Training Camp Transcript - July 28th

Opening statement:"We had a good first practice. I just want to announce that we had a few guys that we put on the PUP [Physically Unable to Perform list] this morning. Most of it's temporary PUP. We want to make sure that guys can practice. That's the bottom line. So we put them through a conditioning test that's part of the physical. We'll continue to put these guys through a physical, who have had injuries in the past. You just saw Willis [McGahee] working out. We're going to make sure that certain situations react positively to the work before we put them on the regular practice deal. Those guys are: [Lamar] Divens, [Davon] Drew, [Yamon] Figurs, [Ben] Grubbs, [Willis] McGahee, [Jason] Phillips, [Joe] Reitz, [Samari] Rolle, [Lou] Saucedo, [Adam] Terry and [Marshal] Yanda. [They] will be PUP for a real short period of time or a lengthy period of time based on how they respond to whatever work load we put them on."

On how much the rookies have advanced from OTAs to now and if he's pleased with their performance:"It's really hard to evaluate how far the rookies have advanced. I think we had a good practice today, and most of them look like they're in really good shape. I thought we threw the ball, caught the ball well. Beyond that, what else can you say?"

On if the tempo of the morning practice was what he wanted:"It was good for a rookie practice with the limited numbers we had. I think it was good. Guys worked hard; it was crisp. But it will be a lot sharper on Thursday and Friday."

On what it's going to take for the team to mentally take the next step:"I don't even know how to answer that. Mentally, they're going to have to know their assignments, and they're going to have to play harder than the guy they play against. We're going to have to be good enough to beat people. I mean, the bottom line… I know what you're saying, but the point is this: We've got to have a great training camp, and that starts with today's practice. If we focus on one day at a time, and put a great practice on top of another great practice, on top of another great practice, when we're done with this thing, we'll be the very best Ravens we can be. And if we're the best Ravens we can be, people are going to have a tough time standing in front of us. That's our goal."

On if he's expecting any camp brawls:"[I] don't have any expectations like that one way or the other."

On if camp will still be hard-hitting, though:"Oh yeah, we're going to have a good hard-hitting camp, a tough training camp. It will be physical. Our guys like football, so I'm sure they're looking forward to getting started in pads on Friday."

On WR Demetrius Williams looking like he gained some weight and is maybe more durable:"It was a big goal of Demetrius' to become bigger and stronger. He wanted to put on a lot of weight, become stronger, build muscle mass around the joints, so he could be more durable. I think his goal is to become a durable football player, along with becoming capable of doing all the things he needs to do as a receiver. He looked good out here today. There was no indication of the Achilles [injury] at all. I thought he had a good practice."

On if he talked to everybody about what he wanted to accomplish before the first full practice on Friday:"We'll talk about that on Wednesday. We have a big administrative meeting Wednesday night, and then we have a 'set the tone' portion of that. So, that's in Wednesday night's meeting."

On if all the players will be here by Wednesday:"We expect all the guys to be here who want to be here and practice. We'll see who those guys are."

On if he's concerned that with the loss of WR Derrick Mason, QB Joe Flacco has lost his security blanket:"No. Joe doesn't need a security blanket. Joe's a big boy. He's going to be the very best quarterback that he can be in his second year, and whoever's out there catching the ball for Joe is going to be real happy he's throwing it to him."

On if the Ravens need someone to step up and be the No. 1 receiver:"You've never heard us say, 'We need a No. 1 guy, a No. 2 guy, a No. 3 guy.' We don't put our receivers in that kind of a… You guys do. You guys say, 'This is their No. 1, this is their No. 2.' We don't. We have an X, a Y and a Z, and they're all interchangeable. We're going to put one receiver out there sometimes, and we're going to put five receivers out there sometimes. It's going to be based on game plan, and they're all going to be guys that can win for us. Do we need some guys to step up and become part of that group? Absolutely. We're looking forward to seeing who it is. Is it a Marcus Smith? Is it a Justin Harper? Is it somebody we bring in? Is it somebody we haven't even thought about? Maybe it's a rookie. But somebody's going to step up and be a really good player in this league, and I'm really excited to see who it is."

