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Transcripts: Minicamp Media Availability (6/12)


We talked to T Ronnie Stanley yesterday. He said last year didn't sit well with him because he knows he can play better and that he's come into this year with a lot of determination. Have you sensed that this offseason from him? (Jamison Hensley) "Ronnie [Stanley] has been doing an excellent job this spring. He's come in here, he's worked in all the drills – everything that we have to do – and you can see steady progression of his play. If he keeps that up, it's going to be good for him and for us, both."

G Andrew Vorhees said he talked to T Ronnie Stanley a little bit about dealing with injuries. How much are you seeing him and other young guys look and emulate Ronnie as the veteran? (Giana Han) "I think guys feed off of each other. They ask, 'How can I bounce back, [and] what's the process?' But each one is individual – their work ethic, their determination, their goals to what they want to have – and Andrew [Vorhees] is a driven young man. His injury, how he's come back, he's just done a heck of a job so far. From Day One to where he is today, he'll continue to grow, and with experience and confidence, which he's growing every day with it. Those guys all mesh well, and they all help each other out, which is fantastic."

Where do you see the biggest strides in T Daniel Faalele from last year to this year? (Ryan Mink) "Well, I think Daniel [Faalele] now is becoming more of a good football player, in a sense. He's starting to feel comfortable in his body and what he can do, and we're working him at right tackle. We're working him at somewhat right guard, and he's played left tackle before. We went up to New England and beat New England when he was playing left tackle, right? That's a big confidence [boost], what he achieved, but I just see him getting more familiar [with] what he has to do [and] how he's got to communicate, and I think it's just a work in progress with him. I think the more he does it, the better he's going to become."

You've lost three starters from last year on the offensive line. What have you seen in terms of competition so far for those spots? (Jamison Hensley) "You know what, I've seen good competition. I've seen each guy working, and I move them around quite a bit – for their benefit and also for our benefit – because the more they can do, guess what, [they] get to stay in this league longer, because you can play multiple positions, and they've all accepted that role and that opportunity. Andrew [Vorhees] is doing a great job. 'Sala' [Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu] is doing a good job. Josh Jones is doing a good job. Ben [Cleveland] is doing a good job inside there, so you just keep seeing all these young men doing it, and the good news is, this is the time of year where you're learning assignment, communication [and] playing fast. The contact is not there. That's going to come. Training camp is what that's built for along with games. Then, we'll see how it plays out from there."

Would you prefer to have OL Patrick Mekari as that sixth man role as the primary backup, or do you see him being involved in the starting competition for any of the spots? (Kyle Phoenix) "Right now, Pat [Mekari]'s situation is just more of a good quality ... I see him in my eyes as a starter, OK? In my eyes, he's a starter, but he's in the position where he can play multiple positions, and that's the role that we'd like to see him in right now. Does that mean ... If we have an injury, guess what? You're starting, Pat. But it's not that he can't start, it's just that we see the versatility and the benefit of that opportunity. There are not many guys in the NFL that can play center, both guards and tackle. The last time we had a guy here that could do both was James Hurst, and he played both tackles and both guard positions, and he just retired with a fantastic career. Pat's having a nice career."

With the right tackle job up for grabs, what have you seen from T Roger Rosengarten in that regard and what he brings to the table? (Brian Wacker) "Roger [Rosengarten] is doing a great job. He's eager, he hustles, he gives good effort, he plays to succeed, and [it's] just [about] continued growth, understanding the offense and just let's see now, when we put you in a game, how are you going to produce in games? You're going to have some ups. You're going to have some downs. How are you going to bounce back from some of those opportunities, but I'm glad we have him. He's a heck of a young man."

What's standing out to you about the way G Andrew Vorhees is practicing? (Ryan Mink) "Andrew [Vorhees] is doing great. Like I said ... Here's what I'm going to tell you: First of all, that group of young men I have in there – we have 16 of them – they are fantastic young men. They work hard, they come out on a mission every day to get better, they work at their craft, they work at their skill, and you see improvement by all of them. With Andrew, we have him working at left guard and center, and he's never played center before. He's growing in that area and the confidence, so [that's] great progress."

