SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR CHRIS HORTON
Opening statement: "Good afternoon. Good to see everyone. It feels good to be standing back up here. After three days of work, I feel like our guys are just coming out and putting in a good day's work. What we're trying to do [is] we're just trying to build some consistency and stack some good days. As we continue to move forward, we'll do a little bit of … Start adding a little bit more and do a little bit more team stuff. But these last three days have been, basically, fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals, because we understand that's where we win at in our game. Questions?"
In this portion of training camp, are you working with some of the young players who maybe didn't play a ton of special teams in college, and set the expectations for what it's going to be here with the Ravens? _(Garrett Downing) _"Exactly. One of the things we do – I feel like we do as a coaching staff – as a whole, offense, defensively and special teams is you deal with a lot of guys that hadn't played a lot of special teams. So, that's why [in] the spring, this time, it's very important to build those fundamentals and just teach them things that they hadn't learned at their schools, and once they learn that, we do believe, with the way we coach, and with the high demands and the standards we have, we'll get them to where we need to be."
How's P Jordan Stout doing with his holding? _(Kevin Richardson) _"Jordan [Stout] is doing great. Every day, he's got three of the best coaches over there. These guys are coaching him, they're drilling him every day, and every day, we're just trying to make sure that he understands what the standard is, because that's a very important job. You guys have seen it over the years. And we just want to make sure that we get him to where he needs to be come game time. But he's doing a good job, and like I say, every day, we're just trying to stack and become consistent."
P Jordan Stout had said that holding for K Justin Tucker can make him nervous at times – holding for such an established kicker like that. How can he overcome that? _(Matt Cohen) _"I think that's something he's going to have to … The more he does it … Every day, again, they're working on it. It's something they work on every day, and I think that's something he's going to figure out. Obviously, it probably could be a little nerve-wracking, but once it becomes an everyday job, it becomes really easy, and it becomes second nature, and he'll go out there and roll out, and he'll be perfect."
Is P Jordan Stout aware of special teams consultant Sam Koch's quarterback rating? I saw you working on a couple of fakes with him. Is he aware of how high that bar is? _(Gerry Sandusky) _"I don't know if those were fakes; those were situations where we were working [on] if we got a bad snap and we couldn't kick the ball, so let's test out his arm. Those weren't quite fakes. But yes, he better be aware. We try to bring in athletes – guys that can throw, guys that could make some plays otherwise outside of their legs."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GREG ROMAN
Opening statement: "It's good to see everybody. It's great to be out here and have people out here. [We're] back to a normal training camp situation, which is awesome. The guys are working really hard. As you know, we've made some adjustments to how we're doing things right now, so it's a little bit experimental for us, as well, but we feel like we have a good plan, a really systematic plan. And really, the first two weeks of training camp for us are pretty much … We have an installation schedule, and we're going to go through that installation schedule, and really focus on certain things each day. So, if you come out and watch practice every day, you'll probably see something different every day. We want to try to emphasize something for a day or two, and then we move on. And as we keep going, the volume of things we do will continue to increase for our players, so it's a real challenge for them to prepare mentally, as well as physically. But we haven't put pads on yet, so the evaluation on some things really hasn't begun, but the evaluation is taking place at all times, no matter what anybody tells you. So, any questions."
Along those lines, left guard seems to be a spot that is a camp battle at this point. Have you seen anything from that? Has anybody taken the lead so far? _(Jamison Hensley) _"I'd say, right now, Ben Powers has probably taken the lead – right now. It's a long way to go, though, so, specifically, yes, at this point, but we're going to continue to rotate guys in and give guys opportunities. We really want to see … There is an ebb and flow to training camp. Some guys have great days, and then there might be a fair to midland day; that's just part of it. So, we won't be too hasty to cast judgment yet, but we have a keen eye on it."
Continuing with the offensive line, T Ja'Wuan James is getting a lot of reps after a long road back from injury. How is he looking to you? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, he's doing well. [He's] moving over to the left side; he's acclimating to it [and] getting better every day. Ja'Wuan [James] has got a lot of talent, and we're really fortunate to have him. For him, though, having not played a year, we fully expect there to be a slight acclimation period for him, as he works himself back into tip-top playing condition."
What do you evaluate on and how do you evaluate the offensive line play? _(Kyle Barber) _"It starts with guys that are in there … First of all, it's communication. The offensive line is five people acting as one, and being able to communicate, adjust, make the proper adjustments. One wrong adjustment can blow up a play. So, being on top of that, play in and play out, from an assignment standpoint … Plus, you can tell, a little bit, from a physical standpoint right now, as well. So, we are gathering a lot of valuable information right now, even though we're not in pads."
