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Transcripts: OTA Media Availability (6/6)


Opening Statement: "I appreciate everybody being here. [We had] a really good practice, [and I'm] really happy with the guys. B.J. Thompson – [the] Kansas Chiefs defensive lineman – we want to say that our prayers are with him. I think he had an issue – a health issue – today over there with the Chiefs at their practice. So, we just wanted to tell the world that the Ravens are thinking of him and his family, and we're praying for his health. The other thing that we mentioned to the guys is D-Day - [it's the] 80-year anniversary of Normandy – the invasion of Normandy – to begin the year-long domination of the American Armed Forces to win World War II. [I'm] very proud of that. And to all the military families all over the world, the sacrifices they make for us, and specifically to the families of those who participated in World War II, [we] couldn't be more grateful. We never take that for granted."

Now that you have taken some reps with the new kickoff realignment, do you think that it's going to be successful with how they have designed it so far? (*Jamison Hensley*) "Yes, it's going to be an interesting play, a fun play. You can kind of look at it philosophically any way you want. There are things that it takes away. You don't have a line of scrimmage anymore. You don't have an onside kick surprise anymore. But, it does add things to the game, and the main thing it adds is a positive. I thought there were other options – I'll just be clear about that – but, I was for doing something, and this is something. Basically, at this point, we're committed to it. We see the good of it, the excitement in it. There are going to be a lot more returns out there, and we're just trying to figure out how to be successful with the play, both covering the kick and returning the kick. So, we're looking at it from every angle that we possibly can, and hopefully we'll be good at it next year."

There has been some talk of teams not using their primary kicker to do kickoffs in the new system. Is that something that you've thought about at all? (*Childs Walker)* "I would say that we've thought about everything. It's just a matter of, 'Do you have a guy that can kick it in there consistently?' If you do, it probably is an advantage because you get an extra tackler in there, and you don't put your kicker at risk. So, I'd say we're looking at every aspect we can think of."

As a head coach and former special teams coach, when this rule was implemented, how did you think about it initially? Did you go, 'Oh, man, they're just changing everything. It is a whole entirely new rule.' Or, were you excited about the challenge as a coach of beating the other teams, as far as schematically and new stuff that you can implement? (*Shawn Stepner)* "[It's] the latter, for sure. You just get right to work on how we're going to teach it, how we want to coach it. We couldn't wait to get out here, even in this type of a practice, and run plays and see what the angles look like. So, we can kind of glean our coaching points. What do we want to tell the guys? We told the guys, 'This is a collaboration. We're learning this together. Where do we want to drop? What's our targets? What are our landmarks? What are our leverages in the kickoff? What are our angles? Tell us what you think when you're out there.' So, we're trying to make sure we do the best we can to enter the season understanding the play as well as we can. Then, I'm sure we'll learn a lot once it starts happening for real."

What have you learned in that process so far? Obviously, you're not going to reveal strategy here, but can you just share anything? (*Brian Wacker)* "I think we've learned about the spacing and the timing and the angles a little bit. We think we have. I don't think you really know until you play real games. Preseason ... practice, too, once we get in pads, we'll be able to practice at almost full speed. So, that'll help also."

We've seen WR Devontez Walker and CB T.J. Tampa Jr. matched up a number of times. What are you seeing out of both of those guys? (*Nikhil Mehta)* "I think both T.J. [Tampa Jr.] and 'Tez' [Devontez Walker] are both doing a great job of taking one step at a time and getting better every single day. It's not competitive in the sense that if there's a deep ball thrown down the field, the DB's not trying to take the ball away. So, you have to understand that. We expect those catches to be made. But, we want them made, and we want the DB right there in position with his eyes on the football. I think both those guys have gotten better every day with technique and assignment. Probably all the rookies [are] ahead of where we would have expected in those two areas."

TE Mark Andrews was pretty dominant last year before his ankle injury. Any lingering effects from the ankle injury, and how encouraging is that? (*Todd Karpovich)* "I haven't seen any effects from that. He looks good. He looked better this week than last week, even. He came back in great shape. So, [it's] exciting to see him out there."

You lost a couple of veterans last year from the offensive line. What are you seeing from this current group that has really impressed you so far? (*Tim Nolan*) "I've seen a lot of big guys that can move and work hard, pick things up quickly. The nice thing is nobody's going out there that you say, 'I don't think he's going to be able to do it.' So far, every single guy looks like he could be the starter. Now, we get into pads. We get into preseason games, let the guys compete against one another and see who wins the jobs. But, all of them are still in contention at this point, which is very good."

