Defensive Coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale
Opening statement: "How are we doing? Nice, spirited practice today. You saw we had a lot of fun out there. For a second, I thought it was a baseball game after seeing guys get ejected, but that's all a part of being where we are in training camp. I was a little disappointed today with our situational awareness and the situation that we had, and it was we didn't tell them what the situation going in was, because we wanted to see how they reacted to it. I think that's part of the youth and inexperience of guys that we had out there, and what a great teaching experience that was today.
"As far as the competitions are going, just a brief overview, I think Chris Board is ahead of Kenny Young, but I still think Kenny Young… It's still a battle. We'll see when we get into the preseason games of how well both those two do, but they're both coming along really well. Our pass rush, which is what everybody wants to talk about, I think that when we get into the games, the actual preseason games, you'll have better questions, and I'll have better answers for you on the pass rushers. But I love the way we're competing. I love how fast we are. Obviously, it was nice to see Earl [Thomas III] make some plays earlier in the week. You can see he's starting to get his legs. He's still not 100 percent yet back from where he was at, but he's playing really well, and he's playing fast. With that, I'll open it up to questions. Or did I answer them all already?" (laughter)
You talk about the situations. Are you talking about hard counts they weren't expecting? (Bo Smolka) "Yes, it's that situation of the game, a fourth-and-2 where it's really risky for the offense to go for it, and yet they'll hurry to the line, give us checks and shifts. You've seen people do it before. It's those situations, which 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] does such a great job of putting us in those situations throughout training camp. With that one, with that situation, I didn't want to cover that situation. I wanted to see how we would react to it, to use it as a teaching experience. We as a staff decided, 'Hey, let's just go and then once they get into their 'no-pow,' which is a no-play, see how they react to that, and you saw what happened."
What do you say to your players this afternoon? (Jamison Hensley) "Now, we sit down and talk about the situation. That's why we wanted to use it as a learning experience. We always talk about – and I said it last year – the series of events of things that happen. How are you going to handle what's going to happen? For example, the new pass interference calls. Once again, I'll sit up here and say it: Roger Goodell and the NFL doesn't care if I think it's pass interference or not. So, for me to sit there and go off instead of thinking about the next call, I'm doing a disservice to Baltimore and to our defense and to John [Harbaugh]. We have to play the next play, and sometimes it takes things like today for people to understand that and go from there."
Is there any lingering effect of getting thrown out of practice? (Kirk McEwen) "No, no. It's competitive. We go in that room; we're all together. There are no lingering effects, no."
Last time, when you were up here on Day Four, you wanted 10 good practices out of your players. Now, at Day Eight, have they given it their all so far? (Kyle Barber) "Yes, and that's why I went ahead a little bit and talked about some of the competitions. I like our speed. We need to clean up pressures, we need to clean up disguises, we need to clean up some open field tackling, things of that nature, which probably every coordinator says when they're standing up here at this time of year."
You guys have a long history of picking up undrafted free agents on the defensive side of the ball. Has DT Gerald Willis or any other person caught your eye thus far? (Kyle Barber) "Yes, they're doing a nice job. That's the exciting part about preseason is seeing those guys in the actual games. Then, you really see it, because everybody gets caught into going against the same guy all the time and everything else, but when we get these teams that are coming to practice … We'll have better answers to your questions after Jacksonville comes in, after we go to Philly, things of that nature. And then, obviously, like I said, the games."
You mentioned LB Chris Board and his growth the last few months. Where has he grown as a player? (Cliff Brown) "I think the biggest thing is when he was in college, he was out of the box so much, and in college, they used three linebackers and they'll play some nickel defense, so he walked out actually playing nickel. Where he has improved the most is just his instincts inside the box and knowing the defense. Everything is faster. I say everything is faster in our league, but it takes a year for it to slow down, especially for the rookies."
When S Earl Thomas III was up here the other day, he was talking about the process of getting chemistry with his teammates and the rest of the secondary. How do you see that coming? (Ken Weinman) "I think it's coming along really well; I really do. I think it's coming along really well, and every day it gets better."
