Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton
Opening statement: "Good morning, everyone. [I'm] glad to see everybody out here. It was an awesome day; I hope you guys enjoyed it. I know from a special teams standpoint, I thought we started fast this morning. Really, we've had three good days of work, and that's all we're asking from our guys – come out here, work hard every day and let's get better. Questions?"
For one of the drills out there, was there a string or two strings out there on the field? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, there was." (Reporter: "What was the thinking behind that?") "So, when we talk about … One of the things we talk about, we talk about angles, which we feel like in order to be good at kickoff return, we treat it just like geometry. You have to take the proper angles, the right drops to get to a certain point. If you get there, then we're in great shape. So, we just found a way to make things interesting and let guys see a visual. Some guys are visual learners, so we just try to help the players any way we can to get those guys rolling."
What have you seen from WR James Proche II in his second year? (Todd Karpovich) "Oh man, just everything that I've seen last year. James [Proche II] is a true competitor. I love the way he comes out and he works. He's going to do things right. He's going to ask to do extra work. He's just coming out here [and] he's competing. He's getting better every day. Hopefully, every day is a day that he takes off. He just gets his mind right and he's ready to roll."
How would you assess the way the punt returner competition is right now? Is anyone separating themselves in that competition right now? (Garrett Downing) "That's one of the things that's always in the mix. Every day, we have guys that are coming out here and trying to win that job. We're going to give every guy an opportunity, every guy that we have back there. Obviously, last year, we had two young guys – two guys that we depended on. Those guys are a year older, so we're going to be dependent on those guys again. I think it'll shake itself out and it'll roll from there."
Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale
Opening statement: "Man, does this not feel better? What is it, the first time in a year and a half or however long it's been? I don't know, but this is awesome – to be able to do this again with everybody. I appreciate how difficult it was for you all to do your job, just as difficult as it was for us during all the different protocols and what have you and everything else. But [I'm] glad to be here and glad to be back at training camp. I can't wait until tomorrow night, because it's the next practice, and it's down at the stadium, and it'll be even better because you can have more fans down there, from what I understand. That will help us with our communication and everything else, so we're really excited on where we're going to go with it. So, with that, I'll open it up to questions."
Obviously, you guys lost an edge rusher in the offseason, but as you head into this new season, what's the expectation? (Daniel Oyefusi) "Well, I think any time that you're with the Ravens defense, the expectation is to set a new standard, raise the bar even higher, and that's what we want to do. God willing everybody stays healthy, I think we've got a great chance to do that. I'm really excited about who we have on our roster right now, and where we're going to go with it."
We've seen OLB Daelin Hayes make some plays over the last couple days. How is he coming along? (Childs Walker) "He's coming along just fine. Both of those rookies on the outside [Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes] are doing really well. And I can't wait until we get into the pads, because everything is – like they say at the Combine and they say at OTAs – 'Shorts and T-shirts, shorts and T-shirts.' There is the old school in me. There is some truth to that – that you want to see everybody get in pads before you give the full update, but he's doing really well. They all are."
OLB Odafe Oweh is a guy who can really run and make up a lot of ground. What do you see as far as his speed, for his size? (Todd Karpovich) "Well, speed kills, and with his size, it's unbelievable. I don't know if you saw the play today, because it was away from where you all were standing. They ran a speed-option; he took the quarterback and the pitch. So, that's a rare trait to have as an edge rusher, and we're really excited on where he's at."
How's CB Brandon Stephens making the adjustment from cornerback in college to safety here? (Gerry Sandusky) "Let's go back even further – running back, to cornerback, to safety. I think that speaks for his athleticism. He's a smart kid, and I really, really like him. I think he's going to be a great football player for us.
"As all the rookies are, they're a little quiet right now, because in essence, when you're a rookie football player – if you want to think back to high school or college, some of you (laughter) – it's like the freshman going into the senior's class. So, they're listening and learning, and then eventually, they start getting confident with what their responsibilities are and what others are, and you just see them start to grow. He's already doing that."
