BALTIMORE RAVENS END OF SEASON ZOOM AVAILABILITY
WR Rashod Bateman
On what was going through his mind when he knew the season had come to an end:"It was definitely [bitter]. It's something that we wish we could have back, but we can't have it back. There's a bright future ahead, and that's what we're all looking forward to right now."
On how he assesses his individual performance his rookie season:"I'm just glad I got out healthy. I feel like I'm going into the offseason strong so I can work on the things that I need to work on to come back next year and have a better chance of performing at a higher level. My rookie season, it went OK in my opinion, coming back from injury and working my way back. I'm just thankful to be here, be a part of this organization, and I'm looking forward to the future."
On how much QB Lamar Jackson's injury affected Lamar's personality around the building:"Lamar [Jackson] is Lamar. He still had the same polished mindset. He's the leader of our team. Whenever he was around, everything was positive. He [would] definitely uplift us in the times that we needed. So, it definitely helped out having him around."
On if he's spoken to wide receiver coach Tee Martin or pass game specialist Keith Williams on what they expect from him in the offseason, and if he plans on connecting with QB Lamar Jackson to work on their game: "I don't know the secrets of what … The season just ended, but I think at some point we'll all get together – because we're teammates, we've all got a job to do. The offseason is about grinding, so that's what we're looking forward to doing – is getting grinding and getting back to work. So, we'll see guys soon."
On how he thinks he stacked up to NFL secondaries with his limited time on the field this season:"There's always room to grow, but I think I did an OK job – I guess good enough for this year. But I know there's always room for improvement. I learned a lot this year. A lot of lessons learned for sure. That's what this offseason is for – for me to take everything that I've learned and digest it and go back to work. Hopefully, we can see a change in the next year."
On the most difficult and most challenging part about being an NFL rookie wide receiver:"For me, I would just probably say the IQ of the game. In the NFL, everybody is a pro, and that's the difference between college and the NFL, I feel like. Everybody has the talent you feel like, but everybody doesn't have it in the mind. So, I just feel like when you go out and your football IQ is high, then you can go out and perform at a high level. So, getting in my film book this offseason is definitely going to be important."
On how much he thinks the time he missed in training camp and in the beginning of the season held him back, and how difficult it was to make up for those mental and physical reps lost: "I don't necessarily think it held me back, but I just think it was valuable time that I missed – as far as getting reps with Lamar [Jackson] and 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley], and things like that, and just having those practice reps. But when I came back, I feel like I hit it running. So, now, I'm just looking forward to next year. Like I said, just looking forward to getting better."
On what he thinks about being a Raven: "I couldn't be in a more blessed situation. And this year has definitely taught me that being a part of this organization is an honor, and I carry that with pride, for sure. We were never out of it. Despite the cards that we got dealt this year, this team was never out of it until the end. It's something special to be a part of that. I know we're going to come out hungry for next year."
C Bradley Bozeman
On how challenging the season was and what will linger for this team and offense: "From the start of this season, things never really bounced our way. We had a lot of injuries, [and] we had a lot of our key players go down. But I think the important thing to grab out of that is we ended up fighting for an opportunity to go to the playoffs. We ended up having guys step up to the plate. We had guys grow up. We had guys do the things they needed to do to make this team successful. Unfortunately, our last six games [came] down to a couple points, with the exception of one, but I am proud. I'm proud as hell of all of these guys who have fought the entire year and made the best out of every crappy situation. I'm just proud of these guys for fighting and doing the things that they've done every single day to get us into a position where we had an opportunity to possibly make the playoffs. Unfortunately, that didn't work out for us, but the future is bright for these men who came out and stepped up to the plate for this organization, for everyone involved."
On what his priority is entering the offseason as a free agent: "I'll just continue to take care of my body, continue to try to grow as a football player, grow as a man, take some time to recover [and] do the things I need to do. We'll let our agents handle all the backend stuff, and we'll see what happens. I've been very blessed. This place has been so amazing to me, everyone involved from the ground up – from all my teammates, to the coaches, to the fans, everyone. It's been a great place for me. So, I'm just very grateful."
