John Harbaugh, in his own words

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- New Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh held court with reporters this morning at the NFL owners' meetings. Subscribers, please keep reading for a full transcript of his remarks:

On Redskins coach Jim Zorn: "Jim Zorn is a great guy."

Offseason workouts' importance and his involvement: "I'm involved. I'm down there every morning. I don't stay down there the whole time. I spotted a couple guys on the bench the other day. C'mon, gimme another one. I try to make sure they hold that pause at the top."

How much football stuff do you do? "We do football stuff, but there's certain rules involved on how much time you can use. We've been using the indoor field for football stuff. Two or three days a week, each coach has had their guys. They've been doing football-related stuff.

We've been having meeting time with the guys, weight time and running times. It's important because it builds a foundation for guys physically. If you start doing football-related movements and you come out for minicamps and it's the first time you've ever backpedaled if you're a DB, that's how you get hurt."

How is Steve McNair doing? Is he out there? "Steve's been out there. Last week, he had a personal issue with his family. So, he missed last week. He was there the first week and had been there up until that last week."

How much time do you spend on meetings with the quarterbacks? "Cam has met with them regularly, and Hue Jackson. They've met with them a bunch, all the quarterbacks. I have had conversations with him. 'How's you doing?' How's your family doing?' Personal stuff."

Is that the weirdest part of being a new coach not being as hands-on as you were as an assistant? "That's why you get in the weight room. That's why you do the bench press stuff so you can be a part of the process."

Being a young coach, does it help you relate to players? "My dad coached up into his mid 60s and he was really good with the players, relating, so I don't know about that. Different personalities, it depends on the person. 24 years is a long time, so I feel like I'm prepared."

On the college quarterback class: "It's a very good class for the quarterbacks. Yeah, we're looking at all of them very hard. It's a great group of guys."

On watching Matt Ryan in high school as an Eagles assistant: "He played at one of the Downingtown schools, so Friday night, they went through all the high school guys and he was a big star. You didn't know he was going to be a first-round pick, but he was a big recruit."

On biggest adjustment of being a head coach: "The biggest thing is you're so broad. Across the board, you're involved in everything. Whether you're doing the secondary or special teams or a defensive coordinator or whatever, you go deep in that area. As a head coach, it's training, it's weight room, it's travel, it's training camp. You can spend a whole day looking at training camp."

Anxious to get started: "There is, but we kind of got that going. We were talking about the offseason program, that's kind of like practice for us. You feel like you started practice. You have most of your team there. It's kind of a camraderie. It's like college when the freshmen come back. You feel like there's a buzz. You feel like, 'OK, you're starting football.'"

On the quarterback class and the draft: "As a whole, it's one of the best drafts in years. You see a lot of good players. There's a lot of guys, I'm doing a list right now that we like the way they play, we want to have them on our football team. There's a lot of guys we would like to have on our football team. You just wish you could have them all. We bring them in on these visits and ask them, 'Are you coming?' And then it's like, 'Oh right, we can't ask you that.'"

On ties to Jim Zorn: "It's probably from afar, some of the different things, fellowship things he's been a part of, I've also been around. I've always admired him from afar. We kind of got a chance to know each other at this thing. We're talking about doing a golf challenge next year, our staff against theirs. I'm not sure we have the talent on our staff or not. I don't know if you want to win that one. In coaching, it's kind of a badge of courage not to be a good golfer."

On his path to being a head coach: "It's interesting because we talked about this before, but the special teams coaches they definitely feel that way. We had this special-teams coaches meeting in Indianapolis at the combine. It's every year, all the special-teams coaches get together and the special-teams winner pays the meal and somebody gets an award. I came strolling in there and I got a nice ovation and I felt good, I was all pumped up. That's why I went. Then, they all said, 'Don't mess this up, pal.' It was a short applause and a long, 'You better not mess this up.'"

"I think it's interesting. Jim was a quarterbacks coach. Andy Reid was never a coordinator. Maybe the model is changing a little bit. A guy like Steve Bisciotti thinks outside the box, maybe Dan Snyder is the same way. Jeff Lurie is definitely that way. It worked in Philadelphia."

Why is the model changing? "I think it's more of a you're not that locked down to a particular path. You're kind of looking more at the qualities of your players, how a particular coach is going to match up to your players."

Is your fastball ready for April 20? Harbaugh is throwing out the first pitch at an Orioles game prior to a Yankees game: "Oh my gosh. I'm going to have to practice. Is there going to be a lot of Yankees fans there? I was going to throw my split-finger, but Kevin [Byrne] said you got to keep it out of the dirt. That's the main thing. It doesn't have to be a strike, right. I was never a pitcher, never in my life. I would say the odds are good [of throwing a strike]. Don't sell yourself short. It might be about 65mph. We're going to build a mound in our new backyard."

