to be, is rushing the passer, he's really smoothed that out. He's got a couple of moves now, a counter or two. But he's playing the run so much better. He's playing with technique. He's playing harder. That's something that's got to continue on every day, every game, every practice. But, he's doing the things that we've asked him to do, and he's responded really well."

On if he's learned anything from this camp:"No, we haven't learned a thing through the last three weeks. (laughter) There's not one thing we've learned about this team. (laughter) It's a great question, and I'm having fun with you, but the point is we've learned thousands of things. It's thousands of things that would probably bore you if we started going through them. I think we know that we have a chance to be a really good team. We don't look at it like we're good enough here, not good enough there, we need help here, we don't need help there. We just want to make everything better. We make every part of it better every single day we have the chance to be the best football team that we can be, and that's all you can do. That's more than enough. If we're the best Ravens we can be, we'll be plenty good enough."

On if he looks at how a player will acclimate to the locker room before potentially bringing him in:"When you bring someone on to your team – whether it be a draft choice, a free agent, a street free agent, a trade, whatever the case may be – you look at all the variables. We want to make our team the strongest team we can make it. To do that, you've got to have a lot of strong individuals. You've got to have great players, you have to have great coaching, you have to have great practice habits. All those things are part of it. So, the guy has to have those kinds of qualities. And if we don't think he has those kinds of qualities, he's not going to be a Raven. Now, that doesn't mean a player can't be successful in the league. We may even let a guy go who goes somewhere and is very successful, and everybody wants to say, 'Well they let this great player go; they made a mistake.' No. He wasn't fit for us at that time. You keep the best 53 guys that help you, with an eye down the road to what your team is going to be even two or three years down the road."

On WR Mark Clayton's hamstring recovery:"Mark Clayton's ahead of schedule. Now, the schedule was a pretty drawn-out deal with the hamstring pull that he had. So he's not close to coming back. But he's ahead of schedule."

On if he has talked to CB Samari Rolle about his quote saying he was getting bored:"I feel sorry for him. I don't know what the deal is. We're just waiting. The doctors haven't told us. So we're waiting to find out. I think they're playing it very safe. Samari is going to be OK with a week or two of practice, as long as he's lifting, running and doing the things he's doing. Right now, we don't know anything."

On if he's talked to Jets head coach Rex Ryan:"I really haven't had a chance to talk with Rex. He's busy. We're busy. I pretty much know what's going on up there. (laughter) It sounds like he's doing well."

On if he and Ryan will talk Monday night:"Oh yeah, I can't wait to see him. We really can't wait to see him, all those guys, before the game. We told our team, this is the perfect game for the Ravens for this week. It's not because of anything other than the fact that we're going to get a really good football team that's going to play really hard and is going to challenge us every step of the way. They're going to play the way they play. They're going to bring pressure, and they're going to challenge us with what they do offensively with formations. They're going to run the ball and throw it deep. They're going to be aggressive. And that's exactly what we need to help us be the best team we can be on Monday. We're excited about that chance to play them."

On if the evaluation for the kicking job is just about makes and misses:"There's more to the kicking evaluation than just makes and misses. Makes and misses marks are the bottom line, but the way the ball tracks, the way it comes off their foot, the kind of lift they get... You can hit one through there, a worm-burner, and just cross the upright. We're not too excited about that because it's probably going to get batted down in real life. The way the ball tracks is really important, too, and we chart all that, too."

On the statement WR Derrick Mason is making by wearing a No. 9 jersey:"Derrick wearing No. 9 says a lot about Derrick. I wasn't around to see the relationship between those two guys, but I think I know Derrick a little bit, and I think it says a lot about the kind of person he is."

On if Mason talked to he or Ozzie Newsome about wearing the No. 9 jersey: "Derrick's real respectful as far as that. He asked me if he could do it and I said, 'Sure, absolutely.' I think it's really neat. So it's not real complicated, but he is respectful enough to the program to ask, and we appreciated that."

On what RB Matt Lawrence needs to do to secure a roster spot: "Matt Lawrence has showed up, not just in that preseason game, but he's showed up, really, in every single practice. He has a chance to make our team. We've got a real battle going on at running back. We've got six guys that can really carry the ball. I don't want to leave somebody out numbers wise, but off the top of my head, I think it's six [running backs] who could all make this team. I don't know if we can carry six, but we may have to. We've got some guys that are playing well."

On what Lawrence brings to the team: "As a runner, Matt's real long. He's real fluid. He's got quick feet. I think he's deceptively fast. He learning… He takes the ball north and south and he covers a lot of ground. All of the sudden you look at him and don't really realize how much ground he's covering, and it's a 15-, 20-yard gain like that. I compare him to a guy that used to play for the 49ers – Roger Craig. Now, obviously he's not Roger Craig right now, but you watch him – he's got a little Roger Craig to him."

On if there has been any conversation about honoring Steve McNair at some point: "I'm not aware of that right now. I know that Kevin Byrne and Dick Cass spend a lot of time looking at that stuff, so they may have something in mind. I'm not sure if they do right now or not."

