Ravens Wednesday Transcripts: Week 9 vs. New Orleans Saints (11/2)


On if the addition of ILB Roquan Smith makes his job easier on the outside:"Oh yes, because the way we play the run, that's just how it is. We want to free it up for them and stuff like that. So, if we have a guy like that who can make his own plays, and stuff like that, it's only going to make it easier for us."

On his first practice with ILB Roquan Smith:"It was good, man. Just seeing him back there running fast, and just knowing you got a real beast behind you and everything. It was good. He had a good practice."

On getting OLB Tyus Bowser back as well:"Yes, I was looking at our room, and I've been through the heat of all of it. I've seen different guys in our room. I'm kind of like the last man standing. Just having Tyus [Bowser] back and a bunch of guys like David [Ojabo] outside there and just working out, it feels good. We're warming up and heating up right when we're supposed to be."

On if he takes the ILB Roquan Smith signing as a reflection of what the front office believes this team can be:"Yes, we already knew what we were capable of. But now that 'EDC' [executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta] is trying to slowly formulate the squad and make us really the contender that we're supposed to be, it just lets you know what the intensions of what we're supposed to do at the end of the season. It makes us feel good. It actually drives us to want to play better and everything like that."

On how OLB Tyus Bowser's return can help keep himself fresher on the field:"Yes, we have rotations now. Earlier, we didn't. It was just two guys busting our [butts], man. (laughter) It feels good having Tyus [Bowser] out there, having a vet and someone like that. It should be fun."

On how much OLB David Ojabo is chomping at the bit to make his NFL debut when that happens:"I talk to him every week about it. He's ready. Today, he felt good. He was able to plant on it. He said he's ready. He's ready to make an impact and show everything about who he is and everything like that."

On how good it feels to share the field with OLB David Ojabo again:"It feels good. I haven't done it since high school – [at] Blair [Academy]. It just felt good seeing him out there. I was like, I haven't had this dynamic in like six or something years. So, it felt good man. It's going to be fun."

On playing on Monday Night Football:"It's fun. I love primetime games. We got Monday night, we got the showtime, everything. It should be fun. It should be fun."


On adding ILB Roquan Smith to this defense:"[Roquan Smith is a] huge piece for us. Obviously, [he's] leading the league in tackles. He gets the ball in his hands a lot. He's just an all-around playmaker [and] physical cat. He's just born to be a Raven, honestly. So, I'm really excited to have him on our team."

On his reaction to hearing about the trade for ILB Roquan Smith:"I was just shocked and ecstatic at the same time. Most people thought I would take it the wrong way, when honestly, if you've got somebody that quick playing on the other side of you [that] you get to learn from and see the things that he does, you just get a piece of his game. So, I was ecstatic about it."

On how others might react to the Smith acquisition if they were in his shoes:"You know how some people will be like, 'Oh, he's coming to take your spot' and this and that – people who really don't know football at all. But I'm ecstatic."

On if the acquisition of ILB Roquan Smith makes him feel like the front office is all in:"Yes, of course. Every year since I've been here, obviously, I feel like we could have won it all. Even last year after the rough games that we had at the end of the season, we still had a chance. So, you can definitely tell that they're really in win-now mode."

On his first practice with ILB Roquan Smith:"It was cool – just to be able to see how he [Roquan Smith] communicates and how he moves and stuff. We're just trying to get that chemistry down pat now, so everything from now on is going to be trying to get a feel for how each other plays."

On if it's starting to feel like this defense is about to hit its peak at the right time:"Yes, as long as we get everybody back healthy … Obviously, it's going to take a game or two for them to really get their feet under them and stuff, but after that, we're going to be rolling. We've got two playmakers [Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo] coming back on the defense, so once we get them back, the defense will be full [steam ahead]."

On if he believes that ILB Roquan Smith is in for a challenging week of trying to learn everything by Monday:"I mean, yes, you can say that, yes, but he's been in the pros for a long time. He knows how to handle it. He's asking a lot of questions around the facility and stuff [to] different guys and getting a different feel for the defense and stuff. So, I think he can handle it. I'm pretty sure he'll be fine."

On how good of a duo he can be with ILB Roquan Smith:"Of course, two of the best linebackers in the league. I'm not trying to brag or anything, but I just feel like that's how it's going to be. [We're] two guys that fly to the ball, get their hands on the ball, get in the backfield and disrupt stuff. So, we're definitely going to wreak havoc."

