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Transcripts: OTA Media Availability (5/28)


How do you feel like the wide receiver group is coming along here for OTA practices? (Garrett Downing) "I think the group is coming along really well. [There is] a lot of good camaraderie with the guys. The young guys are blending in. The older guys are bringing guys along. It's a good group. They all want to be learners and understand what's going on, and then [they] come out here and execute at a high level each and every day."

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken said last week that he needs to do a better job of getting WR Rashod Bateman the ball. Despite what his numbers finished at, what kind of strides did you see from Rashod last year? (Jeff Zrebiec) "'Bate' [Rashod Bateman] comes to work every day and does a hell of a job of getting in and out of breaks, doing the things that I asked of him. Whatever I ask of him, he's willing and able to get it done. Obviously, the ball didn't find him as much last year. We're still coming back, and who's to say the ball is going to find him this year, but he's going to be coming to work each and every day and trying to get better. That's what we're all trying to do to win games, so whatever it takes for us to win, 'Bate' and all the guys are willing to do that. When his number is called, as you saw today, he's making great plays for us."

How big of a deal do you think it is that WR Rashod Bateman had a pretty much healthy season last year and coming off a healthy offseason at this point? How big of a deal would it be for him to have a long, clean ramp up to a season? (Childs Walker) "Health is always a big thing with just playing this sport. The more you're out there, the more opportunity you have to get better and continue to thrive in those situations, so having 'Bate' out here all [of] last year and moving forward this season has been tremendous for him and us as an offense, just having that different aspect that he brings to the group out there. And then, [it's] just [about] getting opportunities and taking advantage of those when he gets those chances."

Usually when you get to a receivers fourth year, you kind of know what you have already. In WR Rashod Bateman's case, how much untapped potential is there still to come from him moving forward? (Shawn Stepner) "I wouldn't say it's untapped potential. The ball just hasn't found [Rashod Bateman] in situations. He comes out here every day and shows what he's capable of doing, whether it's [in] practice [or games]. When he gets his opportunities in the game, he does that. It's just about [getting] more and more opportunities, and then more and more production will come from him. I think he's doing a great job with what we're giving him and what we're giving everybody to try and take advantage of the best of his ability."

What do you hope to see from WR Zay Flowers in Year Two? (Ryan Mink) "[I hope to see] just growth, growth all around. As a leader, he's doing a great job of taking [in] some of the youngers guys and showing them the ropes. Obviously, he went through it last year and just cleaning up little small details of route running, technique, staying in treatment and doing all the little things that help you be able to have a long career and get better. So, he's doing all of the little things, and it's showing up out here in practice, and it's going to show up in game situations."

You've worked with some wide receivers that have had that alpha WR No. 1 label attached to them. With WR Zay Flowers, is there stuff that he's done that is reminiscent of that or stuff that you push him towards to make him that way? (Jonas Shaffer) "I'm not a big guy to push guys to anything. I want them to be themselves, and whatever that is or whoever they are, I just want to accentuate that and build off of that. I think we have a group of guys that all want to get better, all want to do the little things and push each other, so it's not a one guy show or a Zay Flowers show or [Rashod] Bateman show or any of that. It's just everybody is coming out here to work and get better each and every day, and I think they've bought into that. It's a team effort, and we need everybody. So, just having everybody to push each other and get better each and every day has been remarkable."

What have you seen from WR Devontez Walker? (Todd Karpovich) "[Devontez Walker] is a sponge. He wants to know everything, and he's doing a great job with that. You see his length and his speed out there on the field and [him] making big-bodied catches but then he can take the top off coverages. He's doing a great job as far as the offense is concerned, learning and understanding what we're trying to do is different than what he did in college. It's a lot of nuances, and he's picking them up seamlessly, so I'm excited [for] where he's at now and where he can go in the future."

QB Malik Cunningham going from quarterback to receiver, how has the transition been for him? What have you seen from him in this process? (Garrett Downing) "Malik [Cunningham] is a football player, and he loves the game. He wants to find any way he can to get out on the field, and if it's at receiver, it's at quarterback, it's at running back [or] D-Line, he's out there trying to get it done. He's done a great job of transitioning from the quarterback position to the receiver position, working with Zay [Flowers] and Sean Ryan and 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman]. They're bringing him along and teaching him the nuances of playing receiver, but he understands spatial awareness, [and] he understands from the quarterback's perspective, so obviously, he understands zone coverage. Now, it's just getting him to do the little things are receivers do, because he hasn't done it a bunch."

