OFFSEASON WORKOUT PODIUM AVAILABILITY
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Steve Saunders
How are things going with the workouts? (Garret Downing) "Workouts are great. Two days, everybody is reasonably good for two days. Guys are high-energy. We have some different faces, guys that haven't done the program before, so it's explaining to new guys, sort of showing them what it means to train like a Raven. That's important. I think our program is different than everybody else out there. The intensity is a little different. The demands are a little bit different, but so far, it's been fantastic. The new guys have been great, and the guys who have been here have been super. They know what to expect."
What would you say is the biggest difference from their rookie year to their second year and third year? What's the progression of their strength and some of their speed as well? (Kyle Andrews) "The great thing is they have a base. What I like to say is, 'You can never make up for lost training time.' Those guys now have a year in the system, so we're not starting from here (points low) maybe when they came in as a rookie. They have a higher base, even if they've been doing a lot or a little in the offseason. So, I'm able to do more with those guys. I'd say the program now is even more advanced than what it was before. I can do more with those guys. They understand it better. It's a great thing. I don't have a teacher's syllabus. This is different from last year. It's different than the year before. It's great just to build on what we did each year."
Relative to a lot of the NFL, you guys were healthy last season. How much of what you guys do in the offseason, during the season, it is preventative in a sense, and how much of it is just guys being in good shape? (Jonas Shaffer) "I never look at it as doing anything preventative. I think we need to have strong, explosive, fast athletes that are structurally balanced, meaning that the workout is sound. Everything transfers to the field. I heard somebody once say they don't want the credit when things go right, and they don't want the blame when things go wrong. Certainly, there is always some luck involved with injuries, but I think our guys prepare and train really hard, probably harder than anybody, so I think it's definitely a positive factor. We just want to keep building on that each season."
You were really close with S Eric Weddle. Obviously, he was a leader in the weight room. Who do you think is going to take on that role of being one of those guys in there? (Garrett Downing) "We have a bunch of guys who are ready to step up. Tony Jefferson has been groomed by Eric for the past two years, so to speak, in that leadership role. Tony is anxious to jump in there and sort of take the reins. There are some young guys that want to be a part of that as well, so I don't think we lack for leadership at all, which is a great thing. We have a lot of guys who know what the expectations are, that know what the Ravens expect, know what our coaches expect. So, as much as we'll miss Eric on a personal level, I think we have a lot of guys who are ready to step up and take the reins."
What are your goals for QB Lamar Jackson's body composition this offseason and his training? (Ryan Mink) "Lamar is such a freak athlete. We did some good things with him last year, but I really think Lamar is ready to take the next step as a pro and train a little harder and start working out those little things – that five percent with an elite athlete that makes a big difference, even in a guy like that who is already a genetic freak. I just got done beating Lamar up 15 minutes ago, and what a great workout. What a great attitude, and just, 'Give me more. Give me more.' It was awesome. It was awesome, so much better than even last year. I just got done talking to coach [John] Harbaugh about it. It was just really exciting to see a guy like that from, let's say, a position group that's historically not really into training, necessarily, and see a guy like that embrace it this early."
How much do you emphasize technique when you're doing stuff? Guys get competitive and start compensating and doing things differently. Do you really work on the techniques a lot? (Stan White) "We do. To me, there's coaching and there's cuing. Cuing is, 'Are they feeling the exercise where I want them to feel it?' And athletes are great cheaters, so it's easy to compensate and say, 'All right, I know I'm supposed to do this movement. What's the easiest way to accomplish that movement?' My job is to say, 'Well no, that's just not the movement. The movement is for this muscle group, and it's supposed to support this structure,' and get them to feel it and strengthen where I want them to. I don't think our guys get really competitive with the lifting because of the tempos, the way we do it, and we don't keep any weight charts. I don't give a hoot about anybody's max. So, it's really about, 'OK, what do we need to get better at, where?' Again, it transfers to the field and it helps them get ready. I think a lot of our time, the guys are lifting heavy, they're lifting hard, but are they really getting it where they're supposed to? That's important."
