Opening statement: "OK, great to see everybody. I hope you had a great weekend. We are excited, it's time to go play some football. We can't wait. Guys have been working hard at it – players, coaches. Everybody has been working hard at it. So, we're just thrilled about the opportunity to go play. I believe the fans are excited, too. It may have snuck up on the fans, [but] it hasn't snuck up on us. Without having the preseason games, I know the players and coaches and everybody are ready to go out and play a game. And this is going to be a game that counts, so it's very exciting. What do you have?"
The Cleveland Browns are saying that they focused their 53-man roster on facing the Ravens. Did [the Ravens] do the same, or did [you] pick the 53 [-man roster] for the long term of the season? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I didn't see that quote exactly, so I'm not exactly sure what they mean by that. I'm sure that they also took into account the short term and the long term, which is what I think everybody tries to do. We try to do the same thing. We're thinking about, certainly, the first game is the next game, and you focus on that with everything you've got. You can't play the second game until you play the first game. It's first things first. So, one game at a time is definitely our philosophy, but you also put the roster together with the long term in mind. There are other considerations also. So, that's what we try to do."
The NFL and the Ravens have done so well as far as limiting the positive tests for COVID-19. I'm sure you addressed it at the beginning of training camp, of trying to be safe and being smart. Is that a message that you've continued throughout training camp? Or was it the one main message and not really bringing it up after that? (Jamison Hensley) "No, we bring stuff up all the time. We're with these guys and we're all together a lot, so we talk about a lot of things. Definitely, that's something that comes up on a regular basis. It's not like you're … The guys get it. Even as a head coach, I don't have to say it that often. The players are saying it to each other quite often. So, everybody is in this together and they've done a really good job."
How does practice shift now that you've got the guys, your guys that you're going to battle with, and that first battle is less than a week away? How do things shift a little bit starting today? (Kirk McEwen) "It's in-season now. So, the in-season schedule is different. The practice set up is different, in terms of how it's organized. It's certainly 100% focused on the opponent and preparing for the Sunday game. So, that's where we'll be. We'll be in in-season mode now."
With everything you've dealt with throughout training camp and no preseason games, do you feel a sense of normalcy, now that you've got the roster set and the practice squad, and you can focus on the game? (Todd Karpovich) "I mean a more normal time for the in-season part of it. Training camp … This has been a different kind of a year, sure, as far as training camp. But training camp practices and things like that [are] still football practice. I don't know how 'quote unquote' normal this is, because, obviously, it's just different. We haven't played a game yet. This is the first game without any preseason games. We still do have the protocols in place that you guys are mentioning. So, I don't know – is anything normal in 2020? I guess we'll find out."
You said you might or might not tell us the starting offensive line this week. Are you prepared to tell us? (Childs Walker) "No, we'll just kind of go practice and play the game. We're not going to really talk about the depth chart too much. You'll get a depth chart from the [public relations] office, though. I think that's coming out."
Now that the cuts have been made, what was the final determination in going with three quarterbacks? And why did you keep QB Trace McSorley and cut QB Tyler Huntley after camp? (Aaron Kasinitz) "We thought that was the best for the team. That's what we always do."
I understand with the understanding that you can't really tell until there are, indeed, games and live action. Just from practice, though, how does your run defense look better? The improvements you made this offseason – can you tell? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "I think it's good. I don't know, comparison-wise, we'll find out. You never know until you play the games, that's why the games are played. That's the comparison that is real. Everything else is just speculation. But I'm encouraged. I feel like our guys are … We have good players. They practice really hard. We go at it really hard in practice, so it's not like we aren't prepared from a physical standpoint. So, [we're] going to go against the Browns; they're a really good running team. They have a big, physical offensive line. They have, by their own account, the two best 'backs in football. Not just this year, but going back historically, that's been said in their camps. I can see why. They have two great running backs. The run game is going to be important to them. That's [Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin] Stefanski's bread and butter, going all the way back in that system that he's been a part of. He talks about how important it is, and you can see it in the offenses that he's coached in the past. So, yes, it's going to be a big part of what we do, and we're about to find out, because we're going to play a really good running team on Sunday."
Everybody is engaging in some gamesmanship right now, right? So, the Browns don't want to say who their play-caller is. If it's head coach Kevin Stefanski or offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, do you think it makes a really big difference? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "No, not that I know. We don't know those two guys [Stefanski and Van Pelt], per se, as play-callers too much. They both have experience, but it's not a vast amount of play-calling experience. So, we're going to play against the system and the players. And whatever plays are called, hopefully we can defend them."
I know you guys have gone out to the stadium a couple times just to get ready for what that will be like. Do you have any thoughts on what a fan-free stadium game experience might be like? How it might affect guys psychologically in any way? (Jonas Shaffer) "No, I really don't. I don't have any thoughts on that."
You talked about the team's health situation the other day. Is it possible it could be 'all hands on deck' Sunday? Or are there guys that may miss the game? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's possible, and there are guys who may miss the game. So, it's both."
There was a lot of outside talk and debate about bringing in a veteran wide receiver. But having seen all these young guys go through training camp, how excited are you to see them grow with QB Lamar Jackson – based on what you already did last year, which was pretty darn good? (Luke Jones) "I am excited. I'm excited about them. I'm excited about these guys – absolutely. They've worked hard. They performed in training camp. Some guys – last year as you said … We have young guys. We have two guys who are second-year players, two guys who are rookies, one veteran in Willie [Snead IV] and another veteran in Chris [Moore]. So, that's our group; we're going with it, and I am excited to see them play. I'm looking forward to seeing how they do."
Last year at training camp, you sat down with former Ravens head coach Brian Billick and I, and you talked about potentially remaking offensive football; and then, you very frankly told us, you didn't know if it was going to work. Is there a different feeling this year? Is there – sort of – less anxiety? Or is there more confidence that you've done what you set out do in that sense – in that vein? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "I haven't really thought about that. That's a very deep question. It would take a lot of soul-searching for me to come up with an accurate answer on that one right now. (Reporter: "Labor Day Weekend – not a good time for that?") I wasn't thinking about that – no, no. I was not thinking about that. (Reporter: "I'm trying to make you feel better. You should feel a little better this year than a year ago.") I felt great last year about it; I felt great last year. You framed it a certain way, but that's not really how I remember it. Yes, I remember us doing something different that we were very excited about and kind of bold about. And everybody – not everybody – but some people thought it was a good idea and some people didn't. I can't remember where you came down on it. But it worked; it worked to a degree – definitely – and it didn't get us as far as we wanted to go, so we have a lot of work to do. But we're not really afraid to try stuff. It's not like we're walking on eggshells around here about whether it's going to work or not. We think we have good, solid ideas, and they were solid last year, and they're good, fundamental football. I think we understand how that works. And we have a lot of good coaches [who've] been coaching for a long time. So, we weren't afraid of anything last year. I really don't remember the conversation, per se, but I think we were excited to prove some things. We proved a few things, and we didn't prove a few other things. So, we still have work to do."
How more involved in the game preparation are the practice squad players going to be this season? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "They should be a little more involved probably than normal years, because with the circumstances, they could be brought up to play; and that's something I think they all understand. We did emphasize that to those guys this weekend, and I think that they took it seriously. I expect those guys to come out and be prepared, have great practices and possibly to play in the games – certainly."