Ravens' quarterback watch

WESTMINSTER -- Our daily glance at the Baltimore Ravens' three-way quarterback competition between Kyle Boller, Joe Flacco and Troy Smith:

Troy Smith

Positives: Took the first snap s with the starters, displayed solid touch, especially to the backs. Had a dazzling broken-field run where he juked several defenders.

Negatives: Had some fumbling issues. Needs to make his progressions faster and be decisive to challenge the defense vertically.

Stock: Maintaining the status quo.

Kyle Boller

Positives: Crisp play-action fakes with good accuracy and zip on deep throws. Starting to rebuild timing with Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Todd Heap.

Negatives: Two fumbled center exchanges overshadows a good day of work. Can't afford to make those kind of mistakes.

Stock: Rising slightly since the fumbles can be chalked up mostly to first-day rust.

Joe Flacco

Positives: Demonstrated his arm strength and ability to fit the football into tight areas with precision. Maintained his poise even when it got chaotic on the field.

Negatives: Seemed a bit hesitant and looked slightly nervous in his body language. Tossed an interception to Derrick Martin in a crowd when he should have thrown it away and needs to rifle the ball less and get rid of it quicker.

Stock: Down a bit as he adjusts to the veterans' speed and instinctive reactions.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital. RAVENS TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS: JULY 25

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Good start today – a lot of effort, a lot of enthusiasm. It's good to see the guys with pads on."

On if RB Willis McGahee looked to be in shape: "Yeah, he looked good. He got through the practice and was strong through the whole practice."

On having a player like ILB Ray Lewis on the team: "It's great to have the opportunity to coach a football team that Ray Lewis is on. Just watching practice today, you see why he is one of the all-time greats, why he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer and why he believes he has a lot of football left in him. Because he does."

On if players practicing with pads on felt more like training camp: "Well, yeah. Anytime you put the pads on it's "real football," so to speak. We had a live period; guys were getting after it inside, finishing blocks and all that kind of stuff. So, it's more like football."

On the length of time until S Ed Reed and WR Demetrius Williams will be able to practice: "As far as the different guys who have the different situations that make them unable to practice, it's all different. There's a timetable for each guy, but specifically, every guy is different."

On the frequency of live periods during practice: "We'll have live periods every day out here for awhile, until we feel like we can move on from there, until we feel like it's not going to help us. But live periods are definitely part of what we're doing. We won't be in pads every practice, so when we're not in pads we won't go live."

On the absence of OLB Terrell Suggs and playing OLB Antwan Barnes: "The next guy steps in and plays. And we have Antwan, and Edgar [Jones] over there playing. It's a great opportunity for those guys to get some tremendous reps with Rex's [Ryan] defense."

On the quarterback's play: "They did OK – way too many timeouts, but it's better than a "delay of game," I guess. Playing with 10 guys on the field, so that was smart."

On the play of T Jared Gaither: "He looked good. It's been one practice thus far at camp, but he looked good to me. He stands back there while watching the tape and he does OK. He and [Ben] Grubbs and [Jason] Brown next to each other looks like a very athletic group of linemen."

On Jason Brown playing center: "Yeah, he might be an extra center. He played center in college, and I think he's excited about doing it. He's working really hard."

On what was talked about during the administrative meetings: "Well, a lot of that is just administrative in the meeting. All the administrative stuff that these guys have to be aware of and the NFL wants to be aware of. We finished with a little football talk and explained what our plan is and how we expect to win football games. There's nothing new. They've heard it since the beginning. A lot of these guys have heard it since they started playing football."

On what Barnes brings to the table: "Antwan is a guy who is super excited, and he feels that he has a lot to prove. He's a powerful explosive man, and he really wants to learn."

On why CBs Fabian Washington and Chris McAlister weren't practicing today: "Those were two of the guys who were unable to practice. I don't know what the exact problem is. I know you guys have been asking, so, I'll find out and tell you later. But there are seven or eight guys right now that are unable to practice for various reasons.

On whether there are any serious injuries on the team: "No, the guys who are on the Injured Reserve are the only guys out. They're not going to be back."

On relationships between the QBs: "I think they get a long pretty well. The thing that is impressive from a professional standpoint is that they are really trying to raise each other up and make each other better. And that's what great competition does. It makes all three of the players better. It's not about knocking the next guy down; it's about raising each other up."

