Defensive Coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale
Opening statement:"Where we're at now – it's Day 4. I don't want to sound like a broken record up here. I talked to the defense the first night there, and I said, 'Give me 10 days. Give me 10 practices, and I'll let us know where we're at.' I'm really excited with the speed that we have and the effort that is given, and last night, I think was a shocker for them, getting back in the pads. And then today, everything was a lot better. The pads were sitting in, and we executed a lot better and communicated a lot better. It was a great practice for us last night, because the fans were there, and it just helped me stress our communication points within the defense. We're excited [about] where we're going. Like I said, give me about 10 practices, and I'll have a better idea exactly where we're at for you guys."
Do you like the potential with the pass rush? I know you said 10 practices, but have you seen potential with the pass rush? (Todd Karpovich) "Oh yes, it's the same thing that we talked about in the spring.I think we have some different body types, and some younger guys have a year under their belt, and you're seeing some improvement there. A big addition, a guy who stood out to me last night is Pernell McPhee. He's the old guard, or the 'OG,' as the players say it, and you can see that power and that old Raven rough, tough mentality, and he'll help bring that along with that group. We're excited about our potential pass-rushing."
I know it's early, four practices in, but DT Willie Henry missed all that time last year and is back out here. (Bo Smolka) "That's a great point. In some situations right now, he's running with the 'ones.' We're mixing other people in and out in our base defense. That hurt us last year not having him. What did he play, a game and a half? And, he had two sacks, so we're excited about having him back and he's healthy." (Reporter: "What does he do best for your defense?") "A little bit of everything. Obviously, he gets after the passer. He and [Pernell] McPhee looked really good last night together, running some stunts and things like that, so we're expecting big things from Willie."
You had said last year about CB Brandon Carr that you weren't going to be the one to end his starting streak. (Jeff Zrebiec) "Right." (Reporter: "We've seen him line up a couple different places. Does that still stand with him, that you consider him a starter?")"I consider him a starter. Yes, I do. He's playing everywhere, because that's what we do with him. That's one of his values is being the veteran that he is. We can put him in different spots. What's great about moving Brandon around is when you get into those games that you want to match people up, what you've seen here already in four practices is he's safety, nickel, corner. I told him I was going to play him at MIKE here." (laughter)
All the defenses you've been associated with, have you ever had this depth at secondary before? (Jamison Hensley) "I think with the whole thing, let's not start pushing this boat too forward with our secondary right now. I think, like I said, we have a lot of practices to go, and it was the same thing that I talked about last year. Let's start talking about how good they are come September, October, November – more October and November than anything else. But, we do have a lot of depth, and we have a lot of skill at that position. Yes, we do."
This has come up before, a while ago, I know, but when ILB Patrick Onwuasor got here as a safety, and you came to him and said, "You're going to be a linebacker for us," what did you see in him that you said, "This guy is going to work out as a linebacker here?" (Bo Smolka) "Just how physical he played the game at the college level. Before he was a safety, he was a wide receiver. He's just a physical football player. He has the size, and now, he's a traditionally-built linebacker for this league, the way it is now."
How do you think ILB Patrick Onwuasor has handled playing the MIKE and kind of being in charge? (Luke Jones) "I think he's done a nice job. I thought he did a nice job in OTAs. I think you have to knock the rust off the four weeks off that they were gone, but I'm not worried at all about 'Peanut' [Patrick Onwuasor], not at all."
I'm sure you're probably tired of the questions about the guys who are not here. Does it feel a little different, though, in the beginning without OLB Terrell Suggs flapping his gums and hearing S Eric Weddle constantly? (Jeff Zrebiec)"You led the sentence off the right way. (laughter) I'll just say it one more time: Look, we love those guys. We loved them as players, we loved them as teammates, we loved them as friends, brothers, OK? But, I guarantee you this: If you call them, they miss us just as much as we miss them, OK? Let's flip the script here on how we're looking at this, because I know they miss us as much as we miss them, and it's just one of those things. It's the way this game is. It's a business, and you're seeing other people step up. And, when I say they miss us, they miss the players in that room. We have a lot of qualified players in that room that are going to step up, and everybody will be talking about them the next few weeks."
