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Transcripts: Ravens Mandatory Minicamp Media Availability (6/13)


Opening statement: "Welcome to minicamp. It's good to get started on our first official mandatory practice of the year, really, this season. I talked to our guys about [how] a lot of preparation has gone into this point – we've put a lot of work in already – but this becomes our official beginning, going forward, for the 2023 season, and everybody is very excited to get started. Also, congratulations to the Denver Nuggets. [Any] basketball fans? Awesome team; great team effort; won it playing defense, interestingly enough. And then to the Miami Heat – I love those guys; I love Coach [Erik] Spoelstra and what they accomplished this year. I was kind of pulling for those guys, to be honest with you. I just love their grit. So, basketball. Now we've got baseball to look at, too, right? The O's – they're rolling, too. So, what questions do you have?"

With WR Odell Beckham Jr. being here, what do you kind of expect as far as his level of participation in practice? (Jamison Hensley) "He [Odell Beckham Jr.] is going to be full-go in terms of health and all that, but I also expect us to ramp up a lot of our guys. We're going to see where guys are at. We're not going to be in a hurry to throw guys out there too much [with] too many reps. We want to get a feel for everything. He is learning the offense for the first time, just like a lot of guys have been. So, I think it will be kind of a see-as-we-go. [He'll] go through individual, take a few reps in group and team and see how he and the other guys feel, and we'll go from there."

We saw WR Rashod Bateman doing individual drills and working off to the side during OTAs. Are you expecting him to be more involved during mandatory camp? (Cordell Woodland) "I'm not expecting 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman] to be a part of it right now. He had a shot for healing purposes – cortisone-type deal – so that will keep him out for a couple days. So, we just decided to just let him keep rehabbing and make sure he's ready to go for training camp."

With RB J.K. Dobbins being here, what do you see as his potential under offensive coordinator Todd Monken? How will Monken's offense bring the best out of him? (David Andrade) "That's a great point. I think that is something that J.K. [Dobbins] is excited about, Todd [Monken] is excited about, [and] we all are. It's going to be interesting [to see] how he fits in, because J.K. has got a lot of dynamic ability – backfield, motion, wide plays, inside plays, even the A-gap plays that we've always run. As a receiver out of the backfield, I think he's got a lot of potential. So, I'm very excited about J.K. and how he's going to fit in here."

With the heights that WR Odell Beckham Jr. has reached during his career, and him coming back after almost two years off, does that add juice to the room, and will that add juice on the field today? (Kyle Goon) "You love great players and great people and guys who love football. And the one thing I've seen about Odell [Beckham Jr.] – like all of our guys – is he loves football. And the other thing that we like is guys who want to be here, and he's very excited to be here; he wants to be here. So, that combination is good. Any football coach loves that. He's a highly decorated player – without question – [and] has been in all the big battles over the years. He's worked really hard to get himself back to this point, where he's … He's excited to go, and I'm sure he's a little anxious and anticipating getting back on the field for the first time. We're not going to go crazy out here, but I think it's a good first step for him, and, of course, we're excited that he's here. We're excited that all of our guys are here."

Did your entire roster report to camp? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes."

NT Michael Pierce is someone who we've seen throughout the spring – football school, organized team activities and everything. With him coming back from the injury, how has he looked, and what are your expectations for him, considering you didn't have him for very long last year before the injury? (Luke Jones) "Right, exactly. Michael Pierce has looked great. He's been here every day; he's worked extremely hard; moving very well. I think he's very determined. Michael was on a trajectory, and then, all of a sudden, he had a couple of injuries that sidetracked him the last few years. So, I think he's very determined to kind of get back on track that way, and I have high expectations for him."

What are your expectations for DT Justin Madubuike? (Kirk McEwen) "I expect [Justin Madubuike] to take off – I say take off, but kind of continue on the same track – take the next step as a player. I think he's going to have a great year."

