MONDAY (8/6) TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "I appreciate you guys being here. I appreciate the Rams being here. We had a very good practice. I felt like the two teams cooperated very well, quite a bit of physicality – just a good, strong football practice. Before going any further, though, I'd like to wish our condolences to the Heckert family for the passing of Tom Heckert. We had a chance… many of us on our staff have worked with Tom Heckert over the years. [There's] not a better guy, not a better father who loved his kids, one of the best GMs and one of the best personnel men ever in football. [He was] just a pleasure to be around every day, so [we're] very sorry for his loss and for his family. Also, Governor [Larry] Hogan was out here, so we appreciate him coming out. We always want to welcome him and his staff out."
What was different about the rules for practice today, and is anything going to be different tomorrow? The punt-blocking, for example. _(Ken McKusick) _"It was all the exact same rules that both of our teams have for our normal practice. So, we practice exactly the way we do in pads, and they practice the way they do in pads, so it will be the same."
John, sometimes when these joint practices happen, there can be some scrappiness. It didn't seem like anything like that out there today. _(Jamison Hensley) _"I thought both teams were here to get better. Both teams had an agenda, which was to improve. I can't wait to get back and watch the tape, to be honest with you, and just see what we need to get better at. When you go against somebody else, it changes the dynamic just enough. I think you get a clearer indication of where you're at. There are going to be guys that did well, and some other guys are going to have to step it up."
From the naked eye, though, what was your observation of how you guys did, just from the naked eye? _(Keith Mills) _"I thought we did fine. I was on the offensive field most of the time. It was pretty solid. We were O. It was just OK. It was a work day."
Is that somewhat of a challenge, because you're on one field, which means you're not watching essentially half your team? _(Bo Smolka) _"We have tape, though. I'll get a chance to see it on tape. The eye in the sky doesn't lie. We'll see everything."
John, it looks like this camp – and I think we even talked in this offseason about QB Joe Flacco and the deep ball – do you think there's a reason why this year it seems like it's just clicking a little bit more? (Jamison Hensley) _"It's just a work in progress. I don't think we hit any deep balls out here today." _(Reporter: "One, I think, with John [Brown]. But even in the past, it seemed like…) "It's good, and we just have to keep getting better. Before we start patting ourselves on the back for completing passes, we probably should do it in games first."
How beneficial was it for the offense to square off against a prolific defense like L.A.'s? _(Stephen Pimpo) _"That's a good team. Obviously, they have a very good defense, and I think they have a very good offense. It's excellent to practice against a team like this. That's why we were excited when Sean [McVay] said they wanted to come in and practice. It was very positive for us."
John, with QB Robert Griffin III, has anything really stood out, maybe even from the game, but what really stands out to you about dealing with him? _(Jamison Hensley) _"What stands out for me for Rob Griffin is that he's a pro. He's a constant pro. He's very upbeat all the time. He knows what he's doing, and he knows how to operate. Beyond that, I thought he played well. He made plays and threw the ball out here well today. He's playing very well."
John, this is a little more of a broader question. When was the first time you remember seeing a run-pass option play, whether it was in a college game? And how is that going to play, tripled in the league? _(Adam Kilgore) _"I cannot remember when I first saw it. As the guys here know, I don't have great memory for stuff like that. But, I will say that it's definitely growing. It's probably because it's good football. If you trace it back, I really believe it goes back to option football, to the triple option. My dad ran the triple option for years and years at Western Kentucky very effectively, and the same principles are in play. The pitch phase, now, is usually the pass part of it, so it's even more creative. And the high school players do it. These are high school plays, really, high school plays that went into college and now in the NFL. I don't think you'll see a team come out here and be completely an RPO-type team, because in this league, you can pretty much shut down anything that's just one thing. But it's going to be a big part of people's offenses for sure."
Does innovation tend to trickle up like that? You mentioned from high school and college film._ (Adam Kilgore)_"I haven't done the study on that. My guess is [it goes both ways."
John, after the opener that OLB Kamalei Correa had, what do you want to see from him in the second preseason game? Obviously, probably the same thing, but how much more can he do? _(Shawn Stepner) _"More of the same from Kamalei. More of the same. Just keep building on it, just keep improving, keep it simple, stick to the process [and] become a better player tomorrow than he was today. And if you do that, good games happen like that. The results are more of a product of the process and the effort. If he sticks to what he's doing, I think he'll be just fine."
