Baltimore Ravens

Harbaugh acknowledges that offensive line has to get better

Ravens coach John Harbaugh met the media this morning at the owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. I'll have a story up later today, but here are several of his comments:

On bringing in competition for kicker Billy Cundiff: "Yeah, we'll probably bring the best group of players to camp that we can. If we can get a kicker that is capable of competing with Billy, we'll do it. Do you have to draft a guy? Is there a free agent? Is there a guy that will be on the street. That's kind of hard to determine. We want competition for pretty much every position. I say that so I'm not ruling anything out, but Billy is our kicker. And I would anticipate Billy will be our kicker for the opening game of the season. I think he'll have a great preseason. I think he'll have a great season next year, but everybody gets competition and he's no exception."


On the importance of upgrading the offensive line: "I think we have to upgrade the offensive line. You ask, 'Can we upgrade the offensive line?' We have to upgrade the offensive line. I don't even know if we have a full complement of linemen to be on our 53-man roster right now. We don't have our five starters set. We have guys where [you say], 'Can they play a position or not?' We're talking aboutJah [Reid]. Can he play left guard? So we have to get better there just for the fact that we don't really have the numbers there right now. The thing I've learned over the years in Philadelphia and everywhere else, it starts with the offensive line on offense. The quarterback is obviously critically important, but if you don't have an offensive line, you can forget about it. We have to be able to build an offensive line."

On offensive line options: "We can go [get] a veteran free agent. We can go [get] a couple of draft picks. It [could be] the guy that maybe [was] cut at some point in time. We'll be turning over every stone."


On Ray Rice's contract status: "I think it will be the same level of maturity. I don't know what their strategy will be, if they feel like they even need a strategy. That kind of goes back to the agent more than the player. But Ray Rice is a man. He loves football. He wants to be in there with his teammates. I'm hoping he'll be there from Day One. I would expect him to be there from Day One. But if he's not, I'm not going to hold it against him as a coach. We just need the best Ray Rice that's possible for the first game."

On the progress of negotiations with Rice and quarterback Joe Flacco: "I get positive vibes about how they are going. I think it's going well. That doesn't mean that anything is imminent because it takes a long time. But very positive vibes about where it's going."

On linebacker Paul Kruger: "I think Paul is probably the leading candidate for the SAM linebacker job. I could very definitely see him doing that. When we lost Jarret [Johnson], I went back and watched all of Paul's tape. I watched every one of his plays from last year, just to try and get a feel just for whether or not we'd be comfortable with him in there. He did a nice job in coverage, he set the edge well. Obviously, he's a very good pass rusher. I believe Paul can do it. I think he will do it. I talked to him on the phone. He's committed to doing it. It means everything to him. He wants to be that guy and he wants to do it as well or better than how it's been done for the Ravens. That's what you want out of one of your players."

On adding a kick returner: "We definitely think we could add a returner. Not to say that we don't have guys in-house that could do it because we do. But we want to put some competition in there. We tried to do it in the offseason and it hasn't worked out so far. We'll keep trying and the draft is certainly a big part of that."