What is the hardest part about learning to be a receiver on the fly, even when you are an elite athlete? (Childs Walker) "It's just [about] being on the same page with the quarterback and understanding different leverages of defensive backs. Until you're in that situation, you don't know, but Malik [Cunningham] is a great athlete, and he understands how to move around. He was at quarterback running away from the big dudes, getting away from those guys, so he can maneuver around DBs and linebackers and figure it out. And he's a smart kid, so he's doing a great job from that standpoint. I would say that's the biggest thing [about moving] from quarterback to receiver is just feeling the zones and understanding where you need to be, and he's ahead of the curve because he sat back there as the quarterback throwing it before."

A couple of rookies dropped passes today, and WR Zay Flowers came over and said they owe him pushups. Where is that coming from? Is that from Zay or the wide receiver room? (Kyle Phoenix) "That's all Zay [Flowers]. That's all Zay. He's a character, and obviously, we don't want to drop passes at all, ever, but nobody has ever caught every pass that's been thrown to them in the history of football. We understand that. We want to get the pushups and then get back [up] and get the next play, so I think it's good that Zay is taking that leadership role and finding ways to get the guys focused on what they need to get done. The guys are owning up to it and doing what they need to do, because I know they don't want to drop the ball. Nobody does. They don't want to do the wrong thing, and [they're] just holding each other accountable. That's a big thing around here, and really it should be everywhere, but around here, [it's about] accountability and owning what you did and then manning up to it and then going to the next situation."

WR Rashod Bateman is on the older end of the receivers here. What do you want to see both on and off the field? (Giana Han) "Like I said, I don't want anybody to do anything that they don't feel comfortable with, or that's not them. But, I do want 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman] to come out and work each and every day. What he does in the meeting rooms with the guys when he comes out here, how he practices, that's just a testament to him, and that's showing the guys what to do or how to do it. You don't have to be a 'rah rah' guy and do all this stuff. It's [about] how you work and how you present yourself as a professional, and 'Bate' is doing a tremendous job with that, and all the guys are. So, hopefully, the young guys are sponges, and they soak all that information up and see what it's like to be a professional athlete and go out and execute."


On helping out with a health situation on a plane this offseason: "I was on my way back after the season, going back to Arizona. It's a scary moment when someone in front of you is kind of going unconscious. But the really cool thing about that situation or scenario is to see all of the people come together – the doctors and nurses on the plane, and the flight attendants did an incredible job of really helping someone, and you don't know if it is a near-death experience. Me, just obviously being a Type 1 diabetic, lending my tester kit, and she was fine. But, really big props to everyone around – the doctors, the nurses and the flight attendants – who were on their A game."

On if he has connected again with the individual: "No, no, I haven't heard anything about it. That's kind of her deal. I know what it's like to have scary things happen, and so [I'm] just giving her her space and her privacy, that's what I'm thinking about."

On Todd Monken's offense in Year Two: "It's been fun, just coming back in and seeing just the little nuances in the direction of what we're trying to do [to] change up [and] keep defenses honest. I think we have some really cool and dangerous things that he's implementing. It's very much [that] we're going to see the offense, we're going to see the defense [then] make a good call and make it right. That's what you want to be able to do is get into the right call and have your guys fly around. We have a lot of great players – great receivers, great tight ends, and the quarterback is second to none. So, it looks really good right now. "

On combining with TE Isaiah Likely to challenge defenses: "It's going to be special. When you have two guys that are dynamic, [there will be] mismatches all over the field – it doesn't matter where you put us. That's tough to game-plan for. [We're] both guys that love to play ball, love to compete, and it's going to be fun. Really, our whole tight end room is special right now, and I'm excited about that. We're just trying to grow and get better each and every day. [I'm] very thankful to have the tight end group that we have and just continue to get better. So, it'll be fun to see how we're used."

On the importance of run blocking: "That's part of being a tight end, doing everything. You have to be able to keep the defense honest. You want to come on the field ... it's not just, they're passing the ball. That's something that I had to learn very early on in my career is being able to put your hand down [and] get dirty. It just makes it tough on a defense to game-plan for, and every guy in our room is able to do that. So, that's awesome."

On if his quick recovery after last season's injury affected his offseason: "There were still some things I was probably battling through that time of year. [I] obviously wasn't full 100% in [the AFC Championship], but I worked really hard to get to that point, and it set me up for a really good offseason to work hard. I've been running a ton of routes – non-stop routes – with my family, working out. I feel really good right now. I feel fast [and] explosive. But, I think it set me up for a really good offseason."

