THURSDAY PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS: DAY 3 MINICAMP
Head Coach John Harbaugh, Quarterbacks Coach James Urban, CB Brandon Carr, QB Joe Flacco, QB Lamar Jackson, WR Willie Snead IV & OLB Terrell Suggs
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Great to see everybody. Thanks for being here – appreciate it. Gosh, another beautiful day, wasn't it? Great day for football. It was fun to be out here. The guys were enthusiastic and excited. I have to salute our guys. You know, we don't throw too many bouquets at our guys, but I told them that in the meeting. We don't do that too often, but it's deserved. They did what they needed to do from the first day of the program right on through. We've had phenomenal attendance – but just not attendance, what they've done with it. Very little drag, we've maximized effort, and that's really all you ask: try to be the best that you can be. I was just really proud of our guys and their attitude and spirit have been really great as well.
"Before we go onto questions, I just wanted to express for Jordan McNair and their family, just our condolences and our prayers. I heard a little bit about it this morning. Actually, was talking with Steve Bisciotti about it and our strength and conditioning coaches and don't have any idea why these things happen. I hope we can learn to understand them better for our sport and all sports, especially ones you play in the heat. From everything I've been told, he was just a wonderful young man, just a great family, and our hearts go out to their family."
Do you think you guys have laid a good groundwork going into training camp? It seemed like everyone was on target. (David Ginsburg) "Right, I do. A lot goes into preparing guys for training camp, and training camp is tough. It's not like the old days where you'd come in, you'd do a six-game preseason schedule with three weeks leading up to it. They were here most of the summer back in the days, and guys had a chance to play themselves in to shape. It's pretty quick. You get right into those preseason games, and then the season is on you before you know it. The level of conditioning that it takes to be prepared to practice the way you need to practice, to put a team on the field and compete at this level nowadays, it takes a lot and guys have to be in great shape. So this lays the groundwork for that. The fact that we had everybody here; the fact that Joe [Flacco] was healthy – our quarterback, guys like 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] out here, in here training every day, leading the way, [Eric] Weddle, Brandon Carr, all of our veteran leaders – I'm really happy with the guys."
The mandatory week having everyone here and you're not prepping for a game and it's just about football. Is it just the most fun time you have during the year? (Pete Gilbert) "It is fun. To me, it's a great observation. I really think you're exactly right about that. You're not stressed about the challenge right in front of you, getting ready to play somebody. You can just focus on the system, the techniques and just the love of the game a little bit. It's been that way through the whole offseason with our guys. It's just been a real joy being around these guys."
How do you think QB Lamar Jackson has fit in this week so far? (Katherine Fominykh) "He's fit in well. Since he's got here, he's been all ears, so to speak. He wants to learn, is a very hard worker, very smart guy – probably as a much as anybody. Sometimes, it's knowing what you don't know. Some guys don't know, and they don't know that they don't know. He knows a lot, but he also knows what he doesn't know – which is the type of an offense and the type of systems that he's going to be exposed to in this league are far different than what he did in college. It's just a different game. I think the plus-side is his head coach at Louisville is one of the best offensive coaches in football. So he's been exposed to the concepts, but the play calls were so much different – the way it was organized. So he's just gone to work at that and he's done a good job. You saw him out here today. He ran, almost, the whole practice today, and that's a big step in the right direction."
How do you think QB Lamar Jackson responded to that? (Jamison Hensley) "He responded well. He did. I think we had one timeout we had to call, which isn't too bad for a rookie running the whole practice. He got the plays called. He competed, completed some passes as much as you can. Again, it's not real football practice yet, as far as that part of it. I don't think you ever know until we play the game. I'm excited to see these rookies, these freshmen. I'm excited to see these freshmen in the games. But he handled himself very well."
Did you decide weeks ago that the last practice would be all QB Lamar Jackson? Or is that something he earned? (Jason La Canfora) "It was something Marty [Mornhinweg] came up with early in the week and decided we wanted to do it. Joe [Flacco] has done a great job, gotten a lot of reps. I'm sure that Rob [Griffin III] and Josh [Woodrum] … You know, with four quarterbacks, it's tough to get enough reps with four quarterbacks, so those guys would like more reps. But Lamar is the guy who's the rookie that needs them the most. Just putting him out there today, and giving him a chance, putting the pressure on him to have to really run the whole practice, operate the offense, was valuable."