It looks like this might be one of the more competitive wide receivers groups you've had in camp. Are you excited about the competition within that position group? (Cordell Woodland) "Yes, I was looking at a picture – actually, it was in my basement, above … I've got this pool table; it's one of those old pool room pool tables, where you've got to put the coin in it, except now you don't have to put the coin in it, but you've still got to push the button. And above that is a picture; Jacoby [Jones], Torrey [Smith and] Steve Smith [Sr.] are in there, and we're like doing something at practice. I thought, 'That was a good group.' This group rivals that group, and it might be the best – we'll see. That's up to them to determine that, but I'm very excited about those guys."

There have been a lot of stories over the last few months about guys around the NFL being investigated for gambling. I'm just curious, what do you guys do to make sure that your players know what they can do and what they can't do? And does it ever worry you that maybe there are a few confusing points in there that are hard for guys to know exactly? (Childs Walker) "It does concern you that it's not always too clear. The clearest thing would be [to] just stay away from it, but guys are going to be on vacation, and they may play Blackjack or whatever; there's nothing wrong with that, if they do that – if that's what they do. But it is very clear in terms of sports gambling, in terms of where you can be during the season, those kinds of things, and in terms of not betting on football – period, end of story. That's pretty darn clear. So, I don't think it's that hard to figure out, really. If you want to push it, then you're probably doing yourself a disservice [and] putting yourself at risk, and if you have any questions, you should ask before you get into anything. So, I think the rules are fair and smart and good, and we spent a lot of time yesterday talking about with the guys. Even [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta] came down and talked to the guys about it. So, our guys should understand what's going on." (Reporter: "Was he talking about that [gambling] specifically?")"He was talking about gambling, specifically, right."

Is there anyone else that you've ruled out for today, injury-wise? (Jonas Shaffer) "Not that I can think of off the top of my head, but I'm probably forgetting somebody. If you want to give me a name, I'll remember the guys, though." (Reporter: "Jalyn [Armour-Davis]? 'Pepe' [Damarion Williams]?") "Pepe [Damarion Williams] is out. Jalyn [Armour-Davis] is going to do ACT and some individual. 'Pepe' is going to be out, probably, maybe even … He tells me he's going to be back to start training camp – we'll see. That's where he's at with his process." 

WR Odell Beckham Jr. is still kind of new to everything here. What has been your impression so far? Everyone has these thoughts of Odell, and they always say he has a certain image. What has been your impression of him? (Jamison Hensley) "My impression of Odell Beckham [Jr.] has been nothing but I love the guy. He's a pro. He's what you would expect from a world-class athlete. He's a highly competitive guy. He wants to play at the highest level on only the highest level; he's not interested in not playing and performing at the very highest level. From everything I've heard, he's a big-time practice player. [From] everything I've seen, he's a big-time 'train himself' guy, workout guy [to] get ready to play. So, those are the things that you always respect. And I don't think you can perform at the level he's performed at or some of the guys … I think back to Terrell Owens, for instance; we had him in Philadelphia. He came in – all the hype and all the things from a personality standpoint – [and] nobody worked harder at practice, nobody worked harder in the weight room. The guy came to special teams meetings. I mean, he was into football. So, to me, those kinds of guys reach that level for a reason, and he's in a place in his career where I feel like he has a lot to prove, at this point, and I think he feels like he's going to be the healthiest he's been in a few years. So, let's go."

You said that you were getting updates on WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s training when he was out in Arizona. Was there anything about those dispatches that popped out to you, or was there anything that you saw that made you think, 'Oh, man, he goes hard?' (Kyle Goon) "Not really. It's hard to watch a video and see too much. But I trust [Odell Beckham Jr.], and I'm sure he's ready to go."

We talked about the competitions at wide receiver and left guard. Are there any other positions or roles that you're focused on, specifically related to competition leading into minicamp? (Kyle Barber) "Of course. Every position you focus on, and every position has got a different kind of priority list to it. But we'll be looking in the secondary; we'll be looking to kind of firm up our different roles back there – corner, inside and outside. That will be something that will be important. Our outside backers [are] young, and we'll kind of plug those guys into their spots [and] see how they emerge. D-line, certainly, what their rotations are going to be. Offensive line you talked about already."