On his mentality going into the season: "[I'm] just hungry. It's tough to be around for the last six years and play almost every snap, every game and really haven't missed much and then have that happen – have the type of team that we had last year and probably playing the biggest games that we've ever played in and not be able to play in those games. That's tough to look at, especially for me, as a guy [who has] been here for a long time. So, I'm hungry. I'm excited and very motivated to continue to help this team win games, be there for the guys, stay healthy, God-willing, and keep it going."

On the current offseason schedule and his feelings on the setup: "I don't really mind [the way it's set up right now]. I think this is a good time period of guys coming back here, working. You're able to get with the team, get the plays in, and then you get that extra break off, which is kind of nice for your body. It's kind of nice for everything, just getting your head back right, but I don't know the right answer to that. It could be both. I haven't done it the other way. For the NFLPA – they ask everybody in the league, [and] they ask all the guys. And, [hopefully] they [will] make sure that's a consensus that guys would want to [change the schedule], because I really don't have a problem with the way it's set up right now."

On the addition of RB Derrick Henry: "It's awesome. You have Derrick Henry. That's a huge addition for us, and we have Lamar Jackson. We have Derrick Henry. For the defense, it's like, 'All eyes on them.' Those are two elite players at their position, and that's a scary thing. For us, and everybody else around them, it's making plays and making it tougher on the defense and using them to get open [and] to make plays. Those two together, it's going to be dynamic."

On what he thinks it will take for WR Rashod Bateman to establish himself as high-level receiver: "I think it's happening right now. I think he looks incredible. Everything – his route running, catching the ball, being where he's supposed to be – he has it down to a science. I know he's worked really hard, but he looks about as put together as he's ever been. So, it's going to be a big year for Rashod Bateman. I'm calling it now."

On if he has changed anything this offseason over previously: "Yes, it was a little different. I've always worked hard, but [I] really dialed it in. Obviously, dealing with the ankle was something I had to focus on. Sometimes, something like that is a blessing in disguise. You don't really know what's around the corner, but having to go through that adversity has allowed me to really put the work in, see things for what they are, and I think I've come out better for it."

On the advantages of two-tight end sets: "You see it all across the NFL. The tight end position is growing and growing. These are guys that are some of the best athletes on the field, being big, tall, strong [and] able to go get passes. I love what we're able to do. I think that we're going to continue to grow that, obviously me, 'Like' [Isaiah Likely] and everybody else. But, it's going to be fun. It's going to be fun to be able to play around, game-plan for that and just play some football. Obviously, we have Lamar Jackson, and he likes his tight ends. So, we're going to get open for him."

On what he's seen from TE Charlie Kolar on the changes he's made this offseason: "He's working hard. He's focused. The big thing about Charlie is [that] he just wants to do everything. He wants to be great at everything. And he loves blocking. He loves hitting people, and he loves being versatile. He can still catch the hell out of a ball. He can still run incredible routes. He's an all-around tight end. He's going to be big for us as well."

On the hip-drop tackle rule change: "I think it's just sometimes part of the game. I'm always an advocate for making the game safer. [When] you look at the last maybe five years, there's been a lot of big injuries with that. So, just bringing the awareness to that type of tackle I think is good. Keeping guys healthy is going to be great. Taking that tackle out of the game is not a bad thing, I don't think. I think the defenses can find a way to get around that."


On what in his mind puts him in a good position heading into training camp: "Having a full offseason, being able to be here with the team, being able to practice [and] just being able to get that chemistry down is important for me, so I'm definitely looking forward to that. I don't know what's going to happen this year; all I know is I'm going to just go to work every day. I'm not looking to do anything. I'm just [going to] go do my thing."

On not having to rehab from an injury this offseason: "It's definitely been good. It's a blessing. I haven't had this since I've been in the league. So, just being able to focus, chill, work, grind, it's all been good. Just being able to stay healthy – that's my main concern right now."

On why signing a contract extension was the right move for him: "For one, I didn't know what was going to happen with me. I didn't know if I was going to be here, [get] traded or anything. That extension definitely came out of nowhere. I'm blessed, for sure. I did not see them doing that, but it shows that they believe in, believe in my work, my ethic, [and] the team believes in me, so it was a no-brainer. I love playing here. I love this organization. I love the fans. I feel like I still have a lot to do, so it was a no-brainer for me, for sure."

