Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good seeing you guys – appreciate you guys coming out. Obviously, the weather broke a little bit for us – a little cooler, which is good, because this is really a tough practice. This is one of the toughest practices of the whole training camp. This is where we get in there and we really bang. We had goal-line and short-yardage, convert-in-four-minute-type situations, a lot of running practice. It was a very physical, very tough practice. The guys fought through it really well. It's always the one where the coach – at least in my case – this coach gets a little crazy, because it's a tough step to take from the hitting level of intensity to this level of intensity. But I feel like you have to do it before you get into that first preseason game. You push them pretty hard through this. They responded very well. We have a bunch of tough guys, and really, what we're trying to build is a tough team, and this is how it's done. You have to do that together. As far as the injuries, John Urschel and Robert Myers both banged heads, so those are concussion things that we're going to be looking at. I don't know where they stand, but I think we're going to be very cautious with those guys and make sure we get that right. Maxx Williams was poked in the eye, so we'll see how that goes. It should clear up."
We're roughly halfway through this camp now, and every period out here is planned so far in advance. Do you feel like you're on schedule? (Joe Platania) "I do, but – I guess – compared to what? We're just trying to get as good as we can get. We're trying to get as far down the road as we can get. It's not about time, it's about distance, and 'on schedule' would be more … You're always trying to do more and get better and be the best you can be. I feel like we're always playing catch-up. That's kind of the nature of it."
CB/RS Lardarius Webb is healthier this year. What have you seen from him on the field so far in practice? (Ryan Mink) "[He's] more like the old [Lardarius] Webb. He's moving around well. He's competing – quickness, ball skills, all the things that make 'Webby' the corner he is. He looks good out here. [I am] looking forward to just keep ramping up the intensity to the first preseason game – just like everybody else – and get ready to go. But he looks fine."
Being a head coach, you have to know how to manage people. I noticed you were getting on some of the guys. How early are you able to determine how to push each player? (Turron Davenport)"For me it's more of a feel thing than anything. If I think I go too far, then I try to let them know I went too far. If I don't go far enough, I have to grab them again. You always circle back and try to have communication. If it's based in love and based on the idea that you care about them … I want them to be good. I want them to be great. I had a conversation with one guy [and said]: 'You're playing good, but let's not let that get in the way of playing great. Let's not stop with that. You can notch this thing up a little more.' Those are all the things that we try … It's just individual. It's just relationships. It's not really a plan. It's more of a feel thing."
**Do you take the reactions that you get and kind of move that forward to gameday [and find] different ways to get these guys inspired? *(Turron Davenport) *"Yes, I always think you respond to the reaction that you get and try to gauge what they're saying. Everybody is communicating something. We're all communicating all the time, whether we say something or not. You become a pretty good reader of body language and between the lines."
John, when you get on the defense like you did earlier, how do you know in your mind that, that's the defense not doing well as opposed to a really good play by the offense? (Bo Smolka) "I don't know, just 30-some years of experience." *(Reporter: "If you see something you're going to find the reaction you were looking for out of those guys?") *"Yes. Like I said, it's tough to transition into that. That's the trench warfare down in there, so to speak, and that's tough down in there. I thought the D-line just wasn't coming up off the ball explosively enough – I'm talking about the 'twos' – or low enough. It's not hard to see that as a coach. The eye is trained to understand what you're looking at. They just need to get lower and more explosive. We're going to be on the goal line. They should not be running the ball in from the 2-yard line ever against our defense."
John, obviously, you'd like to have WR Breshad Perriman and WR Marlon Brown out here, but you have a lot of receivers in camp, including a bunch of young guys. When they have more reps, how much does that sort of help evaluate other guys you still are learning an awful lot about? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It does. The key is consistency – the ability to not just make plays but to make plays on a consistent basis. The more reps you get, the more we know what we have. That's one of the reasons we practice the way we do. [If] you come out here and practice half of what we do, you're going to have half the body of work to determine [how you've performed]. The more we see guys, the more we're going to know what they really are."
Do you like what you see? That was the prominent topic coming here [to training camp] – the receiver competition. Do you like what you've seen so far? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I like what I see. The potential is there for those guys, but I want to see more. I want to see a guy do it over and over and over again, and we probably aren't far enough into camp to see that. But yes, we've seen flashes from everybody."
