DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On the joy of being back to work: "I think everybody's excited. You know, you're going to see a lot of smiles on everybody's faces around this building, and probably around the whole country. Definitely in Baltimore, everybody's excited about football. All the people that I meet around town, they keep asking, 'Are we going to have football, coach? Are we going to have football, coach?' And I always say, 'For sure, we're going to have football.' But yeah, the heat broke; the players will be happy. It cooled down a little bit just in time. We got labor peace, and we got breaking the heat wave."
On the top priorities at this time:"Going to work. You know, really, going to work. A lot of crazy stuff is going to happen with the free agency and all the things that you've read about already. That's going to be tough; that's going to be challenging. But top priority is going to work – start meeting, start practice, start on football."
On whether musician Tom Petty was right, that "waiting is the hardest part": "You know, we were working, too. And I think sometimes there's more work in waiting. We had to come up with different kinds of practice schedules and different plans, and all the work rules that came out. I've been talking to Domonique [Foxworth] constantly over the last 24 hours just trying to understand exactly what the players are looking for with the work rules, and I know we can work together on that and try to build a football team. So, sometimes waiting, yeah, I'd say it is the hardest part."
On the media reports that have speculated the impending releases of a few veteran players:"Well, it's probably a natural progression in this league, and it's tough, it's hard. And those four reports are true. I know Ozzie [Newsome] wanted to call those guys right away and let them know before they heard it from anywhere else. It's just the reality of the salary cap, it's the situation we're in right now, and going forward, we've got to try to make the best team we can. That's not ruling anything out either. I mean, I think in this climate, anything is possible. You may have an opportunity to bring some of those guys back.
You may not. It just depends on how it shakes out [over] the next couple of days."
On whether the incoming rookies have more weight on their shoulders since they don't know the plays, the building, etc.:"Well, they better find their way around pretty quick, because we're going to be getting to work pretty soon. (laughter) You know, I think the most important thing is to learn their way around the playbook and learn their way around the scheme stuff, and also just the physical aspect of it. Getting out here and moving around, it's going to be so much faster for them than they're used to, and getting acclimated to that without the OTAs is going to be a big challenge."
On how difficult it was to think ahead to the regular season without being able to talk to any players:"That was hard. It was almost… I'm not sure if surreal is the word, maybe. You know you've got a season coming up, you know we're going to play a preseason game here very soon, you know we're going to be playing our archrival – I'll still call them our archrival. (laughter) We'll be playing them real soon, and yet we haven't seen a player since what, February? January? And that's kind of different."
On what goes on in the building as players return:"Today they have an opportunity to come in voluntarily. We'll make physicals available to them, there will be a conditioning test as part of the physical, and football is available to them, too. So, I'm quite sure the rookies will be meeting with their coaches for most of the day today as soon as they come in. And then tomorrow is the official reporting day – same options until 6 o'clock. We'll have a team meeting at 6 o'clock, and we'll be off and running then."
On how active he expects to be in free agency given the amount of cap space they intend to clear:"Well, you know what? I think it's going to be unpredictable. There are going to be maybe as many as 500 free agents on the market, maybe as many as 120 or 130 casualties; that's probably the high-end number. So, who knows what's going to happen? I think you always have to look to make your team better, and there's probably going to be an opportunity in terms of the market being flooded with players that has never happened in the history of the National Football League, and probably won't happen again for at least 10 years. So, that's something I think we've got to do everything we can to take advantage of and improve our team, and we're going to need a little space to do that."
On whether this will give him some stories to tell in the years to come:"Yeah, we'll all have stories to tell, right? Are you guys excited to be back, media? Looks like it. Everybody's fired up, huh?" (laughter)
On whether he's been following the Baltimore Orioles:"I have been following the Orioles. I love the Orioles, you know? (laughter) They're putting it together; it takes time."
DT Terrence Cody
On what weight he reported at:"We haven't weighed in yet."
On what he weighed in at when he was working out:"350."
On his thoughts on the potential cutting of NT Kelly Gregg and if he sees it as an opportunity:"Yes I do, but at the same time, Kelly Gregg was a mentor and a teacher to me, and he was a big part of me learning a lot last year and just how to play as a nose guard in this system. That's what he taught me. When I heard that, it was a shock to me because I thought that he would be one of the guys that would come back this year."
On if he thinks he will be ready in his second year:"Yes, sir."
On what gives him that confidence:"Because I felt like I could have played last year, but I had an injury that slowed me down and it took me awhile to get into playing shape after the injury slowed me down."