On if the Ravens have at least explored the options of QB Michael Vick and WR Matt Jones:"We have definitely explored those two options, and we've explored numerous other options. We've had long discussions about Michael Vick, and we have our feeling of how he would impact our team or not impact our team. We have a course of action that you could ask Ozzie [Newsome] about. Matt Jones, we've evaluated Matt Jones. We have a feeling of where Matt Jones could or couldn't fit on our team. And that would go for Amani Toomer and Justin McCareins and every other player out there that you guys are thinking about. We've talked about guys at length."

On at what point rookie T Michael Oher's absence starts to hamper what they want to do:"It already has started to hamper his ability. So yeah, we think every day is important. We've said that before. We want every guy here every single day, which goes back to your [earlier] questions. We want them all here. But, there are other issues involved. The sooner Michael gets in, the better he's going to be, and the better team we're going to be. I know Michael Oher wants to be here."

On if RB Willis McGahee just needs to get his knee ready and then he'll be able to practice:"Correct. We want to make sure Willis' knee doesn't swell up, basically, make sure that he can take the pounding, the workout, and see how it responds. We could see Willis as early as tomorrow. Two days at the latest, I'd say."

On if it looks like McGahee has come to camp in good shape:"I'd say so far so good. He looked very good at the conditioning test. He appears to be in good shape, good muscle mass, especially in his legs. He looks like he's done a good job."

On WR Biren Ealy, who was signed yesterday:"I have no thoughts on him right now. He had a very good workout. He looked like he could run, he showed good hands, and he could get through a Cam Cameron workout. That was the first thing. If you can get through a Cam workout, then you should be ready to practice with the Ravens."

On TE L.J. Smith, and if he and a healthy TE Todd Heap would give Flacco extra weapons in the red zone:"Sure. We're excited about those two guys, if they can play at the level that they both want to play at. L.J.'s got a lot to prove. Todd's got a lot to prove. Just like we all do. I know they're both really excited to get at it. L.J. looked good out there today. It will be exciting to see how those two guys progress. And there are other guys – Edgar Jones is a big part of that mix, Isaac Smolko and Drew. That's an important position for us."

On WR Kelley Washington:"Kelley's been a really good player for a long time. It's interesting. Kelley's a really good receiver, and the fact that he's played special teams so well, to me is another example of what kind of player he is. He's physical, he's tough, he's strong, he's got a great body. You guys have seen him – he's a strong guy. We're going to give him every opportunity to be that guy he's been throughout his career and also to do the things he wants to do as a receiver as well. He wants a big bite of the apple. He wants to do as much as he can."

On whether his philosophy has changed about not wanting to put "defense first" but to have the offense and defense on the same level: "No, that hasn't changed. Our identity is our team. We've said it from Day One: 'It's the team, the team, the team,' and that's what football is all about. You didn't even mention our special teams. I thought they played pretty good down the stretch, too, didn't they? The defense's job is to make the offense better, and vice versa. Our defense played very well last year. We were real proud of the way we played. Our offense played very well last year, too. But they both need to get better, and so does special teams. So no, it's the whole thing."

On the progression of NT Kelly Gregg:"He came off OTAs and our football schools just picking up right from where he left off. The one thing about Kelly is he's so excited to be here, and he's really moving good, and I think he got all the cobwebs off from OTAs."

On how far LB Jameel McClain has come since training camp last year: "He's improved tremendously. The thing you saw that first practice… And nobody would have thought here's a guy that's a free agent and has been helping the team as much as he did. The guys that work hard at this program are the guys that do the best and are [guys] who can have a chance to play. That's a real endorsement to our personnel people. They saw some great things in him, and he just proved it throughout the year. And I think he's going to take off from here."

On his top priorities and challenges for the upcoming season:"Well, the No. 1 priority is to get this defense to play up to their ability and to play with that same Raven mentality and that same Raven bar that has been set over the years. And that's my job as a coordinator is to do what I have to do to make sure this defense plays up to its abilities."