Because you're not in pads, it's a different style of training camp, and we're probably not going to see a lot of first-stringers in the preseason, how much does that complicate the way you develop guys and get guys ready? You have a young receiving corps, so how do you get them ready for September 11th, when they're not going to have many looks with "live bullets?" _(Gerry Sandusky) _"Yes, that's a great point. It's something we've kind of mulled over a lot, but we have a lot of confidence in ourselves practicing, and we don't really, necessarily, have to see a ton of live action to kind of know what we've got. And we're going to work really hard, probably a little bit more diligently, [and] in some of those [practices], try to make it as game-like as possible with ourselves."
It looks like QB Lamar Jackson is throwing the ball really well. Just what's your perspective on the way he looks throwing the football so far? _(Garrett Downing) _"Yes, I mean, I think it's the best I've ever seen him throw it, thus far. What are we, three days in? And he's throwing it, probably, better than I've ever seen him throw it. He's really worked hard in the offseason, and it's showing, so he's got to build on that. It's really exciting. We're all very excited about that. And now we've all got to get on the same page, so we can function as a unit and put that performance … Take every ounce of that performance and maximize it."
Does that open up the offense or open up the playbook anymore – the way QB Lamar Jackson is throwing the ball? _(Ryan Mink) _"No, we got the playbook, and we probably have, legitimately, 20% new stuff. But what it will do is I might call the game differently; I might call different plays that are in the playbook."
We always ask players about what they work on throughout the season. As a coach, are you constantly evaluating yourself, and is there anything you wanted to work on coming into this season? _(Cordell Woodland) _"I think you have to. I think everybody does. I think the No. 1 thing … The way I approach my job is I want to be a servant leader, so I want to make everybody around me better. How can I do that better? How can I make the people I work for better? How can I help them succeed? How can I make the players I work with, the assistant coaches I work with, how can I help them succeed? That's really what I focus on. I think, as a coach, you have to look at what you do at all times, really evaluate what you're doing, who you're doing it with [and] how you're doing it. That's a constant process. But really, the idea starts with, 'How can I serve those around me?' And that forces you to really introspect at all times."
When it comes to QB Lamar Jackson and durability, is it something he still has to think about, because he missed four games to end the season last year, or is it something that he doesn't have to, because with his body of work, he really hasn't missed that many games? (Jamison Hensley) _"Last year, I count as an aberration; we're ever-vigilant, though. You never know what this game has in store for you. I certainly wouldn't consider him injury-prone whatsoever. I think he does a fine – if not finer – job than anybody, maybe anybody, at controlling hits he takes, especially in space. Now, when he doesn't see it coming, that's the one you worry about, so that's on everybody; that's on the whole offense. But I love how his body looks. He's put on a lot of lean muscle. I told him he looks like a different guy. I mean, when I shake his hand, it feels a little different; you know that I mean? _(laughter)So, [I'm] really excited about all the work he put in and how his body is looking."
There's been a lot of talk about the wide receiver position ever since WR Marquise Brown was traded. It's early, but what are you seeing from the group? And how much do you talk to the guys about seizing their opportunity, because a lot of guys could see more action than they have in the past? _(Cliff Brown) _"Yes, there's huge opportunity for the receiving corps to really step out. And what I see every day is really hard work [and] dedication. They're the same people every day; it's not ups and downs [and], 'Oh, I can't practice today' – that kind of thing. I see a hungry group that's really kind of got a little bit of a chip on their shoulders. So, if anybody wants to count them out, then go for it, and make it public, because we'll just pin it up on the wall."
I know you are a lot different, personnel-wise, from last year, but if you look at your struggles against man-to-man coverage last year, versus your success in the previous couple years, what might have happened? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Last season? Last season was an interesting season on a lot of fronts. So, really, when I went back and really looked at the season, which I did in extra time, there are certain things we can definitely take from it and certain things we just kind of had to throw out the window, because they're not applicable anymore, and you don't want to go down that rabbit hole, because it's not relevant. So, as far as man-to-man coverage goes, I think we can do a lot better against man; we have in the past at times. But that's something we're really working on. Some of the things we were close on, but we really didn't do it right, or maybe I could put together some packages better [for] when we know it's man – that type of thing."