On what it is about the city and the organization that's made the connection so significant to him: "The city has just opened its arms to us. [My wife] Nikki and I have our foundation; we started as a little non-profit, and now we've grown into what we are now where we've fed over 3 million meals to families in Baltimore. We've done so many great things with this city in mind, and it's been amazing. It's been an amazing journey. [I am] just so, so, so grateful and blessed to have called myself a Raven for the last four years. I hope it's the next four more, but we don't really know right now. But we'll figure that out this offseason and see what happens. It's just been a great place to call home the last four years."
On what happened with the illness that ultimately kept him out of the Rams game: "I woke up at about 4 a.m. not in a great situation. I got very, very sick, and it never really laid down. The sickness just kind of kept building up until probably about halftime. I had to leave the sideline a couple times. Unfortunately, I wasn't in a position where I could play that football game and be very effective. So, we decided that that was probably the best option. Unfortunately, we found that out a little late [and] it couldn't come, but I was trying to play that backup role and trying to be there for my teammates in any way that I possibly could. I think Trystan [Colon] stepped up and did a great job. I wanted to be on that field so bad, I did. Those are my teammates. Those are my brothers. These are great opportunities to be able to go out and show what you can do, especially against a great defense like the Rams. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to compete and compete at a high level that day. I regret ordering that pizza that night for sure." (laughter)
On how close the offensive line is to becoming a mauling unit like they had been from 2019-20: "I think we're close. You saw the last game of the season last night; we did some things that are kind of prototypical to who we are and what we do. So, I think we're really close. Unfortunately, it didn't peak at the right time. Those guys … We'll build back next year. We'll see what happens, but I know those guys will be out here bound and determined to get back to running the football. Kevin Zeitler is the ultimate teammate. The guy has just continued to grow and build and be the man he is. He's a 10-year vet that acts like he's in Year Four. The guy will be around for a really long time. So, I think Baltimore is in good hands with him, for sure."
On if there's something about the team facing so much adversity together that makes them want to run it back with everyone on the roster, or at least as close as possible: "Adversity brings out the best in people. I think it brought the best out in everyone this year, continuing to fight. There's been no quit in this team. No matter what the score was, no matter what was going on, this team continued to fight to the last breath every single game from the start of the season. You always want to hit rewind. You always want to bring it back and restart, but unfortunately, in life, we can't do that. We live with the mistakes that have happened. We live with what we've done in our past. We go forward, and we make the future better for ourselves. So, these teammates have been the best teammates of my life. I am just so thankful for every one of them."
On OL Patrick Mekari's contract extension: "[I am] so, so happy for Pat [Mekari]. He's a hard worker. The guy is a warrior. He plays through injury. He does the things he needs to do. I mean, [Rams OLB] Von Miller quoted him as being one of the best tackles in the league right now, which is awesome. That's a great compliment from a guy like Von Miller. But Pat is just going to continue to work and continue to do the things he needs to do to be a great football player. I'm proud to call that guy my teammate."
On if he sees his future exclusively at the center position moving forward: "I kind of do. Yes, I definitely do. [Playing at] center has been a really good year for me this year. It's been my strong suit. It's been where I played in college. I definitely see myself as a center. Not to say that it can't happen, but yes. Center, I feel like, is my home."
WR Marquise Brown
On what was going through his mind when he knew the team wasn't going to the playoffs:"It was disappointing. With everything that we've been through, just the fight in this team to even put ourselves in this position, it was disappointing. But the reality is we didn't do enough to get in the playoffs, and we had it down to one game."
On how he looks at the 2021 season from a big-picture view:"It's frustrating. Early on, we weren't playing our best ball, but we were finding ways to win. So, even in those times when we were winning, it was all like, 'Alright y'all, let's really get this going.' And then getting into those moments and then falling short, it's just even more disappointing knowing that you could've won those games. It's just been a frustrating season. But at the end of the day, I'm proud of all the guys, all the coaches for … Even when those tough losses happen, we'd come back the following week, and we'd put it all on the line again."
On if he felt balance within the offense this season, and his thoughts for the next step with the growth of the offense:"As an offense, I don't feel like we really played to our potential all season – running, passing. I feel like we got a lot left. Guys came in and helped us out tremendously. But losing Gus [Edwards] and J.K. [Dobbins], that was a big hit for us. I know going forward, it gives the offense a lot of courage and a lot of excitement knowing that we didn't play our best ball and we found ways to win however we had to do it – if it was games where we had to run more, games we had to up-tempo, [there were] games we had to pass. So, I feel like we showed we could do a lot of stuff with this offense. Putting it all together, putting the pieces, adding people back, and getting more people is going to be exciting."