How much progress has T Orlando Brown Jr. made since last year? (Mike Preston) "Two days in, again, I haven't seen him a whole lot yet, but Orlando has a base. Orlando came in here really raw, and he's just a big guy. I think Orlando's strength gains that he made last offseason, and really the whole way through the season, it was just a week-to-week jump. I couldn't be more excited to have Orlando here for the whole offseason. And again, just like Lamar [Jackson] in his second year, some of these other guys, you really see the jump that he makes, because Orlando is another guy – he's just a freak. If we had a Ravens X-Men, he'd be in it. He's just a mutant. It's awesome." (laughter)
RB Mark Ingram II spoke to your training and really liked that it was very specific to movements he's going to make on the field. That evolution over time, to get away from traditional movements and make it very specific to football movements, can you talk about that process of getting to his point? (Pete Gilbert) "I don't even know if I try to make it football-specific as much as individual-specific. So, with a guy like Lamar, Lamar was doing some decline step-ups, where I make him start from a dead stop, and he has to stabilize muscles around his knee and then contract them, because a guy like him, every time he plants his knee and pushes off, that's a heavy centric where that muscle has to load, and he has to get out of that position. So, for a guy like him, he can be just a naturally-gifted athlete, but he can even be better at changing direction, doing the stuff that he does. Mark has been a trooper the past two days. He's been awesome, because he gets, 'OK, this is what the guys were telling me. This is the real deal here.' But now, he gets the 'why' after he gets to experience it. It's great. I love to see Mark's attitude the past two days, because again, sometimes running backs can be like, 'Oh, gosh!' But he's been great."
I think we're all just impressed annually by how well G Marshal Yanda is able to hang in there for how long he's been doing it. What sticks out to you about his strength, his physicality, his base, things like that? (Jonas Shaffer) "It's his work ethic as much as anything. That guy comes to work. He takes care of himself. He understands it as a vet, and he never lets himself get out of shape. So again, when we talk about building a base, and it just increases year after year, Marshal has, I don't know, 13, 12 [years], whatever it is, of those under his belt already. So, as long as he avoids that freak happenstance, he's just getting better and better. I think guys early-to-mid 30s are just reaching their peak, as long as they didn't have that freak injury where something happens to the joint. I tell the guys all the time, if you were in the mob and I owed you money, and you said, 'I'm going to break your femur or blow out your knee, take your pick,' I'd say break my bone. Break my femur, because bones heal. Joints are never the same. So, a lot of the way we train, we train for joint perseverance, how we're going to get the muscle strong without just loading the joints. That's really important, especially with the aging guys like Marshal and those guys."
T Orlando Brown Jr.
On what has been his focus for this offseason: "For me, it's just all about – like it's always been – just re-shaping my body as much as possible, making sure that I'm as fit as possible, that I'm able to play lower this year, get stronger and be more consistent."
On if it is challenging for him to stay in shape when he doesn't have the structure of the team environment: "I'm a self-motivated player, and I think that's one thing they understood when taking me. I'm going to do my best to make sure I continuously get better throughout my career."
On how much fun it is offensively to jump into the new system being built: "A lot of fun. That's one of the good things about football is for me personally, it doesn't get boring – whether that's as a new player you're learning, or a new scheme or whatever it may be. That's a challenge that I enjoy taking on. So far, it's been fun – it's only Day Two – but for the most part, not much has changed."
On how different it feels this year with QB Lamar Jackson etched in as the starter: "Not really. I think for the most part, we all understand he's QB1, and we're kind of riding behind him. As individuals, we just have to do our part to make sure that we put the team in the best position."
On how he has re-shaped his body: "For me, it's just really been a focus. I haven't done my Bod Pod or anything yet; I think I'll do that here this week. Like I said, it's been a journey, and it's been a lot of work. I'll know probably after tomorrow or Thursday."
On if the difference between last year and this year has been substantial: "Just as far as understanding what the process is in the offseason? Yeah, going into my second year I have a pretty good understanding of what they expect from me, and what I expect coming in here every day. It's pretty much, like you said, night and day."
On what the biggest difference was this offseason, in terms of being able to work out: "I pretty much worked at my college facility, so not much changed there." (Reporter: "You worked out at Oklahoma?") "At OU, yes."
