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Transcripts: Press Conference (11/22)


Opening statement: "[I] appreciate you guys being here. [It was a] good practice getting ready to go [for] a big challenge in front of us. We're looking forward to that, but we have a lot of work to do this week still. Before we get started, I just want to express gratitude on Thanksgiving week. I know you guys aren't going to be here tomorrow. We're grateful for you guys, actually. We are – for what you do in terms of connecting the team and the players and everybody with the fans. The fans get a chance to have a lens into the organization and into the team through the media. You guys do a great job with that, and we appreciate it. [You're] a great group to work with every single day. I say that genuinely. Thank you, and then for our fans and also for our families. I'm very grateful for my family and [am] very grateful for the grace of God [for] a chance to get up every day and breathe and do what we get a chance to do. With that, what questions do you have?"

Is OT Ronnie Stanley and CB Marlon Humphrey being back at practice a sign of things trending in the right direction for them?*_(Jamison Hensley)_* "I think everybody's doing a really good job of trying to get back. I think this time of year, you're going to have those things that guys are going to be fighting through. You're never going to be certain about every single guy every single week, but we're generally a healthy football team. We'll just see where we're at on Sunday when we get there."

We saw WR Rashod Bateman go down during practice. Is that precautionary?*_(Jeff Zrebiec)_* "We'll just have to see. It doesn't look like a real serious injury or anything like that. He should be fine, but we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

How excited are you to see CB Damarion "Pepe" Williams back on the field?*_(Kyle Phoenix)_* "[I'm] very excited for him. He's been around here for the last month telling me [that] he wants to go, he wants to go. Finally, the trainers cleared him and to see him out there with his enthusiasm. 'Pepe' [Damarion Williams'] always [a] high energy guy. He's out there talking already, so it was fun to have him out there. I think he'll have a chance to really contribute as we go forward here."

Was TE Mark Andrews' surgery the outcome you were hoping for with Dr. Robert Anderson? Does he still have a chance to return later in the season?*_(Luke Jones)_* "It was. It was all positive. I had a chance to review the MRI and the pictures on it. I gave it my thumbs up after it was explained to me what the heck was going on. By all reports, Dr. [Robert] Anderson told our doctors and our trainers that everything went really well. We'll just see where it goes from here."

For the players who are nursing injuries, are you contemplating extra rest considering the bye week is right after Sunday's game? Are you approaching this game any differently when it comes to playing status for certain players?*_(Cordell Woodland)_* "We're approaching it with an idea that it's a very important game. Obviously, it's a huge game for us. We need to go out there and win the game. It's all hands on deck. We're going to try to get everybody to the game that we can, and we'll see how that goes."

What is the value of playing only one game in a 23-day stretch in this point of the season, particularly with players coming back from injuries?*_(Brian Wacker)_* "I think we'll have a good feel for that when we get back [after the bye] what it means to us, but this is just the way the schedule went this year. These games got spaced right here, which it is what it is. [After Thursday's game] we had 11 games, I think, under our belt, and nobody else had more than nine, basically. I'm proud of the way the guys handled all that. Now, our focus is on this one game [to] put the best game together that we can on Sunday to be as prepared as we can, play as well and hard as we can on Sunday out there in Los Angeles. That's really what we're focusing on."

Do you like primetime games? Do you get up for them like the players do?*_(Brian Wacker)_* "Yes, you do. You get up for every game, but I mean, it's Sunday Night Football. It's like Thursday Night Football in a sense that everybody's watching [and] you're the only game. It'll be a game that every football fan will have turned on, and our guys appreciate that because that's part of it. Players love to be on that stage, and they love to have an opportunity to compete in that kind of environment. Obviously, it's against a really good football team [in the Los Angeles Chargers]. It's an AFC rival. It's just an important game, so our guys will be ready to go."

The Los Angeles Chargers throw the ball a lot to WR Keenan Allen. How is it game planning for a team knowing where they want to go with the ball?*_(Cordell Woodland)_* "They do [throw it a lot] with Keenan [Allen], and they also do with [Austin] Ekeler. He gets the ball a lot, too, in various different types of ways. That's not their only weapon. Obviously, the quarterback [Justin Herbert] – he can get out and run. He can throw. He does a lot of things. He's dangerous, but they have a lot of good skill players. Every one of their guys is dangerous in their own right, and they spread the ball around. You say, 'OK, they throw it to No. 13 [Keenan Allen] a lot.' Well, they do, but then you see the ball going to everybody else. They scheme different guys different ways in different games. Different guys are very talented. They built [with] very talented offensive skillset guys. All the tight ends are receiving tight ends. Every single one of them is a good receiving tight end. They have five of them, [and] four of them play all the time. They're really good on offense for a reason. They do a great job with scheme, and it's going to be a challenge for us."

