Pleased to meet them

The Baltimore Sun

INDIANAPOLIS -- Perhaps the most interesting thing about the arrival of John Harbaugh in Baltimore this month is that the dialogue cuts both ways, from the new coach of the Ravens to the players, and from the players to the new coach.

Once his coaching staff was in place, Harbaugh's next step was to introduce himself to his new team. The conversations that followed were revealing.

"Every guy that comes in, it's almost like they've got a script," Harbaugh said yesterday between drills at the NFL scouting combine. "Guys are coming in and they're saying certain things that we really want to hear that are going to be foundations of our program."

By Harbaugh's estimate, he has met with 75 percent of the roster, "anywhere from an hour and three hours" per player.

"[Safety] Ed Reed was in the other day; we had a tremendous conversation," the coach said. "That's been the most fun because those guys are hungry. They want to put together a real good football team. They want to exhaust every resource to build a team."

Harbaugh has the attention of a veteran football team that turned on his predecessor, Brian Billick, last season. This was his way of saying that the rookie head coach won't have trouble communicating on a team that abounds with opinions and egos.

He has already shuffled lockers at the Owings Mills complex to inspire more cross-team conversation.

"If you're going to win in the National Football League, you better have some strong men because you've got to beat another team down," Harbaugh said. "I love those kind of guys. I'm looking forward to what they have to say. And they've already told me what they think. So that's a good thing.

"I feel we're going to be on the same page."

There could be no dialogue with the Ravens' new coach that doesn't involve the team's muddled quarterback picture. Here's what else Harbaugh had to say:

On incumbent Steve McNair: "He's had a tremendous career, and a lot of guys who've been in his position at his age have had pretty good seasons."

On the possibility the starting quarterback might not be on the roster now: "He could be on the roster, and there's a chance he's not. To me, that's exhausting every resource."

On the prototype of the quarterback he wants for his team: "I want a leader, a competitor, a winner, who can throw it, can run around a little if necessary, a tough guy."

On Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, who won't be around when the Ravens get the eighth pick: "A very impressive, sharp, competitive person."

Note -- Maryland guard Andrew Crummey showed up at the combine on crutches and in a walking boot. Crummey suffered a second fracture of his left fibula in the East-West all-star game in Houston, requiring surgery. It was the second time he broke the leg in three months. The first time, he missed seven weeks of the Terps' season but returned to play in the last two games and the all-star game.ken.murray@baltsun.com

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