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Transcripts: OTA Media Availability (5/30)


Opening Statement: "I appreciate everybody being here. Really good practice – guys were high energy, into it, focused. The speed was good. Great day for it; it was a little cooler. It wasn't pouring rain, but the day is not over yet, so stay tuned for some rain. Have we had enough rain for this year? [Are] we done with the rain yet? It's supposed to be April showers bring May flowers. That's what I was always taught. I just saw a rain drop, right there. Did you see that? That's a dark cloud. (laughter) Alright, what questions do you have?"

We saw some Topgolf videos yesterday. We did not see you swinging ... (Jamison Hensley)*:* "All I can tell you is that in my group, I did come out on top – which is surprising, because I was with the kickers and snappers, and these guys can play. But Topgolf – I don't know if you know how it works exactly. I didn't know, it was my first time there. You may hit it in the wrong big circle, but if it goes in a circle, you still get points. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good."

I feel like the intensity of these practices is heating up a little bit. Are you seeing that? (Todd Karpovich*)* "They're getting faster and quicker. The biggest thing we have to do is really work hard to control when guys get in bad positions. You're not in pads. For instance, the linemen – you can't punch, you can't go and stop penetrators with physicality and punch the twist across the other blocker and then pick up the looper. You just have to put your hands on people. So, oftentimes guys will get caught on the side. One thing I told the linemen today is when someone gets caught on your side, you just can't push them further, which they would do normally in pads. But now everybody is not going the same speed. Everybody's not pushing the same way. So, you end up getting people falling into each other, and that's just what we cannot have. So, I just told them, 'Hey, if you get beat, you get beat'. But the good news is [that] you're not allowed to play with the physicality, but it challenges and tests your feet, your foot quickness and your ability to change direction more on the offensive line. So, take advantage of that opportunity. Focus on moving your feet and staying in front of your guy, or the two-man game or whatever it might be. So, we just have to keep working on that and always try to chase keeping people off the ground. "

I think this is like the fourth practice we've been out here watching, and we've only seen QB Lamar Jackson once. Is that disappointing to you, or is this what you kind of expected? (Jeff Zrebiec?) "It's just this time of year. It's a voluntary time. It's really not something that we comment on. We can't, and that's just the time of year it is. So, I can't speak for anybody that's not here. I pretty much know the different reasons guys aren't here most of the time, but not always. Nobody's required to tell you exactly what's going on, so I'm not really specifically going to be able to comment on anybody that way. But the guys who were here were great, flying around, and those are the guys we had a great time coaching."

WR Deonte Harty is a newcomer, a guy who is trying to make the roster. I didn't see him out here. Is he dealing with an injury, or is there a reason for that? (Luke Jones) "No, not an injury. There is a reason for it. Do I speak for Deonte? He has a newborn baby situation. But give him a call. Ask him."

About the availability, there's a report that there is consideration by the NFLPA of getting rid of OTAs and starting training camp in June and ramping up. What's your thought on that? (Bo Smolka) "Yes, that's really interesting to me. I think there's a lot of science behind that, and the thing I'm really encouraged by with a proposal or a thought like that is the fact that the union and the league are working together on it. To me, that's really good, because we want to do the best we can to keep guys as healthy as we can [and] get them ready to play football. Right now, it's not probably perfect. I think the different studies [that] they've done would say that the timeline is not really great, and so if they can kind of make the timeline better somehow and both the union and the league agree that this is the best way to do it, that would be fantastic."

Is that the issue you're referring to – starting in June and going with no break, conceivably until the end of the season? (Jerry Coleman) "I think that's probably why the NFLPA put that out. I'm not sure who put it out, but if they did, that's the one they're probably talking about. It's just a longer ramp-up preparation period right into training camp, with training camp."