What is the best thing that a rookie offensive lineman can do to get your attention in a positive way during OTAs? (*Childs Walker) "*Well, he should know what he's doing. If the play goes to the right, we don't want him going left. We don't want to see two guards clunking heads, both of them pulling opposite directions. That's where it starts. You should be able to pick up your assignments. Then, you want to see a good foundation, footwork, hands, those kind of things, [and] see them in the weight room working hard and getting stronger. That's really as much as you can do. We're just teaching them right now. They're learning right now."

We've seen QB Devin Leary make some great throws. We've also seen some picks. Do the interceptions not really bother you? Do you kind of want guys unafraid to figure things out at this level compared to the college game? (*Jonas Shaffer)* "There's going to be times out there ... Hopefully our defense is creating some tough situations for a quarterback. I hope our defense puts the quarterbacks in the toughest situations [that] they'll see all year. That would be the goal. So, you'll want to see some of that out there and just see the guys grow through it and get better."

Do you feel like you got out what you wanted from OTAs as you head into minicamp? (*Kyle Phoenix)* "As much as you can. We have another day, so I'm not really counting anything yet until tomorrow. No assessments as much as you kind of look at the next day and say, 'We want to be intentional about what we want to accomplish today.' Like every coach, 'What's your main thing you want to see?' Make sure the players understand it. Make sure every player has an intentionality about what they want to go out there and accomplish. I think if we all do that collectively, we're going to look back and say [that] we're as far along as we can be. That's really kind of how we measure it."

K Justin Tucker is so accurate and so attentive to detail. How important do you think that will be as far as the new kickoff rule, where, I guess hang time doesn't really mean anything anymore. It's more about placement, wouldn't you say? (*Jamison Hensley)* "I'm not ready to make any pronouncements like that. I think having a kicker that can put the ball in spots with various types of hang times will be an advantage, and Justin [Tucker] definitely is a guy that can do that. But I don't know if hang time is going to matter or not. We're just going to have to see how it all plays out that way. We have a lot to learn about the play."

When mandatory minicamp starts next week, do you expect CB Marlon Humphrey to be full go? Is he completely healthy and ready to practice? (*Jeff Zrebiec)* "I expect him to be ready to practice next week. Whether it's full go or not, or whether we choose to put him out there full go, I don't know yet. It's a good question."

Any other guys that we shouldn't expect to see at minicamp? (*Jonas Shaffer)* "I just didn't bring my list out. Darn it, I forgot my list." (laughter) "The guys that are out that you know are out, you definitely won't see. We might see Adisa [Isaac] back, for instance. I'm hopeful. We might see Beau [Brade] back, hopefully next week – off the top of my head – guys like that. We saw David Ojabo started getting into individuals today. That was really good to see. So, it's kind of working through it."

What are your thoughts on your brother Jim Harbaugh's tattoo? What would it take for you to get a tattoo similar to what he did? (*Kyle Phoenix)* "I'm not afraid of getting a tattoo. I want to make it clear. If we win a Super Bowl, I probably could be talked into something. But, it's going to have an 'I' and an 'A.' I can tell you, any tattoo I have is going to start with Ingrid and Alison – family first. I'm pretty sure Jim [Harbaugh] probably got that [mandate], too. If I look at that tattoo closely, I bet there's something in there that says Sarah on it. But, I did read an article recently. Did you see it where they said tattoos are a health risk? Did anybody see that article? No? Do you have a tattoo? You might want to check that article out. I don't know." (laughter)


On the biggest adjustment going from rookie camp to the end of OTAs: "Going from rookie minicamp to OTAs, there are quite a bit of differences, because you get all the vets coming in. I'd say the biggest difference is there has been a lot of guys, especially on the defense, that have played a long time, and they know their ways – the ins and outs – of each play. They have a lot of experience, so having those guys [and] having those early experiences – they know all the tips and tricks to their defensive schemes and whatnot. [It's] the same on the offense. I'd say that's probably one of the biggest adjustments from rookie minicamp to OTAs, just little details that all of the veterans know, and that's just going to come with time. [I'll] get acclimated to it."

On what it's like playing with QB Lamar Jackson: "[Lamar Jackson is a] great athlete. [He's] as advertised, [he's an] MVP-caliber quarterback, a leader in the huddle, makes great plays [and] extends plays. [It's] everything [I] expected when I got drafted."