On his thoughts about all of the attention on his former teammate QB Kyler Murray: "In my opinion, he is a first-round pick, so hopefully he's the No. 1-overall pick. He's been somebody that I'm very happy to be a part of his life, and he's worked very hard to get into the position that he's in. He's done it on every level, he's won on every level, and I know a lot of teams see a certain type of guy and don't know if their mold will fit. Man, he's going to change the NFL – just like Lamar [Jackson] will, just like Kyler will, and hopefully some of these future quarterbacks."
On if he sees any differences in QB Lamar Jackson entering 2019: "Yes, I think he has more of an understanding of the offense for sure. His swag is a lot different, because he knows he's QB1, and it's a situation where his confidence and his humbleness is there at the same time. We're looking forward to getting out there on the field."
On how QB Lamar Jackson's swag is different: "He's Lamar – he's outgoing, he's got a very positive personality about everything – but I feel like this year, you can just kind of tell that he knows what to expect going into the day, and he knows what to expect once we hit the field."
On speculation that his former Oklahoma teammate Cody Ford could land with the Ravens in the draft, and what Ford brings as a player: "Physicality, man. He's a dominant football player. That showed up on film whenever he was in there, especially this past season. He's very smart, and for him, his game is a lot about mentality. That's something we need, especially if we're going to be running the ball like we did at the end of the year last year. So, he's somebody that would be able to come in and help us out a bunch, as far as up front."
On what it meant to him to see G Marshal Yanda get a contract extension: "I was very happy – very happy. He is somebody on this team that, especially this organization, has been very positive for the franchise overall. He's done a lot for the community, the team, and I get to play next to him. I was very happy and very excited that I get another year with him, at least."
On if he likes that a lot of focus is on other teams in the division and if that can be used as motivation: "Yeah, for me personally, honestly, I couldn't care less. I hope 'Bake' [Baker Mayfield] has a great season, just because that's family – except for two games out of the year. But other than that, it doesn't affect me much. It's all about us and us continuing to get better week to week, once we get to that point."
On how excited he is about the offensive line and if it is a goal to be the best running team in football: "We definitely want to be the best offensive line in the world. I think our vision up front is to be great, and it's going to take work, it's going to take time. Fortunately, the urgency is there, but we still do have some time to continuously get better. Once we get out on the field, training camp starts, we get Marshal [Yanda] back and all those things, we'll hit the ground running. I'm pretty confident in it."
RB Mark Ingram II
On the Ravens' strength and conditioning program: "It's been really nice. The last two days, we've gotten in some great work. I feel like everything that we've been doing translates well to the field, so that's something I'm a big fan of, and something that I've been happy to see so far in my first two days. So, I've really enjoyed it. We've been having some great workouts, some good agility, some good conditioning and some good strength in the weight room, so it's been really good so far."
On his impressions of the atmosphere at the facility: "Just the entire organization is family-oriented, and you can just get that vibe from meeting the guys that I've never [met]. I haven't been here except for a couple days, and it feels like home. It feels like family. You can tell that it's a family atmosphere and that it's a close-knit locker room. So, that's very key when you want to have a successful team, and when you care about your brothers and you care about the people in the building, you never want to let them down. I think that's very important when it comes to building a championship team."
On the key to building chemistry with QB Lamar Jackson, especially with the read option: "I think it's just repetition and just having that trust in each other. I'm new to kind of an option-read offense, too. I had a traditional, Hall of Fame dropback passer [in Drew Brees], so it will be new to me, too. But, I think it's just repetition and just developing a camaraderie and a relationship where we trust each other, and that goes for everybody."
On his impressions of QB Lamar Jackson: "He's really mature. He's really mature, and his mind is definitely in the right places. He wants to get here early, get in the film room, study. He's a hard worker, and he's just a good dude. He's fun to be around. He's one of the guys. That's very refreshing to be able to see that from him – that he's young, but he still is mature. He's mature, has his mind right, wants to study film, wants to be the best quarterback he can be and the best player he can be. So, I think the sky is the limit for him."
On if he experienced read-option plays with Saints QB Taysom Hill: "Yes, when we ran it with Taysom, we had some read-option looks. It really wasn't a staple of what we did, but it was kind of one of our Joker cards that we threw out there every now and then. We had some good success with it last year, so I had a small taste."
