Transcripts: Ravens Mandatory Minicamp Day 1 (6/14)


Opening statement: "I appreciate you guys coming out [for our] first day of the minicamp. Guys did a good job; it was fun to have everybody here. It's always interesting when you go to a new phase in the process, how it kind of gets the energy up a little bit and also gets the nervousness up a little bit. It's meaningful; it matters to guys. So, we had a good, fun practice. It was great being out there. We've got a lot of work to do, obviously, in all areas, but the guys are into it, and we appreciate that. What questions do you have?"

How did QB Lamar Jackson look out there in his first practice? _(Jamison Hensley) _"He looked good, he looked good. It was his first practice, and he looked good, and he was into it. He's physically in very good shape; I thought his arm looked really good. You can see he's been throwing a lot, and you can see he's in great physical condition. So, it's great to have him out there. It kind of boosted everybody's spirits a little bit, too. And he's a competitor; he's mad about some passes here and there, and the DBs [defensive backs] were happy about some passes here and there. But it was good to see it, and he threw some great balls. So, it was fun."

The energy seemed ramped up, as well, with just having QB Lamar Jackson here. Do you kind of feel everyone rallying around him? I don't know if rallying is the right word at this point in June, but they've got their guy here, they're leader here, right? _(Pete Gilbert) _"Yes, [that's] definitely part of it, definitely part of it. That, and the fact that also it's minicamp – it's a natural part of it. So, those two things."

Can you tell us why DT Michael Pierce isn't here? _(Mike Preston) _"I can't give you any details. I can tell you it's a personal matter, [and] we understand his situation. It's something that kind of is what it is, and that's where it stands."

We saw on DE Derek Wolfe's social media that he underwent a second hip surgery. Have you talked to him? And what does that mean for his status? Is he going to be able to play this year now? _(Luke Jones) _"Good question. Derek Wolfe … I was just informed by [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta], we have come to an agreement on an injury settlement with Derek [Wolfe], so that will be it with that."

Just when guys are out here who weren't here for those three weeks, is there an ease-in or change to what you do these three days with them? How do you toe that line? _(Morgan Adsit) _"It's a good question. And really, the mindset is more that they've got to merge right in. We're kind of moving. I wouldn't say we're moving at 180 miles an hour, but we're moving at kind of 80 miles an hour. We're moving pretty fast out there. So, they've got to kind of work their way in on their own pace, but they've got to be up to speed when they go out there in the team drills, and I thought all those guys did that today. Calais [Campbell] did a good job of that, too."

What about with the rookies and when they get together with the veterans for the first time? Are you noticing a difference with them? _(Jerry Coleman) _"They've been with the veterans the last few weeks, as far as practice, but [with] some of the new veterans, it's cool for [the rookies] to see the guys come in. But we didn't have that many guys come in; most of the guys were here. I think we have, really, everybody practicing that can practice, and the guys that … With the one exception that Mike [Preston – Baltimore Sun] referred to, Michael Pierce, who has the personal issue, all the rest of the guys are in here rehabbing. So, everybody is here; they're all in the team meetings, and it's good to have that."

Did you have any more extended conversations with QB Lamar Jackson when he showed up, or was it kind of like, 'OK' and back to business? _(Childs Walker) _"Back to business, back to business. Like you say, we're driving down, we're merging, we're rolling – let's go to work."

When you trade a guy like WR Marquise Brown, what does that say about the confidence you guys have in WR Rashod Bateman? (Jamison Hensley) _"We have a lot of confidence in Rashod Bateman; I don't know that it's one thing or the other. I have a lot of confidence in those guys, because I've seen them work out here every day. I mean, it's up to them to go make a name for themselves; they've got to go do that. So, that's something I'll be excited to watch, [and] I can't wait to see it. There he goes, walking right there. There's Rashod right there. Hi, Rashod. _(laughter)There he goes. But he's getting extra time on the field, as you can see, on his own. So, I just love the way he's working, and really all of those guys, and I can't wait to see them when the time comes."

