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Transcripts: Ravens OTA Podium Transcripts


Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement:"OK, good to see everybody – appreciate everybody being here and watching practice. I think we beat the weather, so that's a good thing. Lala [Blumenfeld, Ravens guest kid reporter], right? Welcome! Good to have you here. You're a star. Practice was really good. The energy was high. I thought the execution was good, and I'm excited about the way the guys are working really hard.

"The other thing from yesterday was the events that took place with coach [Brian] Billick and Haloti [Ngata], and to see those two guys inducted into the Ring of Honor is amazing. It's really an exciting time, and I think it speaks to the organization quite a bit. But I just want to congratulate both coach Billick and Haloti and their families on that accomplishment. I think it's something that's well-deserved in both cases. I know what it means to people to be able to have the organization honor you in that way. In Haloti's case, he went off and played for some other teams, and yet, he comes back and is welcomed with open arms. And then for Brian, hey, football, football coaching, we all know how it works. It's a tough business. Most of the time, you leave, and you leave on bad terms, but then everybody takes a deep breath and goes, 'Hey, that was a pretty good deal. That was pretty great.' Brian Billick is one of the all-time great coaches in the National Football League, and one of the unique coaches, one of the guys that did it his own way, just with a lot of fire and a lot of enthusiasm, and established a culture here for toughness and for – I don't know if 'brashness' is the right word – but certainly with confidence and swagger, and he was a great offensive coach as well. Congratulations to both of those families. 

Do you think it's harder to be on the sidelines of the Super Bowl, or your daughter's championship lacrosse game? (Ravens Guest Kid Reporter Lala Blumenfeld) _"Oh man! _(laughter)Such a great question! Harder for the Super Bowl on the sidelines, or your daughter's championship lacrosse game? It was pretty hard for our Super Bowl, too, because I had my brother over there, so you know how that goes. I would say it's harder at my daughter's championship lacrosse game. I get way more nervous for her games than I do for our games. Why is that, you think? Do you have a theory on that?" (Reporter: "She's your daughter.")(laughter) "There you go! That's the answer right there. I think you're right." (Reporter: "Do you think you're one of the crazier parents on the sidelines?") "Have you heard things? Has anybody said anything to you? (laughter) No, I'm definitely not one of the crazier parents, especially in this crazy lacrosse town. You can vouch for that." (Reporter: "Yes.") "There are some crazy parents in this town, but they all love lacrosse, and they love their kids. No, I'm pretty quiet. I don't say too much on the sideline. The officials, they never hear a peep from me on the sideline, believe it or not, most of the time."

TE Hayden Hurst coming of the year that he had, he just said that he feels like he has something to prove. What have you seen from him this year? Do you get that sense? Can you see that mentality in him? (Bo Smolka) "I would say yes. When he came back, he had really trained. I saw it mostly in his training. He started lifting weights and working right after the season, and he came back, he put on some weight. You can just see it. When you see his build, I think you can see the difference. He hasn't lost one step of speed [and has] practiced well, so yes, he's definitely a man on a mission. I'm looking forward to seeing how he does."

You talked last week about implementing a new offense. I know it's a process, but did you see them take another step through this last practice session? (Todd Karpovich) "Oh yeah, yeah. It's been better. The offense is always going to be behind the defense this time of year, especially when the defense has had the system in place for a year. We put a whole new defense in last year. We changed all the terminology, we changed the way it's structured, we changed the rules, we changed the format, we changed everything. This is the second time, through, and our defense is showing that with understanding of … Even the young guys are way ahead of where the old guys were last year, because the veteran guys know it so well, they can see it done a certain way.

"Offensively, we're doing the same thing this year. Lamar [Jackson] commented on it, and there were some snarky comments out there about it, but we spent 10 weeks on the offense, and Greg Roman coordinated that, and the offensive coaches built it from the ground up. Every word has been organized in a way, every concept has been organized in a way, that we want to build for the long haul, and we want to make it as modern and as applicable as we can, so it can be executed. All the things we want to do, can be executed well in games. So, you have to think through that stuff. I The terminology is a lot different, and that's for all the guys to learn, especially the quarterbacks, because they have to operate. They have to make the calls. So, to put the words with all the concepts and all the cadences … You saw a lot of cadences out there today; we're working on that. All those things are part of the execution of the offense."

What does assistant head coach/pass game coordinator/wide receivers David Culley bring to your offense? (Mike Preston) "Great question. First of all, David Culley, for us to get him is a coup. For us to be able to have David Culley as a part of our staff is a real accomplishment, and it's something that we've been trying to get done here for a number of years, and we finally pulled it off. So, that's the kind of coach he is. He's been in a lot of different, creative offenses, not just with the pass game – though he is spearheading the pass game – with the run game, as well, with the RPOs, with the option stuff, the stuff in Kansas City, the stuff in Buffalo. [He has] 20-plus, 25 years of coaching in this league, a lot of different places. So, all that being said, the creativity part of it is really good. But the thing I would emphasize about coach Culley, more than anything, is what an amazing teacher and communicator he is. He's probably the best … I would say he's the best straight-up teacher, communicator, that I've seen coaching football one-on-one, not just because he coaches it so well, but because he's so relentless, and he coaches the important things. You can be relentless, but if you're coaching things that don't matter, then that's just a lot of hot air. He's coaching the things that matter, and you see the guys getting better every day within his position group, but also because of his emphasis on the passing game within the whole group."

