Ravens Thursday Transcripts: Week 2 vs. Kansas City

Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton

Opening statement: "Good morning. [It's] good to see everyone. Just a quick recap on [last Monday's Las] Vegas [game], I thought our guys played outstanding. The effort was outstanding. The way the efficiency and how we played, I really just thought we had a solid, solid game. As far as ball security with Devin [Duvernay on the punt return], that's just a technique error. We'll get those things cleaned up here. We've been talking about it. He's been good for us. Moving onto Kansas City this week, what it's just going to come down to is execution and details. We know that Kansas City is going to have a good [special teams] unit. They're going to put a good unit out there, and they're going to be well-coached. So, again, it's going to come down, for us, [to] execution and attention to details. Questions?"

You mentioned the one ball [with] WR Devin Duvernay. Does he have enough of a track record at this point where you have confidence that he's just going to bounce right back from something like that? (Childs Walker) "Just like you saw in the game, he put that ball on the ground. It just comes down to attention to detail. Every time we're back there, we have to secure the football first before we take off and run. I have a lot of confidence in any guy that we put back there. We expect them to get the job done, and he really had a good night outside of that one mistake."

Is WR James Proche II going to get an opportunity back there [at punt returner]? (Todd Karpovich) "If it comes down to it, he probably will. But right now, Devin [Duvernay] is back there, and he's doing a good job. If we need James [Proche II], and it comes down to it, he'll get an opportunity."

Has this still continued to be a seamless transition for LS Nick Moore? (Bobby Trosset) "It's been great. He played well. Again, having him around last year really helped his game. Him getting some game experience in that [2020] Pittsburgh game really … He didn't really feel like a rookie. I think there are still a couple things that he wishes he could have back and that he's still learning from. But again, when you have young guys, you just hope they go out, play well, execute the way you want them to execute. He'll continue to get better as things go on."

To have a guy like P Sam Koch back there, the [snap on the] first field goal was a little wide, and P Sam Koch just snatched it perfectly, put it down and didn't miss a beat. To have those two guys [P Sam Koch and K Justin Tucker] with such great experience and talent around, how much does that help [Nick Moore] to feel comfortable? (Pete Gilbert) "It's pretty easy. We talked about Sam [Koch] being the best holder that this game has ever seen; I mean, he has hands. You just put a ball back there [and] put it in the air where he can catch the football, he'll catch the football. He'll get the ball down, just like we saw him do on Monday night and give 'Tuck' [Justin Tucker] a great opportunity to finish the play. We did that. Again, our specialists played really well the other night."

Do you take anything away from last year's game against the Chiefs where WR Devin Duvernay had that touchdown return on the kickoff? Is there anything you can take away from that one coming into this game at all? (Jamison Hensley) "They will never be the same, because every year is different. Every year is different [with] different players out there. I think one of the things that we can take away from it is, again, if you execute, and the details are right, those things will happen. If you don't, then you end up short. So, again, our games are just going to come down to execution and attention to detail. If those things do happen, then you'll see big plays."

Was there any doubt in your mind that K Justin Tucker was going to hit that late fourth-quarter field goal? (Ryan Mink) "Every time we put him out there, there's never any doubt in my mind. He's Justin Tucker. You put him out there, his goal is to make kicks. His mindset is to go out there and make kicks, and those are the things that you'll see from him."

When you guys went ahead late, with the final kickoff, was there any idea maybe to kick it to the guy to run more time off the clock? Or just put it back for a touchback? (Todd Karpovich) "On the final drive? That one was … We were probably going to put that in the end zone, but I kind of went back and forth. I think these are the things that I kind of ask myself all the time. You kind of go through the game and try to get a feel of the game [to decide] when to put it in play and when to not put it in play. I just thought on that one, let's kick it in the end zone. I thought in the overtime, if I could have that one back, I would have put that one in play, because basically, we're starting a new football game."

I know it's out of your hands, but were you frustrated that after S Chuck Clark pointed out what seemed like a false start on that final Raiders field goal that they didn't call it? (Jonas Shaffer) "It's frustrating. These things happen all the time. Our job is to try to have the referees see those things, but when they miss them, maybe they didn't see them – I don't know. We'll just keep doing what we're doing."

Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman

Opening statement: "Good morning. I hope everyone is doing well. We're back at it. The guys came back in [and] have been really dialed in starting yesterday for this really good Kansas City Chiefs team. We've played them quite a bit recently. They're a really good defense, I'd say with [Chris] Jones and [Frank] Clark up front kind of leading the D-line, they do a really good job. The linebackers are very downhill against the run. They obviously have a real good grasp of their scheme, which is a multiple scheme. Their secondary, they have really good players back there. The safety, [Tyrann Mathieu] is a really smart and instinctive player. So, we're looking forward to the challenge and preparing accordingly. Any questions?"

How has that Chiefs defensive line changed with DT Chris Jones moving to more of an outside role? (Jonas Shaffer) "That's a great question. When I first put on the preseason film this year and watched it, I was like, 'Wait a second. What's going on here?' I think they're really trying to get a matchup on the tight end [and] trying to get a mismatch out there on the tight end. But they can play him anywhere; you'll see him show up anywhere. They have a lot of experience in that system. Coach 'Spags' [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] does a great job moving the shelves around. He's being really disruptive there."

What's the biggest challenge for you with two of the three running backs having now been in the program for essentially a week? (Bo Smolka) "I think it's on all the staff, really. When you get guys in that late, you have to really tell them what they need to know and really coach them along the way. These guys are really pros, though, and they're doing a really good job. It's just like anything else; the more you put into something, the more you're going to grasp it and get out of it. So, I really feel like we'll evolve well with them moving forward."

Along those lines, is it challenging to figure out the rotation of guys when you don't know how much a guy like RB Latavius Murray is going to pick up the offense? You have to figure out who is ready to go physically. What is the challenge when you're kind of developing a gameplan, not knowing exactly where everyone is going to be? (Garrett Downing) "You just have to adjust. Things happen like that, and you have to be prepared to adjust at all times. So, I don't think … The hay is never really fully in the barn; the barn doors are never fully closed. It can happen during the course of a game, too. So, that's when it's a real firestorm, but we have to be ready to adjust. Anybody in that locker room, we're counting on them."

RB Ty'Son Williams had a pretty productive first half, but in the second half, I think he maybe had three total touches. Was it just a case of a rookie playing in his first game, and it was a tight game, so you trusted the veteran? Or do you have an explanation for that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Not at all, no. We really just kind of rotated guys; the game played out the way it did. But we're not going to put one [running] back in there and have him play the whole game – those days are over, really. So, we're going to rotate guys in and out and try to keep them as fresh as we can. Ty'Son [Williams] did a really good job, as we expected he would, as did the other [running] backs based on the opportunities."

When you watched the tape of the game the other night, in terms of their pass rush off the edge, where were the breakdowns from your team? (Bo Smolka) "We need to do a better job on the edge; we know that. It's just really a technique thing. I think we were late off the ball a few times, [and] that really affected us. So, the crown noise had a little bit of an effect on a few of them, but we just have to do a better job, [and] we will. We will. [We'll] get back to work [and] clean some things up. I think there were some things really at every position that we need to clean up."

T Orlando Brown Jr. spoke this week out in Kansas City about not revealing anything from his time in Baltimore. I think he said something along the lines of 'not snitching,' is the way he said it. Is there an unwritten rule in the NFL when you do end up in a different location that you don't do that? (Bobby Trosset) (laughter) "The unwritten rule is you do do that. I know the character of Orlando Brown [Jr.], and I know he would never do such a thing, because Orlando ain't a snitch."

T Ronnie Stanley didn't practice yesterday. If you guys were to go without him, would it affect the gameplan? Would there be things that you couldn't do? (Childs Walker) "Well, I think when you take one of the best tackles in the league out of the lineup, it will affect it. But we feel great about everybody that we have. These guys work hard every day, and any time somebody doesn't play, it's just another opportunity for somebody to shine. So, we'll have to see how that goes, but Ronnie Stanley is a very valuable member for us. The great thing about it is that we have great depth."