We saw CB Marcus Williams out there, but not really in team drills. Is there anything specific with that? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Yes, he's working through some physical things, kind of working his way in. So, there are certain guys that have issues that they're dealing with, [and] they're going at the pace they can at this time. Nothing major; just part of that process at this time of year, I'd say."

With the guys that you've brought back and guys that you've brought in, how much do you think you can build on the run defense that you guys had last year, which was already one of the NFL's best? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Yes, I want to build on everything. I mean, the run defense should be improved. I really like the guys we have up front; I think our linebackers are going to continue to get better; and all the guys we have on the edge will set the edge. So, I feel good about our run defense. I know our DBs [defensive backs] will tackle. And [with] that pass defense, which wasn't the best in the league last year, we're looking for dramatic, dramatic improvement. I mean, before that, we were pretty much at the top of all those categories. So, we plan on being back up there, [and] that's what we're working hard to try to do."

Watching S Kyle Hamilton move on a ball with ease to make a pick. Him understanding where to be and then to physically be able to do it, watching him, does he look like a rookie to you? (Pete Gilbert) _"Yes, he does, actually. _(laughter)He looks like a very talented rookie, and I would say, a very smart rookie – to your point. But when he doesn't … His sense of urgency probably … He would tell you … His sense of urgency drops a little bit when he's not exactly sure what to do, but he is a quick learner, and when he knows what to do, you see that quick reaction time."

Can you talk about DT Calais Campbell and his value as a leader? I know DE Derek Wolfe won't be back, and you made some changes and got some young guys on the defensive line. How valuable is it to have someone like DT Calais Campbell who can kind of help guide and show them the ropes? _(Cliff Brown) _"It's massively valuable, because those guys look up to him [Calais Campbell]. These young guys grew up watching Calais Campbell and all these other veteran guys. These are the guys that they watched when they were in high school or even junior high, in some cases – dare we say elementary school, in Calais' case. So, [it's] very meaningful to get a word of wisdom from those guys. That's what the league is – it's a mentoring league. The four, five years ahead, help four or five years back, and then, in turn, you look back and kind of pay it back with the guys that you mentored as you start to mature. So, that's one of the great things I love about the NFL."

Following up on that, how are some of those young guys mentored by DT Calais Campbell doing, especially having to potentially step into more elevated spots? _(Matt Cohen) _"They're doing well. The young defensive line … I really like those guys. I'm going to tell you; Broderick Washington is really stepping up – just to throw a name out there at you. He played well last year, and he's only getting better every single day. Of course, Travis [Jones] is a young guy; he looks good. There are some guys in there that are … They're going to be a couple surprise guys in there, too, [with] the D-line. I think the D-line is going to be really good."

I saw K Justin Tucker had a GoPro device on his helmet. I'm curious how that idea came about and how that helps him. (Noah Trister) _"I don't know whose idea it was, but _(laughter) it looks cool on their helmets, I guess. (laughter) _Hey, they're all about millimeters and inches and all that kind of stuff. They want everything to be perfect, so there you go." _(Reporter: "So, have you reviewed the kicker film?")"I have not reviewed the GoPro tape yet. No, it wasn't my idea." (laughter – Reporter: "It was on [Jordan] Stout's helmet too, I think. Is that all just kind of …")"It started on [Jordan] Stout's helmet, and [Justin] Tucker liked it, so he wanted one on his helmet, too, and the next thing you know, we're buying GoPros for everybody." (laughter)


*On how QB Lamar Jackson looked: *"He looked great, man. You can just tell [by] his energy, just how he feels. I think he's extremely confident. And the more he's out here, just running the plays, being around the guys, we're just going to get better and better. It was awesome to see my guy, for sure."

*On if he could tell that this was QB Lamar Jackson's first offseason practice with the team: *"No, he was in the huddle, commanding the huddle, getting the guys right. He threw a lot of great balls, a lot of great balls right off the defender's head. He looked really, really good."

*On if he noticed more zip on QB Lamar Jackson's passes: *"Yes, when we were running routes on air, he's throwing the ball a little bit … He's always had an arm though. But he's throwing the ball really well – tight spiral, and he's turning the ball over. Again, he's out here with the guys, he's getting better and he looks great."