Obviously, the biggest characteristic of these sessions is that they're voluntary. Is there something else about OTAs, just sort of that check-in in the year during an otherwise quiet period. Is there something that you think is unique about these sessions that would be lost if they go away? (Kyle Goon) "So, you're asking the longer break away from the team, would that be an issue? I think that's definitely something to consider. It's something that they would have to look at and try to give guys an opportunity to – again, voluntary – an opportunity to come in. It wouldn't be football practice like this, but some way to be connected probably. I think they'd probably want to do that."

I know it's voluntary, but do you feel like there is anything going on in these OTA practices for guys who aren't here that could cause them to maybe be behind? (Cordell Woodland) "I'm a coach, so you know my answer to that. I mean, that's what we do. We want to be going forward as fast as we can – no drag, making ground, getting better every day. One percent better today than yesterday, one percent better tomorrow than today, and it takes a lot of work to do that. So, as a coach, that's what you're always looking for."

Would you say that you're evaluating as much during OTAs as you are during training camp, or is it kind of a different filter? (Childs Walker) "It's a different filter. You are evaluating, sure, but it's a different filter. It's more about guys competing against themselves, their ability to learn the offense, defensive scheme, the footwork, the technique. You're not making any decisions about who plays or doesn't play until you get in training camp."

With so many veterans missing, who are some younger players who are starting to step up? (Nikhil Mehta) "We had this conversation today about leadership, and the message was that everybody's a leader. We're all leaders. A quote that I had was from Pope Francis. It was that a shepherd should smell like his sheep. That's a good one, right? Think about that. I've never been around sheep – I don't know what they smell like exactly – but I thought the metaphor was really good." (laughter)

T Ronnie Stanley, there was discussion in the offseason about his contract, his future, all of that. But him being out here and being out here just about every day, it seems like, what are you seeing from him and what are your expectations for him knowing that this is a big year for him professionally? (Luke Jones) "Exactly. Ronnie [Stanley] came out. He was away until the first day of OTAs, and then he was here. He's been here for every OTA and the workouts, and he looked good. He's looked good. I was pleased, very pleased, and Ronnie's talented. He's working super hard. He's getting tested. These guys like Odafe [Oweh] and these guys are bringing it; I think you wrote about that. They're bringing it, man. It's good to work together like that. We like to have our starters work against our starters a lot in these drills, because it's not full contact, and they get a chance to really kind of challenge each other's technique."

You talked about wanting guys to still play fast and still stay up in this time of year. How do you go about balancing that in your messaging to the team? When you want to see them play with the energy as if this is a real situation, but you want them to stay up? (Cordell Woodland) "That's a great question. Really, what it boils down to is understanding that this is not a physical contest to win the play. It's a physical contest to do your technique right and do your assignment right and to do it fast. These guys are super, ridiculously talented. We call it fast rehearsal. Their ability to rehearse their technique, full speed, and not run into each other blows my mind. That's how good they are. When they start feeling that they need to go make a play on defense, usually, that's when you start having most of your issues. Or, when they try to make up for a mistake when they're late on a block on offense. So, you just have to understand when you're, quote unquote, not in great position, you have to pull out – no competing for a ball, no running into anybody, no shedding anybody, no finishing a block. That's not what we're here for. We're here to work together that way. So, that's how you message it."

I think you told us in the offseason that OLB David Ojabo was healthy. Is he kind of ramping up to be more involved in 11-on-11 stuff for minicamp or for training camp? (Jonas Shaffer) "His timeline, I believe, is somewhere in training camp. It won't be minicamp, but it's at some point in time once we get back for training camp."

Going back to QB Lamar Jackson, is there an expectation that he might be here next week? Or is that kind of a "wait and see" situation? (Brian Wacker) "It's just not something that I'm able to comment on. So, I don't know. We'll see what happens."


Opening statement: "It's been an exciting two month, three months – however long I've been here. I've always looked at this organization with a lot of respect. I've known the Harbaugh family for a long time. I probably knew Jim, Jack and Joani and Jackie a little bit better than John, because I had been with them at previous places, but I've always had a lot of respect for John and certainly this program [and] the success that they've had. It's really nice to be here [and] see how everything operates firsthand. [I'm] excited about this offseason leading into the season. So, with that, I'll open it up to any questions."

