Patrick Queen loves to read and react, and he has used that approach to learn quickly during training camp.
The Ravens' first-round draft pick is expected to start at inside linebacker, which makes every practice crucial. On the field, he has been showing the sideline-to-sideline speed that made him a playmaker at LSU.
"That's the P.Q. Special, speed," Queen said. "I got to come out guns blazing and show that off the first game."
However, Queen must also learn the Ravens' defensive terminology. His speed can sometimes make up for mistakes, but he doesn't want to blow assignments. Queen is spending long hours in the playbook because he wants to play fast, and with confidence.
"If you're not confident, you're not very good," Queen said. "I learned that quick in college. Every day I come in, I study, I study at home, just try to get the plays down pat. Try to know everything inside and out so when I come on the field I can be extra confident. Every game, every rep, I'm trying to prove myself."
Queen said he ran a lot of complicated defenses at LSU, so the scheme isn't too much different than what he's used to, "but it's more verbal now."
"I have to be on page not just with the D-line, not just the safeties, but both of them at the same time. It's a lot of communication, but that can only make us better. That's the hardest part for me right now, being on the same page with everybody else," Queen said.
"Coming into this level, everything is very detailed. You miss one little thing, it's blown. So, I'm just trying to get every little thing down pat and trying to be very detailed in my game."
Queen has been wearing a mic in his defensive helmet, practicing relaying the calls from Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale to the rest of the defense. He's getting plenty of reps with the first-team unit as the Ravens try to get him up to speed after missing so many practices this offseason because of Covid.
"I feel like I've progressed in every part of my game – just from [a] run standpoint, to [a] pass standpoint – just trying to level the playing field that I'm on now from college to the NFL," Queen said. "[I'm] trying to get adjusted to the game tempo. [The] offense has been giving a great look and the coaches on defense have been coaching me very well. I'm looking forward to the next few days and getting into the season."
Taking practice reps against MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson can only help Queen's development. He heard plenty about Jackson's speed and elusiveness before training camp. Now Queen has seen it, and he's impressed.
"Lamar's a different animal, man," Queen said. "I feel if I had to play against him I could probably hold my own, but that's Lamar. You can't put limitations on Lamar. It's just exciting to be in the position that I don't have to play against him."
L.J. Fort Enjoys Mentoring Rookies, Embraces Special Teams
The Ravens defense changed for the better last season after L.J. Fort was signed and became a starting inside linebacker. Fort could begin the season as a starter again, or Queen and rookie Malik Harrison could earn starting roles side-by-side. Either way, Fort is prepared, and he knows it's important to help the rookies get up to speed.
"They've done a great job already. You can tell the jumps they made already from Day 1 to now. The talent's there," Fort said.
"Patrick Queen, he's what you want in a first-round pick. He understands defensive concepts. He has some dog in him. He's going to be as good as he wants to be. … Malik's right there. He has a big frame. He just has to work on his technique and be able to use it. He's going to be great player as well."
Fort said he's emphasized focusing on technique to the rookies. Queen said Fort has shown him "the right way to do things."
Not only will Fort be in the linebacker rotation, but he looks forward to continuing his important role on special teams.
"I'm looking to go out to play. It's whatever the coaches want me to do," Fort said. "If it's to play linebacker at a high level, I'm preparing to do that. If it's [to] be a special teams ace, I'll be ready to do that. Anything to help this team win, that's what I'm about."
Jaleel Scott Is Proving Himself on Special Teams
Baltimore's wide receiver group became deeper and more talented when the Ravens drafted Devin Duvernay and James Proche II to join a group led by Brown, Willie Snead IV and Miles Boykin.
That could make it difficult for third-year wide receiver Jaleel Scott to see many offensive reps if he makes the team. He's battling with Chris Moore, who currently has a broken finger, for a sixth wide receiver roster spot. Moore is a special teams standout, but Head Coach John Harbaugh said Scott has done well in that phase too.
"He's done really well on special teams in training camp. He's really notched it up, and I expect him to be very capable of being a contributor on that," Harbaugh said.
"We always tell our guys not to count numbers – that's not what you do as a football player. You go out and you perform to the best of your ability, the competition is against yourself, your own ability, your skillset, the playbook, the defense, in this case. So, he's got a great chance to make our team, and he's doing fine."
Harbaugh Supports Ron Rivera in His Bout with Cancer
Harbaugh began his Friday video media conference by expressing his support for his friend Ron Rivera, Head Coach of the Washington Football Team.
Rivera has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma located in a lymph node, the team said in a statement. Rivera said the cancer is in the early stages and is very treatable and curable. Rivera plans to continue coaching as he undergoes treatment.
Rivera and Harbaugh coached together for four seasons (1999-2003) on the staff of Head Coach Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles.
"Just acknowledging Ron Rivera, Ron and Stephanie (Rivera)" Harbaugh said. "[They're] good friends of Ingrid (Harbaugh) and I, we go back a long way. I love Ron, and the fight that he'll now conquer. Our thoughts and our prayers are with him completely. And as he said on his text, they've got this and they're going to do great with it."