Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, great to see everybody. I appreciate you being with us today. A bit of news – I'm sure you're aware – Ronnie Stanley and the Ravens came to an agreement on a contract extension, which is something I know that has been in the works for a while. They've been working hard at that on the other side of the building. It's just a big plus for us. We're very happy for Ronnie and his family. Well-earned and well-deserved. Also, very happy for the Ravens and for our team, because it makes us stronger for the long haul. OK, what questions do you have?"
Two consecutive days in the indoor fieldhouse – were you able to get all the work you needed to get done going inside? (Todd Karpovich) "Yes, there's nothing that really precludes us from doing … We can't really punt quite as well in there. But other than that, everything is as normal."
With regards to T Ronnie Stanley's contract, along with CB Marlon Humphrey, both of them didn't seek these record- shattering market deals. From your perspective, when you have two players of that caliber, what does that say to you when they're showing more of their commitment to wanting to stay here more than just making those huge headlines? (Jamison Hensley) "I'm sure there are a lot of considerations that go into those kinds of decisions for anybody, no matter … For all of us in our jobs, we think about all those things that factor into quality of life and all that. But those are huge deals. Those are the type of deals that you dream about, honestly, and that you work hard for. And that's why you're so happy for those guys. We tell our guys all the time that, as coaches, that's one of our goals. One of our goals is to help them maximize themselves financially for their families for the long haul – that's really something that matters to us as coaches. We really try to do that. We're really happy for them when they do that, and for those guys to do that here is even better. So, I'm proud of the fact that guys want to be here, for sure. I'm proud of the fact that guys want to come here. That's kind of been established for quite a period of time now, but certainly, recently. We're just trying to do things the right way, but really, more than that … All that aside, to be honest with you, the thought is pretty much focused on Sunday."
With RB Mark Ingram II not practicing all week, does it seem unlikely that he'll be able to play Sunday? Or is his status still up in the air? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It'll be on the injury report. I'm sure it will come out in a few minutes."
Going back to T Ronnie Stanley for a minute. When you think back over his career, why do you think he's been able to keep progressing? I mean, he was obviously a good player when he came in, but we've seen him take several leaps along the way. Why do you think he's been able to do that? (Childs Walker) "[With] Ronnie, it matters to him; it's important to him. He wants to be the best. He cares about it. We've had many conversations about that, many parts of that, over the years. Different things come up; things that you have to do to become as good as he's become. But I think more than anything, he's really a smart guy. He's a smart guy. He understands the value of hard work, of stacking, of technique. He really is a technician at what he does – he talks about that all the time. And really, at that position, probably along with talent, that's the most important thing. So, he's pretty special that way. Not to mention he's a very talented guy, and he's a good guy."
When we last talked to you, WR Dez Bryant hadn't actually practiced with the team. Now that you've seen him for three days, how did he look? We saw him wearing No. 11. Was he doing some Steelers WR Chase Claypool on the scout team? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, he was. He was doing Chase Claypool on the scout team. He did a great job of it. I thought he had a good week. It's only three practices in after quite a layoff, but he looked good and he's excited. We had a great talk before practice. He's excited and he's going hard. I thought he acquitted himself very well."
T Ronnie Stanley
Congratulations [on signing your contract extension], first of all. What were the emotions for you? What did it feel like to put pen to paper on that contract? (Ryan Mink) "I was just very happy to see all the work and dedication and just my obsession with my technique pay off, and everything that my family has sacrificed over the years, so I can come here and live my dream. I'm very proud of everything that everyone in my circle's been through."
You mentioned that you think about the things that your family has sacrificed to get you to this point. What was the call like to your family to share this great news with them? (Garrett Downing) "It was really exciting. My parents were really excited to get the news. They were the first people I told, and they were really happy. They were just happy that I was happy, and happy with where I'm at and my teammates and the organization. They were just very proud."
You said all the right things, and you said you were focused on playing. But when you're going through that, you're being asked by the media all the time about it, and you're seeing other teammates sign contract extensions, is it hard to keep it out of your mind and play? And do you think with this getting done, it will free you up even more? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It can be [hard] at times – during certain parts of negotiations – but for the most part, it's always been my main focus is to just play the best I can play, and really just play for my teammates and just try to win. And I always had that mindset, and things will always work out when you have that mentality, because if you worry too much about other stuff, the production on the field starts to lack sometimes. So, I just try to keep my focus where it needs to be, and things usually play out the way they should."
How important was it for you when you were going through all this that you wanted to remain here, especially being part of what the Ravens are building here? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, that was definitely one of the main reasons for my decision to stay here. I want to play with these guys, because they're like family to me, and I'm very appreciative of just the whole organization; specifically, [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] drafting me and just having faith in my ability – drafting me with the sixth pick [in the 2016 NFL Draft] and having faith when I know people were in his ear trying to persuade him other ways. I'm just really happy that I could just prove him right, prove the organization right and just help this team … Well, our ultimate goal is to win Super Bowls."
You're really part of a parade of Ravens players who have signed extensions over the last year. Is that meaningful to you as a player – the overall commitment to getting guys who are here to stay? (Childs Walker) "Yes, that was big to me, especially being that I was drafted here, just kind of having those homegrown players be on the roster and really make names, and just kind of build that culture from within. And I feel like the Ravens do a really good job of picking out good talent and trying to keep that culture the way it's always been, and it's just 'Raven' football."