What were your impressions of the meeting with DT Gerald McCoy, and how exciting is it to have that kind of proven talent available at this time of year? (Childs Walker) "I'll tell you, [defensive line coach] Joe Cullen has been bragging about Gerald McCoy for a long time, so I had high expectations. (laughter) And, I would say that they were met and exceeded. He's an A-plus guy, A-plus personality, all the things he stands for principle-wise, what he wants to be about as a football player, fit us. I told him, before he left, I said, 'You haven't been here yet, but to my mind, you're a Raven. You've always been a Raven. So, let's make it official.' So, we'll see, but it was great to have him here."

When you look at ILB Patrick Onwuasor and moving him over to middle linebacker, I know it's early, but can you tell as far as things like him playing with more confidence, not just physically but vocally, have you seen him kind of take a step forward in communicating with other players? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Absolutely. I think Patrick is … Well, we emphasize that with our whole defense. I'm not going to put over-importance on one guy communicating in our defense. Our defense is a communication defense. A loud practice is a great practice on defense. If you don't hear our guys talking, then we're not having a good practice. They should all be talking. But, Patrick is in the middle of the defense. He understands the defense inside and out right now, and he's communicating exceptionally well. Our offense makes checks, I see him making checks, so he's been directing those guys back there really well, and I expect him to have a great season. [But] not just him. I know there's a lot of talk about the linebacker position. I'm not worried about it one bit. I like the guys we have. The guys we have are going to be more than good enough. They're going to play great, and I think you're going to be talking about a lot of these guys, even these new guys. Whoever rises to the occasion, we'll be talking about these guys for many years to come."

S Earl Thomas is on an NFL practice field probably for the first time since breaking that leg in October. How have you seen him out there? (Jamison Hensley) "He's had a great week. He's looked really good. Great anticipation, and then great ability to cover ground. He shows up in the right spots on a regular basis, so to me, that's what great safeties do, and he's doing a great job."

How good is it to see WR Jaleel Scott make a couple really nice plays today after he sat out his rookie year, and what growth have you seen? _(Ryan Mink) _"Jaleel has had a really good offseason. He's made plays like that pretty much the whole camp. He snatched two touchdowns, right – the red zone grab where he was contested and the deep ball? He's playing really fast and really well, and I think all those receivers are setting themselves up for a competition in training camp. It's going to a lot of fun to watch."

What's the value of having WR Willie Snead IV out here even though I know he has a finger injury? (Aaron Kasinitz) "The value is, he can run all the routes and the motions and be in the right spot and get himself in football shape and the timing with the offense and all of that. But we have to be careful, because we don't want to bang that finger up with the surgery. So, that's why we put him in a red jersey, but you can't keep him off the field. If we didn't put him in the red jersey, we'd have to lock him in the locker room to keep him out of here. (laughter) He's just that kind of guy."

CB Marlon Humphrey made a lot of really good strides last year. What specifically did you see in watching him in the technique and your expertise, where do you think he made the biggest strides? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know. It's hard for me to rank all that stuff, but the thing that jumps out to me about Marlon is the fact that he is a super detailed guy when it comes to technique and playing his position. He's very coachable. He listens to every word you say, and then he tries to apply it in his way. He tries to understand. He's very smart, so he can understand the point that's being made, and then he goes to work on it. If you watch him play, he's not just a talented guy. He is super talented, but he applies technique at a really high level, and that's what makes him so good."

TE Mark Andrews

On what his focus was for himself this offseason:"For me, it was a lot about getting stronger, getting faster. I ran a ton of routes, but especially working on my blocking. I feel like that's something I can make the biggest stride in from Year One to Year Two is my blocking. So, just trying to be a complete tight end is what I focused on."

On how he works on stuff like blocking in an offseason format:"It's tough. Just going out there – I had a lot of young guys I was around throwing me the ball – but a lot of stuff was with my family, going out there and blocking my brother or whatnot. So, you've got to be disciplined, especially being a tight end and blocking, it's hard to get game reps. So, you've got to work on it yourself and try to get as good of reps as you can. My brother will do for now."

On how old his brother is and if he sustained any injuries:"He's 27, and no, he held up pretty well. He's a big guy."

On what his confidence level was like coming back this year after a solid rookie campaign:"It was a good first year. I was happy with how things turned out. There are always things to improve on, but from Year One to Year Two I feel really confident right now. It's an incredible tight end group to be around. Baltimore loves their tight ends, and I couldn't have asked for a better situation, and I'm excited to get this Year Two going and work on from what I did last year."

On if he wants to play at around the same weight as he did last year:"I played around 255, and I'm around 258 right now. I'm just kind of staying in that area and keeping my weight on and continue with that."

