Ravens rookie minicamp III, in their own word

Questions and answers about the Baltimore Ravens rookie minicamp.


Head Coach John Harbaugh

On how rookie camp went: "I think our rookies did a nice job. It was good to have it at the end. [We had] three really good practices. The tempo at the end was a Raven tempo. I think these guys have given themselves a chance now to compete for a job in July."

On whether the team met all the goals he set for the camp: "To me, it's less about meeting certain goals right now as it is to get on board with the process, and we're on our way. I think our football team is on its way. We couldn't have worked any harder. We couldn't have done any more with them. We took advantage of every day, and our guys responded. I would say that, as a football team, we're on our way."

On what he told the team before everyone leaves: "We told them to be safe, take care of one another, take care of themselves, work hard on all the little things they need to work on and come back a better player than when they left."

On the benefit rookies see from this type of camp: "It's huge. You watch the drill coach [Cam] Cameron put together out there before we went to the final team drill. Basically, it's a walk-through, but it's operating the offense. So the tempo, physically, is not full speed, but the tempo, mentally, is still full speed. Those are just invaluable reps for those guys, and they get all the reps as opposed to watching a veteran take the rep."

On whether he has any interesting plans between now and training camp: "We'll be heading up north. We go up north to Michigan. That's our spot."

On whether he'll take a mental break from coaching: "Sure, but I'll have my computer with me, and they've set up the video, so we're all set."

On why rookie RB Allen Patrick was on the sideline: "Allen tweaked his hamstring. He's been fighting that, really, since he got here. He's going to have to work hard over the next few weeks and get healthy."

On whether the fast pace of OTAs and rookie camp are what players can expect in training camp: "Yes, the pace and the tempo is going to be fast. The mental pace is always going to be fast. The physical pace will be structured and set up. There's a plan to it, and we'll have the guys ready to play."

On TE Xavier Lee making the transition from QB: "He's getting better. The tough thing about it when you've played quarterback your whole life, there's a lot of foundation work to do. So he's muddling through right now, but you see that he has the ability to play football at this level."

On what type of work the players can do on their own until training camp: "Guys have got to work on their own. There are skill-specific things at every position. Offensive linemen take pass sets and punch, and also work on footwork. Defensive backs, all the footwork and technique. Quarterbacks or receivers can throw or catch, and I think our guys are planning on getting together and throwing and catching – one set on the West Coast and one set here on the East Coast. Those are the little things that guys do to make themselves better."

On who stood out in the rookie camp: "I think it was just a learning camp. I would single out the group. They stood out. They worked hard. They were very coachable, and they got better."

On defensive coordinator Rex Ryan intercepting a pass during team drills: "You know, we had to do it twice to get him the pick. It was funny. The mind knew what to do, and the right arm knew what to do, but the rest of the body just kept going left."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

On whether rookies might pick up a new offense more quickly because they aren't used to the old system: "No. I hadn't thought of that. It's just the defenses are so different in the National Football League than they're used to seeing, much less the speed and then the volume. The volume gets them. That would be nice, however, if that happened. And, obviously, the rules of the game are different, so it takes time. This system takes time, but if they put in the time guys can pick it up quickly."

On his assessment of the rookie camp: "It was great with all of them. I imagine if you ask them, and I'm sure you have, they would say the same thing. John [Harbaugh] mentioned this to me, and I hadn't thought of it, about having it on the back end instead of the front end. I guess, as coaches, you just get in a certain habit of doing things – you have the draft and then you have the rookie mini-camp. There's no doubt in our minds that this is probably the best time to have it. Whether the overall schedule allows you to do that every year, I don't know that we know that yet. But I think they absorbed a lot more now. Things were really starting to sink in, which is the important thing."

On coaches being available to work with players: "I remind the rookies that there's no 20-hour rule in the National Football League. However, there are guidelines we go by. Really, any player that wants to be a great player, we make ourselves available basically 24-7 other than these next four [off] weeks. That's why we do what we do."

On the difference between the camps now and training camp: "When you get to two-a-days, the pads are really the only difference. That's the unknown for us right now with the young players. Some things can change dramatically when the pads go on, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse."

On whether players might forget things they've learned during the break: "Obviously, there's going to be some of that. I don't worry about it. I think every situation you put a guy in tells you more about him and tells you more about how you need to teach him. It'll be interesting. When we come back, the first thing we give them is about a 12-minute test. It's an eight-minute test for the offensive line and a 12-minute test for the skill guys. All our segments throughout the year we start with a test, and we remind them it's not to point anybody out. It's to find out, ‘Where are you? Where do we need to grow from?' We'll find out. We'll test them. After John's meeting, offensively, we get together and give them a timed test. Put a little heat, a little pressure on them and see what they've retained. There'll be a significant number of guys that will know more when they get back than when they left."

On the expectation that players learn more of the offense between now and training camp: "And then some, no question – as much as they can learn in a non-football environment. But we've seen guys over the years that really take it seriously. They come back, things have sunk in, and they have time to conceptualize what we're trying to do. Sometimes it makes more sense to them four weeks from now than it does right now."

On the potential for the players to contribute, even when they are away from the team: "Without question. For us, it's about this team, about the Ravens, and how they can help us win. Not just play, not just suit up. You can see, there will be guys that you expect to contribute and will, and there will be some guys who come from nowhere to help us out. That's what training camp is for."

On late bloomers among the rookies: "You call them late blossomers, but really, if you look at John's philosophy with our offseason program, and then our coaching style, our style of teaching, we think development is a big part of what we do. You can call it development, late blossoming, whatever, but we develop every guy, whether he's a first-round draft pick or a free agent. You want to get to the point where every guy becomes as good of a football player as he can be."