On if the rhythm of read-option plays are something to get used to: "Yes, timing is everything. You have to obviously let … If it's just a run, a called run, you can kind of be a little faster. But when it's a read, when the quarterback has to read, you never know where the snap might be, so you can't be too early. You can't get up on him too fast. It's just all feel. It's all timing, and I think just with reps and having successes and having failures, that's what makes it perfect. That's what makes it work well."
On if he imparts on QB Lamar Jackson anything he learned from QB Drew Brees: "Lamar is his own guy. Lamar is his own guy, his own player. He's a completely different player, a completely different person than Drew is, but at the same time, I told him, 'I've learned for eight years from a guy who did it the right way, so if you ever have any questions, or if you need to know anything about how I saw him prepare in practice, post-practice, throughout the week, whatever it may be, I'm just an open book for Lamar and any of my teammates. That's pretty much it. I'm here. I'm an open book to any of my teammates. I'm trying to learn. I'm a sponge, too. I'm trying to learn, trying to take in all the knowledge I can, and just be the best I can be and bring the most I can to this organization." (Reporter: "Has Lamar asked about that yet?") "We were on the same flight here, and we talked a little bit, so that was good."
On if he sees himself as a leader on offense: "I don't feel like that. I feel like that's something that's earned. I feel like that's something that is designated by your teammates and your peers and your coaches. I don't feel entitled to be a leader or to be anything like that. I just try to always be me: lead by example, work my butt off, be personable with my teammates, hang out with my teammates, get along with my coaches, all the staff, and just be the best person I can be. I just try to be me. I don't try to switch it up or anything. When people say I was a leader or I was a good teammate, it was all stuff that people had said about me, not stuff that I had said about myself. So, I just try to be myself and I just try to earn people's respect and love."
On his relationship with WR Willie Snead IV: "That was really smooth, and it was comfortable for me. He's picked me up from the hotel two days in a row coming to work, so that's cool. (laughter) I'm close with 'T-Jeff' [Tony Jefferson], too. I've known him for many years, so those two guys [are great], especially. I've played against Earl [Thomas] for many, many years, since the National Championship when we were in college in 2009. Those are three guys that I felt really comfortable coming to a new place. Willie, my family is close with his family. Our children have always played, my daughters played with his daughters. I know 'T-Jeff,' his family, his son, and Earl, I know his family, his kids, too. So, when you have familiar faces, that always makes a new transition comfortable."
On replay for pass-interference calls: "It doesn't help us – I mean, help the former 'us.' (laughter) It's over with now, and I feel like 'P.I.' calls can be nit-picky. Why would you review it? It can be called either way. That particular moment, we can't get – the former 'we' can't get that back. The damage was done, so I don't really care about the replay, but as long as it's fair and it benefits 'us' now, I'm fine with it, I guess."
QB Lamar Jackson
On his offseason and coming back to Baltimore: "It's been going great the last few months. I had a long rookie season, started from declaring [for the draft] and so on. It's great to be back. We have new faces around here and the rookie class. We're just building from there. Yes, it's been great."
On his offseason workouts: "It's been fun. The two days I've been here, it's been great. Mr. Steve [Saunders, head strength and conditioning coach] and the rest of the workout guys have been putting in work with us, and our guys have been getting after it, so it's been pretty cool." (Reporter: "What about before that? The extra workouts?") "Throwing and stuff like that? It's been cool. I'm just trying to get my timing down, trying to be the best quarterback I can be. It's been pretty good."
On points of emphasis with his offseason work: "Keeping a wide base, throwing outbreaking routes, just trying to be spot-on with my accuracy, trying to work on each and every attribute I can."
On knowing that the Ravens are building the offense around him: "We're just trying to build – work hard, going over the playbook so far, watching film, trying to get better each and every day before OTAs come. Just trying to build right now, so I don't really know."
On the specifics of his offseason training and if he worked with his personal quarterback coach: "Yes, I did, coach Joshua Harris. Then I had my guy 'J-Las' [Jordan Lasley] come down, and I worked with Jaylen Smith. It was great."
On if he spoke to the Ravens about drafting Louisville WR Jaylen Smith: "No, I haven't, but we just need a guy that will be the best Raven – whoever we draft – that he can be."
