One-on-one with Ravens coach John Harbaugh

John Harbaugh is beginning his fourth training camp as the Ravens head coach. He became the first Ravens coach to lead the team to the playoffs in three straight seasons and was rewarded with a three-year extension in February. Harbaugh spoke with The Baltimore Sun's Jamison Hensley on his expectations for Sergio Kindle, his reaction to the criticism of Joe Flacco and his take on the heated rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Question: What role do you foresee for Sergio Kindle this season?

Answer: I think the upside end of it would be to help us with pass rush and obviously contribute greatly on special teams. Guys who are less than three-down players need to be able to do that. He's been known as a pass rusher. And then he can develop in the first-down down defense, so he can be a backup outside linebacker.

Q: What's the biggest challenge of not having Offseason Training Activities (minicamps) and a shortened training camp for the restricted free agents and players signed after the lockout?

A:The OTAs in the offseason are very valuable and that will be demonstrated here by what you see in the next few weeks. Football shape is real. It's a matter of climatizing to the type of work you do in the heat. Our guys are feeling it. Our guys are in very good shape, yet being in football shape is a different thing. It's going to take a few days to get that done. Plus, we don't have our full numbers out here.

Q: How do you plan to address the backup quarterback position? Is it someone on this team or is it elsewhere?

A: That remains to be seen. I'm quite certain that we'll have a backup quarterback. I'm quite sure of that.

Q: Is there any chance of bringing back Marc Bulger?

A: I really don't know. I haven't talked to him.

Q. What was your reaction to the offseason criticism of Joe Flacco?

A: My reaction to it is to defend Joe. I feel strongly about him. I love him. I love what he said the other day. I've already known that. So, I know he feels that way. That's our goal, too. We want to be the best team. We want to have the best quarterback. That's our expectation. If people appreciate hearing it, that's good. But that's how Joe has always been.

Q: Has Flacco exceeded your expectations?

A: Absolutely. But that doesn't mean you sit and look back and say, 'We're happy with where things are.' But we're more excited about where things are going.

Q: Have you ever talked to Ray Lewis about how long he wants to play?

A: To me, that's really not the right question for Ray. The right question is, 'What do you plan on doing today?' That's where his mind is at. His mind is on just having a good practice. The guy is all about football. It's amazing to me. That tells me something. That's how you win. We have a sign down [by the locker room] that says, 'W.I.N.: What's Important Now.' That's how he has lived his career. That's why he has 16 years in.

Q: What will be the biggest difference with Chuck Pagano as defensive coordinator?

A: Everybody is different. Everybody brings their own perspective on it. I think Rex [Ryan] historically was a defensive line guy. Marvin Lewis was a secondary guy. Mike Nolan was a secondary guy. Greg Mattison was a defensive line guy. Chuck is a back end guy. They're influenced by their perspective on defense. But this defense will not fundamentally change. It will move in the direction of Chuck's personality. I think he has a dynamic personality. But it will move in the direction of the players we put on the field. That's the most telling thing. If we can improve in certain areas and build a scheme around our players, that's what people will see differently.

Q: Do you think Michael Oher's future is at left tackle or is it fluid?

A: I think it's left tackle. He's a very athletic guy. There's no mold for a football player at any position. Michael Oher is a lot more athletic than a lot of right tackles. So, he's got great feet and a great punch. He's very smart and very competitive. I see no reason why he can't be a top left tackle in this league.

Q: What's the biggest step made in improving the running game?

A: The one step hasn't been one step. It's been a whole process of looking at everything we do. We've overhauled the scheme and the scheme within each play. And we're putting the personnel together now. We're going to play Marshal [Yanda] at right guard and we'll find out what our right tackle is. And we're solid at the other three spots [on the offensive line]. I think it's going to be fun to see what we can get accomplished. It's very important to us.

Q: Do coaches and players feel a difference with camp being here than McDaniel College?

A: It's still camp but it's not in our comfort zone because we're not used to being here. The biggest difference is the fact we don't have a schedule. Our schedule has changed 40 times in the last four days. It's going to change a couple more times because the league and the union have been changing all of this stuff. There's a lot of unintended consequences coming down for the structure of this camp that they didn't anticipate either that are safety-related. We have to put a football team together by Sept. 11. So I think we're trying to figure everything out. More than the difference between Westminster or here, it's been wild with the CBA work rules.

Q: Are the players staying together at one place like McDaniel College?

A: They're staying at a hotel. We felt it was more important this year because they haven't been together so much.

Q: What was your reaction to Pittsburgh's Ryan Clark saying the Ravens need to beat the Steelers more to make it a rivalry?

A: Everybody is entitled to their opinion. There's a saying by Voltaire: 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.' Truthfully, I don't care what Ryan Clark says about anything. I'm sure he'll say the same about me. Let's put it this way: He'll be very fired up to play on Sept. 11, I'm sure. We love being underestimated. So if the Steelers choose to underestimate us, we appreciate that.

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