On if he had any desire to be traded: "I barely know how this NFL business stuff works. I swear, I'm just ... I'm going to play football. Whatever team I'm on, that's what team I'm on, but right now, I'm [a] part of the Ravens. They drafted me, and I'm excited to be here."

On how he approached improving this offseason: "Like anybody else would – just going to work every single day. I'm not really looking to do anything special, [in] particular. The only thing I can do is control what I can control, and that's my work ethic every single day. This offseason, I've been grinding day in and day out. Hopefully, the opportunity comes where I can put that on tape."

On how excited he is to be in Year Two in offensive coordinator Todd Monken's offense: "I'm very excited. I think last year, we showed a lot of hope. I feel like we did a lot of good things with him [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] in just Year 1, so I definitely feel like we have a lot of room to grow. We just have to lock in on our details and see where it takes us."

On if he feel like he showcased all of his abilities last year: "Yes and no. Yes and no. I feel like there are definitely a lot of things that I could've done differently, as a receiver, to help Lamar [Jackson], to help the team, but ... I'll just leave it at that."

On potentially being a big part of the offense this season: "I'm just blessed to be healthy. I'm not worried about how many balls I get. I'm not worried about if [offensive coordinator] Todd Monken calls the play for me. The only thing that I can control, man, is what I can control, and that's getting open when I can [and] blocking when I can. I don't play quarterback; I'm not the 'O.C.' [offensive coordinator]; I'm not the O-line. So, anything else outside of that ... I'm just here. I'm going to help this team out the best way out the best way possible, but other than that, maybe that's a question for them."

On if he's ever questioned why he suffered his injuries: "For sure, because I've always taken care of my body – being in college and being here. I'm still unsure what the difference is, but I just think it was the cards I got dealt. Sometimes in life, you have to go through certain things. Different people get different cards, and I feel like those were my cards that I got dealt. It's helped me in ways that maybe I didn't know that I needed, and I'm thankful for that – to be here today [and] to be able to go through that – and I can sit here and say that I'm proud that I went through that. There was a time and place where I didn't like it. It was a dark time, bad time, just because I've never been through anything like that, but it was all a learning experience to help me be who I am today. So, I'm all good. I appreciate you asking."

On how the clarity of having a contract extension will help him going into this season: "It's like if you don't have a house or you have a house; now, you've got a house to lay your head. Now, I've got a house to lay my head. So, that concern is gone. I know who I'm playing for, I know what playbook I'm in, I know who my quarterback is, and now it allows me to just go be myself, freely."

On his feelings towards the Guardian Caps and if he would wear one during a game: "I'm not wearing that in a game." (laughter) "I'm not wearing that in a game. I have to at practice, but you all will not ever see me wearing that in a game."

On why his feelings are strong towards not wearing a Guardian Cap while playing in a game: "It messes up everybody's swag on the field." (laughter) "It's the worst, and I don't think that it helps as much. We're not hitting out here. I don't even know if it really helps in a game, because everybody is playing fast, [and] it's a contact sport. Whatever happens out there happens, so I'll guess we'll see."

On if he likes being a leader in the wide receivers room: "Yes, because I feel like if you just stay true to yourself, everything just happens naturally. Nothing about me is going to change. I'm not going to speak up more or do this more; I'm going to just continue to come in the building. I come in here early – the guys know that. I'm always here early. I work hard, I write my notes, [and] you know how I carry myself throughout the building. Hopefully, that shows to the younger guys and whoever else catches onto it. But yes, I'm not going to change anything; I'm just going to continue to be myself."


On his football camp this past weekend: "[It was] good, man. I had a couple of the guys pop by. I had, obviously, my people back home – Mikey [Mike] Sainristil – all my friends from back home and high school, and then I had Zay [Flowers] 'Leek' [Malik Cunningham] and [our friend] 'A.C.' pop up from Baltimore. It was definitely a fun time."

On what he proved to himself with the way he performed last year: "I would say, [it was] a confidence boost. I mean, it definitely showed me that the game is definitely slowing down. And all offseason, [with] all the work [and] preparation I put in during the year and leading up to [that] point, it was definitely time to [have it] pay off."

On what kind of stress he and TE Mark Andrews can put on a defense when on the field together: "I would say, Mark [Andrews'] name holds a lot of weight. I mean, he's an All-Pro; he's definitely the best in the league at what he does. And then, not only do you have to worry about him, [but] you have to worry about 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman] and Zay [Flowers] outside with our receivers, as well as 'Nelly' [Nelson Agholor], and then you still have Lamar [Jackson] and Derrick Henry in the backfield. So, those people need no [additional] recognition. And then [I'm] finding my way in the offense as a chess piece, just seeing where I can fit in. Having all of us on the same field at the same time, you don't know whether it's going to be run or pass, and you don't know where the explosive play can come from."