On if he feels more at ease without the draft preparation of last season: (sigh of relief, laughter) "Yes, it was so exhausting going through the process, having to fly different places, have to be up at certain times. I just needed a break, I guess. Now, I'm very comfortable."
On how much better he can be in his second year with the time to work in the offseason: "Now, I don't feel like I'm the best I can be right now. I'll have to see when the season comes. Still working."
On spending the offseason running the offense designed around him: "I just have to keep grinding, grind it out, try to get my chemistry down with all my guys, work with the backs, work with the receivers, tight ends, just trying to build right now."
On if he feels more responsibility to be a leader: "Definitely. Coming in, knowing that we have to step it up a lot … We have a lot of leaders around here. You're just going to go forward."
On if his mistakes from last season were due to fundamentals: "Definitely, it had a lot to do with it. I would probably get lazy, try to make things happen with just my arm, not following through with my leg, and it showed a lot. I would throw an inaccurate ball, so yes, definitely."
On the key to improving his accuracy: "Watching film had to do a lot with my mechanics." (Reporter: "There would be times you would change arm angles and do different stuff…") "Trying to get the ball out, trying to get my boys in motion to score a touchdown."
On how much he feels he has improved so far in the offseason: "I feel like I was throwing a lot better this offseason, but we'll have to see when OTAs get here."
On if he talks to RB Mark Ingram about his experience over his career: "I ask him things about Drew [Brees], because Drew is a great quarterback. He came from Drew, and just trying to see his basis and his pass patterns, because he's always accurate with the ball that I've seen … I just ask him little things like that, and when we get out there and we're grinding it out, I'm going to still ask him on the field and much more."
On what he did to take a break after the season: "Relaxed." (Reporter: "How long did you relax for?") "Probably just a little of January, then I got back at it."
On rebuilding the offense: "It just means I have to work. I have to learn a new system. I have to rebuild myself as well."
On offensive coordinator Greg Roman: "He's a great coach. 'G-Ro,' he's a great coach. I had fun with him last year. He would come in, talk to us about the run game, stuff like that. Since we've been here, he's been talking to us about a little different throwing patterns and different pass routes we have. So. it's going to be great this season."
On how he goes about stepping up as a leader: "Just being mature, playing my part, talking to my guys, trying to have a positive attitude each and every day."
On*how he's hoping to grow physically:* "Bigger, stronger, faster, everything."
On what he hopes the Ravens do in the 2019 NFL Draft: "Whoever they bring in, it doesn't really matter – just a guy that's going to be a great Raven. It's up to Ozzie [Newsome] and them. It's up to them. They've brought in great guys like us, and I'm just looking forward to it."
On if he can get faster: "Yes, we've been conditioning the past two days, so I think so. I think so."
On if he has put on any weight to get stronger: "No, I've just been lifting, doing dumbbells. That's it so far."
On his highlights and frustrations from last season: "I wouldn't say I was really frustrated last season. I just was proud of the success we had as a unit, not just individually. We were AFC North champs. That was a great achievement for our team, and we're just going to try to build this year."
On what WR Jordan Lasley can contribute to the team: "'J-Las' [Lasley] brings a lot to the game. Just his route running, his speed, he's an all-around great receiver. We have other guys who are going to do their part, so we're going to have to see."
On losing defensive leaders to free agency in the offseason: "Great guys, but we still have guys here. We also brought in a guy, great guy, Earl Thomas, a vet, great vet. We have Tony Jefferson here, Brandon Williams, 'Peanut' [Patrick Onwuasor]. We have great guys already, so we're just going from there."
On his impressions of S Earl Thomas: "He's a vet. You know he's a vet. His approach … He asked me – before I even got his number – he contacted me on Instagram. He tried to chop it up with me, talk to me and stuff like that. He's all about the game, definitely."
On his offseason training routine: "Monday through Friday, weekends [were a] break, and just go from there."
On his interactions with RB Le'Veon Bell on social media around free agency: "I wasn't really paying it any mind. It was up to him. It was his decision. If we would have gotten him, so be it, but we have Mark [Ingram II] who came in, [and we're] just going to go from there."