On what his first day of training camp was like: "It's exciting when we first walked out. Matter of fact, Ozzie [Newsome] and I were up working out this morning at about 6:30, and there were fans who had started to show up already. Obviously, this is a great football city and a great football area, and there are a lot of kids out there. But as soon you start practice, you have to kind of forget about them. Except for the guys who were down in front during our drills."

LB Ray Lewis

On how it felt to be back playing again: "It feels good every time you get back around the guys and put the pads on again. It's just about getting back at it and the freshness. I think we had an all right day, and every day is going to get better. I think that overall, we had a pretty good day as a team. We kind of broke it in yesterday, so it was kind of fresh for us yesterday. Today, we were just getting the kinks out."

On what head coach John Harbaugh said during the team meeting: "John said a lot of meaningful things. It was about the team concept, and what we are going to try and get out of camp, and how we are going to approach camp and the season. He spoke about the basic stuff that a head coach talks about, nothing spectacular. He was just being who he is and giving us direction on what the camp is going to be like and what preparing for the season is going to be like."

On whether he liked the physical contact on the first day: "It always is nice when you can get that first day out of the way. You can always be like, ‘Oh, now we have to go to pads and I haven't been hitting for a while.' But anytime you can go at it hard, it is good. It's a pretty good today. Anytime you can go at it like that and come out injury-free, then that's about the best as you can get."

On how important it is to keep guys healthy: "Injuries are going to happen. That's just the bottom line. It's the nature of this game. But when you aren't suppose to be on the ground, then don't be on the ground. When your not suppose to be tackling, then don't tackle. Things like that. Don't grab a man from the back and pull his hamstring. Just simple things like that, I think, a lot of these professional guys, especially these older guys, understand. The younger guys, we have to catch them up on that. Anytime that you can come out and have the kind of day that we had today it's good. It was actually pretty physical today. So, anytime that you can get through these kind of physical things and your injuries are limited, it's always a good day."

On whether Flacco looked settled at the QB position: "I'm looking to confuse him as much as I can. We were just jumping around, and I was telling him that it's going to be fast. But that guy has some great composure, and he carries himself very well. It was just good to see him out there. The young offense is coming together. We're just really out there to make them better. At the same time, you have to make them play."

On whether it is difficult for the defense to get settled without OLB Terrell Suggs: "No, there are just too many people. That's like when an injury happens, the next man needs to step it up. Whatever Suggs is dealing with he has to deal with. We will be waiting for him when he gets back."

On the differences in play between now and his rookie season: "God is simply amazing. He has blessed me this year in that I am totally healthy, not a knick or bruise. I don't have to knock on wood because I depend on God. My energy is just incredible. You listen to people talk about 13 years and that you're an older guy. I'm a big sports fan, and I watch a lot of guys who they say are old. They said that Michael Strahan was old, but he beat every tackle that was in front of him and won the Super Bowl. One thing I always say is that if you're older, than there's a lot of wisdom and a lot of knowledge, and if you take care of your body, with the longevity of this game, you can play as long as you want. That's the thing that I appreciate about myself, and all the other guys I see.

Whether it's Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen, who has been playing for 12 or 13 years and still goes out there and wins a championship, or if it's Kobe Bryant, who's still playing at a high level at that age, I think that [the] age [factor] is for everyone who has done it before and still wants to do it."

On whether he is eager to prove he has not lost a step: "That's easy. I don't have to do that. All I have to do is invite them into my defense. We were the only defense who didn't see a 100-yard rusher last year. So, we are OK with that. So, inviting people to come see me up the middle is not a good thing to do. Most of the times, they are just trying to get away from me.

But all jokes aside, it's good to be back. It's good to be fresh, and it's good to be totally healthy. When you go through the injuries in life, they are going to happen sooner or later. That's just the nature of this business. But when you can find yourself in a season like this, where you don't have to deal with any of that and you're completely free to trust everything that you believe in, then life is beautiful."

On when the last time he was this healthy: "I have been this healthy the last two or three years now, to the point where I didn't have to deal with an injury. I haven't had to deal with the surgeries, hurt hamstrings, or shoulder injuries.

Anytime you can bring yourself back to that point to where you are totally healthy at this point in your career, then you realize that you don't ever want to be 25 or 22, because I know too much right now. I'm way past where I was. Now, coming into camp is kind of fun. You know how to come in and take care of your body and weigh better than you did once when you were younger. Now, you can really appreciate the game."