We've seen S Nigel Warrior move around a little. Where do you foresee him fitting in? Is it a full-time change? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, that's his strength – he has position flexibility. We know he can play safety; now we're going to see where he's at corner-wise, and he's done a nice job. He's done a nice job, and he's had some good battles with some good receivers. So, it's going to be fun to watch. That's the other great thing for all of us, for us here, standing here – is we get some preseason games, too. For me, that's the pure enjoyment of coaching – to see where these young guys are actually at, live, tackling, playing football."
What kind of development have you seen from ILB Patrick Queen from Year One to Year Two? (Garrett Downing) "I think that's where you make your biggest jump. He's more confident. He was confident last year, but he's more confident in his assignments. He's more confident in what his skill set can do. Another play you saw out there today was he ran down J.K. [Dobbins] for about a two-yard gain, when everybody starts screaming, because J.K. keeps running, and we're not allowed to tackle him. Alright? (laughter) But he got him for about a one- or two-yard gain. So, I'm really pleased where he's at."
You had expressed optimism in the offseason about OLB Jaylon Ferguson taking the next step. What have you seen from him so far? (Ken Weinman) "I think that I'll answer that question when we get into pads, but I like what I see. His best trait is, when we do put the pads on, setting edges and things like that. I think he's in shape. I think he knows how important this year is, and you can see it in practice and everything he does."
When we talked to DE Calais Campbell recently, he said one of his goals is to get 100 career sacks, and he's eight away. What makes him such a dominant pass rusher at times? (Jamison Hensley) "Just look at the man himself – first of all. But one of the things that stands out to me with Calais is I'm a goal guy myself, and he sets his goals, whether it's in saving money or what he wants to do. He has a list of goals of what he wants to do, and the thing that you notice is [the Walter Payton] Man of the Year is usually one of those guys that accomplishes those goals. So, I know where he wants to be at; we know where he wants to be at. You're exactly right; he needs eight sacks, and I told him the faster he gets them, the better it will be for us."
We saw CB Marcus Peters gift a young fan his cleats right off the bottom of his feet a little while ago. From our perspective, a lot of us feel he has this edginess to him, and he enjoys being the bad guy, maybe. How can you speak to his heart? (Bobby Trosset) "That's the thing. I love the guy. I just love the guy. He's a special person. Some people don't understand him, I guess, I would say, and some guys have to get that way once the whistle blows, to get their mind right. And he does have a little edge to him out there on the field, and I personally like it. I've got a little edge. We're all touched in different ways. You know what I'm saying? As far as the defensive side of the ball and coaches, as well. So, he's a great person and a great player. He has goals, as well. We were talking about Calais [Campbell's goals before]. So, people forget how many interceptions he [Marcus Peters] has, too."
Can you talk about CB Tavon Young's return and the ripple effect that has and what it allows you to do? (Ryan Mink) "[It's] just more flexibility for us. And his return is – like I said [when] I think I was talking with the PSL owners … His coming back for this training camp is a testament to how tough he is, because what he's done the last two years, it's unbelievable that he comes in, he hasn't skipped a bit. I don't notice anything. I haven't just sat and stared specifically at him and what he does, but it's amazing how far he's come back from all the different injuries. And they're freak injuries. Do you know what I mean? It's one of the toughest things to do as a player – is to sit there and rehab while your teammates are playing. And he's done that, and he's ready to go."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Opening statement: "It's great to see people out here. It's great to see you here. It's great to be doing a press conference that's non-Zoom. So, it's really good to see everybody. Training camp is really a time where we have to create an identity on offense. I think the first couple of days the players have done a great job of starting to build that foundation. Every year you have to start over at 'square one.' If you were good at something the previous year, you can't just assume, 'Oh, we're going to be good at this.' You have to start it off with the real basics every single year. That kind of builds just a detail-oriented approach from the players, and they're doing a great job of that. I think we have a good plan, and we're glad we got some time this year to kind of practice that and really get a feel for us. We got some new pieces we're really excited about, and we're looking forward to building it day-to-day. But we're having a great time so far. The players are making it great, because of their attitude and how they're approaching every day. Any questions?"
