Transcripts: Ravens OTA Media Availability (5/24) 


Opening statement:"OK, I appreciate everybody being here. Thanks for coming out. Beautiful day. As my old coach [at Miami (OH) University] Tom Reed used to say, 'It's a great day for football.' Every day is a great day for football, and today was a great day for football. Our guys were into it, they were energetic [and] enthusiastic. They were on point for the vast, most part, especially second OTA [organized team activity] day, so as a coach, you feel good about that. And now we're on our way. We did have some visiting coaches here. The entire coaching staff from Morgan State [University] was here, and the entire coaching staff from Bowie State [University] was here. So, it's great having those guys. They came early in the morning, and they've been shadowing our coaches [in] all the position meetings, rookie meetings, special teams meetings. They've been involved in everything today, so [it's] a great opportunity to get to know those guys, great opportunity just to kind of give back from a football perspective. And I know, coaches, we like talking ball, so it's good having those guys here. OK, what questions do you guys have?"

I know these are all voluntary, but how important is it to have QB Lamar Jackson here for these workouts? (Jamison Hensley)"I'm happy with the numbers. We've got a lot of guys here. The numbers are really high – that's exciting. The energy is really good. I always … I think it's important. I'm a coach; I want everybody here. I want every player here all the time doing everything they can. Now, is that necessarily the best thing? I don't know. Everybody has got their own circumstance, and that's OK. I think about what OBJ [Odell Beckham Jr.] is doing, for instance, out there in Arizona; I don't have any problem with that, or [with what] Mark [Andrews] is doing out there. They'll be in here soon enough – whenever they're ready and when they need it. And they talk to me and tell me what they're doing. They're working hard. So, you don't try to worry too much about it. But from an importance standpoint, if you want to rank it, today is the most important day there ever was, because tomorrow is a hope and yesterday is a memory, so you try to focus on today."

Now there can be three quarterbacks, including one chosen on gamedays as an emergency third quarterback from the list of inactive players, on gameday. How beneficial is that new rule? (David Andrade)"I think it's good for the league. It's good for the sport. So, the circumstance … And we actually put this rule proposal in. [Executive vice president] Ozzie Newsome put it in. [Director of football research] Scott Cohen and Ozzie Newsome worked on it during the season last year. We proposed it for the playoffs, and hey, you know what, hindsight is 20/20, right? But those guys actually thought of it before. You don't want to be in a situation now, with the way protocols are going, where a team is deprived of a quarterback. So, I think it's common sense. I applaud the league; I applaud the [NFL] Competition Committee [and] the owners for voting it in, the league office for supporting it. [I] applaud them, because I think it's a good move, and we'll just have to figure out our roster going forward with that rule in mind."

What do you think about fair catches on kickoffs coming out to the 25-yard line? (Noah Trister)"The fair catch rule; we had a chance to weigh in on that with all the special teams coaches. We had a long talk and discussion about that. We weren't for it. We voted against it. We think it's going to create more high-speed head trauma than not having it in there. That's our position on it, but we'll see. They want to give it a shot and take a look at it, then we'll give it a shot and take a look at it. So, it's in, and because it's in, we support it. But we thought there were better ideas."

You guys added QB Josh Johnson. What was the reasoning behind that? (Jamison Hensley)"Josh [Johnson] is a veteran. He's a veteran quarterback who we know. And Josh is a … I mean, I think he set a record for how many teams he's played for, right?" (Reporter: "Yes.") "That's pretty cool. That's pretty darn cool. Everybody has got their journey, and Josh's journey started at the University of San Diego. His head coach was Jim Harbaugh, and his running back coach was Jack Harbaugh. How about that? My dad was coaching running backs then, for that team. And Josh came out there – young guy – and he had his hat … I'm not going to put it on for the cameras, because I know that picture will go viral, but the hat was actually on sideways. And my dad said, 'Josh, there's just one thing that I want to share with you right now; there's a right way to wear a hat and a wrong way to wear a hat, and your way is not the right way. So, that's how you do it.' So, my dad was out here yesterday just watching practice, and Josh came out – because he got cleared on his physical – and my dad's hat was this way [frontward], and Josh came out, picked up the hat and turned it sideways on his head. My dad turned around; 'Josh!' right away. (laughter) He knew the story. So, no, it's great having him back. He's going to be great for our room, our team. He'll compete for the second quarterback spot, and we'll see how it plays out."