We talked to OLB Terrell Suggs, and obviously, he looks in terrific shape. Do you think he was inspired by having a healthy year last year and let him get into the offseason with momentum? (Childs Walker) "I have learned to never speculate on what might inspire Terrell Suggs. (laughter) But he's inspired, no question about it. You're right. Whatever he's doing has just been phenomenal. He's inspiring people around him. The guy is in phenomenal shape. He is at another level of conditioning, and it's bolstered by the Catapult tracking that we do when you see the raw numbers on how fast he's moving out there. As a coach … And he plays for my team? We all feel that way as coaches. He's one of us. I can't wait to see him play. I think he's on a mission, and I think he's headed to the Hall of Fame. I want to see that statement made this year, next year and for as long as he plays."
QB Joe Flacco said he's going to get together with the wide receivers group between now and when training camp begins. Just your thoughts on that and how much you think it could help this offense? (Ryan Mink) "It's always good to work the precision of the passing game. I think Joe really likes these guys, and these guys are champing at the bit – 'Crab' [Michael Crabtree] and 'Smoke' [John Brown] and Willie [Snead IV] and the young guys. I'm not sure when they're going to do it. Did he mention when they're going to do it? Did he say dates or anything?" (Reporter: "No.") "OK. So I'm looking forward to hearing when that's going to be. I'm sure they'll do it. They've been talking about it the whole offseason."
Is there a benefit to this break before training camp? Or as a coach, would you prefer less time or more time before you get them back for training camp? (Bo Smolka) "There is a benefit. There's a benefit to having a little break. The risk is that guys don't understand how to handle themselves professionally, and they fall out of shape. I don't worry about that with any of our guys based on how hard they've worked. I think there's a challenge with the rookies, because they've only been here five weeks. So they're not in the kind of shape they need to be in to compete in training camp. The good news is, we get some extra time with the rookies. We actually get three weeks with them between now and when training camp starts. We'll find a way to take advantage of that and make sure they're in the kind of shape they need to be in."
Is there a fine balance between embracing that opportunity of an earlier training camp, joint practices and an extra preseason game and making sure you're taking care of everyone, because there is a larger volume of work that you guys are going to have? (Luke Jones) "Absolutely! And trying to make that … More is not always more. We're going to get more because of the time, but too much more would be too much. The ability to space that out a little bit, the fact that we can go hard and recover a little more because we have a little more time to do that, is going to be a plus for us. We would have never done both teams in training camp if we didn't have the extra time. So we don't have to pack quite as much into that time, which I think is a plus for us – especially with a young team and a young quarterback and three new receivers. It should benefit us."
Quarterbacks Coach James Urban
Can you talk about the systems – something that you're trying to install with QB Joe Flacco and the other guys this season? (Katherine Fominykh) "I've been with Marty [Mornhinweg] before, and so I know exactly how we do this thing. Systematically, we install our footwork and the way we read plays and our process of terminology, all of that. That is what I mean by the system. It's just a whole combination of how we play quarterback within Marty Mornhinweg's offense."
What did you see when you watched QB Joe Flacco previously and what have you stressed with him since you got here? (Bo Smolka) "Joe Flacco, to me, has one of the great arms maybe in the history of this league. That's been evident from the beginning. I probably placed a big emphasis on mobility, movement within the pocket, footwork timing. But the ability to push up and slide, find passing lanes, buy time, all of that has been a big emphasis. I'm not sure that is was or wasn't emphasized in the past, but that's where I go pretty quickly."
Were you surprised to see how mobile QB Joe Flacco can be? (Jamison Hensley) "There's not much that Joe surprises me with. I have a very high opinion of him – that's one of the main reasons I'm here. I think Joe's incredibly athletic. I will tell you that he's healthy and that – knock on wood – that's been crucial to us this whole offseason. I think he's done a tremendous job of getting his body into great shape before he started, and he's worked tremendously hard since he's been here. He's not balked at anything we've asked him to do, me in particular. I think he's had a great offseason."
In what ways have you seen QB Lamar Jackson take strides? (Ryan Mink) "Just about every way. Physically, our strength staff has done a tremendous job of bringing him along. It's very, very difficult what we ask those players, those drafted players, especially the quarterbacks. They travel so much post-Combine, and they're involved in so many trips to visit that it's very, very difficult for them to maintain any sort of real NFL-level professional athletic conditioning. They brought him along, so I've seen that. I've seen his ability to talk our language and the verbiage – so that's improved. Then certainly, throwing mechanics have improved. Now everything is a work in progress. We're heading in the right direction. There's much, much to do, but he's done well so far."
