Ravens Thursday Transcripts: Week 4 vs. Buffalo Bills (9/29)

SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR CHRIS HORTON

Opening Statement:"Good to see everyone today. Today was a great day. We just sang 'Happy Birthday' to O.J. Brigance, so it was a really good day for us. He's in great spirits, every day we get to see him, he's smiling. He's got a lot of great information. So, happy birthday to 'Juice' [O.J. Brigance].

When you look back at the game, our guys are playing great football. There's a lot of good things happening. There's a lot of young guys out there. Every week I talk about it, 'Let's just find a way to get better at something,' and those guys are doing it. They're playing their butts off.

This week, we have a good challenge. Buffalo is coming here; they have a good unit. We understand that, and our focus is always about us. I'll make sure that our guys understand that, and we go out there and try to play the best game we possibly can. Questions?"

On the short punt late in the game, was that just a miss-hit or was there something in P Jordan Stout's process that wasn't quite right? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, it's just one of those things. Jordan [Stout] is a young guy. You look at those first two punts he had, they were great. So, our focus with him is right now, it's just consistency and just finishing. These things are coming up late in the game, so we're just really focusing on him with finishing through the game. We'll correct those things. Those first two punts, again, they were outstanding. So, we just talked about, 'Finish the game,' and it was a miss-hit. He's probably seeing a lot, and we'll just try to get him under control. [We just want him to] just take care of his business."

What happened on the missed PAT attempt? Did you see anything? _(Kyle Barber) _"I didn't see anything; I think that was just a miss-hit. Those things happen, and anytime we get our field goal team out there, it's points on the board. That's our motto. So, we want to take advantage of all opportunities when we have an opportunity to score those points. It was just a miss-hit."

How much of a positive is it to have a guy like RB Justice Hill who has success on offense but is also flying around on special teams in the same game? _(Luke Jones) _"It just goes to show young guys. I think back to when Justice [Hill] first got here, he had never played special teams, but he had the traits. He had the traits that we look for. He's fast, he's physical. When we gave him an opportunity, we put him out there and he made plays. We always knew he could run the ball, he was just waiting to get that opportunity. So, I encourage guys, and I want you to play offense, I want you to play defense, because that's called growth. He's helping all over the place now, so it's good. It's good to see."

When you play in potential inclement weather, how important are pre-game warmups to learn the kicker's range and other factors for making decisions? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"That's a great question. It's why we go out there early, so we can figure out those things and see how the winds are coming into the stadium, are they left or right [or] right to left, are they at our back, in our face? As the game goes on, those things change, so there's constant communication with [special teams coach] Randy [Brown] and Justin [Tucker] about those things and what they think going into the game after the pre-game."

In all your years as a player and coach, have you ever seen something like the punt we saw in the Miami-Buffalo game? (Jonas Shaffer) _"Yes. _(laughter)I've seen a lot of things, but those things could happen. I sit up here, and it's one of those things you work on in practice, and you talk to your personal protector about depth in the end zone and things like that. So, those things could happen if you don't execute fundamentally."

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GREG ROMAN

Opening Statement:"How's everybody doing? We're getting ready for a really good Buffalo team. Their defense has been really good every year, really, since [head coach] Sean [McDermott] got there. And when you really think about it, when they're just putting it together, their defense was always at the top of the league. After three weeks, I think they're ranked No. 1, 2 or 3 in just about every category, so we've got our work cut out for us. They've got a really good D-line, pass rush – they've got some elite pass rushers; we all know Von Miller, [Greg] Rousseau – the interior players. And then, their linebackers are outstanding – probably the best linebacking corps we've seen [so far this year]. And they've had some injuries in the secondary, but they looked pretty good to me last week. So, they're doing a good job. We've got our work cut out for us. We're working hard and looking forward to the challenge, for sure. Any questions?"

I think there's a 60-70% chance of rain. You, as a play-caller, do you have a good condition gameplan and a rain gameplan? (Childs Walker) "Yes, we definitely take that into account. You saw us out there with the wet balls today, getting ready for that eventuality. So, if it happens, it will probably change the course of how the game goes, and we have to do a great job managing that – managing the weather and the elements."

How does T Ronnie Stanley look to you? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Ronnie [Stanley] is looking good. I really think he's made some great strides. He's out there – looks explosive. I mean, everybody is joking with him that he's got fresh legs. But he's looking explosive [and] as good as I've seen him look. He hasn't played ball in about two years, though, so they'll definitely be an acclimation period for him, which we're going through now. And I love where he's at. I was really encouraged by how he's looking. I'd say arrow up all the way."

