Feb 27, 2010, 5:42PM
On Ed Reed’s status: Ed Reed’s playing, as far as I know. I’ve said it before, Ed’s one of the greatest competitors in football. You talk about guys that play like a Raven who loves football and everything about football, that’s Ed Reed. I think Ed’s going to play because I think Ed’s going to do everything he can to play, and if he’s physically able to play, he’ll play. Right now, my assumption is that he will be able to do that. But, if that changes or Ed changes his mind, obviously that’s his prerogative. We’ll go on the assumption that he’s going to play.
On if Reed has talked to the team: He hasn’t told the team that he’s not going to play, and medically, we don’t have any reason to believe that he’s not going to right now.
On the Terrell Owens rumors: I’ve always said that I have a lot of respect for T.O., and I know Ozzie does, too. He had a good year. We watched him on tape, and he was very effective last year.
Cont’d: We’re interested in T.O. We’re interested in all the guys that can make our team better. When we were coming back from Iraq last year with John Gruden, Jeff Fisher and Tom Coughlin, we were sitting in the airport and a waiter came over and said, ‘Hey, Terrell Owens is sitting over there at Burger King.’ We were laughing about it, but he was really over there. We ran over like fans [laughs]. I can guarantee that we didn’t ask for his autographs, but we did say hi. We rekindled the relationship. He’s a good guy and a good player.
On his relationship with Owens: I was coaching special teams and he was a receiver, so he was on the hands team. We had a good relationship. He was respectful to the coaches, he worked hard. I think everybody had a good relationship with him.
On Troy Smith: Troy Smith is a Raven. He’s still with the team. I happened to be in Ohio when my father inducted into the Crawford County Hall of Fame, along with Mike Gottfried and Gates Brown. I was flipping channels and I saw Troy. They were interviewing him in Columbus, and he said it best. He said, ‘I’m a Raven.’ I think he’s really a good quarterback. I think he can play quarterback in this league as a starter. That’s why we like him as our backup, because at some point in time, we’re going to need a guy to come in and win two, three, four games for us if Joe gets hurt. Although at some point in time, I think we understand Troy’s desire to be a starter. So, if something were to work out and is beneficial to the Ravens first, from our perspective, and gives him a chance to do that down the road somewhere, we’re interested in doing that. But Troy is our backup quarterback at this point, and I don’t think we’re going to change that unless it benefits our football team.
On the trade possibilities due to more RFAs on the market: We’re going to explore every avenue for every position. It will be interesting how this plays out, because I don’t think anybody really knows. There aren’t as many unrestricted free agents, there are more restricted free agents. What are the tenders going to be? Who is going to be tendered what? Is there going to be more trade dialogue than we’ve had in other years? We’ve had lengthy discussions at the highest levels, with me, Dick, Ozzie. Everybody is involved in that. I think we’ve got our ducks lined up as far as what we can get accomplished.
On if the unbalanced line makes scouting offensive linemen different: With our guys playing on the right and left side is what you’re alluding to. Michael Oher, it is a big deal that he played right tackle and moved over to left tackle, but the truth of the matter is that he played on the left side all through training camp because of the unbalanced stuff. We probably do want guys that are athletic and can line up on both sides. I guess if you’re an offensive lineman, you want to be in Baltimore because we play six, seven or eight of them at one time.
On the percentage of unbalanced line: We try to be unpredictable and not give anything away. One of Cam Cameron’s real strengths as an offensive coach is that he thinks that way. You might see all offensive linemen out there one day or you might see no offensive linemen out there at some point.
On if he noticed Cincinnati using the unbalanced attack: We did notice that. [laughs] We were wondering where they got that idea from.
On the potential to draft a kicker in light of missing out on Ryan Succop last year: I wouldn’t rule it out. I think there are some draft-eligible kickers out there. If we would have had a seventh-round pick, we would have drafted him last year, but we didn’t. We were in conversation about signing him as a free agent, but then he was Mr. Irrelevant. So, right then, he broke our hearts, or the Chiefs broke our hearts. But, Billy Cundiff did a nice job. He’s been around and one of those guys that’s been through it before. That’s an advantage. It’s tough to be a rookie kicker and make it in this league. Guys have done it, but Billy more experienced. We’ll start with Billy, and then we’ll bring in some competition for Billy as we go.
