Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, [it's] good to see everybody here. I really appreciate you being here. [It's a] beautiful day; fans were out [and] the guys practiced well and hard. They're doing a good job. What questions do you have?"
How impressed have you been overall with the pass rush? It seems like, especially today, it's been very disruptive out there, and I know that's one thing you guys really wanted to see out of the young guys. (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, I just think they're working hard. They're working hard. Every position is working really hard in every aspect of what we do. We're not in pads yet, so it's just kind of technique and speed and assignment right now."
Speaking of the pads, you put the pads on this week. Do you expect the intensity to ramp up as you really delve into the positional battles? (Todd Karpovich) "I expect it to be a great practice tomorrow. We have to know how to practice in pads, but you fit into those things just a little bit differently. The ability to push people, shed people, front people, tackle … We won't do too much live tackling tomorrow but wrapping-up-type stuff. Once we get into it for a few days, we will have some live tackling for the young guys. So, it's just part of the process."
We didn't see WR Rashod Bateman out there or WR Marquise Brown, who's missed his second or third practice? (Daniel Oyefusi) "Marquise [Brown] still has his issue with his hamstring; it turned out to be worse than what they told me it was going to be. So, he's out until he's back with a hamstring [injury]. [Rashod] Bateman had some muscle tightness, that hopefully it's not anything serious. Hopefully, [it's] training camp tightness, but we'll see how that works out. They're working through that now. The other two guys had … The two veteran guys [Pernell McPhee and Calais Campbell] had a veteran day."
Do you know anything about WR Miles Boykin yet? We saw him leave. (Luke Jones) "It looks like something with his hamstring. We'll have to see how it is."
It's been about a week of practices now, a lot of time left to formulate some first impressions. Have you seen any of the young guys specifically that have given you a good first impression? (Kyle Barber) "It's just a lot of guys. It's hard to single out just one guy, and we have a lot of young guys. I'd probably have a tough time singling anybody out. The quarterbacks have obviously done a good job. That's where it starts, but I'm really happy with all these young guys. That'll be the next step with the pads, and we'll see what they do there."
LB Patrick Queen a year ago … I know you're not a big comparison guy, but his growth from a year ago at this point to now, just understanding so much of the defense compared to ... Obviously, he didn't have the offseason a year ago, can you talk about his differences? (Pete Gilbert) "I thought he had a really good day today in coverage. You could see the things that sometimes people talk about as far as the experience in coverage – he had an excellent day. [Inside linebackers coach] Rob Ryan is doing a great job. He's [Patrick Queen] doing a great job. It was a nice day for him in coverage there today."
With CB Marcus Peters ... You've coached defensive backs. Is there a knack for just being around the ball and just having that? Or is it just depending on technique and things like that? How much is it a natural thing being a ball magnet? (Jamison Hensley) "It's a lot of that. Some guys play with their eyes up. Some guys play with vision. They talk about it in lacrosse; it's one of the things they say about my daughter. She plays with her eyes up; she has great vision – field vision. So, Marcus Peters has that, too. But you combine that with talent and technique, and you've got something. And we've got something with him."
How do you like CB Marcus Peters' lateral? Little shades of S Ed Reed there on that. (Ryan Mink) "There's a list, and he's probably on the list."
Inside Linebackers Coach Rob Ryan
Opening statement: "How are we doing out there? Everybody good? I've been out there asking questions before, and that's a harder job than sitting up here – I promise you. Sitting there going, 'What kind of questions should I ask?' Man, it's a tougher job than you think, but hopefully, I'll see what we can do here.
"I just want to tell you how blessed I am to be here, first of all. [Former assistant head coach/ defensive coordinator] Rex [Ryan] bragged about this place so much, and he was right. But I'll tell you what; I think he underdid it. With the culture that's here in this building, it's unbelievable. It really is. I mean, what Coach 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] has done and [executive vice president and general manager] Eric DeCosta and getting the right players, guys that just love football and are passionate and tough and physical, it's a coach's dream. To be here, it's been fantastic. To walk in and [know] that you have that going for you, which is amazing, and then to get in there with [defensive coordinator Don] 'Wink' Martindale – who I go way back with – I always knew he was smart, but with this defense … There are smarter guys out there, I'm convinced now, around here, but they work for NASA. (laughter) He has a system in place now that is cutting edge. I've heard, 'Oh here, look at this.' … Martindale is unbelievable. 'Wink' is tremendous. Not only does he look great, but he is such a sharp guy and it's just wonderful. 'Harbs' and 'Wink' got together when 'Wink' was named the [defensive] coordinator and put together a package that is so cutting edge – I just absolutely love it. I go in here to work, and I'm like, 'I don't want to screw it up, because it's a dynamite package.' I want our guys to be better. Again, I walk into a room full of great players and young guys that are smart, hungry and humble. It can't be better. So, I'll open up with questions – I got carried away here."