On what he would like to see in terms of the evolution of the passing offense next season:"Just continue to take the steps as pass catchers, as our quarterbacks, as we keep learning each other. Just keep improving however we can. It's quick game, deep passes, just cover all bases. We've got the guys in the room to do it. So, we've just got to go out there and execute."
On the message from head coach John Harbaugh to the team and on not being able to haul in that touchdown pass in yesterday's game:"Yes, it was just all positive. Of course, we're all disappointed. But just looking at the positives and going into next year and just encouraging each other [and] lifting each other up. Because we know what we're capable of. It's the offseason, guys are going to go to work and come back ready. And as far as yesterday, I've just got to come down with the ball. We set the play up right; I've just got to come down with the ball."
On if he has any advice for the young receivers on the team about entering their first NFL offseason:"Just going to work, honestly. [During the] offseason, you've got a lot of down time to really reflect [on] your past season and really improve. That's the only way you're going to really last is to keep getting better, because guys come into this league each and every year. So, you've got to continue to improve and get better. Individually, we all know what our deficiencies [are], so, we've just got to hit those hard in the offseason and come back a brand-new player the following season."
On how he evaluates the season individually: "I feel like I had a weak 1,000 yards, but I'm grateful, [I'm] thankful. But [that was] definitely not how I wanted to end the season. We started the season off good. One of the key things I talked about was consistency, and I feel like the later half of the season wasn't that consistent. So, for me, I'm going to go back to work and come back, and … 1,000 yards is really just like a base. That's just … [I] really want to get in the playoffs, win Super Bowls and become a better player."
On what specifically about his game he wants to focus on improving in the offseason: "I think everything. I want to get even bigger, stronger, faster. And just keep working on my route running. We're getting moved around with the offense. [I want to] work on my routes from the inside, work on my routes from the outside, work on contested catches, and just really everything that I possibly can get better at by the time September comes back around."
ILB Josh Bynes
On if there was a common thread during the six-game losing streak that the team just couldn't overcome things: "It was just pretty much what it was like in the beginning of the season when we were finding a way to obviously finish those games and make that one play that led us to an 8-3 record. But these last six games, five out of the six we lost by a total of eight points, I believe it was, or so. It just came down to us not finishing. We didn't finish the right way. Maybe we didn't finish a play the right way, [or we] didn't make a tackle at the right time, and the other team made that one more play. Obviously, the first 11 games of the year, we made … Eight times we made that one more play than them, but obviously, these last six, we couldn't get that done. We couldn't execute when we needed to execute, and that's why we fell short obviously these last six games of the season."
On how this season will sit with him over the next few months: "It definitely bothers you. It bothers this team because the expectation level here is tremendous. We know what kind of a team we're capable of. We know the Ravens, who we are, what we build and what we … Our expectation level [is] to be in the playoffs and be a Super Bowl winning team – that's first and foremost. Obviously, we didn't accomplish that this year, and to make excuses and say it was injuries and this and that … But even despite that, the depth we had on this team was proving that we still could have made things happen this year. Unfortunately, we came up short. This will definitely sit, because at the end of the day, like I said before, the expectation level of this team is high – period. Obviously, everybody is going to go get their mindset ready to go and will take the time off as needed, but for sure, guys are going to be locked in and ready to go, because when it comes April or really training camp, it's time to go and build that foundation for the 2022 season."
On ILB Patrick Queen's maturation this season: "He's matured so well, just as far as knowing how to make the plays that come to him and dial in when he needs to dial in. Obviously, you can see that he still has the huge, big-play ability. Instead of trying to make them all happen at once, it's [taking] the ones that actually come to him. And he's still growing; he's only, damn, 22. So, he has a whole world ahead of him, especially in this league. But to see the transformation from how he was the first part of the season to where he is now is lightyears ahead. The upside is tremendous, and I can't wait to see him continue to bloom and blossom in this league."