On what his offseason workouts consisted of:"Just mainly running and trying to keep my conditioning up and drop weight."
On if his diet changed:"Yeah, it was just like my calorie intake. That is more what I changed up."
On how it feels to be back:"It feels good. It feels good to be back in this building, because I started getting bored during the lockout. You work out and there is nothing else to do in the afternoon, so I got tired of playing games. So, I started watching cartoons and sleeping."
On what the atmosphere is like being around the guys again:"It's a lot of excitement and happiness. Everybody is just happy to be back, happy to see everybody and happy to be back under the same building together."
On if his conditioning will allow him to have more stamina and allow him to play more downs:"Yeah, I feel like I can play more than what I did last year. I feel like I can play all three downs if I get that chance."
On if he is looking forward to the conditioning test:"I don't think anybody is, but I am looking forward to trying it out."
CB Domonique Foxworth
On being back in the building after the labor negotiations:"I put a few hours into [the process], to say the least. It's a lot of emotion, but I'm relieved more than anything that we're back to work and we can all do what we're comfortable doing."
On the release of his teammates:"It sucks if they don't re-sign them. I'm going to miss those guys, but fortunately, they're going to release them before free agency and you can add their names to this free agency bonanza that's going on. Honestly, I feel like I've been extremely selfless for the last year or so in this process, but when I heard those [cuts], when that started happening, I started getting a little selfish and thinking, 'When is my name going to come up?' It's not a secret that guys over the years and the history of this relationship with the Players Association and the NFL – guys who are in the forefront – become really expendable and they become blackballed around the league real soon. So, my day is coming. I had to talk to my wife about two years ago before I took a prominent role in the Players Association, and she said it was OK, and I know the worst that they can do to me is throw me out. So, she's comfortable with it, I'm comfortable with it, so I'm waiting for it to happen. Until then, I'm hoping I can ball-out and do my thing for Baltimore until I'm out on my ass."
On if he checked with Ozzie Newsome this morning regarding his job: "Oh no, I don't' want to see him. I'm hiding from him. I'm going to change my phone number. (laughter) I mean, I'm sure they're always looking to improve the team, so I'm sure they're going to continue to do that. So hopefully, I'm in the plans for at least one more season. After that, who knows?"
On the condition of his knee:"I have no intention of being on a PUP list [to start camp]. I have full intentions of getting out there and contributing right away. I don't know what their plan is, but I'm going to give them the best that I can give them, and hopefully, that means I'm starting on Week 1. If my contribution… Well, I expect that my contribution also will include helping Jimmy [Smith] mature as fast as possible intellectually on the field and socially off the field. I've talked to him a couple times. He seems like a great young man, and I've heard that he's a great talent. So, it's really part of your responsibility, especially on a team like this, it's understood that you help out the young guys, and I felt like doing it with [Lardarius] Webb before was great, and he's really come into his own. So, I look forward to working with Jimmy and teaching him everything I can and helping him mature."
On the sacrifices players made during the lockout:"It's just pride. I think we have been dubbed as one of the weaker unions or players' associations in sports, and I think that image has changed with all the pressure we were under lately. We had very few guys step out and alienate themselves from the Players Association. We remained very strong, and I've been very proud of that, despite the hardships that our guys were going through. And we even had big-name guys who stepped out, especially the three quarterbacks who put their names on the [antitrust] case. I think that really went a long way to let the rest of the League know the tone and the expectations. We made some huge gains in this new agreement. Some of them don't make a lot of people happy, but I know they make the players happy and I know they make the staff around this building happy, and they should make the media pretty happy, I would assume, with less time out here looking at us doing dumb stuff. Like I said, not everyone is happy about this deal, but the players should be happy and they should be proud of where we've gotten, and the reason why we got there is because they gave us the strength to get there by remaining strong and sticking together."
On if he can describe some of the hardships: "I didn't say hardships; you said hardships, didn't you? It's obviously much tougher on the majority of our league, but I think when most people think about the League, they think of Ray Lewis and Tom Brady and those guys who are OK, obviously, financially no matter what happens. But the majority of our league is young guys who haven't had the opportunity to make a ton of money, and it's really tough when you have that uncertainty and you're asked, especially now… Although the good news of having football back is exciting guys, they found out yesterday and they have to be here today or tomorrow. That's a lot to ask for you to uproot your family and get your kids in school and get out and get to work and be mentally focused and all that stuff. So, it's a difficult time for our guys. But definitely, no one is in this position complaining. We know that obviously doesn't go over well with fans, and we're happy to be back and we're ready to put a quality product on the field."