There are a lot of kids here. I'm wondering how you would explain your offensive philosophy to one of the kids? (Danny Heifetz) _"Medieval. _(laughter)No, multiple, multiplicity, synchronicity. Just a lot of things, a lot of possibilities."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE MACDONALD
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. I guess before we get going, it's been a great three days. The thing that I'm most pleased with is every day I've felt like we've taken a step. It's one of the things we've challenged the guys [to do], is to stay consistent and to keep building every day. So, only three days in, but it's nice to have a good trajectory, and we'll see where we go."
LB Patrick Queen stood out on one play, just how fast he fired downhill. What are you seeing from him as he enters Year Three? _(Ryan Mink) _"Yes, I think that it's the same story that just keeps building over time. He's definitely more comfortable in the scheme, he's confident, he's poised, communicates well. He's doing all of the things that we're asking him to do, and this is kind of the vision that he has for himself. So, like we said, he's on a great trajectory right now, and we're counting on him. So, he should have a great year."
OLB Justin Houston said yesterday that you and him crossed paths at the University of Georgia. Do you remember that at all? (Matt Cohen) _"Well, I was surprised he remembered me, so. _(laughter)That was my first year at Georgia, and I was a student assistant. I worked with the outside 'backers. I think he had like 10-something sacks that year, and then he left. But it was great to catch up with him, and we're very excited to have him."
How excited are you about OLB Justin Houston coming back and having him on this defense? _(Garrett Downing) _"Yes, we're obviously jacked up. A guy with 100-plus sacks, the pedigree that he comes from, the leadership that he provides in the room is huge. One thing that we're challenging the guys right now [and] throughout training camp, is we're looking for the best four, five … Three, four, five guys that at any given time not only rush the best, but work together the best in the pass rush. So, he's definitely going to be a part of that equation, and we're just excited to have him."
What have you learned about OLB Odafe Oweh since you've been back here? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"It's just great to see him out there moving around. You can see it in individual; we saw that from the spring. But like, him going out there, when he throws his fastball, it's up there. It's 100-plus. He's freaky. I expect him to do some great things for us."
You've had the chance to look at DT Michael Pierce over the past few days. Is he where you hoped he'd be? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, he's out here, he's practicing. The things that Mike [Michael Pierce] does doesn't necessarily show up right now, with the tempos and stuff. So, as we get into pads and see how many reps he plays in the preseason, I think you'll see his impact on the defense. We've had great noses here over the course of our history, and we're definitely counting on him anchoring the middle of our defense so we can let everyone else go do their thing."
What are your expectations for OLB Odafe Oweh this season? _(Ryan McFadden) _"My expectation for Odafe [Oweh] is to be a dominate player. I think that's the vision that he has for himself, and he should be a guy that, when we need him, he can get to the quarterback. I think he would tell you the same thing."
You weren't here last year, but DB Brandon Stephens played safety, and we are seeing him this year at outside corner a lot. What are your impressions of how he stacks up there? _(Luke Jones) _"I'm fired up that we have Brandon [Stephens]. Obviously, I didn't know him last year when we drafted him. So, getting to know him this year, and having a conversation with him, one, about his vision for his role that he feels most comfortable, and then as an organization where we need him to play. But he's a Swiss Army knife. He literally can play every position back there. Like we've talked about in the past, he just provides us so much flexibility. He's doing a great job. That whole group, we talk about interchangeable parts and playing different roles, and things like that. It's coming along."
It's only been three days, but how has S Kyle Hamilton progressed, and because you have so many experienced safeties, are you able to not just throw him out there at times? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Yes, we don't have to feed him to the fire, per se. I think that's a good point. But the thing with Kyle is I don't think he left off from where he was in the spring. Sometimes that happens with rookies; they take a little dip and need to get caught back up. I keep saying the word trajectory, but he just keeps learning, keeps communicating. He's a very sharp, [a] very smart player, obviously plays fast. He can cover a ton of ground. So, like you said, we have great players back there, too. So, he has to earn his way onto the field."
Because you are so deep at safety this year, do you have the luxury of using any of training camp to experiment with them in different schemes, or is it just about game preparation? _(Gerry Sandusky) _"Yes, we're in a process right now, but we're definitely going to be trying to get our best guys out there given situations. So, we'll definitely be experimenting as we get going, but right now we're kind of in our install part of the process. There are definitely some packages we have now where we have multiple guys in different spots, but I think toward Week 2 or 3, you'll probably see some different things that we'll experiment with, for sure."
At Michigan last year, you were able to boost your pressure rate with a lower blitz rate. Are there any lessons you took away from that that you are hoping to implement this year? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"It's an evaluation of your team. We realized last year that our best players were our edge guys, and we wanted to let them do what they do. So, we're in the process right now of figuring out who our best players are, what they do best and then the goal will be to let them go do those things. It's not rocket science, but it's easier said than done. But that's what we're looking to do."