You're joining a unit that was so successful last season. How much do you try and carry over from last season, and how much new stuff are you introducing? (Nikhil Mehta) "A lot of that ... Again, I wasn't here last year, so it's all new to me. We've spent time going through all the cutups and the games from a year ago, and there's certainly some things that ... They did a lot of great things, but there are always areas that need improvement. We made a point of emphasis on that, really, the first couple of weeks on the job. Some of the things [that] we were doing was going back and evaluating all the cutups and just seeing where we could do things better. And credit to [defensive coordinator] Zach [Orr] and also to [assistant head coach/pass game coordinator] Chris [Hewitt]. I think sometimes when you get stuck in your ways and say, 'This is how we want to do it,' there's always a better way to do it. Those guys have kind of made that point early on when I was here, so we did a lot of research on things we could adjust and change and find a better way to do it."

What did you know about S Kyle Hamilton before you came in, and what are your impressions of him so far? (Giana Han) "The first time I saw Kyle [Hamilton] ... So, I was in Atlanta when Kyle was coming out of high school. I didn't know anything about him coming out of high school, and then, that year Notre Dame had a couple of safeties that were in the Draft, and I knew the secondary coach at Notre Dame – a guy by the name of Terry Joseph; he and I had worked together at LSU. And I called Terry to find out about some of the older guys and just give me a little bit of insight on the guys that I was evaluating, and he gave me all the information that I needed, and I said, 'Terry, who's this number 14?' I said, 'He's not on my list right now to do a write-up on.' He said 'Doug, he's just a freshman.' I was like, 'Wow, he's going to be a pretty good player by the time he's a senior.' So, I remember seeing him his freshman year, [but] I didn't really have an opportunity to follow his career a whole lot. By the time he was coming out, we got let go in Atlanta, and I was back at Michigan. But I knew about him. Just seeing him firsthand here, he's extremely impressive. I didn't realize he was as tall as he is, and just with that length and the athletic ability and the speed that he has, he's just a really unique player. And to top it off, [he] just really seems like a quality human being [and] just a first-class individual. So, he's got a lot going for him."

What's it like working with a guy that's young and as close to his playing career as DC Zach Orr? What are some of the things that stand out about him? (Kyle Goon) "First of all, [defensive coordinator] Zach [Orr] is a very impressive person. He's a great man, and just as a coach, what's unique is that here's a guy that not only understands the system [and] was part of putting this package together, but he also played in it firsthand, so he can see the scheme and the system through his eyes; he's been there. He's gone through the reads, he's gone through the progression, he's gone through the checks and the adjustments, so that's unique. I don't know if I've ever been around a guy as young as him that is mature and has the type of knowledge that he has with the system. I've learned an awful lot from him to this point, but he'll do a great job."

What have you seen from CB Nate Wiggins so far? (Ryan Mink) "I think the first thing that stands out [is that Nate Wiggins is an] extremely hard worker, smart [and] intelligent. When you see him out here on the field, he's got great length, and that's the thing; it's just hard to find corners that have that type of length and that can run like he runs. But he has great balance, body control, change of direction. He's been real sticky in coverage, and there are certainly a lot of things ... He's just like everyone else; [there are] a lot of areas that they need to improve, but he certainly has good traits to work with."

When you look out on the field, you see how skinny CB Nate Wiggins is – and I'm sure that will change over time – but are there other qualities that you think help him compete, even if he's not as physically big as maybe some of the guys he's covering out there? (Kyle Goon) "Speed and length help, because [assistant head coach/pass game coordinator] Chris [Hewitt] is doing a great job of working with him, just teaching him the type of technique that we want him to execute here. But he has recovery speed, and that's one thing that you can't touch. Chris is doing a great job of getting him just working on the line of scrimmage, where he can be a little bit more disruptive – on the line of scrimmage. But he's fortunate that he's got recovery speed, [so] if he's not as sound as he needs to be technique-wise on the line of scrimmage, he's got the ability to close, and then he's got the length to be able to help him get out of a bad situation. But certainly, like any young guy, they have to continue to hit the weight room, get stronger, get bigger, and that'll come."