On how much longer he'd like to play in the NFL and if he's interested in staying in Baltimore: "I am beyond interested. (laughter) No, I feel like I have a lot of ball left in me. I feel like I proved that this season. It's not like I feel like I have one more in me kind of thing. No, I feel like I have two, three [or] four – whatever amount is given to me, because I put in that work in the offseason, take care of myself throughout the year and just know how to prepare myself week-in and week-out. That's what it's all about in this league, just making sure that you can keep your level of play up. I feel like I've done that consistently these last three years, practically –  here, then last year in Cincy [Cincinnati] and then being here again. So, I want to continue that as long as I can, because I feel amazing. My body feels great, and I would love, obviously, the first thing to be back in Baltimore. This is home for me."
On how much of a mental and physical toll the injuries and illnesses that left the team shorthanded had: "I wouldn't necessarily say it was a mental and physical toll, because it just gives guys opportunity. I've said that before. At the end of the day, to be able to last as long as I have, or just to be in the league a long time, you need opportunities. What it did was it gave guys who didn't think they were going to have opportunities this year, it gave them opportunities to prove themselves in this league and prove they can play. Obviously, Brandon Stephens proved that. [He could say], 'Heck, Coach, if you need me to play corner, I'll play corner.' It just brings out those things in you as a player and lets you know, moving forward as a coach, that this guy is willing to do whatever it takes to win games. He's proven himself in this league. Just us as players in general, we all want and need those opportunities, no matter how they come. Injuries are inevitable. There is a 100% injury rate in this business. I haven't seen a season go by where somebody major hasn't had an injury. I can't think of a season, because every team is going to have somebody – it's inevitable. You would love to have all guys, Lord-willing, but that's the name of the game. Obviously, those guys that are behind them, you have to be more than ready to go. This year was even more so of proving that point and that next man up mentality. We had guys prove that they can play [and] prove that moving forward, if they need to step in [and say], 'Coach, if you need me for a series or two, or maybe for a quarter,' … Whatever the case may be, they're willing to step up and make plays. You can't ask for more than that in this league – always looking forward to opportunities."
On how much the team thinks about the "what-ifs" when reflecting back on the season and how tough it is to move past a season like this: "It's no different, I guess, than us moving onto the next game after a loss. Shoot, we got the crap beat out of us against Cincinnati, but you can't linger on that for the next week, otherwise you'll get your head beat in again the next week. So, it's just like when you take a loss, you have to move forward. You have to know how to move forward – what can you do better? You have to move on from it. We can't sit here and linger on those things. Obviously, we could talk about the "what-ifs," but "what-ifs" aren't going to change the situation we're in now. The "what if we still are…" It's a fact that we're not in the playoffs. I don't care about the "what-ifs," because that doesn't matter. The fact is we're not in the playoffs and we're not moving forward to the dance, which we know this team is more than capable of. We will get to that point. We will go back to work. I know 'Harbs' [head coach John Harbaugh] and the staff, every single person that's a part of this organization is going to work to make sure that we are at the best optimal standard, so when we come Game 1 next season, we're ready to go. We'll go out there and set the standard for what the Ravens were supposed to have done this year, obviously, starting next season."
QB Lamar Jackson
On the nature of his ankle injury:"It's just a bone bruise, but it's day to day. You've got to talk to the doctors about it. You've really got to talk to those guys about it."
On if he's surprised at how long it's taken his ankle to heal and how long he expects it to linger in the offseason:"Like I said, you've got to talk to the doctors about that. I don't really know much about how long bone bruises last and stuff like that, but they just told me it's going to be day to day. Hopefully, it'll speed up."
On how he would assess this season:"To be honest, I feel like my team never blinked, especially [with] the beginning of the season – how it started for us – our guys going down right before the first game of the season. Then guys started going down during the season. We start off 0-1. We start off rocky, slow, but we're in tough games, we're coming back from deficits, winning games. We're going to overtime and stuff like that [in] consecutive weeks, and we still managed to have hope, to have a fight at the end of the season – one game to go to the playoffs. I don't really know … I can't really find the words to say about my team, but it's like it was … It's crazy. Our guys just fought. We're a bunch of fighters. We never batted an eye, we never shied away from anybody. No matter what the team's record was, we were always ready. And our games – we lost close games – it wasn't like we were getting blown out. Probably, one game we got blown out. But our team was just straight fighters, and it says a lot about our guys – what we have here and moving forward. And hopefully, this offseason, we're going to get right and get where we're supposed to be, and we have our guys come back, and we're going to have the season we're supposed to have."