John, how happy are you to have G/Marshal Yanda back out on the field doing things? Going through that surgery, you expected him to be here at this point, but you don't know until he is there. [How is it] to have your leader out there on the field, not just for the offensive line, but for the team? _(Pete Gilbert) _"It's really important. Marshal makes a big difference in our offensive line. What's the exponential number? What's the percentage better? A lot. Seeing him out there today doing individual [drills] was good for my blood pressure. I'm happy to see it, and I just want to keep seeing him get better."
John, normally this game would be your first game. Do you handle it like your first game, or do you handle it like your second preseason game? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It'll be like the first game. We'll treat it like the first game."
How excited are you to be back in front of the home crowd with the game coming up on Thursday? (Kyle Barber)"We're very excited for our fans. I want our fans to come out. The way they were in Canton, man, I think they'll be excited. Come watch us play. Be loud. The stadium improvements they've made are pretty amazing! I can't wait for the fans to see what they've done with the stadium improvements. It's almost like a different stadium out there. It's always been a great stadium. So, come out and see the stadium. See the team."
John, how beneficial, in this kind of heat, when it's hard at the end of practice to go through it, but when you're going against another team, it kind of keeps your edge all the way through that heat? _(Pete Gilbert) _"That's a great point – the fact that this heat will do damage to guys' concentration and focus. Yet when you're going against another team, especially a team of this caliber, you can't lose your focus, or you get embarrassed. So, I was happy for that."
Do you have any consideration on shorts and short sleeves for yourself? Or is it a slam dunk with the pants? (Ryan Mink) _"It was absolutely a slam dunk. The hotter it is, the more clothes we wear. That's our new motto." _(laughter)"These clothes breathe pretty well, though." (Reporter: "Did your brother [Jim Harbaugh] pick those pants out?") "Yes, I think they're from his collection, actually." (laughter)
Did you get a sense from players, even this morning, that there was more juice to have another team coming in the building? _(Bo Smolka) _"I do. I think there was a little more juice. But, I also think our players were like, 'When is practice going to start?' Because we [normally] practice at 8:45 a.m., so our players were like, 'Can we get this thing rolling?' Once it came around, they were excited to go."
QB Joe Flacco
On if going against another team in practice another positive step for the offense: "It's tough, really, what to make of it, but I think it is a good test. It's always good to go against some different guys. You get used to going against your defense and seeing what they do every day. It's good to see something else. There's some ups and downs today, but we finished really well. The last few periods, guys made some plays. It was a lot of fun."
On if there were discussions of maintaining tempers during practice:"Yeah, it always gets brought up. Having said that, you never know what's going to happen once you get out here. It's always tough to tell. I think the guys did a good job feeling each other out in the first few periods, and really, just doing a good job from there." (Reporter: "Anything said to Michael Crabtree beforehand?")"No, not that I noticed. I don't want to make anything of it. No, nothing really."
On how physical the Rams were from the start: "You're always just feeling each other out at that beginning part. You expect, when there's a different team, you expect them to come out here and be physical. You expect it to be a little more physical than your normal practice. We see each other every day in the locker room. As much as you don't want to admit it, there's a little bit of brother-in-lawing going on out there between the linemen and stuff like that, when we're at practice together. I think that ramps up a little bit when you get against a team you haven't been against before."
On if he plans on carrying this into the game Thursday:"Oh yeah. It's a unique experience to practice against someone and take that for a few days and go play against them. Do you come out here and treat it like a normal practice? What do you do? I think we just came out here and did our thing today. Hey – it's a preseason game – No. 1 really. It'll be a good test, and this might just really add to that test we have on Thursday."
On what he is expecting on Thursday:"Good things, man. Listen, I think we've had a really good camp so far. I'm really confident in our group of guys and how we're going to go out there and perform. I think guys are … I think we have a bunch of gamers and we're ready to go."
On the significance of preseason and what the new receiving corps does to that significance this season:"You always want to go out there and do well in preseason. You don't get very many chances to do it, and it does make it a little bit weird because you have one drive some games, and there's not too much you can do to make up for a bad one. So, you want to go out there and you want to play well. It's obviously not at the point where it really, really counts, but I think it does a lot for the confidence of the team and the confidence of an offense to go out there and perform well."
