Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "[It's] great to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. I saw you out at practice. I assume that you guys appreciated the fact that you were on the close field, and you were in the shade, right? Can I get a thumbs up on that from some of you guys? OK, cool. That was [senior vice president of communications] Chad's [Steele] call. So, very cool. To start off, I want to wish Pernell [McPhee] and his family our deepest condolences for the passing of his grandmother, Layla. Pernell and Grandma Layla were really close all throughout Pernell's life, and they're dealing with that right now. So, just condolences to them [and] best wishes. She will rest in God's good hands for eternity now, and I know that's where Pernell's and her faith is. So, what questions do you have?"
I've had a chance to watch inside linebackers coach Rob Ryan in action a few times. I haven't had a chance to ask you about him. I know it's early, but what type of flavor does he bring to the coaching staff and to the linebackers room? (Jerry Coleman) "[Inside linebackers coach] Rob [Ryan] is a guy that is just a very, very excellent football coach. [He's] one of the best in the business defensively. Obviously, he's had tremendous responsibility over many years. We go back a long way in terms of coaching connections, family connections and working together when we're working with Rex [Ryan] and of course, with [defensive coordinator] Don [Martindale] and all of that. So, we've talked a lot of football over the years. I just am very, very grateful that he's a part of our staff. I think the players are seeing what a good job he does and how experienced he is and how energetic he is and all of it. He's just an excellent football coach. He's bringing some things to us schematically as well, of course. Yes, it's going really well."
With the addition of T Ja'Wuan James, it's kind of unusual when a team signs someone who just had an Achilles injury a few months ago. How would you characterize kind for the plan for him with the Ravens? (Jamison Hensley) "I think it's a great signing. I'm just very, very pleased to have him. He's a highly-decorated player. He sat out one year, obviously. [He] had the injury before and now another injury, so it's a tough set of circumstances for him. But from what I understand, he's very determined to get himself healthy again and get back to playing at the highest level. That injury there, the Achilles injury, is one that there could be a possibly he could be back this year even – November [or] December, maybe. So, that's not something … I wouldn't say we're counting on that, but it's certainly something that you know is possible. I mean, Terrell Suggs had the same kind of an injury, same kind timing and got back in November of that year, as I recall. So, we'll just see what happens, but it's always good to add another good player who's a really good person and a hardworking guy. We're happy to have him."
We saw that WR Rashod Bateman wasn't out there today. Is there any injury concern with him or anything going on? (Childs Walker) "Yes, there are guys dealing with things. He had some tenderness and some tightness from all the running he's been doing. Marquise [Brown], the same thing; he's had some muscle-type issues. Those guys are going through that. We've had other guys, especially the receivers and the 'DBs.' They do a lot of running, so that comes up a little bit in this heat."
When you see someone like RB Gus Edwards arriving as an undrafted free agent … So many come here and never get that far, and to get to this point to get a contract, what does that mean to you? What does that say about him? (Pete Gilbert) "Well, it means a lot. He's a guy who we all root for. He came in as an undrafted free agent, and he had to work his way in from the bottom to the practice squad. Obviously, he's played some special teams for us, and then what he's done as a running back for the last three years is pretty remarkable. I think he's a really good fit in our offense, and he understands that. He's just a really good fit, also, in our personality as a football team. We appreciate him and the way he plays, and the way he carries himself. He's just really the most deserving guy. To see that and have that kind of security now going forward for his family, as a coach, it's pretty rewarding. So, [I'm] very happy for him and expecting nothing but the best from him going forward as a football player."
RB J.K. Dobbins, what are you seeing so far from a pass catching standpoint? (Bobby Trosset) "He's made strides. It's been one of the main points of emphasis, to involve our running backs in the passing game more going forward here in this offseason. J.K. [Dobbins] is obviously going to be a focal point of that and of course, Justice [Hill], and Gus [Edwards] does what he does in the passing game. I think J.K. and Justice specifically, that's what they should be really good at. That should be a big part of their tool kit. So, they've both done a great job. You mentioned J.K., he had some catches today out there. So, yes – that's something we want to emphasize and continue to improve at."