When it comes to that positional flexibility, is that something that's becoming less common when you think across the league or more common as things develop. How do you see that? (Chris Bumbaca) "I think you have to have [versatility], just me. I was fortunate enough to come up under a head coach, many, many years ago, when I started off my career, and the philosophy was, 'The No. 2 right tackle might not be as good as that No. 2 right guard. Let's find a way to get the five best [offensive linemen] on the field.' So, that's how I grew up as a coach, to put your best five – as often as you can – on the field, so position flexibility is important for us here at the Ravens, and I know, for myself, as a coach, because you go into a game: you have seven – sometimes you have eight – but sometimes the roster has to change a little bit. Those guys have to be able to play multiple positions, because you don't know what the injury factor could be for that game."

You have a spot open at left guard and a spot open at right guard. With how smart and capable C Tyler Linderbaum is at center, are you comfortable putting even more of a burden on him? (Jonas Shaffer) "Tyler [Linderbaum] is a great leader, first of all. He's a fine, fantastic young man, great leader [and] a heck of a football player. I just found out about this: you know about your players, but Andrew [Vorhees] and I were just talking, and he said, 'Coach, did you know that Tyler won the [Dave] Rimington [Trophy]?' I didn't know that. I knew he had accolades, but I didn't know he won the Rimington [Trophy]. How about that? I said, 'You didn't tell me you won that Rimington [Trophy]'. He was a heck of a college football player [and] center. Guess what? He's a heck of a pro. He's a great communicator. He's a great leader. He works with the guys, and it's collaboration between all of them up front with their communication. Those guards have to be able to help Tyler, too. So, it's twofold."

There have been a lot of expectations on G Ben Cleveland being a former third rounder. What have you seen from him and his development? (Kyle Phoenix) "Here's what I can tell you. Last year, we played Pittsburgh, and we played the Rams, I think, towards the end, and Ben [Cleveland] played very well. When Ben's had his opportunities to start, he's produced and done well. He's out here right now working his craft and working his skills. You've seen nice progression and improvement, and I'm anxious to see now, when you start training camp, you put the pads on, and we're going to see if he'll continue. It has to be earned, right? It's earned based on play production."

Head coach John Harbaugh identified the second week of training camp to kind of solidify the offensive line starters. Based on what you've seen so far this spring, do you think that's a realistic timeframe? (Nikhil Mehta) "Well, [John Harbaugh] is the head coach, so we'll see how it goes from there. (laughter) I'm not going to balk Coach [John] Harbaugh. We all work together, so we'll see. If Coach says, 'Hey, Joe. We want a starting unit by the second week,' then we'll deliver."


On TE Isaiah Likely's one-handed catches: "He needs to catch the ball with two hands." (laughter) "Man, he's been doing what we saw last year [and] since he's been in the league – just striving to be great. He's showing it."

On rookie RB Rasheen Ali: "Oh, [Rasheen Ali] looks smooth, man. He's pretty fast from what I've seen on the field. But, it's not just him. We've got Justice [Hill], [and] we've got 'O' [Owen Wright] doing their thing. The backs are looking good."

On if he feels faster after slimming down in the offseason: "I feel like Lamar. I do."

On how the offense compares to the other ones he has been with: "[It's a] different group of guys [and] new faces, but it's always the same thing with us on offense. It's just grinding [and] trying to be better each and every day – nothing really new, just the guys."

On a report about forfeiting money for not attending OTAs: "I never discuss my contract up here. I'm not about to start today. I'm focusing on just getting better and focusing on tomorrow. We just had a great practice. We're just trying to keep it going. Then, when camp comes, camp is going to come."

On figuring out the offensive live starters: "I can't call it. That's going to be the coaches decision at the end of the day. And, right now we don't have any pads [on], so we really don't know how the guys are going to move. Once camp gets rolling and stuff like that, I believe we'll have that starting lineup out there in the reports and stuff like that. So, I don't know. We're going to see."

On his part in continuing to evolve the offense after the season: "Oh, just being able to change extra plays and stuff like that. From us watching film and getting into games, teams changing things up on us, we just want to add extra layers to all of our calls, if anything. "

On how he is doing working on cadence: "My cadence has been pretty good, I believe. I haven't heard anything about it." (laughter) "But, right now for the new terminology, it's been going well. It's been getting better – just studying and repetition."