How do you view the team as a 13-3 or the 5-11 or in between? "I don't think the records mean anything. Really, seriously. You would like to say what team this is and define it. Every year in the NFL is different, you can't define a team by last year's record. Nothing you did in the past means anything. Everything can change. We've got a chance to be a really good football team."

Why is that? "We've got good players. We've got a good organization in Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti. We're planning on having a good draft. We have a track record of having good drafts."

On Matt Ryan: "Specifically, Matt Ryan, he finds a way to win in the fourth quarter. He's a big-time competitor. He's an accurate passer, he's big, he can scramble. He's smart. He gives his receivers a chance. A lot of people are worried about his interceptions, but a lot of that is giving his receivers a chance to make plays, too. He's going to be a really good quarterback in this league."

On the cornerback prospects: "At some point in time, we're going to need to draft a corner I would think in this draft. But you got to play it the way it falls, you can't go reaching for guys. There's going to be a run on corners in the first round, no question about it, and they can all play."

On last year's team: "The biggest and most obvious thing and how can you quantify what impact it had because injuries happen to everybody. But these guys got really hurt by injuries. There was a run on injuries and they lost a lot of really good players. Younger guys, some of them stepped up and played well. Some of them have got to step it up and play better. Maybe we need to improve our depth a little so when we get that run of injuries the next guy up plays a little better than he did last year."

On whether McNair can make it through the season: "I'm confident that he can do it just because guys have done it before. He's working hard. That's an unknown. There's no way you can say for sure it's going to happen, but he is working hard. There's plenty of guys his age that have done it and done well."

Injury updates on Trevor Pryce and Dan Cody: "Trevor's in Denver, so I haven't really seen him as much lately. But Cody looks great. Cody looks like he's 100 percent right now. That's a wild card. That would be a bonus for us."

On coverage techniques and pressure: "I would say coming from Jim Johnson's defense to Rex Ryan's defense they're kind of polar opposites on how they get pressure. Their philosophy is exactly the same. They're both aggressive, pressure-oriented guys. I think that's my philosophy as well. They got to know you're there."

On the New England-Baltimore game: "I didn't break it down, but I watched it. I'm not sure. It's hard to say. Sometimes you got to play coverage, too. I'll stay away from that one."

On letting Rex Ryan run the show: "It's his defense, X and O wise no doubt. But I'm going to be involved. If I put three ideas in, we'll see if he calls them. I'll be in his ear. Why don't you call my defense, c'mon. But I'll be involved in the personality of our defense and the strategy of our defense."

On Ray Lewis: "On the phone a few times. He hasn't been in yet."

How is he on the phone? "He's great. He's great. He's excited. He's excitable. He and I, we get each other fired up. I start talking, he starts talking and the next thing we're screaming."

When do you want him to get in there? "For a guy in his situation, he's working the contract stuff out with Ozzie. That's going to play itself out. We'll see. It's between him and Ozzie right now. I would love for him to be in there. He's got to work some things out."

On Ray Lewis' career outlook: "I think he's got good years left in him. There's no question. His roles may change as far as what downs he's on the field, but that's natural. He can still play."

On Ray and Bart both being in contract years: "For all these guys, you got the salary cap doing contracts, the GMs. We got a presentation on that yesterday, but at what point the coaches were like, 'What's this guy talking about?' All the capped years and uncapped years."

On the Ravens' draft evaluation process: "They've had great success. They've had a great track record. I'm impressed with how everybody is on the same page. I think it goes back to Ozzie. He has basically built this thing from the ground floor up. His staff, they talk the same language. They talk about plays like a Raven. They look at how he plays, what's his style. I think those guys, George [Kokinis] and Eric [DeCosta] and all the area scouts, they all understand what Ozzie is looking for. That goes a long way."

On having stability at GM: "Huge advantage, that's what makes this such a great opportunity. It's Ozzie's organization. He built this thing. And he's the best in the business as far as putting the thing together. And we build the football side of it, and Ozzie gives you autonomy to do that. He's not trying to get involved in the coaches' area. He gives you so much direction and guidance about what the Ravens are all about. That's huge."

Any surprises about the roster? "I think the one thing that really jumps out is the offensive line. I think it's a good, young offensive line. I think it's really got a chance to be really tough physical guys. They're athletic."

On Adam Terry and Jared Gaither's readiness at tackle: "I think we'll find out. I think they should be nearly ready. In the heat of battle, a lot of that process is going to be under fire. There's going to be some glitches. There's going to be some things that are frustrating, but I think we're all going to have to say that's part of the process."