With QB Lamar Jackson obviously being in COVID protocols, you have a lot more time to see QB Tyler Huntley and QB Trace McSorley. What have you seen from them so far? (Daniel Oyefusi) "[It's] a great opportunity for them, and I think they're doing a really good job with it. I think they both have some things that we really are stressing with each. Just like you might with a golfer; everybody is a little bit different. Each guy has certain things they need to work on, and we're really trying to work on those things. I think their attitude and approach … They're excited. It's outstanding, and I think it will really afford us a chance to get a really good feel for them, as well as them an opportunity to develop here. I mean, they're getting reps that guys pray for, and they're doing a good job taking advantage of it." (Reporter: "I know QB Lamar Jackson obviously isn't here, but are you in meetings virtually? How is that going?") "Yes, we have a method of communication with Lamar [Jackson]. It's really a medical issue, but we have a method and a way to communicate with him. We're looking forward to getting him back. Everybody is really, really dialed in to what they need to do right now to get ready for this season."
RB J.K. Dobbins is catching the ball in the backfield a lot during this practice. Is that something you're going to incorporate in this offense? How's he doing as far as that adjustment? (Todd Karpovich) "He never really caught the ball much in college, and last year was such a strange year where we didn't really have this kind of time to invest in it. So, first things first with his rookie year … Yes, we are definitely trying to get our running backs more involved in the passing game. He's doing a good job with it. He's making good progress."
You've known WR Sammy Watkins his whole career. What was your reaction when he came on board here? How has he looked to you? (Bo Smolka) "Sammy [Watkins] is a gem. He's a great player and a great person. It's funny, because I was around him his second year, and then he had since gone on to the Rams and to the Chiefs. When we got back here, we got to visit before he decided to come to the Ravens. It was such a fun conversation, because when we were together in like 2015, that time period, he had gone through so much and I had gone through so much. It was fun to reconnect. Sammy, to me, is one of the best receivers in the NFL – period. I think he's doing a great job, really, in everything – meetings, everything, just his presence, his communication with the other receivers [and] the advice he's giving them. So, he's a much more seasoned player than I knew him in his second year. So, it's really fun to see him. Every day with him is a great day."
You have two new additions on the coaching staff with pass game specialist Keith Williams and wide receivers coach Tee Martin, as far as receivers. You've seen them out there with their different drills. One day, they're doing soccer balls and other things. What kind of impact do you think their new drills and their new things ... How much impact can that have on the receiving corps? (Jamison Hensley) "I think both [wide receivers coach] Tee [Martin] and [pass game specialist] Keith [Williams] are extremely detailed [and] extremely rooted in the fundamentals of the game, and I think that reflects in how they coach and the drills they do. I think it's going to have a big impact on us. Tee is the receivers coach, and Keith kind of works with all the different position groups, running routes, different techniques, really detailed … Really, I would say, he has some unique and advanced thoughts and ideas that our players are embracing very strongly. Both of those guys are great additions and great to have in the staff room every day. They're really bringing a lot."
One thing you guys did really well last year was run the ball in 11 personnel, and you have a much deeper wide receiver room this year. Can you be smashmouth in the kind of mentality that you like to play if you have those three or four wide sets? (Jonas Shaffer) "You can to a certain extent; it depends on how people choose to defend you in 11 personnel. It's always good to have options. If we want to spread them out and play that style of game, we're definitely going to do that. But we also want them to worry about having to deal with these other possible personnel groups that we could use as well. So, they can't really just hone in and zone in on, 'Man, when they're in this personnel, we've got them. That's all they do, and we know how to minimize them.' We're really working hard to try to develop. One of the messages to the players is if you do something well, we're going to use you. So, I really don't care if we have 500 personnel groups; if guys do things well, we're going to find a way to use that skillset and go with that. We're trying to develop every guy every day in every way."
Kind of along those lines, you talked earlier this offseason about expanding the profile of the offense. Given what you've seen from these new additions and the offense as a whole, how's that coming? Do you feel like, 'Yes, we can go about doing this?' (Todd Karpovich) "It's a day-to-day process for us. As far as expanding our profile, I definitely think there are some new things we'll do, but there are a lot of things that we haven't done that we're going to open up that chapter of the playbook now, in other words. So, I think it's going to open up our playbook a little bit more. We want to have a good variety of things that we do [and] present a lot of problems for a defense. I think these guys, from what I've seen so far, are definitely going to allow us to do that. As a coach, you sit out there and watch practice, and you're like, 'Wow. This is going to be fun.' That's kind of how it is. It really just starts with their attitude and work ethic."