This was a very successful defense under former Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald last year, and there are a lot of ties to Michigan with former defensive coordinator Jesse Minter and this Harbaugh coaching tree that kind of continues to extend. Have you seen this kind of defense spread to the NFL or college from all of your ties around the sport? (Jonas Shaffer) "I was first introduced to [the defense] when I went to Michigan, when Mike [Macdonald] was there. I got hired on probably about a month or two after Mike had already been there. It was about a week or two into spring practice, so I was kind of learning it on the run, but the great thing about the system is just how they've taught it; there's a lot of word associations. It looks like we do a lot. We are multiple, and we do pretty much every type of coverage that's involved, but from a teaching standpoint, there's so much word association that gives younger guys an opportunity to learn the system. I think it has answers for some of the issues that might come into play, but you've got the ability to play a three-match concept, a man concept, your two-deep concept, all your quarter concepts, all your zone pressures [and] man pressures. You've got a little bit of everything. I really like this system. Having been involved with it at Michigan, I first learned it from Mike, and then when Jesse [Minter] came on board, we continued to expand. When I got here, I found out that there's still a lot more to it, so I'm learning every single day that I'm here. It's been great to work with [assistant head coach and pass game coordinator] Chris [Hewitt] too. Chris has been here for 12 years. He was here when they first put the system in, so he's seen the good, the bad, how to adjust to it, and I'm trying to be like a sponge every time he says something. I'm writing notes and getting a lot from him and learning from him. Like I said, it's been a great experience for me."

It's obviously a natural change when you're going from college to the pros, but with cornerbacks especially, what do you feel like is kind of the biggest adjustment that rookie cornerbacks have to make? (Cordell Woodland) "[It's] probably speed and length. I think [that] a lot of times, in college, you may have a bigger receiver that doesn't have elite speed. You may have a smaller receiver who does have speed. I think at this level, you're seeing bigger, physical wide receivers. I think sometimes that is an adjustment for a young corner coming in. I think just the size [and] speed are one of the biggest things. I think, too, if you give up a pass here at this level, you can't. I think at the college level, there are times you can say, 'Yes, he may complete that. It's away from his leverage.' At this level, it's just more detailed, and you've got to be productive at this level."

Can you explain how this opportunity came about? Obviously, you were on a Michigan staff where the head coach was rumored to possibly be going to the NFL. Did you want to return to the NFL? Was that a goal of yours? Was there a temptation to wait and see how Jim Harbaugh's situation played out? (Jeff Zrebiec) "For me, I think the whole thing is, it's not necessarily where you work; it's who you work with. I've been at some real good programs that weren't great jobs because of the people that you're working with. I've been at programs that struggled, but you're working with great people. Now, you always want to win. So, if you can get that combination of working for a great person and a winning program, that's a great job. I had that opportunity here, and just the amount of respect that I have for [head coach] John [Harbaugh] and this program. I think the tradition that they have here on defense, to be a part of that was awful enticing."

You've been coaching under Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh. How would you compare their coaching styles? (Jamison Hensley) "[Their styles are] very similar. I think the first thing [is that] they're very honest, and they're very up front. If there's an issue, if something needs to be addressed, he doesn't let it string out. Both of them are going to attack it right now and get it fixed. They're not going to wait for it to linger on. They're always going to speak their mind. They're going to speak what's on their heart, and they come from the same parents, so there are definitely a lot of similarities there. It's funny because I always said that, even when I was in Atlanta, one time Dan Quinn talked about ... We went around the staff room. We talked about the most competitive person you'd ever been around in your life. When they got to me, I said Jim Harbaugh. I hadn't seen or spoken with Jim in years, but I'd played with Jim. I said that probably about four or five years ago, and then just in the three or four months that I've been here, I would say John and Jim are both pretty competitive. So, they don't like to lose, and they're going to do everything they can to win. [There are] a lot of similarities. They're great people. They're great men. They're great husbands, fathers, coaches, and they have a great rapport with their team."


