Ravens, in their own words

OWINGS MILLS -- Questions and answers at the Baltimore Ravens' mandatory minicamp

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh

On how the players reacted to holding practice outside under less than perfect weather conditions: "I didn't hear anything negative. I heard a lot of guys go, ‘Hey, that's great. We want to be outside.' But I wasn't around anybody right at the end there either."

On what he is looking for from the quarterbacks in this OTA: "All of the above. It's a great opportunity with the conditions to get some reps going, a wet ball with the wind blowing a little bit. That was good. Operating the offense, managing the clock, throwing accurate balls, all of it. It's all part of it."

On his impression of QB Joe Flacco on his first day: "I thought he did alright. He threw the ball well and operated the offense fine."

On what it felt like to have the whole team together for the first time: "It was neat. It was neat to see everybody out there. It was neat to hear the defense communicating, the offense operating. There was a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of confidence – on the defensive side especially."

On whether Jonathan Ogden's absence from camp was excused and whether the Ravens know any more about his plans for the upcoming season: "J.O. is a unique situation right now. I don't think you think of it in terms of an absence, of being here or not being here. He's trying to figure out what his future is. He talked to Ozzie. There's really nothing new to report. But, we'll play that one as it goes."

On whether he did not expect to see franchise player Terrell Suggs, given the status of his contract negotiations: "Right. That's the business side of the thing."

On if he was happy with the enthusiasm in the first full mini-camp: "Yeah, I was. They were excited to see one another. They were excited to get back in the meeting last night and be together and be in that meeting room together and just be a team. These guys like one another. I think they like being around one another; that's the best part of it."

On what he tries to accomplish in this mandatory mini-camp compared to some of the other voluntary camps: "To me it's the same thing, it's just football practice. We talked about the very first mini-camp being football practice, and it is just continuing the process. The main thing we're trying to get accomplished is all the things that we talked about: operating the offense, operating the defense, technique, attention to detail and doing it faster and faster and at a consistently higher tempo."

On whether Joe Flacco seemed overwhelmed or nervous about his first camp: "No, he didn't. He never changes his expression, I don't think. He seemed calm. He had done a nice job the last couple of weeks getting in the notebook, getting with [quarterbacks coach] Hue Jackson every evening and every morning and going over the notebook over the phone. So, he was prepared."

On whether he throws everything at Flacco at once or spoon feeds him to get him started: "No spoon feeding. We don't believe in spoon feeding. We throw it all at him, and he handled it well."

On his impression of Ray Lewis now that he is his coach: "We had a chance the very first mini-camp to get to know Ray a little bit. I was most impressed with his love for the game. The guy really likes football. He loves coming to practice; he loves being in meetings. For a guy who's been playing football as long as he has, that's pretty refreshing to see."

On whether the mini-camp process has been smooth going or if there are things that need to be worked out as players and coaches get acquainted: "I don't know if it's ever going to be entirely smooth because we've got 80-some guys out there right now, and they're strong people. Part of the process is getting on the same page, but I think these guys are excited about the way we're doing things."

On Jared Gaither's status at left tackle and the condition of Quinn Sypniewski: "As far as Gaither, that's where we're going to play him – at left tackle. He's done a nice job over there, and our intention is to make him a left tackle. Quinn Sypniewski, it looks like now we're not going to have him back. He had surgery, the ligament tore off the bone, the piece of the bone that came off with the ligament shattered, which made it a situation where it's going to be six to nine months."

On the feeling of seeing the rookie players in practice for the first time: "That was the other part of it that was exciting. I think the scouts had more fun with that than even the coaches did. The coaches are running around trying to get them lined up in the right spot; the scouts were like kids at Christmas – seeing their guys. The rookies did a nice job. They had a good look in their eye this morning, too. They weren't intimidated; they were ready to go to work."

On rookie free agent Joe Reitz's adjustment to playing football vs. basketball: "It's a different kind of ball, that's exactly right. He was in the punt formation over there, and we joked it looked like he was getting ready for a jump ball. His stance was a little bit awkward. Boy, he looks good; he looks like a football player. So, he's going to be a developmental guy."