You mentioned how training camp is a restart. How much is QB Lamar Jackson missing by not being here? How detrimental is that to not have him for that restart? (Mark Viviano) "Well, it's certainly not a positive, but we have to create a positive out of this thing. We have to get a great plan when he does come back on how we can try to make up for the time as best we can, and that's really the game that we have to play. If he was here, that'd be great. But he's not, so now what do we do? Well, let's figure out a solution. The other guys are really developing and working hard. Lamar [Jackson] is engaged with us right now mentally and whatnot. We just have to get him back when he gets back in here, and then we can get more into the physical nature – the practice reps."
Is QB Lamar Jackson able to do the meetings virtually? (Jamison Hensley) "We have communication with him – a definite process."
Does QB Lamar Jackson's absence impact how much you may play players in the preseason? Does it kind of change your practice? With the reps he's missing now with the front line, receivers, tight ends and all that, does that affect how you might divvy out reps later this summer in terms of preseason? (Jeff Zrebiec) "That'll be a discussion for a later date, but that's definitely a discussion we'll have. Right now, though, we're not there yet."
What are your early impressions of TE Josh Oliver and that tight end battle? (Childs Walker) "Josh [Oliver] is doing a good job. Josh is a big, wiry guy, but he's got some real strength to him. We're trying to throw everything at him and get as much exposure with him as we can right now to really see what Josh Oliver is all about and where we can go with him. So, he's doing a really good job thus far. I definitely think that there's a competition at that position, at receiver, at O-line. There's competition everywhere; it's a great thing. Guys are embracing it and embracing one another. I think Josh has a great opportunity. He needs to grab the brass ring."
Can you talk about what you've seen so far in that left guard competition? (Ryan Mink) "Right now, it's so early that I'm really not … We haven't even gotten in pads yet, and when you're evaluating offensive linemen … We're getting them ready for next week when we put the pads on – that's when the real evaluation will happen, you know what I'm saying? [It's] a little early for that. [I] love their attitude. Our defense does such a great job of throwing things at us. Our offensive line coach, Joe D'Alessandris, does a great job. Every day, it's like writing a new chapter in a book based on what our defense is throwing at us and how the offensive line has to solve all these different problems that they present. So, that's part of it with us. Our scheme gets bigger every day. Our defense's scheme gets bigger every day. So, the players have got to get into their books and study. It's not like they're just sitting home playing video games, trust me."
Pass Game Specialist Keith Williams
What have your impressions been of joining this staff and making this transition here? (Garrett Downing) "It's been great. Everything has been top notch. Guys on the staff are great; football is great; team is great; players are great. Everybody on the supporting staff has been awesome; area has been awesome. I've been having a great time."
Can you talk about your relationship with wide receivers coach Tee Martin a little bit? I know you guys go back. (Garrett Downing) "Yes, we do. Tee and I have a great relationship. We've known a lot of mutual people. When I was at Nebraska, he was at 'SC' [University of Southern California]. When I was at Nebraska, we recruited a lot in California, and so me and Tee used to battle in the recruiting streets for some kids. So, I knew him as a friend already. We know a lot of people mutually that go back even prior to us coaching. And so, him and I being here together, it's kind of ironic. It's been great. The working relationship couldn't be better."
What's your philosophy on energy, effort and those types of things, when it's organically put into football? It seems like there's been an uptick from what you've brought so far. (Bobby Trosset) "Just play as hard as you can every down. It sounds cliché, and it's corny, but it's true. And if you just take that effort day by day, play by play, that's the only way you're going to get better, in my opinion – is to play as hard as you can, because your goal at the time when the test comes – which is a game – is to play as hard as you can. So, you don't' want to have to turn that on for the game. You don't want to have to turn that on for that moment. You want to be already used to being in that moment. And so, play as hard as you can; be a fanatic about being a technician and be a fanatic about the details, and have that same effort physically, and then that all should come together."