The question we always ask you: You and QB Joe Flacco came in at the same time; you've grown together. How honored do you feel to have worked with one guy, or lucky, I guess? Do you see the improvement year by year? (Dave Ginsburg) "Yes. Honored, lucky, blessed – whatever you want to call it. I feel blessed. I feel like that must have been part of the grand-master plan. The grand-master plan was for Flacco and Harbaugh to be together, I guess. I'm sure glad. I don't know how Joe feels about it. (laughter) I hope he's happy about it. I'm sure happy about it, because I think he's great. But we have a long way to go. We have a lot of mountains to climb, still. [We will] see where we go."
Have you seen his improvement from year by year, or was he really good to begin with and he's just added a little bit each year? (Dave Ginsburg) "Yes, that's it. [Joe Flacco] was really good to begin with, and he has gotten better every year like you would hope. He never stops improving, which is what the great ones … I think that's how the great ones are. But the nice thing is he's not at that stage yet where he has to overcome any physical liability. That's still a number of years down the road. He's still improving every day. "
**John, your tight end group is young. I'm just curious, have you seen a lot of what you're looking for from that group, because whoever is out there is going to be a young player? *(Cliff Brown) *"Yes, they have all the skills. I just want them to grow into it quickly, because they have to. It's not like we can sit back and say, 'Hey, he's on schedule.' Those two guys have to go. They have to go make plays right now. That's what we're pushing them to do is go make the plays. The ball is going to be there. It wasn't always there in college, but it's going to be there here. Expect [the ball] to be there and go make [the play]. But they're tough guys. They work really hard. If anybody can do it, they can do it, and we need them to."
John, with CB Kyle Arrington is it precautionary? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Kyle [Arrington] was a rest day. We gave him the day. We'll give 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] the day tomorrow. Through camp, we'll keep doing that with guys."
CB Tray Walker? (Ken McMusick) "Tray [Walker] is still working the hamstring. [Chris] Greenwood is still working the hamstring."
G Kelechi Osemele, anything with him? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, 'K.O.' [Kelechi Osemele] got stepped on yesterday. It wasn't serious, but I decided, because of the nature of the practice, just to keep him out of that. There was going to be a lot of feet getting stepped on today, so I really didn't want him in there today. That was my decision."
OLB Steve Means? (Ken McKusick) "Steven Means. He woke up this morning … What was it? I think he had something with his ankle this morning. It surprised him, so they're looking at him. I don't believe it's serious, but we'll find out." *(Reporter: "Marlon Brown.") *"I haven't heard anything new about Marlon."
QB Joe Flacco
On why changes at offensive coordinator throughout his career make him focus more:"I've tried to go into this whole thing open-minded the last couple years, and I think it's been for the best. I think it teaches you things; it allows you to learn a lot. You bounce ideas off of each other, and I think it challenges you – in a good way – to continue to get better. And it challenges the guys around us, and I think we've got a good group and a group that's willing to take that challenge and make it into a good thing. So, as long as we look at it that way, I think it's all good."
On if he attributes his excellent numbers last year to experience, the offensive line or former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's scheme:"The biggest thing I attribute it to is to the way our offensive line played last year. I just think they played so consistent. It wasn't like it was a sure five guys each week either. We had to plug guys in: John Urschel, James Hurst – I'm not going to name all of them – but guys that were rookies for us. And they stepped right in and did the job just like anyone else would. So, that was a huge help, and anytime you have an offensive line play as well as they did, it makes everybody's job that much easier."
On his impressions of the WRs group and young players so far:"I think they're doing a really good job. They're coming out here every day ready to go, working hard [and are] excited about it. I think we've got a lot of good guys, so it's still … We're a week – a little bit over a week – into camp, and, to be honest with you, we haven't played any live games yet. It's still kind of early, so we have to let this thing play out and just see who starts to rise. Right now, they're all doing a pretty good job."
On if it's concerning to not have WRs Marlon Brown and Breshad Perriman at practice:"Obviously, I'd like to have those guys out there as much as we can, especially Breshad [Perriman] being a young guy. The bottom line is you have to be healthy, and that's priority No. 1. It's unfortunate that he can't be out there getting better with us, but it's just the name of the game."