T Isaiah Likely got so much attention in the preseason, but has had a little bit of an up and down stretch this season. How do you feel like he's coming along? (Childs Walker) "Isaiah [Likely] is doing a great job. We're throwing a lot at him; there's a lot on his plate. He's had to do some dirty work, as a young rookie, in a couple of these games. There's nothing but a bright future for him in every sense. The ball has been spread out to some other guys thus far, and games have gone a certain way; last week went a certain direction, where he wasn't in the game as much. I kind of thought he'd be in the game more, but with some of the things that were happening, we shifted gears a little bit. So, it's a little bit circumstantial. But he continues to get better, and I've got great expectations for him."

You guys have been going more under center this year. How comfortable does QB Lamar Jackson look doing that right now? (Cordell Woodland) "[He looks] really comfortable. It's just part of the game. We hadn't done much of it, and I look back and say, 'Well, why haven't we?' So, I really think it adds a different dimension to what we can do moving forward. But he [Lamar Jackson] looks really comfortable there. Then we've just got to get more reps and more reps at it. But we did it a lot in training camp, as well, so he's a pretty quick learner. If you do something – emphasize something – with him, he's going to get it."

What are the challenges of deciding when and how much to help out a young guy like T Daniel Faalele? How much of it is trial and error to see how he's playing early and whether he needs help? What's that like? (Jeff Zrebiec) "There are different ways to go with it. You can kind of say, 'Oh my gosh, he's in the game; we're just going to get inside a little tent, and we're not going to do much and just hope for the best,' or you can see how he's doing – to your point – and assess, 'OK, we're going to need to do this, that and the other.' And there is kind of a middle ground there, too, where you might call certain things to help him out, but still try to be aggressive with your plan. Last week, I'd say [that] I kind of just kept it rolling – saw what was going on and made some adjustments." (Reporter: "Would you say, though, your confidence grew as the game went on?") "I would definitely say so, for sure. Yes, I think [Daniel Faalele] made a lot of progress during that game. He's got a lot of work to do. He's a very young player, and we're very excited about his future and his potential."

It seems like Buffalo is content to play nickel defense in pretty much whatever they do. What impresses you about how they're able to stop the run, even without those heavier formations? (Jonas Shaffer) "I'll tell you what, it's pretty remarkable what No. 7 [Taron Johnson] can do – [I've] seen him taking on offensive linemen in the B-gap and kind of holding his ground. He's doing a really nice job. I don't see a problem there at all for them; he's doing really well. You don't often see that to that extent. So, you can tell they really like him and trust him, and his play has been outstanding. So, some of those guys have played in that system now for a couple years, and they've kind of got it down, and they play really well together. [Taron Johnson] is a good player, though."

How great is it to have someone as versatile as FB Patrick Ricard? (Melissa Kim) "So, you guys don't realize this, but when he [Patrick Ricard] caught the shallow cross in the red zone, I started laughing. (laughter) I'm like, 'Yeah, Pat! There we go. You show them, baby.' (laughter) He is extremely versatile, and he's a very valuable part of our offense, and I can't stress that enough – run game, protection, passing game. There are some times in his … The Minnesota game last year was basically Ricard, Ricard, Ricard, touchdown in that one drive when we needed to get jumpstarted. So, I kind of laugh when people look at him as like a caveman fullback; little do they know that he's very versatile. But we're really fortunate, and we've just got to keep doing things with him that will increase his versatility."

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE MACDONALD

Opening Statement: "Alright, great to see everybody. Just before we get going, it's O.J. Brigance's birthday, as you probably know, so we're celebrating right now, as we do every day. What a blessing he is to our organization and to me personally. We love him, and obviously, this is a great day."

How tough is it to lose NT Michael Pierce who was off to a good start? (Luke Jones) "Mike [Michael Pierce] was playing great, and we'll see what happens. The thing I think we have our D-line depth, there's guys to step in, and it's obviously a challenge for Travis [Jones] moving forward, but he's up for it. We'll see what happens on how we mix-and-match the pieces, but anytime someone goes down is presents challenges, and for them personally you feel for them for all the work he's put in."

What have you seen from DT Travis Jones, especially in his first game action last week? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, it's his first game. There are things that he played well, like I think you see his strength, just his brute strength at times, but if you ask 'Weav' [assistant head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver] he's probably going to be a little more detailed in the things that he needs to do, but I'm pleased with his start. We expect him to keep growing as he gets more opportunities."

How do you prepare for the unique challenges that the Buffalo offense presents? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think unique is a good way to describe it. They're doing some things out of different personnel groups this year that they hadn't done as much in the past, so that presents challenges as well. Like you said, there are levels that they just do a great job. They've had a lot of continuity. You can tell that they're looking for certain things that they can attack, and they have skill all over the place. Their O-line is well coached and cohesive, the [running] backs can make plays. Obviously, the wideouts are really dangerous, especially No. 14, [Stefon] Diggs, and obviously the quarterback is ... He can do everything. It's definitely a challenge."