On quarterbacks coach James Urban:"James is great – just the way he talks, the way we get in that room and the way he coaches it up. I think him and [offensive coordinator] Marty [Mornhinweg] have a connection, and they can talk the same lingo. I think that definitely helps when you get in the room. It allows Marty … You know, last year Marty was in our meetings constantly. Now it allows him to go be a coordinator and bounce around from meeting to meeting, go up and spend some time by himself and work on the gameplan. I think James has handled it well. He does a great job relaying that message, and he also does a great job in … He's somebody that we can talk to in meetings and bounce ideas off of, and then he can go relay them to Marty. It's just a very good situation."
On why he has been connecting with receivers more on the deep ball this season compared to others:"John [Brown] is doing a really good job of just making things happen really quick. I don't know if you've noticed, but we've hit him down the field, we've hit him back shoulder, down the field, back shoulder, everything. I really think that's a credit to him and just how well he can get off the ball and get going vertical and put those DBs in a bad position. When you don't get that, it makes it a little bit tough to hang back there and figure out where you're going to put the ball. I think him in particular, he's just been doing a great job of beating guys off the line and showing guys what he's made of."
On Ray Lewis' Hall of Fame speech and Canton's atmosphere:"It was awesome. Ray's the best linebacker and arguably one of the best players to ever play this game. To be able to be there for one last speech of his … I got to be around it for five years, and it's definitely a sight to see. It's unbelievable what he does. And playing with him, he's just one of those leaders that no matter what the situation is, he made you feel at ease. He made you feel comfortable, everything was going to be good, everything was going to be alright. I think that was one of his biggest attributes. I thought his speech was awesome. I thought everyone got to see who he was, who he is. I think he's doing great things."
On playing against recent Hall of Fame inductees like Brian Dawkins and Brian Urlacher:"It's neat! It really is. It's crazy how quickly this goes. You snap your fingers, and you're in year whatever. I got to play against Brian [Urlacher] and got play against a few of those guys, like you said. That's the first one I've been to out there, and I think it made it a little bit more unique, a little bit cooler, that I was able to actually play against some of those guys. And obviously, see some other guys from teams in the stands out there supporting their guys, just like we were supporting Ray, ot was neat."
On blending the new receivers with those retained from last season:"I think we have a great room in there. Anytime you bring new guys in, it can be an issue. But I think the guys that have already been in there are young guys. I think they've really welcomed them in and really, it's made them better. I think everybody has elevated their game. I think that's a huge credit to them checking their ego at the door and allowing those three to come in and learn from them. The same thing from the other guys. It's a credit to them how easily they've been able to come in and adapt to a new situation."
On QB Robert Griffin III: "Rob's great. He's a real good guy, real confident guy and throws the ball really well. He moves around really well. I've really enjoyed, to be honest, being here the last few months with him, and hopefully he can stick around for a long time in the same role he's in right now."
QB Lamar Jackson
On reflecting on his first NFL game: "I played alright – but I want that interception back, like I said on NFL Network. It was pretty bad for me – I don't like those. I don't like throwing interceptions. But as a whole, I feel like as a team we went out there and performed well. [We] came out with a 'W.'"
On if he saw the mistake he made on the interception:"Yeah, absolutely. Just getting back, hesitating a little bit on the throw. In the league you can't do that. It's a lot faster; it's not college. That was it."
On if the speed of the NFL surprised him:"Oh definitely! Definitely. I was going to the sideline one play [and] a linebacker caught me from behind. I was like, 'Oh yeah, you have to run full speed with these guys.' It was pretty intense."
On if he's focusing more on the mistakes rather than the successes from the last game:"Everything. Build off the success and just help myself with the mistakes I had and try to reduce the mistakes. We had penalties and stuff going on – we don't like those here."
On if he was aware of not getting hit when running the ball:"No, I was focused on winning the game. I wasn't really worried about those big hits. It's going to be delivered. You're a grown man out here. It's going to come – we're playing against great opponents. I'm just trying to get the 'W,' and we did."
On what he personally wants to do better in the next game:"Like I said before, my timing with throws and not hesitating with the ball, just my release, just making it a little faster."
On why he doesn't take breaks during practice: "[I'm] just trying to get better. I got vets with me: [Joe] Flacco, Josh [Woodrum], 'R.G.' [Robert Griffin III]. Those guys are the vets. I'm still trying to get better [and be] where they're at."
On what he learned going against the Rams' defense in practice compared to the Bears' defense:"Different lines, different competitors. Pretty much nothing different. Guys come the same way. I would say the Rams are probably a little faster, that's all. They were moving around a lot faster – yeah, I would say that. And it was hot out here. It was taking a toll on us. No – I'm just playing!"