On if has been following the WNBA rookie class and if he would go to a game: "I would go to a game. I've been seeing highlights of crossovers. I've seen a couple of little nice little layups, flashy layups. So, I'm digging the WNBA a lot. I have to catch a game [in person]. I don't know who I'm going to watch first, but I definitely have to catch a game."

On his first impressions of the new faces in the quarterback room: "Awesome. Those guys can spin the ball – 'Dev' [Devin Leary], 'Em' [Emory Jones] – those guys [are] looking good, no doubt."

On if he has noticed a competition between the other quarterbacks to see who will be his backup: "We know it's a competition at the end of the day, but right now we're just trying to be the best teammates we can be to each other."

On what he plans to do during the break before training camp: "Focus on the season. [The] offseason is really over for me. I'm focusing on the season and what's ahead."

On if it was his experience at a NASCAR race and if it was his first time going: "Yes, that was my first time. I plan on doing it again, but I'll probably be walking around speaking to people. Just sitting and watching, that's a lot of laps. That's a lot of laps. I couldn't be racing them either. I couldn't be the driver. But, hats off to those guys because they can do it. I can't."

On if he prefers horse racing or auto racing: "Horse racing."

On where he thinks the offense is at this stage of the offseason and where they need to hone in: "I believe our offense is taking steps in the right direction right now. We can't really ... We don't really know who the guys are going to be right now. We're not in camp. We're not close to the first game or anything like that. But right now, I feel like we're taking steps in the right direction. Guys are moving good, running great routes, catching the ball, blocking good. We look pretty smooth, but I can't tell until we're in pads."

On if he will approach the next month getting ready for training camp any differently: "No, [I'll] just lock in for the season. That's all."

On his relationship with WR Zay Flowers in Zay's second year: "I can't really describe our chemistry – I believe it's great; I can say that. It's better than last year. Just being around him down in Florida, running every route on the route tree and just trying to build. It's working out for us."

On what he is seeing from WR Zay Flowers in Year Two: "I'm seeing the same thing. It's just his age [that] is different now. He's still that hungry guy. He's trying to make things happen, and every time the ball is in his area, he's making something happen. If he's making a guy miss, he's just being him."

On if RB Derrick Henry's addition will take focus off of him: "Absolutely."

On if the wide receivers and tight ends will get together for a summer break throwing session: "I would love to do that, but some guys don't want to leave their state. They're going to have to come to South Florida. They're going to have to do it. We have to. We're trying to get to the Super Bowl, and for us to do that, we have to grind. We have to build chemistry."


Can you talk a little bit about what you're specifically focusing on with QB Lamar Jackson and where he's his taken his game this offseason? (Ryan Mink) "Just improvement in all areas. Last year was really a great year in a sense of doing things from a technical standpoint, a new system, new obligations, new responsibilities, progressions, schemes, things of that nature and just building upon what we started last season; and this offseason has been a lot about that. We started with a self-scout of him, and the things from a passing standpoint that we wanted to improve on, technique-wise, reads, things of that nature, from a run game standpoint and then build from that to, how can we push that even further and give him more responsibilities within the offense and doing more things that he likes to do and listening to him and things that he likes and building around that. We're off to a good start, and [I'm] looking forward to training camp to really get to the identity that we want to have before the first game."

Is it fair to say that you're putting more on his plate in Year Two in this offense and even as his career continues, every year do you guys put more on his plate? (Cliff Brown) "That's right; and that's what it's about. The way Lamar [Jackson] sees the game and how smart he is, his intelligence, his functional intelligence, not only just in the classroom, but he's able take from the classroom and put it on the field with limited reps. He's not a high-rep guy, so he can do things once or twice and show up in the game and execute it. When you have players like that, you have to continue to push them to No. 1, keep them interested. It's like that smart kid in the classroom, you can't allow them to get bored, right? He's like that. You have to constantly add things, tweaks and things of that nature and responsibilities. So, for this offseason, from a protection standpoint, being able to change routes at the line of scrimmage, being able to change run schemes, it takes him understanding how we're blocking things up front to get us to the best run and the best pass for whatever coverage we're facing. He's accepted it and done a heck of a job of getting us into the right play, and today was probably the best day in a long time of him really just having the freedom to do what he wants to do, and we saw some really good plays and some positive gains with him doing that today."

