Can you tell me what you were thinking when you heard about this trade? Was this something you expected, or did this come out of nowhere for you? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It was a mutual agreement with both sides. It just felt like the best fit and the best thing to do at the time. So, that's what made me ultimately make the decision to come here."
How great is it to be reunited with DE Calais Campbell? I know you guys had a lot of success in Jacksonville. Do you think that can carry over here in Baltimore? (Todd Karpovich) "It feels great to have a person who you have a familiarity with rushing and chemistry. He's a three-technique who knows how I love to rush; I like to take chances and things like that. So, we had a lot of success in Jacksonville, and we're just hoping to do the same things here."
Just wondering, with your Maryland roots, obviously, what's it like to join the hometown team? And did you grow up watching the Ravens? How familiar are you with their defense? (Ryan Mink) "It feels great coming back home. One of the perks for me is being able to be right by my mom. The Ravens are a team that I definitely used to watch a lot growing up. I was a Steelers fan growing up, which is quite ironic, but those guys had crazy battles as I remember being a kid watching them on TV. It was really low-scoring games, like 10-3 games. It was just a defensive battle."
A couple things – what do you think of your new defensive teammates and how the Ravens play defense? And then, your first game is going to be against the Steelers. What do you think that is going to be like? (Shawn Stepner) "I already knew this was definitely a top defense. I've been part of a top defense before in 2017, and I know what it takes to uphold that standard. Just going to the second question you asked, I'm definitely excited about the Steelers game. I had a lot of success, personally, versus that team. And I'm pretty sure as a team, the whole defense will have a lot of success, not this weekend, but the next weekend coming up. I'm definitely, definitely super excited to be able to play my first game – my first Ravens and Steelers game."
I'm curious – you've never been traded in-season before. What do you think the process will be like of getting up to speed and getting ready for that game? And have you already started looking at the playbook? (Aaron Kasinitz) "It's actually funny you ask; I have the iPad in front of me right now, just going through different installs that they've implemented for me to try to come in and make an impact. I've never been traded in-season or anything like that, but I've never been in a situation where I've been [with] an organization for less than six weeks. I was in Jacksonville for four years; I had a concrete place to be at. I was on the couch and got traded; I got that call to go to Minnesota. It was a blessing, because I could've missed football, but I was actually able to play football. So, just being able to come to another team that has a lot of success going on is a blessing."
During the summer, you gave back to students out here in elementary and middle school. Why was it so important for you to do that and give back? (Daniel Oyefusi) "I think giving back is important. I was a kid in a similar situation as those kids; not having, really, a lot of guidance around the house and having a single mom. So, sometimes you look … You tend to look for guidance outside of that, [but] it's not always positive. I just wanted to give them a positive light, and just try to brighten their day, and just give back and help them further their studies while we're going through this pandemic."
I'm just curious what it's been like with the COVID-19 protocols and the trade. I know testing is happening, but have you been in the facility? Are you allowed to be in the facility or when does that come? (Morgan Adsit) "I'm pretty sure I will be allowed to be in the facility around Tuesday – that's what they're saying, I think, Tuesday or Wednesday. But it's kind of the same thing I went through as far as Minnesota – that five-day process of getting the swabs and the testing done, and then being able to be cleared to finally join the team for full activities."
I'm just wondering, how much do you look at this as somewhere you want to be long-term? I know you've been looking for that long-term deal. You're on a one-year deal right now. CB Marcus Peters got traded to the Ravens last year and then ended up inking a long-term deal. How much is that what you're aiming for? (Ryan Mink) "Things like that I leave up to God, man. God, he's already written out my story. I had no idea that I would even be here having these conversations with you guys. I was all packed in in Minnesota with all my stuff, and things just happen sometimes. If it's meant for me to be here for a long time, then that's what it is. I'll be more than excited to be back home; this is where it all started for me with my journey."