Former Ravens T Jonathan Ogden, obviously he held down that position for a long time. Baltimore has been looking for basically someone like you since before you arrived. What does it mean to you to have anchored that position and really be the answer there that the organization and the franchise was looking for since 'J.O.?' (Garett Downing) "I'm just happy that the organization has faith in me. And I always had faith in myself to be that guy, and to be that guy at left tackle, knowing it's one of the hardest positions on the field. And they had their faith in me, and I had faith in myself, and it just worked out where we're just on the same page. And it's very inspirational to have a guy like 'J.O.' [Jonathan Ogden] just be part of the history and someone to kind of look up to and just emulate that style that he brought. And he kind of set the foundation for left tackles in this organization."
Did you think that this contract was going to get done before the end of the season? And then a follow up; any interest in buying a soccer franchise now with your new contract? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, I had faith it would get done before the season. I was pretty certain that we'd get something done, [and] it ended up happening. And I'm definitely not opposed to investing in a soccer franchise, that's for sure. I definitely have to look at different opportunities here and there."
There are still some other young guys on the Ravens who are going to be looking for new deals: T Orlando Brown Jr., TE Mark Andrews and QB Lamar Jackson. How much are you pulling for them to follow you and also get locked up long term? (Jamison Hensley) "Oh, yes. We all know we're a family here, and I think all the guys are on the same page of what we're trying to build here in Baltimore, and that's long-term success. We have a lot of young players who are going to try to get paid in these next couple years, and I think everyone wants everyone to get theirs, and to really just be happy with the commitment that they're getting from the team that they're signing with. And we're going to try to keep as many key pieces here as we can."
C/G Matt Skura
How difficult is it to prepare for the Steelers front five, because they do move around a lot? Does that require much more film study for you this week? (Mike Preston) "Yes, definitely. This year, they're the No. 1 in just about every single category for defenses; pressure rate, sack rate. So, yes, we have to get a great look from our scout team, which we have this week, of all their different looks, their blitzes, their intensity, everything, just because they're playing lights out so far this year. We need that look to be prepared and on our game as much as we can leading into Sunday. So, yes – film study, practice, all of it."
One other question for you. Are 100% back from last year, or are you still kind of feeling your way through this a little bit? Where are you at? (Mike Preston) "No, I definitely feel 100%. [My] knee has been feeling great. Even after Week Six [and] Week Seven, it's still feeling really good. So, that definitely mentally puts me in a good spot. It feels good. [It's] feeling like a knee – bending and doing everything that it's supposed to do. So, it's been feeling great."
I'm just curious how you found out about T Ronnie Stanley's new contract? And how excited are you for him? (Garrett Downing) "He was late to meetings this morning and I texted him, 'Hey. Where are you? Are you coming to meetings?' And he texted me back and said, 'I've got something to do.' (laughter) And I was like, 'Alright. This is kind of weird.' It wasn't even until an hour later, when we got back into the locker room, someone said that he had signed his extension. So, Ronnie [Stanley] had kept it on the down-low for the whole morning and the last day. I couldn't be prouder of him. He's worked so hard since getting here. Both being in the same class [of 2016], it's awesome to see how much he's grown and reaping the benefits of that has really been awesome."
Before the season, I think we were all interested in replacing G Marshal Yanda and that was a big storyline. Now that you're six games in, what are some of the things you've noticed about not having him there on your right side? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I don't know … It's just like the 'Marshal-isms,' I guess, of the game; the way he gets fired up and certain things he says during the games and all that stuff. (laughter) Other than that, we're still playing football and Tyre [Phillips] has done a great job stepping up and filling in that role. I know it's tough, because for most teams it's just right guard, but for the Ravens, that's Marshal Yanda's spot. So, it's definitely tough filling in that role, just because of the legacy Marshal has left behind. But Tyre has been doing a great job. We definitely miss Marshal around the locker room, just the kind of guy he is and the kind of friend he was to me."
We saw a lot of penalties by the offensive line last game. What did you guys do to improve that? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Yes, the biggest thing for us was we had to attack it and address it. And the biggest thing for us was the alignment penalties, where the refs were saying maybe the tackles were too far in the backfield. So, we have referees here at practice, so we had them watching the offensive line's alignment every single snap, no matter if we're in individuals drills or our team drills – making sure that we're on our alignment. And then also, just communication with the snap count; just over-emphasizing it, over-communicating it, and I think that's really helped."
You mentioned that you've known T Ronnie Stanley for several years now. When we talked to him this offseason, he said he hit a switch in Year Three, where he realized that the offseason was going to be where he really took his game to another level. Did you notice that renewed commitment from him – just wanting and realizing that this is where he could get better? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes, definitely. Ronnie [Stanley] has always had that work-hard mentality. And so, ever since rookie year, seeing how he's improved on his technique, improving on his stance – everything – the mental game, just understanding NFL defenses, understanding how defensive ends are going to rush him, and how to place his hands and his feet. It's pretty remarkable just seeing how he moves in practice and in games and the way he's able to control his body. And you could just see all the hard work that he's put in to where he is and why he's been so good for these last five years."