TUESDAY PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS: DAY 1 MINICAMP
Head Coach John Harbaugh, RB Alex Collins, G/T James Hurst, WR Chris Moore & LB C.J. Mosley
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Thanks for being here. Beautiful day in Maryland, huh? Skies are clear; it's dry. I have to give our grounds crew all the credit in the world – the fields played great today, they drain tremendously well. So we're good! [Mandatory minicamp is] new phase of football and taking the next step with our program. I'm very pleased with where we're at and where we've gone. We actually had 97 percent attendance for the whole offseason, so that's a record for us. I'm really proud of the guys and how hard they worked, and that's where we're at. What questions do you have?"
I guess we have to start with the missing OTAs and find out from your perspective. I know you released a statement, but did you find out what you did wrong and how the NFL discovered it? (Jerry Coleman) "I found out what we did and understand what the reasoning is. I was pretty clear in the statement with what I thought about it." (Reporter: "Did you feel like it was too harsh of a penalty?") "I don't get into …" (Reporter: "It's the third time now.") "I don't get into judging all that. They have the reasons for what they do, and that's their reason. I'm just trying to coach a football team and get us ready to go. That's where we're at. We're in the next phase now, so we're moving on. We had a great practice, and I'm excited about it." (Reporter: "In the end, you don't think this will affect the team?") "No, no, no. No problem – we're good."
We saw G/T Alex Lewis wasn't out there today. What's going on with him? (Childs Walker) "He had a little back spasm issue in the weight room, so we're just holding him out right now. We'll be evaluating it. I don't think it's anything – according to our trainers – serious that would keep him out of training camp or even keep him out for very long. But I didn't see any reason to bring him out here today with all the work he's got in already."
On the flip side, it seems like DE Brent Urban's activity level has continued to increase. How is he looking and how excited are you to have him back in the fold, knowing what he can bring to the table if he can stay on the field? (Luke Jones) "The target was for him to come back for the minicamp. He's done a great job. I think he's had nothing but forward progress with his rehab. He's out here today practicing; he looks good from what I can tell. He has a lot of rust, sure – it's all new to him. But it's good to get this in before he gets the time away, then back to training camp to get a little feel for it again. He's a big guy. It's fun seeing him out there."
How is G Nico Siragusa progressing? (Childs Walker) "Nico is out there for the first time full [practice]. He had one day last week where he did individual and things like that. He's back, he's practicing, and we'll see how he develops. But he looks good to me. He's gotten very strong. I have to give both those guys [Brent Urban] credit. But just to single out Nico – he's been here every day. He's been in the weight room; he's been rehabbing the knee. He's been working, even through rehabbing the knee, he's been working all the other body parts. One thing he needed to do was get stronger, and he did that while he was rehabbing the knee. Once we get the pads on, it's going to be real interesting to see what kind of an impact that has on him moving people off the ball." (Reporter: "You're thinking there won't be any limits on him in training camp?") "There's no limit on him now, so it shouldn't be a problem."
How much can you tell about a player without the pads on? (Kirk McEwen) "No, this isn't football practice. This is just getting ready for football practice. So you see guys move around. We tell the guys it's about assignments. Nobody is going to make a play here that's going to make the team. We're not even trying to make plays out here. We like to see them throw, catch, be in the right spot, play the proper technique and keep each other healthy – that's really what we're trying to do here. And training camp it starts ramping up towards the physicality level more."
QB Joe Flacco compared to last year, who has been healthy this past offseason, what are you seeing from him? What difference does that make as you overhaul the receiving corps and he can work with those guys? (Jarrett Bell) "To me, it's probably the major, No. 1 observation of the offseason. His health – the quarterback's health – leads to everything else developing. So we have a new receiving corps. Obviously, those guys are going to be pivotal going forward. The fact that your quarterback is out there, he's healthy, and he's playing well, and he's on target, he's throwing the ball well, he's running the offense – [that] allows everything else to develop. If you don't have your quarterback out there, everything else kind of stagnates. I don't think you get as much out of the offseason or training camp as you would. To me, that's the No. 1 thing – it gives us the chance to really get to where we need to go – the fact that our quarterback is out there. And not just Joe, but Lamar [Jackson] has done well, Robert [Griffin III] has done well and Josh Woodrum has done well. All those guys are operating well, but Joe's our top quarterback, and having him there makes a difference for everybody."
Do you think it makes a difference to him that you drafted a quarterback in the first round? (Jarrett Bell) "I don't know if it makes a difference. I think he'd be motivated anyway. But, what the heck, our antennas are up at all times, and he's no different. But [Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson] get along great. They have a lot of fun in there. Joe gets a little of a bum rep as a leader and as a mentor. I think he's a great leader; I think he's a great mentor. He's always been a good guy; he's always worked with whoever he's had here. He doesn't pick and choose. You can be the 14th receiver on the roster, and he's working with you. That's the kind of person he is. He's always been that way. It reflects his character."