Was that something that was added this offseason, as far as protection and things like that? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, we did it all last year. [Lamar Jackson] was on point last season with that, and obviously [it was] not perfect, so we always go back and tweak things and critique what we can do better and [learn] how people defended us in the new offensive scheme. And so, we were learning. We were growing at the same time. We had the opportunity to have a full season of film to see how we were defended and what we possibly could look for [and what] people [were] doing to Lamar. We could build from there, and that's what we decided to do. Now, we're just kind of testing it out and seeing how it goes against our defense. We're seeing a lot of exotic looks and a lot of pressures from [defensive coordinator] Zach [Orr] and his crew, and it's good for us too, because it's testing our rules, and it's testing the quarterback's ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage."

Is there a big difference from Year One and Year Two in terms of what you can install? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, just with the comfort level in the offense, the terminology, and just having tested it in a game to have something to compare it to. Sometimes, when you haven't played these plays in a game, you're kind of just talking, and then, when you do it in a game, and you have stories to tell, good or bad, you can build from that. That's what Year One in this system was for Lamar [Jackson] and for everybody on the offense – skill players, running backs [and] everyone. We had the film to teach from and improve from, but also the film to take it to the next level as well."

What have you seen from QB Devin Leary? (Todd Karpovich) [Devin Leary is] arm-talented, smart [and] competitive, [He] can make all the throws on the field, and he's doing a really good job of learning the offense and executing the offense. He played in a pro-styled system at [the University of] Kentucky, his last year [after playing] four years at N.C State. [It's] a different type of system, but we're kind of a marriage of both. He's comfortable in what we're doing. [He's] very talented, extremely talented. I look forward to him playing in the preseason."

Are OTAs and minicamp a time for quarterbacks to have greater risk-taking out on the field? Is that kind of part of the process to just see what can be a hinderance and what could be more successful. Is that kind of how you gauge this kind of atmosphere? (Kyle Phoenix) "Yes. It's [like] keys to the Ferrari, right? You're not going to give a guy keys to the Ferrari and tell him to do 30 [miles per hour], and so that's really what it is. Sometimes as coaches, you can't be scared when they make mistakes, and you can't allow the mistakes that they make to put fear in your heart for not calling that play the next time, because without that, there is no growth. With Lamar [Jackson], I tell him, 'Hey man, No. 1, whatever hits your brain first, we're going to live with it, and as long as we're all on the same page, it's not a wrong call. It's not a bad call.' So, that's where it starts, and that gives him the confidence and freedom to go out there and confidently do what he wants to do, and as long as they believe in him and whatever call he makes, I think we have a higher chance of executing. But no, we don't play scared. I don't scream and shout when things aren't going the right way the first time or second time. We'll just continue to try to get it right. Once we get to a point, we say, 'Guys, we've tried it, we've done all of the thing, and it doesn't work. We throw it out and move onto something else.' But no, we're not playing scared, we're not coaching scared, and that's the only way you can grow into this type of offense."

Head coach John Harbaugh mentioned that QB Josh Johnson will be QB2. What have you seen from him through these off seasons? (Giana Han) "I said it in the staff meeting earlier this week, that [Josh Johnson] is aging backwards. For a guy who's getting older, from an arm-strength standpoint [and] his legs, he's found a spring in his step. He's being more elusive, extending plays within the pocket, and just his experience and having seen things before, he's getting through progressions and getting the ball out to the right people on time accurately. I really like his growth – it's crazy to say that with the amount of experience he has – but I really like his growth within this offense from Year One to Year Two, and it gave us the confidence to go in saying that he could be QB2 for us."