I know these workouts are voluntary. We haven't seen T Andre Smith out here. We didn't see him last year, obviously, with the COVID-19 opt-out. Is he still in the team's plans? Or could he still be a factor in that offensive line mix come training camp? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Sure, he could. It's hard for me to answer that more specifically, just because of what you said. It's just that we haven't really had him out here, so I don't know any more than that. We'll just have to see going forward. I understand he's working hard. I've texted with him a few times, so we'll just have to see how that plays out. I'm looking forward to seeing him."
Obviously, LB Patrick Queen is someone who played a lot last year as a first-round pick and did a lot of good things. But him having this spring now that he didn't have as a rookie, how have you seen him benefit and grow during this period of time? (Luke Jones) "It's a tremendous opportunity for these guys. To your point, all these reps that we're getting … You see it in the passing game, the pass skeletons [and] the half-line-type things that we do that are teaching periods [and] repetition periods. Those are immensely valuable, especially at a position like inside 'backer where you're in the middle of everything and things are always moving fast around you, and you have to make split-second type of reaction-type decisions. So, it's been great for him. It's been great for Malik [Harrison], all of our guys. Chris Board, L.J. [Fort] is more experienced, but it's been great for all of those guys."
G Michael Schofield, what does he bring to the offensive line? How nice is it to add such a veteran presence to that group? (Shawn Stepner) "It's great. [He's] another Michigan man, too. So, [Ben] Bredeson and I were enjoying that out there today. So, it's great to have him on board, but [he's] just another veteran lineman who really knows how to play. He understands the game. He has a physicality to him. [He's a] Big Ten-type of offensive lineman – you appreciate the mindset and the style. We'll just see where it goes from here, but I do like the fact that we're bringing in guys that kind of embrace our style of play up front and are very smart and experienced players."
We've seen in the past when players are in their contract years, they sometimes don't attend these voluntary camps. What do you think it says for TE Mark Andrews to be out here for the past few weeks when, again, some other players might have opted to take a different route? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know about the comparisons, but Mark [Andrews] is out here. He looks really good. He's practiced very well. I told him today, I really feel like he's running routes the best that I've seen him run routes since he's been here. [They're] very crisp, very sharp and explosive and all of it. I'm just happy that he's here. I think it's an opportunity for us to improve as a team, and each player to improve individually as a player, and he's doing that."
You've had a couple weeks to see WR Sammy Watkins now. What has stood out to you about him in terms of how he looks in this offense? (Garrett Downing) "He looks good. He's big and he's fast. He has good hands and he's a veteran guy. The thing I've noticed about him is he really is a student of the game. He really wants to improve his game. He's very much a stickler for the fundamentals and for pushing himself on the fundamentals; in and out of routes, angles, eyes, hands [and] hand placement. All that stuff has just been something that he works at. He asks a lot of questions of his coaches. He always wants to know what he can do better. When you see that in a guy … He's only 27 [or] 28 years old. I'm very hopeful that there's a lot of maybe his best football is still in front of him going forward. He's young enough for that to be the case."
RB Gus Edwards
Congratulations on your contract extension. When you hit a career milestone or landmark like that … I saw how you had the picture of the house you lived in in Liberia, Africa. Do you kind of contemplate the journey that it has taken you to get to this point? (Jamison Hensley) "I was just grateful for yesterday. What's crazy is that my father is actually in Liberia right now, and he just happened to be over there when I called him. I called him and I was like, 'I'm getting ready to sign.' And he happened to be at the house. He was like, 'I'm at the house right now. Everybody remembers me.' We lived there like 20 something years ago, and everybody remembers him. God is good. It was just fantastic – just seeing everything come together. It's been a blessing."
When you got here, initially the offense was more of a passing one. And then midway through the 2018 season, it went to become more of a ground game, for sure – and it's suited you so well. When you got here, did you have a sense that it could become this? Were you thinking that maybe you're going to be a part of this? Or was it, "Hey, I'm an undrafted guy – wherever I can get a chance." Or did you kind of target this as thinking this could be something special as far as a run game that you could be a part of? (Pete Gilbert) "I just knew that it was physical. What I knew about Ravens' football is that it was physical in every aspect – offense, defense. And the running game has just been getting better. The more comfortable, the more years that we're in the system, we add more sauce to it. I'm blessed, man. We're in a special space. We've got a great offense. We've just got to keep building."