Can we talk about the three female coaches that will be working with you at various times during the offseason? Do you think you will see more women moving into higher-level coaching roles, and do you think that will be a good thing for the sport? (Childs Walker) "I do! I think you're going to see it. It's a talent pool. You have a lot of very smart people in half the population. I'm probably a little biased, because I see my daughter every single day, and I want her to do whatever she wants to do in life. These are three coaches that are pioneering at their level – high school level, college level and professional level – that are going to come out and work with us and intern for us and that kind of thing. I'm fired up about it. I had a chance to get to know them just a little bit, and they're sharp and very knowledgeable. It's going to be interesting." (Reporter: "That's a first-time thing here?) "Right – first time."
How much time has been spent trying to find creative ways to utilize QB Lamar Jackson? (Bo Smolka) "I'll give you the political answer, that you always try to utilize your talent, right? This is a little unique; you have the ability to put two quarterbacks on the field at one time. There are a lot of considerations that go into that, and everybody has an opinion. I've read a few that people might have, and there are a lot of ways to look at it, and we're aware of that. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys. Lamar is going to be on the team. I fully expect him to be active on gameday. Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us, and he can play quarterback. So if we put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we try to figure out so he's back there throwing the ball, he's back there doing other things. Then, Joe has to do some other things, too, if he's throwing the ball. It gets to be – I don't want to say challenging – but it gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard at it."
What improvement have you seen from OLB Tyus Bowser? (Ryan Mink) "Tyus looks good. You saw the pick for the touchdown today, so that got your attention, right? It was fun to watch. That was a great catch! Tyus has had a very good offseason. I would put Tim Williams in that category, too. They've both done very well. I'm not afraid to say that I'm expecting big things from both those two guys."
ILB C.J. Mosley has consistently been at OTAs. What does that say about him? (Jamison Hensley) "It says he's smart. He's sitting right over there. C.J., to me, is … I can't say enough good things about who he is as a person. He is very smart; he understands the business-side of it. He has patience in that sense. I think he gets really wise counsel from his parents, but he's also a leader. He's tough, he loves football, and he understands that for us to be great on defense, we need him out there; we need him running the show. He's doing that every day in practice and doing a great job. He's in here training, he's getting stronger. I'm very proud of what he's done throughout the course of the offseason, and I'm very confident – and I think he feels the same way – that things will get taken care of. There's an office right up there (points to Ozzie Newsome's office). You can go check on that." (laughter)
How critical is that, with Don "Wink" Martindale stepping into the coordinator role, to have you MIKE linebacker comfortable? (Luke Jones) "C.J. understands that, too. We're doing a lot of really neat things on defense – things that are really good. C.J. is excited to be in there and learn them and do them. The fact that we're putting more than ever on our players on the field in real time to make decisions – well, you want your decision-makers out there practicing now."
I know you said QB Lamar Jackson is a quarterback, but is it fun trying to put him in different positions to utilize him in other areas as well? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, it's fun. I don't get too involved in that part of it – that's not my expertise area or anything like that. But I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and seeing what they're going to come up with next. We'll see where it goes. We're going to use our guys. You have to use your good players."
RB Alex Collins
On his focus right now heading into minicamp: "Same focus as always – just trying to get better every day as a team. We're coming out here, everybody is just going through the motions, getting the plays down and working hard."
On his early impressions of the new QB Lamar Jackson and QB Robert Griffin III: "I've got great early impressions of them. Those guys are doing great out there, picking up the plays real fast, and they're just looking great out there. A lot of athleticism in those guys, and seeing those guys out there and being able to work with those guys, they look really good out there."
On how having OLB Terrell Suggs at practice changes things: "It changes things a lot. You know, he brings out his character and his personality, and he's always a good time. So, just having him out there and seeing him run around and him full speed is awesome. He brings that competition level up another notch, so getting to go against him in practice again it feels great."
On getting RB Kenneth Dixon back into the mix and how he feels about him and the overall group: "That's a good one; I'm glad that he's back and he adds a lot of depth to our running back group. I didn't get the opportunity to work with him last year, and just seeing him and his work ethic, he runs hard and he's great out there. Just seeing his determination to prove himself, as well, it just adds that depth to our running back group and pushes us all."
On how excited he is going into this year and if he approaches the year any differently: "It's pretty much the same approach and the same mindset. It's just going out there and doing everything 110 percent and just trying to minimize mistakes. That's how we look at it as a group. We want to be one of the best groups on the team, and one of the best groups in the NFL, so we just push each other to work hard, minimize mistakes and just get the playbook down. So, whenever any of our names are called we know what we're doing, we're in the right place at the right time and ready to make a play."
