DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"We had a heck of a practice – very, very good practice. [I'm] very excited for where we're going. I can't wait for tomorrow morning; we're going to be out at the stadium at 10:00 for all you Ravens fans out there. It's absolutely free – free parking as well. So, we just want to give everybody the opportunity to get in that stadium and see the Ravens, especially anybody who doesn't normally get the chance to get in that stadium. That's really what it's all about. But, if you're a season ticket holder, you're welcome also. It'll be a good chance to see us; it'll be the only chance to see us practice. We'll have a good three-hour practice; it should be pretty intense."
On how Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski can separate themselves to gain the starting safety position:"Play the best. We have pretty much our options there, adding Bernard [Pollard] now, so they're pretty much going to have to duke it out. We'll see who the best player is. I expect them all to play at that level, and I expect it to be a tough decision. Those are three really good players, so it's going to be fun to watch."
On how the position of safety can be improved:"You know Dawan [Landry] obviously played that position very well, as evident by the contract he got. So, that's going to be tough to beat. But you know we always want to get better. And, you know, specific things within football there are specific things, obviously, but it's hard to compare players and say that you have to do something better than this guy. I think guys have to play with their own style and just play well – play good, solid football, tackle people and make plays on the ball."
On how players like WR Tandon Doss and WR Torrey Smith will handle the rest of the season:"You can't really make any kind of final… I think it's going to be a good season with these guys. They're going to be on the team. You know they're going to be on the field, you know they're going to be playing, so it's going to be interesting to see how they handle the whole season. This first preseason game will be big, but all four preseason games and the early regular games… I know they're great receivers, but I'm more interested with how they're going to play in November and December. So this is going to be a deal where we're going to find out as they go, because they're going to be playing for us."
On whether the receivers will be able to play at the level they are usually able to play at this point in the season:"The history is that guys can play right out of the gate, and we're not going to lower the bar for these guys. The bar is high. They knew what they were getting into when we drafted them. We did draft them because we thought they were guys who would get up to speed quickly. They're smart guys that catch the ball well; they're just good football players."
On whether there's an opportunity for veteran players to gain the receiver spots:"I think it's a possibility, it's a possibility. We're not going to shy away from adding players, and it's a position where you talk about the rookies, and we're counting on them. But I think we'd be happy to bring in a really good player. We definitely have room for one. But that doesn't mean that we're not looking at guys like [James] Hardy out here. There are some really good players out there with the veterans, too."
On if he's had any more texting with Derrick Mason:"Not in the last 24 hours. I've been on the practice field; I don't bring a phone out here, as you all well know."
On whether the coaches are having trouble focusing due to free agency:"We're not watching… As coaches, we're not watching tape on players. We're coaching the team. Ozzie [Newsome] and Eric DeCosta are doing a great job of monitoring the free-agent market. We work with them, and we definitely make those decisions together. But, our focus is on the field."
On why some players did not practice today:"Those guys that sat out today have practiced every day since we got here and they've done a great job. But, we'll definitely pull some guys out here as we go, when needed. We took some time yesterday, and those guys took some time today."
S Haruki Nakamura
On whether he heard S Tom Zbikowski joke that they weren't friends anymore because of the competition at safety:"I know, I know. We used to be friends, [but] that whole boxing thing took over [and] he became an individual again. (laughter) No, but you know what the great thing about being part of this organization is? [It] is competition. It doesn't take away from each other's friendships, it doesn't add grudges. We joke around all the time, but there's no tension in the room. It's just unique to have a place like this, because from the backups to the D-line, the backups to the linebackers, backups to the safeties, we all feel like we could start anywhere in the NFL. We're just part of this defense of the Baltimore Ravens and we're in a situation where [if] a starter goes down… For example, Ed [Reed] didn't play the first six games [last year]. 'Zibby' stepped in, played great. So, it's always been a confidence thing here when we play here for the Ravens. It's a next-man-in philosophy. We feel like the backups are some of the best in the League, and we just happen to all be on the same defense."
On what he thinks he has to do to separate himself for the starting job:"I don't really look to emphasize my skills or anything on one thing. I feel like I'm a pretty good overall player. – play the run, play the pass, pretty versatile. I think the biggest thing for me was just getting healthy last year and fighting through a dislocated ankle and a broken fibula. That was by far the hardest thing I've had to do in my life, and just the fact… You know, I look at last season as a success. I played every single game, didn't miss a snap I was told to play in, and you've just got to look at that as a win. And the fact that I had this offseason to train at 100 percent, I feel like it gave me an advantage for the first time in a couple years."
On whether he was surprised they brought S Bernard Pollard in with the depth they have at safety:"No, this is an organization that's trying to win a championship. And you can never settle with whatever you have on the team. If you have an opportunity to get better, if you can bring in a guy that can make your defense better, or make your offense better, special teams better… We have that every single year. Last year we had Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff kicking for who's going to be the starting kicker. So, that's something that we work on here in Baltimore just to make our team better, because we look at ourselves as a championship-caliber team, and we don't want to settle on, 'Oh, we've got guys that can do the job well.' We don't want that. We want to win. We don't want to settle for being average. We want to be great, and that's why we've got the leadership from top down to [owner] Steve Bisciotti, to [executive vice president/general manager] Ozzie [Newsome], to Ray Lewis, to Ed Reed, and future guys, the leaders of Haloti [Ngata] and 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs]. So, we're very fortunate to have the team that we have."