On the new rules and their impact on coaching:"A lot of coaches aren't happy with the rules changes, but it's something that we thought was important to do to protect our players, especially with all the new information we've been getting about head injuries and things like that. And not only for us, I think it sets an example for college, high school, and youth players about the significance of taking care of your players and protecting your guys, especially during practice. It's not going to change the violence and aggression of the game on Sundays, but it will protect guys, especially the younger levels where they don't stand to gain as much as we do and they put themselves at just as much or more risk as we do. So, I think us setting an example of ending two-a-days and ending head-to-head hits during practice during the week really protects our guys and is an example for younger athletes to heed."
On only having one padded-practice a week during the season:"In-season, one padded-practice a week. You can have a helmet practice, but you can't have shoulder pads more than once a week in-season for the first 11 weeks. In the last six weeks, you can have three anytime you want, but still only once a week. During training camp, we're down to one-a-days, which I think will go a long way with those hits to the head, because as you know, the research has shown when you have hits to the head in closer proximities, it's more dangerous and it does a lot more damage. So if you get dinged in the morning and then you have to go out there and you get dinged again, there's a good chance that will have a long-term effect on you. Now, if you get dinged in the morning, now you have at least 24 hours to recover. And [it's with] not only concussions, but there's been evidence that even a minor hit… So, if you can reduce all the minor hits that's we're all expected to take on a regular basis, I think it will go a long way to prevent our guys from becoming like John Mackey and like the many horror stories that we've heard, and it really goes a long way to protect our wives and our families from the hardship of taking care of a big, strong, able-bodied man who is losing his mind essentially. It's really hard on them, so hopefully, we can reduce the occurrence of that by changing the rules."
On the shape of his teammates and how quickly they can get back in the swing of things:"They all look like they are in great shape. We have a mature team and a veteran team, as everybody knows. I think this compressed time will work to teams like us, our advantage, so I like the way everybody looks, and I feel great. I have been working out and I am ready to show what I can do, and I am sure everyone feels that way. We take a lot of pride in that. We know that the perception is out there that the quality of the game may not be as good because, for some reason, people think we aren't mature enough to prepare in the right way. So, we are ready to shut that perception down coming up here in these early preseason games and Week 1. As you guys know, who we have Week 1 [Pittsburgh], it really doesn't matter how much you practice. None of it matters when you get out there and play those guys. It's going to be a great game."
On if the new safety features of the CBA are something that the players came out the best on:"I really like that improvement, like I said, because it protects our guys from the apparent 'hardships' that they could fall upon after they are retired, and I am really proud of the Legacy Fund. For the first time, we have gotten the ownership to admit that they have benefited from the legacies of former players and also start contributing to their health and well-being and financial well-being after they are done playing."
On if he is considering law school upon retirement from the NFL:"I am tired of talking to lawyers. I have always wanted to go to business school, so I will probably try to do that after I am done playing. Who knows? Like I said before, I might be done playing sooner than I expected with the way that outspoken player representatives have been treated in the past. So, who knows? I will start sending my applications out pretty soon and see what's going to happen." (laughter)
On if his wife is taking the bar examination today:"Yeah, she's taking the bar today, so I definitely need to catch up as far as degrees are concerned. She just got her fourth degree from Harvard Law School, and I just have a measly Maryland Bachelors (laughter). My daughter is only eight months now, so when I take her in the office and she sees my side of the wall with one degree on it and she sees [my wife's] with names like Harvard and a bunch of them over there, I am a little embarrassed. So before she gets to like seven or eight and she really realizes that dad is a dumb-dumb, I have to start raking them in quick." (laughter)
On if his knee is 100 percent:"Absolutely."
On how long he has felt like 100 percent:"It has been up and down through the offseason to be frank with you. There were days where it felt great and days where it felt really, really bad. Lately, it has felt great. The real important thing, the thing that I haven't been able to do, is play real live football. Before I get way ahead of myself and say that I am just as good as I ever was, I feel that way, but I need to go out there and go up against Anquan [Boldin] and real Pro Bowl-caliber receivers to really measure. It's a little different than running out there on your own."