On what surprises him the most about LB Ray Lewis and S Ed Reed's ability to still play at a high level: "I think the thing that doesn't surprise me, but impresses me the most, is their professionalism. Ray Lewis and Ed reed and these veterans that have played a long time, they took it beyond the football field. They're professionals the way they study films, the way they take care of their bodies – everything they do. There's no secret why those guys succeed, because every part of their life is to be as good as they can be."

On the steps taken this offseason to improve the secondary: "After one day, I'm proud of them what they've done in the offseason. A lot of them are coming off of small injuries and rehabs and things like that. They've done a great job of working out with our strength program – they did a great job getting them back. I mentioned to a number of them that they look bigger, they look healthy and they ran around today. You could see it in just the first day."

On whether he likes the balance of experience around the younger guys on defense: "Yeah, definitely, because there's no price tag you can put for experience. That's the best thing you get. But when [the veterans] can help these younger guys that have low pressure legs – that have a little bit more go with them – that brings them up to their level faster, and I think that's always a good mix."

On his feelings for the defensive line: "I feel great about our defensive line. In watching a bunch of film in the offseason, the thing that keeps sticking out is that front seven gets after it. They have a lot of pride, and now with [Dwan] Edwards back and Kelly [Gregg] back, you've just added depth to that, and it should allow us to rotate guys and keep guys fresh throughout the year."

On whether he believes that games are won on the defensive line: "Oh, no question. You're only as good as you are down the middle. You figure it out, Kelly Gregg and Haloti [Ngata], Ray Lewis and Ed Reed – that's a pretty strong middle. And those guys, they play like Ravens, too. They're real team guys, and that's the core of our defense."

On if Day One felt different this year than last year:"Yeah, I think that's a little obvious. It's great to be out there. We don't have very many guys. As you can see, we are running team drills with no line. We're running right at them anyway; we're sneaking quarterback sneaks. It's a lot of fun. Everybody is relaxed. The biggest thing is for the rookies to come out here and try to feel comfortable and show everybody what they've got before the veterans get here. So, by the time they get here, [the rookies] will be able to practice like it's their fifth year in college."

On if he has seen an improvement in the rookies from OTAs until now: "Yeah, the guys are out here. They know what they're doing for the most part. So, anytime you know what you're doing, you're going to be a little bit better than when you first came in and you really had no idea."

On how much he has done in the offseason and how much improvement he has made at the quarterback position: "I feel much more comfortable right now. I feel like I am light years ahead of where I was last year, at this point. Toward the end of the season last year, I obviously was feeling pretty good. That was my goal from the offseason, just to make sure that I continued that process and made sure I stayed in shape and continued to learn the offense and not take a step back. This is only my second year, so I am going to take training camp and act like I don't know anything about the offense, kind of just re-learn it and see if I pick up anything new about it."

On what it takes as the leader of this team to step it up two more levels to get to the Super Bowl: "It is my job to let everyone know what we have here and how special we're going to be. As long as everybody understands that, and I make everybody understand how special we are – because I really believe it – then I believe we are going to go a long way. I think we showed that last year and I think we can get back there, and we've got to get a little bit further."

On his thoughts about the improvement in the offensive line and criticism of not having a go-to guy: "You guys can criticize the lack of a go-to-guy, but I am not worried about it at all. So, if I'm not worried about it, nobody else should be worried about it. We've got great guys out there catching the ball. We're going to have great guys as long as they're out there running routes and staying healthy. So, I'm not worried about it. Mark [Clayton], Demetrius [Williams], Justin Harper are out there right now and they're the three guys running routes. So, they're going to get a lot of reps out here. It's going to be tough on their legs, but they're three guys that are built to get through it and it's going to make them better."

On the protection he will receive from the offensive line: "The protection is obvious. These guys did a great job last year. They're all young guys. They're going to be around for awhile. They did a great job last year, so I don't expect anything different from them. They're just a good group of guys that's going to continue to be that way."

