Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Alright, [it's] good seeing everybody here. I really appreciate you being here. It's a little warmer today, as you've noticed. The guys did a good job of fighting through it. I thought they bounced back – yesterday was an off day. We had morning practice without an install night last night, so they had to really get locked in. [They] did a good job, but lots of things to work on. These are the days you work on those things and build your foundation under your football team – that's what training camp is. It's not just getting through it; it's getting through it and doing a great job, becoming a better team and working on all things that we need to do. They're doing a good job of that. So, what questions do you have?"
We saw RB Gus Edwards out there. Are there any updates with QB Lamar Jackson and when he will return? (Jamison Hensley) "I haven't been told yet. He's here. He was in the building today. He had to do some things with testing and whatever else the processes are. Gus [Edwards], obviously, was more ahead, apparently, in terms of not having to take certain tests. So, that's all in the protocol, and he'll be back as soon as he can be. I'm excited for that and looking forward to it."
RB Gus Edwards looked pretty good though, as far as running the ball and catching the ball? (Todd Karpovich) "Gus [Edwards] did. He looked really good. You could tell he was working out. He was able to work out. It's different; he might have gotten [COVID-19] two weeks before he came back. You just never know when guys got it. So, I think he was able to actually train on his own in the last 10 days, and he sure looked like it today."
We saw CB Jimmy Smith go off in the cart. Have you heard anything on that? (Bo Smolka) "I haven't heard anything yet. We'll see after he gets in there, and we'll see where we're at."
I saw OLB Justin Houston out there, but then he left early. Is everything OK as far as that? (Ken Weinman) "That was part of the plan with Justin [Houston]. We're going to have to work him back in. We want to work him back in, so … I think he went individual, then a couple of the early group periods and then he was out."
With S DeShon Elliott out today, I saw DB Brandon Stephens got a lot of reps with the first team. How did he look at that group? (Gerry Sandusky) "He looked good. He's a pretty savvy guy, but also a guy who has a lot to learn. DeShon [Elliott] was sick. He came up sick; not COVID-19, but just sick."
You had a conversation with the team about a half hour before the end of practice. That's not typical, so was that just kind of getting guys through the heat? (Gerry Sandusky) "Well, I just wanted to remind them the value of a drill in training camp and what we're trying to get accomplished. Kind of [like] what I just mentioned in the opening here, in terms of what we're looking for execution-wise and assignment-wise. And also, physically, in terms of being physical, but doing it in a real fundamentally-sound way and trying to take care of each other health-wise."
With DT Justin Madubuike, where have you seen him make improvements from Year One to Year Two? (Ryan Mink) "A lot of places. He's made a lot of improvements as a defensive lineman. I could list them all, but you know what they are."
After a few days with pads on, have you noticed the chippiness picking up at all? (Kirk McEwen) "I haven't really. I haven't really. It's not been chippy. I don't think we've had any real chippiness. Guys are … It's tough. It's a fight in the trenches. It's a fight, but we really haven't had any of that."
What did DE Derek Wolfe mean down the stretch last season? Specifically, during the COVID-19 phase that you went through, he seemed to be in the trenches. (Bobby Trosset) "I think your point is he was there, and we were down numbers. Is that what you're referring to? You're taking me back; I'm trying to remember what even happened last year. I remember him playing great. He had about four or five games in there where he just played off-the-charts defensive line football. So, to me, that's the bar. So, that's what he's going to try to top this year."
Sometimes I know around this time of year, you get the guys to come to your house. Have you been able to do that? Do you plan to do that and have a little get together with the guys? (Jamison Hensley) "You probably caught word. You probably saw something. That's like a loaded question, right? We had them over yesterday." (Reporter: "Oh, you did?") "Oh, we did! Gee. (laughter) We had a great time and had a lot of great food. We had some food trucks there – you could probably mention who they are and give them all a plug. We had some great food trucks there and had a lot of laughs. So, it was a good time."
Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver
I know you were in the old building. Were you here for this building? (Jamison Hensley) "I was for about a year and a half. I think it was like 2004 – something like that – so we were in it for a little bit." (Reporter: "So, this is kind of familiar ground for you? You kind of know your way around, a little?") "It is, it is. But having left, you forget how beautiful and immaculate the place is. I mean, it's called 'The Castle' for a reason. So, it's awesome."
I know you've been coaching for a while, but – you just alluded to it – having played for this organization, they drafted you, how special is it to now be in a new role with the Ravens? (Luke Jones) "Oh, I can't even begin to explain that. For me … I guess, when I was here the first time, it was the only NFL organization I knew. Once you leave and you get to experience and see the grass on the other side, you realize how special this place is. So, for me, this certainly isn't a 'pit stop' in my coaching career; this is a destination. Baltimore, the Ravens, are in my DNA, and I can't tell you how happy I am to be back in this environment with Coach 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] and 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] and all the tremendous players we have here. So, it's amazing."