Head coach John Harbaugh mentioned yesterday that you guys are embracing cadence more. I guess how much of a challenge is that to just kind of punch these guys on the deep end, and what do you think the benefits for someone like QB Lamar Jackson could be? (Jonas Shaffer) "You can't have cadence as a tool unless you do it and go through the growing pains of it. Guys are going to jump offsides here and there. With the amount of communication we're doing up front, with the amount of play changing we're doing up front, it's going to come with some of that, but we have to have that in our division, especially for home games with the pass rushers that we're facing – not only just in our division, but throughout the AFC – and the guys we're playing when you look at our schedule. It has been a tool in the past, and we're just going to continue to take it to the next level. Lamar [Jackson] is outstanding at it, whether we're going non-verbal on the road or whether we're going verbal at home, we have a lot of different ones that gives us an advantage so that people don't know when we're snapping the ball and slowing them down a little bit."

I think one thing that stood out from that Kansas City game and just looking to the data is QB Lamar Jackson got better against the blitz last year, bu*t sometimes those big blitzes with six- or seven-man pressures have given him trouble. I know it's not just not him, but what can this offense do to get better against that type of all-out* blitz? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think the best thing that we're doing is seeing it every day from our defense, and I thought Kansas City did do a good job in the AFC Championship game of challenging some of our protections and doing some things that did cause some of issues, and that was an area of growth. That was an area of us looking at tape and saying, 'How can we improve in those areas?' And so, our defense is doing a heck of a job, not only giving us those looks, but looks that challenge us even more than that. We're building the tools that we need to do to pick up those pressures and give Lamar [Jackson] and a little bit more time and be successful in the passing game."


How would you describe RB Derrick Henry's work habits? (Jamison Hensley) "Elite. [Derrick Henry] is a guy that hates doing anything wrong. Like, it literally pisses him off to do anything wrong, and I've got to remind him, 'Hey, Derrick, it's practice. That's why they call it practice. We're going to make some mistakes at times, but just don't make the same one twice.' But he wants to be the best, and he wants to know everything that's going on. When he's not here, he's texting me, asking me what we put in, or if he's watching film, he's asking me something about what's on the film [and] what we're doing. It's been great, as a coach, to have a guy like that, that's played this long, still wanting to play at a high level."

What, if anything, has surprised you the most about RB Derrick Henry? (Brian Wacker) "I think it's that, more than anything – for a guy that's played this long and at the level that [Derrick Henry]'s played at to come in here and still [be] hungry, still wanting to learn. He is not coming in here feeling like, 'Hey, I've done this; I've done that.' You don't see any of that. It seems like he's been a Raven all his life. He can fit in the room seamlessly. He's been awesome. You kind of assume [that] a guy that's had that much success will come in and have his way of doing things, and Derrick wants to understand how we're doing it, and he wants to do everything he can to help this football team win a championship."

How does your job change now that the Ravens have a workhorse like RB Derrick Henry in the backfield? (Nikhil Mehta) "I don't necessarily think it changes; I've just got to make sure that [Derrick Henry] is in there and make sure he's healthy and get to the game and more importantly, make sure he knows what he's doing, because when Derrick knows what to do, he's pretty talented. We all know what he can do on the football field, so Derrick will be out there, and Derrick will have the ball, and I'm sure he'll do a phenomenal job for us."

What have you seen from RB Rasheen Ali so far? (Giana Han) "Rasheen [Ali] ... Actually, I had a chance to coach against him in [college], so I knew what we were getting when we drafted him. And to have him around ... Again, he's a young man that really, really wants to be really good and wants to know everything. He's another one that's calling and texting and wanting to know what he's supposed to do. He wants to know way in advance. He'll call ... I'll get a call or text tonight, and [he'll] ask about the script tomorrow and what to do. But watching him out here, each practice, he's getting better and better. You can tell that he's getting comfortable, and from a talent standpoint, he's very talented. I'm excited to see him in training camp – when we get in pads – to see him play, and [I'm] excited to see how he does in [the] preseason. But I think he's going to be a really good back for us. I really like what he's doing."

How do you think your guys took that loss to Kansas City. Obviously, there was a lot of focus on the lack of touches for your group. How did your guys kind of internalize everything? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think it was kind of like everybody else; we were ticked off. We were a game before the Super Bowl, and it didn't happen for us, so like every other position, we were upset [and] disappointed. And I guess, after the game – after we got back – we kind of locked into this year, now, and seeing if we can do our part to help our football team win a championship."