On what he thought about yesterday's Military Day: "With the military here, it was amazing. I do know one thing: Every one of those guys got every one of our guys' autographs. They were out here, and it was just great talking to them. The General was fantastic. They had lost a guy in Afghanistan yesterday. So, that was a good day to have those guys out here. It was really neat and it was fun. They had the kids out here, so we enjoyed that."

On whether it feels like LB Prescott Burgess is a rookie all over again:"I think that he's far advanced from that level, just in terms of his experience. Even if it hasn't been on the game field, he's been in meetings and he's gone through the system – at least ours – for two years. And you can tell by the way he plays football that he knows how to use his hands, and he understands the game. So, I think he's… About the only thing that's the rookie part of it perhaps is the on-the-field reps during games. I think the rest of it he's far advanced from that."

On how big of a loss WR Marcus Smith will be as a gunner:"We need to find someone else that does that job, real frankly. He was really coming into his own as a special teams player. He played the best football, special teams, of his life in the last game of the year, last year. And he continued to improve all the way through last season, and I think he showed in the opening preseason game that he was picking up where he left off. So, we need to find somebody else to fill the role. That's just the way these things go. He's a guy that we have high hopes for in the future. He'll be back, and I think he'll get back rolling, but it opens up an opportunity for someone else. One man's adversity is another man's opportunity. So, we've been working some other guys out there to see if someone can fill that role."

On what type of skills it takes to be successful at that gunner position: "Well, the position he played on the punt team – the gunner position – the first thing it takes is a lot of toughness, because you're going to see a lot of double-teams out in open spaces, and if they ever get you inside the double-team, there are no rules in NFL football at that point in time. They just can do whatever they want as long as you've got them in the 'vice,' so to speak. So the first thing it takes is toughness, but you've got to be able to run, you've got to be able to tackle, and then there are nuances of skills with using your hands and reading splits and so forth that Marcus had developed. And now someone else has got to take that role."

On what he's seen from the kickers and whether either one has an edge: "I think this training camp has played out very much like we thought it would, because I think both of them have had ample opportunities and both of them have succeeded in a lot of opportunities. But they've also had some rough spots, and in my view, it's exactly what we thought it was going to be. It was going to be a great battle, and it has panned out to be exactly that. In the last game, we started Steve [Hauschka] off, and the game couldn't have played out any better for us, because you had field goal opportunities, PATs and kickoffs in the first half. Then we put Graham [Gano] in there, and we had the same thing. Hopefully the Jets will be cooperative and provide us the same opportunity this week. (laughing)"

On how the kicking order will go on Monday night against the Jets: "We're going to try to balance the opportunity. We still haven't decided exactly how we're going to work that out yet, but it's still to be decided at this point. And it's not tactical, but I will let you know when we decide (laughing)."

On what he has seen from WR Jayson Foster in camp: "There is a classic example of a young man making the most of an opportunity. He jumped in there in some practice reps when he was working on the scout team, and he showed some bursts, and he showed particularly good ball skills. He tracked a couple balls down in practice, and we just watched him and said, 'Hey, you're going to get a chance with our No. 1's and No. 2's in practice.' And then when he did that, he did the same thing, and so we got him in the game and he showed us some skills. And that's exciting. I think it's great to see that when a young player comes up and jumps at the moment and takes advantage of it."

On what he saw with the wedge rule change in the first game and what its impact will be this year: "I think in the first game, when we… During the course of the game, we looked at the pictures from the sideline and said, 'What? This is illegal!' Then we watched the tape, and because it was just a snapshot, the tape showed that it clearly was legal what they're running against us. But it's one of those things where I think the officials are still kind of figuring it out. And we were talking to the officials during the course of the game about it. And we were showing pictures and talking through it, and I wanted to hear from them what they were looking for. They gave me some explanations that I hadn't heard prior to that and it really helped me – during the course of the game – [to] watch for what they were looking for. And what Washington did was perfectly legal, and what we did was perfectly legal, and nothing was called. But we're continuing to evaluate the whole league. We're watching all the kickoff return tapes to see what teams are doing. And we only had one opportunity, and I hope it stays that way this week."

On whether the rule change should, in theory, lead to more return yardage: "I don't know if in theory it's going to lead to that. I don't think that that was the intent necessarily, but I think it was addressed primarily because of the safety with the wedge. But I don't know if it's going to lead to more return yards. I think that what certainly is going to happen is there is going to be an adaptation during the course of the season. Coaches are going to look at other teams and what they're doing, and they may have a better way of doing it than we do, and one team is more successful than the other. The one thing that I think is going to happen is you're going to see perhaps a little bit more wide-field attacks, because there is going to be more space. There isn't going to be as many people bunched up in one particular area just trying to knock the ball off tackle, so to speak. And so I think it's probably, generally speaking, you may see teams attacking both sides more often."

On whether it changes the way he looks at personnel: "It hasn't. Well for us – as you may have seen in the first game – it really didn't change our personnel, per say. We had perhaps one less real big guy in there just because of the sake of the rules. But if we can figure our people – if it was the first team for example – if we can figure our people differently, it actually would be exactly the same people, just Jarret Johnson would be playing a different spot. That's what it came down to."

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