If you could give us an idea of the whole process with your contract. Obviously, you were a restricted free agent. They announced the second-round tender much earlier in the offseason. How long did this come together, and kind of your reaction when things kind of got pushed across the goal line? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, I just knew from the get that I wanted to be in Baltimore. I feel like I have a lot of unfinished business here. I'm comfortable here, I'm happy here, and it works for me. So, I was just hoping to stay, you know what I mean? In one way or another, I was hoping to stay. And then, we were able to work out a multi-year contract, and how great has that been? I'm just blessed. Not too many guys get to be in the position I'm in coming from a rookie free agent."
What kind of mindset did you keep this whole time? Like you said, being undrafted and what not. How did you keep that mindset towards getting this big contract, getting this second contract? (Ryan Mink) "I always wanted to do it for my family. My family has been great for me, a great support, and they push me every day. When you can do for your family, it just makes you feel that much [more] of a man. I'm just happy. Thank you to [Ravens owner] Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti, the whole Ravens organization just for believing in me. A guy that didn't have too much of an opportunity anywhere else. So, I'm blessed and I couldn't thank this organization enough, pretty much."
We've kind of seen you show off different facets to your game year-by-year. Is there one skill this year that you're sort of looking forward to showcasing? Or are we going to see another shade from your game this year? (Childs Walker) "I want to be a part of the passing game more. I think every year I've been sneaking my way into that. This year, hopefully, I could be more of a part of it and just keep getting better in that aspect."
With RB Mark Ingram II gone, now you guys are entering the season and it's you and RB J.K. Dobbins. What are you expecting from yourself and J.K. Dobbins in 2021? (Shawn Stepner) "We've got to build off of last year. We've got to put together better numbers; we've got to put together a better season as a team. We've just got to do better than we did last year. Watching him and how he came in – his attitude through OTAs has been great. I know he's been working extra hard in the offseason and he came back. And he's back here and he looks great. He's just giving me motivation that I've got to step my game up, too."
You mentioned RB J.K. Dobbins. You guys are going to be here for at least the next three years together kind of forming one of the league's top tandems. How do you look at the pairing of you two guys moving forward? (Ryan Mink) "I think we're dangerous. You get us going, we build off of each other, we like to see each other go out there and make plays. When J.K. [Dobbins] makes a big play, it motivates me, it motivates Justice [Hill] – and we're just going to keep building off of each other."
LB Patrick Queen
How does it feel to be out there for what seems to be a normal spring practice, because that's something that as a rookie you weren't able to have last year? How much do you think that will help you in your progression in your second year? (Jamison Hensley) "It's way different, because coming out of college, you've got spring, so you always get to practice and stuff. And then coming into last year, I didn't get 'spring time,' couldn't train really anywhere, so I came into the season out of shape. This year, this is a whole lot better. I get to train now; I get to see my teammates early and get the communication down and stuff. It's only up from here, so it's a big key to be here right now."
I know it's early, but what are your impressions of inside linebackers coach Rob Ryan? He seems to have a little flavor, and we can hear him as far away as he is. So, what's it been like working with him, so far? (Jerry Coleman) "It's crazy. He's told me so many stories about when he was coaching and the guys he was coaching, and it just gives you a different perspective on life. He's a great guy, a great coach, he cares, but at the end of the day, he just wants to make us better. So, that's what I take from him. That's the biggest key – is him just wanting us to be great and him just caring so much, like a real father. It's crazy that you find somebody like this at this level, and I'm just thankful for him to be here with us."
Could you go back to talking about how you just feel like you're in better shape this year from having this whole offseason? Is that something that was a focus? Could you talk about that a little bit more? (Garrett Downing) "It's insane. Last year, I didn't go into the season in shape at all. I came in like 240-something, couldn't catch my breath when we were running. It's just so hard when you're not doing any football activity outside of working out, so that last offseason was terrible. I came into the season, and I was like, 'Bro, this is going to be a long season for me to get in shape.' So, it took me like five games to get in shape, finally. And just coming into OTAs [organized team activities] this year, you get to practice, you get to train, you get to do whatever you want. You could do stuff on your own. So, you've got the resources now to actually get in shape and do what you need to do to be prepared for when we come back to training camp and try to get in football shape. So, it's way better now coming into OTAs."