WR Derrick Mason

On today's practice: "It was good, besides the weather. I think it was good. It was productive with us running around. The defense was the defense as usual; offense, we did some good things. But of course, with some new faces, we're still trying to click as an offense. But I think the tempo was good. All in all, I think each and every time we step out there, we've got to get better, and I think that's what we've been able to do starting from when we first started this [up to] now."

On his initial impressions of rookie QB Joe Flacco: "He can throw the ball, he can throw the ball. Of course, there are a lot of other things that he needs to learn about playing at this level, but for one thing, the guy can throw the ball, and I'm pretty sure that's the reason they brought him here. That's one reason why they brought him here, and that he was a very smart young man in college in his decision-making and everything, so hopefully he can transfer over to this league. And he's got some good guys in front of him that he's able to learn from in Troy [Smith] and Kyle [Boller], so I know those guys will help him out and [quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson] will be helping him out a lot as will [offensive coordinator Cam Cameron]. So he has a great surrounding cast around him for whatever he needs to find out."

On what impressed him with Flacco: "Of course his arm strength. The one pass he threw to [wide receiver Mark Clayton], I think was about 50 yards down the field in the air on target. The way he commanded the huddle with the team that was in there with him [also impressed me.] I think that speaks volumes of him, and he's just got to continue to do that, and I think the more and more he's out there and the more and more he's around the guys, he'll get used to everybody and feel more confident. But, getting everybody in the huddle and getting going [was impressive]."

On if Flacco has a quiet personality: "He seems quiet. I haven't really gotten the opportunity to [get to know him yet]. From one day, I can't tell you all about his personality, but he seems like a pretty quiet guy. But I'm pretty sure once he gets used to everybody else, he'll be the same guy that he was at Delaware. He'll open up, and he'll start to laugh and chuckle it up with everybody else. So right now he's just like any other rookie, he's trying to feel his way through. But once he really gets in there and starts throwing the ball and starts hanging out with guys, he'll open up."

On if Flacco was both strong and accurate in practice: "He's doing good out there, and what he needs to do now is each and every day step out there, just like everybody else, each and every day, we step out there to get better. And I'm pretty sure he probably told you there are some things he needs to get used to, [including] the speed of the game. But from first glance, the guy is what they thought he was going to be. He's a big guy, he can throw the ball, and he can put it on target."

On practicing outside and any changes from last year regarding mini-camp: "That wasn't different. I didn't see that being any different. I mean, we practiced outside when it was cold when [former head coach Brian] Billick was here, so I don't see that being any different. It is what it is. We would have been outside regardless. I don't see that being a big change. I think that's the perception that you all have, it being a big change. We've just got to go out there and practice, whether it's raining or whether it's cold or whether it's not. It's football, and to me there's no big change at all. You go and you play and you let the rest take care of itself."

TE Todd Heap

On rookie quarterback Joe Flacco: "It's early. We've got to see a lot more of him, but he throws the ball well, big kid – taller than I thought he was. It's going to be a good competition for these guys. Everybody's in competition right now, so it's fun to be out here as a team, have everybody here, and you know what? We did it in the rain too, so that was actually a little fun."

On if he said anything to Flacco about his strong passes: "You know what? It's going to be a play-to-play thing. There's a time for a bullet and there's a time for a pass with touch, so those are the things that a young guy has to come in and learn."

LB Ray Lewis

On his first impression of Coach John Harbaugh: "First time with Harbaugh, this might be my third or fourth. It's good, man, it's good. It's exciting, lot of guys flying around. The guys are having fun, they're having fun. John is a great guy. He's a person that likes to have fun. He just likes to have fun. His energy is incredible. He loves football. He's running around most of the time always teaching almost as much as your position coach does. It was kind of exciting out there. I just love the tempo. I'm just excited about football. Change is always good. Any time you go through change you look for the bad things to come in, but when you have someone who really relates to the players the way John does, I just think practice is going great."

On whether he senses a renewed team spirit: "[With] John, you have a new personality, we have a totally new coaching staff and we have a lot of new players coming in. You don't want to let them come in and hear you talking about [last season]. Last year's done; last year's done. There was one Super Bowl champion at the end of that year and that was the New York Giants – bottom line. So, we have to come back, and I think everybody has that same mentality. It's not just me talking about it. Everybody has that same mentality of ‘here we go again.' It's a new season, new era."