With the amount of pressure that the Chiefs have put on you guys over the last three meetings, how much does that open up … You'd kind of think that if they're putting a lot of pressure, it'd open up downfield. When you look at those games, have there been a lot of opportunities to go downfield? (Jamison Hensley) "I would say so. It's a bit of a cat and mouse game, and they do a great job of mixing what they're doing. But it's very simple; if they're all back there, hit them here. If they're all up here, hit them there. So, if they're going to do that, you have to make them pay, or else they're going to keep doing it. So, that's universal at every level."

How well do you think the tight ends and running backs blocked in the first game? Where can they get better at picking up blitzes and helping out the offensive line a little bit? (Todd Karpovich) "I think really everybody … In the first game, there's room for improvement everywhere. I think there were some really good blocking, and then there are some things we have to clean up. That really kind of goes every week. We're really looking to improve every week [and] every day – that's what we're focused on, individually and collectively. So, that's the mantra of what we do – get a little bit better every day. [They're] great teaching opportunities, and we need to fix some things there."

If T Ronnie Stanley can't play, what's your confidence level in T Alejandro Villanueva and his ability, if he had to, to move to left? (Ryan Mink) "If that does happen, I feel great about it. He's played many years there, if that's the way we go. But we'll see how things play out. I think 'Al' [Alejandro Villanueva] is a guy that's going to just keep getting better in our system as we go, as well."

How hard is it for running backs without a lot of experience with the run-pass option to adjust to that? (Kevin Richardson) "Some of the ball handling stuff … It's really not the RPOs [run-pass options] element, but it's more of the ball-handling stuff; there's a lot of nuance to it. When you've got guys like … We work with guys over a period of time, then it all starts … It's like anything else. It's like a band playing; they get their chops, they start playing, and then they sound good. It's the same thing with the ball handling; the more you do it, the better you get at it, and we'll get better and better as we go. We had a couple instances to learn from in the game the other night, and we probably thought there might be that, but guys did an amazing job, having gotten here two or three days before the game and going out there and performing the way they did."

It seemed like play-action really worked for you guys on Monday. Could you talk about that success? And also, how you guys worked under center, does that take away maybe the amount of zone reads and formations that you would normally run? (Jonas Shaffer) "We could play the whole game under center, and I'm sure defensive coordinators around the league would love that, wouldn't they, (laughter) because it takes away the threat of some of that other stuff. I definitely think it's part of what we do, and we can do as little of it or as much of it as we need to. I do think, though, that'll help a little bit in inclement-weather games moving forward, too, if that does come up."

Even with all the changes along the offensive line and running backs over the past three years, the rushing totals have remained high. I guess you can say it's the system, but has that system evolved or changed with the different types of runners and offensive linemen, or has the system remained the same, and you're just plugging in guys? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, if you look at us last year, we completely revamped our running game midway through the year, based on just the feel of what we needed to do and our players. So, it's always changing based on players. This thing is all about players. It's all about the players and putting them in positions to be successful. So, to your point, yes, it's going to change [and] evolve depending on the style of player, the [running] back and even the [offensive] linemen – the matchups and what they do well. So, yes, it's definitely a matchup game, matchup league."

I know it's early in the week, but what kind of sense do you get from QB Lamar Jackson this week as he prepares for this game, obviously, coming off a tough loss and now going against a Chiefs' team he hasn't beaten as a starter? Do you notice anything different from him this week? Do you say anything to him going into this one in particular? (Ryan Mink) "Not at all, no. One of the great things about Lamar [Jackson] is he's such a great competitor, he's his own harshest critic, and he shows up every day as the same guy. He's a great leader, great player. He played really well the other night, and we're just looking to build on that."

Do you see WR Sammy Watkins' debut as a sign of things to come? (Bobby Trosset) "Sammy Watkins is a great receiver, and we're lucky we have him. He's a really valuable member of this team, as is everybody else. So, if we continue to get looks, we want to get him the ball. When he's rolling, he's rolling; I've seen it before, and I look forward to that. But having said that, [he's] one player, [and] it takes all 11. All the receivers are going to be important, and depending on how the defense leverages things, that's who gets the ball."

Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale

Opening Statement: "We had to make sure we went through everything and get caught up. As far as the game goes last week, I thought we played really well for three quarters; unfortunately, these games last four quarters. We slid off with our play and our style of play, and we're just looking for improvement from the first week to the second. It's just like any other game during any other season; you always have a big improvement the second week. I told the defense there are 16 teams that are really happy this week, but this is just all part of the process of an NFL season. So, all eyes are towards Kansas City, and we're ready to go. With that, I'll open it up to questions."

Can you assess CB Tavon Young coming back from the injury again? He was obviously involved in some penalties but also some good coverage, as well. What did you see from him? (Pete Gilbert) "I think it's still the process of him coming back from the injuries. You don't want to just rush him out there and play 90 plays or 55 plays or 60 plays, so we have a gauge on him. I think [pass game coordinator/secondary] Chris [Hewitt] does, I think [head certified athletic trainer] Ron Medlin does, and [we'll] just see where he's at with it, and we have a plan. As you saw on Monday night, we have a plan for putting different guys in there."

Was it fatigue in the fourth quarter? Did you guys just get tired? (Todd Karpovich) "I didn't play. (laughter) I think you can say that. All credit to [Las Vegas]. They did a great job. [Derek] Carr has been known for his fourth quarter – as far as analytically, that's where he plays his best – and he made a lot of good plays out there. So, like I said, all hats off to them."

I know that QB Derek Carr dropped back a lot, but if you look at the stats, I think you guys were among the NFL leaders in total pressures and sacks. So, how do you think the pass rush did overall? (Jonas Shaffer) "I thought they did well. I think Odafe [Oweh] – what's he on schedule for now, a 17-sack season? (laughter) Like I said, it's all part of the process of it, and every week is a different week, and obviously, we've got a great challenge this week."

Is there any merit to Las Vegas' claim that CB Marlon Humphrey was playing dirty or illegally at times? (Bobby Trosset) "I haven't heard that. I haven't heard that about a player specifically. We play physical football here in Baltimore."

You mentioned OLB Odafe Oweh. He played a lot and was in the middle of a lot of stuff. Were you generally happy with what you saw from him? (Childs Walker) "Yes, I was. Yes, I was, especially for a rookie, first primetime game. I thought he lived up to his billing and surpassed a lot of people's thoughts of him coming out. I think he's going to be a really good player for us."

What kind of impact does crowd noise have when you're calling a game? Obviously, it's going to be loud on Sunday. (Garrett Downing) "I can't wait to play at home. I cannot wait to play at home with fans, because, like I've said many times, the people here, we have great fans, and they're the 12th person for our defense. I cannot wait for us to play Sunday night in front of our own fans."

I know you're not going to reveal any secrets in going against QB Patrick Mahomes, but what's the biggest thing that stands out to you as far as what you have to account for when you go against a quarterback of that level. (Jamison Hensley) "I think when you're going against a quarterback at his level, which I think is elite, and I've stated that before, you have to defend – this is all in one play – the first play, his second play and sometimes his third play all in one that one play, and I think that's what makes him so special. He's one of those guys, and I've compared him and [Chiefs head coach] Andy Reid to [Joe] Montana and [former 49ers head coach Bill] Walsh – the combination [and] that type of relationship they had. But the best way to put it with Patrick Mahomes is whoever your favorite quarterback is, and whoever is sitting there having a conversation with you and saying, 'This is my all-time favorite quarterback, and this is why,' he's always in that conversation. So, that's where I see him at, and I think he's one of the best there is."

How difficult is it to balance the way you guys like to play – blitzing, pressure, aggressive – and knowing historically how well QB Patrick Mahomes does against the blitz? (Luke Jones) "I think Sunday night will be good timing for that. Andy [Reid] – he knows how much we pressure, and it's going to be a fun chess match."