On being comfortable under center and the tight ends:"I think the tight ends are getting better and better each day; that's a really young group. Crockett [Gillmore] is a second-year player, and then we've got a bunch of rookies. [We have] a couple guys that have been in the league for a little bit, but [they've] been here, been there. So, I think those guys are getting better and better each day. They have a ton of room for improvement, and they're really starting to climb up and show it." *(Reporter: "It seems like there was good discussion going on, and you were leading it.") *"That's part of practice, is coming out here, running plays, having things happen that you can't necessarily account for or draw up on the board and then talking about it and seeing the best way to attack things and what I saw versus what they saw or felt. That's what makes it better."
On how tough it is to not have TE Dennis Pitta at practice and how he expects Pitta's situation to play out:"To be honest with you, as unfortunate as it is, I've kind of become used to not having him out there. It's been a while since I've had him out there, but I think he's doing all you can, obviously, throughout the course of the day to work out and get healthy. But we've got to rely on these young guys and focus on getting them better right now."
On WR Breshad Perriman and how long it takes to build chemistry with a new receiver:"It's different for everybody. But the bottom line is you have to go out there and do reps, and you have to get live reps. You have to see how they are when they're getting hit and when they've got guys coming up and pressing them and being physical and all that stuff. But it also comes down to how talented of a group – of a guy – you have, me and him together, how talented we are together. With him, from what I've seen, he's a really talented player, and we've just got to get him out here and get working together."
On if CB Lardarius Webb seems healthy and what he has seen from Webb while throwing against him in practice:"I sure hope so. He looks a lot better than he probably did … Was he out here a year ago? *(Reporter: "He missed most of camp.") *"He missed most of camp, yes. I remember last offseason, he was doing some things, not doing some things, and you could tell he wasn't quite back to himself. This year he seems like he's back. He's confident, he's healthy and I'm excited for him, because he's a really good player. He did a lot of things for us. He covers [and] he tackles, so he's got to be out there and feeling confident about what he's doing, and I think he's working back towards that. That's the biggest thing with him was just getting out there and doing it again and proving to himself that he can do it."
On if he has seen progress in his own play from year to year and if he expects to be better this season due to experience:"Yes, I sure hope so. I feel that way. I feel like our unit is getting better. I feel like I'm getting better, and when that day comes where I'm not getting better anymore, then that's when you probably know it's time to hang it up. So I hope that's not for a while. I feel better and better each year and just more and more excited, even about coming to camp, getting with the guys and doing it. It's just a lot of fun, and it's great to work hard and feel good about the team you have."
On the last time he has missed a game due to injury:"I've never missed a game because of an injury."
On if there is any concession to age entering his eighth season:"To be honest with you … Listen, it's not like I'm a guy that's going out there and running around for 800 yards a season. To be honest with you, as long as you keep your body healthy, a quarterback … Quarterback is a position where you should get better as you age. Obviously, there comes a point where you start to decline, but I don't know why that age can't be 45 if you really want it to be. It's not like we're sitting back there and making eight guys miss and throwing a pass. You're dropping back within a 4x4-yard area, and you're throwing a football. I've just got to keep my arm in shape and stay healthy, and as long as I keep my head right, that's really what it comes down to."
On if he feels that he is hitting the peak in his career:"To be honest with you, I think there's definitely a physical peak that you hit in terms of just physicality and all that, and I think when you come into the league 22, 23, 21, some guys … People think you're mature and physically … You think you're mature mentally, always, and you're not ever, probably. But physically, you think you're this real physical guy, even as a quarterback – not that I'm [especially] physical – but you think you're as big as you're going to be. You think you're that, but you realize you're a little kid. So coming in, probably the last two years at 30 years old now – it's funny – but I feel like I'm starting to finally mature. So I think there is definitely a physical peak for people, and it's probably a little bit later than most people would believe. Other than that, I think I'll just go back to what I said last: Mentally, I think there's no reason that you can't get better and better and better. And at my position, that's a lot of it."
CB/RS Lardarius Webb
On how good he feels after last year:"I feel good. Just to be able to be here at the start of training camp with the guys, we're all getting used to each other. [I am] just trying to pick up the secondary, trying to be that leader for the guys."