In recent years, we've seen rookie receivers come in and make an immediate impact in Year One. What's the key for guys like WRs Tylan Wallace and Rashod Bateman to do the same this year? (Daniel Oyefusi) "Just keep playing, taking it day by day. Don't look too far ahead; don't have any specific goal or specific amount of time you want to play, or stats. Just keep getting better; keep working hard day by day, and at the end, see where that leads you. Don't look at the calendar; don't look at too much of social media; don't look into predictions; don't listen to your other people, your friends or anybody who is trying to act like they know what's going to happen. No one knows. You don't even know. Practice hard, play hard, soak up the environment, soak up the lessons from the veterans and get in that playbook."
We've heard the guys talk about your innovative techniques; we saw the soccer balls yesterday. How do you come up with that stuff? (Childs Walker) "That's a good question. I just continuously always try to find the best way to coach. I say it all the time; 'There's a lot of ways to do things, there's only one best way.' And so, I just try to continue to come up with the best way to coach, the best way to get the guys better. And so, the idea is just … I think about how can we improve on a certain skillset? How can we improve on a certain aspect of wideout play? And if I'm not doing a drill for that or haven't thought of a philosophy about it, I just try to come up with one that will help the guys."
And with the soccer balls, what are you looking for when you're throwing those soccer balls at the guys? (Jamison Hensley) "The short answer is hand placement … Well first, catching approach – your approach on catching the football or catching an object – hand placement and dexterity in your arms and your fingers."
When you brought out the soccer balls, did anybody look at you different? (Jamison Hensley) "Probably. (laughter) I didn't see them, but probably. Yesterday wasn't the first day the guys have done it, but anybody who didn't know that, probably looked at it a little … I actually felt weird about doing it when I first thought of that concept. (Reporter: "Well, how long ago was it.") It was probably about six months ago. Yes, six months ago. But these guys, the wideouts, we've done it before. We did it in the OTAs and whatnot, so they knew it was coming. But yes, if you didn't know, I can definitely see you thinking like, 'What the heck?'" (laughter)
Take us back to when you talked to head coach John Harbaugh at first about this job. How did the conversation go? Did you have a background with John? Did you know him before this? Were you surprised to hear from him? How did this opportunity come about? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I was surprised. We didn't have a relationship before this. We know some mutual people, I believe, and so, he contacted me, and then the conversations started from there, and it just kind of went to here."
I know you tutored guys, you do coaching individually. Were you looking to get into the NFL, or was this just an opportunity that came up that you couldn't pass up? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Kind of both. I wasn't necessarily looking for this specific opportunity, but if you get a chance to coach in the NFL, that's a blessing. And so, I wasn't necessarily looking for this opportunity, specifically, but obviously, when I had a chance to get this opportunity, it was a blessing."
Have you heard from any of the other receivers that you've tutored on other teams now? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes. Yes, it's been kind of sad (laughter) … For me too, because I enjoy … I've got a great relationship with all those guys, and I definitely enjoyed working with them, and I miss working with them, but I'm here now."
With WR Sammy Watkins, you've obviously worked with him before. What have you seen from him being here, and where do you see aspects of his game where you think he can kind of take that next step and get back to the guy he was in the very beginning of his career? (Ryan Mink) "Right. Well, everybody can take steps. You can always take a step until you retire, so everybody can take steps. Sammy and I are really close, and him, like everybody else, you just continue to hone in on your skills, improve what you're maybe struggling with and make better what's already been good. And so, that's what he's doing every day, and it's just fortunate that we can do it together now every day, instead of just in the offseason."
Is there any temperature at which you won't go full sweats for? (Bo Smolka) (laughter) "I haven't felt one yet. I'll be in this every day." (laughter)
When you went back and looked at what WR Miles Boykin has done well, when he's been on the field and produced, what sticks out to you, and how does he continue to take that step forward in Year Three? (Jonas Shaffer) "He's big and athletic. He has all the traits. He just has to continue to grow mentally in terms of his approach. And guys don't stay the same. Whatever he was last year, that's last year. He has a chance to take another step now. When you begin a new path, a new cycle, you get a chance to take that next step, so that's what he's trying to do. All of those guys – it starts with their mentality, their daily approach, and you've got to put your mindset and what you want to do on the field during the drills and during the team work. And so, that's his plan, that's our plan for him, and so that's what we're thinking about day by day."