Is being the No. 1 seed in the AFC something that you care about right now, even with so much football left to be played?*_(Rocco DiSangro)_* "It's good. It's where you want to be at this point, but it doesn't mean anything until after the last game in terms of playoff seeding. If you get the lead, keep the lead. I guess it means something in that sense. We control a certain amount of our destiny. I don't know what the tiebreakers would say, but to some degree, we do. Really, we just have to keep winning. We have to take it one game at a time, be 1-0 this week, and that's really all our guys are talking about. That's all they're thinking about."


On his injury scare at practice:"It was nothing. It was just something that guys coming off injuries deal with from time to time. I've been holding up strong all year. My foot is a little tired, so it let me rest it a little bit for the rest of practice so I can come back strong for tomorrow."

On if it scared him at first when he went to the ground like that: "Not really. I try not to think about it like that, and I knew it wasn't that. I know what it feels like, and it wasn't that. [It] was just a little tired, fatigue on my foot, and that's kind of what guys deal with coming back from injuries."

On if this is the first time the injury has flared up for you:"Yes, it is [the first time]. I've been doing a good job. My foot is actually really healthy. It's been hanging in there pretty well. The training staff have been doing a good job with me, the team as well. All is well. My phone is blowing up already, but all is well. My foot is fine. I'll be out there on the field on Sunday."

On if he sees it as a group effort to make up for TE Mark Andrews' absence: "It's always a group effort. I think this world kind of gets caught up in this wide receiver [No.] 1 kind of thing, but for the Baltimore Ravens this year, I think that we have proved that anybody can have a big game, whether it's Mark [Andrews], 'OBJ' [Odell Beckham Jr.], Zay [Flowers], myself [or] anybody [like the] running backs. We play as a unit. We play unselfish, and I think that's why we've had success so far."

On if he feels like he can't be covered when the defense only has one guy on him: "I do know how good I am, but the media has kind of put that perspective on me. I'm going to continue to let them do their thing, and I'll just continue to do my thing. So, it is what it is."

On how good it felt to get in the end zone for the first time this season: "It felt amazing. It felt better than my first one because it's a lot where that came from. Hopefully, [there are] many more to come."

On if the touchdown was worth the wait because it was on primetime: "It definitely was [worth the wait]. I kind of liked it because we wore all black. The all-black [jerseys] are my favorite jerseys, so to be able to have the comeback touchdown in all black was definitely meaningful for me."

On how tough the transition is from college to being a rookie in the NFL: "I honestly don't think it's that hard, depending on who you are. Sometimes, I feel like it's easier, depending on who you are. For Zay [Flowers], it's probably easy. That dude is open 99% of the time, so that's a question for him, honestly. He's going to continue to get open for the rest of the year, so I'm excited to see what he [does]."


On what he's seen on tape from WR Keenan Allen: "[Keenan Allen] has done it in this league [for] a long time – long before I've been here – and [he's] still doing it today and at a high level. He's super quick, [a] very good route runner. He's crisp, efficient with his route running. He's a tough cover, but I think we've got a good plan."

On the stress QB Justin Herbert can put on a defense: "I think [Justin Herbert] rushed for like 70-something yards last week against the Packers. He's a super elusive guy. He's got such good arm talent, that his legs don't really get a lot of credit, but he gains a lot of yards with his legs. He keeps plays alive, and he just challenges teams across all levels. He's super smart, [has] got a great arm and can run around and make plays. So, it's going to be a tough challenge on the road – going to [Los Angeles] – but I think we've got the guys on our side that can do it."

On how the team handles the success and attention: "I'm speaking for myself, but … Somebody said we were No. 1 in the AFC; I'm kind of thinking, like … I feel like we haven't even played our best football yet. We haven't even hit our stride yet, because I feel like there is so much, as a team, that we can be more consistent with and more crisp, more concise as a defense [and] be more consistent on a weekly basis. So, I think it's kind of a good thing. [From] my perspective – looking at it – we're not even the best we can get right now."

On what he's seen from DB Brandon Stephens playing well at CB: "[Brandon Stephens], I feel like he's kind of interesting for the corner position, because he's so big, but he runs just as well as anybody. He's super fast, he's physical, [can] come up and tackle. He played running back, back in the day, so I guess he says he's physical from that, but whatever." (laughter) "He's got really good feet for his size, and he's been making plays back there all year. He proved himself early in the year. I know there were some question marks coming in, but I feel like everybody can agree that he's solidified his spot."