How do you think QB Lamar Jackson responded to the increased amount of reps in today's practice? (Childs Walker) "[I'll give] probably a little synopsis of the whole deal: There's some really good plays, very, very encouraging plays, and there's some he'd like to have back. There's been some very good series and some that we'd like to have [back]. But today, I thought he competed like crazy. The two things that I emphasize: compete and complete the ball – those two things. I think he tried very hard to do that today."
QB Robert Griffin III talked yesterday about how it was a competitive yet supportive quarterback room. How would you assess the room? (Childs Walker) "I would agree with that. It starts with Joe [Flacco]. Joe's our starting quarterback, so I think Joe has been great with both Robert and Lamar – new to the room. Josh [Woodrum] has been welcoming. Josh has been very competitive and has done well. Robert has … Shoot, we have two Heisman Trophy winners. Those two formed an instant bond. Robert has been very good. Then Lamar has done it exactly the way you would want a new guy to do it: respectful, asks the right questions, a kind of 'speak when spoken to' kind of thing. I think that's the way you start out, and he's done that very well."
What has been your process to get QB Lamar Jackson up to speed with the play-calling? (Garrett Downing) "It's just teach, re-teach, teach, re-teach and just continue. We get that part down and then you introduce more and you have to re-emphasize that to make sure you have it. Just keep going and going and going with it. He has worked diligently at it, and that is where it starts. I tell him all the time, 'That's my responsibility, and you have to do the job.' Together, we're hooked at the hip to get him up to speed with it."
Was QB Lamar Jackson asking the right questions between drills with all the work he got today? (Jason La Canfora) "Well, this was a 'on to the next one, on to the next one' [practice]. Many times, the way it has been …. Look, we have four legitimate quarterbacks. I've never been around that before. So the reps are competitive and they all can do it. Normally, you get a couple and I have time to say, 'Hey,' or he has time to say [something]. This time was just on to the next one, you know?"
CB Brandon Carr
On how he views the defense right now and if some of the younger players are taking the next step: "As a whole, the defense, we've been very competitive throughout this whole process. Veteran guys taking leadership roles, and the new crop of guys that are coming in have definitely filled in and understand just the significance of playing defense for the Ravens. But what it takes for us to go out there and be successful, they've been locked in, all hands on deck, as far as training, preparing in the classroom and bringing it to the field."
On how he would compare the atmosphere with Don Martindale as the defensive coordinator as opposed to how it was under Dean Pees: "I mean, for us, it's still football. A few things schematically have changed, some terminology has changed, but it was a move that was made within house, so he has the same chemistry with us, the same camaraderie, same relationships. So, we're just excited for another season to get the bad taste of last year out."
On how the depth in the defensive backfield compares historically to other teams he's played for: "It's exciting, just to look back at the young guys, the three-, four-, five-year guys, and everybody can play. Everybody can fill in and go out there and make plays and be successful, so that's definitely encouraging for us. And also, a lot of us elevate our game every day so we can go out there and lead by example, but [it's good] knowing guys behind you can still fill in the gap when needed."
On how valuable it is to have almost the exact same defensive personnel as last year: "Chemistry is big on defense. You can tell this year from last year, just the leaps and bounds in growth that we've taken, as far as communication, as far as just knowing each other without communicating out there on the field. So, it's definitely good for us that we're all together, still gelling in Year Two. We still have some more work to do and a long way to go."
On if they were excited to have CB Jimmy Smith on the field the last few practices: "I was. Jimmy is a good guy; he's a hard worker. An unfortunate situation happened last year, but seeing him out here, he looks pretty good, getting out of his breaks and cuts, and he has a lot of energy with him. So, it's definitely contagious for us."
On what has jumped out at him watching QB Lamar Jackson at practice: "He's smooth, man. If the play breaks down, that's going to be the defense's problem, because he can get out, run a perimeter, he can make plays. He runs effortlessly out there; I guess like a young Michael Vick back in his day. But I'm definitely excited to see him in the preseason to see what he can do."