With OLB Pernell McPhee, head coach John Harbaugh was talking about him after the stadium practice, and owner Steve Bisciotti saying, "Wow, he has some juice." There are people talking about his age, but he has some juice. (Ryan Mink) "Yes, he's just one of our pillars. Like I said before, he's the old-school Raven that we need. He's doing everything we've asked, plus more." (Reporter: 'How valuable is his mentorship to players like Jaylon Ferguson?") "Oh, it's unbelievable. It's unbelievable [for] Jaylon, Timmy Williams, all those edge rushers. It's been unbelievable. It's a really good question, and I want to point that out, too, because he hasn't lost a step since he left, to me, in my eyes."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Opening Statement: "Thanks for coming out. Another great day of work. Those three days back-to-back-to-back were as good as any I've ever been around as far as quality work in training camp. I have to commend the guys for their hard work and attitude. It's upon us to learn from everything, every opportunity we get in each practice, and put it in the bank. Put it in the drawer, shut the drawer, learn from it, and move on to the next day. That's what training camp is all about. The guys are working extremely hard. At this point, we're getting into a lot of situational work, a lot of things that might be offshoots of some of the things we do. We're piling a ton of information on these guys. This is traditionally the time when the guys really have to buckle down, and when they get back to the hotel, review, or it'll start running together on them. Any questions?"
Who has surprised you so far? (Jimmy Searls) "The entire group is really working hard. I'm seeing a lot out of our rookies. What am I seeing that excites me the most? I think their ability to come in and learn from what they just experienced. That's the key to progressing in the NFL. Technique things, understanding … Our defense does such an amazing job of presenting problems for us, and it's amazing going against them every day. The problems they present [to us are] not only personnel and speed, but scheme as well. So, heads are spinning at times, young guys, but it's a great opportunity for them to come in, look at it, reflect on it, and that's when we want to see how they handle it the next day."
Once the Jaguars arrive, how do you look at the scenario? (Jerry Coleman) "There's no question, you're hitting on it. Here we are, I just described where we're at. Now, the next step is, after a big practice tomorrow, now we're going against another team. Totally different scheme, so that requires guys to prepare for that, to study them and see how they align, what coverages they play. What are their tendencies? Who are their personnel? And really dive into that process as well. We're going to get very fundamental in those three days of practice, very basic, in order to see who can go get open versus tight coverage, who can block a guy one-on-one. Not that we're not doing it here, but that really becomes the focus there. It really becomes a great opportunity to develop, but also evaluate."
Is that also because you don't want to show the Jaguars anything? (Ryan Mink) "You had to ask that, didn't you? (laughter) That's probably a little bit [of a] part of it. We'll do some stuff; we'll throw a little bit of stuff out there. The intent of it, really, is to get great, quality, fundamental work, and that's the foundation of any offense."
How pleased have you been with QB Lamar Jackson's progress? Is he progressing at the pace that you want? (Ryan Mink) "He's right where we would hope he would be, and that's in a good spot. It's day-to-day. Today, we have to go back in and look and see what we can do better, see what we can learn from, come out tomorrow and take another step forward. That's what he's doing. Whether it's walk-throughs, meetings, practice, you're really seeing him take the reins of the offense. It's exciting."
You've rewritten the playbook around QB Lamar Jackson's talent. You did similar things with QB Colin Kaepernick and QB Tyrod Taylor. Where is the ceiling for Jackson? (Tyler Tynes) "His ceiling is extremely high. To go back to your first point, this scheme was really put together by all of us coaches on offense based on what we saw from him last year. We're constantly modifying it right now. Once we get through these first nine days, we'll be able to start working on some stuff that we think might fit us even better. And that will be ongoing. It's definitely designed to let him do everything, and then see what sticks. We're getting done with the process of throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks. That's when you really have to go back and narrow things and titrate things down to where you want them to be. I hope that answers your question."
How important is the depth of the running backs and tight ends in the offense you want to establish? (Cliff Brown) "In this league, you have to be able to run it and throw it effectively. Our tight ends, each one is unique. They all have a different skillset. Each guy has things they need to work on to balance themselves out as players. So, they're going to be very big in what we do, running and passing. Running backs as well – we saw today, we have multiple running backs on the field at times, putting guys in different spots and whatnot. It's going to be exciting. Running backs and tight ends are very similar in that regard. Each one is very unique. We're going to try to tailor what kind of runs we might run with certain guys, and some guys we can split out and get out into the passing game. We probably use those positions as much as anybody, if not more."