On how painful it was to be sidelined for the last four games:"Man, I tell you all how much I love football every time I talk to you. You all know I was sick. That's not anything I want to do. I don't see myself doing that ever again, though."
On his contract situation, and if he plans on re-engaging with the Ravens this year to try to get an extension done:"No, we haven't talked about it yet, but I've got to worry about getting back right, right now, and getting ready for this offseason, because what Chuck [Clark] said [after yesterday's game], that's real. That's real."
On if he would like to continue working with offensive coordinator Greg Roman and his staff:"Coach Greg Roman has been great for us for these last couple years since he stepped in. He's a great coach, and we're glad he's here. I can't get into that. I don't really know what they've got going on upstairs. You've got to talk to 'E.D.C.' [executive vice president & general manager Eric DeCosta] and those guys about stuff like that. That's not anything I … I don't talk about stuff like that. He's been good for us, though."
On where he thinks the passing game and offense are in relation to where it needs to be for the team to take that next step and win a Super Bowl:"Be consistent. Be consistent. I feel like we have our moments where you could see splashes with the passing offense, and then there are moments where you don't see anything at all. It's like, we were just throwing the ball out [of] the park this last week, but now it just stopped. We've just got to be more consistent, and with what we're doing in the pass game, I feel, we'll be shooting for the stars."
On if he was trying to push the coaches to get back on the practice field:"I wanted to play, but they shut me down because they said I had that limp. They didn't want me to go out there and hurt myself more, so that's just what it was. I wanted to play, and I just couldn't."
On what changed with how the offense was functioning from the first half of the season to the second:"To be honest with you, I really don't know. Like you said, [the] Miami game, after the Miami game … I got sick at the Miami game, actually, and I played horrible [in] the Cleveland game. I really don't know, man. I really don't know. We still had the same guys; we've just got to be consistent. That's going back to being consistent, and like you said, in the pass game … We've just got to be consistent everywhere with our offense – just keep playing how we've been playing and don't bat an eye. That's just what it was. But my guys kept fighting throughout the losses, the consecutive losses – that's what it was – my guys kept fighting and doing what they were doing. But we just fell short a little. We've just got to be more consistent. I really don't know what happened."
On how much he'll make it an emphasis this offseason to try to identify what happened on offense this season:"I care about our season, what happened, but I don't care, because it's over with now. I've got to worry about getting better [for] this season coming up now – getting our guys right so we can see things happening before it happens, beating everybody to the punch against us. [I'll be] just trying to get my guys, all of us, one unit, together this offseason – not just the receivers and tight ends; offensive line and all. We'll just try to get those guys, all in one unit, to be together so we can have real team bonding, and we can start fresh, I'll say, to this upcoming season, because I feel like we didn't have that throughout the season. We had everything else, but we didn't really have that team bonding. Coming out [of] the building, we're going home and stuff like that. I feel like we need to bond more, and it'll take a toll over on the season – the football life."
On if he'd like the team and the offense to continue embracing being a little bit more pass heavy:"Yes, for sure. We'll definitely keep that going. We have great running backs, we've got a great run game, but that passing game is going to help us even more, so we need to just keep doing that, keep getting better at that; keep getting better at everything – not just the passing game. There's always room for improvement with anything you do."
On how much the injuries to RBs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards changed what the offense was able to do:"Definitely. Gus [Edwards] and J.K. [Dobbins], definitely, those are our running backs. I'll say, both of them are first string to me – there isn't a first or second. I feel like both of them are first string, because those guys are so dynamic. Whenever they've got the ball in their hands, guys can't hit those guys. I don't know; they just do something special when they get the ball in their hands, just like a lot of NFL players. But it's just different because they're a part of us. Those are our brothers, and we know how those guys are when they're out there on that field. It's a different type of vibe that you get when those guys are running the ball. We see the defenses getting tired when those guys keep coming with all the energy that they have. It definitely hurt us, but we're having them back, coming this year, and we're going to go from there."