On knowing he has an opportunity to start as a rookie: "It's a great opportunity, for sure. I don't try to focus on the end goal too much, but every day, like you said, [I'm] grinding in and out. I just want to play hard and compete with the best of the best, so I just come [here] every day ready to work and keep stacking days."

On offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris: "[Joe D'Alessandris is] a very experienced coach. He's been in the league a long time [and] been around a lot of great players. Especially when we're in meetings, he's got a lot of great stories about players he's coached and whatnot, so he knows the ins and outs of this league and the tips and tricks – kind of like I was talking about before – but yes, [he's] a great coach."

On the toughest players he's going up against in practice: "I think, obviously, 'Dafe' [Odafe Oweh]. He's a really good player. Malik Hamm [is a] really good player as well. Then, 'Big Trav' [Travis Jones] in the middle and 'Broddy' [Broderick Washington], those guys are holding it down, for sure. So, those are just to list a few. As advertised, those guys are high-caliber players."

On if he's working to add any weight in the offseason: "Yes, a lot of is just mainly getting stronger for me. I feel like every football player can get stronger in their game, and especially coming here, Coach Elliot [strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Elliott] and staff have done a really great job. I've put on a few pounds, and it's not fat, so I'm thankful for that. So, yes, that's my main thing: gain weight – if so, they like me where I'm at – and get stronger."

On if there's anything about the way QB Lamar Jackson carries himself that has surprised him: "You guys have seen it out there a little bit, [Lamar Jackson is] very charismatic, especially ... He's very animated when it comes to celebrating with teammates. He's very positive [and] giving guys criticism when they need it. Lamar is that leader that this team has, and he definitely displays it on and off the field. In the locker room, he's the same guy. He's the same guy every day."

On if there is anything he's seen that's impressed him about the Ravens organization: "[Everyone is] very detailed. I remember the last staff I was just with at school; everything was super nitpicky with the details when it came to practice, off the field stuff [and] weight room stuff, and everything translated the exact same as what I expected from coming into an organization like this. Not much has changed when it comes to that kind of stuff and the small details, but yes, it's been great and a very smooth transition."


On his first reaction to the new kickoff rule: "[My] initial reaction was [that] you have to be positive about it and think about it in terms of, this is going to keep the play in the game. This is not just going to keep the play in the game, it's going to make it much more exciting. I think there's going to be a lot more action as far as kicks that will be returned. In the last several years, the trend has been for most teams to send the ball into the end zone, give up the 25-yard line, and the play was essentially not happening as it was designed to happen, but now, in all likelihood, we're going to see a lot more of returns, and it will give a lot more guys opportunity to take that play and make it a big play. I'm looking forward to it; it's going to be really exciting."

On with the rule being the same for so long, if it's exciting to get back in the lab and get creative on what he can do on the kickoff: "Yes, it is. Just like a pitcher tries to develop his stuff, I'm doing the same thing out here. [I'm] trying to figure out whichever we can in our minds gain an advantage, gain an edge, whether that means putting the ball in different spots, making it challenging for a returner to scoop up the ball easily – all of those things we're looking at right now. Granted, we are kind of in the fledgling stages of what we're trying to accomplish here, what we're trying to figure out. So, like you said, we are in the lab, and more recently, my lab has actually been the weight room. This might be really surprising to a lot of you guys and a lot of my teammates, because I don't [tend] to hang out in the weight room too frequently. But, after watching a lot of the XFL plays over the last couple of years, [the] kicker seems to be involved in like 25% of the tackles. I've mixed it up a couple of times – I've gotten in there. But now I have to get some more shrugs, get the [shoulder] traps going a little bit just to make sure I'm prepared for a little bit more contact. In all seriousness, it will be a lot of fun to see what we come up with and then see what other teams come up with and see how we can gain an advantage on the play."

On if he will seriously add more muscle because of being potentially involved more in the kickoff: "I have put on like 3.8 pounds. Can you guys tell? Probably not. I'll leave it at that."

On if he wants to be out on the field under the new kickoff rule: "Well [heck] yeah, I want to be out there. Any chance I get to be on the field, I'm living out my childhood dream. Whenever, wherever that is, I'm going to make sure I'm ready to go and put the best product on the field that I possibly can. At the same time and fairness to the idea that a safety or a linebacker or somebody that has a little bit more practice, a little bit more training as a coverage athlete, as a tackler, I think it's totally fair to turn over every stone and see what you've got. Who knows? There might be a hidden gem in our locker room; a guy that can pinpoint, drop the ball off the tee on the five-yard line, on the red fade line, just drop it on a dime, and then just go down there and smoke the ball carrier. I'd like to think I would be that guy, but just like any and all positions out here, evaluations are comprehensive and ongoing. I'm just going to do everything I can to make sure I have every kick available and everything else I need to have available. Every other way that I need to be prepared, I'm going to make sure I do that for this team."

