RAVENS TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS: Aug. 12
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On K Matt Stover hitting a field goal that earned the team an afternoon off:"We felt like the guys needed a night off. We're going to meet this afternoon. We wanted to get them off their legs; they've got big practices coming up the next two days. But we weren't going to just give it to them. All the guys have earned it but Stover (laughing). He's got to earn his night off, too. He's the guy that's got to handle the pressure. I'm telling you, that ball was moving left outside the uprights. I was going to get what I wanted – practice this afternoon. But somebody bumped it back in. The magic of Matt Stover, I guess."
On Stover:"He's proven over such a long period of time that he is one of the premier kickers in the history of the game. He makes field goals. His percentage and his accuracy – is anybody better? You'd have to look at that and determine it, but he's probably as good as anybody that's ever kicked field goals."
On Stover's accuracy and range:"The accuracy is more important. He'll go deep in the right conditions, but the accuracy is way more important. You've got to make the ones you are supposed to make."
On FB Lorenzo Neal visiting practice:"Lorenzo Neal will be added to our roster. He passed his physical this morning, and he is a Raven. He's got a history with Cam [Cameron]. He's more than a lead blocker. He can catch the ball. As a matter of fact if you look at him historically, early in his career, his first two carries, I think he averaged 50-plus yards a carry. Then he got hurt and they never gave him the ball again. So we've got to give him the ball. The thing about him is that the players all know him. They all respect him. All of our linebackers have been hit by him. Kelly Gregg has been hit by him. As a matter of fact, he threw off Kelly Gregg's facemask a few years back. Kelly still has the facemask in his den. He's the kind of guy we want on our football team."
On having a solid, physical practice:"We're trying to have good practice. Today was the day on the schedule that goal-line and short-yardage situations fell in, and the guys responded to it. It wasn't just that: There was a team-run period with the guys getting after it. It was a run day, and that's man-on-man with guys seeing who moves up against the starters."
On potential starters on Saturday:"No, we'll see. They'll all play, and we'll just give them a chance to compete."
On LB Antwan Barnes' performance:"Antwan is having a really good camp – and not just as a pass rusher. I think going in we knew he was going to be a really good pass rusher, and he's proven he can be that. But as far as the run defense, the pass drops, understanding his assignments, he's really had a tremendous camp. He's earned himself some more playing time."
On RB Willis McGahee's knee:"They cleaned it up; it was less than what we thought it was, and it's getting healthy."
On following a plan for camp:"With a plan, you basically structure it so you've got some latitude in there to do what you want based on how it's going. Generally, we stuck exactly to the structure of the camp so we stuck to the plan as far as when we do what. This week was a 'to be determined' week as far as our situational work. So we looked at the game and things that we needed to work on and we worked on those things more. So, we had some flexibility to build some things in."
On being concerned about special teams given his background:"We're concerned about everything. As a football coach, you're concerned with a thousand things that go into winning a football game. So yeah, we're concerned about special teams, but we're concerned about every other part of the game, too."
K Matt Stover
On kicking a field goal to earn a night off:"John [Harbaugh] knows how to put pressure on a guy. He puts the whole team behind you and you've got to make a 48-yard field goal to get the night off, so you've got to be able to put yourself in that situation as a kicker, and there's nothing that will be able to replicate that other than being in a game. So, that's as close as you can get. In fact, I think that was worse than kicking a game-winner, because you don't want to let your guys down."
On still having the team's trust at age 40:"I appreciate that. Ozzie [Newsome], John and Jerry Rosburg – and even Cam [Cameron] – have all been able to communicate very well together. They're great guys. I still have the competitive spirit to go out there and kick footballs and the desire to give me the ball as long as I can do that and perform physically well. Hopefully, I'll be here for a while."
On getting the loud reaction from his teammates for a practice kick:"Yeah, I had that a while back ago. Maybe the [Bill] Belichick era when he would do that to me [in Cleveland], but he would back me up to about 60 yards. He would make it really almost impossible for me to make. When I made it – well you could see the defense and they weren't rushing very hard, were they? I knew I had all kinds of time. I've had them before, but it's fun. It's fun to be able to be a part of that."
On competing for a job with rookie Piotr Czech:"There's always competition, whether or not you've been in training camp by yourself, which I have been several times, or with a guy like Piotr. You'll always find improvement and you're always trying to get better. Piotr is a great kicker. It's just a matter of me staying focused and getting ready for what I know I'm going to have to do against Cincinnati."
On adjusting to the coaching style of Rosburg:"Everybody has their own style, and the thing about Jerry is that he's got a different style than Frank [Gansz, Jr.] and Gary [Zauner] and then Russ [Purnell]. You've got to look at his strengths, and he's a very good scheme guy. He's tremendous with his scheme and we're excited about that. He is [meticulous]. And very – more than detailed – very militarialistic, if that's what you want to call it."
On what his range is:"I've always given my range to be somewhat in the medium range – 32-yard line, 33-yard line. For this team, you don't want to scoot it back too far because of the defense. You don't want to give them a short field. I'm always concentrating on everything inside of 50, 51 yards. I've got to make everything inside of that. Outside of that, I can still make it when I have to, but I don't work at it as hard as I do for the other pieces of it."
On communicating with the coaches:"We still have the same communication going through Jerry – also with Cam and with John. They all know what the ranges are. We haven't had a real in-depth conversation about it, but we've been touching on it here and there."
On whether he envisioned playing this long:"No, and 19 years you don't ever dream of. You just go one year at a time, and God-willing, you end up making a career out of it. A lot of times it's just a great start. But 19 years, I guess you could say is a career, right? (laughter) So it's been a good run."
On his strength compared to when he was younger:"The key is not necessarily strength. It's freshness and being able to pop the ball. I believe that I'm strong. I believe that I'm stronger than I was when I was originally in the league because I know how to train better. But what it comes down to is being able to stay healthy and keeping the pop healthy and keeping the mind fresh. That's really what it's about right now."
On how he prepares:"It's being efficient, doing quality more than quantity. And it's making sure that you're on top of your game and not just out there going through the motions. You're making sure that mentally you're in every kick so that when it does come time to replicate something like that out on the field like we did today or in a game, then I'm able to produce that."
On how he keeps himself fresh:"You train hard. You don't sit back and just kick. You train really hard in the weight room. You make sure that you count your numbers on kicks so you don't kick too much. You just keep mentally fresh. And one way you do that is by removing yourself from the game, as well. I have a family of four at home, so that tends to remove me quite a bit from the game when I'm away from it. And I think that's very important for anybody to do, but when you're here, it's time to work and time to get on top of your game."
On keeping his emotions in check:"You have to try to put yourself out there in practice. One of the things I equate it to is if anybody out there has ever been in a near-car wreck and your heart rate is up to your throat; that's what I feel like when I'm kicking a field goal. And multiply that by a few more when I'm out there kicking a game-winner. In order to get yourself to be able to control those emotions, it takes practice. It takes training to be able to react properly so you don't even go out there and think about it; you just do it.