ILB Patrick Queen
On how challenging it was to deal with all the injuries on both sides of the ball:"It's tough, and now talking about it, it hurts when you miss players that make plays that you don't see every day, that you don't see every season. So, it definitely hurt, with guys like Marcus Peters, J.K. [Dobbins], Gus [Edwards] – those types of guys – Ronnie [Stanley]. So, we definitely miss those guys, but I feel like, at the same time, we got to see a lot of other players and see what they could do and see how they could ball – just see the grind and the grit from everybody on our team to try to pick up the pieces and just keep pushing."
On if he thinks the injuries forced the defense to play a different scheme than what they would have ideally liked to:"With the injuries, I can say that's probably a key part that changed our minds about a lot of things, but at the same time, you never know how the season would have played out, you never know what the coaches would have called, what they would have preferred. So, you could have said we blitzed more, we probably would have blitzed less than what we did. You never know with just how the season played out and all the teams that we had to play, and [if] we would have had key matchups; it's tough to say. So, we'll have a plan next year, for sure, with all the guys coming back."
On how much ILB Josh Bynes served as a calming influence for him and what allowed his play to improve as the season progressed:"Josh [Bynes] – great leader, great guy, a great role model. He talks to me every day. The first day he came in, he talked to me and tried to lead me straight and stuff, [and he was] just always coaching me up on little details here and there and just tried to level out my game. So, it's just nothing but love and thanks for him. Like I said, he's a great guy and just really calmed everything down for me from the beginning of the season to [the] end of the season. So, I just want to say, I thank him, I love him."
On what this morning's meeting was like and the message from head coach John Harbaugh:"It was good. We just … Everybody kept it real about how we played and just things going forward. And basically, the vision is just it's time to work, it's time to put in the work and go to work and just try to be great, try to be that team that we want to be next season. So, we'll take this little down time just to get our bodies right, but the grind's going to start really soon. Just like Chuck [Clark] said yesterday [with] the media, I feel like, from a standpoint, that's how I feel – the same way."
On if he knew that S Chuck Clark was going to deliver the message of, "Watch how we bounce back," in last night's post-game media availability:"I did not, but it's a perfect message. [It's] exactly how all of us feel."
On the strides he made this season and his focus heading into the offseason:"I'm always critiquing my game. Every play, even if I make a big play, I'm critiquing it even more. Like, the TFL [tackles for loss] that I had, like, what could I have done more? Could I get the ball out? Could I [have] done something else to make a bigger play, make a bigger impact to help our team win? So, I'm always critiquing myself. It was tough [in] the beginning of the season, [with the] ups and downs that I went through, with the position stuff and just trying to be a better player. I just battled back and never … I pouted for a few days – I'm not going to lie – I did, but I just got back into it, got back into the grind mode and just went to work and tried to be a better player for my team, for my coaches, for my family, for everybody that knows me."
On what makes him confident that this team can bounce back next season:"Because the guys that we have on our team. All of us come to work. We're all ready to grind, we're all ready just to do the things that we know that we can do. So, when everybody's back and healthy, and we're just walking in stride, running in stride and just doing what we do. [We're] playing Ravens football, playing fast, physical on both sides of the ball, dominating – playing that type of football that our team knows that we can play."
On if he could have ever envisioned the season ending at the point it did when the team was sitting at 8-3, owning the best record in the AFC, and if it hurts a little bit more because of where the team was at one point:"Yes, it does hurt. It hurts a lot – just knowing that you had everything at your fingertips, and we just didn't capitalize, we didn't take full advantage of the opportunity that we had. And you could say a lot of things, the media can say a lot of things, but one thing they can't question is the fight that our team had. Each and every week, we always put our best effort forward, we always tried to do our job the best that we could, to the best of our ability and tried to get the outcome that we all wanted as a team, we all wanted as an organization and as a fanbase. So, I love the guys on this team for the fight, the grit and just the desire to go out there and try to win those games that we didn't win."
On the emotion following yesterday's game and in the locker room when it hit that the season was over:"Yes, it sucks, it sucks. I just remember the last play and just sitting there just thinking, 'Man, it's over. No more plays, no more chances to just go out there and just play football again until next year.' So, it sucks. It definitely sucks, but I know one thing for sure is that everybody is locked in for next season, everybody is ready to go. [Everybody will] take time off, get their bodies right and get back into grind mode; I can say that for sure. The grind is going to be real this time – for sure – for everybody on this team."