On what DB Brandon Stephens' emergence does for him in the back end: "Around the whole defense, including B-Steve [Brandon Stephens], it seems like guys have really just stepped up this year, and everybody has come into their own. We had 'Ro' [Roquan Smith], 'P.Q.' [Patrick Queen], but I feel like those two … Let me think … Those are kind of the only two guys coming back from last year that [were] solidified; you know what they're going to do [and] this and that. Even guys up front, like [Justin] Madubuike – he's having a great year. Kyle Van Noy, coming over from the Chargers – he's having a great year. Odafe [Oweh] came back from injury, [and he's] having a great year. I'm missing a bunch of guys. Even guys in the back end, like Geno [Stone], obviously; Marcus [Williams], getting hurt, coming back [and] playing well; myself included … I feel like it's just been a turn-the-page kind of year for our defense, and hopefully it will continue to be."

On overcoming the injuries at the cornerback position this year: "It's a credit to the players [and] to the guys [for] being prepared, like Rock [Ya-Sin], 'Darb' [Ronald Darby], Jalyn [Armour-Davis]. [It's a] credit to the coaches, as well, just getting them ready [and] keeping them ready. Even though they're not getting a lot of reps throughout the week, [they're] able to come in and play at a high level for what I think is the best defense in the league. It's not easy being cold, especially at that position – at corner – and just being called on to go in and perform. So, shoutout to those guys. They've been doing a great job of it, and [I'm] excited to see what they're going to do."

On if S Derwin James Jr. is a guy that he studied, compared himself to and admired in college: "Yes, [Derwin James] is definitely a guy who I've watched a lot of tape on coming out [of] college. I don't know exactly what year he was drafted, but he was definitely himself in the league by the time I was in college. And [I watched] guys like him, Justin Simmons, Tyrann Mathieu, Kevin Byard – just getting bits and pieces from all their games and trying to apply it to mine, while also staying true to myself [and] what I can do. But yes, he's definitely one of the guys that I see as one of the better safeties in our league and somebody that I've looked at as kind of being exemplary of how to play the position."

On if he looks as S Derwin James Jr.'s level of play as his own next level to get to: "Yes, that's definitely one of the goals – to get those accolades [and the] recognition – but at the same time, everybody goes at their own pace, and I'm not comparing myself to anybody. [I] just do what I do, and when I do it, [and] how I do it; I feel like I'm confident in that. But at the same time, [I] can still give homage and respect to those who have done good stuff before me."

On what it means to get CB Marlon Humphrey and CB Damarion "Pepe" Williams back at practice: "Yes, I mean, it's good, definitely to see 'Pepe' [Damarion Williams] out there. Practice is a lot louder with him out there; he's a very loud dude. And Marlon [Humphrey], too; those two are probably the loudest dudes on the team. But just energy-wise, those are two guys … You can't really replicate their energy on a day-to-day basis, so it's good to have them back out there, especially in the meeting rooms [and to] have them involved in film – stuff like that. We just keep getting healthier, so it's a good thing to see, and I feel the sky is the limit from here."

On if he's noticed teams adjusting to his pass-rushing prowess and how much he enjoys getting after the quarterback: "Yes, it's fun. It's a switch up. I didn't really blitz in college or high school. I got my first sack ever last year against Cleveland – in my life. It's fun, though. It's kind of – not a play off – but it's a play for you, as a DB [defensive back], to just go do something you don't really do. And like you said, people are accounting for me now, so hopefully that opens somebody up, like [Justin] Madubuike or 'Dafe' [Odafe Oweh] or somebody inside – Mike Pierce. Maybe I get the slide coming up my way, and they don't account for him on the inside or something like that. And if they don't account for me, then I can go run and make a play. So, it's a win-win when you can put pressure on the offense, and I think it's fun."


On how quickly his friendship with QB Lamar Jackson blossomed:"It was kind of fast. Coming into the league, I looked a Lamar [Jackson] like a superhero, so the fact he went out of his way [and] spoke to me first and introduced himself … We've just been clicking ever since, so it's been a blessing for real."

On how the previous games where he filled in for TE Mark Andrews will help him now:"[I'm] really just being where my feet are. As Coach [John Harbaugh] always says, 'Next man up mentality.' I love Mark [Andrews] [and] it hurt when he went down. Mark told me, 'Just stay the course and stay ready all the time.'" 

On QB Lamar Jackson's comments about knowing where to look for TE Mark Andrews if things break down on the field and if he feels he can have that with him: "I'm not going to say it's as great as Mark [Andrews] because, like you said, they came in together. They're brothers [and] that's his peanut butter and jelly. Filling in the role and trying to incorporate what I do the same way Mark does and try to incorporate what I do the same way Mark does and try to be on the same timing they have with the chemistry Lamar [Jackson] has is really going to click to how the offense goes."