What have you seen from RB Kenneth Dixon? Do you feel like he's put himself in a good position? (Jeff Zrebiec) "So far, so good. I like what I see. I feel like he came into camp in really good shape. Every day is a great opportunity for him. I really like what I'm seeing in Kenneth. He has a lot of talent. We just have to stay in that process of getting better every day. So far, I've been impressed."
We've talked about T Ronnie Stanley, where have you seen his growth and what do you think might be the ceiling for him? (Jamison Hensley) "I have very high expectations for Ronnie this season. I think he has a very high ceiling as a player. He came into this league as a very young player, and I think he has had three years under his belt now. It's time for Ronnie to take another step as a player, and he's going to have every opportunity to do it. And really, it started in the offseason program. He's made some changes to his body, so he's maturing physically. I think his knowledge of the game continues to increase. It's upon him to make of it what he does, but I like what I see so far."
We haven't seen QB Trace McSorley in any kind of QB Taysom Hill-type of set up. Is that by design? (Kirk McEwen) "Well, so far, you haven't. That's the key word. Wink, wink." (laughter)(Reporter: Will that take away from what he's going to be doing at quarterback?) "Right now, we have a plan. What we're doing is the important thing. We can put him in certain spots, but let's let him learn the whole offense. Once he has to do certain things, he'll already know it because he's watched somebody else do it."
Are you concerned that nobody has seemed to take the lead for the left guard spot? (Ken Weinman) "The best five guys are going to play. It's still early, and we have a plan, and everyone is getting an opportunity to play. There is nothing set in stone right now. So, let's see how it shakes down. The best five guys need to be on the field at a certain point."
When you were game-planning against the Ravens, how much attention did you pay to S Ed Reed? (Ryan Mink) "When Ed Reed was playing? A lot. Ed Reed was ridiculous. He played cover-two from the middle of the field. You never knew where he was going to be. He was unbelievable at disguising. Not only that, but he could smell a rat like no other person I have ever seen. I remember, in practice back in the day, we would have some kind of play drawn up or whatnot, and all of a sudden you would hear him, 'I smell a rat.' I was like, 'How does he know?' Uncanny, unbelievable. You would never know where he was going to be. I have so much respect for him as a player and as a person."
Is 'smelling a rat' a deception move? (Ryan Mink) "Yes. He could tell when we were trying to pull the wool over his eyes, put the old banana in the tailpipe type of thing. He could just sniff out something that wasn't right. He had those instincts, unreal."
What have you seen from WR Antoine Wesley? (Giana Han) "Antoine is a very smart, intelligent young man. He's well-trained in route-running, and he just has to develop physically and come out here every day. Every day, he does something well, and that's good. He's on top of the playbook. He's a talented young man, and I think he has a bright future if he can continue on this trajectory."
Special Teams Coach Chris Horton
Opening Statement: "Starting with the last three days of practice, I thought our guys came out and really developed some chemistry between each other. We've done a lot of team drills, so we've gotten away from a lot of the individual drills, and we're really starting to put this thing all together before we get the Jags in here. So, that's really what we've been focusing on for the past three days. Quite honestly, we've gotten some good work done. Our guys are working, they're competing, and they're continuing to do the things that I ask. If they do that, and we go out and we know we play with good fundamentals and good discipline, we're going to be alright. Any questions?"
When you look at young guys like WRs Jaleel Scott and Antoine Wesley, what are you looking for from them in gunner drills? (Bo Smolka) "When we see them go out and compete, when they line up at gunner, we want to see them compete like a gunner. We're going to give those guys opportunities to compete, every guy. Like I told you all before, you go out, you show us what you can do, you're going to have an opportunity. So, we just want to see those guys run full-speed downfield, get in front of the ball carrier, and show us that you can fit up on the returner."
What makes CB Justin Bethel special as a special teams player? (Luke Jones) "It's obvious. You guys that watch him, the players that know about him, it's obvious. He goes out, he does things the right way. His attention to detail, and he makes plays. He's been a guy that's been around. He's been to three Pro Bowls. This guy, he knows how to play the game, and that's why he's here."
