HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
Opening statement:"Alright, great seeing everybody out here. I appreciate you guys coming out. Good day. Spirits are high, guys are working hard, and we got 1% better today – at least. [The] guys did a nice job. What questions do you have?"
I know that it's still OTAs, but WR Nelson Agholor looked like he had a nice practice. What have you seen from him? (Jamison Hensley)"You saw today, pretty much, what we've seen all the way through. He [Nelson Agholor] has been on point. He's been here pretty much every day. He's missed a few days here and there for personal reasons, but he's a talented guy. [He's a] former first-round pick; he looks it – rangy, big catch radius. All the things you saw today, I feel like he's been doing all along."
What is the thing that stands out the most about this rookie class from the tape before the draft and now on the field? (David Andrade)"You do – you try to see what's going to carry over. What you saw on tape – is it going to carry over to what you see out here? And I would say pretty much all the guys look a little better even. In this environment, they look smooth; they're moving well; they're learning. All the guys are learning well. So, we're happy with those guys. All the rookies are doing a good job. Now, it's rehearsal right now; it's not really competitive, so we'll see. Once the pads come on and once it gets competitive, we'll know more."
I saw you added WR Laquon Treadwell. What do you like about him? (Kyle Barber)"[Laquon Treadwell is] another former first-round pick, obviously. And you find out about guys … We knew a little bit, but we've never been around him. [He's] really a determined guy – wants to be really good. [He's] physical [in] practice [and] worked hard in the workout. [He] came out here and pretty much knew what he was doing, after getting here less than 24 hours ago. He didn't make a mistake out there. I think that says a lot about who he is. So, he'll be in the mix. We'll let him compete and see how he does."
Looking at that wide receivers room, how are you feeling about the competition there? (Cordell Woodland)"It's a good question. I'm really not feeling the competition yet, because we're not really competitive yet. I'm feeling good about the work ethic of the guys that are out here and doing it. I know the guys that aren't here – one or two, whatever it is – are working hard to get in shape, [and] we'll see them next week. But the guys are doing a good job learning the offense, practicing quick, practicing fast and, just, I'm excited about it. But like you said, once training camp comes around, we'll know more."
What is your overall assessment of these three weeks and guys learning as much of the offense as they can right now? (Morgan Adsit)"I think it's pretty darn good. I'm really happy with the coaching staff. I think the guys have been determined. We're trying to expand upon the idea of being a student of the game – every guy understanding how they can improve in that area – and some guys are great at it, and some guys can learn from other guys [and] those kinds of things. I also think the coaching staff has done a really good job of creating a system that's learnable, that ties together well, but [is] still very flexible in what we can do. I think [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken] is leading the charge with all the guys. They're all very good teachers – a lot of energy, a lot of dialogue expected back and forth – which I like to see."
What was your reaction to RB J.K. Dobbins putting out a series of Tweets last week that expressed uncertainty about his future? (Jamison Hensley)"I didn't really have any reaction, because I didn't look at it. But [senior vice president of communications] Chad [Steele] told me about it, and basically, I guess it was, 'I want to be back, but I don't know.' Is that what it was? I would probably agree. We want him [J.K. Dobbins] back, but who knows the future? So, nobody knows the future. If somebody can tell me whether J.K. is going to be back next year, I'd like to know – if you're certain about it. But who knows anything about anything? I know J.K. – when he gets back here – will be determined [and] excited. He will work hard, [and] his energy will be high. I know he'll be in great shape, because I know who he is as a person, and I expect great things out of him this year."
As of right now, do you envision S Kyle Hamilton being mostly in one of those traditional safety roles, or will we still see him play a lot of nickel this year? (Childs Walker)"Yes, he [Kyle Hamilton] is not going to be 'the nickel,' per se. He'll be a safety. A traditional safety role [is] probably not in our defense, because we move our guys around. Our safeties are rushing the passer, they're playing linebacker, they're running from on the line of scrimmage back to the deep middle. We do a lot with those guys, so the fact that he's able to do all that really helps us be who we want to be on defense."