On the Hall of Fame game environment:"That was incredible. Having Ray Lewis get inducted my rookie year and first game is the Hall of Fame Game was incredible. To see him do the famous dance right in front of me, I was like, 'Yeah, that's unreal!' I wish he could've padded up with us, but his time came."
On seeing Florida native and Miami Hurricane Ray Lewis:"It's incredible for another Florida guy, like you said. [He] just [got] put on a high pedestal. Not a lot of people wear those gold jackets. He was able to do it, like I said before, during my rookie year, so that's incredible."
On if the increased game speed will affect how much he'll run or if he'll run anyway: "No, I'm just trying to win any way, any way possible. I'm going to try not to run; I'm going to throw the ball or run. The game speed is totally different from different. All 11 [players] are running to the ball. There's no one back there jogging, trying to take a break. All 11 are there to the ball. People are trying to feed their families. It's a grown man game."
On what he can learn in the preseason to prepare for a game:"You're really preparing like it's regular season no matter what – just trying to go out there, scope out your opponent, knowing what they like to run against different formations and stuff. It's basically regular season for me."
On what it means to operate the offense:"Going into the huddle, calling the play correctly. [John Harbaugh] knew I was having trouble in OTAs and rookie minicamp calling the plays. So he wanted me to go out there and run the show and get to the line of scrimmage fast, get the ball going. That's what I try to do."
S Eric Weddle
Opening statement: "Beautiful day! The Ravens kicked butt today! That's all that matters. Fire away."
On how excited he is to play in his first preseason game in front of a home crowd: "Oh yeah. Excitement level [is] probably around a five in a preseason game, 10 to see our fans, obviously. Nothing like playing in our stadium. But honestly, you just want to get your timing down, get a few hits, be sound in your reads and get to Week 1 without any injuries. We'll see what the young guys have got."
On the best thing about having another team at practice: "Just the competitive atmosphere. Going against different guys, you get kind of set in your ways, in a rhythm of who you're playing against on your own team. You know what kind of routes he likes. You know his movements, his mannerisms, when he gets to the top of routes, you know the action of the drill. It's just nice to go against a really good quarterback and his receivers and their system. It's a good switch-up for us, and it breaks up the monotony of camp. We enjoy it. It was great today, great back and forth. There wasn't any chipping or late hits or anything like that. It was good, clean ball, and that's what you'd expect out of a good-coached team like them and with us with 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh]."
On if he learned anything about how the helmet rules are called: "Helmet rules are really a hot topic! Honestly, it's going to be a feeling-out process. The refs are going to try to do their best on calling it on what they see and what they understand is the rule. Us as players, the coaches are coaching us and teaching us what the rule is. For me, honestly, if you lead with your head, and it's the first thing to hit a guy, you're probably going to get called. So, don't lead with your head. Be a sound tackler. Honestly, I don't foresee it being much of a problem with me. I'm not the biggest hitter. I'm a sure tackler. I can lay the 'wood' when I need to. But, it's just playing sound football. It's the same thing as you've been taught since you were six years old playing Pop Warner. You don't drop your head. You don't lead with your head. All of a sudden, it's a big deal because a guy got injured last year dropping his head. It's one instance out of hundreds of thousands of plays. Let's just remember, we're professionals. We'll learn the rule and know what we're doing, and the game will be fine."
On the biggest change into his third year with the Ravens' secondary: "I think the continuity. I think two years ago, when I got here, it was a transition of sorts with the secondary. A lot of moving parts. Who was going to be here? Who was not going to be here? It wasn't really good play. Over the last couple years, we've stepped up our play as a secondary making plays, and we've just got to continue to get better. And the continuity itself, we have our secondary intact from last year. We get Tavon [Young] back. Tony [Jefferson] is back healthy. Jimmy [Smith], coming off Achilles, I don't know how he's back out here full-speed, but he is, and he looks amazing. Those things are always a positive when you're going into another year, Brandon [Carr] being in Year Two, myself being Year Three. In the same system with 'Wink' [Don Martindale] taking over, there are no drawbacks. There's only positive energy and positive schematic changes that are going to help us as a group. We're excited. We expect big things from our defense."
On if there's a difference in defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale's style of coaching: "He's a different personality than Dean [Pees], obviously, but we're just going to try to go out there and be our best. All this talk about 'Wink,' and, 'What is he going to do?' The bottom line is, if we don't play good, it doesn't matter, and we'll all be gone. We have to go out and focus on our job and focus in on finishing games and having a great system and playing for certain situations. We'll do that, and we'll go out and execute."