On if he's looking to maintain his level of play from last season or continue to elevate it: "The mindset going into any year, every year, is to elevate the standard – take it up a notch. Nobody cares about last year anymore, so I've got to continue to prove myself each and every day and earn the right, once again, to start."

On how it feels to be one of the more established players in the room now: "Like you said, some of the [other veteran] guys aren't here, so it's my job, as well as some of the other vets, to take charge, take lead [and] lead the guys through these practices, especially the young guys – we've got a lot of young guys – and just show them the way."

On going back and forth from safety to cornerback and eventually settling in at cornerback last season: "[I'm] just doing what I was asked to do. Obviously, every guy wants to be on the field, so wherever the opportunity is at, you'll take that opportunity. Shoot, I had some safety reps [in], I think, the first practice of this week out there, so I've still got to stay on top of my safety stuff; I can't fall asleep with that. But yes, [I'm] just doing what I'm asked to do."

On potentially playing in a hybrid cornerback-safety role this season: "I haven't had talks about that. The coaches know [that] they can plug me in anywhere if need be. But no, we haven't had any conversation about that."

On if he's voiced any interest in extending his contract with the team or if there have been any discussions about that: "No, not really. I'm kind of letting that part [be put] aside [and] be handled by my agent. But yes, personally, I'm not focused on that right now."

On his impressions of defensive coordinator Zach Orr: "[Defensive coordinator] Zach [Orr], he's been doing great, man. He brings that fire each and every day, and he demands a lot from us. He demands perfection, and so that's what we're chasing; he says it every day. But, yes, he's doing a great job."

On his personal goals this season: "Just dominating each and every game. Whoever I'm covering for that week, I want to dominate whoever it is. And so, that's really just my goal and coming out at the end of the season being a top corner in this league."

On how much of a boost his success from last season provides: "Once you get out there [and] get your feet wet for a season long, going into the next season, you know what to expect; you've seen it – seen the different concepts – and so, it just allows you to play faster. With the success last year, it doesn't mean anything going into [the] next year. I've got to do it all over again, so that's what I'm excited for."

On if he likes the current setup of organized team activities or if he would like to see the offseason calendar changed, as proposed by the NFLPA: "I like both scenarios. Obviously, it would be good to have a longer break, and then once we're here, get it going. But whichever way it goes, we'll all be ready for it."

On if there is something to be said about connecting with coaches and teammates early in the offseason and if it would feel like too long of a break to not report back until the end of June or early July: "Yes, I mean, if it does go that way, obviously, it will be the first for everybody, so it will be out of the norm to be away for that long, but you've just got to take the onus upon yourself to stay on top of the playbooks, stay on top of your technique – stuff like that – and be ready once we get back."

On what stands out about CB Nate Wiggins other than his size and speed: "You said the Top 2 things right there. [Nate Wiggins'] speed is crazy. I'm trying to get some of that myself." (laughter) "But no, he's doing a great job in the meeting rooms, asking the right questions [and] always trying to learn. You can tell he's kind of hard on himself, but you like to see that with the young guys."

On CB Nate Wiggins' golf swing during yesterday's team outing to Topgolf: "I saw [Nate Wiggins] on his phone a lot." (laughter) "I didn't see any swings from him." (laughter)

On seeing the Ravens draft two highly regarded cornerbacks in CB Nate Wiggins and CB T.J. Tampa: "It's awesome having guys that can come in and can play. We all know [that] it's a competition out here, but we're trying to help each other. Me, personally, I want everybody to succeed, and so I'm just building camaraderie with the guys – with the young guys – and just helping them within this career. It's been awesome."