On if there is a difference between the FS and SS positions:"Not really. The cool thing about this is now you have – don't get me wrong, [former Ravens S] Dawan [Landry] was a great player, and he is going to have a great career in Jacksonville – similar players, so we're never going to focus on, 'Hey, you have to be the run player this play, every single down.' Now we have the option that both guys can play pass, both guys can play the run. We're in a situation where it is going to give quarterbacks a harder time to figure out what is going on in the backfield. You're not going to say coming into a game and be like, 'Zibby and Ruki,' these are designated run players. They are playing the run, they are doing this. Ed [Reed] is the free safety.' It just gives us the option where we can be very, very versatile."
On if he has put on any weight:"I'll tell you what, in the beginning of the offseason, I was about 210 [pounds]. I was like, 'Whoa, I probably should cut back a little bit.' I felt great. It was the first time where I really put on a ton of weight and I felt good. There were times in the early college career where I forced down weight and it didn't feel very good. This offseason gave my body a chance to really bulk up and do it the right way rather than force on extra weight and bad weight. That's not good judgment. That's not a good thing to have."
On what weight he is at right now:"I'm about 205 [pounds] right now."
On the shape the team was in coming into camp:"The conditioning test speaks for itself. Every single person had to run the conditioning test, and with 90 guys, I think not even 10 guys missed it [the first time]. That speaks for itself. Everybody is in shape. Everybody had a good offseason, and even the three days that we had when 'Mase' [Derrick Mason] and the guys put together that three-day thing, it was just great to see that everybody seemed to be taking care of themselves. At that point during the offseason, everybody looked in great shape."
On what it would mean to bring free agent WR Derrick Mason back to the team:"That's been our leading receiver in Baltimore Ravens history. That speaks for itself. You get a guy like that to come back and you are just adding to your arsenal. The chemistry between those two – with [Joe] Flacco and Mase – have been great. Like I said, that just speaks for itself."
On how much better of a player he is now than when he entered the League:"Much better. The knowledge, just knowing the game, just being able to make adjustments without even really having to think and letting it be second nature, has made it very easy."
On if his marriage in the offseason has changed anything in his life:"Just adding a few more white hairs. *(laughter) *No, it has been great though. We have been together for a long time, and nothing has really changed."
S Tom Zbikowski
On how he is feeling after being ill:"No, I was good. I was good by Wednesday or Thursday. It was just [that] I am a restricted free agent, so I got out as soon as we could start practicing. But probably by Wednesday, last Wednesday, I was feeling pretty good."
On if the impetigo he suffered from over the offseason was from boxing:"No, I was just in the gym. I had some sweat rashes just from working out a bit. I was in the boxing gym and then just training where I always train. Impetigo just comes from… You can pretty much catch it from anywhere. It's being around gyms and stuff like that. I don't know exactly where it came from, but it's not fun having it, that's for sure."
On the competition at safety and where he fits in:"It always ups the level of your performance when it's competition. I have seen Bernard [Pollard] play since our college days – him at Purdue. Obviously, me and 'Ruk' [Haruki Nakamura] have been together for quite some time. Even Marcus Paschal can for sure play. There is definitely some good young talent also, so there is definitely not a lack of talent in this safety area."
On if he feels different coming into this season because of his boxing training:"Yeah, that type of conditioning, you don't get tired. Doing this, you really don't get tired. Legs get sore a little bit, just getting used to running, but wind-wise, you are never going to get tired. Just the way you can attack the ball with your hands going for strips, going for punchouts, pressing people and just the hand-eye coordination and the reflexes, I have seen definitely get a lot better just from being back in a gym. And then, when you can box and do that as a training – even people that don't fight that I have done this say it is the best training – just being able to fight live is always going to be that much better."
On if it feels different taking a hit after boxing:"No, boxing punches are a little easier to take because it is a padded thing. Going head to head is a lot worse, I think."
On how he trained his body for boxing:"You thin down a lot. It's just, I guess, the process of all the training and just how you use your body. You lose a little bit from your buttocks, legs and trap areas. That's why I ended. I didn't want to keep fighting all the way through May and June. I started transitioning right away to put weight back on back there and up on the neck and trap area."
On if competing for the starting job is all he can ask for:"Yeah, that is. It is the NFL. It's going to be the way it is every single year. Ed [Reed] is a special athlete. Ed has been doing it for quite some time, so he is a type that has that locked in. For everyone else, it makes everything interesting. It makes practice fun. It makes everything enjoyable."
On what he thinks he has to do to win the starting job:"Just perform, play and make plays. That's what safeties are paid to do is make plays, interceptions, force fumbles and have the defense down and be able to run it. The experience last year definitely helped out."
On how similar the SS and FS positions are:"If you know the defense, you could play both. And as a professional and as a defensive back and as a safety, you want to know what the corners do. You want to know what the linebackers do. You want to know who is dropping, so the more you fully grasp the defense, the better player you are going to be."
On if he plans to box in the future:"I will probably do it when I am done playing [football]. It's something I have always loved doing and it is something that is pretty hard to give up."
On if anybody within the organization has said they were upset with him boxing:"No, actually everyone was saying that they were following it and cheering me on and were very, very supportive. We were left to do our own thing, and that's something pretty productive, to be honest with you. Looking back, I don't see how they would have a problem with it."
On what it means to have the support of his teammates while he was boxing:"It makes you feel good, because that is one aspect of boxing – it's a lonely business. So, to be able to have your teammates come throughout a lockout… Everyone is staying in contact and it was fun just to have that fight and enjoy each other's company afterword. We were in [Las] Vegas."
On if he and S Haruki Nakamura can settle the battle for the starting safety spot through boxing and judo:"Yeah, maybe. We'll see."
On who would win that battle:"You would have to pay for that one."
On if it is awkward battling against Nakamura for the same job:"Yeah, there is a lot of tension. Our friendship is pretty much over." (laughter)