On how much pressure is on the rookies to adapt and perform: "I'm actually rooming with Tavares Gooden, and I come in all relaxed because it's just another camp. Tavares comes in and he's like, ‘I've got to do this, and I've got to do this,' and I'm just like, ‘Calm down, I'm going to help you through the process.' You see that and how everyone is running around and trying to figure it out and being like, ‘I've got to be there, I've got to be there,' and I'm like, ‘Look, put your book right here. You know your schedule every day.

It's simple.' That's the beauty of having these young guys around. You can teach them so much. Whether it's Tavares, whether it's Flacco, or whether it's Ray Rice, it's just a simple thing. Like I told Ray Rice today, North and South wins. If you see me in that hole, bouncing [outside] sometimes works, but in this business it doesn't. North and South wins. Never go East and West. It's a little thing like that you can teach these younger guys. But you do see the jitteries. That's the thing about camp: You can get that all out, and when the season starts, then you can run full speed."

On what it's like rooming with Gooden: "I told his father last night on the phone, ‘Thank God that he goes into a great situation.' I didn't know it until recently, a while ago, that he looked up to me the way that he did. Last night he says, ‘I got something to show you.' I'm like, ‘What do you have to show me?' So, he shows me his camera phone, and somebody sent him picture of my old No. 52 when I was at Miami. I was like, ‘Don't bring back those memories.' That's a long time for me, but anytime you can have a young kid like that come up, whether he wore your number or not, it's just passing on the tradition and passing on the knowledge, and that's what I told his father that I would do for him. I told Tavares, ‘Anything that I can do for you, young man, use me."

On how he ended up rooming with Tavares: "Actually, I asked him. This offseason, he actually came down to my place in Florida, and I showed him some stuff, and we worked out before he came up here. We worked out a couple of times. We started conversing every day on the phone, and I was like, "We might as well just room together.' I mean, we talked every day, and we texted every day. So, I told him we should just room together. I told him to call Joan [Sieracki, Ravens travel manager] and hook that all up. So, he made the call, and now we are rooming together."

On teammate CB Samari Rolle's situation: "The thing is, and this is what I told Samari, sometimes it isn't what you're going through, it's how you deal with what you're going through.' And I told him that anything we can do for him, we're going to be there for you, as a man, as a teammate.

And that's when you really get away from the game of football – when life issues hit you that much. He's going through a lot, but as a man I think he's handling it very well. And as a family of teammates, we want to be there for him, by any means necessary, whatever that means. If it's just having a listening ear or giving a word of prayer, whatever it is, I think just to be there for him is what he needs the most."

On possibly being franchised next year: "I just had a hard day of camp. I'm sweating, I'm tired, and you want me to talk about next year? I'm trying to talk about tomorrow's practice. We can't talk about next year; I don't know what that will be."

RB Willis McGahee

On his weight: "I reported at 236. I can't lose the muscle. I lost body fat. The next thing is muscle, and I've got to keep that on."

On whether he's in football shape: "I'm OK, but it could get better. That's what training camp is for. We hadn't really been practicing in pads. Anybody can run around out there without pads on, but when you put the pads on it's a totally different story."

On whether he has to shake off the rust: "Oh, yeah. No doubt about it. I had a fumbled exchange with the quarterback, and I had a fumble. I know I'm rusty. I know I'm not going to come to training camp and be on point. That's hard, and I've got to work to that level."

On the new offense: "Basically, to tell you the truth, it's my sixth year. This is my fifth NFL coach, so I get a new playbook every other year. It's something I'm used to. Just get through training camp, and once you get through training camp, you won't have all those plays they put at you in training camp. They break it down to a minimum. It's nothing new for me."

On the intensity of practice: "They got after it. You know, I didn't do my job as far as going out there and performing well, but the defense did a great job and our offense made a couple of great plays. It was a good practice."

On playing more downs this season: "The goal for me is to stay on the field. I didn't stay on the field as much last year. I was coming out on third downs, but that's last year. This is a whole new year, and my goal is to finish the long runs and get touchdowns."

On helping rookie RB Ray Rice: "If I know it, I'm going to help him out. If I don't know it, I'll tell him to ask the coach. As far as him asking questions, I have no problem answering for him or helping him out with whatever he needs."

On whether he was negatively affected by working out on his own during the offseason: "That's life. If I'm not out on the field tomorrow, then something's wrong with me. [The media will say,] "McGahee is out of shape" and something's wrong with me. Everybody has their own opinion."