S Tony Jefferson
Opening statement: "Hello, everybody. Jefferson checking in, Year 7. Glad to be back in the building with all my teammates and coaches and staff – looking forward to a great year with our new additions and the same people, obviously, who came back."
On if it feels different without former Ravens leaders on defense: "Definitely. You walk in Day One – I can look back in 2017 when I walked in Day One, and I see all those faces – and then you walk in Day One in 2019, and they aren't there. It's obviously something you definitely can't not notice. So, those guys are big, big talents in the NFL, and what they've done here in the organization, I don't think you can really speak for it. Words can't really describe what they mean to everybody in this building, but that's how the business works. Like I said, it's Year 7. I've seen it all. And, it may not have been how we wanted it to roll, but we have to roll either way. I have to be a leader back there, and with the new additions, we have some veteran leadership coming in as well to help with that."
On how to replace departed leadership: "The great part about that is that we learned from them. We had a bunch of guys – 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] had, what was it, 16 years here? That's a lot of years in one organization. You got to learn from him. C.J. [Mosley], Eric Weddle, I don't think you can say there's a replacement, but you just have to take what you learned from them and put it into the new defense and into the new team that's here and go from there."
On why he feels the Ravens are the team to beat in the AFC North, even with the roster changes: "We are who we are. We're the Ravens, and we're always going to be resilient. We're going to be tough, physical. [We] kind of just want to block out that noise. There's been a lot of talk going on, but that's really for the media to take hold on that. We know, in this building, it's all about us, and we're working on getting better each and every week – whether it's a workout, whether it's being in meetings, anything of that sort, we're fully confident, we're loaded, and we expect to be the best in the NFL."
On if the attention on the Browns will serve as motivation: "Not really. I think the mindset here is, we're worried about us. What's going on outside this building honestly doesn't really matter. Obviously, the Browns have made great additions. You can't really shy away from that. They've got great players over there, and they improved from the years before last year. So, we just have to take it how it is. We are who we are, like I said, and we're not backing down from anybody. We're not going to praise anybody else. We're worried about what's going on in this building."
On how S Earl Thomas' skillset can impact and benefit his own game: "I'm not sure how that goes. I know he's a very good football player. I've gotten to see him a lot, being in Arizona, but I think he's going to effectively help the defense as a whole, not just me. When you get a player like that, and what he's done, and even looking at his games in the past year before he got hurt, I think he had three picks in one game. He's a playmaker and a ballhawk, and I believe that's why he's here. And, I believe that's why he got what he got to come here, because this defense is about guys who make plays and having that playmaking ability. And, I think he's going to help us out tremendously as a whole."
On his impressions of S Earl Thomas as a teammate: "Awesome. We've been working out. I got a chance to work out with him before we had the voluntary team workouts, one-on-one sessions, and I can tell you, he's a really serious guy. He also has a lighter side to him, too. I'm starting to get to know him a little better. He did go to the University of Texas, so we have that rivalry already. But at the same time, I believe he's a perfect fit for us. He'll be wearing 29. Thank you, Marlon [Humphrey], I guess, for that. (laughter) It's an exciting time to be a Raven."
On if he has noticed anything different from QB Lamar Jackson: "Yes, I think if you look at any player, if you were to study how they walk into the building as a rookie, and then how they walk into the building as a second-year player, you'll see a huge difference. I know it was for me, and I know it was for a lot of the players, the rookies, last year. Lamar is our quarterback. It's his team. We're following his lead. We know how big of a leader he can be, and how special he can be on the football field. We're dependent on him, and we know he's putting in the work that's needed. I've seen it a couple times on Instagram, seen him out there in Florida. It may not be the best fields he's practicing on. I question that. (laughter) But, he's working. He's putting in the work, and that's the type of guy he is. He's a Raven, so we have to back him."
ILB Patrick Onwuasor
On the feeling in the defensive meeting room without some of the Ravens' former leaders: "Yes, it's a really different vibe, me looking to my right, seeing 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs], looking to my left, seeing C.J. [Mosley], looking across, seeing 'E-Dub' [Eric Weddle]. It's kind of weird, just that vibe, but Tony [Jefferson] and the other guys, and Earl [Thomas], are doing a great job of picking up where they left off, just leading us and kind of guiding the young guys to be leaders, too. That way we can all build one team and come together."
