Training Camp Transcript - Practice 8/27


Head Coach John Harbaugh

On the decision to release G/T Oniel Cousins: "Yes, we decided to release him. (Reporter interjects: "You said he had such hope that he was going to be the right tackle, and then a week ago, he was going to be the right guard. It's a slippery slope, obviously.") You're right, that's the way it is. It's a tough business. It's a tough league. There's a lot of factors that go into it in terms of who we're bringing in right now and the mix of the young guys and the veterans. I think he got squeezed out both from a numbers perspective and a salary perspective."

On whether T Mark LeVoir showed enough skill to possibly be a guard: "Yes, I think you've got Jah [Reid] playing well enough [at tackle]. Those two guys are in the mix, possibly to start, but right now you would say that they are backups. Those are two quality backups you've got, at tackle and at guard, who are veteran guys. So, how many more veteran backups can you… And Oniel and I had a great conversation after the game, I guess it was yesterday. You know, this decision was made basically last night, so it was thought through. It gives him a chance to get out and negotiate his deal and get with a team that… Personally, I think his future is at guard and I think he can do it. But, it's going to take an opportunity where someone has a need for that guy, and he can get in there and go to work on it. I think with our situation here, with Jah being here and young and bringing in Mark, it kind of squeezed him out."

On whether playing LeVoir at guard in the preseason was a test:"Probably part of it. You know, all of it is a test. All of it is evaluating what you get and how guys do. So, it's all part of the process."

On how many linemen he is planning to keep:"We've always kept nine, historically. Sometimes you look into the possibility of keeping 10. That's probably an option, but it's been our history to keep nine."

On how long it will take T Bryant McKinnie to get acclimated:"I don't know. We probably haven't had enough experience to say. I expect him to get up to speed in practice today. Let's just set the bar high, expect him to know everything, and we'll go from there. He's a veteran. He knows the pass protection. He knows the run plays and the running. He's got to translate the techniques a little bit. But, mainly, he's got to translate the terminology, and that is tough in the heat of battle – like with the checks and the changes that happen on the line. The cadence, all those things that are quick split-second things that he's not used to hearing, those are the things that will probably take the longest, and they have to happen in games or in as many of the high-speed drills that we can do between now and actually playing."

On whether it's more important to get McKinnie into the preseason game or get practice time:"I think they're both important. I would have loved to have had three preseason games with him already, but that was impossible. So, we'll just get as much done as we can, balanced with the fact that we want to keep guys as healthy as we can."

On the status of G Marshal Yanda's back: "I think it feels good right now. I think he's worked real hard and he's made great progress. I think we have to see how it [progresses]."

On the status of C Matt Birk's knee:"Matt [Birk] was a situation where we just have to see where he is. It takes a certain amount of time. First, we have to see if the surgery actually worked – if there's going to be improvement – which, that's a question mark. So, he may be battling this thing all year the same way he did last year. And then just seeing the way he can move the knee and then push it [will be important], and then the next day, how he comes back and recovers. Then, [it will be about] what he can do the next day. Obviously, we're shooting for the opener and anything else we can get would be bonus."

On how G/C Bryan Mattison is doing at the center position:"I think he's done well. He's playing center for the first time ever in his life. The things that happened with Bryan… I'm a little surprised at how well he's done blocking people. He's done a good job blocking both run game and pass game. I'm not surprised at the fact that we've had some late snaps, some early snaps and some miss called protections. So, that shouldn't be surprising at all. I think he's done better than we anticipated, but those things are going to come up with a guy who really hasn't played the position."

On what it says about Mattison that he can play offense after playing defense most of his career:"It says he's a football player. It says he's smart and tough and incredibly dedicated, and he works really hard at it. I mean, he's changed his body. He was a 285- pound guy and now he's about a 315-pound guy, and it's all good weight. He's worked really hard."

On WR LaQuan Williams' progress during the preseason:"He's given us a good look. LaQuan [Williams] has done a nice job."

On whether Williams will be able to contribute on special teams:"I think he will, but I also think he's not there yet. The fact that we haven't been able to cover kicks in our preseason games is a problem, and it means that he's not there yet as a kickoff cover guy and he's not there yet as a gunner. So, he's got a lot of work to do in that area, too. So, he's a work in progress."

On what he expects out of rookie DE Michael McAdoo:"I really don't know. I didn't watch him or study him. Joe Hortiz and Ozzie and those guys brought him in, so we'll just have to see. It's impossible for him to come in and contribute in any way. He hasn't played football in two years. He's just a young kid. They say he's talented, so we'll just kind of look at him and see how he does. I say that's a flyer right now. It'll be fun to see how it works out."