On how he expects the team to do: "We've got a winning tradition. Two years ago, we were 13-3."

On whether he's excited about offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's offense: "Oh yeah, no doubt about it. This is the first offensive coordinator I've had that uses the tailback this much. In our OTAs, he ran the heck out of me. I wasn't used to that, so that's a good thing. He brings a lot to the table for everybody, not only the running backs, but fullbacks, tight ends and receivers."

On how many touches he's getting: "I'm excited, but it is training camp. I'm getting touches all the time in training camp, but when it's time for the regular games, that's when you find out."

On the offensive line: "We've got a great group of guys and great O-line coaches working with them. We've got some returning players from last year. They know what they're doing. It's just the fact of them all getting on the same page. Today, the offensive line did a great job of blocking, but still the running back has to get on the same page as the offensive line. I wasn't on the same page as them today."

On whether the Pro Bowl was good motivation for him: "That was a good trip for me, even though I was [fourth] in the AFC [in rushing], but I'm not going to say anything about that. But it was a good trip for me. That was a good motivation, and I'd like to go back there again."

WR Derrick Mason

On what changes he has noticed in camp so far: "Faster tempo. Other than that, that's about it, other than learning new plays. When you're in it so many years, I think all the training camps start to run together. I think what makes this one so special is we have a whole new coaching staff, a whole new outlook on what we're doing as an offense and as a defense, as well. Again, trying to learn Cam's [Cameron} terminology, I think that's a big step."

On the styles of Brian Billick and John Harbaugh: "That's an unfair question. They're both head coaches. I enjoyed Billick when he was here and I'm enjoying John right now. Billick was a guy who loved football and John is a guy who loves football, so I'm not going to get into comparing the two or all that stuff; that's unfair. We have set a goal for this team and we're working to achieve that goal."

On leaving last season behind: "You can't go off of what you did last year, whether you were an 11-5 team or a 5-11 team. You can't do it. This league changes so fast with free agency, so just because you were at the bottom of the league the previous year doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be in the bottom of the league the following year. I believe we're going to prove that. We're not going to be the same team. I guarantee we're going to win more games than [last year].

In this league, just because you were good one year doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be good the following year. You have to make sure that one, you don't have any injuries. You have to stay away from the injury bug. And two, you just have to go out and execute whatever game plan is called and don't turn the football over. We're getting a lot of our guys back from last year that were injured and we're not going to turn the ball over like we did last year, so that's going to make this a better season than it was last year."

On his motivation: "What keeps things fresh for me is just coming out here every day. Being out here with the guys and learning the game of football. There's something you can learn each and every year in this game. If you stop learning then you might as well quit. And I think what motivates me and what motivates a lot of these veterans out here is to learn something new out on the field, and to strive to win that ultimate game, and that's the Super Bowl. So any chance you have an opportunity to win a Super Bowl, you're going to keep on coming at it. And that means every year you're going to keep on coming back."

On the quarterback situation: "All of them are good. They did a great job. That's my impression. Live bullets, fake bullets, whatever you want to call them. If you're a quarterback, you're a quarterback. And the three we have are quarterbacks. Whether we're in [practice], whether we're live, or whether we're in walkthroughs, these guys have proven that they can put the ball there, they've proven that they can read defenses and they've proven that they can run offenses. So it doesn't matter to me which one of them plays because I think we've got three very good ones."

On the atmosphere around the team: "I'd be a fool to say I didn't like it. You can't help but like it. That's what makes the game fun is when you can go out there and set a tempo and have fun with it. And you see everyone around you is having fun. No one is crying or whining about it being too hot or the tempo is too fast; everybody is engaged at practice. Everybody is running to the ball. Everybody is excited to be out here, and that's what you want in a football team. That's what makes a championship football team. Guys coming out and guys getting started – all 80 guys coming out and really playing the game because they love the game. That's all you can ask. Right now we're having a lot of fun and I don't see it stopping."

On retired T Jonathan Ogden's presence at practice: "I'm surprised to see him out here. See, he can come out here when he doesn't have to play, but when he's trying to play…(laughter). It was good to see the big guy out here. He still loves the team. He wants to see what's going on, because I guarantee you he could be on somebody's golf course right now. But, he chose to come out the first day and be a part of the team whether he is playing or not playing. J.O. is always going to be considered a part of the Ravens' family, years from now, even 10 or 20 years from now. And I guarantee he can come on this practice field anytime he wants. So it was good to see the big guy out here."


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