You mentioned earlier in the offseason about T Daniel Faalele potentially being a candidate at left guard. We've seen him move around a bit. What do you see in his development now heading into Year Two? (Luke Jones)"Yes, we're just going to try to give him [Daniel Faalele] every opportunity to see kind of where he flashes. Right now is a great time. I wanted to see what he looked like – before we got out of the minicamp and the OTAs [organized team activities] – at left guard, and he looked good. He could stay a little more square and things like that, but his feet look good, his hands look good – he's able to punch quickly with his hands and react pretty quickly in there – so I wouldn't rule him out as a potential left guard. I would also say that John Simpson has done a great job in there. Ben Cleveland has been working both sides, but we've got him working right tackle now – you saw that. Then Sala [Aumavae-Laulu] is doing a nice job in there; you may have noticed that. He looks good in there. So, it's going to be quite a fight for that spot."
Is everything OK with WR Zay Flowers? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Yes, he [Zay Flowers] had kind of a tweak, soft-tissue thing. He should be back next week, at the latest."
We've seen RB Gus Edwards off to the side with trainers. Did he have anything in the offseason? And is he going to be ready for minicamp? (Morgan Adsit)"[For] minicamp, [Gus Edwards will be] partially ready, I'm hearing. [For] training camp, [he's] supposed to be fully ready. Yes, he just wasn't quite ready to get back out and practice yet – no setback. Maybe they're being a little cautious, but that's what they're doing."
Is there anyone that we shouldn't expect to practice at minicamp next week? (Jonas Shaffer)"I don't really have the list in front of me. I can't remember who everybody is right now. [Do] you mean as far as reporting to minicamp or injury-wise?" (Reporter: "Either.")"Injury-wise, I'm not sure. It's nothing other than the guys you already know about, but I expect everybody to report. It's mandatory, yes."
QB Lamar Jackson and quarterbacks coach Tee Martin both talked about how Lamar is going to have a little more flexibility and freedom at the line. How do you think the evolution of that has gone? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, it is the evolution, and it's something that he [Lamar Jackson] … We've been in that world before, but not to this degree. To me, the offense starts in that world more than it did before, and I'm excited about that, [and] I know Lamar is excited about that. He and I have had conversations about it. Obviously, [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken] is right in there with [quarterbacks coach] Tee [Martin] coaching the offense to the quarterbacks; that's been really good. We've had a lot of one-on-one sessions, in terms of just how we're going to operate and how the quarterbacks need to operate. I think you saw today [that] the communication is probably better than what you saw last week, so we've just got to keep building on that."
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS COACH CHUCK SMITH
Chuck, how are you enjoying the job so far and this transition to coaching with an NFL team? (Ryan Mink)"I'm enjoying the transition. It couldn't happen to … It's a great place to be. The transition has been easy because I know a lot of people here. I did the Bill Walsh minority coaching program, got my start here and helped kick off my training career [during] Coach [John] Harbaugh's first year. I was a lot younger. He was a lot younger. So, everybody here, even guys on the staff – there are guys here who I trained. [Executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta], [Ravens owner] Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti, I've known a lot of these people for a long, long, long time. If there was a perfect place for me to come and start really kickoff my first year again, it was the Baltimore Ravens."
When you were playing, did you know then that you would feel like you could have something to offer as a coach, as a trainer? When did that enter your mind as the next step?_ (Childs Walker) "I always knew I the early 90's that I wanted to train pass rushers because there was no one really doing it. As far as that, because there was a void there, and I just had a love of pass rush from back in 1978 I think when Jack Youngblood – or 1979 – when he broke his leg, watching him and then watching LT [Lawrence Taylor] being the first person going through … Being from the south, we like college players, growing up loving Derrick Thomas, Wilber Marshall, guys that were in the SEC. So, pass rushing was always around. So, getting the blessings of playing with Reggie White, learning from Reggie White, learning from Derrick Thomas, playing with great coaches, watching great, different defenses, I always had a passion for pass rush. It wasn't really normal back then. People kind of looked like, 'Man, that's kind of weird,' because it was a run first offense. Then, when I got to the NFL, I was watching Inside the NFL; I was at Carolina. I was coming to the end of my career [and] me and my wife were sitting on the couch in South Park, [NC] – anybody who knows Charlotte – sitting in Charlotte on injured reserve and we were watching Inside the NFL. Greg Gumbel was like, 'Well, there's a new trend going on of – there's these NFL players who are working with trainers and it's changing the game.' It was this guy Steve Clarkson, from California. He's the first guy to really do it with NFL players for money, and so I was sitting there because I had already been doing that in the 90's. My wife was like, 'Dang, baby. You've been doing that, too.' I had already been doing it because a lot of people, they didn't believe that you could train, because everything was about lifting. There was no skill trainers, so right then, 2001, I went on injured reserve. I went back to Atlanta and I started training pass rushers. That's kind of how it happened, but when you're like the second person, it's hard to visualize back in those days. I wasn't welcomed because it was a different culture with coaches. These weren't guys like me. There weren't even iPhones, so you get no clients. _(laughter) You had to put out flyers. I was passing out flyers. That's a whole other story. That's kind of how my life was as far as with the pass rushers."
