Transcripts: Ravens OTA (6/8)


Opening statement: OK, good to see everybody out here. I really appreciate you being here. It's a beautiful day, [and] we had a really great practice – a lot of fun. Of course, there's 1,000 things to work on, and we worked on at least 1,000. But the guys were great, the spirits were high. I thought some things are starting to get timed up, maybe, compared to what you saw a week or two weeks ago, you see things get better. The tempo is a little better, things are a little cleaner, guys are a little crisper; that's why you practice. So, [it's] fun to be a part of it. I love these guys. A bunch of guys are here, they're working hard in the weight room; working hard in the classroom; they're taking care of themselves. We're doing a lot of things we talked about earlier, but we're doing a lot of things pre-practice, post-practice, in terms of taking care of their recovery. So, I'm just really happy with the way things are going right now. Of course, we're still searching for ways we can get better, and we watch the tape every night and try build on what we're doing, but I'm really happy with the guys."

We saw T Ja'Wuan James out there. How has he been progressing? _(Jamison Hensley) _"He's been doing good. I haven't really noticed the Achilles. We haven't done any power blocking, and he hasn't had to move anybody off the ball yet, so, obviously, that comes in training camp when the pads come on, but he's moving really well. He looks good. He's in great shape. I feel great about him. Morgan Moses has been out here. He was out here the first two days this week – you guys didn't see him – [and] he'll be back tomorrow, so he's doing really well. So, I would say, those two veteran tackles are major additions from what we had last year. We had … Of course, Alejandro [Villanueva] did a great job, but these two guys look really good."

Last year, you guys were a little shorthanded in the tight ends room, but this year, you've got some depth. Do you like your depth, and what do you expect in their production this year? _(Todd Karpovich) _"Yes, I expect a lot of production from those guys. There's a lot of depth. It's going to be interesting. They'll function as receivers, in one sense or another, a lot of times, too. So, they're good receiving tight ends, they're blocking. I'm excited to see them when the pads come on. They've looked good so far. You saw Josh Oliver – I don't know if he did today – but he had two massive catches in the red zone yesterday. Just great catches, so that's just off the top of my head."

When we talked at the Annual League Meeting, you talked about looking at the schedule, changing some things up and how you do things. As far as your OTAs [organized team activities] – we've seen a couple sessions out here – how much has what you've done these last couple weeks changed, and in what ways? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"It's not dramatic, in that sense. I think most of it is pre-practice, post-practice, and then in training camp, you'll see a certain amount of ramping, which, actually, the league is mandating. So, what we did for our first … It's the first six days for the league; we've actually done it for the first eight practice days, which will go through the first 12 practice days. And we've built in a structure where we have – I'll call them – execution practices every third day. So, I would say, [the biggest difference is in] the format within practice, in terms of the way we organize the practice and kind of build in some concept periods, which we've done in the past, and then which practices we stick in kind of as we go, to give the guys a different type of a movement chain, instead of kind of keeping with the same routine. We used to probably stack those practices up more, [but] we are going to rotate them more. You won't see quite as much here. Here, right now, it's more pre-practice and post-practice."

Can we get an assessment of QB Tyler Huntley, because he's been the guy during this period? (Mike Preston) _"Tyler [Huntley] – obviously, the reps are great for him. It's been really good for him to have the reps, and I think he's doing a good job. I mean, he's running the offense really well; the communication has been really good at the line. We did a lot of stuff against Cover Zero today [and] he communicated it well, both in the concept periods and in the team periods. He can always get more consistent. Obviously, I think that's something he's shooting for – is to become more consistent, play after play. The other thing that frustrates the quarterbacks out here is balls get batted down. Guys aren't rushing the quarterback, so guys are basically taking two steps and jumping and trying to bat balls down, and I don't really want to tell them not to do that, because it's good for the quarterbacks; they've got to find a throwing window. And as a defensive guy … What are they going to do, go up there and stand like this? _(Places arms to his side) Give them something to do. And it's good to practice batting balls down. So, that probably gets frustrating, but I think he's doing a good job."

With QB Lamar Jackson, have you had any recent communication with him? And what are your expectations for him to be at mandatory minicamp? _(Jamison Hensley) _"I expect him [Lamar Jackson] to be here at mandatory minicamp. I know he's working hard. Lamar Jackson is a hard worker, so I'm not worried about how hard he's working. I fully expect him to come back in great shape – that's what he talks about – and I'm sure he's throwing, I'm sure he's doing a good job, and when he gets back here, we'll be rolling with Lamar. Right now, we roll with the guys we've got, and when he gets here, he'll merge right in with everybody, and we'll go to work with Lamar."