On what he worked on during the offseason: "I would really just say [that working on the] top of the route was definitely a main emphasis. Just [from] watching film from last year, I got fatigued, [so I'm] working on top of route, working on in-line blocking a little bit more, and then, obviously, perimeter blocking a lot, [which] progressed as the season went on, and then really just chemistry, not only with Mark [Andrews] and Lamar [Jackson], but also with the receivers [and] just making sure everybody is on the same page."

On what he's picked up from being able to watch TE Mark Andrews: "Really, [Mark Andrews'] charisma. Mark's energy ... The way he plays football on Sundays is the same way he plays at practice. So, I'd say, just watching the little details he does at practice – whether it's individual, routes on air, team period or seven on seven – and then really just watching his preparation [and], in game, how he prepares for that opponent on Sunday or whenever we play, and watching how he goes out and attacks different defenders with different leverages and just always wins. That's something I always ask Mark; whether he won or lost the rep, I [ask] what he saw and how he came up with the [decision] of why he took that route. [More] times than not, Mark is going to win, so [I'm] just doing it from there."

On if the Ravens' tight ends room compares itself to other tight end rooms across the league: "I mean, I don't really like to compare. Everybody in the league knows our tight end room, what we do [and] what we bring on the field every Sunday, so I let them just do what they do. If they like to compare, obviously, I'm going to tell them [that] we're the best of all 32 [teams]." (laughter)

On if he considers FB Patrick Ricard as part of that tight end room: "For sure. Pat [Ricard] is that Swiss Army knife. Pat is the best blocking person, I feel like, in the league. He's that sixth offensive lineman, and last year, Pat had, at the time, the longest run-after-catch – against Detroit, I'm pretty sure, where he caught a check-down and went for like [28] yards. He hit a little spin move at the end." (laughter) "So, at the time, that was like one of the longest plays that we had that year." (laughter)

On if it takes some time to be able to play off another tight end when in a two tight end set, and if that's a different art then being good individually: "I'd really just say [that] the preparation for that is now. I mean, being in the same room as Mark [Andrews] is definitely a bonus, [with] just being able to say – on film, when you slow everything down – 'What did you see here?' Or 'Why did you take this type of release, so I can focus on what release I'm going to take?' And then just playing off each other and making everything look different but in the same criteria. So, I'd say, yes and no, for the simple fact that everybody is a football player, at the end of the day. Our job is to play football – since you were a little kid – right now. So, it's really just having fun and being able to just play off of each other to always be open."

On his Year Three objectives: "I mean, big-picture wise, to always have fun. I preach myself to always have fun at practice [and] in games, because, like I said, not everybody gets to do this every day – play the sport they've loved since they were a little kid. So, a big goal I always have is to have fun, remember why I do this, and obviously, the ultimate goal is to win. I mean, whether I have no targets [or] whether I have the most targets that game, the main emphasis that game is to win, and whatever I can do in that game, in that moment, to come out with the victory [and] to get to the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl, I'll do."

On what he's seen from ILB Trenton Simpson: "I'm going to give [Trenton Simpson] a little credit today; he definitely beat me on a rep today. I know you all saw it." (laughter) "I don't really like losing a lot. But he's definitely showing that he's ready for the opportunity. He's showing that he's taking this offseason well – like a pro. He's definitely showing that what you guys saw on tape against Pittsburgh [last season in Week 18] wasn't a fluke. He's fast, he's physical, he's listening, and he's really just soaking everything up like a sponge. I mean, whatever Roquan [Smith] tells him to do during a play – or anybody, even Coach [John Harbaugh] – he's taking that and running with it, and he's not scared to do anything in the defense."

On if he's seen a difference in ILB Trenton Simpson this year compared to last year: "For sure. [Trenton Simpson] definitely looks bigger and stronger than last year, and he's definitely playing with a lot more [instincts] – not really being as patient as he was last year. He's playing with his athleticism and his intuition."

On if he's gotten used to seeing ILB Trenton Simpson wear No. 23: "I'm as used to seeing [No.] 23 [on Trenton Simpson] as I am [to seeing No.] 0 on 'Ro' [Roquan Smith]." (laughter)