You go back to last year, and it was a great rookie campaign; you were contending for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The takeaways from that, what were you most proud of that you got done, and what is it when you look back and say, "That's what I really need to work on the most?" (Pete Gilbert) "I'm proud of myself. It's hard to make it to this level – let alone be in the conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year. So, I'm proud of myself, and I'm still hard on myself. As I look back, pass coverage, stuff is so easy that I'm getting now, that last year I was just messing up time and time and time again. And it wasn't always the same stuff; it was just different stuff. So, once I learned, something hit me, something new … Now, it's just simplifying everything, and just the experience is patting down. So, I'm learning it. I really can't wait for the season to start, so everybody could see how much work I've put in to be better."
What is that process like throughout the offseason, in identifying areas and ways you can improve? (Bobby Trosset) "For me, during the offseason, I already have thinking problems – I like to think too much about stuff. Stuff is always on my mind – 24/7. Once something happens, it's always on my mind. So, the whole offseason, I'm sitting there looking at coaches, looking at this, looking at the stuff I did that could be better – simple stuff that I was getting beat on. It was like, 'If I did this, I could make that better.' Or, 'If me and him talked about this, then we could have worked that out.' It's just simple stuff. So, you think about that the whole offseason, and that's a long time. That's like four or five months before you come back and you can communicate with your teammates, so you really take that personally. That's one thing that, when you come back in, you do not want to mess up anything, because there's so much stuff that you learn, so much experience in just one little season. So, it's been a long time thinking about it, but it's almost time now."
You mentioned that you were about 240-something to start last season. Is there a target weight that you have for 2021? (Jonas Shaffer) "I feel comfortable anywhere, really, as long as my wind is good. So, whatever it takes for me to have my good wind, I'll be straight. Preferably, 235 [pounds] – somewhere in that range."
You had some memorable plays against QB Joe Burrow last year when you were both rookies. Now the Bengals have WR Ja'Marr Chase; the Steelers have RB Najee Harris. How do you look around the division and these incoming rookies that you're a little familiar with? (Ryan Mink) "It's insane. I'm happy for all of them. I talk to Najee [Harris]; I talk to Ja'Marr [Chase]. I talk to all those guys, and I'm just happy for them – Tyler Shelvin; all my guys over there with the Bengals organization and Steelers. So, we're definitely loading up the AFC North, but I can't complain. You should want to play competition. That should be your main job – is to play somebody who's good or better than you, so you can show your game, so you can step up to the plate and show them that, 'I want to be remembered.'"
One of your teammates, RB Gus Edwards, just signed a nice extension the other day. From a defender's perspective, how would you describe Gus as a running back? (Jamison Hensley) "'Gus the Bus,' simple – that's it. (laughter) That's one person, for sure, when you're in the hole with [him], you've got to brace yourself and get ready, because Gus [Edwards] is 'Gus the Bus' for a reason. He earned that money, and I know this season, he's going to perform just like he did last season – if not better. So, I can't wait."
We saw some of the dialogue you had with QB Lamar Jackson on Twitter about potentially getting No. 8. Obviously, you didn't get that, but what went into changing to No. 6? (Luke Jones) (laughter) "Somebody tell Lamar [Jackson] we still need to switch. It was just the right thing to do. Single-digit swag – just the swagger that comes with it, just the feel that comes with it. Back home, the place that we come from, we call it '6,' so everybody who's got clothing brands, rappers or whatever it may be, they've got '6' in their name somewhere. So, that's what I try do – just try to put the city on me, try to show them where I'm from. That's all there really is about it."
I saw on Instagram that you did spend a lot of time working out with a trainer, working on your drops. What was that like? And then to follow it up and to come to OTAs and have TE Mark Andrews be the guy that you're responsible for on crossers and zone coverages, what does that do for you – to see that in action? (Jonas Shaffer) "It's big. Like I said, I thought about the passing game the whole offseason and trying to get better at that. So, we've been working at that – covering people like Mark Andrews and the Travis Kelce's and all the great tight ends around the league. We just got Josh [Oliver], and we just got some other great tight ends on our team, as well. So, trying to work against those guys is hard every day. It's a grind, but that's the type of competition I like. So, every day I come in, I try to get better; I try to compete with those guys. All the training I did, I'm trying to put it to the test now – trying to see if I can guard those guys. I feel like this is the best place I could be, as far as trying to get competition and trying to get better."