I think you were asked earlier in the offseason about joint practices. But with Arizona being such a long preseason trip, is there any consideration or anything in the works, as far as practicing with them, just to make more out of that trip? _(Luke Jones) _"Yes, we kind of thought about that, but it's kind of late to get that set up now. You usually like to get that set up with the coach earlier. I don't really know what [Kliff Kingsbury] is doing, so we're going to go out maybe a couple days early – is our plan – to make a little bit of a trip out of it, in terms of having opportunity to do some team bonding and things like that, because we're here for a long time. But we're not planning on practicing against another team right now or the Cardinals."

What have been your impressions of the rookie cornerbacks you guys drafted – Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion "Pepe" Williams? _(Ryan Mink) _"Very positive. I think they're doing a great job. Those guys [are] very, very knowledgeable. They have a great feel for the game: leverage; spacing; their eyes are in the right spot most of the time; they're smart; they learn; they have good feet, and they have good ball skills. I think those guys are doing a really good job. They'll play this year. They'll play well."

You talked about swatting passes today. I think DT Justin Madubuike might have had three of them. What have you seen from him, and what do you expect to see from him this season? _(Kyle Barber) _"We really expect him [Justin Madubuike] to take off, and he and I have talked about it. We expect Justin to just take it to another level, and that's what he's practicing to do – [to be] more consistent against the run, although he was good against the run last year, and let's start disrupting the pass a little bit, like you're seeing with the batted balls, and get a few sacks. So, he looks good – very determined."

We're talking to inside linebackers coach Zach Orr after we talk to you. He's another guy who has kind of grown up in this organization as both a player and coach. How have you seen him mature as a coach, as he's stepping into this new role? _(Childs Walker) _"Great question. He's always got that fire. You could always count on Zach [Orr]. If you asked him his opinion, he's telling it to you, and he would tell it to you for a while. He's happy to do that, and you appreciate that, because he's got conviction. I see confidence all the time, and now I see even growing competence. He really has learned the game. He [was] a very smart player, who's taken the time to study and learn the game, and he's become a good teacher. He's a really good teacher. And so, he breaks things down well and presents it to the guys very well. He's doing a really good job."

A couple people have said that TE Nick Boyle looks like a new man. What are your impressions on the strides he's made since last year, when he was trying to gut through the injury but wasn't close to full strength? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"He [Nick Boyle] does look like a new guy. You can see he's way leaner. He's really worked hard to become lean. He's moving really well. Last year, he just wasn't the same guy. I mean, that injury was a bad injury, and certainly, we all hoped he'd come back last year and be ready to go, but he just couldn't do it, and then he did have a setback or two in there along the way. Now, it's just all clicked, and he looks like Nick, but I would say, he looks a little faster and a little quicker than he did before."

I know we're three months out from the opener, but in the case that S Chuck Clark isn't an everyday player come Week 1, is this the kind of period in the offseason where you experiment with signal-callers and guys wearing the green dot on defense? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Sure, we always do that. We'll have numerous guys with the dot in preseason, for sure, and in practice, we'll work that, and we'll see how it goes. Chuck [Clark] is going to play a lot of football, just like – let me tell you – all three of those safeties, plus. We've got Geno [Stone]; we've also got Tony Jefferson II; we've got some guys. But I consider Chuck to be a starter, and we'll see how it goes, as far as when they're on the field, situationally, but you're right about the green dot."


Head coach John Harbaugh had said he wants the tight ends to mirror wide receivers in the offense. Do you see that versatility there? And how far do these guys have to go to get there? (Todd Karpovich) "That's part of the job description, to be honest with you. We're in line, we're blocking, we're tasked with some [defensive] linemen. So, we're involved in the physical part of the game. And then when we're extended or out in space, it's our job to get open just like a receiver. So, I think that's what he [head coach John Harbaugh] means there. We've got to be versatile as far as our alignments go. We're in-line, we're detached, [we're] in the slot, we're extended at No. 1. Those guys spend a lot of time studying, and we use the tape to, obviously, to coach off of."