You mentioned that you're excited to see how QB Lamar Jackson takes on the growing responsibility of calling and changing plays at the line of scrimmage, and obviously, you trust him to do that. How do his responsibilities change as he takes that on? And does his preparation change as he takes on those responsibilities? (Mark Viviano) "Lamar [Jackson] has always prepared really hard, like everybody, but it's going to be a different type of preparation, because there are going to be different things he's going to be responsible [for] looking at. It will be a different lens he's going to be looking through. So, in terms of the way the offense has been built, every offense is built differently, so he's looking at certain things that he wasn't looking at before, in a certain way. The way it's worded, the way [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken] teaches it, the way the offensive coaches have put it together will be his perspective on it, so I think he'll study differently. I do think it's going to fit Lamar; I've told him that. We had a great talk about it yesterday. I think it's going to fit the way he sees the game really well; that's the hope. He feels that way right now, so now we've just got to get to work and let it rip and see what happens."


On his first impressions of being in Baltimore: "[It's] not really the first [impression], but [I'm] just happy to be back in the building. I've been away from the game for a little bit of time, so it just feels good to finally be back here and get things going."

On if this practice will feel different than other practices he's participated in: "I don't necessarily know. [I'm] just coming here with a mindset [of] we're all professionals, and just get back to having fun. Learn the playbook – it's a lot – there are still a lot of things to do. So, the focus is just [to] have fun, stay locked in, be a pro."

On if he can develop chemistry this week and his goals for minicamp: "Chemistry is going to develop over time. I know I'll be down in Florida training with him [Lamar Jackson], so we'll have plenty of time. It's not something that I'm worried about. The most important thing is getting ready for a season coming up in September, and that's when we play. [This is about] just being here, being around the guys, being around your brothers, just getting to know people, and like I said, just be a pro."

On if he already has plans in place to train with QB Lamar Jackson after minicamp: "Yes, we've been talking about it all offseason. We were supposed to catch some time in 'AZ' [Arizona], catch some time in Miami, but it's something that [wasn't] really a thing."

On what he expects his participation level in practice to be like over the next few days: "I don't know. I don't have like a set play amount or a number that's in my head. I think it's just, like I said, you come here, you be a pro, you get your reps, get your work, you talk. You don't have to always build chemistry, so to [speak], by taking reps. It can be a communication thing; 'How do you see it? Blah, blah, blah.' And like I said, we have a whole offseason, or after this camp breaks, to really get it going."

On where he is in his progress towards 100% health: "I don't know. I've been asked this question all my career, and I've never given a percent or number, because then you say you're 100 [percent], and then … It's just not really a good question setup for me. So, I'm just … I'm where I'm at right now – still in my process – and I'm just trying to gear up and get ready for Week 1."

On if it's safe to say that he feels good about his progress: "Yes, yes. I feel good. It feels good to be able to get out of bed and not feel pain. It feels good to feel like if I needed to take off running right now, I could take off running. It's been a long journey this time around, and it was its own process, so I just had to take that for what it was."

On his familiarity with offensive coordinator Todd Monken and if this iteration of the Ravens offense has a lot of similarities to the last time he was with Monken: "Yes. It was a while ago, but it's all the same. Football is all different verbiage and language; if it's a foreign language, you just readjust into different words. But conceptually, there are a lot of things where it might have been called [this] over there, and it's called this over here, so I'm just familiarizing myself with the offense, the playbook, everything. Like I said, the most important thing for me was just getting back to being healthy, and the rest will always take care of itself."

On if putting on a jersey today will be emotional and meaningful: "I think it is. I've been trying to not think about it so much, because there have been so many disappointments, and I've been in a good mental headspace, to where I've tried to downplay this. But I definitely think that I'll be excited to be able to put a jersey on and go out and do the thing that you've done your whole life and what you love to do. So, I'm excited about that."

On where he is now compared to where he was when he was working out for other teams earlier in the offseason: "I'm definitely better; I've got more time in. It feels like that was so long ago, and I don't know exactly how far it was. But I feel good. Like I said, I don't have a number or a percentage. Again, there's never really a good answer for that, because it just feels like a setup, but I feel good; I feel healthy."