QB Joe Flacco
On how he is feeling physically during this year's minicamp compared to last year: "I feel good. I don't actively think about that. I always feel pretty good, to be honest with you. But I think the thing that has really been showing up this camp and during these OTAs is just the movement – extending plays and stepping up in the pocket. And not just stepping up in the pocket, but scrambling out and making plays on the run. I think our receivers … We've got a lot of guys that have a really good feel for finding little holes and doing those things. Building that over the last couple of weeks has been a lot of fun, honestly. There have been some plays where we're just playing football, and the movement part of that is really big."
On if he has definite plans to get together to work with his receivers more this offseason: "They're not for sure cemented, but I'm going to be getting in touch with Mike [Crabtree], Willie [Snead IV], 'Smoke' [John Brown]. I thought about doing something really close to right now and minicamp, but with the work that we've put in for the last four weeks, I want to give these guys a quick break before we actually get together. But it's going to have to happen quickly, because I've got to be back here in like, you know, a week. (laughter) No, it's going to be a lot of fun. The good thing with these guys is that they come up to you and say, 'Hey, Flac, you text me, we're out there.' So, we'll be getting together, and it will be good for us."
On what has stood out to him about QB Lamar Jackson: "He's doing a good job of learning, and he does a really good job of hanging in there and having his eyes down the field and finding the open guy. He's gradually getting better at speeding everything up, but he doesn't make mistakes, and he has a knack for finding the guy that is open."
On if he changed his offseason training at all: "No, I always get together with the same guy, and it has been working for a long time, and we do a great job. Obviously, we always cater things to what needs to be done for my body as an individual. Every year, you're coming off of something different. So, obviously, every year I think it is a little bit different, but I wouldn't say it was anything because of [last year's back injury]. I would say it is tough to say it was completely different. I would say it's what I have been doing, but with a new little twist on it, just like always."
On his connection with WR Willie Snead IV and the importance of having a slot receiver: "Yeah, it's big. Especially the last few days, I've really started to get a little connection with him and just some of the routes he has run. Even if we happen to miss it right there, it just shows me … Sometimes I make throws, the ball might get on the guy really quick, and we might not connect with it there, but it puts it in the receiver's mind like, 'Oh man, he's ready to throw it right now.' He kind of did the same thing to me a couple times with routes. It's like he is seeing … He has a knack for seeing the game the way the quarterback does, and he makes his decisions quick, and he gets into open spots quickly. I think that's a wakeup to me when I'm standing back in the pocket, that, man, he's going to be ready and he's going to make the right decisions so I can anticipate and I can be confident to put this ball on him, because he's going to make the right decisions. And I think that's grown leaps and bounds just in this week, in this minicamp."
On when in his career he started to really evaluate new players and how they would fit on the roster: "I think it happens over the course of this four weeks, and then obviously, you grow your relationship in the locker room, too, and talking and doing all those things. Obviously, you have a first impression when a guy shows up. 'Oh man, he's got big hands, he has a real knack for running smooth routes and for giving you awesome indicators for when he's going to make his break.' There are things you get really quickly, and then the more plays you start to run and the ones you start to get good at, you realize what they can really specialize in and how you can use that to your advantage to grow little branches off of those things. I'm confident with where we are right now, especially when you look back at last year and the last couple of years. I just feel like, for whatever reason, we've got guys that are ready to go and confident and have had a really good couple of weeks. I think we can all feel good about it. I think guys have been working hard, and we've had some results, too."
On the new options created by new additions to the team throughout the offseason: "It's a lot of fun. Every year, we sit up here and talk about how exciting it's going to be. Because everybody, from the time we finish – whenever that is, January, February, whenever we finish – there's always a buzz about being excited to get back to football. We're all excited, every year. There is something about being tight in that locker room and having a specific group of guys that have played a good amount of football and really understand what it's about and get along well and can have good communication, whatever that means. And I think we're moving towards that, for sure."
On how he feels about sharing the field with QB Lamar Jackson on certain plays: "It will be interesting to see what we do. I feel like a lot of the stuff we've done out here, it's like the defense knows we're cooking up something as soon as that happens. At this point, it's pretty obvious, but we've talked about that before. If we can use that to our advantage and help us win football games, then we'll see how it goes."