With OLB Odafe Oweh, what is the point of emphasis for him to take his game to the next level? _(Cordell Woodland) _"The first thing you want to do is teach him to understand that if you use moves, you'll have success. The best players in the NFL who use moves have success. The all-time greats who get sacks and are productive use moves. If I think of [Terrell] Suggs, I think of a long arm with power, right? If I think of Von Miller, all you guys can say he does a what? Spin, right? Reggie White does a what? Exactly, right? Lawrence Taylor did power. Dwight Freeney did what? I'm schooling y'all, right? But, so now, after this year, when you see Odafe [Oweh], you're going to know his signature pass rush move. So, when you think [about] Maxx Crosby, he's a spinner. But the beauty of this whole thing is every one of those guys were taught. So, we're teaching them to do high performance moves, but most importantly, how to fix them when flaws come about. That's where I come in at. But it's not just Odafe [Oweh]; it's [David] Ojabo. It's Jeremiah Moon. It's Tavius Robinson. All of these guys are working for a common cause, and ultimately, to be the best team, [the best] defense we can be. But the big prize is try to win a Super Bowl, and pass rush, for us to get there, that's going to have to be a part of it. We're all going to have to develop moves."
What are you seeing so far from OLB David Ojabo and his explosiveness? (Ryan Mink)"He's everything I thought he was when he was at Michigan. He's quick. He's confident. He's twitchy. He has a high pass rush IQ, and he has mastered a lot of different moves, and they're learning how to do it. But it's like an all [the] time – we're constantly talking every second, every minute, on text, on threads. All of us [are] communicating about it. He has the pass rusher's mindset. He's got that dawg mindset, and he's going to have a lot of success. I actually think – I mean he's a lot better than I'm sure people have an idea what they think now. Like, 'Oh, man, he's coming back from an Achilles.' Dude is ready and he's going to have an impact. Those dudes are getting ready. They're working really hard and that's the best thing I can say about them at this stage right now."
How much do you see OLB David Ojabo and OLB Odafe Oweh feeding off each other from their high school days? Is that a real thing that can translate to success on the field? (Ryan Mink) "It is a real thing. Those guys are locked together, and here's the best thing about those guys now – they're helping each other. When they're lined up out there, they're communicating. [David] Ojabo might need this, or he might ask 'Dafe' [Odafe Oweh] this. They come off because they talk the same language – from the standpoint of football language – so they're talking the same language and they're helping each other. They're constantly talking, and now, one of the things that we're working on is being in real time, helping the other guys, staying up front. You're not a young guy anymore, you know what I'm saying? So, stepping up – and part of that just comes with being in the moment – and so they're always talking. I've been telling you, when you're here watching, you can see them talking, pointing fingers, because they've spent a lot of time together. They have literally been working with the one's and going the whole time, so what it's helping, is it's helped get [David] Ojabo up to speed, because 'Dafe' knows rush, he knows Sam. But it's been pretty awesome to watch. Now, that trickles down to the other guys. So, no, they are absolutely helping each other. It's not just a friend thing; this is the work thing. I'm talking about not the buddy-buddy, we're hanging out, I'm talking about all getting ready to win a championship to get Odafe [Oweh] and [David] Ojabo up to speed."