On if stepping into a leadership role is something he embraces: "Yes, it definitely is. Some of the guys call me 'O.G.' and 'Vet,' and I'm like, 'I consider myself a young [guy] still.' But just being able to mentor those guys and teach those guys, it's been awesome. Stepping into that leadership role is something that I expect in myself, as well as other vets."

On why it's important for him to be out here during voluntary organized team activities: "It's just important for me to just stay consistent within my technique. I could be doing a lot of other things right now, but I choose to be here to just stay consistent and not lose a step."

On where he's grown the most from this point last season: "The main thing is playing faster – just playing fast – and seeing things before it happens and reacting to the right things, and that comes with film study, that comes with being on the field and experiencing it myself. So, just being able to play fast allows me to make more plays."

On new secondary coach Doug Mallory: "[Doug Mallory] has been awesome in meetings and especially on the field. He's kind of more with the safeties and whatnot, so I'm not with him as much, but I see him talking to guys all the time and trying to help out where he can."


On the biggest adjustment from rookie camp to now having the veterans at practice: "I would say just the tempo of the game. It's the speed [and] just going fast. In college, you just go with the flow. This is not like [that]. It's quick. Everything is fast, so you have to get fit. Yes, [it's] just the tempo."

On the biggest thing he's learned since getting drafted: "My biggest thing I learned is probably just my time management. It's just everything in the building. This is my job, so I just have to be here and be ready to go every day."

On what it's been like working with DB Brandon Stephens: "It's been good. [Brandon Stephans has] been here [for] a couple of years, so it's been good just learning under him. He's just teaching me the defense, teaching me how to lift weights [and] teaching me how to eat, so it's been good."

On if there's anything he wants to take from DB Brandon Stephens' game: "Just playing like a Raven and being physical. That's what we strive [for] here."

On how the matchups against WR Devontez Walker have been going: "It's been fun. We're both getting better every day. So, yes, it's been fun."

On the key to his technique at the line of scrimmage: "[It's about] just getting hands on [them] early [and] just not relying on my speed as much as I used to do in college. So, [it's] just getting hands on [and] beating receivers up."

On if it's harder to recover if something goes wrong in coverage: "I really don't try to get in recovery now. I've been trying to stay in front of the reciever, so [there] hasn't been a lot of recovery going on."

On who's been the most difficult Ravens receiver to cover so far: "[It would] probably [be Rashod] Bateman. He's just shifty [and] has a lot of quickness in the route."

On who he's had the most fun covering at practice: "[It would] probably [be] Zay Flowers." (laughter) "Yes."

On why WR Zay Flowers is the most fun receiver to cover: "[It's] just because we met up in college, so we both know how ... We know we're both fast, so it's just fun to compete."

On his football IQ and wanting to constantly study and learn: "I just know ... I want to play, so I just know, in the position I want to be in, I know I have to learn it. So, it doesn't matter if it's corner, nickel [or] safety; I want to play, so I just try to get to know everything [and] everybody's job."

On how he's brought his confidence from college to the next level: "I don't think it left. I think it's still there. I think my confidence is still a big part of my game, so I just really transferred it from college to here."

On what it's been like getting to know defensive coordinator Zach Orr through the Draft process and now having him as his coach: "It's exciting. [Defensive coordinator Zach Orr] just has a lot of energy in every meeting. [Even if] it's 8 a.m. in the meeting, he has energy, so I feel like he brings energy to us."

On how he's managed expectations as both a first-round Draft pick and one of the youngest players on the team: "I really don't look at it that way. I just look at it like I'm another player. Yes, I don't really look at it like I'm the youngest. You're never going to hear me use that excuse, because I'm here now. I think I'm ready for it, so I just play ball."

On other aspects of his game that the coaches are working on him with: "Probably just, [in] transition, not getting into the recovery phase – like you said – and then going into getting hands on early."

On if there is any excitement playing the defending Super Bowl Champions in Week 1: "Yes. Like you said, it's a long way [away]. Yes, we're looking forward to it. We're looking forward to playing. I'm ready for it. We're going to be ready. I feel like I'm going to be ready for it."

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