On if the coaches don't want him to make tackles to prevent an injury: "It probably would make the most sense that you don't want any of your specialists getting hurt throughout the course of the game, but this is still football in the National Football League, so it is what it is. We're just going to have to see what happens."

On if he's watched XFL kickoffs, and how much of that film has he consumed: "We have. I know [assistant special teams coach] Randy [Brown], [special teams coordinator] Chris [Horton] and [assistant special teams coach] Sam [Koch] – those guys have probably watched every XFL kickoff that has happened with the similar rules. There are a couple of things, [a] couple of nuances that are a little bit different between their rule and the NFL's rule, but they have studied it thoroughly. I have studied clips that they have sent me; I have seen clips on my own, and that's just part of being a pro – just doing everything we can to be prepared or just to develop our own ideas on how we're going to attack the play as well."

On when the last time he practiced tackling drills was: "That's a really good question. It was probably in high school at this point. But I think it's one of those things that just comes naturally. If you're a ball player, you just stick your nose in there, and hopefully you're giving out more of a hit than you are receiving, so, that's the plan, at least right now. We'll see how it all works out."

On if they encourage him to avoid contact on the kickoffs: "I don't think it's something that's encouraged, but it's not discouraged either. It kind of just comes with the territory. It's a football play. We're all football players out there, and ultimately, if a returner beelining toward the end zone, and I'm the last guy there to stop him, it is part of my job description – it's not necessarily priority A. Priority A is [to] make kicks, and then as far as kickoffs go, being able to put the ball wherever coaches want me to put the ball. And then, somewhere in there is [to] be ready to make the play on the ball carrier if you have to. Maybe we will start doing some tackling drills over there in training camp. It'll probably be really bad TV, but we'll have fun doing it."

On how he's seen the team's focus enhance going into this season: "I think the core of this team has done a really good job of coming into this offseason program with the right attitude that, 'We're going to pick up right where we left off.' We were doing some really, really good things, especially at the end of the year when you want to be performing at your best. We were doing a lot of really good things and just focusing in on those things, and then also just ruthlessly attacking our deficiencies – whatever they may be. We always talk about the idea of ... Around here, you don't attack the person, you attack the issue. You confront the issue. You have to have a little bit thicker skin for that and realize it's not about anything I have going on personally, but how can I help my team improve? How can I improve so I'm more of an asset to my team? And that's something that the core of this group – the leadership of this team – has done a really good job of carrying over from last year – and years prior – when we've had a lot of success. Carrying over from prior seasons to this time right now ... And it's something I know that Roquan [Smith], Lamar [Jackson], even young guys like Tyler Linderbaum [and] Kyle Hamilton [are] really leaning into that idea and finding ways that we can all step our individual and collective games. This team is doing a really good job of that.

On how LS Nick Moore is recovering from his injury and the return to a fluid operation: "Well, I wouldn't say back to a fluid operation. Tyler [Ott] did an excellent job for us last year, and we appreciate his hard work. He did a great job stepping in, kind of last minute, if you will. It was right at the start of training camp, and you guys that know me well know that I like our operation to be airtight. I like for it to be hermetically sealed, and nothing can penetrate, nothing can disrupt what we've got going. The more we rep it out, the longer we have to work together, the tighter our operation becomes, the more efficient we become. So, losing out on, realistically, several months last season was tough, but Tyler did a great job stepping up. As far as Nick [Moore] goes, Nick is doing an excellent job of picking up right where he left off. He was coming off of a Pro Bowl-caliber season, in my mind. I thought he should have been a [2002] Pro Bowler. He was coming off of an All-Pro caliber season. So, it's not just us that recognize how good of a job [that] he can do. He's being recognized by his peers across the league as well. So, it has been really good to see him step right back up and come out onto the field ready to go, just like he said he was going to. A lot of y'all don't know this about Nick, or really any of the guys that battle season-ending injuries, [but] what they have to go through, it's pretty grueling – not just physically, but emotionally, mentally [and] spiritually. It challenges you. Nick was grinding. He was grinding all last season. As soon as he got hurt, he went right to work, much like many of the other injured guys have done before him and will do after him. So, [I give] credit to him [and] credit to the staff that works with all of the guys and whoever else Nick was working with. Everybody was doing a really, really good job to get him back to a place where he's going to play high-level football again."