On teaming up with CB Jimmy Smith going into this season: "It's going to be big. With Jimmy [Smith] healthy and me too, we can lock down the outside. That means the defense can do a lot of different things. We're kind of the key to this defense, [with] what [defensive coordinator] Dean Pees likes to do. We're a big part of that. If we can be healthy and get all the corners playing good, we can do more."
On getting more turnovers being a priority: "That's No. 1 now. When we're at practice, we're trying to make it happen in practice. We know if we can do it in practice, it will turn over into the games. We try to emphasize, 'Let's get picks every day. Not just one, but all the guys. Let's try to get three or four picks a day and try to make it a habit.' I think we're doing a great job at it."
On whether opponents will throw at him or CB Jimmy Smith: "They're going to come to me first. Then when they get through trying me, then they might try him. They're going to come to me first to make sure I'm good."
On why he thinks quarterbacks will throw toward him first and then CB Jimmy Smith: "I don't know. [Jimmy Smith is] 6-2, 200 [pounds]. I don't know. I just had a couple down years, so if they're smart, they should come to me first and try me first. Then they'll go back over."
On opponents throwing at him first: "Come on, I'm ready. I'll be ready. I'll definitely be ready this year for anything that they have to come at me."
On playing in the slot: "I just like being out there, really. I can be a safety, corner, nickel. I just like being on the field healthy, helping my defense out at anything. I love playing the nickel; it's a natural spot. I get to tackle, I get to cover, I get to talk more and be more a part of the defense. I do like the nickel, especially as a veteran, so I can talk to the younger corners, talk to the new safeties and communicate with linebackers. It's a bigger responsibility at the nickel, and I like that." *(Reporter: "Rushing the passer?") *"Rushing the passer and all those different things – that's why I do like the nickel."
On what he has seen from CB Rashaan Melvin: "Just [Rashaan Melvin's] mental [attitude]. If he gives up a play, he comes back and competes again. We knew he had kind of a bad game in New England [during the Divisional Playoff]. He's taking a step forward now that he's competing every play and forgetting about the play that happened [before] the next play. That's what we want from him. Things are going to happen. Sometimes guys are going to catch the ball. We just want him to come back the next play and compete like nothing ever happened, and he's doing a great job at it."
On a frustrating 2014 season motivating him: "You never want to be hurt. There's nothing you can really do. Injuries happen. I'm just so happy to be able to be healthy, to be on the field, to be able to be me. That's what just kind of makes me – facing adversity, the things I've been through since I've been a Raven. I've been down with a couple injuries, but the one thing about me [is] I always know how to get back up. It's not just about me. It's my teammates, it's my defense, it's the guys around me that help me get up. As long as I've got these teammates, man, everything is going to be just fine."
On his mindset after overcoming injuries: "You just don't think about injuries. You just go out and be yourself. Those injuries have helped me. When other guys go through bad times – not just injuries – just a difficult day or injury, I know how to talk to them, talk them out of it, because I've been through it. Me being a leader, that comes in play what I've been through in my six years in the league. When these guys go through every day, I just know how to get them up, keep their mind up, keep them going home with a smile on their face, so they won't have something laying on them all day and affecting their performance on the field. I'd just say all the things I've been through happened for a reason, for this day, for this moment now."
On campaigning to be a return man: "I go back there every day. I haven't dropped one [ball]. I'm just there [teaching] the young guys – [Michael] Campanaro, Asa Jackson, DeAndre Carter. These guys are doing an awesome job at it, and I'm just trying to get them along and helping them out at it. They're doing a great job. I shouldn't have to take over that role."
On the key to having a better season: "A better season? We've got the guys around us. [The personnel department] made sure they got great safeties; we got another good corner. But it's all about health. If I'm healthy, then I can be me and our defense can do what we do."
On the disappointment of failing the conditioning test: "That was rough. I tried to go out and work on myself in the offseason, running and trying to gain a little weight, put some muscle on myself, and I came back, and I flunked my conditioning test. I told [head coach John Harbaugh] that I was out taking care of myself in the offseason – which I really was – but I think some more weight on me made me fail the conditioning test. Not being out there on the first day kind of looked bad for me trying to be the leader in my secondary and the group, and I'm not out there to lead them, and I'm on the sideline, because I can't pass the conditioning test. It was kind of disappointing, but I told them that I'm going to pass it, and I'll be out there with them, and I did just that."