You were very positive about the way that WRs Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman were looking a month or two ago. Does that continue into seeing them out there today? (Childs Walker)"Oh, yes, yes. 'Duv' [Devin Duvernay] has been out there working hard, and he's kind of building stamina back up and everything, with his feet and his legs, and I think he's doing a good job. And then 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman] is right on schedule, from what they told us, and he's chomping at the bit, and the trainers are holding him back a little bit. We want to be cautious, probably, more than anything right now, but he wants to get out there, too. So, I feel good about those guys, yes."

We didn't see QB Lamar Jackson take any full-team reps. Is that just a matter of having him get settled and learn everything? (Bo Smolka)"Absolutely. We want to ramp him [Lamar Jackson] up a little bit. His first day was yesterday. [We want to] ramp him up in terms of the conditioning. He's been working, but with the conditioning here, the running, the lifting, the throwing, learning the offense, [we want to] just ramp him up out there, then he'll be ready to go. He'll probably do a little bit more tomorrow, then a little bit more the next day, then we'll work from there."

We didn't get to ask you about C Sam Mustipher. He's an Owings Mills, Md., guy and has started quite a bit in the league. How much do you like having him for depth behind C Tyler Linderbaum? And could he be in the mix at left guard at all? (Luke Jones)"I'm going to say right now – not that he [Sam Mustipher] couldn't be in the mix [at left guard] – we kind of see him as a center, primarily. So, we see him as a potential backup center, and you couldn't have a better backup center than a guy who's started [40] games in the National Football League. [He's] a local guy, loves the Ravens. You like that. He wants to be here. It's meaningful. And he really does know what he's doing out there, so that's a big plus for us."

Speaking of left guard, what are your impressions of G John Simpson so far? (Ryan Mink)"John [Simpson] has been good. Yes, John's been good. He's another [who's] played a lot of football. [He's] talented, moves his feet. I was just talking to him out there. He's really moving his feet well, working on his balance and his platform a little bit, and I think [he's] getting better every day at that. And [he's] a big, strong guy, [a] good athlete. [I'm] excited about him."

For QB Lamar Jackson, it's been a while since he's been out there. Just physically, how did he look? (Jamison Hensley)"I don't have an evaluation right now. He [Lamar Jackson] looked good, but we just work him back with all the guys. And I'm excited that he's here, of course, but I knew he was going to come in sometime right around now. And for him to be here is great. He was into it [and] into the meetings. He was locked in. The last two days, [he's] been completely locked in, and he's getting back with the guys and everything. So, it's a good thing."

As you see offensive coordinator Todd Monken's offense coming to form in these early few days, what are your impressions, and what do you like the most so far? (Sherree Burruss)"I like the energy. I really like the energy. We usually have energy, but I think [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken] has got a style that kind of lends itself to an up-tempo-type of an offense – just his personality is like that. He's got an up-tempo personality – you may have noticed." (laughter – Reporter: "We can hear him.")"Yes, you can. And he's like that all the time, and I think our guys appreciate it. But there are a lot of little things we've got to work out. There are so many layers to putting it together, and we're just kind of in the beginning of that whole process right now. So, we've still got a lot of decisions to make, in terms of how we want to operate situationally and things like that. But I like where we're going, and I think the players do, too."

Injury-wise, has anything arisen since the last time we spoke to you? (Jonas Shaffer)"Not off the top of my head. Well, we had a situation with Michael Thomas. Michael Thomas separated his shoulder kind of leaning for a ball, and he ended up falling and landed on his shoulder. So, that could be a surgery, possibly, for his labrum. So, we'll see."

And the timing of signing DT Angelo Blackson, what went into that? (Sherree Burruss)"[Angelo Blackson is] another defensive lineman. [He's] a big, physical, hard-playing, tough, rugged, defensive lineman. And [he's] also another guy that really wanted to be here. He wanted to play for the Ravens [and] likes the way we play. So, we like that. And he can help us."