On what made the difference for him in the jump from Year 2 to Year 3, and the responsibility he has after the departure of ILB C.J. Mosley to make another jump: "I think it will probably be my confidence. I think that's one thing that 'Wink' [Don Martindale] kind of tried to beat me up about was, 'You have to have confidence when you step on that field.' I think as the time progressed with me and 'Wink,' I always felt more confident in myself every year going into it, just him trusting me and just having that open conversation with C.J., like 'You can do it. I've seen you do it before.' So, just confidence, I think, leading into next year would probably be great."
On what he thought when ILB C.J. Mosley signed with the Jets: "I found out just like you all did. I know it's always a business, so it kind of hurt a little bit. He reached out to us and let us know how much he cared about us, how much he loved us. I'm still going to text him. I still do text him. Any question I have, he's a phone call away. Nothing is really going to change."
On if he thought about his taking on more responsibility when he learned of ILB C.J. Mosley's departure: "I didn't really think of it as, 'More is on me.' We still have Kenny [Young] and Chris [Board]. I think we do a great job of rotating. We've been practicing that, helping each other out, because we're still on special teams. So, when we're on special teams, I might need a blow, because I just ran down 40 yards, so Kenny will come in. We just help each other out. We got in that good rhythm of helping each other out. I think it might be the same thing this year – just keep playing with each other and helping each other out."
On moving to middle linebacker from weakside linebacker: "I think I'd probably feel a little bit more comfortable going into this year working it more. I think last year, I didn't work it as much, but 'Wink' [Don Martindale] is doing a great job of when I first came in, he always made sure we tried to learn both. So me trying to learn both and get an understanding for both, I think, will help me a lot more this year. Like I said, I always could call C.J. [Mosley] and ask him anything, and 'Wink,' [linebackers] coach Mike [Macdonald] and Zach [Orr, player personnel and coaching administrative assistant] and those guys, too."
On if he is comfortable wearing the headset at middle linebacker: "Yes, I'm really comfortable wearing the headset. I wore it in practice. Just listening to 'Wink' [Don Martindale] relay the calls … C.J. [Mosley] wasn't the only one talking. You have 11 guys on the field. Eleven guys are talking. When that play comes in, we're all communicating. That's one of the big things we have with our defense is that we talk a lot. I have 'T.J.' [Tony Jefferson] behind me, letting me know what have to do, and I tell the D-Line what they have to do, so we all communicate."
On the biggest lesson he learned from ILB C.J. Mosley: "His leadership. I think that's one thing I have to start learning how to build is leadership. I met with Earl [Thomas]. Tony [Jefferson] brought Earl around, and that was the first thing Earl said, was 'We're going to work on your leadership,' and that's something that I kind of shy away from, too. I'm kind of soft-spoken. I like staying away a bit. I think if I start working on my leadership, it would probably be great for us."
On S Earl Thomas stepping into a leadership role: "Yes, I'm seeing that a lot, yes."
On the significance of signing a tender with the Ravens, and if he wants to discuss a contract extension: "I think the contract means a lot to me, just with the organization showing how much they believe in me. But with the extension, I'm just focused on this year, and I'm just going to let that play out how it plays out."
On if he prepared himself for the defensive personnel losses: "That was the first thing 'Wink' [Don Martindale] always told us. He was like, 'Every year, the room is going to change.' But, to be honest, I didn't really think it was going to change that much, especially with 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] being here and just all the goals that C.J. [Mosley] accomplished. But, you learn as you go. It's a business at the end of the day, so it's a lot of moving pieces. I think the Ravens did a great job to try to fill in those pieces and bring people here to help us progress."
On when S Earl Thomas said he wanted Onwuasor to work on his leadership: "It was probably two weeks before we started up. 'T.J.' [Tony Jefferson] brought him around. We kind of sat down and talked a little bit, and I think he was like, 'We have to work on your leadership and you opening up,' because I really don't open up to a lot of the guys. When I'm on the field, I'm a whole different type of breed, but in the locker room, I'm kind of a quiet type of dude, so I think that's what he wants. He wants me to open up a little bit more." (Reporter: "How did he know that? Did someone tell him?") "I think somebody probably told him, yes."