On where his speed is now compared to where it was when he was working out for other teams earlier in the offseason: "I'm definitely fast." (laughter)

On how challenging it was to build patience during his post-injury process: "It's a process. It's hard when you get to the pinnacle of success in this sport, and you feel it was taken away from you. It wasn't something that was easy to live with. It was very hard to go through that and then have surgery and your son be born four days after. [There] were so many mixed emotions that I've had to deal with over the years, but it kind of all gets put to rest now, because, it's like, you're here. And I'm just excited about that opportunity, and [I'm] just trying to – again – keep gearing up to when it's important, which is when we come back here at the end of July for [training] camp and you're getting ready for the season. That's when it really matters; not to say that anything else doesn't. But at the end of the day, we can write all the stories in the world, but it all comes down to what you do on the field during season."

On how he looks back on his Super Bowl LVI experience from winning a ring to the injury setback: "It sucks. There's no way around it. It's literally … You dreamed of … I've watched plenty of Super Bowls, and finally, it was my opportunity, and I was so locked in. I remember my mom and my people were like, 'I've never seen you like that before a game.' And I could just feel it that day when I woke up; I knew that I was probably going to be the best person on the field. I had been feeling it all week. And it just sucks. I didn't get to live out that moment. It's not for the Instagram posts or anything like that; this is really something I've dedicated my entire life to – this game and this sport – and I just wanted to have that moment. But I told my ... I think it was my pops; I said God had already come to me and said, 'If I win the next time, which hopefully this year you get an opportunity [to do] …' He said, 'I know the Champagne was bitter, but we'll make sure that it's probably the best juice you'll ever taste.' And that's probably … In my mind, that's just how I keep the perspective – is that hopefully I'll get another opportunity to do that. And life happens to you, so you've just got to keep rolling with the flow of it, and we live, and we learn."

On playing with QB Lamar Jackson and Jackson's speed: "It's one of the reasons why I signed here. I've watched him [Lamar Jackson] for years. I watched him when he was at Louisville. So, I don't know who's faster. I don't know the answer to that question, but he's definitely – we all know – one of the most electrifying players that we've seen at that position. And one of my favorite players growing up – I'm sure he's always used to getting the comparison – was Mike Vick. He just has that 'it' to him. And I remember being in New York with Saquon Barkley, and seeing another guy put on cleats and you just know they're special people. So, I've got to make sure I stay on my blocks, and not get busy watching him when he's doing his thing sometimes; we all want to see it. But like I said, I'm excited about that opportunity. I think that was a lot of the reason why I signed [with Baltimore]."

On his impressions of QB Lamar Jackson as a passer: "Again, that's perception versus reality; I always talk to you about that. He [Lamar Jackson] plays quarterback. He's been throwing the ball all his life, and to watch him … [To] catch a few passes from him earlier today, he's got a strong arm, [and] it gets up on you fast. So, I'm just excited about that. I know he wants to throw the ball. I'll tell you this: I'll take 10 passes over 10 runs all the time, so I'm all for it. If we're going to air it out, that's fine with me. But it's definitely about winning games, so whatever that takes. I've been [in] passing [offenses], to always running the ball; I've been in the mix of both. I also went to LSU – nothing against them, but we ran the ball a lot. I've played a lot of football, [and] I know the balance of both."

On what it means to be a part of such a talented group of receivers: "Guys come up to you, and it's like, 'Oh, I remember watching you in middle school.' And it's like … They start to make you feel old, and I think I know what my role will be, as far as coming out and being able to show it every day and being able to lead. And also, I feel like a good leader has to be a good follower, so just being able to be there for these guys … Questions that you [have]. Shoot, I might have questions myself. We're all here to learn, and I'm excited about that room. There's definitely a lot of talent in that room. There's going to be a lot of competition for spots, so we've got to all work and work together. It's definitely got a good feel in there."