On holding out hope that Ogden won't retire: "Of course, of course. He was in Friday. He's still thinking about it. I think a lot of it with J.O. is going to be the health factor. Where is the toe? Does he think he can stay healthy for a year to a couple years. J.O. is going to want to be all there to be on the football field. It's not 100 percent healed yet."

Is Jason Brown your best offensive lineman? "I don't know. Ben Grubbs is pretty good. Ben Grubbs is going to be pretty good. Chester is going to be a good player, Terry. Gaither is a wild card. He's a young guy from Maryland who we took in the supplemental draft last year. He's 6-foot-9, athletic, bends, he's got the tools, but then again he's got a long way to go."

On Jason Brown: "He's explosive. He's our best power lifter doing deadlifts and hang cleans." Does the special teams coach have the hardest job? "I like to think he has the easiest job. He wouldn't say that. We're going to try to get him some players. Jerry Rosburg and I go way back. We were in college together at Cincinnati. We're kind of on the same page. I was reading through his notebook and it looked very familiar."

Has being a head coach sunk in yet? "Coming here, I thought it had set in. At our facility, it had set in. I feel like a head coach. Coming here, you walk into the building and you see the faces and it's kind of like, 'Whoa.' My wife and I, we were hiding in the lobby, thinking we were going to be thrown out. Don't let them see us. Security!"

On chatting up the other head coaches: "It's mostly casual talk. Every now and then, you throw a little something in there. It's mostly just small talk. We had a chance to sit down with coach Belichick last night, he and Ozzie were holding court."

What's the best advice your dad gave you? "I would say be yourself, but it wasn't really that. It was all the values. It's hard to say one exact thing. The whole team idea. It's kind of a cliche but all the values about taking care of one another, being on time, doing your job, all the little things. Then, being willing to stand behind what you say you're going to do. Not backing up as a coach. That was my dad's greatest strength. He was strong."

On how Andy Reid handled his sons' problems: "Andy is a rock. Inside, I know there's a lot of things he's dealing with because he told us. But he never let it affect his job outwardly at all."

On getting better in December in Philadelphia: The last nine years, the wheels have never fallen off. Even the T.O. year, which was our worst year, guys were still competing down the stretch. There were no blowouts. We were in every game, we just weren't good enough to win some of those games. I think that's Andy's leadership."

"It's not real fancy. It's just process. He doesnt' change much. The way things are done, the expectations, the guy is rock solid. It sets a standard. It becomes the players' team. When the coach has some backbone, it becomes a players' team. It's an interesting phenomenon."

Camraderie of having entire team stay at training camp after Billick let the vets go home at night: "We're going to stay in Westminster. We hope to build a team. There's a certain camraderie that goes with that, a certain sacrifice. Guys being together in the hot dorm, we don't have a hot dorm anymore, but we have a hot locker room. There's no air conditioning. I don't see any reason for guys to be driving home at night during training camp. It's late at night and then they have to be back first thing in the morning. Maybe it's even a safety issue, but that's what training camp is, everybody there together. It's how you do training camp."

On athletic facilities at McDaniel College: "It's great, McDaniel looks great. They're doing the fields over I think they've done a great job with that building. The weight room is fabulous. It's a nice setup, the hotel is nice. it's good."

Harbaugh was amused that Newsday reporter Bob Glauber resembles his brother-in-law Marquette basketball coach Tom Crean. "You look just like him, about the same size, same hair. It's striking. He said you were going to be here. Great meeting you, Bob. That's classic."

On the draft process, how involved is he going to be? "Very involved, I want to be really, really involved.I want to have as much input as Ozzie will allow. I want to help the process as much as I can. Most coaches, we think we're good at personnel. We think we can evaluate. It's fun. It's a big part of what we're doing. I'm excited about the draft. I want to be in the middle of it."

On Chuck Pagano's influence: "Chuck and Mark have both done their stacks. They've watched most of the guys on tape. They've interviewed them. I think Ozzie takes the position coaches' list into account big-time. Chuck has been in college, so he knows these guys. So has Greg Mattison. He recruited almost all these guys. He knows their families, the whole deal. That's a big plus."

On Steve McNair: "He's doing well. He's getting healthy. He's doing almost all the lifts. He's throwing. He's doing good. I think the biggest thing was the injuries. He wasn't himself because of the injuries. Everybody attributes that to age. Is it a result of age or did he just have injury issues? We're going to find out."

The big challenge for him is keeping him clean as much as possible, giving him options to get the ball out as quickly as possible on a consistent basis. He's getting in great shape. If he does that, he has a chance to stay healthy."

On planning the offensive line without J.O.: "That's a wild card right now. We assume he's not going to be back. If he's back it makes it a lot easier. The equation is a lot tougher if he's not there. If he is there, it will simplify the whole thing."