We didn't see S Kyle Hamilton out there. Is there any reason why? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, he [Kyle Hamilton] just kind of tightened up. He was coming back from Notre Dame, and he was at Notre Dame, doing those tough workouts there, and came here and just tightened up a little bit. He's going to love me for saying that. (sarcasm)But I've got good reports from Notre Dame. I had a spy. I had a spy at Notre Dame [who was] keeping an eye on his training program. You know what I'm talking about, Bo [Smolka, reporter]. But he'll be fine. He'll be fine."


What are your first impressions of this new offense, and how do you see this new system benefiting your game? (David Andrade)"The new offense is smooth. [There is] more verbiage than usual. I like it. I'm loving it so far."

Are you seeing anything in this offense so far that maybe you wanted to see from a new offensive system? (Cordell Woodland)"I just said it – more verbiage. Coach [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] is basically just giving us the keys to the offense, really. And like I said, I'm loving it."

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken is active and talkative out there. What's it like going through a practice with him? (Garrett Downing)"Not even just practice, I want to say, I'll say, even in the meeting rooms, Coach [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] is very active. He's talkative and you're enjoying it – the learning process of what he's saying [when he's] teaching us the new offense. It's fun."

Why did you feel like it was important for you to be here today? (Brian Wacker)"New offense – I had to get that down pat before the season rolls in, because the season is getting nearer. Even though we've got a couple months left, still, I just wanted to learn the new offense and get with my guys."

Do you expect to be here for the rest of the OTAs? (Jonas Shaffer)"Yes. Yes, I do."

How do you find yourself learning this new offense? How's it coming along for you? (Shawn Stepner)"I'm studying, being in the meeting rooms, staying after. When everybody is leaving the building, I'm still here with [quarterbacks coach] Coach Tee [Martin] and Coach 'Monk' [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] and going over things."

What are your early impressions of WR Zay Flowers? I know you guys go back to the early days with your South Florida connection. (Brian Wacker)"Zay [Flowers] is shifty. Zay is very fast, explosive. He can stop on the dime. I know you've seen that. I saw it yesterday when you guys weren't here, and I saw it today. So, he's smooth."

How good is it to see WR Rashod Bateman back out there? (Childs Walker)"It's great to see my guy [Rashod Bateman] back out there – Receiver One, for sure. I'm glad to see him back healthy. I can't wait until he's on the field."

When you say that offensive coordinator Todd Monken has basically given you the keys to the offense, what do you mean by that? (Jamison Hensley)"You can change things when you want to. You see the defense, [and if] it's not looking right to you, you see a guy blitzing, [or] you might want your receiver to do something different, Coach [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] has given you the free will to do whatever you want to."

When you look at all the guys you can throw to, are you worried about making everybody happy? There might be some guys who won't be happy if they don't get the ball enough, right? (Pete Gilbert)"I feel like if we're winning, everybody should be happy. So, we'll see how it goes."

When head coach John Harbaugh was looking for a new offensive coordinator, it seemed like you indicated that you wanted a new style of offense. What does that mean to you? And do you feel like offensive coordinator Todd Monken has that style of offense for you? (Jonas Shaffer)"Just being able to throw the ball down the field. Sometimes, we can't … Running can only take you so far, and I feel like, with this new era of teams and offenses in the league, I feel like we need that. And [offensive coordinator] Coach Todd Monken, what I'm seeing in his offense so far is looking tremendous."

Do you feel like you won't have to run as much and will maybe scale that back a bit? (Brian Wacker)"Absolutely. Absolutely, especially with the receivers we have – 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman], 'OBJ' [Odell Beckham Jr.], Zay [Flowers], 'Duv' [Devin Duvernay], 'Pro' [James Proche II] – all those guys. We've got Isaiah [Likely], the tight end. I can't say 'Zay' [for] Isaiah the tight end. [We've got] Mark [Andrews] – my guy. It's looking really good. It's looking very good."

How does it feel to be out here? (Morgan Adsit)"It feels great to be out here again, even though I was on the sideline a little bit. It feels great to see my guys and seeing everyone work so hard to try to achieve this goal this year."