DT Brandon Williams
On how strongly he feels about his chances for returning to the Ravens:"My chance of returning to the Ravens … I feel like as long as they want me, I'll be here, but you never know what they're thinking upstairs. But at this point, it's something I can't worry about, because it's something out of my control. So, I'm not going to – I guess – rattle my brain and just kind of go crazy over what could maybe happen. I'm just going to enjoy time with my family and see what happens."
On if this was the strangest season he's experienced as a Raven:"Yes, this season was definitely a whirlwind. You couldn't tell me that the season was going to end up like this and me believe it. You couldn't tell me that we were going to start with so many injuries and still win so many games. So, we've got a resilient group. We've got a team that is battle tested and not afraid to put it all out there and go hard in the paint – win, lose or draw – and that's what we want to keep building on."
On the key to taking the next step:"I'm not in the meetings upstairs, but first thing foremost is obviously getting people healthy, get the ones we don't have right now – get them back – and then, obviously, upstairs is going to do a lot of things, too, in the draft and free agency to patch up some more spots. So, I just think, right now, we need to get the guys who we don't have – get [them] healthy – and then just see what we've got from there, and then, I think upstairs will make a great decision from there."
On how he would assess his performance this season:"I would assess my season as … I had a pretty good season. I think I had a pretty good season. Obviously, I got injured a little bit in the middle of it, then I feel I came back strong in the end. I'd say I had a pretty solid season. Could there be different things for the better, and changes? For sure. Could there be plays I wanted back? Definitely. But all in all, I'd say this season was a very solid season."
On the message from head coach John Harbaugh from today's meeting:"Actually, he was telling us how proud of us he was. He was telling us how just amazed he was at seeing our resiliency, how we fought through times of adversity, how we continued to battle regardless of how far we were down or how tough the situation was. So, I think that was the biggest thing that came out of today's meeting. And moving forward, it's just how battle tested we are, how great we did, how much we fought through adversity, our perseverance, and the fact of – like you said – getting people healthy and coming back even stronger. And obviously, upstairs is going to make some changes, they're going to make some add-ons, so in the end, we're going to come back stronger."
On what his gut tells him about DE Calais Campbell's decision regarding his NFL future:"Hopefully, the first thing I think … Get some tea and some lozenges, because I think he's got a soar throat. (laughter) But then after that, I don't know what he's going to do. I just hope he has a good offseason, and if he comes back, I'd love to have him back and love to play alongside of him still, but if he's not, ride off into the sunset, happy, man. Enjoy it. You deserve it. He earned it, for sure."
On if the most difficult part of the season was the team's struggles against the rest of the AFC North:"I'd say our biggest struggle was fighting the injury bug. [If] we have some of those players back in some of those games … Most of those games were tight besides one, and [if] we have those guys back, I mean, it's a whole different ballgame, it's a whole different scenario. You can't even fathom what would have happened. So, I think that was the biggest thing, and what came out of that is showing a bunch of guys how deep we actually were, how close we were and how battle tested we were."
On if he's hungry to run it back next year and show the NFL that this team is capable of turning things around next season:"I mean, regardless [of] if I'm back or not, we're more than capable. I mean, we're the Baltimore Ravens, and we're always in the talk, unless something crazy happens. So, we're always going to be there. This year was definitely just a different year, but it's not like there's some crazy rebuilding we've got to do. We've just got to get some guys back. We've just got to get some guys healthy and add some more pieces to the puzzle, like we're going to do this offseason, and keep on riding. And we're going to double-back on it. We're definitely going to double-down."
On what it was like to go through the week leading up to the Cincinnati game, with all the injuries on the defensive side of the ball:"Definitely. What you do in that moment [is] you study a lot more. The players who are out there [have] got to play their best ball. Whatever their grade is, they've got to play it, they've got to put it on the field. That's what's got to happen, [and] I think that's what we showed. A lot of guys came out, they fought hard. [It] definitely didn't come out how we wanted [it] to, but we fought a hard game. We fought until the bitter end, and we didn't get it done, but at the same time, it's something that we're proud of and we can build off of."
G Kevin Zeitler
On what it's been like to have C Bradley Bozeman as a teammate: "He's been great. Right off the bat when I signed here, he reached out right away and welcomed me, my wife and my family. It's been great on and off the field with him. We had a really good rapport going with each other. I love playing next to him, and I think we're doing some really good things. I really hope he's back here next year."