On if negotiations got tense and nasty during the lockout:"They were tense and nasty all the time. It's a contentious situation. I think, early on at least, there was a bit of a feeling of shock and surprise from their side about our willingness and almost eagerness to confront them on every level and not back down. I think we gained their respect early with our aggressiveness, and I know you guys have heard a number of times Jeff Saturday and I were kind of the leaders in that right. I knew he had my back and I had his. There was nobody on that side of the table that A) could beat us up, or B)… We both talked about that the worst thing that could happen was that we could lose our jobs, and we both were comfortable. We talked about that early on after we talked with each of our wives, and we both were comfortable going down that road and we said we would have each other's back from this point forth. And like I said, nobody over there could whoop me, so I felt really comfortable saying what I thought I needed to say and being in a confrontational position with those guys, as a representative of the players, because I knew that it could have some adverse effects on me and my career. But in the long run, it will be a great deal for past, present and future players in this league."
On if he has had a conversation with Ozzie Newsome or Steve Bisciotti about his future and being "on the block":"No, I don't think they have ever had conversations, nor should they, with guys that are 'on the block' until the guy finds out you're 'on the block.' It's not a conversation. One is the owner and one is the general manager. It's their right to do whatever they want with their teams. There are no hard feelings no matter what the future holds. I appreciate the opportunity and I really do like both of them as people outside of the field. I am joking most the time that I am saying these things, but there has never been a time when a guy who has been as outspoken as I have against management has not had to pay some sort of price, and maybe the only price I will pay is time that I missed being away from my family during the process. Or, maybe there is another price to pay down the road. Either way, it is something that I have come to terms with."
RB Ray Rice
On being back to football:"It's like a breath of fresh air. The feeling that you get by being back is just missing the guys that you go to battle with on Sundays, and you miss everybody that prepares you for battle, and that's everyone in the building – from the grounds people to the management and the people who work at the front desk. So, you get a sense of what it is to go out there and prepare for Sundays. Everyone plays a part. So, it's definitely great to be back, and it felt good to run a conditioning test, knock that out, and now it's time to get to work."
On whether he passed his conditioning test:"Absolutely. No question about the conditioning test. Needless to say, it's not an easy test. Everybody that says it's easy is kidding. But it's a test that you want to pass. You want to get out there so that you can perform at the highest level."
On waiting for the lockout to end:"You know, the waiting, especially getting down to crunch time, it got kind of like, 'When is it going to be over?' But when you stop and look at the bigger picture and realize that there is going to be football, there wasn't that question, 'Is there going to be football?' like there was at a certain point. In March, there was a question of, 'All right, are we going to miss games?' Then we get to a timeframe like, 'Ok, we're not going to miss any football, but just when are we going to be back?' You always had that guessing point, but we always knew that it was going to get done, and I'm glad that it got done in a fashionable manner. Everybody who stepped up to the plate to get a deal done, we appreciate it, and I'm sure you guys appreciate it as well."
On his familiarity with the new training camp rules:"For a guy like me, I just wanted to play football. But as it became closer, I got involved, and I know about the no two-a-days, how many padded practices…. For the longevity of players, I think it's going to be a great thing. I mean, for a guy like me, this new CBA is going to carry me through my career, so I'm starting to pay attention more to things that you're going to be involved in. Like I said, it's going to be for years to come, so hopefully throughout my tenure of playing, I won't have to be in another collective bargaining agreement. It's kind of funny that I majored in labor studies."
On teammates being let go:"First off, you think about the relationships that you've built with them. I'll start with Willis McGahee. When I came in I was a rookie, and Willis was the first to teach me the ropes. Not to say that nobody else helped me, but as a veteran throughout his career… It's never been a battle. People didn't know that he was competing for his job. But I think McGahee taught me to be the best Ray Rice can be. You don't have to compete with me; we were two different players who brought two different things to the game. Todd Heap, a guy that's just the ultimate hard worker, he battled through injury, but still could go out there and play the game at a high level. And Derrick [Mason], he's the ultimate leader. You take a guy like that… For me, it's like you're kind of upset about it but you also know it's the business. It makes you want to relish the moments you have with them. Obviously, these are lifelong friends. That's what the game of football has done for me; these are lifelong friends that I'll have forever that taught me the way. We hate to see them go, we really do, and I'm sure that fans hate to see them go, too. But I'm sure they'll end up somewhere, and hopefully, I want to get a few guys back if we can."
On if he has thought about the mortality of his career:"No, it doesn't change for me. I kind of just took the day-to-day workman's mentality and go out there and try to be the best I can be. Every day is a learning day for me, because obviously, when you deal with the lockout, you deal with a lot of thinking. You start thinking about your life after football, you start thinking about different things. Needless to say, I feel like I am young in my career still. I am only 24, going into my fourth year, and I think I have a lot of football left in me. So, I try not to think about that side of the game."