On Vikings S Andrew Sendejo's "Make Football Violent Again" hat:"It's awesome. (laughter)I don't know if I would say 'make [football] violent again,' but you just hope eventually that they don't keep making these rule changes every year where it's not fun anymore. This is the greatest game in the world. It's the greatest team sport. It's been going on for a lot of years, and we don't need to keep tweaking and changing the game. It's a good game. But, when we're trying to make it better, trying to make it safer for the players, then we have to adapt a little bit and be a pro. I don't foresee it being that big of a problem. There are going to be some calls you get, some calls you don't. Just line up and play the next down."
On if the helmet rule makes the safety position more difficult:"Our job is hard anyways. You have to bring down big running backs [in the] openfield, you have to cover wide receivers, tight ends. So, the last thing I'm going to be worrying about when I'm about to make tackles is if my head is up or not. I think, if I don't see what I'm hitting, I'm going to miss the tackle. That's not good technique. If I continue to not make good tackles, then I won't be playing. We'll be all right. Safety is a hard position, and it's not going to be any tougher. We just have to go play, be a playmaker! I want to be a playmaker anyway. I don't want to be hitting guys. I want to make picks and score touchdowns and knock the ball out."
On the significance of preseason games for himself and the team: "It's a fine line. As an organization, you like to see the young guys in live situations. You don't want to be live against your own team, especially with the 'ones.' Can you imagine if Joe [Flacco] got hurt, or Marshal Yanda or 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs], for that matter? You don't want to take that chance. But in the games, it's your chance to see if the young guys are going to be able to contribute. For us, I don't mind the preseason, honestly, for my position. I think it varies for position. I need to get in there and get my timing down for openfield tackles, for the timing of getting the snap count, for getting the play. The speed of the game is up in the preseason games. Then, it's up in the regular season. Just the feel of being in the game, of live atmosphere and the adrenaline and how you're going to react, I don't mind it, honestly. Now, I don't want to be in there for 45 plays, but 10-15 plays a game, it doesn't bother me. But for other guys, it depends on your position. I don't think some positions need to be in there, quite honestly. So, it just depends. 'Harbs' does a good job with the 'ones,' but it's just crazy. High school, college, you don't have preseason games. You just go into the season. And all of a sudden … It's always been that way in the NFL. You have preseason games. You don't need them."
On which positions he thinks don't need preseason games: "It just depends. O-Line and D-Line, they're getting basically live work every day. I don't think really being in live action is really that important for those guys. Linebackers, again, you're thudding. If you don't know how to tackle now, you're not going to tackle in preseason and learn how to tackle then! This is crazy. You guys are getting me all out of whack over here. (laughter) I just know I'm just trying to be the best, and I'll be out there as long as they tell me to be out there. If they say a whole game, I'll be like, 'Nah, that's not going to happen,' but I try to do my best."
On how he's seen RPO plays spread in the NFL, and if he thinks they're going to be part of many offenses: "I'm on the other side. I think in five years, it's going to be out. I think it's just another phase. I think they're trying to adapt to the college game. [It's] mostly college offenses doing these RPOs, simple reads, get on the ball, 'run 95 plays in a game,' 'the more plays the better,' yada, yada, yada. Honestly, I think the hardest teams to defend are the teams that run the ball in play action and [take] shots. If you can't stop the run, it's going to be a long day on defense. RPOs, we have a great plan. I'm not really worried about it. It'll be just another phase, in my opinion, where defenses see it and get used to it. It's just a revolving door. It's just like the wildcat, and the quarterback run game, yada, yada, yada. Teams that run the ball and take shots are usually the hard teams to beat."
On the Ravens new receivers and the challenges they pose to defenses:"Just as a whole group, there's just more … They make more plays. Over the middle, nine balls, those contested balls where usually we're coming down with them [or] breaking them up, they're coming down with them. Tough catches, where you go back and watch film and you say, 'Man, that's going to be a catch in the game. We couldn't have done any more as a defense.' It's nice for us, and it's nice to see Joe [Flacco] back there confident and hit that back foot and just fire it in there, not worried about it, not worried about the protection, not worried about the receiver. Whoever he's throwing to, just fire it in there, and he's confident those guys are going to make it. It's exciting to watch how far they've come. Obviously, we've got to do it during the season, live bullets, but I expect our offense to be outstanding this year and really show a lot of improvement over the last couple of years."