On if his increased role has picked up his intensity a little bit: "My intensity stays the same when I'm coming out there, but it helps a lot. But at the end of the day, my mindset, I'm 110 percent, and just getting opportunities and getting more plays, it makes me feel good."
On if there is some satisfaction that his play in 2017 helped him earn more of a workload: "It is that satisfaction. But you know, it's still with the same hardnosed mindset, because at the end of the day, I just want to earn every rep and every opportunity I get."
On what he's added to his repertoire over the offseason: "Just a little bit more Irish dancing." (laughter)
On if there are any other skills he worked on: "As a running back, we always want to make our game a little bit better, so … I actually had the opportunity to work with [Javorius Allen], and we just want to work on being better. We look at last year's film and try to figure out what we can do better, whether it's out on the routes, catching and running the routes a little crisper … That was one of the things we worked on – just the top end of our routes and making everything look a little more crisp, working in and out of our cuts and adding more to our spin moves."
G/T James Hurst
On re-signing with the Ravens during the offseason: "At the end of the season, I was lucky enough to play all 16 games and get a lot of good film, so I felt really good about that. In the end-of-season meetings we had, 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] pulled me into his office just to talk, and he was really frank. He said, 'We want to get you back here.' He said upfront, 'We don't have a ton of cap space, and that's something that is going to be an issue, but we want you to continue to be a Raven with us.' I felt really good when he told me that. It was just very direct, very clear. I could go into the offseason, go back home knowing that, mull things over, keep that in the back of my mind. Obviously the communications with the Ravens continued, and I felt really good about my first four years here, so if it was possible, I wanted to come back. Right before the free agency [window] opened, we talked where we picked up and felt good about the deal they gave us, felt really confident in that and that I could come back, be a player and get better and help the team win games. I was really happy about that. It's a huge blessing to be in the same place for four more years."
On if he likes having flexible players on the offensive line: "Yeah, definitely so. It's early. I mean, it's mandatory minicamp – we're not even in real training camp yet. [We're] moving the pieces around, finding the best guys in the best positions. From that and from this time we have out here, you can start those position battles leading into camp. You know that you played here, here and here, but in camp this is it, this is what it's going to be, and you're going to battle at this spot. If you're not a starter, you're going to be prepared to move around and shuffle on gameday. There are only seven guys out there, so you have to be flexible if you're not starting."
On if he prefers to have a set position on the line: "Everyone's preference would be to stay in the same spot, for sure. Just to have that continuity of playing next to the same guys, same position, working your technique, but [moving around] is part of it, especially this time of year. Like I said, that's part of the job, moving around. We have so many young guys out there right now that they have that flexibility. Marshal [Yanda] isn't out there right now, and Marshal is the right guard – everyone knows that. Because of that flexibility, it gives us the chance to try guys and move guys around and get everyone in their best position, which is promising."
On his best position: "It's tough to say. I felt good the first week; I was at right tackle. I felt really good. Then I've been flip-flopping guards a little bit the last couple of weeks. I feel good at all of them. Part of this time of year for me is figuring out that this is what I'm comfortable at [and] this is what I'm not so comfortable at; this is what I need to work on that summer break we have coming up. It's good for me to learn things about myself, to talk with the coaches, and they can give you some feedback on this position you need to work on this or this or this. It's good to have this time of year to iron things out and understand where you are going into camp."
On if the coaches have mentioned placing him at center: "They haven't mentioned center. I think maybe last offseason I snapped two balls in pre-practice. So, pretty strong showing there. (laughter) But no – not center." (Reporter: "They were on target?") "Yeah, oh yeah, definitely!"
WR Chris Moore
On how he is building upon the end of last year: "I just come out here, keep working hard, keep trying to make plays for the team. That's my biggest thing. Every time I come on the field, I just try to find a way to make big plays."
On if he feels like a light came on at some point in 2017: "I felt like I was getting in my groove, and I felt like I was getting very comfortable and just getting a feel for it. So, I feel like bigger things will come next year."
On his early impressions of new QB Lamar Jackson and QB Robert Griffin III: "They're great quarterbacks, great guys. Lamar, he's a freak. Just what he can do on the field, you can tell that he's going to be somebody special in this league, so it's exciting to see him. And Joe [Flacco] is still as great as ever."
On if he likes when he sees QB Lamar Jackson take off running: "Yeah, I do, I get excited. You all see me back there, every time he runs I'm in awe, because most people – especially a quarterback – can't move the way he does. So you just know that this year he's going to make some plays, for sure."
On what he thinks when he sees Jackson being used in different, creative ways: "I think it's smart. It's going to help the receivers out for sure, because defenses aren't going to be ready for it, and they're going to have to scheme against that specific package every week. It's just going to help the whole team out."