In terms of your physical preparation, is there anything in particular that you're working on this offseason? I know that last season you wanted to come in a little bigger. Is there a focus this summer? (Childs Walker)"Everything. Just getting back to me and just being the best that I can be – that's all."

Is there something in this offense that will allow you to showcase something unique beyond the running ability? (Cordell Woodland)"Less running and more throwing, I'll say. I hear a lot of noise about throwing and stuff like yards to achieve and stuff, but I'm not really worried about yards as much. It's about us just winning. So, that will be all – the winning category, if anything."

When you say less running, do you think about that as something that could extend your career, or do you not think about it that? (Jamison Hensley)"I really don't … To me, it really doesn't matter. I feel like however long God wants me to play, that's what it will be. It doesn't matter about how long I'm going to run, because the running backs … Frank Gore played how many years in the league? He was a running back. So, it doesn't really matter about running. I feel like it's on you and God."

Is there a peace of mind for you being that you're in a football setting and will only be asked football questions now? For the last two years, there were always questions about something else. Is there peace of mind there? (Ken Weinman)(laughter)"No, because I was cool regardless. But it's much more fun [when it's] about football [and when] we're keeping it about football – nothing else."

You talked about offensive coordinator Todd Monken giving you the keys to the offense and allowing you to change plays. How much do you enjoy that process? Do you feel like that can unlock another element to this offense? (Ryan Mink)"Oh, I enjoy it a lot. I actually love it. And just hearing Coach [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] just call out the play and then stop practice when something wasn't looking right, and how he just bursts out [with] fire, was pretty funny to me. But yes, I'm enjoying it so far. I'm enjoying it."

Two weeks ago you said you were looking at the playbook and you were excited with what you saw. Has there been any other prep that you've put in? Are you watching Georgia film? How are you preparing? (Kyle Goon)"No, I haven't watched Georgia film. I've just been watching us practice and the football school practices. I'm watching those guys and just trying to learn as much as I can."

Do you get the sense from offensive coordinator Todd Monken that he wants this offense to move with a quicker pace? (Jonas Shaffer)"Yes, absolutely. I feel like it is. There's a little college in it – like a little college system, a little bit – but [it's] definitely faster. [It's] definitely faster."

Is a fast-paced offense your preference? (Jonas Shaffer)"It's cool to me. It's new." (laughter)

You've got five years in the league now, and you earned a nice contract. What is the responsibility – as you see it – of leadership in your position? (Mark Viviano)"I feel like just being you. At the end of the day, guys just want to see you being you and [being] true to yourself and true to them, as well. And I'll just say, I'm going to try to be more of a vocal leader, because Coach [Harbaugh] was like, 'You need to start speaking more.' I just try to lead by example, but I'll try to be more of a vocal leader, if anything."

Do you want to be more of a vocal leader on the field or off the field? (Ryan Mink)"Both. Both."

Do you find the amount of conversation among the fans about whether you were going to come to OTAs funny?("Yes.")What do you make of that? (Childs Walker)"I ignore it, but it's funny. (laughter)It's funny, man."


How do you feel rocking that number zero on your jersey? (David Andrade)"It's pretty sweet. I just have to add a little more swag to it. With the help of 'PQ' [Patrick Queen], 'Del' [Del'Shawn Phillips] and 'ZO' [inside linebacker coach Zach Orr], I think that will help it out a lot."

You handled a very quick acclimation last year when you came in mid-way through the season. How much more comfortable are you now just being able to have a full off season and really dig your teeth into the defense and really understand the scheme? (Luke Jones)"Absolutely. I think it's critical being out here, getting spring [work] again and then just more time with the coaches. So, like understanding the terminology and whatnot, because mid-season is just, you're just trying to understand the concepts, not much of the terminology. I just think it's a great time to be out here, bonding with teammates and enjoying the game that we all love. I'm excited, and there's always room for improvement, so I'm just trying find little things to get better at."

Does it feel different from a leadership perspective being here all offseason? (Ryan Mink)"It definitely has a different feel to it as far as like leadership-wise, but I felt like I let my presence be known as soon as I got here. It's not like more 'Rah, Rah', but also just leading by example on the field. I feel like with that, and then guys seeing me out here, now it's more of a time to be more vocal and let the guys know what you're feeling and how you're feeling. You have to be able to put the work in in order to be that way."

