We've kind of heard how G/T Marshal Yanda might have influenced some of your decision making in this. Can you explain … Was it something that you reached out to him? Or did he reach out to you? (Jamison Hensley) "During the process, my agent reached out and said, 'Hey, Marshal Yanda gave [me] the Ravens' number and gave me his number and told you to call him.' So, basically, he said, 'Hey, reach out if you have questions.' So, during the process, I gave him a call. He gave a glowing review of the Ravens and how it's great to be an O-lineman there. So, it was a nice selling factor to hear it from his point of view. It was great."
You had options in where you were going to sign. How important was fit as a factor? However you define that – whether it's the chance to win, or the style of play – was that a big part of it for you? (Childs Walker) "Yes. When it came down to it, the teams I was choosing from … Winning and being on a great established team was definitely … No matter where I went, that was going to be part of it. Baltimore was just … After talking to Coach [John Harbaugh] and everything, I thought it fit what I do well with my run blocking and everything and whatnot. I just thought for me and my family right now, Baltimore was the place to be."
When you look at the style of offense the Ravens play, they run the ball more than any team in football. How enticing of an opportunity is that? How much does a guy, a veteran like you, enjoy kind of the run blocking aspect? How much did you think that made it a good fit for you? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I mean, that's amazing. Every O-lineman you ask, 'Hey, what do you want to do?' They all want to be run blocking, because that usually means you have the lead, or you're controlling the game, or dominating up front. The Ravens have established that that's what they're going to do, and I have a hard time believing they're going to change that up now." (laughter)
I just wanted to get your impression of playing with a guy like QB Lamar Jackson? What's your take on him seeing him from afar? (Todd Karpovich) "I'm pretty excited. After going against him many times and losing many times, I'm very excited for him to be on my side this time. The things he can do at any given time, I mean … I really don't know if there's a player in the NFL that can do it like him. There definitely isn't, and that's exciting. It's a really cool opportunity to work with that."
How cool was it to have teams, as you say, duking it out for you and trying to get your services? You and your wife were able to pick where you wanted to go, instead of the market dictating to you where you only have one or two choices and you had to pick one. How cool and satisfying was that? (Kirk McEwen) "It was cool. You know, one of the great parts about it is that you get to talk to a lot of coaches around the league. You get to hear the different philosophies, what their O-line coaches teach, how they think [and] where the programs are. It's just a great time getting to talk to so many different people. It was different this time. We really wanted to make sure the fit was right. We weren't just going to let the market dictate it, and the Ravens came out on top."
How familiar are you with the run-pass option? And did the Ravens being in the AFC North and you playing with two other AFC North teams in the past play a role in your decision, as well? (Kevin Richardson) "All the teams I've been on have had a run-pass option package. I'm sure it's going to be a little different this year with Lamar [Jackson] back there, because he can really go. It really came down to the Ravens being the best fit, but it doesn't hurt that I've been in the AFC North for most of my career. There is some familiarity there."
You said you weren't going to let the market dictate where you went, and the fit mattered most. Did you pass up more money somewhere else to come to Baltimore? (Ryan Mink) "Everything was similar when it came down to the end. Every other team was a very compelling argument. It was a hard choice. I was hoping one [team] would separate itself – that it would be really easy – but no, it was a tough choice. Like I said, after it was all said and done, me and my wife talked, and Baltimore was where we were meant to be."
When we talked to DE Derek Wolfe yesterday, he mentioned that he's known you since the 2012 NFL Combine. Is there anybody else from the Ravens that you have a longstanding relationship with – coaching staff or players? (Childs Walker) "I had [quarterbacks coach] James Urban – the QB coach. He was with me back in Cincinnati, so we had some familiarity there. I met Justin Tucker and Brandon Williams at a talent show thing we did a couple years back. So, a couple connections here and there."
When you were playing against the Ravens – and you did it for a long time – what were your thoughts about the team identity of the Ravens? I know you were on different teams, but was that something where you thought, "That would be a place I would like to play, if I had the opportunity?" (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, you always knew they were going to be tough; they were going to have good players; they're intimidating when you come here. It's a great setup with the stadium, the players – the way they play – the culture set up here. It's an intimidating place, and going back, it's a place people would want to be and play for."
Just to follow up on QB Lamar Jackson … Was there a time when you were on an opposing team and you saw him break off a play, and even being on the opposing sideline, you're like, "Wow, I can't believe that just happened?" (Ryan Mink) "Yes, many times."