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Transcripts: Ravens Wednesday OTA Interview

Head Coach John Harbaugh

On QB Troy Smith's performance in practice today:"Troy had a good practice. He was sharp. He competed. He had a good time. It was a good practice."

On what stands out to him about Smith: "Troy is a leader. Anytime you've won the Heisman Trophy, anytime you've been in a national championship game, you obviously know how to lead an offense and lead a team. He likes football, he likes being out there, he's around the building. I'd say the same thing for Kyle [Boller]. Both those guys have done a great job of studying Cam's [Cameron] offense and they're getting better every day."

On what he's looking for from the young wide receivers:"We're looking for them to be good receivers – run good routes, block people downfield, catch the ball and finish plays – nothing other than that. [I'm] not too philosophical."

On looking for yards after the catch: "Yards after the catch are a good thing. We want to catch the ball and get up the field. But before we get yards after the catch, we've got to make the catch. We could work on that after today a little bit better."

On how much Cam Cameron needs to modify the offense to his style:"That's a good question. Cam's philosophy and the whole thing is built around building the offense to the personnel. So, it's a broad spectrum of offense. I don't know if anybody's playbook could be any thicker. What's he's trying to do is to put guys in positions where they can do the things that they do well. At the same time, our guys have to modify from the standpoint that we're stretching them tremendously. They're learning a lot at a fast tempo and that's where they have to keep up."

On whether he's disappointed Joe Flacco can't be in camp this week: "Sure. You want every guy here for every practice. But, that's the way the rules read and that's just the way it works. We'll get plenty of work out of him when he gets here."

On the rumors of the Ravens' interest in DE Jason Taylor and whether Baltimore has had any official talks with the Dolphins: "Not that I'm aware of."

On what Flacco might miss this week that would be hard to catch up on: "Well, the biggest thing is – all the offensive stuff he can catch up on – but reps; it's hard to get those back. We're going to have to try and incorporate as many reps as we can for him. One of the reasons we moved the rookie camp back to after the three passing camps was because he couldn't be here for the first three days and now [he can]. Basically, our guys have dubbed it the 'Flacco Camp.' So, the rookies are here after the passing camps. You've got the whole team here, running routes and covering and doing all that, and he's not here. That's something that he missed."

On how the QB rotation will change when Flacco gets to camp: "That's going to be up to Cam. I don't think the rotation changes at all, but he's going to get plenty of reps. If all three of those guys are competing for a spot they deserve an opportunity."

On how the new 40-second clocks on the field have affected practice: "We want to manage the clock, and the best way to do it is to see it every single day. That's an innovation that coach Cameron brought in and it's been great. It has speeded up the tempo of practice generally."

On WR Demetrius Williams not practicing today: "Demetrius has an issue with his Achilles. So, we're working on that right now."

On trying out OLB Edgar Jones on offense today: "Edgar was a high school tight end, as we found out, so he volunteered for duty. We do have a shortage of tight ends right now, so why not?"

On whether today's practice lived up to the tempo he wants: "The tempo has been really good. We've got to think within that tempo. We want the tempo to stay fast and we want the guys to manage their improvement within that tempo. So, we're getting better within the tempo."

On any news or definitive timetable regarding T Jonathan Ogden: "Nothing definitive on Jonathan. No timetable that I've heard. I don't think there's any change. I wouldn't speculate on it."

On whether he has been in contact with Ogden: "Text messaging. But, Ozzie [Newsome] talks to him on a pretty regular basis. [There is] nothing new that I've heard."

On if his gut feeling is that if Ogden were planning to retire, he would have announced so already: "You know the old saying: 'I'd rather have a guy who thinks with his brain than his gut.' I don't have a gut feeling about it."

On his advice to RB Willis McGahee when he throws out the first pitch at the Orioles game on Sunday: "High heat, high heat, man. Throw it hard. It's better to throw it in the backstop than the dirt."

On what he sees in person from McGahee versus what he has seen on film: "Right now there's no way to make that evaluation because this isn't real football, so to speak. The guy is a quality back in the NFL. We just need to get him in football shape and give him an opportunity to learn this offense inside and out. That's what he's doing right now."

On whether McGahee needs to be in better shape than last year: "Everybody needs to be in better shape to play at the tempo we're going to try to play at. It has nothing to do with last year. It just has to do with the fact that if you're a world-class athlete, you need to be in world-class shape. That takes world-class work."

On his biggest adjustment since becoming a head coach:"We joked about it earlier – finding a place to stand at practice. I got that figured out. I know where to stand. It's fun standing in front of a football team. As a special teams coach you get to do that and that's been a good transition. When you look at a football team like these guys, guys who like football, that's really what coaching is all about."

On whether his time management is different now:"It's been crazy. But we get lots of assistance, so it's been fine."

On what he sees in his special teams: "We've got some guys that are proven special teams players and some young guys that have the mindset to be good special teams players. Other than that, we're just building a foundation."