We saw you earlier doing a coverage drill with the inside linebackers. For a moment, you talked with LB Patrick Queen. What conversations are you having with him on improving some of the coverage stuff that he wants to improve for Year Two? (Daniel Oyefusi) "I'll tell you what; just recently, shoot, I let the guys down. We were playing in coverage, and I haven't taught it well enough. I was teaching in French. (speaks French) And then I realized, no, I need to use English. So, I did that, and now he's going to be much better. Not too often do you come into a place with such a great talent and a guy that's just stiving for more. He's such a smart guy. People know he's physical and he's athletic, but you don't realize how smart he is. He's a big thinker, he loves this team, he's going to be a terrific leader for this team [and] he's going to be fantastic this year, I know that. There's no reason for him not to be. And if there is a reason, it would be me and [assistant linebackers/quality control coach] Jay [Peterson]. I know Jay is a better coach than that, and so am I."
What kind of steps have you seen LB Malik Harrison in Year Two? (Ryan Mink) "Oh, big steps. He's a big guy, and he is going to make a huge leap. He works really hard. I can't wait [for] tomorrow; he's going to be denting some helmets out there. I mean, he can't help [it], he wants to be physical. He wants to hit something. You have to slow him down in the meeting room, because I think he looks a little violent. I don't want [any] of that. He's a big kid, but he's great. He's great with his hands. He needs to finish a little more plays this year, and he will. I think he'll even be better in coverage. He has that big, long body that can get in throwing lanes and those long arms. I've seen a big improvement in that case and just in the short time [since] we've been here a week. Even in the OTAs towards the end, he was getting better, and I really like where he's progressing. Shoot, I've got some riches. I've got Chris Board [and] L.J. Fort, also. So, the good Lord has blessed me. I'll tell you what; I had a big contract holdout last year and wasn't coaching, decided to come in here, did one of your jobs out there in Sky Sports and turned that thing out. But I think I'm a better coach, I promise."
In camp, when you have no pads, you can only evaluate so much. How excited are you to see and get a better sense to teach with the pads, evaluate with the pads and all of that tomorrow? (Pete Gilbert) "Absolutely. Linebackers are judged on hits on the ball, and linebackers for the Baltimore Ravens are judged on physicality. I mean, that's what you have. When you're a linebacker, you're chosen by 'Harbs' [head coach John Harbaugh], [executive vice president and general manager] Eric DeCosta and [defensive coordinator Don] 'Wink' Martindale – you're going to be physical. I can't wait to show it. It's going to be fun. Shoot, it started last night. I had a hard time sleeping. [My] wife was bothering me a little bit, but I'm like, 'Man, I'm thinking about the pads going on.' Tomorrow, it's for real, and it's going to be great. I know what it's going to sound like. You're going to hear a lot of clacking [and] a lot of popping, and that's because it's Baltimore Ravens playing defense."
Coaching is a family business. Your dad is a head coach. Your brother is a head coach. Was there any truth to the rumors that you had to cut your hair to get to that level? Do you still want to one day run your own team? (Kirk McEwen) "No, I never really had that in mind. I never thought that I would ever get that opportunity. I know [former Oakland Raiders owner] Al Davis interviewed me and [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] 'Wink' for about five minutes, and then he gave us the job – we were shocked. But I had one … I had just been fired in Cleveland. It's hard to go into a place after you've been fired and say, 'I'm the man, and we'll get this thing running, just like we did there.' Well, no – they don't want that. Look, I'm happy where I'm at; I know this place is going places. I've only won two Super Bowls. I want to be the only Ryan with three [Super Bowl] wins, and we do have a great family tradition. I want to keep it up. I just want to coach as long as I can on winning programs and develop these players. I take a lot of pride in the guys that I've coached – several Hall of Famers. At least I never screwed those guys up; they've done a great job. There's a lot more to it than just being a head coach. Some people get an opportunity, and I can't wait to see 'Wink' as a head coach. He's going to tear the thing up, I know that. But he'll be a lot more prepared. He's ready to go, where I never really had that in my plans – not like anybody ever gave me any opportunity. But again, it's been a long career, and I'm making it longer and enjoying the heck of it."
CB Marcus Peters
On how he feels a week into training camp: "I'm feeling good – just happy to be back."