On what it means to have OLB Terrell Suggs on the team: "Terrell is a special player. I feel like he's two years older than me, and somehow, he's been in the league for 20 years. (laughter) It speaks volumes about what type of person he is – what type of player he is. He was able to come in this league when he was 20 years old and have success. He's now 35 years old and he's matured. He's gone through many different things, and the bottom line is that he's a football player. He knows how to keep things together, how to get a group of guys playing well together, and at the end of the day, he knows how to get himself ready to go. He's a special player. I've definitely been lucky to be around a handful of those types of guys. One of them is going into the Hall of Fame in a couple months. I think he probably learned a lot from Ray [Lewis], just as we all did. I think he's doing the same thing for some younger guys now, especially on that side of the ball, but really on our whole team."
QB Lamar Jackson
On getting reps for a good majority of Thursday's practice: "It was pretty cool, trying to get my chemistry down with some of my teammates and most of my receivers. It was a great day today, I felt."
On if he feels that it was his best practice yet: "I don't think I've had my best practice yet. There are still things I can go over. I'm a rookie, still learning, just going day by day. But yeah, I've still got to work."
On if he is feeling more comfortable today than he did a few days ago: "Oh, absolutely. I feel wonderful every day I go out there. It just keeps giving me reps, more repetition. I'm in a room with three other guys who are teaching me along the way, as are my coaches, so it's pretty cool."
On the strength of his relationship with quarterbacks coach James Urban: "Just coming out here on the field after we work and stuff, just going over the plays or going over motions and stuff like that. In the meeting rooms, staying late, 30 minutes extra just to watch film on myself and stuff like that. He helps me out a lot."
On how he feels about some of the creative ways they've tried to involve both he and QB Joe Flacco on some plays: "It's pretty cool. Just to throw the defense off, it's pretty much a good disguise. You've got two quarterbacks who can throw the ball. Joe can run a little bit; I know you guys have seen him out there. It is pretty cool. We've got to hit them where it hurts, so we're going to do our best."
On his relationship with QB Joe Flacco: "It's pretty cool. We just get along. He helps me out a lot, just like the other two guys, and we crack a few jokes. But it's about business right now, and I'm just trying to learn as much as I can. He's a vet, so I'm just trying to learn as much as I can from him."
On the best advice he's received from QB Joe Flacco to this point: "It really isn't advice; it's just going by certain plays and stuff like that [or to] ask him about coverages and stuff, what he would have done, this and that, and him just letting me know. We really just talk about certain stuff, and it's about learning and the process of doing that."
On getting additional reps with WR Willie Snead IV offsite in their neighborhood: "Oh, we're going to try. You know, we have to have chemistry just in case anything happens. We're trying to win games this year, that's all."
On if it's important to develop chemistry away from the training facility: "Absolutely. You know, we're out here together; we grind together. We're a team. That's what it's all about."
On what he is trying to accomplish the month leading into training camp: "A lot of film, a lot of grinding, get a little lift in, keep my body in shape, and just watch film and go over the playbook a lot. That's all." (Reporter: "But mentally, you need to get away too from it?") "[No.] Can't get away. Keep your mind running – keep it fresh."
On how he takes being praised by his veteran teammates as a rookie: "It's really great. Just to come from college, and you're a rookie and have veteran guys look at you like that – it's amazing. A lot of guys aren't getting looked at like that. I appreciate that. It's a good thing, but I just have to keep grinding. It's about work ethic. I have to keep going, trying to bust my behind each and every day for those guys to say stuff like that."
On how much he feels like a young Michael Vick: "Uh, I feel like a young myself. That's all." (laughter)
On the grade he would give himself for the first six weeks: "I don't really grade myself. I don't really want to grade myself. I've been pretty good, though, I'll give you that." (laughter)
On how much more comfortable he feels calling the plays: "That was it right there – just letting guys know each and every play, letting everyone know their assignment and stuff like that. I had to learn that. We'd have a couple words to say in college, but now it's different. You have to let the 'Z' know what he's doing, the 'X' and 'O,' the halfback, the linemen – it was pretty hard at first. I'm still going through the process, but I'm getting better at it."
On his thought process when he hears fan cheering on the field: "[That I'm] trying to score? That's what it's all about – we're trying to win games this year. It's not about the 'ohs' and 'ahs.' That just keeps the fans coming in, but we're just trying to win."
On what keeps him grounded: "I can't really say. The draft process, coming in … Like I said before – and I'm going to keep telling you this until I get it down pat – learning. Just looking at the veteran guys and seeing what they're doing, see what they're dishing out to me, stuff like that. That's all."
On what he was specifically working on with the receivers: "Chemistry, timing our route, which is the same thing, my dropback, and knowing when they're going to be open and are into their route, stuff like that."