On if he is worried about losing his "safety net" wide receiver:"No, not really. Last year coming in at this time, I had no idea who I was going to be throwing the ball to. I didn't know what Derrick Mason or Mark Clayton even looked like. I probably thought Mark Clayton was Derrick Mason at one point. So, I don't really care. Like I said, last year I had no idea who I was throwing to. This year, we're in much better shape than we were in last year."

On what he would like to do this year to take it up a notch: "I think this is an offense. We've got to go out there and put more points on the board, and that means score more touchdowns. When we get in the red zone, we've got to convert those to touchdowns. We've got to be good on third down and stretch the field a little bit in order to put some pressure on teams. I think we're ready to do all those things."

On his thoughts about exploiting the middle of the field more and the additions at tight end: "They look great. L.J. [Smith] is out there now. We didn't really get to throw to him too much over the summer, but he is out there working hard and it looks like he is ready to go. So, I'm excited to throw to him."

On if he got a chance to work with the tight ends and wideouts during the break they had before training camp:"These guys are here all the time running hills and doing all kinds of conditioning and catching balls. That's the thing you need to see out of your receivers is making sure they're catching balls every day. As long as you catch as many balls as you can, then your hands are going to get better and you're going to be more comfortable catching the football when you've got guys hanging all over you. I think these guys did a good job of that in the offseason, and we did a good job of that."

On what WR Demetrius Williams can bring to the table in '09: "He definitely looks good. He looks big, he looks fast and he looks ready to go. We just have to get him out there catching balls in live action and see what he can do."

On how his brother, an Orioles minor league prospect, Mike Flacco, is doing: "He's doing all right. I think he is trying to get in his comfort level. He has definitely struggled a little bit, but we talk to him pretty regularly. I think the biggest thing for him is just getting comfortable, just like I had to do and everybody else has to do at some point. He is playing every night for the most part. Every now and then, they will give him the night off. It's a good thing. He is playing baseball games and he is doing well. That's all we care about – he's playing."

On how uncomfortable he was a year ago: "I didn't know what to expect last year. You feel like a rookie. You feel like a freshman in college and a freshman in high school again. You don't know anybody. You don't know what to expect practice-wise and you don't really know the offense. So, you're kind of scared of getting in there and messing up. This year, it's not like that. If I mess up, at least I can be coached at what I'm doing and I don't have to fear that as much as I did last year. For some reason, you tell yourself not to, but there is always a little of that there. This year, there is not any of that there. We are all comfortable with each other and we're not working at learning the offense, which we all were last year. At some level, we were all working on learning the offense and learning how to run it well. This year we all know that, for the most part, and we're just trying to make it better."

On how the game has slowed down from last year: "I don't know. I have only been out here for practice and we're only out here with seven-on-seven right now. By the end of the year last year, the game was at a good speed for me. Over the next handful of years of my career, it's going to slow down even more and more. I've always said, as I grow in the offense, then the defenses will get slower. As long as I continue to learn the offense better and better, then I feel like I will see things better and better."

On his thoughts of the nickname "Joe Cool": "I don't know, I am not very cool. (laughing) I am laid back. I don't know if that is a great name for me, but I will take it. I'm laid back. I just go out there and play football, and that's the No. 1 thing is go out there and play football. People can say whatever they want, but I have fun whenever I am out there. I think our team has fun, and that's the most important thing."

On how confident he is to take the next step in getting to the Super Bowl: "I am pretty confident. We look good. Like I said, we only have a handful of guys out here and I still think we look good. We have a couple running backs, couple receivers, and they're out there busting their ass and doing a great job for us."

On how long it took him to make the commercial for Reebok and if there were any special effects involved:"It took an hour, and I mean, [you] be the judge. Do you think I need special effects? (laughter) I don't know. Whatever you think."

On how long he's been throwing footballs at shooting ranges:"A little while." (laughter)


On whether he hit those targets in one take:"I don't know if it was one take. But, like I said, I'll leave it up to your imagination." (laughter)

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