On if the acquisition of ILB Roquan Smith makes defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald's job that much easier:"I think so. I would say so, but I'm not going to put too much pressure on Mike [Macdonald]." (laughter)

On going back to New Orleans for Monday Night Football:"Just going back down there, back home, I'll have a lot of people out there for me, [and] I'll have a lot of people out there against me. So, it's just exciting to go back there, especially [for] a Monday Night Football game. Last time I was there, obviously, it was for the 'Natty' [National Championship]. So, I'm going to go over there and try to [build] off what I left on."

On if he was a New Orleans Saints fan growing up:"I was into the Saints. I remember, I grew up … For some reason, I was a Miami Dolphins fan growing up and then the Saints … I got a Drew Brees jersey for Christmas and stuff from my grandmother, and I was like, 'Eh, I don't know if I kind of like the Saints.' But you grow into it – being from Louisiana. And then, obviously, stuff happened in the [2020 NFL] Draft and stuff. It's still all love back down there for them, but obviously, I'm going in there trying to win this game for my team."

On if he had ever been to a game at the Caesars Superdome before playing there:"I hadn't. I had never been to an NFL game until I got here." (laughter)

On the atmosphere he expects for Monday Night Football in New Orleans:"Yes, I've seen it. Obviously, watching the games, you can hear it through the TV – how loud it is and stuff. Just knowing how we are in Louisiana and how it was at LSU, I know it's 10 times better than that in a dome and 10 times louder actually playing there and having LSU fans there. So, I just know how epic it's going to be [on Monday]."

On how he's handling ticket requests:(laughter)"I just know there's going to be a big suite full of my city there."


On his first impression of the team:"It's a great group of guys. I got in yesterday; guys have been very welcoming, so I'm excited to be here, and I'm ready to roll."

On his thoughts when he was traded and if he was expecting to be moved:"Honestly, no, because [I] didn't plan to, but life happens at times. I got traded, so initially I was shocked, but I'm excited to be here. [It's] a good group of guys, guys that are contending for a title, and that's what I'm in the game to play for, playing for a title, so I'm excited."

On if he had any relationships with any Ravens players or staff:"Yes, actually I came up to Baltimore on a [Top] 30 visit back when I was coming out of college, so I met some of the coaches, GM and some of the players as well. Then, I knew some of the players in the past, like [Brent] Urban, [Justin] Houston being a Georgia guy, Mike Davis being in Chicago … A couple other guys. So, it's a great locker room and I'm excited to be here."

On if it's a big deal to him that the Ravens think that he can help them win a championship:"Yes, that means a lot. I have a great deal of respect for this organization [and] the way they handle things. I'm excited, and I know they're trying to get over the hump and win the big game. So, I feel like I can be one of the guys that can help with that, so I'm excited to be able to give everything I have to make that happen."

On if he had any interactions with former Ravens ILB Ray Lewis before coming to Baltimore:"Yes, I actually have had some interactions with him. I went down to one of his camps. It was years ago; I think I was still in college then, but I have a great deal of respect for the guy. The guy is obviously a legend. [I] used to grow up in college and stuff watching all his hype videos, highlight videos. [I] was just trying to get settled in, then planned to reach out to him and ask [for] advice and stuff with little things here about the city and things like that. So, for sure."

On what he thinks about this defense:"I'm excited. [It's] a good group of guys, have some veterans, have a nice little blend of veterans and younger guys, and guys who are hungry and want to win. So, I'm all about that, and I'm excited."

On his thoughts on ILB Patrick Queen:"The guy is lightning; the guy plays good ball. He runs and hits just like myself, so I'm excited for the duo. I think it's going to be very special, especially once we get rolling."

On why he chose to wear number 18:"New start, why not a new number? Starting somewhere new, new start, so I'm excited. I was drafted in '18 as well, so it's pretty sweet."

On the steps of assimilating into a new defense:"Well, for sure; there's terminology things, but I feel like I have the mental capacity to do those things and be able to step right in and do what I need to do. That's part of being a pro, so I put that on myself. It's never too late to learn a playbook, so I feel like I'll be in good standing there. Then, with the coaches in there, and the players helping me out, it means a lot. The guys are trying to catch me up to speed, so I appreciate that a lot."