On handing a child his cleats after practice last week: "Things like that just happen – they occur. I felt good that day with handing my cleats over. It's always a blessing to be able to be somebody's blessing."
On his lateral after an interception in practice today, and if Ravens S Ed Reed is someone he looked up to: "I'm just a football story my damn self – just all the way around. I love the game of football. I grew up watching football since I can remember. It's players like that, they make their statement on the game, they make their mark on the game, and you've got to pay homage and respect to him. So, I can say I remember seeing some plays of them lateralling the ball like that. It's just a part of football."
On building camaraderie with the defensive backs group: "Communication rules the nation. So, with us back there, I think we … Like you said, last year, there was a lack of communication with us having to wear the mask and things at ACT practice and things like that. Now we can actually hear each other, we can feel each other, we can see each other's smile. When somebody's down, we can pick them up. Those types of things matter with a defensive backs group, with just bringing that camaraderie together. If everybody is going to be on the same page, it's going to help us make those next steps to where we want to be."
On his recruitment of OLB Justin Houston, and how excited he is to play alongside his former teammate again: "I try to do my part. If I know some guys that are good guys all the way around … Like you said, Justin [Houston] was one of the key factors when I was in KC [Kansas City], who kind of took me underneath his wing and showed that love – genuine love, at that. [He's a] great father, great person, and he's an ultimate great leader for a team like us. When you get a player like that, and he's out there on the market, it doesn't [hurt] to just call – just say, 'What's up? How are you doing?' – and see if we can be a part of his journey, and he can be a part of ours, too, and it worked out. So, I'm glad to have him, and I'm excited – just ready to get to work with him."
On his personal goals this season: "My personal goal is just to win the day, win the week, win the month and ultimately just win on Sundays. Like you said, we've got a team goal. My team goal … I want to be a champion, at the end of the day. I've been to the Super bowl; now it's time for me to win one. So, everything else, it is what it is. You make those individual steps, but for me, it's all about what we can do as a team. I really want to win the Super Bowl, and I think you have really been hearing that a lot from us. We know we've just got to bust our ass to do it."
On what impresses him about CB Marlon Humphrey: "He's savvy. Marlon [Humphrey] does things that are special for Marlon. He kind of sticks in his own bubble of things that work for him, and it works for him. In the game that we're playing right now, if you're not confident in yourself, then how are you going to go out there and be special? So, it just works for him."
On WR Rashod Bateman: "Ultimately, he's doing what he's supposed to be doing. He's come up here, he's practicing hard. He's showing us everything that we can be seeing right now in practice. Now, for me, he's just got to transfer it to a game. But I'm liking everything I'm seeing from him. The young man works hard."
On if his competitive edge comes organically from within: "It's in you; it isn't on you. I'm from a hardworking family. Don't talk about it; be about it. The hard work that you put in, you're going to get it out. It's just in me; it isn't on me, man."
On how much pride he takes in being the interceptions leader since he's entered the league: "I know a big part of what I do is getting the ball back, and that ultimately helps our team get wins. I do a lot of other things, too, with me knowing how much football I know, and me giving the game out to everybody else in any ways that I can. I'm open arms, open books for everybody just to read, as far as my teammates. And I give the game, because the game was given to me, so, I'm never stingy with those things. We're just trying to win, so anything that I can do to help us win, it is what it is. Being the interception leader is just something that I've been able to do personally, but ultimately, my teammates helped me get that."
On the highlights from his trip with the defensive backs: "Just us being together. I wish all of us could have been there; some things came up. We had some people who missed the trip for personal reasons and those things. But ultimately, like I say, anytime that we can be together and bring that edge of us taking the next step of being together, of being a group that loves each other away from football and can be around each other away from football, that's what's going to help us when it's time for us to be out there on that field together. Communication rules the nation, so if I know what you're going through off the field, then I can help you on the field, too. Days are going to be hard off the field alone, but when we come up in here, they're going to be hard, too. We've got to learn how to balance those things. So, us just having those conversations away from football, it helps us."
LB Patrick Queen
On being tutored by inside linebackers coach Rob Ryan: "Like you just said, he's a character. So, every day, we go in, he gives us a little story about something he did back in the day and he has us laughing at the beginning of meetings, so that way, we stay focused the whole meeting. So, he's got his ways and techniques of coaching us to be the best that we can be. Like he says, he wants to be the only 'Ryan' with three rings, and so, we've got to help him get that."