On wearing the Orioles hat, attending the Preakness, embracing the city of Baltimore and being part of the community: "I've heard a lot of great things about it. [Director of player engagement] Jameel McClain and I played together for the last year he played [with] the Giants, and he just was telling me, 'You'll love it. You'll love the city.' Don't get me in trouble now; [the hat is not] to say that I'm an Orioles fan – I've got a team of my own – but I'm excited. I want to go to a game and just check it out – check out the atmosphere. It's just fully embracing exactly where I'm at right now and where my feet are at, and I think that's something that I've learned over this process – is just being present and staying in the moment."

On if he has wisdom to share with WR Rashod Bateman about overcoming his injury, given his own experience going through it: "Yes, I definitely do. I know that it's never easy. But each injury is usually different. But it's just about helping each other out with the mentality. And when you come back from being injured, there's always that little bit of fear that you have to get over; it's like, 'You don't want it to happen again' or whatever. So, we haven't talked about it as much in the room, but he [Rashod Bateman] was training with me at EXOS, and we chopped it up about it. I think he's headed in the right direction. We're all gearing up [and] getting ready for the season."

On how he confronts the fear of re-injury: "For me, the very first time, I just remember … There's no real way except to dive in. There's no way to go through it except to do it. So, it just was … Now, I feel like … After having surgery for the first time, the second time it came around, there really was no fear, because it's like, 'I already know what I've been through.' So, you've just got to do it, I guess. But it's just a mentality."

On his favorite thing about being a dad: "Every moment. Just watching his [Zydn's] daily development – speaking more; 'Dada' – giving me love. It's crazy to see your little human grow up in front of your eyes, and I love every minute, every second of it. He's here with me now, so it's like, you can't wait to … Not to be done with work, but you can't wait to go see him and be with him and just spend those moments and just really cherish and value that time with him."

On the genesis of his confidence and how he handles doubt: "I've been doubted all my life, so that's really for the other people to do, and that's their own … That's what they've got going on; it's not what I've got going on. But yes, the time off just allowed me to grow and learn, because, when it first happened, I just wasn't in the best place to even think about playing football again – after I just did that and got back on the horse, and it happens at the worst moment. And if you think about it, it was the longest season for me ever, because we made it to the Super Bowl. Also, we started training since [the previous] November, consistently, so I was training … It was just a long season. I was at the end; I remember, Cooper Kupp and I looked at each other, and I was like, 'I'm happy this is the last week, because I can't do another one.' So, the doubts are for whoever has them to have them, but it's not what enters my mind and my body. It's just something that I've carried myself with all my life. I know what I can do. I'm just excited about … It's still a process to get to August and then getting into camp, so I've still got a lot of time."

On his eventful offseason, vacation in Monaco, and if he enjoys getting back to football: "I think it's important to live life. Once you get here at the end of July, you're here until, hopefully, February 17th, and you spend every single day with these people – your teammates, your brothers – more than your family, and then there is no time to go anywhere or do anything. And when I get to like an NBA Finals game, and I'm sitting right there, and I'm looking at Jamal Murray – the intensity he has in eyes, knowing he has an opportunity to win a ring – or you see these guys, it's always motivating for me. It's cool to like enjoy the atmosphere of a game, but I really go to watch as an athlete, not a spectator. I really get motivated by watching my brother D-Book [Devin Booker] play or watching LeBron [James] play, watching 'KD' [Kevin Durant] – watching these guys, who, in their respective sport, [have] the same mentality as I [do], and they want to be great. So, that's always fun. I love being able to get out the country when I can. It [Monaco] was the only trip that I really had, so I'm definitely excited about … I had fun with that, but I'm more excited [that] it's just finally getting close to time to being able to line up in a stadium again and not have to watch it from a TV."

On his communication with WR DeAndre Hopkins and if it means anything to eclipse 30 years old: "[The] 30-year mark?" (Reporter: "In terms of age.") "Oh, no, if you can play, you can play. I don't really think age is … It's more of a mindset, and that might just be me trying to not get old, but that's just how I feel. It's just really a mindset. And we [DeAndre Hopkins and I] both were in Arizona, and we were joking way before the draft even happened about possibly going here. And I don't know what happens from here – that's not really my call; I'm not the GM [general manager] or coach or anything like that – but I do know that he was kind of craving to be able to play football again. He had a shorter season last year, as well, but he just … I don't know where he's going to end up, but I'm excited for him, excited to watch him again, and I think he can still ball – from what I've seen when we were working out."