On if he still feels "comfortable" with QB Tyrod Taylor being the backup quarterback:"I would be confident that he would go in there and play well. I'm never comfortable. I'm not comfortable with any of it. I know I'm parsing it a little bit, but I hate it when people put words in my mouth; you know that. I think he can be the backup quarterback. Is he going to be the backup quarterback? We shall see."

On WR Torrey Smith's progress through the preseason:"He's making progress. Everyone has their own path. Everyone has their own issues they have to deal with. For one guy, it's route-running. For another guy, it's whatever. And the catching the ball part of it… To me, if you keep dwelling on that, then he's not going to do it. He can catch the ball. He's catching the ball well in practice. He's going to be fine. Just lay off the kid and let him develop and become the player that he's going to be. It's going to happen. It's just a matter of time, and that's the variable. I think we coach as hard as we can to try and get them ready, and we'll just see where he's at. Whatever playing time he gets will be reflected in how far along he is. So, if he's ready to go in the opener… Or, there might be someone better than him in the opener. But, he's going to be a good player."

On whether he wants to play the starters in the last preseason game or keep them out:"Both. I have both feelings. I'd like to see them play the whole game, but I'd like to see them healthy in the opener as well. There's the dilemma."

Offensive Line Coach Andy Moeller

On how he feels the offensive line is performing so far:"I'd say we have done alright. We can always be better in the things that we are doing, but it's a level playing field for everybody in the League. We have had some different lineups in there, guys banged up, different issues and that kind of stuff, but our guys are working hard, and I think we have done alright. We could certainly be better, and that's what we plan on doing."

On how comfortable he is with the addition of T Bryant McKinnie and the changes on the line:"I'm comfortable enough. It's about them being comfortable. I am comfortable with Bryant [McKinnie] coming in here at left tackle [and with] Michael Oher, who can flip sides in a heartbeat and be ready to go. Marshal Yanda has been banged up, but Marshal Yanda will be prepared. Ben [Grubbs] is in there. We got Matt Birk back, and he is starting to work now. Those are all great work ethic guys, intelligent football players, and I am comfortable. Would you like to have more time going back? Sure, but you don't. You roll with what you have and the time that you have."

On if he feels C Matt Birk will be ready for the opener vs. Pittsburgh:"Yes, I do."

On if it is a concern that McKinnie does not have a lot of time to get ready:"Yeah, and that's my job, and that's Ben Grubbs' job when he is out on the field with him. That's what we get paid to do, and I feel that – just in the few days that he has been here – he will be ready to go. He is a pro. He will be ready to go. He is a great player. He is plenty bright enough. He just comes from a little bit of a different system, so the terminology and stuff will take a little bit of time, but he will be ready to roll."

On if Birk will be practicing well in advance of the game vs. Pittsburgh:"We're going to find out today, because today is going to be the first time he has been out on the field for a while and that progresses. So, how that is going to go. What's it going to feel like later on tonight and coming back on Monday and all that kind of stuff? It's more of him getting back to banging and getting around in there and ready to go. As far as making the calls and doing all those things, he is well-versed, and he has been in meetings, and he has stayed on top of his game, so he will be ready just to see how it feels and just to see how his knee progresses."

On the release of T Oniel Cousins:"That decision… I will let the personnel people talk about that."

On the progression of rookie G/C Justin Boren throughout camp:"He has done a good job. Justin [Boren] can run block at this level. He needs to work on his pass protection, but [he] has done a good job. [He] is tough and competitive and is smart enough. He has done a solid job for us."

On what the addition of McKinnie means for rookie T Jah Reid's development:"I think the progression is always going… I don't know if slower is the word. Less reps would probably be more accurate in that we have Bryant in there. He is young and raw and learning and playing his butt off. He just has to keep developing, and the techniques are the main thing. [On] the assignments, he is sharp enough, but the techniques that you need to play with at this level [are important]. I think it will help him, certainly, to be watching Michael Oher and watching Bryant on the other side. [It] will be a great advantage for him."

On if he would like to see the entire starting offensive line play in the final preseason game at Atlanta:"We have already talked about that as a staff, and I will let coach [John] Harbaugh address that specifically. But, we're preparing to get guys ready to play on Thursday. How much they play? We really haven't determined that, and John might be able to add more to that."