One of the things the Ravens talked about when they brought in OLB Odafe Oweh was that great speed converting into power, and I know that's something you work a lot with your guys. What does it take to make that leap from having all that speed to using arm width as a bull rush guy? (Jonas Shaffer)"Well, the first thing I told him is size, weight doesn't really dictate the best bull rush, who's the best bull rush, right? It has to do with speed off the ball and how you generate power in the angles you take towards the offensive lineman. So, last year, he had some good bull rushes, but there are times when you're going against big guys, it's about movement. You want to get them moving, right? So, a lot of times, when you go straight into a bull rush, he's going to be there waiting. This is the NFL. You're not going to surprise anyone if you're just going straight at them. So, from a bull rush standpoint, we've been working on stutter bull, where when you stutter, it's going to make him do what? He's going to get light on his feet. We're going to work on different angles. There are certain angles that you just don't bull rush from five yards out, but the mindset is, 'If I get five yards out, I'm going to bull rush.' But if you're five yards out, who does it give more to time to see you're going to bull rush? You want to be tighter. It's about angles. So, we know we're going to add power, but when you add that kind of speed, he's going to have power and he's going to have success with the bull rush. That's just part of it. Because the beauty of the thing is, look at the guys who bull rush. Leonard Floyd who just got signed. I mean, if you go back and look at the Super Bowl, that's all they did in the end of the game, the Los Angeles Rams against Cincinnati. They were bull rushing. Leonard is – I love Leonard to death, he's my guy – Leonard is like 235 [pounds], so has nothing to do with size. Some of the worst bull rushers are guys that are big, because they don't understand angles and movement. So no, every guy that we have is going to be able to bull rush and people will recognize that, that we can bull rush, because that's part of being a skilled pass rusher. That is a move."
You mentioned with the Leonard Floyd signing, there are still some guys on the street with some lineage here with Calais Campbell, Justin Houston, having a guy that's kind of done it all, seen it all, that's not really in the mix right now. Is that something that you and the personnel department talk about? (Jason La Canfora) (laughter) "No, man. It doesn't have anything to do with me. I'm just learning how to use the Excel computer. (laughter) No. No, I didn't mention Leonard [Floyd] having anything to do with anything. I want to make sure I clear that up. I'm just mentioning Leonard [Floyd] because you guys watch the Super Bowl against the team that we competed against in the Rams. I was just talking strictly that a smaller guy can bull rush. As far as that, no, that's [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and those guys. The guys are working hard, and my role is just to coach and continue to grow and learn from [assistant head coach/defensive line] coach [Anthony] Weaver and all these great coaches that are in here. So, I can't be worried about Eric's [DeCosta] job. I have to worry about – like I said – learning and keep working on that PowerPoint and all those other things I'm doing now."
I want to clarify something. You said you trained owner Steve Biscotti and executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta back then? When was that? (Ryan Mink) "No. I never said that." (Reporter: "I thought you said Eric [DeCosta] and Steve [Bisciotti]…)."No, I said it's their job … I don't think I said … Hold on, let me just tell you this. Let me clear it up, because I do the media thing, too. When coach [John] Harbaugh got hired, Hue Jackson asked me to be a part of the minority coaching program, right? So, I had to meet [head coach] John [Harbaugh]. Mr. Bisciotti was here. So, I got to meet him. So, the first day, those first camps, I was here, so I've known those guys. That's what I mean. I've never coached them. I just was the guy trying to get a break in the minority [program]." (Reporter: "I thought you said you trained them.") "No, I don't think I said that. I don't think I said that."
S KYLE HAMILTON
How does having a full offseason in the building and being really familiar with your coaching staff and teammates impact you going into Year Two? (Nikhil Mehta)"It gives me more confidence. I know what to expect now on a day-to-day basis, and [there are] less room for excuses – stuff like that. [There's] a little more focus, in a sense of trying to lead, just by doing the right thing every day [and] being in the right spots in practice. I'm still messing up, but I try to minimize those mistakes and make new mistakes every day, and [I'm] just getting more experience."
As last year went on, it looked like more and more got added to your plate. Are they still giving you more to do, in terms of your responsibilities? (Cordell Woodland)"It's June 6th, so we're still getting the kinks out at this point. But as of right now, I've been getting a lot of reps at safety. I didn't get a ton of reps at safety last year, just in terms of the room that we had and the positions I was playing [and] what positions I was put in. But yes, there's still a lot to learn, for me, back there at that position at this level, given the lack of experience I had last year. But like I said, I'm learning new stuff every day, making new mistakes and getting more comfortable day by day."
Is it fair to say that a traditional safety role is ultimately where you want to be and that's how you see yourself long term? (Childs Walker)"I don't know. As of right now, I feel like I can do a multitude of things, and I feel like nobody is really trying to pin me in one place at this point. And like I said, it's still June. Depending on the week, depending on the game, personnel, we might switch, but who knows? At this point, I'm just trying to just get everything down pat as much as possible."