On his one-handed catch that he made in OTAs and if it's one of the best catches he's made in practice: "Definitely, it definitely was. It was my opportunity to show what I can do, and show that each week I keep getting better and that I'm here to perform. That's what I'm here for."
On where he feels like he's made some strides: "Like I said, just getting comfortable and just moving – my routes are getting better – and feeling the defense and getting open. All of that just keeps getting better each week."
On what he is learning from WR Michael Crabtree: "There's a lot to learn. The big thing I've been taking from him is his release, because he's a bigger receiver, stronger, so I just try to take some of the stuff he does. He gives us little details and hints to do against the [defensive backs], because that was going to be one of my struggles was against the press. So, being able to see him and as good as he is at it, [it's helpful to] just to take some of his techniques."
On who he picks to win the World Cup: "My World Cup pick is France. They're always good. I like France, personally. I've been rooting for them for probably the last 10 years." (Reporter: "Even after the United States tied them?") "Yeah, I still like them." (laughter)
ILB C.J. Mosley
On the importance of attending voluntary workouts: "It's just what I'm used to – coming to work, being here with my guys in the offseason, building new relationships with the rookies and the new players on the team. For me, it's just what I've been used to the last four years."
On if he has been thinking about his contract situation: "Like I said the first time I spoke, I leave that with my agent and upstairs. I'm just here for football."
On if he ever thought about not attending mandatory minicamp: "No, not at all."
On how his leadership style has evolved: "I would say more vocal, in a sense. For the core part of me, I'm still pretty quiet off the field. But on the field, [I'm] more vocal, more comfortable talking to a guy whether he's been here two years, five years or if somebody just came here for one day. That comes with the knowledge of the game and knowing the defense and being in the system going on five years now. For me, it's easier to tell a guy how to do this or what to do because I've been in this league a long time, and I have the knowledge now that I didn't have back then."
On if he understands how respected he is on the team: "It's a blessing. A lot of hard work, a lot of resiliency, a lot of injuries I went through, but I'm happy to be in this situation. I'm proud of the guys that have been here and that's been the linebacker corps for the past two, three years with me, and for the rookies that came in now. We're all learning. We're all figuring out all the ways we can work with each other, because at the end of the day, we all have to fill in for each other when somebody goes down."
On the growth he has seen from ILB Patrick Onwuasor: "I would say his ability to pick stuff up on the fly. With him – it's really mental for him. He wants to have everything perfect; he wants to be in the right spot at the right time. That's not always going to happen. Sometimes you just have to go make a play. I think from last year – actually even the year going into last season – you saw how he grew in that sense, where he just kind of calmed down, just play football and just let his hard work do the talking. That's been the big thing this offseason with him – him being able to just take stuff off the field and bring it on the field. If we talk about something on the sideline, we go through and next play you get it right. I think that's been his big stepping point."
On how defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale is handling his new post: "For the most part, it's been the same. He always comes in and says, 'I have to lead the linebacker room,' and sits down and gets to talking like he's back at linebacker coach. But for the most part, he's the same way in the team meeting room, defensive meeting room. It's good to see his hard work pay off, too. It shows with what we've been doing out there on the field. We have two more days to do what we can and get ready for training camp."
On OLB Terrell Suggs: "For him not being out there at OTAs and everything, he's still looking good. That shows gratitude to him in Year 16. He's still taking care of his body. Even though he hasn't been out in the OTA practices, he's still putting in his work behind the scenes, behind closed doors. That just shows gratitude to him."
On if practice is different with OLB Terrell Suggs present: "It's the same, it's just louder. I can say that much. (laughter) That's the big difference. Some of the stuff he says, you don't hear anybody else say."
On if the switch to outside linebacker will help LB Kamalei Correa: "I think he's comfortable playing inside or out, but from what he's been doing, he's been very productive on the outside. That just helps us out more, gives us more weapons. I think far as it goes for him, wherever they put him, that's where he's going to play. He's not going to say, 'I don't want to play inside,' if you're going to get playing time. He's been looking really good on the outside."
On the defensive perspective of seeing the offense use rookie QB Lamar Jackson in creative ways: "It's very creative. We don't really know it's going to work until we put it out there. It's been giving us some problems on some of the plays. It's cool just to see the way we can switch things up with quarterbacks. As long as we don't have Joe [Flacco] doing too much running, that's really all that matters."
On the difficulty of defending rookie QB Lamar Jackson: "He's just a natural runner. Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick. It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off – you don't want to be on the highlight reel. It's fun to watch him. He has a great long ball, too. It's good to see him out there making plays and being comfortable."
On if the defense is better right now compared to this time last year: "I guess, in a sense, because of the way we have our defense structured. We still have the main core guys there. As far as that aspect goes, it's still the same. But I think the way we're able to use our core guys, put them in different spots and do some of the same things just from different positions … It's more creative, I would say, than where we were last year."