*On what it's like being back after time off and the new additions to the locker room: *"It's been good. It's been good to be back with the guys out on the grass, playing football. [We're] just building that team camaraderie and building the defense back together so we can set towards our goals for this upcoming year."

*On expectations for himself this season: *"Just to keep working hard, just keep sharpening all my tools, just keep learning, just keep being a better teammate, a better player, stepping up on defense and just taking it one day at a time. We have the ultimate goal as a team, and we all know what that is. It starts now."

*On if entering the last year of his rookie deal adds any greater urgency: *"Everybody at this point in their career, when their past three years, they get to this year, and you can make it a bigger deal than it is or you can just put your head down and work hard. I chose to pick that route. Every year is a big year I feel like, so it doesn't change anything. You just keep working hard, you keep sharpening [your tools], getting closer to the details, be the best player you can be on and off the field, and for your teammates."

*On if there's been any conversation on an extension: *"Right now, I'm not even focused on that, honestly. I'm just trying to just put my head down and work, focus on the guys, focus on these new rookies and showing them the way – the way like Calais [Campbell] was showing me the way – pass that down. [I'm] just trying to take it one day at a time and keep working hard, showing them how to work."

*On if it's different not having DT Calais Campbell in the defensive line room: *"Yes, a little bit. He's really loud if you know what I'm saying. He was the old vet, but he showed us a lot of great things, and I definitely want to pass that forward and just definitely be a leader by example. When I feel like I need to say something, I'll say something. [I'm] just trying to work hard every day, because we have an ultimate goal in mind."

*On if he has taken on more of a leadership role in the defensive line room without DT Calais Campbell: *"I would say so. There's a lot of young guys asking me questions. They like the way I work; they tell me that. So, I like to inform them about stuff that I was informed of by older guys. I'm just trying to pass it down, but also try to work hard and try to make sure that I'm leading by example and just doing the right things and just focusing on the little details more than anybody else."

*On getting the chance to work with outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith on pass rush moves: *"Yes, we do. We do, yes, absolutely. I even worked with [outside linebackers coach] Chuck [Smith] before he got here, in Atlanta. So, we had a relationship prior to him coming here. So, when he came here to the team, I was like, 'Oh, this is great. We're going to learn so much from you.' So, I'm excited."

*On what makes outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith so special: *"He played in the league. He's been in our shoes, and he knows what it takes to get to the quarterback. He knows what it takes for the whole D-line to be on the same accord, so we can have a great rush plan. I feel like he's a great addition to our team. I'm glad to have him here, for real."

*On if he has a signature pass rush move yet: *"Not a signature [move] yet. I'm still working on it. But definitely club rip, that's what [outside linebackers coach] Chuck [Smith] will be preaching. 'Club rip, club rip. Don't forget the rip.' If you do a great pass rushing move, he will show it on film and it will look good, but if you don't have a rip, he's going to call you out on it. So, he just focuses on the little details, and that's what I love about him."

*On how closely he watched the QB Lamar Jackson contract proceedings this offseason: *"Honestly, I didn't give it too much attention. Really, my family was like, 'Oh, are y'all going to sign him? Are y'all going to sign him?' [I said,] 'I don't know what's going on.' I just focus on what I can control. That's my main thing. I try to focus on things that I can control and let the rest – let the chips fall where they may. I'm glad he's here, and he's a great quarterback. We all love him as a teammate and as a person."

*On what he does during the month break after this week and how he approaches it: *"I'd say definitely go tap in and see my family. Then after that, definitely get back to football. [Training] camp is around the corner. It's going to be here before we all know it. Football is our life, so we definitely take it seriously and we do want to keep grinding, but also take time to see your family, see how they're doing and take care of your body."

*On if there's anything he wants to work on specifically: *"I need to work on a sack celebration, honestly. (laughter) To be honest … I don't know yet. I'm still working on it. I'm trying to get some ideas, but I'll let you know soon though."