RAVENS TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS: Aug. 14
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On if the Ravens are a better football team now than when they started camp:"Oh yes, we're a better football team. How much better is yet to be determined, but we're getting better out there."
On his first experience in Westminster: "It was great. Westminster's been great. I've got the route between the hotel and the practice field down, so I've seen all that scenery. And that's a beautiful part of Westminster. But the people have been really great – the hotel, the college [McDaniel College], the coaching staff here, everybody has been really great."
On when he can evaluate the camp: "We evaluate everything every day, and there might be a couple of little minor things that maybe we look at next year, and maybe say we'll tweak this or tweak that. But essentially, in terms of what we want to accomplish as a football team, we're on track to do that. And how you measure that I'm not sure, but every day we've had a good day."
On the area outside the hotel conference room where players congregate before meetings:"Well Kevin Byrne has dubbed that the front porch, right? So I guess that's what it is. Nothing was planned. The guys enjoy being around one another, and it's fun to see."
On how the team has progressed mentally: "Mentally, in a lot of ways, we're a smarter football team. They understand the three packages better than when we started. We're probably a more disciplined football team. How disciplined? Who knows, but [we're] better than the first day. Mentally, we're probably tougher than we were. All those things, sure."
On what they want to see from QB Troy Smith against Minnesota:"We want to see Troy play quarterback well, and do the things that winning quarterbacks do: Move the team, make good decisions, operate the offense and avoid the costly mistake."
On if WR Derrick Mason doesn't play, how much of that is taken into account when evaluating Smith:"You take everything into account. How much do you take into account? How can you say five percent, 10 percent? You know it's not a statistical decision anyway. You watch and evaluate how Troy plays and how he interacts with our guys and how he can raise up the level of their play. That's what a quarterback does."
On rookie S Haruki Nakamura:"Haruki has been, not a pleasant surprise I would say, because we knew he was a good player and that's why we drafted him. I would say he's been everything we thought he would be. He plays fast; he's physical, loves football. He's our kind of guy. He's a Raven."
On if Nakamura has a good shot of making the team right now: "He has a good shot, yes. He's right in the hunt to make the team."
On if Smith would play a full half like QB Kyle Boller did against New England:"Possibly. Like it was before, we have an idea and a target for reps, but it's more of a feel thing than an actual plan."
On if QB Joe Flacco would get an extended amount of reps:"I think we're just going to let it play out during the game. We're not really willing to say right now."
On S Ed Reed not practicing:"He had some issue right before practice that came up last night that he was in the training room with. I don't have the details on it yet."
On if he is concerned that, due to injuries, the entire Ravens first team might not appear on the field during the preseason:"That's a good question. It's an issue, and if you look around the NFL it's always the big issue – getting guys healthy. The way you get healthy, stay healthy, is to build yourself up all through the offseason, all through training camp and all through the season. It starts in February and it goes right on through to February, basically. And that's what guys understand, and that's what guys learn. Are we any more concerned about it now than we were then? We're not. We try to build our guys in such a way for them to stay as healthy as they can for as long as possible throughout a long season."
On his excitement for his first game at M&T Bank Stadium:"I'm looking forward to my first game at M&T. I've been there before as an opponent, and it was loud. So I want it to be just as loud or louder. It should be exciting."
On if OLB Terrell Suggs could be returning next week:"There's a chance. He's making that determination now."
On facing Vikings RB Adrian Peterson:"Well, you know, it's a big challenge. And Brad Childress knows how to use a back like Adrian Peterson. They have a big ol' offensive line. And, you know, we're nicked up a little bit in the D-line. We're never throwing any excuses out there, but it's going to be a chance for our guys, some young guys, to prove what they can do against a powerful running attack, especially in the first quarter. That's exciting for our defense."
On the funniest story from training camp:"The funniest thing? How am I supposed to think of the funniest thing? The funniest guy is Kevin Byrne; you all know that."
On if Eagles head coach Any Reid wants the Ravens or the Vikings to win:"Andy's pulling for the Eagles."
On if he's decided on his wardrobe for Saturday's game (hat or no hat):"Yeah, we came to a conclusion on that. We're going to go practical. If it's nighttime, you don't wear a hat. It's like sunglasses – you don't wear them at night so you're not going to wear a hat at night. But during the day we're going to wear a hat. If it's a cloudy day we might not. If it's rainy I'll wear a hat. Isn't that what we decided?"
QB Troy Smith
On what he hopes to accomplish in Saturday's game:"I would have to say being a leader, first. Stepping up, taking care of the ball. Ball security is always important for us, and putting some points on the board so we can get a win."
On whether he approaches this game differently than his previous regular season starts:"No, I don't think so. I try to take everything as the same. I try to treat every situation with the same kind of morale, just put your all into every situation. You don't want to put too much into one and say that one is more important than the next, because you never know. Even though it's preseason, sometimes it could be your last play. You never know."
On preparations for this week's game:"We prepared the same way we do every week. I think we should, without a doubt, because the NFL is an incredible league with incredible athletes. So, you have to treat it that way week in and week out."
On the game's importance for his growth:"For the most part, my growth and development starts with our playbook. Not only that, but taking care of the ball and putting our team in situations where we can make plays and always be in front and stay on top. Our defense is going to do a great job. Special teams are looking incredible, so now we've just got to do our part."
On using the game to position himself for the starting position:"I don't think about things just in context of myself. It's about the team all the time."
On his comfort level with the offense:"I'm feeling pretty good. Anytime you get a chance to have incredible reps at certain plays over and over again, it does nothing but make you feel a little more comfortable with the offense."
On the end of camp:"I am glad camp's done (laughing). Camp is a trying time, year in and year out. I haven't been a part of any camp where it hasn't been a gut-check where you really look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'Is this really what I want to do this year?' I look at the guys who I've been battling through camp with, and I wouldn't shortchange them a bit. Camp is an incredible time, but I'm happy to go back to Owings Mills."
On younger receivers stepping up:"We had a young guy step up today in Marcus Smith. I challenged some of them. I said, 'Sometimes when the ball is not perfect, our guys won't catch it.' Obviously, the guys took offense to it, and Marcus Smith made a one-handed catch on the post route that one of our great cornerbacks broke on. He ran it to me right afterwards and told me, 'I told you I was going to make the catch.' Guys doing things like that, stepping up day in and day out, is what keeps us going."
On Cam Cameron helping him with his technique:"Definitely, he put me in a situation where the long stride that I had before, which sometimes helped me, in the NFL it's not going to help you that much. Guys who are incredible quarterbacks like Joe Flacco can sometimes get away with it, but I had to change mine up so I could compete."
On what he expects from himself on Saturday:"Just being myself. I'm going to step out there and try to be cool and calm and try to lead this team to a victory."
On playing at home:"It's huge. Coming back and playing in front of our fans, who I think are the best fans in the league, it's an incredible situation. You just want to get a win and make these guys happy."
On how the end of camp this year differs from last year:"I won't be taped to a goal post, so that's good. The new regime this year, it's incredible. At the beginning of camp, myself included, I didn't understand the grind at first. Now, it's clear to me. Coach [John] Harbaugh said at the end of camp, possibly our legs would be fresh. I don't feel anything different than what he said. My legs are fresh, my body feels good, so obviously he was telling the truth."