George, you've prepared and played against the Ravens an awful lot in your career. When this opportunity came up, what was attractive about it for you, and what has it been like being in the organization [and] getting a closer look at how they do things here? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's great. Just personally, from afar, it's been so consistent – as far as winning football. Tough opponent – offensively, defensively, special teams. Really enjoy this opportunity and I'm thankful for the opportunity, to be honest with you. Working with a lot of great coaches, on not just the offensive side of the ball, but defense – and obviously, from the top down. I love this organization. I've loved every minute about this program and being a part of it. For me, it's a lot of learning too – just like some of the rookies. We're kind of together in stride here. When the opportunity arose, I jumped at it."

What attributes does TE Mark Andrews have that makes him such an effective player? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Just when the ball is thrown to him, you've got to get open – that's the first thing – and then you've got to catch it. I know it's very simple to say that, but there's a route tree that he has that's very diverse. There has been some tight ends that have a few routes that they run. Mark [Andrews] can run every route on the route tree, and he loves it, and he works hard at it, he studies what coverages are going in defensively. There's a lot to that position; a line-in, getting off the ball, your correct route, being friendly to the quarterback and speaking to them at the top of the route. And then when the ball is in the air, we know it's going to be a competitive play at this level. He comes down with it a lot. It's been impressive. I've learned a lot already just sitting there with him, and I'm anxious to work the year with him."

What are your impressions of the two rookie tight ends in your room? (Ryan Mink) "Those guys have been in here for as many hours as they can be – learning, and they're good listeners. Not only with myself and the coaching staff, but also with the other guys in the room. So, they take good notes, and they're a compliment to each other. They use each other to learn. It's been impressive watching those two guys, too. They've been coached very well, to this point. And now, it's just getting adjusted to pro ball and having the sense of urgency to get open in the passing game and get our hats on the right guys in the running game."

TE Mark Andrews is coming off the All-Pro year he just had. What's the challenge for a coach to get him to take his game to the next level after the year he just had? (Cordell Woodland) "I think the good thing about those stats is that they were great last year, and every defensive coach knows that, too. So, there will be another defense for him. There will be maybe one or two guys per game that have him – sometimes at the same time, too. He understands that, he recognizes that, and now it's another challenge. The NFL career as a player, it kind of grows and there's more things that happen. So, he knows that defenses will evolve this year. That's why he's out there right now. He works his butt off, and he'll be ready."

When you started watching tape of the tight ends from last year, seeing what you're seeing from TE Nick Boyle now compared to last year when, even he would admit, he wasn't healthy. Can you talk about how different that is and how you see him kind of, throughout the OTAs, look a little more comfortable in the offense? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, I think we're early right now, as far as that goes, but he's worked his tail off this offseason. I think he's came back … You can obviously tell [by] looking at him that he's physically different and feels good. We're monitoring that as we go. Mentally, he's there for the young guys, but physically, he feels good. It's early, like I said. [When] we put the pads on, we'll see how that situation goes when we get there. But, like I said, I've been very impressed with him and Mark [Andrews] from a veteran standpoint being in that room."

George, this is probably another early question: You don't see a lot of guys with TE Charlie Kolar's height or wingspan lined up in the slot or out wide as much as he was in college. Do you see him kind of having that same role here? Do you see the potential for him running like an in-line blocker here given his size and measurements? (Jonas Shaffer) "All those descriptions that you used is pretty good for the guy. The longer you are, it's just an enate advantage that you have reaching a defender and reaching for the ball. We're going to try to get him in all those phases as much as we can. And then we'll see where it is when the season comes along. The fun part about when it's [a] drop-back pass, or is it play-action, only one of the guys is getting the ball. So, they're all in competition to get open fast enough for the quarterback to see and deliver the ball. And the more separation you create, the better off it will be, too, for the quarterback to deliver an accurate ball. That's what we preach in there, and we have a sense of urgency as far as the quarterback getting rid of the ball and getting us into a position to advance it."


What is it like standing up there as a coach after standing up there for so many years as a player? _(Luke Jones) _"It's definitely different. It's definitely different. But it's fun though. That was what, six years ago and everything like that? But it's good though. It's different … But it's fun. It's good [and] helps out that I'm seeing familiar faces and everything like that. That makes it a little bit easier. But it's just crazy where this journey has brought me along. I'm grateful to be back here in front of you guys."