I know you're willing to play all these different positions, but is there a spot that you feel most comfortable in? (Kyle Barber)"I wouldn't say there's one [spot] that, specifically, I'm most comfortable [in]. It's different. [At] nickel, you're closer to the action, [and] you can't see as much behind you – that's the safety's job. You've got to communicate a lot more at safety, and I think they complement one another at the same time. At nickel, I feel like footwork, in terms of man coverage [and] getting out through zone drops – stuff like that – complements playing safety when you've got to roll down and cover one. And [at] safety, also just knowing where everybody is supposed to be at, knowing your checks – stuff like that – will complement playing nickel and other positions. So, that's why I said I'm just trying to get as much down as possible – as much as I can. I try not to overload at the same time."
I know you talked about how last year was kind of a new experience for you in that slot position, but it looked like there were times at Notre Dame when you would kind of find yourself in the slot or in the box. Was it just the amount and volume of snaps in that nickel and slot position that was the difference, structurally, from what you did at Notre Dame? What was kind of the dividing line between the college and NFL experience? (Jonas Shaffer)"Really, it's the guys you're going against. There are guys in college that we played that were good, but you're not going against Amari Cooper in the slot in college. There are guys every single week that are really good, and [there are] guys out here that test me every single day and remind me how hard it is to be at this level and be successful at this level; it just makes me want to grind even more. I feel like that was the biggest difference from college to [the] NFL. Scheme-wise, it's tougher, but [if] you run enough plays, you'll get the scheme down; but you're not going to replicate the talent out here on a week-to-week basis in college."
Last year, it looked like there was a point in which you kind of figured it out and really started to ascend. Do you remember when that was for you – when it seemed like you fully understood the assignments and what the role was? (Cordell Woodland)"I don't think there was one specific point in time. I just felt like I was young, getting reps, and the more reps I got, the more comfortable I felt, and I'm sure that's a common theme throughout the league. And at a certain point, I just told myself [to] just let loose. I don't play well when I'm playing tight or thinking too much. When I just let loose and go, that's when I play my best. So, that's what I try to do, and while doing that, play within the defense, as well, and make the right plays."
What's the most important takeaway from last year that you'll bring to Year Two and allow you to unlock a certain part of your game? (Pete Gilbert)"Just consistency, I would say. At this level, consistency is everything. It's, 'What have you done for me lately?' in terms of your success and stuff like that. So, last year, I guess I ended well, but at the same time, I've got to replicate it and be consistent this year – minimize mistakes, maximize good plays. So, that's probably what I'm taking into this year."
I know you were working out at Notre Dame this offseason. Was there a specific goal? Was there a physical thing you wanted to improve upon this offseason? (Childs Walker)"Yes, I had wrist surgery, so I was rehabbing that at the same time [and] just trying to get as healthy as possible. It feels great right now – no limitations on that. But in terms of just getting my wind up, knowing that I'm probably going to be playing more snaps, and just trying to also be in the playbook. I told them [to] send my iPad to Notre Dame, so I could just study and come back and not feel like I dropped off at all. Physically, just trying to get a little stronger, a little bigger. I don't know if you guys can tell or not, but maybe – I don't know. (laughter)It's up to you all to decide that. But yes, just trying to stay in shape, stay hard, while I'm still at school."
I know you're a big Drake fan. What does your pregame playlist look like? (Lena Jackson)"Oh, my pregame playlist … Actually, I throw a little Frank Ocean in there – a little Frank Ocean. It's weird; I go Frank Ocean, maybe some YoungBoy, Drake, for sure – Tuscan Leather by Drake, for sure. [There's] some house [music], dance hall. I listen to everything. And then when they just say it's time to go outside, I just take it off and go play." (laughter)
You and S Marcus Williams didn't have a ton of reps next to each other last year. This year, if you do get a lot of reps, what could playing next to a player like that do for you? (Cliff Brown)"Yes, Marcus [Williams] is one of the best in our league, and it sucks that he was hurt [for] a good amount of last year, because you all saw what he did before and after the injury and how great he is on the field. But just having somebody like that in the room every single day … He's been through it. This is Year Seven, I think, for him, so he's getting old. (laughter)But he tells me every day, not even football-wise, just, mentally, how to attack every day – how to watch film, how to adapt to certain coverages that we're playing and stuff like that – [and] not to overthink it. He gives me a lot of confidence in my game, so he's helped me a lot the past two years. And hopefully it's going to be a bright future."