On how the veterans feel about the tougher training camp rules under Coach Harbaugh: "There's no attitude. Football is football. Training camp is training camp is training camp. There is no person you'll ever find [who says] ‘I love training camp, training camp is the greatest.' There is nobody who's going to do that. Most people like to sleep in their own beds and things like that, but training is training camp, man, so I think we are all prepared for that. Like I said, the change that [coach Harbaugh] brought in is a great change. The change of character and integrity, and it's really all about the team concept. For veterans, that's what you can appreciate more than anything."

On his impression of Joe Flacco in practice and the Ravens trading up to get him in the draft: "Joe Flacco, I'm a fan of Flacco's. I'm a fan of whatever we do, bottom line. But, if you've met him, and I've been playing with him and messing around with him, his personality is incredible. I know they've done their research behind that and really investigated on how good he was as a quarterback and things like that. But, if you watch the guy on film, and you watch the guy outside the film room, he's just a great person overall. We'll find out, sooner or later, how good he's going to be as a quarterback. But whatever we do as an organization, I just think we had a pretty good draft overall."

On whether he has talked to coach Harbaugh about building the offense back up quickly to be successful: "I talked to him about just building our team up. Defensively, we still have a lot of things to do as well. So the bottom line is, I just think we're trying to get better as a team overall. I think we understand that we've got a defense that's been the cornerstone of what we had for the last 12 years since I've been here, but at the same time, we have a chemistry that we're trying to understand each other.

Everybody's trying to flow together with this team concept. [We're saying], ‘We'll all win together.' There's no offense, there's no defense. Once you put all that together then you have a complete team. And I think that's the kind of the direction that we're heading towards instead of trying to separate that offense to catch up. There's no catching up. We've got to get there just like you all got to get there. We understand that when we come to work we all come to work for one common goal."

On the rookies being impressed with playing on the same field as him: "It never gets old, and it's because when you walk up and you see a lot of young guys and a lot of them have probably watched many years of your career. [A lot] of the young guys walk up to you. Ray Rice [said], ‘Man, I've watched you for so long.' [I said], ‘You don't have to tell me the first time we meet.' It's kind of a different energy. It's a different energy because it's just exciting to see all these young kids who, actually, I'm a fan of.

I've always been a fan of Ray Rice since seeing him in college and how he appreciates the game. [With] Tavares Gooden you're bringing in another young guy from Miami. So, when you do get these young guys around, you do understand that being an older guy there's so much they have to learn and so much you can teach them. But, at the same you know you have to teach them on a fast, fast learning curve."

On whether it feels a little strange to be here without J.O.: "Always. I came into the league with J.O. He's the guy I walked into the organization with. J.O. not being here [is strange]. We have to move on very quickly, [and] I think we have. We have moved on very quickly, but for me personally not seeing J.O. is always [strange]. Absolutely."

On what he feels about his contract situation: "I'm going to keep talking about football. That's irrelevant for what we're trying to do right now. The bottom line is whatever we're trying to do as a team, that's the focus on where we're trying to stay as a team and if we keep that team concept there then the team concept stays there.

So, if you go out talking about an individual -- what I want to do, what I want to do – it means nothing. There's so much we have to do as a team to get better from last year and teach all of these young guys what not to do and what to do. Then, everything else – everything else -- takes care of itself. Everybody knows this is a business. Everything can take care of itself. I'm just excited to be back playing football all over again."

On if he sees himself being a Raven next year: "I see myself playing, getting ready for the next practice. I see myself getting ready for the season and just getting ready to play football. Like I said, once you ask me if I'm getting up in that side of things, you lose your passion about why you play this game.

I've never got caught up in that. If anybody has ever bothered to check with my career, everybody knows there has never been a camp where I've held out, there's never been a contract problem with me. There has never been that, and it will never be that with me – bottom line. The bottom line is I strap on my cleats like everybody else, I put on my helmet, I carry my own out there. I'm under contract this year, and here we go for another year."

On what he has seen in LB Tavares Gooden that compares to his style of play: "Aggressiveness, aggressiveness. He's aggressive, he just wants to fly around and hit everything. I was telling him the other day, and I [said], ‘If nothing else, I just want you to touch the ball every play. That's what I want you to do. I want you to touch the ball every play.' So, understanding that, once you actually channel what he has inside, he's going to be a great player.