What was your thought process when you got the opportunity to come back to Baltimore? _(Garrett Downing) _"I was excited. I was hoping that – I came in for an interview – and I was hoping that I did a good job. I was able to get the job and I'm thankful for coming back. That's part of doing a good job here previously. Building a relationship with, obviously Coach [John] Harbaugh, with [defensive coordinator] Mike [Macdonald], with [executive vice president and general manger] Eric [DeCosta], with the whole organization. So, when they called me and they were interested I was excited, pumped to come back because this is home. This is home for me, and even though I was at another place, I still paid attention closely, because I have a lot of good friends in this building. So, I was excited to come back, and I wanted to be back once they called me. So, it was a great opportunity. I'm glad it worked out."

*[Head coach] John [Harbaugh] just said you're becoming a very good teacher. Is that something that came naturally to you as you transition from being a player? (Childs Walker) *"It's something that I had to work on. As a player, I understood the game pretty well, but coaching is a whole different deal. It's not what you know, it's what can you teach the players and what they can retain and what they know. But, obviously, when I got my start, I couldn't start in a better place obviously learning from 'Harbs' [head coach John Harbaugh], [defensive coordinator] Mike [Macdonald], [former Ravens defensive coordinator] 'Wink' [Don Martindale], [former Ravens defensive coordinator] Coach [Dean] Pees … I could just go down the list of names. [Former Ravens special teams coordinator/associate head coach] Jerry Rosburg, [special teams coordinator] Chris Horton, everybody. I just sat, and watched, and observed and learned. I took little things from everybody and put my own little spin on it. It's a thing you constantly work at and everything. That's what I'm excited about. I'm just getting started and hopefully I can continue to get better."

Being that your career ended early and you're so young, do you ever find yourself on the sideline thinking you could jump in a play? _(Ryan Mink) _"Not anymore! I'll tell you, the first probably year or two, I did. But now, I'm like, 'This is crazy.' I couldn't compete with these guys right now, so I have no itch. It's funny … I've really fully transitioned into straight coaching. Sometimes I kind of … I know I played, but I kind of forget that I played now in that sense. I'm fully into this coaching deal like that and it's great that I'm in that mind space, because I think that it allows me to be the best coach I could possibly be when I view myself that way."

What do voluntary workouts mean to you, both when you were a player and now as a coach? _(Mark Viviano) _"First and foremost, as a player, it was very important. Obviously, coming in as an undrafted rookie, you have to prove yourself constantly, constantly over. Not just as an undrafted rookie here, but in this organization. It's what have you done for me lately, what are you doing on the field? So, you had to constantly show and work to get better. And obviously you want to work to get better, because this sets the precedent for training camp, and that sets the precedent for the season. Now, as a coach, I put even more pressure on it, because as a coach I kind of understand that it goes by real, real fast. As a player, you're kind of in your own little world. As a coach, you kind of see more of the big picture. We talked about it yesterday: September is going to be here before we know it. So, every time we're on this practice field, working out, whatever, coverages, run fits, whatever techniques … It's very important, because it means that each day we're out here that we're one day closer to the start of the season and everything like that. So, these days are very important, very valuable and it's great that players are here and working and getting better at it."

Do you think the players still look at you as a guy who played recently, and does that give you a bit of a special connection to them? Or do you think you're just Coach at this point? _(Childs Walker) _"I think some of the older guys … Most of these guys now in the league, they … Shoot, it's funny – some of these guys were in middle school when I played; crazy enough, I'm not even that old. But these guys were in middle school or high school when I was up here, which is crazy. But some of the older guys, now that they see me in front of the room and everything like that, I think they really just see me as a coach, and they see me as a guy who played, so they might have some questions here and there, but I think they really, fully see me as a coach."

It seems like ILB Patrick Queen has been out here every week. Where have you seen him make the most strides? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Man, I mean, when I first got back up here, I cut on the film, watched every game, watched every play, [and I saw that] 'PQ' [Patrick Queen] got a lot better. He got a lot better from his rookie year to now, as far as understanding offenses, understanding defenses, understanding the NFL game. He became a way better run defender. He wasn't bad as a rookie, but you could see he took a step in that area, [and] even in pass defense. We always knew how explosive he was as a blitzer. So, he got better in all aspects, and he's continued to get better. I mean, the sky is the limit for him. That's the thing – God touched 'PQ' [with] natural ability, and he works hard at it. Obviously, you see he's out here every single day, and we just continue to try to work and get him better and better, because I honestly believe that [if] he continues to get better, continues to grow, continues to work on the little details, he can be one of the best linebackers in the National Football League."

