Tuesday OTA Interview Transcript (June 2nd)

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement:"It's good to see everybody here. I can see some of our guys are back from lacrosse coverage. It's good to have you guys back from that. We had a good day today – had a lot of laughs, and got better at the same time. I think that's part of what this is about. Guys are working, pushing themselves. We had kind of a special camp this week. It's an opportunity for guys to expand their role from what it's been in the past. The 'Plus 30' guys we didn't want here. Now some of those guys showed up anyway and worked out yesterday, and some other guys will be here tomorrow, including Matt Birk, [but] he wasn't here today. But we really didn't want those guys here. We wanted the younger guys here working on the opportunity to expand what they do, get more reps, play some different positions, and that's what we've gotten."

On one of those expanded roles being QB Troy Smith running routes in practice:"That's a good point. Troy looked good, made a nice catch over the middle, didn't he? Without making it a big huge story, because it's June, I'm quite sure that Troy will be lined up in different places this year. We've got the 'Suggs Package,' so to speak, and he's a part of that. He can split out and play receiver, he can play running back, but that's not just Troy. There are defensive guys moving to offense. We've had a goal-line period already this year where we had four defensive guys lined up in that formation. We definitely want to expand guys and do as much as we can with our guys."

On if the defensive guys are asking to play on the other side of the ball or if the coaches are picking them out:"I tell you, it's interesting about those guys. I wouldn't say they're begging or anything like that, but they have no hesitation to go over there. The interesting thing about the guys that have done it, guys like Jarret Johnson… Haloti [Ngata] has been over there; Justin Bannan has been over there. Off the top of my head, Kelly Gregg has been over there… It's not like they need a lot of coaching. Those guys know football. So when we put them in there, it seems like they do the right thing, and they have the right technique without having a word said to them. So, that's kind of neat. Those guys are football players."

On QB Troy Smith being resistant over the years to being viewed as anything other than a quarterback:"We haven't talked to him about that. It's interesting you'd say that. My experience with Troy, and pretty much with all the guys, [is] the guys are football players. And I can understand, and we've said it many times, Troy Smith is a quarterback. He has proven that time and time again in college, and through the end of the season two years ago and through the preseason before he got sick last year, he's only gotten better. He's become, I think, an NFL-caliber, starting-caliber thrower right now. We think he's become that, but that doesn't mean we're going to limit him. Just like all of our guys, we talk to all of our guys the same way – the more you can do, the more you can help us win, the better we have the chance to be successful. Plus, he gave our guys a pretty good look out there; he can play. So our guys are football players, Troy's a football player, but Troy's certainly a quarterback."

On TE Edgar Jones' versatility when playing on the defensive side of the ball in practice today:"No doubt. That's a situation where Edgar is becoming a tight end, and as you watch him, he looks more and more like a tight end, doesn't he? You see him doing those things. But here's a guy that can rush the passer for us or play defense in a pinch. And when you've got the lead in the fourth quarter and you're trying to close somebody out, you've got to be able to rush the passer. And the more fresh pass-rushers you can put out on the field to go after their pass protection, that's going to help you. That's a situation, again, where if a guy can do more, that enhances his chances of helping us and making the team."

On the young cornerbacks looking more comfortable and able to contribute, and if that is a position where you can't have enough healthy players:"No, you can't. The problem is they don't let you have too many. We've probably got more corners than can make our team, if you look at it. But that's a good problem to have. There will be great competition in training camp, and if we do have some injuries, we'll have guys that can step in and do it. That tier has gotten a lot better. I think Chuck Pagano [secondary coach] has done a great job with them. When you look at those guys, as you said, they're doing well."

On the status of RB Willis McGahee:"I don't know. I have no idea where he's at. It's the first time he's been here in a week and half, so I can't gauge it."

On if QB John Beck will have a chance to compete for the No. 2 spot once he picks up the offense:"I don't know if we have a pecking order right now. It's competitive. Joe's [Flacco] our starting quarterback, but we believe everything's competitive, and so way on down the road, we're going to put the best guy in there that gives us a chance to win. Clearly, in all of our minds, that's Joe. But there's competition there, too. There's competition in practice every day amongst the quarterbacks, defense against the offense. So I think John and Troy both push Joe. Who's going to be a backup quarterback? Who's going to be the third guy? One game or the other, it could be even game to game, based on game plan, or who we're playing or whatever. But, right now if we're going to say what the order was, it's Joe, it's Troy, then it's John. And that's how it's shaken out so far."