What did you see from ILB Patrick Queen in his 2021 debut? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I thought that he played really fast and physical, and that's all we were looking for. [There are] still a couple things to clean up, and he knows that, but what did he end up with [9] tackles, a sack, tackle for loss? He had the penalty, but I think that was more of a reaction, because he was looking outside, and he looked back in, and the guy was right on him. So, I was really pleased with 'P.Q.' Now that it's on tape, he's just got to keep raising that bar."

You had a tough matchup with TE Darren Waller, and now you've got TE Travis Kelce. What kind of matchup problems does he present for you guys? (Todd Karpovich) "The same [as Darren Waller]. (laughter) The same; you saw. He's a Pro Bowl tight end, and it's not only him; you've got to deal [No.] 10 [Tyreek Hill], as well, and the other receivers. It's a track team at wide receiver, and Kelce gets to benefit from that, because those guys are stretching the field, and Kelce has the route tree. Just like a wide receiver does, he's got the route tree available to him, and they do a nice job of isolating him. I think their offense is one of the best offenses, if not the best offense, in the league."

You gassed up CB Anthony Averett, in some sense, in recent weeks. How has he responded to that? (Bobby Trosset) "It wasn't gassing him up; it was telling you the truth. I think he can be a Pro Bowl corner, and I thought he played well Monday night, and I feel the same way coming into Sunday night. He's a really good football player, so it's not gassing him up. I don't sit up here and gas people up; I tell you the truth. But I do think he's a Pro Bowl-caliber type corner."

Was there a motive behind talking Anthony Averett up? (Bobby Trosset) "I just [told] you guys what I told him, and I said it in front of the whole defense. I said that before there were any injuries and anything else. I said, 'You're a Pro Bowl-caliber corner.' And I asked Marcus [Peters] and Marlon [Humphrey] if they agreed with me, and I said, 'If you don't, tell me.' They said, 'No [we agree with you].' I told him some things that he had to work on, which he did all training camp, and you're seeing him [reap] the rewards of the type of training camp that he had. So, we're really pleased with Anthony Averett."

What did you think of the start DE Calais Campbell got off to on Monday night? (Ryan Mink) "I thought he played well. I thought he played well, and we've just got to keep stacking those blocks with it."

The Chiefs did what they did against you guys last year. Do you think that makes your guys more eager to get them again this year? (Childs Walker) "I think it's Game 2, and we're just trying to get ready to play and fixing the mistakes we made last week. Yes, I think there's that sense of, 'OK.' But they know who they're playing against, and I think whoever our opponent is this second week, that's just the way the schedule works out, and they're getting ready to play. But they understand the quality of the opponent we're going against."

What's the difference with the Chiefs' offense without WR Sammy Watkins, now that he's here? (Jacob Meyer) "Not much. They lost a good receiver, because you saw him playing for us. Sammy [Watkins] is a tough receiver. I told him during the week, that's one of the best games I've seen him play – was for us [on] Monday night – and I love the guy. But they have another fast guy that's behind him, and let's face it, [No.] 10 [Tyreek Hill] and [No.] 87 [Travis Kelce] is who we have to stop. And then the others, you've just got to hold on to, and if they make a play, then so be it."

You spoke very highly of DB Brandon Stephens in the summer, and he got a lot of run in his Game 1. How do you see him fitting best into what you're trying to do defensively? (Bo Smolka) "How do I see him fitting in best? What he is right now, he's so valuable, because he's a chess piece. He can play anywhere, and that's what he's been doing for us. So, that's how I see him best right now. Eventually, down the road, I'll be able to answer that question better, except, right now, I see him fitting in wherever we need him, and he does a really good job of doing that. So, I was really happy with the way he played, as well."

WR Sammy Watkins

On playing his former team: "I'm very excited. I'm playing my former team, and [I'm] just happy to go out there and play them. I know the guys – the defensive guys, the offensive guys. Coach [Andy] Reid was one of my top coaches that I've played for. So, I just can't wait to go out there and go against those guys that I went against in practice every day, and try to will a win and go out there and have fun."

On his chemistry with QB Lamar Jackson: "[It was the] first game – a lot going on – [and] you're trying to figure it out. [It was] my first time even just being on the field with those guys in the heat of the battle, and now it's like you get those jitters out of the way. We played well; we didn't play good enough to get the win. But you just try to increase and get better with just being on time and being in the right place and trying to make the best plays for the team."