What does ILB Patrick Queen have to do to become an every-down linebacker? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Just continue to work and get better. I mean, I think he has all the ability, he's done everything, he's proven everything to be an every-down linebacker, so we anticipate him doing that for us. But, just as any player, he can continue to get better in the run game, pass game, as a blitzer, just everything like that, because he's still young. He's only going into his third year, so it's a lot that he's going to learn – being in his third year this year – that's going to help him out. But I'm really excited about 'PQ,' and I think you just see the dedication that he has. It's good when you combine talent [and] commitment from a player, and then people who want to get better. So, 'PQ,' is out here, he wants to get better, and I think he's showing everything he needs to do to be a three-down linebacker, and now, it's just [him continuing] to sharpen those tools in every aspect."

How has the adjustment been with ILB Josh Bynes going from your teammate to you being his coach? (Kevin Richardson) _"It's been good, man – really good and smooth. Obviously, me and Josh [Bynes] were teammates, [and] we still joke about it here and there. He's like, 'Man, I remember when you came in, you were a rookie,' [and] I was one of his rookies. I was getting candy and stuff for him. _(laughter)But I think it helped me out … Last year, being in Jacksonville, in my room, I coached guys that were older than me, and ultimately, as a player, me being one and just talking to guys and just being around it, a player, they're going to [show] respect as long as a coach is going to be prepared, and they know that a coach can prepare and help them get better. And I think that I'm showing Josh that; I showed him that when we first talked when I first got back up here, and I'm continuing to show him that, and that's something that I've got to continue to do. But it's been great, though. I mean, having Josh in the room is obviously wonderful, because he's a football savant. Like, he's at that level, as far as mentally. There's a reason why he's still playing and he's going into Year 12. He can dissect offenses, defenses, and he can dissect the game at a high level, really fast, and that's very valuable. So, obviously, I use Josh as the guy … I might not see something, or I might see something a certain way, and he might see something a certain way, [and] we can definitely talk and collaborate about it, see how he sees it and figure out what's the best way to go about things. But it's been really cool. I love having Josh in the room and everything like that. Even though he gives me a little stuff about him being older than me and everything like that, it's all good, though – it's all good."


*On how different he feels right now compared to last year: *"I feel much better. Every day I've been working. This whole process for me, going through this whole injury has been a lot. Just staying motivated and just keep working every single day. I feel really, really good right now. [I] dropped some pounds. It's like I like to say, 'You take some load out of the car, and even though the horsepower's still the same, you get to move a little bit faster.' Overall, I just feel way better."

*On what training he did to get to this point physically: *"Honestly, I think it was just consistency. Rehabbing here helped out a lot. Then I also took my family – my pregnant wife, my son and my daughter, who is one, we went to Arizona for probably like two months and worked out there; just for a change of scenery. Just different stuff and it was really good for us. Just, like I said, work every day. It's almost like, with injuries like this, always you're thinking whether you're going to be able to play the same or not. That kind of fuels me every day to do that. Just consistency and work."

*On training with Arizona native TE Mark Andrews: *"That didn't factor into it at all. (laughter) I didn't go out there for Mark [Andrews], alright? Let's get this straight. (laughter) No, I'm just kidding. But it was cool. Kind of crazy how it worked out … His house was like 10 minutes away. I went over to Mark's a lot when my kids were napping only though. I couldn't go over when my kids weren't napping because I felt guilty. (laughter)We'd go over and catch balls. His parents are super nice, his whole family is super nice and they had our family over. We were hanging out a lot and it was good to see him."

*On what trainer he decided to work with in Arizona and it the trip was a tough sell for his wife: *"It was tough for her, her being pregnant and stuff. It was tough. I kind of just reached out through my agent to just feel around just because I needed a change of scenery. I've been here for so long and have always trained here during the offseason. There are no issues here, I love it here. I just wanted a change of scenery for me and my family, just for a little bit. It's been a long rehab process. It was a little hard to get her to go, with the airport and stuff. Car seats and my two-year-old and my one-year-old it's like, 'Oh my God.' (laughter)She was really, really good about it and really supported me through this whole thing."