On the offensive line: "We just talked about that. I think one of the pleasant surprises is when you watch the tape there's a lot of good, young players there. There's a lot of raw material there. Gaither is a big talented guy. Yanda played well. The guards played well. Chester is going to be the new center, so it's a rookie year for him."

On Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams' outlook: "They both can play. They're both high picks. There's already been a lot of resources devoted to those guys. We've got to develop those guys. They're young guys. They've got to get stronger, faster, bigger, more productive. They need to be good players for us."

On the AFC North division: "Best division in football, that and the NFC East."

On reseeding: "That's a conversation we've had. It's interesting. On the one argument, on the one hand, it will make the late-season games more attractive, more competitive. That's good for the league. On the other hand, in this division, if we're the division champs, we might not have as good a record as one of the wild-cards, but we might think we're a better football team. I think our division is one that would suffer."

Any predictions for the North? "I have no idea. None. No predictions. I think all the teams are really good. There's no way I'm going out on a limb with that."

Team chemistry? "That you can see. I think there's momentum being generated in the offseason program. That's for sure. You can feel that. Even if guys aren't there, it's almost like you can sense the phone lines buzzing. I have gotten more positive comments from the two strength coaches than anything. They like those two guys. You go down there and you feel the energy. The weights are clanging. The chalk is flying. The music is blasting. Guys are laughing. You got 20 football players, teammates together, something happens."

Structure of padded and unpadded practices, wanting to be in pads, hitting a lot. "I think we kind of reserve the right not to do that based on how things are going. Football is a contact sport. You got to practice blocking and tackling, finishing blocks. You best do that with pads."

Do tougher camps make tougher players? "I don't know if we're going to have a tougher camp per se. We need to practice all the things that are going to come up in a game. You can't manufacture situations for every player in the preseason. We want to get David Pittman in that situation where he's got to make that play on 3rd-and-5, get a guy down and know where the sticks are at."

On the older players, will they have a different modified training schedule: "That's our 30 and over club. They dont' need as many reps. They need more recovery time, so we need to give them fewer reps and more recovery time. I think Bill T will be hugely involved in that as well as the strength coaches and the position coaches."

On Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle's outlooks: "We saw Chris the other day. He looks great, 213.4 with his shorts on. So, he looks good, man. He passes that pinch an inch test. He looks like he's in great shape. He's in and out of town."

On Cam Cameron: "Cam Cameron was great the other day. He made a great point. He was giving them the formations and guys were looking at each other. He called them all in and said you've had the notebooks for a month. They should already know the formations. He got everybody's attention that we're going to work here. There is no offseason. You need to learn this offense. He's a real professor."

On his impact: "I think the head coach ties it all together. I want to establish the personality of our football team, our style of play, attention to detail."

On his prediction for the division, to Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Tony Grossi: "No handicapping. I think the Browns have done a great job with their football team and they're probably the frontrunners for the division right now. (laughter)."

General observation on the North: "I think the NFC East and the AFC North are the two toughest divisions in football because they're the most physical. It's old style NFL football, it's cold weather, it's windy stadiums, like your stadium on the lake there. My family is from Cleveland, the East side. They got a nursery over there in Bainbridge. I was an Art Modell Browns' fan."

On Jim Harbaugh's knowledge of the college players helping him: "He's been good about the Pac-10 guys, especially the Pac-10 defensive guys, especially the USC defensive guys. He's been really good with Josh Johnson. It's interesting with Josh. Josh Johnson is really good. It's just not that the competition is not as good. I mean the guy drops back and throws a pass it's the same in any league what it looks like. Then he gets in the combine and his workouts and it's not as good. Why is that? This is a kid who was 145 pounds coming out of high school that nobody recruited, blossomed all of a sudden into an NFL prospect.

Can he overcome that? Jim's point is he's going to be fine. He'll grow through that. Don't let that put you off. Jim was in one of the innercity schools in Oakland and watched him. Here's this little skinny kid who was a really great athlete. He just wasn't a big-time prospect. After the first year, he said, "This kid is going to be in the NFL."

On small school prospects being hungrier: "That's a good question. Yes and no. You also like the guys from the big schools. You like a guy like Chad Henne, who started for four years at Michigan. No matter what you say, that's saying something. He knows how to compete. What's better? The guy who went to a small school, left Pitt and is hungry or the guy who made it at Michigan, but, then again, Flacco is 6-5 plus and has a cannon."

Will you draft a quarterback? "I would say yes. If one is there, who knows. If the first quarterback drops to eight we got to be ready to say whether we want him or not or do we trade back or do we take somebody else. Ozzie hasn't told me what he's thinking on that. That's top secret. I do know Matt Ryan is going to be a really good quarterback in the NFL."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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