On the coaching staff's style of teaching: "Well, it starts with the right guys. There's no question, at least offensively, and I know Rex [Ryan] feels the same way defensively, the staff and the way we work together – everybody's on the same page, and when we disagree we walk out of the door shoulder-to-shoulder. We start in the same direction. We may go in another direction defensively, but it starts with making sure the players realize we're on the same page. Anytime our players are hearing two different things, that's our problem to solve. And I think our guys are doing a good job of it. Our players are getting a consistent message from John, from Rex, from Jerry [Rosburg], our assistants. I know Derrick Mason is reiterating that [and so is] Todd Heap. We all play a role and just being consistent in how we do things. That just gives us a chance. I think you'll just see that get better and better."

On the impact of the absence of RB Willis McGahee from some of the mini-camps: "We've accomplished a lot. And really, anytime a guy isn't here, it creates an opportunity for another guy to get better. We did maximize the time he was here, and we're in communication, and our relationship is going to continue to grow. I'm excited about what Willis is going to do in this offense with everybody else. He knows he's not going to do it alone. I've talked to all the offensive players, and what really meant a lot to me was when I asked them about the veteran players, they guy they talk about is Willis. Especially the offensive line – they have a lot of trust in him. That's the important thing, and we'll build on that when training camp starts."

On rookie G/T David Hale: "He's a good football player who is going to get better and better. Technique is going to be the key for him, but he's a good man. He's married, he's a good person and all those things, but he's a guy who can flip that switch when it comes to the football field. He's a football player, and he realizes that we're not trying to develop the men's choir around here. We're trying to put together a tough, physical, hard-nosed football team. Then he's just got to get better and better like all young guys."

On how rookie TE Xavier Lee is performing: "He's done some good things. He has. He's got a long way to go like anybody, so you can imagine taking a quarterback and moving him to tight end. I'm looking forward to seeing how he continues to develop, but he's giving the kind of effort that he needs to give."

On how Lee needs to keep improving: "Blocking would not be his strong point at this time. Bobby Bowden would've made this change a long time ago if that had been the case. But, no, he's been a good athlete for a long time. He was one of the top high school players coming out of Florida. It's a major change for a guy who just needs to continue to grow and develop and believe in himself."

On the competition for the backup running back position: "I don't think you can have too many quality running backs. I think you just look around the league, and you're going to need at least two, maybe three or four. We do have a unique situation where I think Le'Ron [McClain] is an awfully good runner as well. That's going to give us some flexibility, which is a plus. A lot of teams don't have a fullback that they would have confidence being a runner. I'm looking forward to the competition. Ray [Rice] showed some things today that I hadn't seen yet. There have been a lot of good things so far. Obviously, Allen Patrick has been banged up. No one has worked harder than Cory Ross or P.J. Daniels. There isn't a guy in this building who has worked harder than those two, so the competition is going to be real. Whoever that guy winds up being, his role is critical."

On what Rice showed him today: "I'm sure you watched Rutgers. Basically, for the most part – and it was smart on their part – they handed him the football and just let him run the football. But now we split him out today, and he showed – there's no question in my mind, at least – that he can develop into a receiver on the perimeter. I saw that today, and we've seen glimpses of it the last couple months."

On whether he uses Rice differently because of his size: "I think you use every guy [differently]. You don't really use any two guys the same way. You've got to realize, I'm a guy who has been around Tim Dwight, who was a great player, [and] Doug Flutie, who was a great player. Darren Sproles is a great player. You've heard this old saying, ‘Sometimes, it's the size of the heart that's more important.' This kid has got a great heart. If we felt like size was an issue, he probably wouldn't be here."

RB Ray Rice

On how the first phase of his pro career went: "I think it went pretty well. Just getting together will all the rookies and getting individual coaching time without other guys being here really helped us out and helped us grow in the game and learning different systems. From the defensive side and the offensive side, it definitely helped me out a lot."

On whether it was better to have rookie camp on the backside of OTAs instead of the front: "I do feel it was better. We kind of were thrown into the fire when we first got here. We learned on the run. But after you learn it, it kind of all slows down. It wasn't new to us anymore. We just went out there, and the practices went pretty fast and smooth. It wasn't as much teaching as it was going out there and working."

On whether he is excited about catching more passes: "It's very exciting. That's something that I wasn't able to do very much at Rutgers. I'm just trying to get out there and feel comfortable in the slot and do some things and just try to do whatever I can to help. I think that's just part of my game, and I'm learning as I go."

On how comfortable he is with the playbook: "I'm comfortable more with it now than when I first came in. I still have a couple more weeks left of studying, but I want to come into training camp knowing that I have a steady knowledge of it. My knowledge on it now is much better than when I first came in."

On what he hopes he has been able to show the coaches thus far: "I just hope to show them that I can play, and show them I can be a playmaker. I can do different things. I can run the ball, and I can catch. I'm just trying to expand my role a little more on special teams and just keep working. That's what I want to show them – that I am able to play the game. I want to be a guy that when I'm put in the game, I won't be a letdown. I want to be the guy who provides the spark to this team."

On how important each day is when you are trying to make the team: "It's definitely about trying to make the team. It doesn't matter where you get drafted at. Obviously, I was drafted in the second round. So they are expecting something out of me. I just have to go out there and perform and compete. I have to compete within myself and try to be the best that I can be. I can't compare myself to others because these guys have been there before. All I can do is be the best that I can be, and hopefully, that's enough to make the team."

On what he can do to improve before training camp: "We have time off. That could either really help you or hurt you. You have to be able to stay in condition. You have to try and get as many reps as you can in your playbook. Try to work with a different quarterback. You have to learn your system and the football movements. You have to come back on the edge and ready to go."

On whether he will have some vacation time: "There will definitely be some vacation time, but you need at least three hours out of your day to get a nice little workout in so that you're fresh."

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