Can you talk about what you've seen from OLB Matthew Judon, the progress he's made just from last year to this year? (Ryan Mink) "He's still getting his camp legs right now, as far as progress goes. He's one of the smartest players in this league, and like I say in every defensive meeting, in this league, knowledge is power. Sometimes, he sees too much, and he knows that's one of his faults that he needs to correct. But when he locks in, and he rushes the passer, he's going to be a really good pass-rusher in this league, and he already is. But, when he locks in and says, 'I'm going to go get the quarterback,' then you're going to see a different one."
What stood out about S Earl Thomas III, now having the chance to get to know him beyond just his reputation in the league? (Luke Jones) "We didn't have to raid Area 51 to go get him. We got him in free agency. (laughter) The guy is just a consummate pro. He's a rock. I don't know if anybody has shaken his hand yet or anything else, but he is a physical specimen. He loves football, and that's what he wants to talk about, is football."
You guys not having DE Brent Urban anymore at the three-technique spot, does the potential of someone like DE Chris Wormley or DE Zach Sieler give you the opportunity to do some things this year that maybe you weren't able to do last year? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think that what both [Zach] Sieler and 'Worm' [Chris Wormley] … 'Worm' played a lot of three- [technique] last year. In our base defense, all three of those guys you're talking about are five-techniques – in our base defense. But how often do we play our base defense? So primarily at three-technique, a first- and second-down three-technique, 'Worm' has done a really nice job. If he can take the leap that he took from Year 1 to Year 2, you're really going to see something special. Sieler is about where 'Worm' was at a year ago, or basically a year ago, where I told him – and he has put a little bit more gunpowder in his food – he needs to attack a little bit more. But he's in progress. He's going the right way, I think."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Opening statement: "Thanks for coming. We're grinding through training camp. We're really diving into it now. We got into the pads yesterday. I would like to commend the guys' attitude, spirit and work ethic. They're really working hard – coaches, players, everybody. That's what training camp is all about. For us, the first nine days of training camp is a big period of pouring concrete. We mix the concrete in the spring, and then we pour the concrete the first nine days of training camp. As you come out, if you're a fan or if you come out and watch practice, you might see one thing on one day. Then, the next practice you come out to, it's a totally different set of schemes we're running. It's compartmentalized and ramped up and built in a progressive manner. We're carving through that right now. The next four or five days, we're going to be heaping a lot of stuff on the players. They're doing a great job with it, though. We just have to keep it going."
What challenges are you facing with QB Robert Griffin III out with a hand injury? (Jamison Hensley) "The first thing is, it's a great opportunity for Trace [McSorley]. Unfortunate, but a great opportunity for him to get more reps and experience. I know John [Harbaugh] released a statement today, and I'm sure he'll be able to address that more tomorrow. It's my understanding that our personnel staff is probably working to bring in another quarterback in the near future. John will be able to address that more tomorrow. That's just more reps for Trace right now."
How rare is it to have a training camp practice with just two quarterbacks? How do you go about managing that? (Aaron Kasinitz)"It happens, and you have to be prepared for whatever. I think Trace [McSorley] really got his reps pumped up. That's a good opportunity for him to get some great experience. There's nothing like reps. You get better at football by playing football. He has a lot to look at today and reflect on."
Do you have first impressions of how QB Trace McSorley is doing? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Trace is doing a really good job. Trace is very thorough, diligent. He has a very mathematical mind. He can take a lot of information in and process it. I think that's what a mathematical mind is, but he's very impressive in that way. [He pays a lot of] attention to detail, and we really like what we're seeing."
How fierce is the competition on the offensive line? (Todd Karpovich) "It's big. Every day, it's a competition. It's a great opportunity for everybody. We have a bunch of guys in there right now that are slugging it out. That's what it is down there in the trenches. On the offensive line, it's important that we have tough, smart guys up there that can handle a lot. In today's NFL, they see so much in the run game, in the pass protection, so many different schemes, things they have to be able to communicate. It's a big competition there."