On compressing the offseason into a few short weeks:"You know what? With our team it's different. I think we have to get our timing back, number one. The good thing about it is we will have a few new things in, but we are not putting in a totally new offense or totally new defense. So, our thing is just going to be to get out to the back field back here, and let's time things up, let's get good work in. I'm sure coach [Harbaugh] knows that we will be smart, but we will work, and that's what Coach Harbaugh does; we're a workman's team."
On if he feels pressure to take on a leadership role in the offense:"Speaking on that, going into my fourth year, I feel like when you take away certain guys like that who are your leaders, it's always 'next man up.' So needless to say, I think my time is now where I can become one of the vocal leaders on this team and on this offense, and that is not bashing guys, because guys know I work hard. I go out there and if something needs to get done, I am not going to wait for the coaches to correct it. I grab a few guys and get it done in a manner where, these guys understand that every game, every moment is precious – definitely for the young rookies. The young rookies are going to miss that leadership, but we do have a guy like Anquan Boldin who has been to the Super Bowl, played in one. We do still have that guy like Ray Lewis on the defense and Ed Reed and those kind of guys that are going to mold this team together. Needless to say, me, Michael Oher, Joe Flacco, there is going to be a lot of, not pressure, but a lot of leadership responsibilities put on us."
WR Torrey Smith
On what today was like:"I actually didn't get to do any conditioning today because I am not under contract yet, but I was able to get my physical done. I spent the majority of the day with Tyrod Taylor. We were both running around trying to get situated."
On if he was able to talk about the playbook:"We were able to meet. I can't do anything physical. Actually, after I leave [the media room], I am going to meet up with [WRs] coach [Jim] Hostler for a little bit."
On how much of a whirlwind the week has been:"It has definitely been a whirlwind, but it's something that we have been waiting for. Obviously, it has been a long time since the Draft. We are excited to be around the guys for the first time. It kind of feels like, we were all talking about it, it feels like we just got drafted because we finally get to report. We are finally seeing those faces of guys that we have been watching play for years. We are all just excited about it and we can't wait to get it going. Obviously, it is a little tough. You go from playing PlayStation and messing around Twitter all day to getting ready to be in football camp, so we will all catch up sooner or later."
On if the lack of offseason workouts has put the rookies behind the eight ball:"I think it definitely puts you behind the eight ball. Obviously, you are missing out on valuable time, but you will just have to work harder. Our coaches, they are professional coaches. They will get us to where we need to be."
On his contract negotiations:"I think it will be done quickly. At least I hope so. I am ready to play football, but I know it is definitely going to be hectic. There is paperwork everywhere. They are working hard, so hopefully something will get done soon."
On the mood of the rookies:"Everyone is tired from getting the call and reporting the next day. Jimmy [Smith] was ready to fall asleep on the way for our physical. He just came from California. Everyone is just pretty tired. Tyrod drove all the way up from Hampton early this morning. Me, I drove 40 minutes." (laughter)
On how much he has been able to get acclimated:"Basically, obviously, I was able to get a hold of a playbook thanks to Anquan [Boldin]. I was able to look at that and understand it. It was real similar to [Maryland] coach [Ralph] Friedgen's with basically just different words. I understand the offense itself, so that was really all I could do. I got with [Joe] Flacco a couple of times and talked to him on the phone, as well as Derrick Mason a lot, and those guys kind of talked me through it."
On if he has gone over the playbook with coach Hostler:"No, I will be doing that, hopefully, when I leave [the media room]."
On if he is ready for a potential major role this year, with the possibility of Derrick Mason not returning:"I feel like I best be ready if they need me to play that role. I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. Obviously, coach 'Hoss,' if they put me in that position, they put me there for a reason. I just have to go out there and prove my worth. Obviously, I am not Derrick. I am not a veteran. I am not the leading receiver in Ravens history, so it is a start, but I just have to work hard."
On his reaction to the potential release of Mason:"I was shocked, but he just let me know that it is a business. That's the same thing he told me. As soon as I was hearing the rumors, obviously my Twitter page was blowing up. People were like, 'Derrick is gone! Derrick is gone!' I called him up, and he was like, 'Yeah, it's a business and hopefully something can happen where I can be there.' But me, I was really looking forward to learning from him, and he was looking forward to help coach me up. We will see what happens."