We hear about players having a chip on their shoulder sometimes – not getting drafted where they think they're going to go. You being a defensive coordinator last year in Houston, for a number of reasons, you guys didn't have the best year, but do you come in with a little chip on your shoulder, wanting to show them what a great coach you are? (Kirk McEwen) "I come in with a chip every year, and it has nothing to do with what happened a year ago. It has to do with the fact that this is my 17th year in the league and I'm still chasing that ring; that's what that chip is about. It's about one goal, and it's a team goal, and it's to walk out of here hoisting that Lombardi [Trophy] with all these guys. You watch these 30 For 30's, and for those teams that have won, they always get back together, and they celebrate that. I want to be a part of that. That's where that chip comes from."
You get to work with a powerful young kid in DT Justin Madubuike. From a coaches' perspective, where are his strengths, and how much upside does he have in that position? (Gerry Sandusky) "His upside is limitless. He has all the talent in the world. He has got burst, speed, strength; he can bend. For him, it's just a matter of catching up his football intelligence with his athletic ability. Once it clicks for him, it could be really special to watch, and I'm just happy to be here and help mentor him. And the thing about it is, he's got a bunch of leaders in the room; Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams all see the same thing, and they're imparting that wisdom and knowledge they have, as well. So, he's certainly going to get there, because everybody is pushing for him, and the kid works his butt off."
Being a former player in this league, what kind of different perspective do you give to coaching, having played the game, and now trying to teach the game to these players? (Jamison Hensley) "I think it's the same thing I tell my son. I have a nine-year-old son, who thinks he has all the answers, and I'm like, 'Son, I've been nine years old. OK? I've been there.' So, for the players that are here from years one to seven, I could say, 'Hey, I've been in your shoes.' I've been through the trials and tribulations. I think I can help mentor them through that. And also some of the stuff … I didn't think of myself as an overly talented player, but I played with tremendous technique and effort. So, these guys that have that innate ability to beat guys off talent, when you mesh that with technique and fundamentals, the sky is the limit. So, I think, if anything, that's what I can help give them."
This team is still about stopping the run on defense, especially on the D-line. But with it becoming more of a passing league and seeing what guys like DT Aaron Donald can do, what is the balance to strike in 2021 for any kind of interior pass rush? (Jonas Shaffer) "Certainly, in this league, you've got to put pressure on the passer, and you've got to affect the quarterback. We know that, and nobody does that better than they've done here, under 'Wink's' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale's] tutelage especially. But you still have to earn the right to rush the passer in this league, so players like Brandon Williams, like Justin Ellis, they're incredibly valuable. And while a lot of the things they do may not show up on the stats sheet, they're productive. So, I get it; we've got to affect the passer, and we could do that in multiple ways. We have a bunch of guys that can get there in one-on-one, and we can do it schematically. But at the end of the day, if you don't stop the run, that shows … There's a physical element to the game, where you've got to do that and shut that down, in order to rush the passer."
I'm sure you knew plenty about DE Calais Campbell before you got here. (Weaver: "Unfortunately, because I had to watch him sack. He was in Jacksonville, so I was in that division for five years, and I think he had about 50 sacks within the five years I was there. But anyway…") Is there anything that has kind of stood out beyond what you even expected in just being around him every day and going to work with him every day? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, I think you always saw the talent from afar and the ability. What you didn't know when you're not in the building with him is not only is he a Hall of Fame player, but he's got Hall of Fame character. And he cares, and his leadership intangibles are off the charts. So, just to see him take all the wisdom he's learned in 13, 14 years and impart that on these younger players, it's awesome to watch. I was fortunate where I was around J.J. [Watt], and he was very similar, and Calais [Campbell] is at that level, if not higher."
DE Derek Wolfe
You talked about DT Justin Madubuike this offseason and how you have high expectations for him. What have you seen from him so far in training camp? (Ryan Mink) "He's just getting better and better. That kid is … If you were going to draw up who you wanted in a three-technique, that's how you'd draw them up. That's what you want them to look like, that's how you want them to … His explosiveness, his strength, his bend – he's the full package, man. He's going to be – once he really understands how good he is and he really grasps that – he's going to be dangerous, and he's a smart kid too, so he'll pick it up quick. So, I love what I'm seeing from him. I like what I'm seeing from all the younger guys. They're all playing really good football right now. They take coaching really well. They've got a bunch of vets around – me, Calais [Campbell], 'Baby' [Brandon Williams]. Justin Ellis is a vet, too, so they've got all these veterans in there with him, so when we're watching film, we're just coaching these guys up the whole time. So, you've got Coach 'Weav' [run game coordinator / defensive line coach Anthony Weaver], me, you've got Calais, you've 'Baby,' you've got 'Jelly' [Justin Ellis], and we're all just coaching them at the same time, so they've got all these different coaches in there. They're picking up the coaching really well."