Has the offensive line been able to pick up the new offense as quickly as you would like? (Todd Karpovich)"I'll tell you what, I have to take my hat off to them. They're working hard. There aren't very many mental errors on the field. We're constantly, as coaches, trying to refine how we're doing things. You might block the right person, but there might be a better, more subtle way to use your hands in that block, or your hand placement, your angle, all that stuff. The assignment part of it, what to do, the guys are really picking up. Part of training camp is grinding on how to do it over and over. You make it a repetitive habit."
There were five or six false starts today. Can you attribute that to one thing? Is that just training camp? (Bo Smolka)"It's hard to turn that lemon into lemonade when you jump offsides. (laughter)We have to do a much better job. We've been very good with that. We're constantly pushing the envelope with our cadences, mixing them up, trying to keep the defense a little bit more flat-footed. But, we have to do a better job with that than we did today."
John Harbaugh has mentioned how different this offense is than anything the NFL has ever seen. How exciting is it to be involved with something that creative and different? (Jamison Hensley) "Every day is a new challenge. The way I'm looking at it, I think it's starting to come into picture for me. The first nine days, we're throwing a lot at them. During that period, we're getting a feel for what we want to lean on more or less, different ways to do things. Maybe, 'We like this, we're good at it, so let's find a few more ways to do it,' through that first week-and-a-half. Once that period is over, then we'll start honing in on some more specific things that we're working on. Right now, we still have the flexibility of having all this. Then, once we get through that process, which is a grind – we're paying homage to the football gods – then we'll start to narrow down our focus and dial in on specific things. At the end, it's going to make us more flexible and adaptable."
You've been part of different offenses in San Francisco and Buffalo. Is this offense even more different than those? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, it's definitely a next-level type of thing compared to what has been done in the past. A lot of it, too, is watching your players practice and saying, 'Wow, let's try him on this. Let's put him over here, because I think he'd be really good at that.' So, a lot of it is how you're using your personnel, as well."
Do you enjoy being counterculture? (Ryan Mink) "I enjoy winning.So, we're going to do whatever it takes to win."
What are your impressions of G Ben Powers? He's gotten a ton of first-team reps so far. (Luke Jones)"He sure has. Ben is working hard. Ben is a throwback type of guy. He's a lunch pail kind of guy. He's working through the process right now. He's grinding through it. He's having some great plays, some good plays and some that he'd like to repeat. That's part of it. We expect that. As we practice, whether we do something good or not so good, it's a huge opportunity. The players that can grab that opportunity to go in, watch it on our beautiful film they put on there for us, evaluate themselves and tweak things and fix things and refine things, that is the key for every player."
How do you feel QB Lamar Jackson has progressed in camp? (Jamison Hensley)"Lamar is doing well. One day at a time. His communication has been outstanding. The work he's put in in the offseason has been outstanding. All the little different things, fundamentally, are moving along the trajectory we want. So, I couldn't be happier with Lamar. I love working with him, and it's just very exciting."
What do you see as a ceiling for TE Mark Andrews? (Ryan Mink) "We just take it a day at a time. Mark is stepping forward every day, taking steps up the ladder. The chemistry he's developing with Lamar [Jackson], that's something you can't manufacture. You have to go out, and that has to happen in real time. That is what's happening right now, so let's just see where it goes. Right now, it's going in a really good direction."
Are there ways to assess how WR Marquise Brown is picking up the offense while he's not on the practice field? _(Aaron Kasinitz) _"[Assistant head coach/pass coordinator/wide receivers] David Culley is spending a lot of extra time with him. He's [Marquise Brown] really engaged in meetings, on the field and after practice working with Coach Culley. David is the best, so I think he's in good hands there."
FB/DL Patrick Ricard's playing time fell off last year, but we've seen him get some good reps in training camp. What are your thoughts on what he's going to have to bring to both sides of the ball? (Jonas Shaffer) "I can speak offensively. We're going to teach concepts. Whether we have a fullback or don't, our guys have to know how to adjust when those situations come up. If you bring a fullback into the formation, it changes the defensive front. The offensive line needs reps at that. There's an element of our offense where we want to be able to get medieval and get downhill on people. There are a variety of ways to do it. We don't want to narrow ourselves to say, 'We're only doing this,' or, 'We're only doing that.' Let's roll the balls out there, see what the guys can do, and see who steps up and progresses. Pat's doing a really good job."