T Bryant McKinnie

On how he is getting acclimated with the team:"Luckily, I have been around for a little of this [system]. When I was with coach [former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike] Tice, the offense was kind of similar, so it is kind of easier for me to get acclimated."

On his conditioning prior to his release from Minnesota:"I never really took a conditioning test, so I really don't even know what my conditioning was. Ever since I left the Vikings, I continued to train with Pete Bommarito to make sure I was in top shape by the time I got here."

On how close to game shape he is in right now:"I'll see. Today is my first day of practice, so I will see what type of game shape I am in."

On what he weighs now and what he would like to weigh:"Right now, I am probably like 370 [pounds], I guess. I play at like 355, not 335. I haven't been that since college – my junior year." (laughing)

On how he thought the offensive line performed on Thursday night vs. Washington:"I think they did a good job. They are young, so there are some things that I can come in as a veteran and try to help coach and fix, from a technical standpoint. But, I feel like [it's] a young group, and I am here to help everybody get better."

On how he fits into the offensive line and if he is now the veteran voice of the line:"Definitely. I am not real vocal, but I just pull people to the side and give them tips on stuff that I have learned in my past and just try to make us better."

On playing with C Matt Birk again, as they did in Minnesota:"I definitely have some chemistry with Matt Birk, and we have great communication skills between us. I am used to playing with Matt Birk, so it will be like old times."

On how long it will take to get used to playing with a new line:"It will probably take me a few days – about three or four days – just to get the communication together. Playing with my new guard [Ben Grubbs] and everything… From there, we will just progress and get better."

On if he liked to hear that S Ed Reed and LB Ray Lewis vouched for him:"I definitely liked to hear that my guys from the 'U' [University of Miami] definitely have my back and are supporting me. I am glad to be a part of this team and this organization and to actually finally team up with some guys that went to the University of Miami, because I didn't have any my whole career."

On if he needs Reed and Lewis to keep him in check:"It's just good to have somebody keep you competitive and everything like that. We just have a good bond between us."

On what his other options were besides the Ravens:"Drew [Rosenhaus] talked about Cleveland… It really doesn't matter. I am here now."

On if there was any other team that was close in the running for his services:"No. When I talked to Ray [Lewis] and Ed [Reed], I looked at the team, and I felt like this was a good position for me to come to and it reminded me of my team, the Vikings, in 2009 a little bit. I felt this was a good fit."

On his character and issues off the field:"I am actually more quiet and laidback then people think. It's just little things here and there that used to pop up in my past. It's nothing like that I see happening anymore. I was kind of younger in my younger days anyway."

On when he started talking to the Ravens about joining the team:"Drew was having the conversation, and he was just relaying messages to me sometime last week, I guess."

On what Ravens fans can expect to see from him:"A dominant player that is trying to be the best at his position."

On if there is any anger after people doubted him when he was cut by Minnesota:"I have a lot of motivation, so you are definitely going to see a lot of pancake [blocks] this year." (laughing)


T Michael Oher

On the release of G/T Oniel Cousins and if he has spoken to him:"Not yet, but he has been a great guy. We are all going to miss him. [He is] a hard worker. It shouldn't be a problem finding a job, but I hate that he left. [He] has the attitude of a Raven, and we're going to miss him. [I] wish him luck."

On the signing of T Bryant McKinnie:"Just to have another tackle – a great tackle – just anything to give Joe [Flacco] time. If you give Joe time in the pocket, he is going to make all the throws that you need. We are going to be a great team with him, and that's exactly what we needed. We always want to get better, and we want to win and get to that big game."

On if he is better fit at right tackle or left tackle:"I just like playing football. I am going to work hard at any position that I am at. From the outside looking in, who knows? I know that I am going to work hard and be the best player that I can be at any position."

On if he likes being at right tackle:"I like being out there on the field on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays or whenever. Just playing and helping my team wins games is all that really matters."

On if there will be an acclimation process by switching back right tackle:"[There is] really not a big difference. I am capable of doing it and just flipping the plays in your mind and just flipping the calls. It's the exact same footwork and everything, just flipping them in your head and just staying on cue with everything that you have been doing. [It's] just opposite."

On if he has made the change mentally: "Yeah, it's really not that hard. You're at left [tackle], then you're at right [tackle], and you just have to switch it. It's all about football, and it's all about being a Raven, like we say around here."

On how many practices it will take the "new" offensive line to get on the same page:"Not many. We are all hard-working guys and veteran guys who are willing to work and willing to make the transitions. It's all about football. We have hard-working guys. Those are the kind of guys that the organization brings in, who are willing to do what it takes to win."

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