On the advice that TE Mark Andrews gave him and if he's spoken to him since the Thursday game:"The night that it happened, I called Mark [Andrews]. He didn't answer, but it's obviously like … I texted him saying, 'When you're ready to talk, I know everyone's blowing your phone up. I know you're going through a lot right now, just hit me up,' and he hit me up yesterday. We talked for a little bit – I'm not going to say what we talked about – but he's definitely in good spirits." 

On if it means something to him when TE Mark Andrews gave advice and encouraged him knowing this would be a big opportunity for him:"For sure. I tell everybody that Mark [Andrews] is like that big brother role in that aspect, and he's done a fantastic job helping me day in and day out. [He's helped me with] run blocking pass, route running, pass blocking, everything and just giving me everything – [being] a voice of wisdom with everything I do. So, having him still be able to talk to me even after his injury definitely was heartwarming."

On what practice has been like this week not having TE Mark Andrews and having to step in a more prominent role:"Really, I've just been trying to major in on the little details, just still understanding that I have a role and just understand that what Lamar [Jackson] needs me to do in terms of if I have to speed up this route, if he wants me to block differently on the edge for him because … I'm not going to lie, me and Mark [Andrews] do things different in our own ways. That's what makes us human, but [I'm] just still trying to incorporate and blend with the offense."

On how much unselfishness and patience have been important for him this year and how much he's had to remind himself that his chance will come:"I feel like it's a blessing we have so many weapons on offense because it makes people [who have] my job easier because now we either have to respect everybody, or you double somebody and now you leave somebody that you don't want guarding somebody else. So, I felt like just staying the course just waiting for the ball to come my way and making the most of it."

On what he thinks TE Charlie Kolar will bring to the table:"I feel like Charlie [Kolar] is an amazing tight end. Just having us both on the field [and] you guys finally getting to see him and his first NFL season fully after him playing the last game in Cincinnati, I feel like he's come a long way."

On what his confidence level and his excitement is to have more opportunities: "I'm just excited to play football day in and day out. So, just bringing a smile every day to work and to the team and showing the offense that you have my 100 percent day in and day out."

On how his second year is better for him than his rookie year:"[The] ways I'd say differently, I felt like this year we have a lot more weapons, so as you guys said, there's only one ball to go around so just making the most out of your opportunities, I'd say differently. Then what's easier is just being able to talk to everybody. As a rookie, you don't really know anybody, you don't know how the system works, you don't really know who you can talk to [and] who you can lean on. But by Year Two, you've already made that chemistry, the decisions and really those relationships around where if you don't understand something, not only can you ask a coach, you can ask a teammate and just lean on them."

On spending a lot of time in Baltimore and what he was working on in the offseason: "Really just everything. Just watching more film seeing if I can decipher defenses a lot faster than what I was used to [in my] rookie year because the one thing my coaches preached going into my rookie year was, 'It's a lot faster in the NFL.' So, [I was] really just trying to [slow] that process down going into Year Two and trying to make the most of my opportunities."

On his plans for Thanksgiving:"[I'm] probably going to see the family for a little bit because they came down here. [I] need some of my momma's cooking; I always have to get that."


On G Kevin Zeitler being named the Ravens' Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award nominee: "Well, if you meet the guys, [Kevin Zeitler] is awesome – just [with] the way he works [and] the way he treats other people. I didn't know he was up for that award, but it makes perfect sense. So, congrats to him."

On where to draw the line with sportsmanship as an O-lineman: "I think 'Zeit' [Kevin Zeitler] is a perfect example of that – the fine line. Once he steps on the field, [he plays] the game the right way, but then once he's off of it, he's a good guy. So, there is definitely a fine line."

On the key to success when traveling: "We've been traveling for away games our whole career. Obviously, we'll go out there [to Los Angeles] a day earlier, but it's all about still doing your preparation [and] what you do on a normal game week, and then just come ready to play on Sunday. I don't think there is much of a change, if you make it a change."

On what is clicking in the run game: "I just still think there is a lot of improvement [to be had]; I think everyone thinks that. But obviously, we're doing some good things, and then, obviously, [there are] things that we need to improve on. But it's just [about] trying to be as consistent as possible. We're just working together as a unit, and then the [running] backs … We have great backs here finding great holes, so they help a lot, certainly."

On what an O-lineman Thanksgiving at G Kevin Zeitler's house entails: "Oh, gosh. If you want your belly full, then you probably need to go to the Zeitler Thanksgiving." (laughter) "I can't imagine what he's going to have there. I went there last year, and there was everything there. So, it's going to be another exciting Thursday."