As the intensity of training camp begins, how do you handle the responsibility of being the defensive coordinator of the Ravens? _(Mark Viviano) _"You try not to make a big deal out of it. To me, it's important [that] what we're worried about right now is the guys in the room. The thing that we decided that we were going to do early in camp, is we promised each other that we wanted to be the type of defense that we envisioned. I think everyone is on the same page right now, and once you agree on that, it's pretty simple. Like, 'Hey, it either looks this way, or it doesn't.' And then the conversations are easier to have when someone's below the line, per se."
How confident are you that S Marcus Williams is picking up the schemes? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Yes, I'm not worried about Marcus [Williams] at all. He's really, really smart and communicates really well. You can see his skill set; it's really easy to see. So, I'm not worried about it at all."
How would you explain the defense that you envision to one of the seven-year-old kids here at training camp? (Danny Heifetz) _(laughter)_"Anybody can play anything. All at the same time."
OLB ODAFE OWEH
On if he's excited for Saturday's stadium practice in front of many fans:"Yes, of course. Playing in front of the fans is always a great experience. I'm coming from Penn State – I played in front of 107K every weekend. So, it doesn't really faze me that much. Obviously, having the fans there is always good. It gives you more energy to play and motivates you even more. So, it'll be fun."
On making a leap in his second year:"Yes, I kind of felt that toward the end of the season. Obviously, things didn't play out how they should've with my shoulder and everything. But I'm ready. I'm fired up to make a big impact and help my team win."
On if his shoulder injury held him back last season:"I don't want to say it held me back, but it was something that I was feeling. It got progressively worse as I was playing. But I'm a competitor, I want to compete. I know as a football player, you've got to play through things like that. Next season, I'm going to be ready though."
On the return of OLB Justin Houston:"Yes, very pleased. He's a sensei now – he got the headband [on]. (laughter)So, he's not Yoda anymore. (laughter) He's teaching everybody. We've got a bunch of new guys in the room now, too, so they're starting to see what his pass rush acumen really is. I'm just so pleased to have him here teaching us every single day, learning from him – little tips and everything like that. I'm happy that he's back."
On the differences in defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald's defense as compared to last year:"Everyone is communicating differently. We're all fired up. I don't want to compare anything. Obviously, at the end of the day, it's up to the players to make plays and everything. But I feel like everyone is fired up to start something new, be communicating more, be more sound in everything. So, it should be a good year."
On the aspects of his game he feels better at now:"When I first got here, I was kind of jittery. I was just trying to make every single play. But now, I'm just trying to make the right play. I'm not necessarily trying to jump out of gaps and try to force plays. [I'm] being patient. And obviously, in pass rushing, being more calm, reading everything, taking what I see, bending the edge, and all the stuff like that. So, you'll see a different Odafe this year, for sure."
On what he liked from his performance last season:"I liked how active I was. If I wasn't winning off the first move, I was going to win off the second, or even the third move. And then once the ball was out, I was triggering. I didn't miss a lot of tackles – stuff like that. But I want to build on that. I want to be more complete in pass rush, be more accurate, win on the first move a lot more. So, it's a bunch of stuff like that."
On if he watched the University of Michigan's defense last year:"No, I'm Penn State. I'm Penn State. (laughter) No, but I saw them play. David [Ojabo] is my guy, obviously. So, I was watching him play a lot. [Defensive Coordinator] Coach Mike [Macdonald] is a genius and everything. (Reporter: "What sticks out to you about how Mike Macdonald uses his edge rushers?") "He lets them go – that's what I like. He lets them go, he lets them have freedom and be who they are. I'm looking forward to how he uses me."
On defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald's "genius":"The way he breaks it down. It's real simple. The guys that are new to the game – guys like me – he makes it easier, in terms of dropping and everything like that. Just little parts of the game that were supposed to be complicated, but he makes them real simple. So, I'd probably say like that."
On if he feels stronger in his legs:"Yes, just bending the edge, I feel like my legs are stronger so I can get out after I make that third step and I'm dipping. I made a nice move yesterday, and I felt it in my legs – using all that work and everything. I'm happy with the work I did in the offseason, and it's paying off."
On having certain games circled on the calendar:"No, I mean, I feel like you guys already know. But, we're all competitive. We want to win every game. We want to win every game. But in my mind, I know what I want. I'm good. (Reporter: "Is it a divisional game?") "We're good, we're good, don't worry. We want to win every game though. We want to win every game." (laughter)