We know well the business side of this, and watching ILB Patrick Queen come out and still take part in OTAs knowing the business side can be a little frustrating for him. What does that say about him and what has it been like working with him? (Pete Gilbert)"I truly enjoy working with that guy [Patrick Queen]. I think he's a pro at the end of the day. He's out here to get better with the guys. He's just trying to make this year his best year thus far, and talking with him, I think [he has a] heck of a talent. I'm excited to just be next to him, playing with him and making each other better."

What does it mean to have QB Lamar Jackson here as well, because obviously these things are voluntary, but to have your top quarterback, what does that mean? _(Jamison Hensley) _"It's crucial. You know everyone has their different decisions to make and it's big of him when he decides to come and with him [Lamar Jackson] being out here, it's big, [with a] new offense. I think it's going to be great, and the guy is a gamer. So, I'm just excited for this season with him and 'Monk' [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] at the helm."

I don't think we've talked with you since the Ravens hired offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Obviously, you're a Georgia guy. What was your reaction to that and how excited are you for what his offense brings considering just how productive it was over the past few years at Georgia? (Jonas Shaffer)"Absolutely. [I'm] very excited about 'Monk' [offensive coordinator Todd Monken]. I actually vividly remember watching plenty of games over the fall, obviously watching the 'Dogs [Georgia Bulldogs] – even though they made it look easy a lot of the times – just how he utilizes everyone in their position – a lot of eye candy and things like that. I'm like, 'Man, if some of this stuff was brought to the league [NFL], it's going to create some problems,' because I know it made me think a little bit. I'm speaking for other guys as well. I think it's obviously a great addition. I'm excited to go against him every day in practice."

What are your early impressions of ILB Trenton Simpson. Is it weird to have these young guys come along and say that they grew up watching you? He was talking about how he models himself after you. (Childs Walker)"Yes, because it's crazy, when I heard that like a couple weeks back because I think, 'Man, I just turned 26. I still feel like a kid at times.' (laughter) Then it's like, 'Oh, this man, he's like looking up to me and whatnot.' [Talking] about that guy [Trenton Simpson], from the first day, the guy is just so eager to learn. He's busting his tail. Whatever it is, he's just trying to get better. If there are little things, he's always asking questions, so I have a great deal of respect for a rookie coming in like that. [He's] just trying to get better and be the best rookie he can be. So, I'm excited about his future and I think there are a lot of great things in store [for him]."

What's some of the advice you've shared with ILB Trenton Simpson already?_ (Valerie Preactor)_"I would say just be yourself at the end of the day, because you know you're coming into a new world. You're not very familiar with anyone here, but you just let your personality show. I think if you do that, that will be the best version of yourself, and bust your tail day in and day out – people are going to notice that."

You worked out your own contract, and since you did, QB Lamar Jackson did as well. Both significant contracts. What does that say about a player's ability to take control of his own business. What do you say to other players who might ask about that experience and its value for you? (Mark Viviano)"I think every situation is different. I think it depends on the individual, but I know nowadays and personally speaking for myself, transparency is key. A lot of players want to be at the table for themselves and see how GMs, coaches, and everyone think of you and what light they see you in. I think that's the clearest picture you can get [by] being there yourself. It's big time, and I'm happy for the guys that do it that way, but there's obviously a lot of great agents out there as well. I think it just more so depends on the individual."

These are voluntary workouts. Why do you feel like it's important for you to be here? (Sherree Burruss)"Honestly, I love the game and I felt like the game has done so much for me, and going to do even more for me in the future, so I'm just excited to be out here and bonding with the teammates. I think it's great just to be out here playing the game that I love and getting better, because no one is ever too good. You can always find room for improvement."

What can you tell us about DT Angelo Blackson? (Kevin Richardson)"Angelo [Blackson] is my guy [from] back in Chicago. [I] have a great deal of respect for him. The guy runs to the ball, plays hard, so I'm excited just to be back out here with him, hang out with the guy, another familiar face. I know it's a great addition to our defense, and I think he's going to help us."