On if it means anything to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC right now: "I think we could care less. What, we're [11] games in? We've got five more to go? Five [or] six more to go? We have a lot of games in front of us, so none of that means anything. We've got to go out there and take it one day at a time. We've got a big game coming up and a great opponent in the Chargers on Sunday, so that's what we're looking forward to."

On how he handles all of the attention on the team with so many primetime games coming up: "This is what you want as a competitor. You want games like this [and] moments like these. So, I think a lot of guys here embrace that, and then, it's all about how you go out there and perform on Sunday against teams that … You're going to get their best shot, so we're going to have to be ready for it."


On what sticks out to him about WR Keenan Allen: "He's a big part of their offense. The offense runs through him, but he's a skilled player. [He has] a finesse to his game, but I'm excited for the matchup." 

On how much better prepared is S Kyle Hamilton with responsibility of lining up in the slot this year compared to where he was last year:"Kyle [Hamilton] has definitely grown, I could say that a lot about a lot of the guys on defense, but yes, he's prepared each game. He puts the work in week in [and] week out on the practice field, in the meeting room, so he'll be prepared for the matchup." 

On how he handles the upcoming schedule of primetime games and knowing all eyes are on the team:"My motto personally is just to stay even keeled. Like you said, there's a lot of eyes on us, but we just have to stay focused on what's at hand and that's the Chargers and not letting outside noise affect us and get in our heads because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. What matters is what we're doing on Sunday."

On John Harbaugh saying the plan was to play him at safety in the offseason and when did that change and when did he know he was going to be playing cornerback: "[In] training camp, [I] spent a lot of time at safety and nickel. I would say the change really became towards the middle or end of training camp, and I honestly knew that was where I was going to stick in training camp, but I would say …" (Reporter: Was it when CB Marlon Humphrey went down in training camp?)"No, honestly, I was kind of a bubble guy. Cornerback wasn't out of the question. As everybody knows, I was all around on the defense – safety, nickel, corner – but obviously, guys go down, you have to fill some spots, but corner was never out of the mix." 

On the reason behind why the defense doesn't give up as many big plays as compared to other years: "Just execution [and] just being prepared. The week starts here on Tuesday, so we just have to take what we do to the field, and I think that's helped a lot. We haven't given up too many big plays this year, and the ones that we do, it's just lack of communication, but communication breeds understanding, so that's what we're aiming for."

On the biggest strides he's made this season at cornerback and if growing at cornerback is something he's relishing even though playing safety was an option:"Yes. I played corner in college, so that was my main position. I just love being on the field, no matter where it is. [Playing] corner is definitely my type of game. I love the island, and that's where I have fun at."

On where he thinks he's made the biggest strides at: "I would say numerous areas, just zone matchups, covering one-on-ones, taking away No. 1 receivers. Yes, I think I've made strides in those areas."

On how great it's been to see OLB Odafe Oweh break out the same year that you are breaking out:"It's good to see. It's good to see. [Odafe Oweh] has put the work in. We're a part of the same agency, so I see him putting work in [down] in Austin in the offseason. I'm happy for him. I always tell him, 'Man, just stay focused. Nobody cares about what you did last week. What are you going to do this week?' We just try to keep each other focused and whatnot."

On his mindset wanting to be on the island as a corner: "Shoot, the island is not for everybody. It's mainly just confidence, confidence in your technique, being fearless out there and knowing that whoever is in front of you, that's … You're in front of them. It's definitely a mindset, like you said."

On if he's always wanted to be on that island or if that's something he's developed: "I guess I did, especially [because of] my move from running back. Yes, I enjoy it though. You just have to relish in it and take advantage of every rep out there, because you never know when that one ball is going to come your way."

On how he expects Chargers QB Justin Herbert to test the secondary knowing he's a guy that can throw the ball over your head: "[Justin Herbert] is a special quarterback, and we know that. He's a smart guy [who is] able to read coverages [and] can fit balls in tight coverage. It's on us to make it as hard as possible on him with our covers [and] with the gameplan. It will definitely be a good matchup, going against him and their receivers, so we're looking forward to that."

On what gave him the confidence to switch to cornerback in college: "I think the confidence just came from putting in the work once I decided to transfer [to SMU from UCLA]. I knew I could always play the position. It was just a matter of refining my technique and whatnot. Obviously, I was going to SMU kind of raw at that position, so that's where the confident built from."

On if he's asked coach to be a part of the running back drills:"Man, I've been crossing my fingers since my rookie year to get a carry. I don't know when it's going to come, or if it's going to come, but hopefully I can break one."

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