I saw you today with the cicadas. How have you been dealing with them during OTAs? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I'm used to them. I from Louisiana, so we've got locusts around there all the time, so I'm used to bugs. I don't like bugs at all. I'm not a big 'bug guy.' I'm country, I do all the outdoor stuff, but I hate bugs. I don't want bugs touching me. I try to get them away from me without killing them. So, I care about the creatures, but at the end of the day, do not touch me."
TE Mark Andrews
Two things – first of all, I hope you're OK. I saw you go off the field a little gingerly. Second of all, when you see someone like RB Gus Edwards come in as an undrafted rookie, as you've seen so many come through and never get as far as he did and not just play like this during a contract [year], what do you take away from that? (Pete Gilbert) "It's good to be here and talk with you guys again. It's also good to be back in Baltimore, but I'm all good. It was just a little cramping. To see Gus [Edwards], to see how far he's come, how hard he's worked and just the player that he is to this team and this city and how hard he's worked and the way he carries the ball, for him to get paid and do all of that, I'm so happy for him. He's a guy that 100% deserves it, and I'm just happy I get to play with him."
I'm sure you're aware this is your contract year. Have you thought about kind of your future? Do you feel strongly that it still remains here in Baltimore? (Jamison Hensley) "I think for me, how I approach every offseason is I just try to get better and better. I try not to worry about the things that are not in my control. I love Baltimore. I love being here. I love playing here. I want to be here for the rest of my life, man. This is home for me. So, that's where I'm at. I'm just going to, as a player, be the best player that I can be for this team. I know as a team that we all have a certain goal. We all are moving in the same direction, and that's really all that I'm worried about right now. You can't worry about too much of the outside noise and what happens with that. I'm just going to let my play speak for itself. Obviously, I love Baltimore. I love being here, and I would love to be here for my whole life."
You have a lot of guys competing for that third tight end spot behind you and TE Nick Boyle. What do those guys kind of have to do to separate themselves from the pack to make this roster with the competition? (Todd Karpovich) "We have a great group. We have a big group right now. Obviously, getting back here and being able to see Nick [Boyle] and Pat [Ricard] has been awesome. But then being able to see Eli [Wolf], Eli has come back and is running incredible routes, doing a lot of great things. Josh Oliver has come in and done a great job. Eric Tomlinson, obviously, is a guy who's been here before and is doing his thing, then also Ben Mason. So, we have a great group. Those guys are working extremely hard. You can tell that there's a hungriness in the group. There's a healthy competitiveness in the group, but at the same time, we're also learning from each other. We're able to just look at each other's film, look at each other's routes and critique things, and that's a beautiful thing. I think that's helped people get better. We have a great group. [Tight ends coach] Bobby Engram has done a great job with us so far. So, I'm just happy to be here, be with those guys and having fun playing some ball."
Things changed pretty dramatically from a year ago where you guys are now together on the field, things are opening up and maybe travel is easier. What does that do for the state of mind as you get back to being together with your teammates in a more open format? (Mark Viviano) "Obviously, it's kind of refreshing to be in a world that's kind of opening up a little bit. We've been kind of pent-up for so long, and for good reasons. But I think with these vaccines and people getting them, players getting them [and] coaches getting them, it allows us to free up what we're able to do. It's just been great to be able to be around these guys, be in the facility and not wear a mask. You don't have to worry every second about what's going on and if [you're] going to get COVID-19. So, it's been great to be back, and it's refreshing to see that things are starting to get back to normal. I'm excited to be able to have fans in the stadium as well. So, that will be fun."
With the additions in the passing game, what are your expectations for the passing attack? How much do you think adding those pieces, WR Sammy Watkins and WR Rashod Bateman in particular, will help benefit you and open up the field a little bit more for you? (Ryan Mink) "Great question. Just being out there with obviously Sammy [Watkins], Rashod [Bateman] and a couple of the other guys, the new young guys, those guys are balling out. The deep threat, the stretching the field, making plays, catching the ball, everyone is incredibly locked in. Just the whole energy around this program right now is awesome. Everyone is locked in. Everyone is moving on the same page and working toward the same goal. We're trying to be the best team that we can be, and our pass game is looking really good, to be honest with you. So, I'm excited about it. Those young guys are balling out, man. The older guys are taking them under their wing and showing them the ropes. So, it's been great to see. The pass game has been looking really good, so it's awesome."
