SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR CHRIS HORTON
Opening statement:"Good to see everyone today. It's been a couple weeks since I last was up here, but I just think our guys are continuing to do the things that we ask. They come out, they work hard, and those things are carrying over into the game. The little things that we see that might not be up to our standard, it just really comes back down to the fundamental things that we talk about weekly. Moving forward, we're just looking forward to Monday night, trying to be as best prepared as we can. We understand what kind of football game it's going to be, and now we're just looking to kind of go out and play our best football. Questions?"
Is it nice to see a familiar face in K Wil Lutz who spent some time here and is now with the Saints? (Jamison Hensley)"It's always good. We kind of talk about all the guys that come through the Ravens, we call it the 'kicking academy.' He started here, and he's done a great job for himself. We talk about that all the time. We love to see those guys go on, come in here, compete, and then move on and go have success somewhere else. So, it's always good for them."
With WR Devin Duvernay now as the No. 1 wide receiver, will you guys do further evaluation of his workload and how that might carry over to special teams? (Jonas Shaffer)"Of course. Every day we're thinking about those things. In the games, we're kind of thinking about those things, and we just kind of go off feel. We have plans for it if we need to make a change there or whatnot, but we just kind of let it play out. If we need to make a change because of maybe fatigue or something like that, then we will. We do have other guys and other options."
Given his history, is there any temptation to have WR DeSean Jackson take some reps as a return man? (Luke Jones)"Again, those things always come up. He's another guy that he's done it; he's had success doing it. So, if those things and those options come up, and 'Duv' [Devin Duvernay] didn't want to go back there, we have [James] Proche. He did it for us [his] first year, so we have other guys to fill those roles."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE MACDONALD
Opening Statement:"I feel like I haven't seen you guys in a minute, so it's good to see everybody. Off a couple good wins, [we] have a great challenge before heading into the Bye [Week]. We can talk about the game if you want. But obviously, [we have] some new additions on the field since last time we talked, so I'm really excited about that – Roquan [Smith], Tyus [Bowser], [David] Ojabo getting back in the fold. So, yes, it's exciting times."
You mentioned the addition of ILB Roquan Smith. Is there a certain area that you think he impacts the most? (Jamison Hensley)"It's a great question. We'll see when he gets out there. Obviously, like you said, he's just such a dynamic player across the board, so it's hard to kind of pinpoint it one way or another. Something really doesn't come to mind initially. It's probably a compliment to him and just all the good things he does bring to the table. But for a guy that hasn't been in the system, and for how well he communicates and how well he's picked it up so far … That's something that we had a … Josh [Bynes] does a great job with [that] as well, so I don't know if there's going to be a drop off. But shoot, we'll see Monday night."
Do you have to spend more time with ILB Roquan Smith this week, as I'm sure he's "drinking from the firehose" getting caught up to speed with the new team and new system? (Garrett Downing)"I don't know if I'd call it a firehose. It's a lot of concepts he's done in the past, and up to this point, honestly, I'm not surprised, just knowing from his reputation and knowing people that have worked with him in his past. But yes, [inside linebackers coach] Zach [Orr] has done a great job of getting him up to speed. And then a lot of the guys … I give the guys credit, too; they're constantly talking about how we're playing things and what things mean and different thing here and there, so it's kind of been a team effort."
It sounds like ILB Roqaun Smith could have a fairly substantial role in Monday's game, despite the quick turnaround for him? (Jonas Shaffer)"I think you can expect him to be out there, yes. We'll see how much, but he'll be out there."
When you trade for a guy like ILB Roquan Smith, is it an unusually exciting day for you, as you begin to consider the possibilities of how to use him? Does it sort of open up things for you? (Childs Walker)"Yes, you're going about your business, and obviously, it was something that I wasn't expecting. So, you're trying to plan on the guys that you have and understand the direction that we've been going, and guys have been in different roles. So, when, obviously, you trade for a guy of his [Roquan Smith's] his caliber, it's the same thing; you're kind of assessing where we're at, what he can do, different situations, where you want guys. So, it definitely shifts your focus a little bit."
