I was wondering, without having a minicamp, will this put you a little bit behind in terms of getting ready for the season? Or do you think you can just pick it right up with training camp? (David Ginsburg) "That's an interesting question. I feel like … Are we behind on where we would be in our normal year? Maybe, but since the whole league is doing that, not really. Obviously, we're doing as much as we can now in terms of knowledge of the game. There's only so much you can do in meetings without being able to go out on the field, and that stuff is kind of left here. I think the biggest thing for us is to just stay committed to this process and get out of it what we can, whatever that takes. Obviously, our team needs to do that in order to be ready for the season. But other than that, I don't think it's going to be a disadvantage, because everybody else is doing it in the league."
The last time we saw you was against Tennessee in the playoffs as a rookie. What have you been working on to become a better player? (Ximena Lugo Latorre) "Everything, honestly. Just getting my body in better shape for this season. Getting my legs stronger just to be able to endure 16 games. Obviously, brush up on my knowledge of the game, watching a lot of film of myself, things that I could've done better. I just feel like I've been getting better as an all-around player. Like you just said, I was a rookie, and obviously, I went out there and did what I could. I'm capable of a lot more, and I'll be able to play faster this year, have more chemistry with Lamar [Jackson] and just be able to go out there and just play the game the way I know how to play."
As you watch WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown working out with QB Lamar Jackson in Florida – and he's obviously getting jacked as well, doing all he can for that – and you not being down there with them a little bit, are you a little jealous of that? He's working on that chemistry ahead of you, because you still have to fight for balls, right? (Pete Gilbert) "Absolutely, absolutely – I was planning on going down there before all this stuff happened. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to get down there, but next week I'll be down there training with them, training with those guys. It'll be exciting for us, obviously to be together and just work on that chemistry. We've got to do as much as we can. I plan on going down there, again, which is going to be the only time of the year. Yes, it's kind of an awkward situation for everybody, because those two are lucky that they live in Florida together. I've been working with Trace [McSorley] a lot more because he's closer to me in Baltimore. I think the most important thing is just doing what you can. The fact that I have Trace here to be able to work with me and throw balls is huge."
Though it's been a strange one, how helpful has it been having a full offseason to rest, recuperate, and then also prepare for your second season? (Kyle Barber) "It's been good. My body was kind of beat up after the season. I didn't realize how hard 16 – well, really 17 – games would be, regardless of the bye week and the bye in the playoffs. I didn't realize how hard it would be. In college, the best teams might play 14 games, and that's maybe. So, for us, it was really hard for me to come and adjust to that and be able to play in all 17 games and not really miss a beat. Obviously, I had nagging injuries at the end of the season. But, yes, I think that's definitely one of the biggest things I kind of, maybe didn't expect as much – kind of the wear and tear on your body through the course of a season. I'm looking before you today and I feel great, my body feels great, and I feel like I'm ready to play another season. I know what to expect now."
Last year, when you came into the league, the perception about the Ravens, I don't think a lot of people even favored the Ravens to win the division. Now, everywhere you see, the Ravens are one of the Super Bowl favorites. How do expectations and the heightened expectations … Does that change the teams' mindset at all? Or does that do anything as far as the teams' focus going into the season? (Jamison Hensley) "I think the great teams, it doesn't – and I think we have the potential to be a great team. For us, we can't really listen to that outside noise, and I don't think we ever have. We lost to Tennessee because we didn't play well enough to win. It wasn't because we thought we were better than what we really were. At the end of the day, the only expectations that matter are the ones that we have for ourselves. If we go out there and say our expectation is to win a Super Bowl, we'll have to start with Week One. I think [Head Coach John Harbaugh] 'Harbs' is great on talking about that and talking about how it starts at Week One. It doesn't start at Week 16, it doesn't start at the Super Bowl. You have to build yourself a Super Bowl team. You're not a Super Bowl team from Day One. For us, like I said, it's just taking it one game, one step at a time, one meeting at a time, one virtual meeting at a time. It's huge for us to take those steps, and I think we're doing that. We have the right people on this team. We have great chemistry and great character on this team. I was fortunate to walk into that as a rookie, and now I'm ready to take it to the next level for this team, and just kind of be on the other end of it now. Now, I'm considered an older guy, especially this August – because we had so many rookies last year and everybody was really young. For me, I have to be one of the leaders in the receiving room now, especially with Willie [Snead IV] and 'Hollywood' [Marquise Brown], and just being able to go out there and give some of that knowledge out from my rookie year to make it easier for other rookies."
Both [head coach] John Harbaugh and [executive vice president and general manager] Eric DeCosta have said that they feel like you are going to take a significant step forward this year. Does all the uncertainty about the schedule create a little extra frustration for you given that you are going into such a pivotal year in your career? (Childs Walker) "No, because at the end of the day I'm still playing football – if we have a season, obviously. But at the end of the day, I'm playing football. It doesn't matter where I'm playing it or who I'm playing it against. Football is football. There's going to be 11 people on each side of the ball, and I just have to go out there and do my job. So, no, it doesn't affect me as much. Having a season is obviously a big deal for us – obviously, we want to have a season – but at the same time, we want to be able to keep the fans safe and ourselves safe. But other than that, I'm not worried about anything else."