You just mentioned how veteran the room is, but bringing in run game coordinator/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, who is older than you guys, but not considerably older – played in the league – what have been the early takeaways as far as what he's brought? (Luke Jones) "He understands what our day-to-day is like, so he knows what we're going through. To me, he's one of the best coaches I've been around, man. I've been around some really good defensive line coaches too, and he's got … The stuff he uses, he doesn't make you just do a drill just to do a drill – just to kill time. Everything he does, it's meticulous, and there's a reason for it, and he explains to you that reason, why we're doing this drill, and then you take that and use it on the field; it works. So, that's all you can ask for – take the coaching, go use it on the field – and then it actually works."
How tough was it for you last year, coming in with the pandemic and all the strange things that were going on? How much more comfortable are you now after a year in Baltimore under your belt? (Kirk McEwen) "I really wasn't that stressed out about it. It was what it was. We had to do all this … To me, the worst part was not having the fans. That's the worst part, because the game is supposed to … [Former NFL head coach] John Fox used to tell me, 'You get paid to practice, and the game is for fun.' So, it just felt like I was in a full-time practice. (laughter) So, we were just practicing all the time, and good thing we practice like we play. That's just the way it was. So, this year, it's going to be a lot of fun actually having fans out there, because last year, you would make a big play or something, and it was like, 'Alright, let's just go to the next play.' The sideline would get excited, but other than that, it was just dead quiet."
You hear a lot of people talking about a return to normalcy a little bit. As a player who has to deal with everything, is it getting back to normal, or is there still a ways to go? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know, man. I don't really want to talk about that [stuff], to be honest. We can't do anything about it. The higher-ups and the white hats are going to do what they want. I guess us sheep just have to follow. So, we're just going to do what we do. I'm just here to play football."
DT Justin Madubuike
On what strides he's made in the offseason: "I feel like I just bring more experience now since I have one year in the League under my shoulders. So, now I know what to expect, the expectations for the older guys and just kind of the ins and outs of developing as a pro. I feel like that's something that I didn't have last year that I'm bringing into this year."
On how last year's offseason compares to having a full offseason this year: "It feels more normal. Last year was definitely not normal for any of us. The non-preseason was kind of iffy-iffy, but now that this year things are more back to normal; you're kind of getting a full grasp of the rhythm of how a regular season is. So, it's eye-opening, but it's also what we expected. So, we're just taking it on one day at a time and developing as a team."
On if he feels any pressure from teammates and coaches expecting great things out of him: "I hear what people are saying, but I kind of just don't let it get to me too much. I just kind of ask myself, 'Hey, Justin. What can you control?' Just your attitude, your effort and the hours of sleep that you get at night – you know what I mean? That's all that you can control, really. So, I just try to focus on those things, and I believe that if I maximize those things, the rest will take care of itself."
On how much his knee injury at the end of training camp last season slowed him down for the beginning of the season: "I believe that everything happens for a reason. That was a time for me to kind of reflect and figure out what can I do to bounce back from this and make an immediate impact when I'm [fully] healthy and ready. I kind of just focused on rehabbing, just hydrating and just making sure that I'm taking care of my Ps and Qs in the playbook, so when I hop back in, there's no mental errors [and] there's no critical errors. There's just … [I'm] back in the fold again, just like nothing happened. So, that was just something I really focused in on last year."
On if it feels like his teammates are also his coaches due to their veteran experience: "Yes, it does, because Calais [Campbell], 'Baby' [Brandon Williams], even 'Jelly' [Justin Ellis] and 'Wolfey' [Derek Wolfe], they're kind of like coaches. They have a lot of wisdom. They have a lot of knowledge about the game that I don't have, and that's kind of what a coach has, too. So, you can say they're a coach, but they're a player as well. We can always hang out or whatever, and we can always talk about football and whatnot. It's definitely a blessing to have those guys who have a lot of wisdom that they can pour into you to better your game as well."
On if he has a nickname: "They call me 'Madubeeks.' 'Madubeast' – that's what 'Wolfey' [Derek Wolfe] says. I have 'Justin,' 'Madubuike,' 'Madubeast,' 'Madubeeks' – that's just what they call me."
On which offensive player has helped him become a better player: "My boy, Tyre Phillips. He always brings the sledgehammer. Every time he comes against me, I'm like, 'Oh my gosh.' It feels like a double-team, but it's one guy. You know what I mean? I like the way he comes off it. I feel like it makes me better as a player, and I can inflict that on other opponents on the opposite team."
On what he feels his strengths are: "Just running to the ball, getting in the quarterback's face, giving the O-line [offensive line] a clean look and just bringing it every single play. Coach [Harbaugh] says, 'I'm going to leave you in there for six plays. Give me all you've got, and I'll bring you out.' So, I just try to go hard, balls-to-the-wall for six plays and then I get out there."