On the reason WR/RS Yamon Figurs was absent:"Yamon hurt his foot. He has a foot injury. They did surgery on it. They had to put a screw in it and reattach the bones. [The bones] separated. He'll be 100 percent by the start of training camp."

On the camaraderie of the team:"I don't know what comes first, but our guys have always, I think, gotten along. There's a real competitive edge on the Ravens, there always has been. I think we've learned how to work together better. Now, however many mini-camps we are into this program, counting last year and this year, and they do a great job of taking care of one another, but still going hard. They have fun. They're in there laughing right now. You guys have been in the locker room, and they enjoy each other. I think that's part of being a good team."

On the coaches running at the end of practice and WR Marcus Smith running with them:"Marcus just went through a whole practice, and he didn't have to go. The deal on that was it was a third-down day, so we had a little give and take in the meeting there, mostly between the coaches, coach [Greg] Mattison and coach [Cam] Cameron. So we set a high bar, it was 50 percent. We were just going to go flat out, who won the deal, and the defense won by three. So the deal was the offensive coaches had to run, and I think Marcus wanted to help everybody to get through it. [Jim] Hostler was the champion coach, I think."

On how he feels about where the kicking game is now, going forward:"Well, so far we know those guys can make pressure kicks in practice. We laugh about that, but that's a good first step because all we've had is practice. All they can do is make kicks in practice, and I don't know if it could be any tougher than it was out there. I mean, guys were walking around throwing hats at them and walking across the kicking line. And both those guys came through, so they both did a nice job. It's going to be an interesting competition, as we said before. It's not just limited to those two guys. It will be a good competition."

On LB/DE Paul Kruger:"We've seen a good motor, and he goes hard. He's very physical, has good hands. He's a load, but he's got a lot to learn. He doesn't really know the defense yet. Just in terms of being a pro, he's working on that, coming along that way like all the rookies are, and he's doing a good job of it. But he's got a long way to go."

On if RB Ray Rice looks like more of a tackle-breaker than he was a year ago:"I think it's going to be interesting to find out, because we're not going to know that until we put the pads on. But yeah, I think he does look more like it. And not that he wasn't a tackle-breaker last year. He was a tackle-to-tackle runner at Rutgers, that was what he did, and he's come a long way. Now, people see him as a third-down back because of the success he had last year, but I don't think we have any question that he can be an every-down back."

On his impression of TE L.J. Smith:"Obviously, the things we know about him is he's a really good route runner, he's explosive, good hands, gets the ball up field quickly, gets in and out of breaks very quickly. He's only shown this week, really, because he had surgery on his sports hernia. I think this week and next week we're going to start seeing a lot from L.J. But, you started to see today in the drills what he is a little bit."

On if it's important for the Orioles and the Ravens teams to support each other:"Yeah, it's interesting, I'm not sure if I thought about it like that, but I think it is important. Why wouldn't you? It's like, these are the Orioles, and it's fun watching them. I have a lot of respect for Dave Trembley. I think he's a really great coach. They're a young team, it's exciting to watch. I can't imagine why it wouldn't be. Why wouldn't the coaches from the different teams support one another and be in each other's corners. I think it's good for sports. Hey – if the Orioles are good, it helps the Ravens. If the Ravens are good, it helps the Orioles. More people are going to be interested in sports and coming out and being a part of it. I've got to think that's good for everybody. But to me, it's just fun to watch good baseball. And what a great park."

On hearing that he was a Detroit Tigers fan:"Well, I grew up as an Indians fan, and then I married a Tigers fan, so I kind of lean toward them. You know how that goes. Now, I'm an Orioles fan. They're the hometown team. I do like the Tigers. I have a wife that leans toward the Tigers. We told her not to wear her hat. Those were Mr. Bisciotti's seats."

On if he's ready to make a comparison between Flacco's and Orioles' catcher Matt Wieters' arm:"No, I'm not. (laughter) That's a good question." 

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