He's going to be a great player. He's over there itching on the sideline [saying,] ‘I want to be in, I want to be in.' And I say, ‘Your time is coming; your time is coming.' But all of these young guys are like that. You have to pick and choose what you want to teach them and how fast you want to teach them, and they'll go from there."

QB Joe Flacco

On whether he noticed right away the difference in pace from college football to the NFL: "Without a doubt. There are guys out there that I have been watching on TV for who knows how many years now, and they're getting after it. This is definitely [professional] football, and it's at a high level. You know that coming in, but you don't really know what level it is. To go out there and get the first practice out of the way and really find out what it's about was really fun."

On how tough it is dealing with the nervousness and excitement of his first professional practice: "You have to go out there and control that. You have to make it as simple as possible, and you have to tell yourself that you know what you're doing and you get to go out there and execute and just do the best you can."

On whether it's a problem moving from college football terminology to pro football terminology: "Obviously, we're installing stuff on a daily basis. It's definitely different, and it's definitely something you have to get used to. That's part of why you're out there and you have to get used to it. That's why you have to get those reps and that's why it's a lot of fun to be out there."

On adjusting to the speed of the pro defensive game: "It just comes with getting reps. I think the offensive guys are faster, too. So, everybody's faster. The whole game is faster. You get in there, and you get comfortable with the offense and once you get comfortable with the offense and you get those reps, I think the game just naturally slows down for you."

On talking about building a relationship with the other quarterbacks on the Ravens' squad: "I don't know that we necessarily talked about that. All we're doing is just trying to help each other out. Mostly, they're trying to help me at this point. I don't really know so much about helping them because I'm the guy who needs to be taught. They've been here for a little while and, obviously, it's a new offense for them, but they're trying to help me out. That's the conversation we've had and just trying to get to know each other a little bit."

On if he thinks he's going to be the starting QB for the season opener: "I have no idea. I want to go out there and practice. I want to try to prove that I'm the best quarterback. But, we have two great quarterbacks here, and we're going to do what's best for the team and that means the best quarterback is going to play."

On whether he consciously tries to play compactly, keeping everything pretty tight: "You don't remind yourself to do those kinds of things, that's just something you develop over time and that's just the way I've developed my throwing. I obviously feel very comfortable throwing it and obviously people have all different ways, and it all works for them."

On whether he talked with any of the receivers today: "[They gave me] a little pat on the back – good job here, good job there. That was pretty much the extent of it today. I was running around trying to get used to the tempo and all that stuff, so I will get used to that and all those other things will start."

On how good his long pass to WR Mark Clayton felt: "I just move on to the next play. The last thing I'm thinking about is the play I just completed, because I know that this is a new offense for me and I'm worried about the next play and it has nothing to do with that play. So, the last thing I'm thinking about is the play that just happened."

On whether he maintains his draft-day optimism that he could be a rookie starting quarterback: "I have confidence in my ability. Obviously things are going to take care of themselves. I've got a lot of learning to do, and after being here for a day, I can see that. It's been a lot of fun so far, and I can't wait to continue this process."

On what he's done over the past two weeks to learn the Ravens playbook: "I was just trying to digest as much of it as I can. There's only a certain amount you can actually take from looking at it by yourself. You have to have the coaches there to explain a lot of the stuff to you. I wanted to get a base down for myself so that when I came here at least I knew what they were talking about so that I could interact and everything like that."

On if he worked by himself with the playbook or if the Ravens coaches were talking him through things on the phone: "I [did it] with myself, but towards the end I talked to coach [Hue] Jackson, and he was helping me out. He walked me through it a little bit."

On how it feels to play with the veterans whose careers he has watched growing up: "It's definitely different to see Ray Lewis come into the locker room and have him be on your team. I'll get used to that, but I don't know that I am right now. It's been a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun to just go out there and be with those guys."

On whether he could have imagined last year in his final college season that he would be on a pro team this year: "I don't think so. Like I've said throughout this whole process, I've always thought I was capable of this but I didn't really think it would happen like this. For it to happen like this has definitely been a great experience for myself and hopefully I can make the best of it."


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