On acquiring CB Lenny Walls: "Lenny's a quality corner who's played in the NFL. We felt like he upgraded us from a competitive standpoint and he'll compete for a spot on the team."

On whether he feels he takes more input from assistants as a first-time head coach compared to more experienced head coaches: "The only NFL head coach I've been around in Andy Reid, and he took a lot of input from his assistants. So, I'd say no." LB Bart Scott

On how the increased tempo in practice is helpful to the players: "It's good for us because it's going to build our cardio up, it's going to get us to continue to play faster and make us communicate fast whenever we get in there. If we prepare to communicate fast as a team in a traditional huddle, then we're going to be one step ahead in our communication. Communication is always the key in being a successful defense."

On his thoughts on QB Troy Smith in practice this year compared to last season: "I think he did an admirable job last year. He's just trying take the next step forward. There's always the next tier. It's going to be a competition. I think this thing is wide open and he has a tremendous opportunity to start at quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens."

On last season: "Whenever you've had such a high season [such as 2006's 13-3 campaign], you know the higher you go the farther you fall. We fell pretty far last year. We were kind of off the radar. We have to build that respect back up. We've got to earn that respect. You've got to come here and be dedicated to your class and build up that chemistry so we can come back and try to make a run for it."

On improving the defense:"We finished [ranked] sixth last year. Maybe we weren't respected and feared as much. We had a lot of injuries, and we just want to come back and decide for ourselves to be who we are."

On the intensity at practice today: "That's funny, because we've had scuffles here before but it's the first time that it was brought up. You guys have a tremendous knack for building some things up and acting like it's never happened before. But, that's what you guys get paid for and that's what you guys learn in college. So, keep it up."

LB Tavares Gooden

On the toughest adjustment he's had to make: "Trying to learn the terminology, that's the toughest thing. The defense is [similar] to what I did in high school. I think I know the defense, but if they give you a different call, whether they want you inside or outside leverage, it's just a whole different call. I think that's the biggest thing, trying to learn the terminology."

On playing with LB Ray Lewis: "Me and Ray, we're like brothers. Anybody out of the University of Miami and you're a linebacker, you're a brother. Me and Ray, we actually did some workouts before I came back here. So, he wanted to drill me on workouts. He said he's going to worry about the film part when we get back here and when I get done in July I'm going to head back down to Miami and work with him there."

On what he hopes to take away from today's practice:"Get my drops, get my reads, watching the quarterback's steps [to] see if he gives you three steps or if he's dropping back to pass. I think that's the big key in the NFL, knowing what the quarterback's going to do."

On what he's noticed about the receivers in the NFL: "I played against Sinorice Moss and Roscoe Parrish, but these guys are just as good. I think I was blessed by going to the University of Miami and I got prepped a lot. I thank Kellen Winslow. He helped me out a lot also when I was there [learning] how to cover different guys. So, I think I was blessed to go there. I definitely see the changes because those guys work on it day-in and day-out and they've got a lot of time in the NFL."

On whether he puts a lot of pressure on himself to succeed:"I don't think it's a lot of pressure because I have seen what all the great linebackers before me have done. I've got one [Lewis] over there in the corner. He has my back and that means a lot when you're coming from school and you know somebody, an older guy, that's looking [out] for you and looking to see that you're on the right path."

TE Todd Heap

On whether things are a lot different under coach Harbaugh:"You know what, it's a completely different philosophy, offensively, for us. I'll speak for the offense. As much as we're learning right now, everybody's starting to figure it out where you can just go and fly around out there and not think. That's where we're trying to get to. We're getting there and it's good to see all the energy on the field. Going against our defense every day, you know you're going against some good, tough players. So, if we can do it against those guys, that will help us out once the season [is here]."

On the biggest difference he sees in Troy Smith from last year to this year: "Obviously, he's more confident. He's got a little bit better ability to lead because he knows what's going on and he's got some experience. So guys can draw from it. All the other guys have something to draw from and [can] say, 'OK he's done this a little bit,' whereas, last year he was unproven. In the NFL it's the toughest part to come in and lead when you're unproven. That's what I see so far. Those guys have put in a lot of time, both Kyle [Boller] and Troy, and it's good competitive competition. They're really getting after it. They're having to work until they drop and that's only going to be healthy."

On the other things he notices about Smith other than his leadership this year: "It's early. These are passing camps. It's good to see good throws. That's what we should be doing is passing and catching. But we've got a lot of room for improvement. So, that's the one thing I'm looking at. We go in and watch film, and there's a lot more mistakes that we can correct right now than saying we've got that down. It's never going to be that way, but we've got to get to the point – especially closer to training camp – where we can have a lot better grasp of it."

On adapting to Cam Cameron's offensive playbook: "It's extensive, it's extensive. You're playing in the NFL. You can't get overwhelmed by the offensive playbook. Then what are you going to do out on the field? The best thing you can do is to learn it, study it, and once you get on the practice field, just let it fly. Don't worry, don't hold it back, just go out and play. Whether you're right or wrong just go out and play."

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