When you trade for a guy like ILB Roquan Smith, is his snap count based on his play or what the game dictates? (Kevin Richardson)"Well, I think he's played every snap up to this point of the season, so, moving forward, as long as he's up to speed on the things that we're going to be asking him to do, there's a good chance that he's going to be out there."
What kind of challenges are there going against a running back like Alvin Kamara? It seems like he got back on track last week. (Jamison Hensley)"Alvin [Kamara] is a great player. Shoot, I guess the best compliment I can show you is that it doesn't look like he's moving fast, but then he's running past people and not getting tackled. So, [there's] definitely an emphasis on angles to the ball, leverage, tackling at the point of attack. He has such great contact balance, and he's so powerful for a guy with his speed and agility. It's pretty rare to see. And then all the things he can do both carrying the ball from the backfield and then all the routes set out of the backfield and then, shoot, they just split him out wide; it seems like he's got the whole route tree out there, as well. So, not a lot of guys on the planet can do what he can do."
Head coach John Harbaugh talked on Monday about how it is kind of hard to figure out when a guy like OLB David Ojabo is ready, just because he hasn't gotten to do the normal stuff that a rookie would do. But what have you seen from him this week as he's started to take on more practices and whatnot? (Childs Walker)"Yes, it's a great point, and it's something that I think we're all kind of going through [for] the first time. So, we're trying to manage it, and it comes through communication with [head certified athletic trainer] Adrian [Dixon] and David [Ojabo] and 'Harbs' [head coach John Harbaugh] and really everyone involved in how comfortable he is and how confident he is. But to me, it looks like he's really confident. He's playing fast out there, and he's running around, he's in great spirits. So, I'm proud of the progress that he's made to be able to get to this point so quickly. So, we'll see as the week comes and the weeks come and how his role evolves over that time."
Does it help that you know OLB David Ojabo? (Childs Walker)"Yes, absolutely, absolutely. It's just a trust level. We've known each other for a few years now or a couple years now. I believe what he tells me is actually how he feels and vice versa."
Just looking at the start of the season to where you have been over this past month, it looks like the pressure is really taking it up a notch. To know where you guys are with that, and to get back OLBs Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo, where do you feel this pass rush is compared to where you imagined it would be with all the talent at your disposal? (Jonas Shaffer)"It's a great point. I think we're on our way. Like, the vision of how we want to operate – are we at the level yet? No. I think that's kind of been the message since I've sat up here [and] since we got here. So, it's still an evolving process. Now that we have more guys that are able to do different things, I think you'll start to see it come into focus a little bit more, like you've seen over the last month."
Do you feel like you have more levers to pull now, because OLB Tyus Bowser is such a versatile player on the edge, you have ILB Roquan Smith, who can blitz, and all these different things? Can you pull more levers now? (Ryan Mink)"Sure. It's a credit to those guys and how versatile they are. You've seen all the things that Tyus [Bowser] has done for us over the years. You've seen Roquan [Smith] in the schemes that he's been in. There are so many more guys that I wouldn't leave out of that equation: Kyle [Hamilton] is another guy; 'PQ' [Patrick Queen]; Justin [Houston] knows how to do all the things; Odafe [Oweh] is on the [up and] come, too; Chuck [Clark], obviously, we've always talked about him being a Swiss Army knife. So, we're in a great spot right now with guys that are able to do different things."
We've seen some teammates of OLB Odafe Oweh complain about the fact that he doesn't draw holding penalties.(Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald: "That's a dangerous question, man.") Is there something that he needs to do to either get those calls or be more efficient to the point where he's actually finishing those pass rushes? (Jonas Shaffer)"Yes, that's a great question. Shoot, I don't really know the answer, because you don't want him thinking, 'I've got to try to sell the holding call,' because you're trying to go 1,000 miles per hour at the quarterback. So, I think that's just the message. I mean, those things will come, I guess. We'll see. Maybe they won't. Who knows?" (laughter)
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GREG ROMAN
Opening statement:"Welcome. Are we in OTAs, or is this November? [We're] getting ready to play a really, really good New Orleans Saints defense. I don't know if you guys happened to catch that game the other day, but they pitched a shutout which doesn't happen very often in the NFL. When you really watch them, they're really good at all three levels of the defense. Their two defensive ends, led by [Cameron] Jordan, are tremendous players. They play hard; they'll be running 20-25 yards down the field after plays. Their linebackers are excellent; excellent linebackers, probably the best linebacking corps we've seen, arguably – it's pretty close with maybe another team. Then, the secondary is playing really well. So, we've been hard at work since we got back after the Thursday night game, and [we're] really excited about the challenge and the opportunity to play on Monday Night Football. Any questions?"