On how good it feels to be back on the field: "Yes, [it's the] first time I get to be a football player in quite some time. The last time I stepped on the field was back in the fall of 2022, so as you could imagine, [it's] just [a] long time coming. So, [I'm] super thrilled to be back out there. It's just been so much to just be a part of the team atmosphere. It's really what is such a privilege [about] playing a team sport like this; you just get to go out there and be a part of something that's way bigger than yourself, and you just get to count on other guys and rely on other guys to put in the effort, the time, the discipline that it takes to be great football players. So, all that combined, it's just ... [I] can't state it enough – how much of a privilege it is to be back out there again and just how thankful I am for everyone who kind of helped get me back to being back out on the field."

On if the one-year anniversary of his injury was a date marked on his calendar and was meaningful to him in any way: "I think it was just another day. I think I was in the weight room, honestly, I bet you." (laughter) "I know [head] coach [John] Harbaugh has talked about that; that was my year last year – a lot of time in the weight room. So, I mean, it was definitely something I thought about, but nothing that really ... [It was] just another day. [I'm] just trying to put that day behind me and just kind of close that chapter and move on. I'm just so thankful to be where I'm at now in terms of my health and stuff, so [I'm] proud of the work that I've put and that all of our staff has poured in. And yes, I'm just looking forward, now, to what lies beyond us."

On transitioning to the speed of the NFL in Year Two of his pro career: "[It's] unique in the fact that it's such a repetitious position – being on offensive line. And again, not being out on the field since the fall of 2022, and then making the jump from the collegiate level to the National Football League, it's kind of a double-edged sword. So, at first, it was a little fast, but just over time, over these OTA [organized team activities] days and football school days, it definitely has slowed down a ton. I'm just thankful for the guys that are around me in the offensive line room, and they just help me and just make it easy."

On how he measures self-improvement: "I think it's just going out there daily. And being a good offensive lineman, I really, truly believe that it's selfish and boring; you just have to put in so much time, because it is such a technical position. So, just knowing that I'm continuing to do that and just let these guys pour into me – that are in the room – and our coaching staff and my position coach [offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris], specifically ... It's more of a process, really, more than an outcome ideology that I have in regards to being an offensive lineman. So, it's just, every day, just trying to get better at something, and just, slowly, over time, be molded into a great football player."

On how he would sum up his rehab process and trying to get back onto the field: "I think it kind of changed over time. At first, it was just a, 'Why?' with a big question mark at the end. Then, slowly over time, the question changed – or the response changed – and it was kind of, 'Why not, right? Just go attack it. Attack the rehab. Control what you can control, right?' The event happened on – what day was it – March 6 of last year, when I got injured. So, it was just tough, mentally, at first, but then once I kind of changed that mindset and kind of said, 'Hey, I'm going to attack this head on and just kind of get after it,' it definitely became a lot easier."

On if he talked with T Ronnie Stanley about his injury experience and if he gave any advice: "Yes, I definitely had a lot of conversations with Ronnie [Stanley] in regards to his injury that he had, and [I asked him] more so what it was like coming back and just things to focus on. Again, he is more of a process over outcome guy, so that definitely helped shape that mentality as well."

On how competing for a starting job is affecting his focus going into OTAs and training camp: "I just think to go out to practice every day and just try to be the best football player that I can become. We'll let everything else take care of itself. I know these gentlemen upstairs have quite the job to decide who's going to play at the end of the day. But as an individual, it's up to us to become the best football players we can become and just make their jobs easier."

On how guys welcomed him in and helped him feel connected to the team last season: "Being around stuff last year ... Although I was injured, I was kind of behind the scenes. I was in the classroom every day, so stuff you guys wouldn't necessarily see, but I fully integrated with them back at the beginning of OTAs when we got out there. [I was] back like nothing had happened, honestly. The guys in that room – in that offensive line room – were just so awesome, and there's a lot of leadership in there. They really just want to see you become the best you can be, so it really was an easy transition, and I'm just thankful to have them as teammates."

On if shifting his mindset helped him translate to the field: "I think so, specifically [with] my confidence, just that first [moment when] the injury happened was just like, 'Why?' and then [I] kind of flipped it into, 'Why not?' and just attacked it straight on. At the end of the day, controlling what I could control and my response to what had happened was just going to lead to the best outcome possible, so that's kind of what the mindset flip was like for me."