*On if he thinks the tight ends will need to produce more offense and help the young wide receiver group get adjusted: *"I don't know if I think of it from a production standpoint. I think maybe helping them out as in learning the playbook, running the right routes, because the scouts in the front office who bring people in here obviously think they're going to be good players. A lot of times good players become great players, or get on the field by knowing what to do and doing the right thing. So, I think it's really just guiding them that way. For us tight ends, we know our role and we know what to do."

*On training at the same facility as former Steelers OLB James Harrison in Arizona: *"James [Harrison], yes … So, that was the place I was training at out in Arizona – he works out there as well. It was cool. I see him there and he's super strong. I felt like an eighth grader next to him half the time when I'm out there, I'm like embarrassed. (laughter) _So I went there, and he was out there. The first couple of days I didn't really say anything to him, because I was kind of like, 'He's a Pittsburgh Steeler, no one really likes him,' kind of thing like that. _(laughter) But after a couple of days, I kind of broke the ice [and] started talking to him. I found out he's a really nice dude. I just really trained with him, worked out with him and he's really cool."

*On rookie T Daniel Faalele's size: *"Yes, he's a huge dude. He's kind of like Orlando [Brown Jr.]. He reminds me of Orlando just size-wise. You look at him and you're just like, 'Wow, this dude is massive.' He has such a high potential, such a high ceiling. Just him coming out here, I see him working all the time. I think he really has that mindset to get better, and like you said, blocking-wise when you're bigger and stronger like that, double teams and all of those things are so much better to do. So, I'm looking forward to working with him."

*On how much weight he lost: *"So, what'd I weigh before? It was like … I ranged. Well, it fluctuated. Before my injury kind of a thing, I probably played at around 272-274. Maybe 278, it kind of depends. After, right now, I'm probably like 262. But I feel good and I'm way stronger than I was at that weight. So, I think it was just a lot of de-loading on my knee. I feel like my body's overall so much better. That's like I said, the consistency, eating correctly, like these meal prep things. I had like four meals a day and that was it. No snacking, no anything. I told everyone that my wife would cook stuff and I wouldn't eat it. She would hate that. She was like, 'I'm just cooking for our kids now, and they're one!' (laughter)It was really, I want to say satisfying to see that work pay off and to continue it to get back on the field the way I want to."

*On if he no longer has to wear a knee brace: *"No, I really just wanted to strengthen my knee and roll without it."

*On what made him grind through playing injured last season instead of taking the year off: *"It's hard. That year was tough for me. I think basically just being around the building, especially in season. Seeing people practice, watching the film, being in the meeting rooms, it was like, 'I just have to try anything I have to do to get out there.' It's just so hard to sit back and watch when you've been a part of something … Maybe I wasn't really good or ready, or my leg wasn't up to standard, but I really wanted to get out there and kind of show that I'm here to really try to get back on the field. I feel like people just around the league – sometimes people get injured and strain out injuries and don't really want to get back out there. That was like the Number One thing I didn't want to show. I wanted to show I'm here, I want to participate even though I'm not really up to playing-wise, but I went out there and tried to do it. It was just something that was kind of my attitude."

*On the mental challenge of not being able to fully participate last year: *"That was the tough part. Every day it was like a mental battle. My wife says sometimes I'm like a rollercoaster; one day I say I feel great and the next day I'm like, 'Uh.' She [his wife]'s like, 'I have to manage your emotions,' and she did a good job with that. But that was tough. I think that's with all injuries. Any time a player gets back out there and they don't feel like they're playing even close to where they were before, it's a very demoralizing kind of thing. That's kind of where you find who you are and what you do. So, coming back around this year and feeling so much better, it's a really good feeling. I still have to take advantage of the whole spring and everything in the offseason to get there, but it's been a good path."

*On his impression of rookie TEs Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely: *"I don't know if we can compare anything to how Mark [Andrews] and Hayden [Hurst] was … It's different. But those guys are awesome. First, when new people come in the room, it's like, 'Can we be friends before teammates?' Are they cool enough, do they talk to you, do they say, 'Hi,' to you or walk by you? Both of these guys are awesome like that. They fit in really well. On top of that, when you see them out here running plays and catching balls, they're really, really good. Everyone we bring in … The more competition brings out the better in everybody. They're just going to help our team."