*On the difference of having QB Lamar Jackson back to lead practice: *"I think everybody knows Lamar [Jackson] … He's the one that drives our team. He's 'QB1,' and the energy around him being here just lifts everybody up. Obviously, I have incredible amount of respect for [Tyler Huntley] 'Snoop' and everything like that, but it's great to have Lamar [Jackson] here."

*On his approach to helping the two new rookie tight ends: *"Those guys are doing their things. They're very well-rounded players, already. If I see something, I'll chip in [and] say what I have to say. But, mostly, just let them be them, and they'll figure it out from there. If I see something, I'll tell them. But they're just going to grow naturally – and they already have."

*On the objective of minicamp as he enters the final break before training camp: *"I think our goal right now is, again, just to get better as a whole. As a team, become closer. This is a great locker room. This locker room … It's not like this everywhere. The guys that come in here, see this, see the atmosphere, that's what it's all about. So, for us to all be here, hanging out, getting better as a team, having one goal, sitting in team meetings, hearing [head coach] Coach [John] Harbaugh talk – talking about where we want to be as a team, what it's going to take to be there – that's what it's all about."

*On if the team blocks out the negativity from the media surrounding QB Lamar Jackson: *"You block it out. Playing football at a young age, we've all been with the media for a long, long time. There's going to be a lot of nay-sayers, but you've got to be able to block stuff like that out. We don't look at the outside too much."

*On the aspect of his game that still needs improvement: *"There's always going to be room to grow [and] get better – get better as a leader, get better as a teammate, as a tight end. In all facets of my game, I want to get better. And then, again, I talk about the ultimate goal. That's where my focus is at."

*On if he'll be attending the Tight End Summit again this summer: *"I wish. I actually have a wedding [to attend] this year. So, I'll be in San Diego. I talked to [49ers] George [Kittle] about it. That's a great event. I'm going to miss hanging out with those guys – all the tight ends. But I'm sad I'm not going, for sure."

*On what he sees from WR Rashod Bateman's route running: *"He's running great routes. A lot of his releases, and everything … He's getting open at the line super, super quick. And then, he's got a burst of speed that people don't really talk about. And again, [in his] second year – he's a guy that's just going to get better, better, and better. The sky is the limit for him."

*On the new faces in the wide receivers room: *"A bunch of hungry guys. They're a very close, tight-knit group, and I think you guys see it on social media, and all that stuff. They really live it. James Proche [II] got a basketball hoop in the locker room, and they're literally playing all the time. It's a close group. They're a hungry group. They know what's at stake, and they're ready to go man. It's going to be an exciting team."

*On if they let the tight ends play basketball in the locker room: *"Yes, we kind of play on our own sometimes. (laughter) Maybe we'll get a little tight ends vs. wide receivers and see what happens."

*On the impact of T Ronnie Stanley being on the field versus not being on the field: *"He's an All-Pro tackle. He's a guy that … When we have him out there, and eventually when we get him out there, he's going to make a huge impact for our team. And again, it's all about giving Lamar [Jackson] time, helping Lamar out, and that's what he does."


*On how it feels to be back with the Ravens: *"It feels great. It's like the first day of school. It's been a while, because I didn't do any OTAs [organized team activities] or anything. So, [when] I came back, I was just getting in there and just talking with my brothers, getting that brotherhood, the coaches and stuff … It's really a family atmosphere, so I feel so much love. [I] just really missed it. But I'm very happy to be back, and it was a great first day. I think we had a lot of fun out here. I see guys just enjoying football; that's the ultimate goal this time of year. You try to get a little bit better and just enjoy ourselves."

*On what is first "Yes Sir" yell of every season feels like: *(laughter)"It feels good, it feels good. You kind of become … People expect it, so I've got to give it to them. But it's a way just to let people know I'm here and get the energy flowing."