What do you think clicked for TE Isaiah Likely against Tampa Bay other than just opportunity with TE Mark Andrews being out? (Luke Jones)"That's it, I think really. I think Isaiah [Likely] is coming along nicely. He's still learning this game; he has a high ceiling. I think you're going to see him develop pretty much every week over the course of time. There's a lot about this NFL game that rookies have to learn on the fly. As a tight end in this offense, you have to learn a lot. He's doing a nice job with that, but someone goes down, someone has to step up. That's the name of this game, so he did a great job with that, and we look forward to working with him and him developing moving forward."
We saw the mobility of the offensive line in the last game, with the tackles pulling and C Tyler Linderbaum getting out to the linebackers. How important is that for your ability to be creative with the run game? (Childs Walker)"It's huge, it's huge. There are some teams where you're going to want to run right down the middle at, but there are some teams where if you try to do that, you're really going to be going nowhere. So, in order to win week in week out, run the ball effectively week in and week out, that flexibility where you can move people and attack different parts of the field, different gaps, different players is paramount. It's not a cookie-cutter running game; it's a running game that changes week-to-week based on the opponent. In order to do that – that sounds great, that's a pie in the sky theory right there – but you have to have the players to do it. You can't have the right side being really good, the left side is really weak, that kind of thing because now you become really bookable, teams can scheme you. So, the fact that we've got five guys out there, plus our tight ends – let's not forget about them. That's really good. It was great to see Ronnie [Stanley] out there pulling again; he's probably one of the best in the business at it. Morgan [Moses] looks pretty good, doesn't he, pulling? So, we just have to keep building on it."
There were lots of questions about T Ronnie Stanley and how he'd be once he got back on the field. How impressed are you with what you've seen from him these last few games? (Garrett Downing)"I don't see much difference from before the injury really. Maybe a little rust here and there, but he's pretty close to where he was. When he left with the injury, he was probably playing as well, if not better, than any tackle in football. So, he's nosing around that right now. It's a week-to-week thing. So, he's focused on this week's performance, and it's going to be a tough challenge against this team."
Do you feel like the Ravens' running game is starting to click? (Jamison Hensley)"I think it is. We talked about it early in the season that it would get better every week, and that's kind of what's happened, up until this point. Now we have to build on everything every week. I really think it's a credit to the players and how they've been able to execute, take advantage of certain things. You can draw up any play you want, but on offense, it comes down to execution. Every once in a while, you're going to make a play off-schedule, but that doesn't win, that's not sustainable. You have to be able to execute. The guys are doing a really good job; the [running] backs, I think, are understanding what we're trying to get done, so there's some synchronicity starting to be born."
How much of a gut punch was it to lose Rashod Bateman for the season? (Childs Walker)"That's really tough. It's tough. Let's not sit here and sugarcoat it. 'Bate' is a really talented guy. He's been dealing with some stuff this year. We look forward to him getting healthy – that's all we can focus on right now, and his case is him coming back stronger than ever and having a bright future with the Ravens."
Do you think having a longer than normal leadup to this game and then having the bye week after this game is going to be beneficial in terms of giving you time to figure out what you want to do without Bateman? (Jonas Shaffer)"Yes, that's a good point. It's probably pretty favorable for us, not only the fact of that, but we pour everything into this game, and then we get a chance to get some guys back fully healthy for the home stretch, I think that will be big. And yes, I think there will be a little bit of that, but we're really excited about the guys stepping up. It's all about the opportunity. Don't think for a second that these guys won't step up and take advantage of that opportunity that's in front of them."