Linebackers Coach Mike Macdonald
What has really stood out about ILB Chris Board, maybe from the time that he arrived in the building last year until now where defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale acknowledged he's kind of in the lead for that weak-side linebacker spot? (Luke Jones) "It's his approach. He had a great offseason, and we challenged him on the things he needed to improve on, and he went to work. He bulked up with some muscle and kept all his speed. He's hammered out the playbook. He has a really good command of what we're asking him to do, communicates well, and then when you turn the tape on, his speed is just hard to ignore. He's doing a good job."
What have you seen from ILB Kenny Young? He and ILB Chris Board are both rotating in. (Luke Jones) "Kenny is in a competition. I think that's helping him. Where Chris [Board] is at, Kenny is pushing him right now, and I think that's a good spot for him, and he has a great opportunity to win the starting job. He has had a great last couple practices. I think he started out pretty strong. He had a couple days where we wanted a little more from him, but the last few days, he's really been locked-in and he's doing a good job. He's pushing Chris right now."
How important is versatility with some of the linebackers on the outside, the ability to do different things and move them around? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Are you talking about the outside guys like Matt [Judon]? Just speaking of Matt, he's a Swiss Army knife for us. When you talk about 'B. Carr' [Brandon Carr] and what he is to the secondary, that's kind of like what Matt is to the front seven. Matt is one of our smartest players, so when you're able to move him around and do things that the offense isn't expecting him to do, all of the sudden that opens up some opportunities for you. He's a big guy that can move and he's smart. A lot of big guys his size just put their hands in the dirt and rush. So, he can cover tight ends, he can do the coverage drops. He's back and forth between [defensive line coach] Joe [Cullen's] room and ours, so he's doing a great job and it really helps us."
What have you seen from ILB Patrick Onwuasor and his ability to step into the MIKE role after ILB C.J. Mosley's departure? (Kyle Barber) "I think he's just asserting himself, and we've challenged 'Peanut' [Onwuasor]. We talked to him, 'Hey, look, we want to see Patrick Onwuasor, the best version of yourself. Go be you, and that's all we need.' It's different than the guys that have played that position in the past. We've seen his personality come out there and his leadership, and I'm really proud of him. He's doing a great job. His communication is on-point, and it's only going to get better."
How much of an adjustment has it been for you not having quite as many veterans in the room and working with some of these younger guys? (Luke Jones) "It's different. There are some things that you used to kind of take for granted. You could tell a guy something and he would get it, and sometimes you just have to adjust and work something different. Every guy learns differently, and sometimes you have to do something on the field, whereas before, you could say, 'Hey look, see this and play like that,' and you'd get it. It's not that big of an adjustment. We have a lot of the same guys in the same room. We still have [coaching analyst] Zach [Orr]. We still have Sterling [Lucas, defensive assistant/LBs]. Shoot, we have four inside 'backer coaches, pretty much, so it's been a blessing. It's good."
It seems like every summer, an undrafted inside linebacker pops. What have you seen from ILBs E.J. Ejiya, Silas Stewart and Otaro Alaka? (Jeff Zrebiec) "As you know, that's something we take pride in here. Those guys are doing a really good job. I would say Otaro is ahead right now. I think we have him working with the twos a good bit. What impresses you about Otaro is he's able to retain, take it to the field, and communicate. Sometimes, when he's out there, it doesn't sound like he's a rookie. That's something we need to challenge them on every day, to be able to be loud and be proud out there. But I'd say he's in the lead right now. E.J.'s doing a good job. We just need him to be a little more consistent. Silas will flash with his speed. He can really run. His asset is going to be on special teams. That's our charge with those guys, is to say, 'You have no chance of making this team. Ask [coaching analyst] Zach Orr. Ask any undrafted free agent we have. Those guys did not make the team if they weren't on all four special teams.' So, that's where they need to put their main focus."
You mentioned former Ravens LB Zach Orr. How much of an asset is it having him with the young players, and knowing that he's still young and not too far removed from playing? (Luke Jones) "It's a huge blessing. It's the best. Zach, he could walk in right now and coach the inside 'backer room. He knows everything, and he can put it in a way for those guys that they can understand. And he's our liaison between the players and the coaches. He has a great temperature of what's going on in the locker room. He's been there. He's done everything we've asked those types of guys to do. And it's pretty rare, throughout the league, to have that type of opportunity. I think it really helps us."