Are FB/DL Patrick Ricard's blocking skills that much different from someone like TE Nick Boyle's blocking skills? (Jonas Shaffer) "Very similar. Pat is a hammer. He's looking to expand his abilities a little bit, too. He's working some on-the-line-of-scrimmage-type stuff, as well."
WR Miles Boykin has made a lot of splash plays over the last few days. What does it mean for you to see a rookie come out here and immediately start making big splash plays against the first two defenses? _(Kyle Barber) _"It's a very positive thing. Miles is taking it one day at a time, progressing well. When you see that, you know what you're looking at when you see those kinds of plays being made. The potential is there, and he just needs to continue to have a great attitude, which he does. He'll keep getting better every day. It's going to be a beautiful thing."
Special Teams Coach Chris Horton
Opening statement:"Just a little recap on the last four days: I think our guys have been coming out here and really doing a good job, and really just emphasizing what we've preached all spring, and that's working the details and the fine nuances and our fundamentals every day. Like I told you guys before, we're going to take it one day at a time, and we're going to push our guys to the max, and hopefully as we continue to move forward, our guys are just getting better at the little things, because the little things matter for special teams."
With QB Robert Griffin III's injury, where does that leave you with QB Trace McSorley and the kind of workload that he can take on special teams? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think he's still going to be involved in special teams. Obviously, with the injury to Robert, it allows Trace to really be a little bit more involved in the offense. But, as far as special teams goes, I think he's still going to be involved, and we're going to use him as we see fit and try to just continue to get him better so he could have an opportunity."
CB/RS Cyrus Jones is returning punts. Is there thought of him as a kick returner as well, or specifically a punt returner with his skillset? (Bo Smolka) "When we look at returners, it's really about the punt returner, because we felt like, as kick returners, that ball is a little bit easier to catch than that ball that's up in the air for four seconds, sometimes five seconds. As a punt returner, we're going to utilize his skillset. He's a returner, so if he can return punts, he'll get an opportunity to do both kick returns and punt returns. Really honestly, I look forward to seeing him back there."
Do you expect the competition at returner to go to the very end? Is it something you expect, in the fourth preseason game, is still being evaluated? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, I do. I think it will play itself out. That position is will play itself out. Those guys are going to get reps in the preseason. Whoever wins that job is going to be the guy that we take into the season, but it will play itself out."
Are you getting looks at the guys that you need to get looks at, or do you think there could even be other guys on the roster that may not be getting an opportunity there or who you may give a chance to later in the summer? (Jeff Zrebiec)"We're giving looks to all the guys. We're going to give looks to guys that obviously need the reps. Cyrus [Jones] has caught a lot of punts. That's why he's here. He's a punt returner. We're going to continue to give looks to any guy that we feel deserves a look."
It seems like P/K Kaare Vedvik is kicking better now in training camp than from what we saw at the end of minicamp. What have you seen from him as he continues to develop as a kicker potentially in the NFL? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think I might have told you guys this during the spring: Kaare is right on schedule. Before we left, I know he missed some during the spring, and he wasn't kicking well, but it just took him awhile to get himself back in his groove, and I think he's doing that. This guy is going to get better every day, and that's all we ask of him."
I know he was here in the spring, but has it been different with former associate head coach/special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg not being in the building, not being vocal on the practice field? (Luke Jones) "It's been different not seeing Jerry, not going upstairs and Jerry is planning all the practices and things like that. Now, it's me. It's me and Coach [Randy] Brown and Coach [T.J.] Weist who are really doing all the work. I'll tell you, man, I miss Jerry, and that first day, he called me, and he was like, 'Go get 'em!' I was really excited about that."
How much of an addition is it to have John Harbaugh, in addition to the other staffers, just to have such a presence on special teams? (Luke Jones) "I think in my first presser, I said this: I said, I get my first job, and I'm surrounded by probably, arguably, two of the best special teams coaches that ever coached this game. I think I'm in a great place. If I ever have questions, I could always call Jerry. Or, I could just walk down the hallway and go see Coach 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] and get those things figured out. Those guys probably have seen a lot more than I have, and there will be some things that come up. But, I know I have two great guys that I can lean on to make sure we get it fixed." (Reporter: "So if 'Harbs' comes running into the middle of a drill, you just say, 'All right, do your thing!'") "He's the head coach, so he can do what he wants, right? (laughter) It's not that he [might in] just my drills. He might run into some other guy's drills, too. You just let him talk, because he has experience. He's sitting in that seat for a reason. And so, when he comes up and he talks, he might say something a different way than what I might have said, and a player might pick it up a little bit differently. It's all about … We're coaching the same thing, teaching the same things, giving the guys the same messages."