*On if he has any doubts of his physical capabilities right now or if those are in his rear-view: *"Those are pretty far in the rear-view. There are days where I don't feel as good and there are days where I feel like a million bucks. That's still kind of working through it at this point. But it's not like anywhere near last year and doing this and, 'Can I go out there?' I just feel so much better and I'm just ready to go. I'm really excited to be out there and participating. That's the worst thing. You're in there just watching out the window like a little kid sitting out there. You're like, 'Man, I just want to go out there!' (laughter)To be able to go back out there and to feel good while being out there is a blessing."


*On his impressions of former Raven and inside linebackers coach Zach Orr: *"A lot of enthusiasm. He brings energy every day in the meeting room; he's the main one hollering and stuff, trying to get our attention. So, just hats off to him for the way he's coaching. Being away for a year and coming back and coaching us, and learning from a guy that did it at the highest level that it can be done. I'm extremely thankful."

*On having his third position coach in as many years and if it can be a blessing in disguise: *"Just seeing different things every year. It's just football at the end of the day, so it's different roles, different techniques and different stuff, but at the end of the day it's still football. You can take all of those things and relate it to what we're doing now and it's just opening up room for me to be able to use more stuff."

*On where he has made his biggest strides this offseason: *"I think just being more comfortable. Being vocal, and actually just communicating and understanding stuff now. Not even being frightened by, 'This formation or that formation.' Or, 'I've got this responsibility, or I've got that responsibility.' Just being able to be more vocal, more open and more open-minded to stuff, and just being able to play football and being able to relax."

*On his dad talking about how he has made a jump in Year Three at every stage of his football career: *"I had [Year] Two – I wanted to do it quick – but I understand things take time. That's one thing that somebody actually asked me, is 'What's the one thing that you would tell your high school self now?' And I would be like, 'Patience is the biggest thing.' Two years down, one more year to look forward to for big things. It's Year Three now, so you know what time it is."

*On defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald teaching more about defensive philosophy right now and what his perspective has been on Macdonald's approach: *"I like that, because it's not anybody just focusing on their job right now. It's everybody knowing what everybody has to do, so that's just like … Say if you're in the game and somebody doesn't know what they have to do, and they're sitting there communicating with you and you're talking, you might say something that they need to know, or they might say something wrong and you'll be like, 'No, you've got this.' So, now that everybody knows what everybody is doing, it just benefits the whole defense now."

*On what kind of leap he has seen DT Justin Madubuike make this offseason: *"Everybody knows what Justin [Madubuike] is capable of. He works his tail off every day, all day, all season. We know what's expected of him, and it's big things [and] nothing less from Justin. So, we're all behind him, know what he can do, so now it's just time for him to go out there and do it."

*On how important it is for him to become a player who never comes off the field: *"That is very important to me, especially seeing last year how I didn't get on the field that much. This offseason, I just focused on being in shape this year and just coming back being stronger, and like I said being more vocal and understanding stuff now. Like I said, I'm comfortable now, everything is in a rhythm, so now that I can be in those positions, I can stay on the field all the time now."

*On what steps he took this offseason to get in better shape: *"I got to work. I took two weeks off [and] got to work – that's it. [I'm] eating better, too. I would say [I'm] eating better." (Reporter: "Did you cut out some of your favorite stuff?") "I cut out a lot of stuff – fried food. I cut out fried food for like two months. It's tough, especially in Louisiana. (laughter) It's extremely tough."

*On how valuable it is to work on communication and wearing the green dot during practice: *"It's very important, because sometimes you'll hear a call, and it will sound like another call. So, now, you've got to think, 'Well, we've only got certain calls for certain stuff,' so you'll be able to figure those things out. And just everybody getting a turn going out on the field, communicating … Sometimes, Chuck [Clark] will be out there, [and] we're both communicating at the same time. It's just different stuff that you can do with the dots and hear from everybody. So, just being able to hear [defensive coordinator] Mike [Macdonald] and how he calls stuff now, and in the meeting room, how he says he's going to call things, and you see it on the field now. So, the communication is way easier now."

*On if there is some extra excitement for mandatory minicamp next week, knowing the competition will ramp up a little bit: *"Yes, that's the biggest thing – just ramping up the competition now, because we've been at this for like five weeks now, so let's go play football now. I know we're not going to have pads on or anything, but it's still good to get your true 'ones' versus your true 'ones' and stuff, so I'm looking forward to it."

Related Content