*On if he always thought that if he were to play in 2022 it would only be in Baltimore, or if all options were on the table when he initially made the decision to come back: *"I knew it was likely to be here. Obviously, I think it's just smart to always weigh your options and take your time, but I knew when I was making a decision that Baltimore was a great place for me. This organization, and what it represents, who they are, it fits right in line with who I am, and just knowing the guys … My family loves it here. It was always likely to be here."

*On the Ravens reaching an injury settlement with former teammate DE Derek Wolfe: *"It's one of those things where it's part of the game. It happens every year. You're always going to have changes and stuff, and we had a really good run that one year [in 2020] where he stepped in and played really huge for us, and we had all kinds of injuries and stuff. [He] played his butt off, and the way he is, he's a Raven at heart. It sucks to see him go through tough times and different injuries and stuff, but it happens, it's part of the game. It's just the way football is. It's always going to be different, [and there's] always going to be some change. But we had a lot of fun together, and I always will enjoy being his teammate. I'm going to talk to him a bunch in the next few months, [while] his recovery comes around and hopefully … I don't know if he's going to keep playing football, or if he's going to retire now – we'll see how it goes – but it was definitely a joy being his teammate."

*On attending the pass rush summit: *"It was great. It's kind of crazy – I've been going to that for a few years, and it seems like each year it gets a little bit better, [with] a little more knowledgeable people coming, and it's been a lot of fun. I think it's always cool to get the best in the game together to be able to pick each other's brains. [With guys] talking through different drills and stuff, you kind of get a feel for what they see. And it's weird that I learned new things, just because I've been doing it for so long – stuff that I've never heard, at least. I might get a better understanding of stuff, but there was a couple [times when] I was like, 'OK, I've never heard that before. That's a different perspective,' which was nice – it's very nice. But I think it's really cool just to be around guys I really respect and love the way they play, and to be able to just connect with them and learn from them. So, it's a lot of fun."

*On how much chasing a Super Bowl factored into his decision to play football again this season: *"A lot, a lot. I think the two biggest things are health – as long as I felt really good [with] my body afterwards [and] just kind of going through that healing process after the season and just seeing how good I felt, and I felt pretty good – and then just knowing that I love the game, and I want to be a champion. And I think that's a big reason why I feel like Baltimore brought me back. I think we have unfinished business. This team and where we're at, I think we were so close, even though we didn't make the playoffs last year. But if you really watch this team and see how we fought and how we competed, this team is on the cusp of something great, and I just can't wait to go back to battle with my guys."

*On his thoughts on new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald taking over the defense: *"When he was here, my first year, we had a lot of really great conversations. He's a guy that loves football, a football nerd like myself. And so, we had a lot of really good conversations about the history of the game and just a whole bunch of other stuff. He's a really good guy, young, a lot of energy and highly intelligent. I think that he's going to be really good for us. He brings a unique perspective, and I think that the guys really connect with him. I'm excited to see what he does for us this year. I mean, so far so good. I haven't been here [too long since he became defensive coordinator], but in the one day of seeing how he runs things, I was really impressed. I can't wait to see what we can accomplish together just on defense. It's going to be special."

*On if there was one moment that convinced him to come back this year: *"No, I feel like it was a combination of a lot of moments together. But, when I was watching the Super Bowl though, it definitely was like, 'Man, I could see it.' I've always had that vision of playing there. I played in there when I was a rookie, and I've always wanted to get back. I've had that vision of playing there with this team. I feel like it's going to be a challenge, it's going to be hard, but I feel like we have great potential for it. Hopefully it comes to fruition, we'll see. To be open and honest, I texted [executive vice president and general manager] Eric DeCosta the day before, a couple of days before and told him that I wanted to come back, so it wasn't like it was pure breaking news."

*On his reaction to seeing QB Lamar Jackson at minicamp: *"It's great. I don't think there was ever a doubt for me. I talked to him, and I know that he's the ultimate pro. He prepares and handles his business the way that he's supposed to. For being a young guy like he is, he's so mature, and he understands how to do things the right way. I think people go through … everybody has agents and advice, and they do things that work for them. To each their own. But I feel like, just my perspective on Lamar and how he handles himself, he's an ultimate pro. Obviously, he still has a lot to learn. We all do. But, when I'm around him, I'm always very, very impressed [with] just the way that he carries himself."