People say in this building, it's made clear to rookies very early that if they want to contribute, be active on Sundays, they better pick up special teams. Do you sense with this rookie group that they really understand that message, and have you been impressed with the attention to detail and commitment that they've shown in that area? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think right now, those rookies, they are working, but every day is something different with those guys. You just have to continue to stay on them, and hopefully, they understand what an importance special teams has around here. If you want to make a name for yourself, that's the way to do it. We're going to give those guys plenty of opportunities during the preseason. Really honestly, not a lot of veteran guys are going to be out there playing, so that's their chance. That's their opportunity. Attention to detail, they're speaking up in the meetings, so I've been impressed with those guys."
WR Willie Snead IV
On how training camp feels and if the offense is progressing like he had hoped it would:"It feels like Day Seven. (laughter) Yes, the offense has been looking really good. We've been working the kinks out, but I think after last night and today, the offense is really growing. We're feeling pretty good, and we just have to continue to get better every day."
On the uniqueness of the new offense: "We could do so many things on this offense, from the running game, to the passing game, to speed-option, everything. We could do whatever we want. That's the best thing about it. It's not really West Coast or spread, per se. It's just a mixture of everything. It has a lot of good stuff, and we're just continuing to get better at it."
On the most challenging aspect of learning the new offense: "The hardest part is just continuing to get plays, continuing to add plays and get better at them, at the base of it. Every day, we get new plays. Then, we have to continue to grow in the base of the scheme. Just to be able to take all of the mental [information] and come out here and do it, that's the challenge, to be able to continue to sharpen up the details and all the things that go into building an offense. We're doing a great job right now, but as training camp [goes on] and the season comes, we'll be able to sharpen up the offense. It's been pretty good so far."
On if QB Lamar Jackson's training camp performance has been consistent: "I think so. Every day, Lamar builds confidence in knowing where guys are going to be – where Mark [Andrews] is going to be, where I'm going to be, Seth [Roberts], different guys. He's throwing the spots, and he trusts us at the same time. That's what a quarterback really needs, is trust in his targets and having the confidence to put it to a spot, and we're going to be there. I think as we continue to grow and build our offense, he'll continue to get better and better. You'll see it. Last night was just a flash of what he's capable of doing. We're not there yet, but we're still getting there and getting better."
On if QB Lamar Jackson is taking charge of the offense in his second year:"Absolutely. When he came in, I wouldn't say he didn't know what he was doing, but it was his first couple of games in the NFL. Everything was just coming at him full-speed. Now, a year later, he's comfortable. He's comfortable with the guys around him. He has command of the huddle, and we believe in him. I think that's all that matters at this point. We just have to continue to grow with each other."
On the wide receivers practicing with QB Lamar Jackson in Florida in the offseason:"Why does everybody keep saying that? We were actually right over there, at the park. (laughter) We all got together. This was the easiest spot to get together. We spent a couple days together."
On how practicing with the wide receivers and QB Lamar Jackson improved their relationship:"It was good. Just getting together before training camp, to catch some passes together, it's just that extra time we needed to build this offense. We worked some scheme. At the end of the day, it's just growing the chemistry, building the brotherhood and taking time with each other."
On if rookie WR Miles Boykin's quickness to pick up the offense has made an impression on him:"Absolutely. All Miles wants to do is grow and learn. I keep telling him every day, I'm like, 'Dude, you look like [former New Orleans teammate] Michael Thomas.' I remember when Michael Thomas came to New Orleans, he was built the same, had the same mentality, just trying to get better every day. That's his goal right now, to learn as a rookie, to grow as a rookie, and make plays when they come. He's getting better every day. You could see last night was a huge step for him. At the end of the day, he's going to be a huge part of our offense. If he continues to have that same mindset, he'll be a pretty good player for us."