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Training camp interceptions meaningful for secondary but not Matt Schaub, Harbaugh says

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) watches Matt Schaub (8) pass to tight end Crockett Gillmore at mandatory minicamp at the Ravens' training facility.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) watches Matt Schaub (8) pass to tight end Crockett Gillmore at mandatory minicamp at the Ravens' training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

With mandates against the kind of hard contact that might occur when a defensive back jumps a route for an interception in training camp, interceptions can be hard to come by in August practices.

Even while acknowledging that, Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended the interception problem that cost backup quarterback Matt Schaub his job in Houston in 2013 and is cropping up again through the first week of training camp.

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"I'm going to defend Matt a little bit, because Matt had some unbelievable throws out here today," Harbaugh said. "Matt had a good day today, but there are going to be interceptions. He had an interception today. … That's going to happen in practice. I'm pretty fired up about our defense making a few plays, too.

"But I feel great about Matt Schaub as a backup quarterback. Tyrod Taylor was just the kind of backup quarterback we wanted. Why? Because he's a good player, [but a] totally different quarterback than Matt. Matt is a heck of a backup quarterback, because he's a good player, and we feel comfortable that Matt can win for us."

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Schaub has been picked off several times in camp, including one on the opening play of a two-minute drive Wednesday by reserve defensive back Quinton Pointer. He has was intercepted by rookie Nick Perry on a deep pass into triple coverage Monday, and earlier in camp threw an interception that inside linebacker Arthur Brown returned for a touchdown.

For the defenders who benefit from them, there's more than notice from the coaching staff or accolades from the fans to gain. When a potential interception falls to the ground, safety Kendrick Lewis yells that they're "dropping that money."

"We feel like there's money in [those] balls," Lewis said. "Those are money balls; that's what we call them. So you drop one, you owe us 10 pushups, and that's money you left out there on the grass."

Harbaugh acknowledges picking-off practice in camp is difficult, "because we don't want collisions out here.

"We don't want guys tangled up, and sometimes that happens when you get an interception – you have to go take a shot," Harbaugh said. "The [defensive backs] get frustrated. I'm on the DBs now. I'm going to tell them, 'I want to see some plays made, but I don't want you guys getting tangled up.' You expect both of those things from guys, which is a challenge, but they do a good job with it."

So while interceptions are hard to come by in camp, Schaub's total could be alarming. But ultimately, this is the time for him to learn the offense, get his mistakes out of his system, and prepare for a season behind Joe Flacco.

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