On playing on the weak side in Chicago and what he thinks his role will be here in the defensive scheme:"Linebacker; run and hit, and play good ball." (laughter)"

On how he will go about establishing himself as a leader despite being a new face in the locker room:"Absolutely. I think it starts with just being myself, not trying to be anyone different and just going out, busting my tail each and every day. Guys that respect the game are going to respect that, and I feel like when it's my time to say things, I feel like I will say things then. I'm not trying to do anything special, just going to be me and I feel like everything else will take care of itself."

On what the next five days will be like as he prepares for his first game with the Ravens:"No, I don't feel like it's an all-out cram session, because I feel like I have a nice understanding of everything that we're doing here on defense. That's part of being a pro, and those guys in the locker room are getting me right, as well as the coaching staff helping me out big time. So, I feel very comfortable with where I'm at right now, and by Monday, I know I'm going to feel even better. So, I'm excited."

On what he envisions his first game as a Raven on Monday Night Football will be like:"It's going to be exciting, being in the [Caesars] Superdome and being out here with my new teammates. It's going to be pretty sweet going to war with those guys, and I'm very excited. I think it's going to be a wild atmosphere, but I think we're going to be ready for it and we're going to come out flying around. I know I'm going to control my part and fly around."

On if there have been any discussions about a contract extension yet:"I'm not really focused on that right now. Everything has happened really, really quickly, so I'm just trying to focus on honing-in on this playbook right now, and getting to that once I get to it. My main focus right now is learning the playbook, getting a great relationship with the guys and then going from there."

On if there were any other players he looked up to growing up:"I looked up to a lot of linebackers growing up; the Patrick Willis' of the world … There are so many I could probably just rattle off names; Ray Lewis, then you had [Bart] Scott, who was here as well, 'T-Suggs' [Terrell Suggs] even though he was outside. So, there is a laundry list of guys that I looked up to."

On if he represents himself without an agent:"I'm self-represented."

On the challenges and benefits of representing himself:"Yes, absolutely. I think times are changing honestly, and I think players want to be at the table and want like 100 percent transparency. I think that's the major thing, and it's about being out of the fee. The fee that you're paying agents, you know some do great jobs; I can be giving that to charity or family, different things like that. But I also have a team of advisors as well, so it's not just me by myself."

On what he prides himself on about his game:"I think I pride myself on just giving everything I have while I have it, and going out and being the best player I can be. I feel like if I go out and do that, good things will happen."

On if the upcoming bye week will be a good time for him to get up to speed on everything:"Yes, it's going to be great I think with the bye week coming, but I'm not focused on that right now. [I'm] just focused on handling the Saints on Monday, and I feel like I'll be up to speed on Monday as well. So, the bye week will get here when it gets here."

On if he remembers his thoughts on the Ravens from his Top 30 visit before the 2018 NFL Draft:"I knew it was an amazing place, and I heard a lot from guys around the league that have been up here, even [Brent] Urban when he came to Chicago years back. How he mentioned the organization, [a] first-class organization. So, I had a lot of respect and talked to guys across the league, so I was excited when I found out it was Baltimore. So, I'm excited."

On if he got any endorsements from former Ravens about what this organization is like:"Not really guys that have been in the past and whatnot; it was just more so guys who I've known before who maybe had short stints here, or even like people who have been on the staff and stuff like that have mentioned and said what a first-class organization, great facility, and they do things for the players. So, that's perfect, and I love to be in a place like that."

On his mindset when he plays football:"It starts early in the week, and I think that starts with knowing your opponent inside and out, and knowing what they like to do in certain situations, really all situations. Then just going out and giving everything I have, and then with my God-given ability, and then the coaches putting me in the best possible situation to succeed. I think with a combination of all those things, I think it aligns for great success more so."

On taking the news hard from DL Robert Quinn's trade from Chicago last week and if he is relieved that the trade deadline has passed now:"That was crazy when my guy Rob [Quinn] [was traded], because I have a great deal of respect for Rob, and then just being caught off guard like that, but you never can be too surprised with how things happen over that way. I'm excited to be where I'm at right now, and I'm ready [for] my feet to get on the ground, and I'm ready to take off."

On if he saw the video clip of ILB Patrick Queen marveling at how many tackles he has so far this season:"No, I haven't seen it. I have to get back on social media or something. I've been off social media for like four or five months or so. I think I might need to get back on there to kind of start seeing some things. I've kind of been out of the loop a little bit."

On what his saying 'cooking with grease' means:"When you're cooking with grease, have you ever touched hot grease? When grease is popping, it's hot and it's ready to go; you can put anything in there and it will get it fried up. So, that's how I live."

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