Besides QB Lamar Jackson and WR Marquise Brown, who else is going to be a part of that group getting together and training in Florida? (Shawn Stepner) "We're still finalizing it. There's going to be a lot of guys down there. I couldn't name all of them. I'm not sure who will be there and who won't be there. But yes, there's definitely going to be some guys down there. It'll be a big group."
I just wanted to gauge your thoughts on the Ravens taking a couple of receivers [in the draft]? WR Devin Duvernay was [drafted] 92nd. You were [drafted] 93rd the year before. What are your thoughts on more rookie receivers among the receiving corps? (Shawn Stepner) "[It's] exciting. [I'm] excited to have those guys with us. I think they bring great versatility. I think that's one thing that you could say about our receiving corps. You literally look up and down the corps, and you say, 'OK, this guy's like that. This guy's like that guy.' I think we're all different. We all have different sets of talents, and I think that's what's going to make us work well this year."
We hear a lot about virtual OTAs or whatever, but can you walk us through what that actually means for you? What's that four-hour day like? Who are you in meetings with, and what's that been like for you? (Aaron Kasinitz) "It really just depends on the day. You'll have your workout, which won't necessarily last the whole two hours, so you'll have maybe a 30-minute break before you go to your actual meetings. And that could be … We might start off with a team meeting with everybody in there, and 'Harbs' [head coach John Harbaugh] will have a guest speaker. Today, we actually had Ed Reed, and the week before that we had Ray Lewis. So, for us, it just depends on day to day. We'll have a speaker, and then we'll break off. For offense, we'll go into position meetings. So, we'll meet with Coach [David] Culley and the rest of the receivers. We'll be in there, and then we'll go into the special teams meeting, and then we'll end it there."
You mentioned earlier wanting to play faster. What is the key to doing that in your mind? Last year, as a rookie, was having so much on your plate and thinking … Does that prevent you a little from playing as fast as you wanted to play? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, absolutely. I'm a fast guy. That's not what it's about when I say, 'Playing fast.' By playing fast, it's just in terms of ... I guess if I could put it this way; when you're younger, you worry about, 'OK, what do I have to do?' When you're older, you know, 'Why am I doing this? This makes sense.' Everything just starts to roll off. So, now I'm worried about how to do things right. I'm not worried about what I have to do right. I need to know how to do it right. And that's the part of film study that you don't have time for during the season. I have to prepare for the other team, and I don't have time to watch every little thing that I'm doing wrong. Now, I can take a step back and look at that, and say, 'OK, I can do it this way. I can do it that way.' I already know what I need to do. I just need to know how I can get better at what I'm doing. So, that's what I mean by, 'Play faster.' It's really just like the play speed, recognizing coverages, certain ways to run routes against different coverages, things like that."
A lot of receivers and quarterbacks, when they get together [in the offseason], talk about that it's not just on-field work, but you can sort of bond off the field. Do you have any plans? Do you know what the game plan is for how you're going to spend your time down [in Florida]? (Aaron Kasinitz) "No, we have no clue. I would imagine that we'll be able to get together and do more than football things, hopefully, but we don't know. We just know that, for right now, we just have the plan to go down there and be able to run through some plays on offense and just play football a little bit, get back to what we have fun doing."
Can you put yourself in the shoes of the rookies coming in and talk about how difficult it would be to just start on Day One of training camp and not have all the OTAs and the minicamps? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, for me, I kind of didn't. I maybe got two reps a set in minicamp. I didn't do any OTAs. I did rookie minicamp, but other than that I didn't play with the team until my first day of training camp. I would say my receiver coach kind of broke it down perfectly for me. We were talking the whole preseason and then we got to the season, and even in the postseason, but each step is a new level. Rookie minicamp is going to be different from college. When you go into OTAs, OTAs are going to be different from minicamp, and then you get to training camp, that's different from OTAs. Preseason games are different from regular games, and the postseason is a whole other level. And really those steps are crucial, and I think I missed out on that by, obviously, not participating in OTAs. But, for me, even when I was going through the season, I could see those steps happening and progressing. And now you look back on it and those aren't things that I have to worry about, but we try to tell those rookies those things. And it's OK to make mistakes as a rookie. You just want to make sure that you're playing fast and you know your playbook as well as possible. Nobody expects rookies to come in and be perfect, and that was probably the hardest thing for me. I was coming in there trying to be perfect and nobody ever is. You just have to go in there and do what they ask of you. So, I think that would probably be my biggest advice to the rookies."