On if the Ravens have to balance out their running in a pass-happy league: At the end of the day, do you want to be 50/50, 55/45, 50/40? Where do you want to be? It probably depends on your players. It probably depends who you’re playing. If you look early in the year, we were really throwing the ball. We were really pass-happy, and some of our fans weren’t too happy about that and thought we should be running the ball more. To me, one week to the next, you do what you have to based on who’s healthy, what the skills of your players are and who you’re playing to be successful. We want to be somewhere 45/55 either way. You say, ‘Well, what does that mean? ‘ We want to do both well. We’re not going to be one of those teams that throws it 65 percent of the time. I don’t think anyone can run it 65 percent of the time and be successful.
On the benefit of having Suggs in offseason program: I think Terrell is really excited to be in Baltimore. I think he’s looking forward to it. He’s already working out in Arizona. He works hard. We hired Ted Monachino to work with him directly. He worked with him at Arizona State when [Suggs] was so successful. I think those two have a trust and a confidence level together that will help us. We’re dedicated a lot of our offseason program to pass rush. And, it’s not just him. It’s going to be all our guys. We want our linebackers to be able to rush the passer. We want to train our defensive backs to rush the passer. In our blitz system, they need to be able to do it. A big emphasis to what we do in the offseason is on pass rush, and he’s going to be here for us. I’m excited about that.
On Willis McGahee’s status: I think McGahee will be on our team next year. From last year to this year, the way he’s trained, through the whole knee situation – and everybody knows he has a knee in college, and he’s played well in the NFL so far – but for him to play the way he did at the end of the year and to be in the kind of shape that he was in, I’m just impressed with the guy. He’s a leader on our football team and one of the most fun guys to be around every day.
On if McGahee has accepted a backup role: He doesn’t say he’s accepted a backup role. I’ve never said that Ray Rice is the starting running back. I know other people have said that. Maybe even other coaches have said that. But to me, the starting running back and the guy that is going to start next week is the guy that’s playing the best. I’ve told Willis, ‘If you want to start in the game, go be the best running back that week.’ Ray knows that. Ray’s got Willis there, and Le’Ron McClain, Jalen Parmele and Matt Lawrence and whoever else we bring in, those guys are all going to be fighting for playing time. That’s what a coach wants – competition. Willis McGahee could gain 1,500 yards next year. That could easily happen, and I’m not ruling it out.
On wanting to re-sign Dwan Edwards: I’ve said it before, we want Dwan back, and I’ve got my fingers crossed. I think Dwan wants to be a Raven, too, so we’ll see what happens.
On the NFL reducing the amount of offseason practices because of head injury concerns: Practice is a loose term if you look at development. Look at every sport. I’ve got two nephews who are Division II swimmers. They swim 28 hours a week, and we limit football exposure to 20 hours a week in college. I think it’s important to be well-round and everything, but we’re talking about pro football players who want to get better, guys who are fighting to make a team. It’s different for a Ray Lewis. It’s different for guys that have been around – Ed Reed. Those guys don’t need that practice time. But as coaches, what we do is limit their exposure and don’t ask them to be there for the whole offseason, necessarily. We don’t put them through those practices. But those young rookies that are trying to make the team, now we’re going to say, ‘Oh no, you can’t be at the building, you can’t be at practice.’ What are we really saying? That we’re not available to help you be the best player you can be. As a coach, we want to coach. We want to help these guys be the best player they can be, because we’re looking to have as good a team as we can. Now, helmets on, banging heads and all that kind of stuff, yeah, we can get away from that. And I don’t think we do much of that in the offseason as it is – a lot less than people think we do. But why should we take away opportunities for guys to become the best they can be and work to earn a living as a football player in our league.
On Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington’s status: We’ve got a few guys with ACLs. Brendon Ayanbadejo has a knee situation. Marcus Smith is another guy who had an ACL. I don’t think it’s too optimistic because of the way those guys are training. Right now, we expect those guys to be practicing the first day of training camp because nowadays those ACLs get back fast, but I don’t think you can count on it. I’m sure we’ll have a contingency plan.
On if there are any advantages of being a rookie coach with a rookie QB: I don’t know. We never really considered the advantages because we had no choice. I think it’s a plus, obviously, because we get a chance to grow together, me as a coach and him as a quarterback. Maybe we’ll make some of the same mistakes together and share in the experiences. Joe’s a good guy. He’s really a tough kid and he wants to be great. I can’t wait to go to work. March 15, we’re ready.