On how much more comfortable he feels heading into his second season: "I'm way more comfortable now. We had minicamp; I came in. [Defensive coordinator Don] 'Wink' [Martindale] asked me to come in a lot, so I came in, and we just got to work. Since then, I feel like I'm going up, so it's only up from here. I feel like I'm way more confident, I'm way more into the defense, so it's going to be a good season."
On how much he's improved in pass coverage: "A lot. Earlier today, you might have seen that one little play; they got right behind me, and then 'MP' [Marcus Peters], came and talked to me, and then the rest of the day, it was shutdown. So, I feel like it's up and down. Sometimes you're going to get beat; sometimes you're not. It's football. So, I feel like I'm going up on the elevator right now with the coverage."
On working on pass coverage with inside linebackers coach Rob Ryan: "He's just making it way simpler than what it has to be, so everything that he's telling me, I'm taking in. And as you see, I can make plays out there in the pass-coverage game. So, I'm just going to keep trusting in him, keep trusting my eyes, keep trusting my instincts, and I'm going to make plays."
On the challenges of learning this defense: "It's a tough defense, I'm not going to lie. It's tough to get, but once you get it and it clicks … You could see with Chuck [Clark] and DeShon [Elliott] and all those veterans, they're like, 'When it clicks, it clicks.' So, that's just the level I'm trying to get to right now. I'm trying to get to where it clicks and I can just play free. So, once I get there, you all will know, for sure."
On the impact ILB L.J. Fort has had on him: "L.J. [Fort], last year, was talking a lot. Right now, he's quiet, because he knows that we're growing, and he's trying to let us just do our thing of trying to find it our way. But last year, he was really talkative – always encouraging us, telling us what we need to know. In the meeting room, he'd explain stuff and slow it down when we didn't understand. So, I love L.J. for that. Usually, when you come in, first-round pick, you've got a veteran that's been there trying to battle for a spot, things sometimes don't go as planned, and guys don't be as friendly as he was, so I appreciate L.J. for that."
On playing with newly acquired OLB Justin Houston: "[He's a] well-known name, so any time I get to play next to a great guy, who's got a lot of sacks, and I can learn some stuff from him on the pass-rushing end, it's big, and that's key."
On if expectations will be hard to manage: "Look, all I'm going to say is it's the 'Raven Way.' So, we come in, we do what we're supposed to do, and we get off the field. So, every game, we're going to go in, we're going to keep the expectations that we've got, that we're going to uphold, and we just go out there and play Ravens football."
On his personal expectations for the season: "To be the best football player in the National Football League. That's what everybody should shoot for. That's what I'm shooting for."
On transitioning to the strongside linebacker role in Year One: "Yes, so I played weakside and strongside [at LSU], so usually on first and second down, I was weakside, and third down, when it was pass-coverage time, I'd be at the MIKE. So, I was back and forth." (Reporter: "What was that like for you?") "It was smooth. [Former LSU associate head coach/defensive coordinator Dave] Aranda took his time with me. The whole sophomore season, when I was rotating with Devin [White] and coming in late sometimes, I was playing that MIKE position, learning that position for the next year. So, when we came into the next year, it was really just like second nature."
On learning from LB Devin White: "Devin [White] brought me in on a visit. I was with Devin, so ever since then, I was always locked in with Devin and always tried to learn from him, always talking to him. So, right now, after training camp … I know he's got his own meal on the table and stuff, so I'm trying to let him do his thing, but when training camp is over with, I'm going to talk to him and try to ask him for some more tips and stuff."
On how many wristbands he has on and what they mean to him: "A lot. (laughter) I love wristbands. I got this from a church when I was growing up; It says, 'God Can't Fail,' so I just always keep that one on. And then, I've always got, 'Humbler Over Height.' Then we've got the Ravens one, and then we've got one from somebody Malik Harrison knows – a girl that likes to talk about mental health and stuff – so I got a wristband from them, as well." (Reporter: "What's that one say?") "Highlight Real – but it's 'Real.'" (Reporter: "If you took them off, do you think you'd be faster on the field?") (laughter) "I don't think I can get any faster than what I am right now."
On if there was a point last season where he didn't feel like a rookie anymore: "That's a tough question. Last year, I always felt like a rookie. Even when I made plays, and I exceeded above the level that I needed to, it always was that rookie feeling, because I'm new here, and it was still a bunch of older guys, and I'm still trying to find my way into the defense and still learning the defense. So, right now, after minicamp, like I said, it just kept rising and rising. I've finally settled down. I finally feel comfortable in the defense, [albeit] I'm still learning the defense, a little bit. There are still bits and pieces that we're putting in and stuff and expanding it. So, only time will tell."