On how much more comfortable he feels in the pocket: "I feel a lot more comfortable. I got too comfortable today. Coach [John] Harbaugh was saying, 'Sack!' on certain things. I have to get that ball out of my hands." (laughter)
On if he's ever met Michael Vick: "Oh, yeah. I'm going to try to spend a lot of time with him. I saw him at the draft. I talked with him on the phone and stuff like that. But I have to pick his brain a little bit, definitely."
WR Willie Snead IV
On how he has established a good rapport with QB Joe Flacco so quickly: "I think it comes with a lot of reps, and it comes with communication on certain plays. [It's about] the ones we missed, the ones we connect on, just being able to connect and talk about each and every route, what he sees and what I'm seeing. When we're able to do that – and we have so much time to do that before game time comes – it's just a huge thing."
On if he would like to be the guy that the quarterback relies on when he really needs a completion: "I mean, absolutely. I feel like that's who I was in New Orleans, and as the years have gone on, I've just grown with so much experience. Getting to know Joe [Flacco] and the type of guy he is, he's looking for somebody, he's always looking down the field, and I pride myself on trying to get open and giving myself a big target for him. That's just part of my game, is just try to be quarterback-friendly and just try to be in his mind and see what he's seeing and try to be on the same page with him."
On his perception of the Ravens organization and how that compares to what he thought coming in: "The people around here have just been so welcoming, from the personnel to the coaches to the players, everybody has been very welcoming. You have to appreciate that wherever you go. I know here, practice has been quite different, but it's good, because coach [John] Harbaugh instills in us, 'We're playing football here. We're trying to get better.' And I can appreciate that. Like I said before, everybody has been so welcoming, and I just always appreciate that wherever I go."
On how important it could be for the receivers to get together with QB Joe Flacco before training camp starts: "I think it's huge, just for the timing purposes and knowing your receivers and knowing what type of receiver he is – what makes him tick and just getting to know that person. I know when we were in New Orleans, Drew [Brees], he always wanted to get together for at least a week. When Joe brought that up, I thought that was key, because that type of timing comes up during the season. When you need a big play on third or fourth down and you're looking for a guy, you know exactly what he's going to do, because you put that timing [in]. It was big for us in New Orleans, and I know it will be big for us here. So, when we get together, I know it will be good and it will be very beneficial for us going forward."
On how his perception of QB Joe Flacco has changed from when he saw him from afar to working with him now: "From afar, I knew he had a huge arm. I know when he had great receivers around him, he was able to do some really good things, like lead a team to a Super Bowl. And just getting to know him personally, he's just a very open guy. He's very social, he's willing to get to know his teammates, and I think that's huge for a quarterback – getting to know the new guys, the young guys – and just always open to conversation, being able to adjust on the fly and just trying to get on the same page as a receiver and quarterback standpoint. He's been great. He's been a great teammate so far, and I'm just looking forward to the season and the years to come with him."
On him impressions of how QB Lamar Jackson is coming along: "Lamar is a crazy athlete. I think with the rookies, it's always that timing thing, getting that feel for the game. I know when I was in New Orleans last year, Marshon Lattimore and Alvin Kamara, they didn't look how they looked during the season at that time. Like I told Lamar, 'Look man, once you get it, you're going to get it, and it's just going to come really easy to you.' I'm lucky to live down the street from Lamar, so being able to get that timing and that extra time in, that's going to help him huge, just staying in the playbook, knowing the receivers, knowing the nuances in what the coordinators want from Lamar. I think that's going to be huge, because once he gets it, you're going to see some special things."
On if he has caught passes from QB Lamar Jackson in his back yard: "Not yet. He's a rookie, so he's been through his rookie things right now. I know this summer we'll try to get together – me, him and 'Smoke' [John Brown]; we all live in the same area. So, just having that access to each other is huge, and I'm just looking forward to seeing him develop as a player and a quarterback, and it's going to be something crazy to see."
On if QB Lamar Jackson is the best pure athlete on the roster: "That's a tough question. I could say me, for sure. (laughter) He's an exceptional athlete, just as a quarterback, a threat running the ball. He's like a human joystick out there, and that's just something a lot of athletes don't have coming out of college. So, once he develops into a passing quarterback and he has that ability to run, look out."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On what strikes him the most about the Ravens' offense: "I like it. We are getting some of our guys back, healthy – some of our big, key guys. We added some key weapons. We've got from now until basically opening day for all of us to get on the same page and become a team."