Guys in your position, at different places, sometimes approach the offseason workouts a different way. You obviously have built up a lot of trust in this organization, and no one would probably blink if you weren't here at this time of year. Why was it important for you to take part in the OTAs, and what kind of led you to get back in the building at this time of year? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Good question. I know for me, I wasn't here the first week, but for me, family is a big thing that's important, and it's the offseason, so I was able to attend my sister's dental graduation, which was cool. But after that, I was able to get back here, and obviously, work. As a team – it doesn't matter – the more work you're going to get in, the more chemistry you're going to have. You see Lamar [Jackson] coming out to Arizona and getting some work in. It's all about chemistry. It's a team sport; chemistry is a huge thing. So, for me to be able to get here in the offseason and do OTAs, it's just [about] being around everybody, having that team camaraderie, getting that passing game down, understanding the offense even more than you already do. It's the little things that add up, and as a team, and as a Ravens organization, I think we're all on the same page – that the more we can do, and the more we can be on the same page and those little things, we're going to get to where we need to go. We've got the pieces, we've got the coaches, we've got the city. So, I'm excited."
The offseason trip, what went into coordinating that from your standpoint? And was there a mix of work and play sprinkled in there? (Bobby Trosset) (laughter) "Yes, it was honestly a little bit spontaneous; that's why we weren't able to get all the guys out. But it was one of those things where Marquise [Brown] was coming out, so we got some of the other guys, and [we were] just able to throw. We were able to get some fields secured and throw the ball, and at the same time, it's the offseason, so have some fun while we're doing it."
Coach Harbaugh said you seem to be running routes even more crisp than you ever have. I was just curious, have you tried anything different this offseason that you didn't do before? And as you've gotten a little older, are you learning how to work a little smarter, as well as working hard? (Cliff Brown) "Yes, that's a great question. Every offseason has been different. I think last year, I learned a ton about really how to treat my body, and last year I came in in great shape and all that. So, this year, I kind of just worked on that. So, it's just being able to improve each and every year, knowing the things that you're good at and not good at, and trying to work those little things. But I've been running a ton. Obviously, routes are something that's very important to me – being able to run really good routes. In the offseason, I made an emphasis of that. I feel like I'm getting in and out of breaks really well. I feel light; I feel fast. So, I'm excited to see what I can do."
Obviously, there was a lot of chatter this offseason when the Ravens hired pass game specialist Keith Williams. It seems like he's been working mainly with the wide receivers in practice. Does he have any kind of oversight with the tight ends – with your group? And then, to my second question, it seemed like you were probably one of the first to know that T Orlando Brown Jr. was being traded. Looking back at that, what are your feelings about seeing one of your best friends on this team leave for another team? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes, I think having those two new coaches [Tee Martin and Keith Williams] here and that receiver group is awesome. Those guys … Just the drills that I've been in, and the detail, the attention to detail that they bring to that wide receiver group has been awesome. They've come over multiple times and just little things here and there. All that stuff adds up. So, as an offense and especially as a passing game, that's going to be great. Those two guys have been extremely dynamic – just from what I've seen so far – and I'm excited to learn more and just to hear more of what they're saying, because what they're putting out is very good. So, that's been awesome.
"Obviously, for me, him [Orlando Brown Jr.] being one of my best friends, it's extremely sad. We're going to miss him. I'm excited about his future. But at the end of the day, he's a Baltimore Raven for life, and that's the thing that sticks out to me about this whole situation. When he told me that, I was obviously sad, but knowing that what we've done together, what we've shared playing here in Baltimore together and Oklahoma together, that lasts for life."
Obviously, you're one of the most productive tight ends over the past three years. Have you set any kind of personal goals heading into this season? (Jamison Hensley) "I think for me, it's just, again, I'm always trying to improve. I'm always trying to be better, and obviously, there are a bunch of things I can get better at. So, I have my little goals; I keep them to myself. But yes, I'm trying to be the best. You guys know where it's at."