On how devastating it was for the offense to not have QB Lamar Jackson for a quarter of the season: "Lamar [Jackson] is special. There's no way to describe him and the things that he can do at any given time. I think as you look at the season as a whole, the things he was able to do when he was healthy and how it impacted us, it's invaluable. Tyler [Huntley] came in, and he crushed it. We were in every game with some of the Super Bowl favorites this year, right now. We were this close. (holds up his fingers an inch apart) It just is what it is. I think more than anything, I think it proved how valuable Tyler [Huntley] is going to be in case anything like this ever happens again. The fact that he can come in and we can compete is huge. But I'm looking forward to next year and to Lamar [being] healthy and getting back to doing what he does."
On what distinguishes reacting to a losing streak in the right way with this team: "I think the biggest thing is, yes, we went on a losing streak, but this one was definitely different. We competed every single game, other than the Bengals game. We were in every single game. All the other ones [losing streaks] I've been on, we were getting crushed, basically. I think that shows that no matter who is out there, we were able to fight. We competed. We were right there. It's always … You look back and you're just hitting yourself in the head, [because] we easily could've been 5-1 during this six-game skid. It's frustrating. We'll kick ourselves now, but I hope that it kind of burns us for a little bit, so we come back here when the offseason program starts up and we're ready to go."
On how difficult it was to overcome losing T Ronnie Stanley in the beginning of the season: "It's big. Ronnie [Stanley] is a special player. Personality-wise and the things that he's able to do out on the field, he really is special, and he impacts the game just by being out there. Obviously, it really sucks what happened early in the year with everything. I'm hoping that rehab is going well, and I hope he gets back out there with us next year."
On if he's had time to think about the "what-ifs" on the season: "I think it's human to always ask, 'What if?' A lot of crazy things have happened this year, but obviously, the season ended how it ended. I did not picture me talking to you guys right now about this stuff, especially six weeks ago. It is what it is. We fought hard, but I'm looking forward to next year, however we have to do it. If we can keep people healthy, and we can come out firing and executing, I like to think that it'll be a different outcome."
On how difficult personnel change can be on the offensive line: "It definitely has an effect. I've been a part of a couple O-lines [offensive lines] where it's shuffled from year to year. There's truth to it that it takes time for an O-line [offensive line] to build rapport with each other and figure each other out, what everyone can do, how they do it. Eventually, everyone figures it out. In my personal opinion, whenever you can get as many guys to stay on a line together that have been together, it does make an impact. But just like you said, change is inevitable. We'll move forward working hard and getting ready to go."
On if he's considered retirement at all and what this year has done for his career expectations moving forward: "Retirement has never crossed my mind yet. I have been very blessed. I've been healthy throughout my 10-year career. I think I've only missed nine games, and I've never had a serious injury – knock on wood there. I love it here. It's been a breath of fresh air coming in here competing, being in every game, with the way things are done here [and] the expectations that are here. I think it kind of revitalized me. I might be in Year Ten, but I was flying around. I felt like this year, [I was] feeling good. I really didn't miss a practice all year. I feel good, and I'm excited to be back and hopefully be even better."
On what the culture of the Ravens is like and how it stacks up to other places he's been: "I'm a big fan. The Ravens, ever since I got … The Ravens are the Ravens. You know what to expect – hardcore, running the ball offense [and] hardcore defense that can stop anyone. Everything lived up to my expectation as I came here. Right off the bat, I could tell it was different. It's been a lot of fun being a part of it. I'm glad that everyone accepted me when I came here. I'm excited to keep growing in these systems, this culture, and hopefully, I can even take it up to another level."
On how excited he is to block for RB Gus Edwards and RB J.K. Dobbins after they return from their injuries: "I am very excited to see what J.K. [Dobbins] and Gus [Edwards] can do. It's truly unbelievable what happened way back when at the end of training camp, but I know those two guys are working hard. It'll be really cool to see what they can do when they come back. Also, just a huge shoutout to Latavius [Murray] and Devonta [Freeman]. Coming in the way they did, the way they were able to learn the offense, the different ways they ran and how they were able to be effective was really cool getting to see them go."