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News & Notes: Mike Macdonald Says Roquan Smith Will Wear Green Dot Helmet

ILB Roquan Smith
ILB Roquan Smith

All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith is looking forward to playing a full season with the Ravens, after being traded to Baltimore in the middle of last season.

Smith quickly became a defensive leader and will assume even more responsibility in 2023. Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald confirmed that Smith will wear the green dot communication helmet with the internal speaker and will relay defensive signals to his teammates.

"Yes, that will be Ro," Macdonald said.

Smith said during OTAs that knowing the defense even better this season will allow him to play faster and make quicker decisions. He reported to voluntary OTAs to get a head start on his preparation, and has carried that into minicamp.

"I think it's critical being out here, getting spring [work] again and then just more time with the coaches," Smith said. "So, like understanding the terminology and whatnot, because mid-season is just, you're just trying to understand the concepts, not much of the terminology. I just think it's a great time to be out here, bonding with teammates and enjoying the game that we all love. I'm excited, and there's always room for improvement, so I'm just trying find little things to get better at."

Lamar Jackson and Todd Monken Are in Constant Communication

Throughout the offseason, new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken has been prioritizing communication on the field. Monken has been vocal on the field, providing players with both positive reinforcement and ways to improve after each play.

Monken has a demonstrative personality that Jackson has embraced.

"Even in the meeting rooms, he's going to have you laughing, but he's dead serious about what he's saying. It means a lot just for him to have that going on in our offense. Everybody has to be dialed in, know what coach is thinking."

Monken credited Jackson for being assertive as he takes control of the new offense, and was reluctant to take credit for having a positive influence.

"Well, it should have nothing to do with me; it has a lot to do with the quarterback and the communication in the epicenter of what we do – starting with the center, then the quarterback," Monken said. "So, if that helps, then great; it means I must have to keep doing it. Then the hell with it; that's the start of what we do – quarterback being loud."

On Day 1 of Mandatory Minicamp during 11-on-11 drills, Jackson and Nelson Agholor had a long conversation following a play where he was targeted.

The conversation between teammates is exactly what Monken wants to see out of Jackson.

"Well, he [Lamar Jackson] has embraced it. He's embraced trying to be louder, trying to be in control. He's embraced learning the system, and we've still got a ways to go. It's always a work in progress," Monken said. "We're always under construction, in terms of making sure that we execute at a high level, because execution trumps everything."

Chris Horton Is All About Adapting and Adjusting to the League's New Kickoff Rule

A big conversation this offseason has centered around the implementation of a new kickoff rule that will allow the ball to be placed at the 25-yard line on kickoffs if a fair catch is called.

The Ravens have been outspoken in their disdain for the rule change, with Head Coach John Harbaugh previously speaking out against it.

With the rule in play for at least this year, Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton is prioritizing adapting and adjusting the return this offseason.

"Personally, I would have rather [us] just, maybe, give it another year, and let's just see how this thing shakes out. There are just so many so many other ways; maybe we move the ball back, and we create more space for the play, so that it's not all bunched up," Horton said. "So, we believe that if there's more space for the kickoff return team to get itself started, then you don't have a bunch of guys just running down on top of each other; that's maybe another option. So, there are little things like that, that we might have considered, but, again, the league made a decision, [and] we're going to have to adjust, and we're going to have to adapt, and that's OK. We've done it before. We will get it done."

Horton also acknowledged that teams may take advantage and call a fair catch, but that will not be the case for the Ravens.

"I think we're going to play this play the exact same way. Teams that are going to want to call the fair catch are going to fair catch it. But for us, we're going to be as aggressive as possible, and we're going to allow the players that make this team for the right reasons," Horton said.

While player safety is of the utmost concern, Horton is nervous that the continued changes will eliminate the punt return as a pay. Horton isn't the only one who feels this way, and it begs the question of how players within the special teams unit will still be productive.  

"You just kind of sit back, and you kind of ask yourself, 'OK, when is enough going to be enough?' We're doing everything in our power, as coaches, to make sure that we consider the player – that's first and foremost. We think about the players. And if we continue to make changes and make changes, then what is this phase going to be? This has been an exciting phase of the game. People [have] made their living just by doing this phase of the game. Covering kicks – you think about Anthony Levine [Sr. and] how long he played. Why? Because he covered kicks, he covered punts, and he made his living on this phase. I think about Matt [Matthew] Slater – a guy that I played college ball with. That's how he makes his living. So, when you start talking about taking away something that these guys have done daily and done a very good job at, it's not good – it's not good."

Ronnie Stanley Feels "As Good as I Felt in 2019"

Entering a season healthy for the first time since 2020, Offensive Tackle Ronnie Stanley is already feeling the difference

"I've been able to build off of what I did last season and just get ahead," Stanley said. "It's a big difference from last season.

"A majority of my time the past couple of years has been spent on rehab, like 80 percent of that time probably and 20 percent on training, so I've been really able to spend most of my time on training, building and getting stronger. I'm just becoming an overall better athlete, it's a big difference for me."

Per his routine, Stanley opted not to attend OTAs and instead participated in private training with drills that reduce impact on the joints.

The training seems to have paid off, as Stanley reports he has been feeling "as good as I felt since 2019"—the year he earned Pro-Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors.

"I'm very thankful for the opportunity to be able to come to this season healthy, I definitely don't take it for granted knowing the past couple of years how hard it is just to get back in the game., Stanley said. "To kind of start a whole season feeling good, I'm very thankful."

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