*On how he's been able to keep his love for the game throughout the daily grind of a long career: *"I think it's just a love for the game. God just gave me a pure love for the game. Ever since I was a kid, I [have] loved football. People always ask me all the time, 'Why not play basketball?' I was like, 'Basketball wasn't even a thought.' I was really good at it, but it was always football since I could remember. I started playing football at six [years old], and I had to beg my dad to play. It wasn't like he signed me up; I begged him to play. So, it's always been football. I don't know why. He's the brotherhood, knowing that everybody's counting on me, and I have to sacrifice myself for the greater good of the team. I grew up with a bunch of brothers so that really resonated with me. I don't know, but I love the game. I enjoy every day that I get to be in here. I feel like when I was younger, I used to dread it a little bit here. When you're young, it's just a grind. The closer I get to the end, the more I'm like, 'I just have to appreciate being [here].' I'm only going to be allowed in these doors for a little bit longer so I have to appreciate every moment I get."

*On what he is excited for the defensive line this season: *"We have some talent. We have some young guys full of potential that are working really hard. I think [assistant head coach and defensive line coach] Coach 'Weav' [Anthony Weaver] is an incredible coach who is going to really help the D-line really mature and develop. When you have the kind of talent we have, and when have a good work … everybody in there is a grinder. They're always trying to get better and better. It's a lot of competition, and it makes us all better. Iron sharpens iron, so I expect big things out of our D-line. We always say, 'The team goes where the D-line goes.' Obviously, there's the quarterback, and there's the D-line. I feel like we have to be at our very best and lead this team."


*On his 'big brother-little brother' relationship with rookie S Kyle Hamilton: *"I like Kyle. (laughter)I think that it's always interesting who we draft because I like … when I first got into the league, I pretty much knew all of the college guys. Now I just watch the draft like everybody else and don't know who we're really going to get. But, I like Kyle. He's alright. But I will say, I had him on [my podcast] Studio 44 recently – that interview will be coming soon. I asked him, 'I hear all this great stuff about you, you fit in the box, you can play everywhere, but when I saw you you're kind of thin.' I'm like, "You're a little slim.' And then we got on the field, and he started doing some stuff, and I was like, 'I think I like him a lot.' So, he's really showing me some things that he can do. I'm excited to put the pads on and to actually see what he really can do. Everybody can look good in shorts and a t-shirt, so I'm excited for him and all of the other guys that I think are going to be a really big help to us this year – those rookies and some of those new signings – when we put it all together. As we do these minicamp days, it's just getting closer and closer to training camp and [the] time to see what team we'll be, what our mindset will be, what standard will we play with. So, I'm really getting excited for all of that."

*On if going against QB Lamar Jackson in minicamp brings more energy than in OTAs: *"Oh yeah, it does. I was really excited to have [number] '8' [Lamar Jackson] back out there. I told the trainer to give Lamar some water today, he needed it, I think. So, I've been messing with him a little bit, but I think that having '8' [Lamar Jackson] back is great. We got some great work in during OTAs without him and everything. So, having him back, everything is elevated. The Lamar-Mark [Andrews] connection is looking good, the [Rashod] Bateman connection... So, I'm really excited to … I've seen a lot of the work that our wide receivers have put in during OTAs, so I'm really excited for us to get all training back as a team, along with Lamar just Calais [Campbell] and all of the guys just – it was cool to have Kyle [Fuller] here. I'm really excited about just these next two days of practice and having everybody back together I think … OTAs are cool, but to have everybody here for minicamp and meetings, and even just being in the building all day is cool to just get the fellowship with the guys. So, I've missed that. I'm excited for these next three days and then some time off, and then camp, of course."