What has this process been like? This is your third team already, and you're a young man. What are you learning about the business of the NFL as you try to concentrate on just playing the game? (Mark Viviano) "It's a business at the end of the day. This is the NFL; it's more than X's and O's. There are always things in the background that have to get done, and players moving to certain teams, players getting waived – that's just part of the business. It will always be like that while I'm playing ball and even when I'm done playing football. But at the end of the day, if you have another opportunity to put on another jersey, it's a blessing, because not everybody on this earth is able to play this game."
Talking to some of your Friendship Collegiate Academy staffers from back in the day, they mentioned that your mom would show up to some of your practices as a kid and just watch. So, what was it like to tell her the news that you were coming back to Maryland? And, just how important has she been in your football career? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes, definitely, it was an emotional moment just letting her know that I was coming back home and that I was on the next flight to come back to Maryland. I was in the Midwest, so it's a long way from home, and it was kind of difficult for her to be able to travel all the time with this pandemic going on. So, now, me being down the street, it's just so simple and so easy. We can definitely get together and just spend a lot of time with each other. And she [has] a huge impact on me. She was a person who worked her tail off – double shifts, having a full-time, steady job during the week – and still managing to take me to practice and take me back home, making sure I had a full stomach and things like that. So, she's definitely a major reason why I'm in the shoes I'm in right now."
You played with a great cornerback in Jacksonville in CB Jalen Ramsey. How much do you think it's going to help you as a push rusher playing in this defense with a secondary that has CB Marlon Humphrey, CB Marcus Peters and CB Jimmy Smith? (Cliff Brown) "Rush and cover goes together. When you rush the quarterback well, your corners and safeties get interceptions. When your corners and safeties cover well, you have more time as a defensive lineman to get to the quarterback. So, it all goes hand in hand. All those guys you mentioned are tremendous guys as far as coverage skills and tackling skills, so they'll definitely help the defense out – not even just myself – as soon as I arrive."
Even though we get the pronunciation guides, your name sometimes gets butchered. From you, will you please say your first and last name? (Morgan Adsit) "yah-NEEK In-GACK-way."
Forcing turnovers is such a big part of the Ravens defense, and it's such a big part of your game, as well. Can you just take us through your mindset when you're on the field, with regards to forcing turnovers? (Shawn Stepner) "Yes, I'm just a guy who wants to make a huge impact. Sacks are cool – they're really cool to do – [but] getting the ball out is another thing. Getting the ball out gives your offense another opportunity to score points. And also, not even just the offense; it gives the other 10 guys around you the energy to keep fighting even more. And not even just fight; for them to want to go out there and make plays for themselves. When you see the ball come out, you know it's going to be a great game. So, I always try to pride myself [on that] and try to force a turnover, for sure."
Did you think there was a point over the summer that you would end up in Baltimore? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, for sure. There were talks and things like that. We were trying to get things done, but at the same time, everything happens the way it's supposed to happen, and I love the way it happened now. I got my feet wet, [and] I was able to play some games in Minnesota. I have a lot of great relationships with people over there now – people who I've networked with and connected with. And like I said, just being able to get my feet wet, playing the game [and] being six weeks in already. Most guys who were in my position could have been sitting out until this time and getting that phone call with no games under their belt. So, the fact that I have games under my belt, it's not like I'm coming in with cold feet. I'm coming in hot already. You just tell me what play we have to run, and I'm running it."
You played at Friendship Collegiate Academy, you went on to the University of Maryland – not far from home – and now you're back here in Baltimore. What does that tell you about the larger plans for you – playing a great deal of your career where you grew up? (Jonas Shaffer) "It just means that I need to give back. After the season is over with and I figure out where I will be for the long-term, I'll just have to give back. Hopefully, it is here. Hopefully, it is in Baltimore, and I can be able to just try to do things with former teammates, especially my guy Calais [Campbell], because he's a guy who loves to give back – a former Walter Payton Man of the Year Award recipient. Just taking a lot of those tips that he has done to give back to the community and doing it for my own community."