On if the game is still fun for him: "Yes. It's definitely more fun. I'm glad I didn't day 'funner' – you baited me into that. (laughter) But yeah, I still love it. Still my playground – that's where I get to be myself a majority [of the time]. So yeah, the game is still very fun."
On if he ever thought he would play for 16 years: "No, no – not in my first year. You'd be like, 'You'll get at least 16 of these.' I would have been like, 'Wow.' I'm just taking it one at a time. That's all I can pretty much do at this point."
On if his health currently was inspired by his health last year from attending offseason workouts: "Well, yeah. I had a slight, little surgery in the offseason last year on my elbow. I didn't have any nicks or bruises going out of when the season ended last year. We owe a tremendous amount of credit to Mark Smith, our trainer. He did a great job of keeping me healthy. Just working out with our strength and conditioning coach, Steve Saunders, and his whole staff, and keeping our eye on the weight and all of that [has been beneficial]. We really stepped up in those areas. Those guys don't get enough credit. Like I said, Mark Smith – he doesn't get enough credit. He's just one of those behind-the-scenes guys, but he did a really good job last year of keeping me healthy. Going into this year, I wasn't as banged up; I wasn't sore. I was able to just work out. I credit a lot of that to the men in this building."
On if he feels he is in the best shape of his career: "I guess we'll have to see. I feel pretty good." (Reporter: "Coach Don Martindale said you did offseason training in Wakanda?") "Absolutely. We stepped it up. We've been real attentive. As you get older, you have to listen to your body. Like I said, this building, they knew when to push, they knew when it was time to go hard in the offseason and when it was time to back off. Like I said, I'm feeling pretty good."
On if he will ever announce his retirement before his last season: "Nah, I would never do that. I can't say. I don't think I'll ever be able to say that: 'Going in this will be [my last year].' No. But, it will probably just be like one day, and I'll just wake up. I don't think I'll ever not love it. I don't know. I didn't choose this – I was born, and this is what I am. So, I don't know. I'll just take it one at a time. I feel pretty good. We'll see."
On how he keeps his excitement for the game: "Like I said, man, I don't know. I didn't really choose this. I was born, and this is what I am. I really couldn't picture myself doing anything else. We'll get into acting when the day comes – acting, writing, producing, directing, all of that. But right now, they say if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. So I'm pretty much still having fun being a kid."
On if the vibe has changed with a new defensive coordinator: "Oh yeah." (Reporter: "How so?") "I'm not going to tell you, because we also have some other guys who are also listening to this interview. But, most definitely. It's changed a lot. We're happy about it."
On if he has ever considered retiring: "No, because always going into the offseason … Some of them I was coming off of significant injuries or a down year, so to say, and you don't want to end it like that. So I never … Whenever I was hurt or I didn't perform the way I wanted to, that never crossed my mind. It was like, 'Nah, that wasn't a "Sizzle" year.' So when that day does come, it will end on a 'Sizzle' year – a Sizzle-type year."
On if he thinks about contributing to his standout resume: "No. One thing I learned from the Hall of Famers on this team, Ray [Lewis] and in the future, Ed [Reed] and 'J.O.' [Jonathan Ogden], that they never really chase Hall of Fame. There was nothing more important than what they were doing at the moment. I can't practice every practice, or play every play like, 'Oh, I'm trying to get into the Hall of Fame.' No. There's something more important at the moment that I'm doing. Like right now is basically all of us clicking on one cylinder. Whenever that happens – if it happens, God willing – it'll happen. But that's not the No. 1 thing most important in my life right now."
On how much he values the continuity of defensive personnel: "We're going to miss [Lardarius] Webb. Webb is one of those guys that will always go down in Ravens history as a Raven. But we have a lot of young guys that they have the Ravens persona. You never know until the bullets are live and if they can make Ravens plays on Sunday. So we're all looking forward to seeing that and really excited for that. Definitely the continuity – we all have to get used to playing with each other. We have to get 11 guys that at the exact same time see the exact same thing. So that's very important."
On if he would like to extend his contract with the Ravens: "I've always crossed that bridge when it happens. I've never been one to jump into that topic before it was time, so I'm not going to worry about it now. Like I said, there's something more important that's at stake right now – S-T-E-A-K. (laughter) We're just going to focus on that, and we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."