Can you share a little bit about what Ed Reed's message was today and what it meant to you to hear from a legend like that? (Ryan Mink) "It's awesome. We always talk about [how] when you think of the Ravens, Ed Reed is a name that immediately comes up. So, for us, his biggest message was, 'Take care of business – whatever it is.' Obviously, we can only do so much with the circumstances, and everybody understands that, but that doesn't mean we're taking this time off. Just be intentional in what you're learning, [and] be intentional in getting better at your craft. And that goes a long way, especially from Ed Reed, who has done it all. So, for us, I think it was huge just hearing what he had to say, and really just picking his brain a little bit. He's talking about your finances, to recovery, to watching film – it's awesome – we even got into cleaning up the locker room and how that leads to being a better team, and off the field stuff. So, it's awesome hearing from a guy like that. He's an all-time great leader and all-time great player."
There continues to be speculation about the possibility of WR Antonio Brown signing with the Ravens. Do you have any thoughts on that? (Childs Walker) "No, other than I think he's a great receiver."
I know you have done a couple of fundraising efforts for COVID-19 relief. Can you share your thoughts on what you've done over these past couple months to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts and why that's important to you? (Shawn Stepner) "The biggest reason why it's important for me is because my mom is a nurse. She's a labor and delivery nurse, so she works in a hospital that takes care of COVID patients, but she's on another wing of it. But, she's still on the front line every day – she's had patients who have had it. That's why it was important for me. But, at the same time, I realize that it's hard for everybody going through this, but I'm so fortunate – I'm blessed. I'm not having to worry about if my job is going to be here for me. I'm not worried about those things. I'm not worried about paying my bills, so I'm fortunate enough to look back. So, I wanted to give people a bright spot to be able to kind of relax and talk to me, so I did a virtual meet and greet. So, it's pretty much like what we're doing now, except I would have somebody on here, and we'd be able to just talk, and I donated all that money to United Way in Chicago."
As you watch the workout videos – like today we saw CB Marlon Humphrey going up a stone pile, which looked like a grueling effort, and WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown chasing down his own ball from the JUGGS machine. Is there a sense of, almost, competition between you guys to put together the workout? And then, of course, the social media aspect of it as well. (Pete Gilbert) "It's really just fun. I think we get bored sometimes, so it's just fun to come up with new ways to work out. I did see Marlon's – that did look fun. But honestly, that's all it is. We just get together like, 'OK, what can we do?' 'Hollywood' [WR Marquise Brown] challenged us, so I said, 'Alright, bet. I have to go do that.' I called [RB] Justice Hill over, and we made it work. But, like I said, it's just fun – it's fun finding different ways to work out, so I think that's all it is for us. It's not really a competition, though."
You mentioned with the virtual meetings and everything like that, with the offseason that you had last year and how it was kind of new for you coming in. What can you tell the rookies coming in now, given that they can't have on-field workouts with the team? Is there anything that you can share with them to kind of get them as ready as possible for whenever training camp happens? (Andrew Gillis) "I would say film is going to be huge, especially during July. A lot of the time for rookies … Even though I wasn't participating in OTAs, I was still in all the meetings, [and] I was doing everything else. I just couldn't practice because I was injured. So, for me, I was still out there with the team, [and] I was still working out. I just wasn't running routes. So, even then, for rookies, it gets kind of hard and stressful because you're trying to pick up a whole new playbook, and in July, you have a chance to relax a little bit. I don't think it's going to be like that this year, especially for rookies. All of July, you're going to have to be able to learn that playbook, and then come in and be able to do it at full speed in training camp. So, I think that probably would be my biggest thing; in July, just make sure you're still going through the playbook every day and just learning something new every day."
Coach [John] Harbaugh said at the end of the year how he anticipates defenses looking at your offense and trying to do a counter and how this offense has to evolve. How do you think this offense will look differently this year compared to last year? Do you foresee some added wrinkles to what you guys did last year so successfully? (Jamison Hensley) "I know 'G-Ro' [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] is a genius, so he's going to find something out. I think the biggest thing for us is just to be ready for whatever he throws our way. I think we've been a resilient team in the fact that [when] we have a new play, we learn it like the back of our hands. So, for us, especially for receivers, we just have to do our job, and when it's called upon us, we have to make the play."
Have you talked to any of the rookie receivers? Have you talked with WR James Proche and WR Devin Duvernay and just kind of welcomed them in? What's that process like?" (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, we've talked to them. From my experience with them, they're incredibly smart. I think they fit right in in the locker room. Like I said, we're in virtual meetings every day, so we'll chop it up real quick before and after meetings. They're great guys, and I'm excited to see what they do on the field with us. I think the biggest thing, especially for them, is like I said, just learning the playbook. Don't have pressure trying to go in there and do everything perfect – I think that's the biggest issue that all rookies have. Just go out there and play hard, do what you're capable of doing, and [show] why we drafted you. That would probably be my advice to them."