In game-planning for QB Josh Allen, what are things that you can do to try to slow him down? (Jamison Hensley) "I'd say I'll leave the specifics out, but we're definitely going to try a few things. (laughter) I think we have a good plan in place, and the guys are executing it, but it's the NFL; we have great players too, they have great players. Like 'MP' [Marcus Peters] says, if they make a play, it's the NFL. Hopefully it's an earned play, you're trying not to give them free plays, give them freebies, just like everyone."

In terms of QB Josh Allen as a runner, do you have to tell everyone on defense to be aware of him at all times? (Childs Walker) "Yes, absolutely. I think it's situational as well, like on early downs when you're not necessarily just burning off the edge because you have to play the run as well, there's a certain technique that goes with it on how you want to play. And, when you're playing your zones, you can gain some defenders. When you're going to play 'man,' you have to start tweaking your pass rush plan and how you're going to play those certain situations. Then, if [Josh Allen] rears his head in certain critical situations, just keeping the ball in designed runs, then it's a different animal, just because it's a numbers issue plus his skill as a runner and just being so big and being able to get on the edge. So, it's definitely a challenge, but I'd separate it by situation."

T RONNIE STANLEY

On how he feels:"I feel really good."

On what his recovery process has been like: "I think it's gone really well. Like you said, we don't want to rush things, we want to make sure that I'm able to play and to be here for the whole season. I think things are going really well, things are going according to plan. I want to be out there, I want to be out there as soon as I can, and the whole organization has kind of taken this approach, and we're all on the same page about making sure I'm ready to go when I do get out there. I'm itching to get out there with my teammates, and I'm really close. I'm really close."

On how optimistic he is that this could be the week he returns to play: "Yes, this could very possibly be the week. I'm very close, and I'll talk it over with the rest of the staff and coaches. We're going to make the best decision that's best for the team."

On how frustrating this process has been, if at all: "I think it's been a little frustrating just because I'm a competitor, and I want to get out there. This being my second year coming off an injury where I was kind of pushing myself to be out there as early as I could, I think [this year] has allowed me to be more patient mentally in understanding what it's going to take for me to go out there and not hurt something else and be out for the rest of the year. I think that being said, I'm definitely in a very good place mentally."

On how he will know when he's ready: "Just from being out on the field, and I think taking consistent reps, and just by the way it feels, and making sure I have the flexibility and the things that I need to be able to play my position."

On if he feels a lot different than he did last year when he was getting ready to play: "Yes, I feel way different. I feel way better than what I was when I played that first game last year. I'm in a way better place; I'm very optimistic, very confident about me getting back to where I want to be."

On how many surgeries he's had: "Without getting into too many details, I know there was speculation about how last season ended, but there's something else that I had to get done after that first game, separate from the original surgery, and that was a lower body, major surgery. I think that's why the whole organization has taken this approach to make sure that I can be out there and not play one game and be out the rest of the season. What happened last year was just very telling to what we're doing this year and this approach that we're taking in bringing me back. Like I said, I'm very close, and you might see me this week."

On if he has reached out to any other athletes who had similar injury stories to help with the mental challenge of recovery: "Yes, it's funny, I definitely had multiple players in multiple different sports, I was hanging around [Golden State Warriors player] Klay Thompson, and him going through his injuries. Marshal Yanda had different injuries similar to mine multiple years, so just guys like that have shown me that these things happen. Injuries happen, and there's years where you have back-to-back injuries, and that's something out of your control. You just have to have the right mindset for it, and I think I do."

On if he's confident he will be playing like All-Pro Ronnie Stanley when he returns to the field: "Yes, I am confident that I'm going to be the Ronnie Stanley that I know I can be. I still don't feel like I've played to my full potential, and for me, I still want to play that. That's kind of where I'm pushing towards and what I expect out of my body. I'm pretty happy with what I'm seeing with where I'm at right now and continued progression. I'm in a really good place."

On if the team having to rotate multiple left tackles due to injury so far this season has made not being ready even harder: "Yes, 100 percent, just that competitive spirit in me. It's very hard watching the game, seeing Pat [Mekari] go down. We lost Ja'Wuan [James] early on, and seeing the guys that play my position just go down and knowing that I'm so close to helping out, definitely that competitive side pushes more and more to want to get out there. But like I said, from what happened last year, we're taking the smarter approach and we want to make sure that we're not doing something that's going to hurt us long term throughout the season. I think we're doing it the right way."

On if it was hard to shut out outside speculation about his health: "It's not too difficult for me to kind of shut out the speculation. The only thing that was probably difficult for me was kind of like everyone not really truly understanding what happened before leading up to what's happening now. There's a lot of speculation, and there still is, and there still will be, but that's probably it; people not truly understanding what happened and what I had to go through to be where I'm at today. It was a lot, and I'm very happy, very fortunate [and] thankful."

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