You are very familiar with the Harbaugh family. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh will play each other in September. How would you describe the relationship between John and Jim? (Jamison Hensley) "Great. [John and Jim Harbaugh] are brothers." (laughter) "But it's great. I'm sure they both bounce things off each other. I mean, they both lean on 'Papa Jack' [Harbaugh], and they know they'll get some good wisdom from him. I'll tell you, for me, personally, I've been coaching for John, coaching for Jim, coaching for Jack ... I feel like it's Jack Harbaugh all over again. When I'm in meetings and listening to [John] talk, and just how we actually run our organization – how they do it here ... I know it's like that at Stanford – when we played at Stanford – and of course, when I was at Western [Kentucky] with Jack. So, it's pretty cool to see that they're following their dad's footsteps but doing it in their own way, and I think they all are just special. I think they're special coaches, and there's a reason why they're winners, and [there's] a reason why they do it the way they do it. Not many are like them; they're different. It's not often that you see a coach that has the forcefulness and the sincerity behind it. Usually, you get one or the other from a coach, but if you get a coach that has both of them – and be elite at both – it's pretty, pretty good."

Speaking of family, congrats to your son JT Taggart. How special is it to have him staying so close, with his commitment to the Terrapins? And did you try to push him to running back? How did that all go? (Ryan Mink) "I appreciate it. Running back? No, [JT Taggart] is not playing running back – that's for sure. No, not at all. I just tried to move him from quarterback; he wanted to play quarterback, but he grew so tall. But no, it's exciting. It's probably more exciting for [his] mom – than anything – which makes it easy and happy for me." (laughter) "[When] mom is happy, everybody is happy. But also, Maryland is a great program. [Head] coach [Mike] Locksley has done an awesome job down there. And for me, I want someone to finish what we started. And again, like I told Coach Locksley, 'I'm handing him off to you. I need you to take him to the finish line, now, and help him continue to develop, like my wife and I have done [thus] far. We want that to continue, and the football part will take care of itself; he'll do his part from that standpoint.' But I want Coach Locksley to help him become a man."

How difficult is it to have QB Lamar Jackson and RB Derrick Henry gel together when they're running run-pass options? How difficult is that transition? (Kevin Richardson) "I don't think it's very difficult. First of all, when we get the reps in practice, it makes it so much easier. With the RPOs [run-pass options], it all comes down to decisions; it's more a decision for the quarterback than it is the running back. The running back is running the play that we call, and it's just whether the quarterback wants to hand it off to you or not. So, [Derrick Henry] has just got to know his assignment and continue to do his assignment and let Lamar [Jackson] do what Lamar does, and he'll be fine. But I don't think it's going to be difficult at all. It's been great so far, in the OTAs [organized team activities] and here in minicamp."

In Tennessee, RB Derrick Henry ran a lot from under center. Obviously, you guys run more shotgun to get more out of QB Lamar Jackson. Is there an adjustment there, and how big of an adjustment might that be? (Steven Ruiz) "You know what? Coming in, I ... [After] watching the film in Tennessee, that was a concern; like, 'We're in the [shotgun], and we run from the gun, and how would Derrick [Henry] be in it?' And I'm not going to lie, I questioned that, until he got here, and [I saw] the big man move his feet, and I'm like, 'Woah.' It's really impressive for a guy that size to move the way he does. And he's got, not necessarily Zay Flowers' feet, but from a big guy, he's pretty swifty on his feet and [has] great vision and all. But seeing him do it from the gun, I don't have any ... I don't think we'll have any problem doing it. And, we'll also be under center. We do some things under center, as well. But Derrick is an athlete. He's a big athlete, and I don't think he'll have any problem with anything we ask him to do. If we want him to go out at receiver, I think Derrick would go out there and get that done, as well." (Reporter: "Return kickoff?") "He'll do that, as well, if that's what we need him to do. I wouldn't want to be the one to tackle him – from that standpoint – as he gets going."

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