What are your first impressions of OTAs with QB Lamar Jackson? (David Andrade)"It's good to have Lamar [Jackson] back. Last week, he wasn't here for [football school], so just to kind of be able to work with him in the OTAs, a lot of guys are happy about [that]."

What's it like going out there at practice with offensive coordinator Todd Monken. We've seen out here he's loud, high energy. What's it like for you guys? (Garrett Downing)"It's been good. During the football school period, just being able to install and now getting on the field, going against an opponent. The defense is giving looks. It's been good to – a good adjustment. Guys are learning. As time goes on, we'll be able to form an identity and who we want to be on offense, but it's still pretty early."

Is it going to be a different philosophy blocking do you think, or is it too early to say? (Childs Walker)"No. [The] Ravens offensive line is going to be [the] Ravens offensive line, so come off the ball, push people back, and like I said, as time goes on, we'll form an identity in terms of if we want to run the ball [or] pass the ball. But [it's] still the same philosophy and technique."

You're learning your second offense now in two seasons. How are you learning the new offense under offensive coordinator Todd Monken for you as center? (Cordell Woodland)"It's been a good transition. He's doing a really good job at helping the guys, verbiage-wise keeping some similar stuff. There are little tweaks here and there, but at the end of the day, this is what we do for a living, so we have to be professional, work together with each other and just learn the offense."

Does it feel very different for you in Year Two as opposed to coming in as the starting center as a rookie in Year One? (Ryan Mink)"Whenever you have 18 games under your belt in the NFL it's definitely going to help you. There's still a lot for me personally to get better and to improve on, but we have a great coaching staff here and a great group of guys here that are willing to help each other out."

QB Lamar Jackson was just saying he wants to be more of a vocal leader this year. I know it's only been two days, but have you seen any sort of different energy from him on that front, or do you sense anything different in him? (Kyle Goon)"Lamar [Jackson] has always been a leader. I've always thought he was vocal when [he] needed to be, so it's good for him though. [It's] definitely what the team needs because everyone looks up to him. It will be good."

QB Lamar Jackson talked about being able to change plays more at the line of scrimmage. How does that impact you as the center in this offense? (Nikhil Mehta)"Any time you have a quarterback being capable to get you in and out of stuff – of certain looks they don't like – it definitely helps the team out. There are certain situations where a play is called, and it doesn't look too good against the defense that they're showing you, [so] just being about to get in and out of stuff is going to help the team."

What are the things that you've gotten to work on this offseason that you tried to really focus on? (Garrett Downing)"Every day, especially now, you just come out here and work on your technique. That's something you can always improve on, and just in the weight room, getting bigger, stronger, faster. You're just taking it one day at a time. Being able to have the offense down with the new offense, being able to understand what you need to do and then go out there and do it and work on your technique as you go along."

Did you add any weight this offseason? _(Kevin Richardson) _"No, same weight. [I'm] 305 [pounds]."

At training camp last year as a rookie, you missed a little time with that foot injury or whatever it was. Did that just kind of heal itself or did you need any cleanup work with that? (Jonas Shaffer)"No. It just healed over time throughout the season. I'm good now."

How was your day as a celebrity at Preakness?_ (Pete Gilbert) (Laughter)_ "It was good. It was a good first experience. I've never been to something like that, and it's kind of cool to see the horses move like that. It was a good time hanging out with some friends."

What were some of the most important lessons that you took from your rookie year that you're applying to this year? (Ryan Mink)"Just coming in [to the NFL], I don't think you realize how hard of a game it is, especially the kind of talent that you're going against. Every rep that you have in a game [or] in practice, it's not going to be easy, so just being more consistent is what everyone strives to be and something that everyone is trying to get better at. That's definitely something that is going to help set you up for success in this league – is just being consistent and doing your job."

There was a perception coming out of college that you would need to work on your pass blocking more than your run blocking. Do you think that was true at all or not really? (Childs Walker)"Yes, absolutely, especially coming from a run-style offense in college. It's always something [that's good] just to get back those reps that I didn't get. Going to college at Iowa, having the coaches that I had teaching me, and then coming here and being around such a great group of guys … You can get better at everything, and certainly, pass blocking is one of them, but everyone around the league is saying that. Everyone can improve on that."

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