On if he'll share information he's learned from his time in Kansas City: "I'm trying to win, at the end of the day. (laughter) So – snitch, no snitch – anything I can give 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] and the defense, that's what I'm going to do. And I'm not particularly giving up plays, but [more], 'Hey man, do this on this guy, and do this on that guy,' and that's just the way of football. Guys go on different teams every week, every day. You pull a guy off the practice squad to try to pick their brain. I'm going to try to do anything to win."

On how the Chiefs viewed the Ravens when he was a member of Kansas City, and if they believed they had the Ravens' number: "I just think we had a great gameplan. We came out [and] executed the plays well. [Head coach] Andy Reid [and] the coaching staff put together a great gameplan that we lived by, and we just played well."

On the key to going against the Chiefs' defense: "I'm not going to say too much. I just think they're a very good defense. They've got a great group of guys out there, they compete hard, and we've just honestly got to go out there and fight and battle against some guys that are freaking good. That's going to be the test."

On how much he would circle the matchup with the Ravens when he was a member of the Chiefs: "Every year, you'll kind of be in training camp, and you'll look at who you're playing the first two, three games, and the first thing that we looked at [was] the Ravens; Lamar Jackson – how can we stop him? How can we stop 'Wink's' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale's] defense, the blitzes, and stuff like that? So, we do the same thing here. We've been working on different teams since training camp, and we try to get an edge, but the thing for us is we've just got to go out there and hang loose. We know that they've been the best team in the NFL the past two, three years, and we've just got to go out there and compete and [not] go out there scared or anything like that; go out there with the will of trying to beat those guys and have fun in doing it."

On the matchup of QB matchup between Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes and if they view it as a semi-rivalry: "I think those guys definitely view it that way. You can say you're not, but the world is watching two of the best, youngest MVPs in the league and very talented guys. So, I'm definitely looking at it that way, like, 'Man Lamar [Jackson] needs to win.' He's been doing a great job in this league with just how he's been carrying himself as a teammate and as a guy that just does the right things off the field. So, I just think it's time for him to take that next hump and try to get a win. I hope this team [is] prepared and the coach is prepared to try to do our best to try to will a win for the organization and him [Lamar Jackson]."

On if he wants to show the Chiefs something: "I honestly think they already know what type of player I am. And it's not me proving anything to them; it's just me playing the game, and I want to win. Like I said, I love those guys over there. I had fun. I had my best time there – winning – but I just think I'm on the other side now, and I just want to go out there and just have fun and make big plays, and like I said, will a win in."

On being a deep-ball threat for QB Lamar Jackson and walking through his 49-yard reception on Monday: "It's something that we've been working on during camp. And like I said, I haven't been that deep-ball threat in like the past three years, so to have that opportunity and to do it in the game – one of the biggest stages, on Monday night – was definitely special. I've just got to continue to get better, continue to work with Lamar [Jackson] and get used to making those consistent plays, and going out there every week, putting in plays and scoring touchdowns. I think that's what I've got to consistently do and stay on the field and stay healthy."

On similarities between QBs Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes: "I think they're just special at just making their teammates and making the team better, the offense better; the way they scramble, the way they throw the ball, the way they do all this freakish stuff that pretty much not all quarterbacks do. So, it's special to me – playing for two guys that are just … You don't know what they're going to do. You don't know how they're going to throw it or scramble. So, it's definitely special playing for guys like them."

On how he prevents the negativity from creeping in when facing adversity: "Being around the league, it's bizarre how guys go down. It's a 100% injury-rate sport. Every guy on that field is dealing with something, and you never know when it's going to happen, and that's kind of been the theme this year. It's sad, but I think we've got a great group of guys that are in that locker room – ones, twos and threes – to step up and go out there and play and still compete on the highest level. But I've been on teams where the same thing has happened, and we won the Super Bowl. So, you can't look at what's going on as far as injuries. It happens, and you've just got to move on. 'Next guy up.'"

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