*On if he has any personal goals for the upcoming season: *"I was actually thinking about that on the field today. There have been some lists … some top corner lists I've kind of not liked. (laughter)So, I was thinking about that today. But I think when you have not the best year, you get hurt and everything, football still goes on. I think every year – that's one thing I love about football. It's like, Lamar [Jackson] wins MVP one year and then gets hurt, and then you see somebody post a Top 10 quarterbacks list, and he's not even on there. Every year it's a new year, and that's just what I love about football. There's really no time to ever really think you're that guy. You can be the best in the league, and then have a bad year, and then people forget about you. It's unlike the NBA. Lebron can have an off year and he'll still be the best player in the world. I think football is one of the few sports where it's so highly criticized every year that somebody's Top 5 list can change completely. So, I love that because it makes you know you have to go out and work every year."

*On if there was one name on the top cornerbacks list that particularly bothered him: *"Nobody specifically. (laughter)Nobody specifically. You just have to go out and prove it."

*On how he thinks QB Lamar Jackson handles talk about whether he's present at team activities: *"I think he handles it well. I think really what's most important is the communication within the guys and the coaching [staff]. So, I don't think anyone in the locker room … it kind of sucks sometimes being on social media and seeing headline after headline. But when you know what's going on, which you can't really respond to everybody, but there's no point. I think as long as the team knows where he's at, the players know where he's at, we're communicating with him … I think it kind of speaks for itself. I was thinking about what it would be like to be Lamar. Like, it's probably not that fun to be like famous, famous. Like, I'm like … some people see me, and they're like, 'I don't really want a picture.' But Lamar, everyone's like, 'I have to get a picture.' So it's like … it's a different life when everything that you do is kind of everything you do is looked at in a positive or a negative light. Whether it's Shannon Sharpe, or Skip [Bayless], or this guy talking, Stephen A. [Smith]. So, I know that would get annoying if I was in those shoes. But, I think he handles it really well, being how much media attention he gets."

*On what questions he would ask QB Lamar Jackson if he was a guest on his podcast: *"The million dollar question I think everybody wants to ask him. (laughter)But, I'll have to save it for TV. But, I might be hard to get him on there. Him along with Marcus Peters. I think Marcus might be really tough. He was a little mean to me when I asked him yesterday. There are still some guys that I'm struggling to get. I'm going to have to keep on chopping at the block, but I got Mark Andrews, so maybe Mark Andrews can help me get Lamar, and then we can have a good episode there."

*On if CB Marcus Peters would use too much profanity if he was a podcast guest: *"Yeah Marcus … he might cuss me out on the show. So, I'll definitely have to be prepared. It might be a short one. If I do get him, whether it's five minutes or 20, I'll be very happy."

*On what the process is like to sign your first contract after your rookie deal and on if he gives advice to players experiencing that now: *"I guess I haven't given a crazy amount of advice. I will say the one thing that actually made me have a different insight on kind of coaching was I coached my old high school. What that did was kind of … it made me realize things that I could be doing that bothered coach[es] or personnel. There's always that one track kid that's not really doing anything, but they're doing something small that might bother you. So, when I did that first year – I try not to hold grudges when I'm coaching the kids. But when I came back, I was like, 'Maybe this could be bothersome.' So, I started doing like little bitty things like, whether it's like we're supposed to wear this little t-shirt with a little pad here and here. (gestures to shoulders)I usually don't wear it but I just started doing those little things, and I think it kind of paid dividends for me. I think it's a Ray Lewis quote, it's that he's not great at anything special, he's just really great at a lot of little things which then makes him great. I kind of try and take those little bitty things off the field, on the field. [I] try to go to the nutritionist, try to do this. I just really try to handle business the way I think that a pro would handle it. And I think that kind of helped, not only on the field, but off the field as well. And, it kind of just all went together."

On if he feels he was weighed down last season by feeling like he had to do more to make up for defensive injuries: "No. I think we were definitely fighting a lot last year. Even the games [where] it seemed like we won, we were really always on our heels it seemed like. But, I didn't feel anything substantial. I think the injuries eventually did catch up to us. But, I think … even to the last game I felt – I wasn't out there – but I felt like the guys were still fighting to win that game whether we made it into the playoffs or not. But to answer your question, I didn't feel anything significant."