On what it does for the offense when tight ends are on the field and the opposing team doesn't know if it will be a pass or run play:"It's huge. All the tight ends right now, we're all striving to be complete guys. Everyone in the room is good at different things, and we're a pretty complete group as a whole. But, I think you start rotating guys in and it's difficult for teams to gam-plan. It's going to be tough for teams to really key on who's in, just because there are so many guys who can do so many different things."

On his scouting report of WR Marquise Brown from their days at Oklahoma and his reaction when the Ravens drafted him:"I was ecstatic. Marquise is, first of all, a great teammate, something I remembered from playing with him. But, he's an electric player. He's a guy that's going to change a game in a blink of an eye. I remember being on the field a couple of times, and we ran one play and it was a touchdown – then I'd get to run off and rest some more. He's a guy like that. He's going to change games. He's so fast and so electric that it's going to be tough for defenses to stay over top of him."

On what he's seen from TE Hayden Hurst coming back from a tough rookie season:"He's done a great job of working hard. Obviously, with that foot injury it's not an easy thing to go through being a first-round pick. You've got to commend him for never putting his head down. He's a guy that's always going to come in and work hard in anything that he does. It's been impressive. He looks really good out there right now, and again, this tight end group is going to be something special."

On the tight ends group and their role in the offense:"I think for tight ends we're definitely explosive and we're going to fit right into this offense. I think you saw spurts of that last year, being those electric, fast players, especially at the tight end position, and just being versatile. I think that we're going to be able to continue on that and fit right into this offense." 

TE Hayden Hurst

On his viral twitter post from last week:"I knew [the question] was coming. (laughter)I haven't heard anything back. Unfortunately, that's the way of the road."

On how much better he feels now than from where he was last season:"I feel a lot better. There was a bit of a learning curve last year just getting comfortable being out here and practicing the way these guys practice. But, a year under my belt I definitely feel a lot more confident with where I'm at now."

On how he is feeling physically:"Really good. I put on 20 pounds of muscle over the offseason. I'm kind of on a mission this year. I've got a lot to prove." 

On if he can elaborate on why he feels he's got a lot to prove:"You know, [there were] a lot of expectations last year, and then the foot thing happened. Injuries happen, you just kind of go out of sight and out of mind. It's just kind of how it is, but I'm happy it happened, because it adds a little bit more fuel to my fire."

On what his weight is at now:"265."

On if there is any concern that putting that weight on could put stress on his foot:"No, absolutely not. I think the goal was to put on muscle to kind of protect it. Last year, coming off the Combine and everything I wasn't able to work out like I did at South Carolina. I felt not as strong as I was, so that was a goal for me [to] get a little bit stronger so that physically I could just kind of deal with stuff."

On how much better his chemistry is with QB Lamar Jackson now:"It's coming along. I think the best thing is he knows he's coming in as the No. 1 guy. I think that's good for his confidence. It's just fun seeing him grow every day, because he just gets better and better each day. I think we all know he's a heck of an athlete, and it's fun to watch him do his thing out there."

On what it was like playing on his foot after he came back from the injury and missing some games:"Definitely wasn't ever 100 percent. You get a screw put in your foot, you kind of feel it for a little while. But again, I think the offseason was good for me. I was able to get off of it for the month of January, February, March, April kind of hit it pretty hard just to strengthen it and put some muscle around it so I'm able to do what I do out here."

On if it is exciting for the tight ends group to be heavily involved in this offense:"Yeah, absolutely. Our tight end room is loaded with Mark [Andrews], Nick [Boyle], myself and the two young guys. I know we are a huge focal point of this offense, so it's fun being a tight end here and playing for Baltimore. It's very exciting. It's a young group, it's a really fun group, and we're pretty close. I'm just excited to be a part of it."

ILB Patrick Onwuasor

On if this year feels different to him compared to past OTAs, in terms of his new role:"Yeah, a lot different. Now, I feel like I have to step up in that role and communicate a lot more, be loud, vocal, get a couple players lined up, adjust the front and do a lot of different things that we really had C.J. [Mosley] do. I just used to play fast and play off of him. But now, I have to step up into that role and just make certain communication calls a lot quicker."

On if being the communicator on defense comes naturally to him:"With C.J. [Mosley] being here, I kind of watched him and tried to learn from him, so as the call would come in, I would try to make the call before he did, or just try to say it to myself and things like that. I actually had a lot of questions, so that kind of helped me get to this process." (Reporter: "Is that ongoing? Have you been communicating with him?") "Yeah, I still talk to C.J. a lot."

On if it's more enjoyable to be the communicator:"It kind of is enjoyable. The guys look up to you, and the guys, everybody turns to you for direction if they need to know where they need to go and things like that, and you have to be able to show them. I kind of like it."

On if he still notices that LB C.J. Mosley is not there, and if it feels weird:"It's still kind of weird, but we have great guys – Kenny Young, Chris Board – guys ready to play. Those guys next to me, they're communicating, too. Sometimes, I might forget something, and Kenny already said it, or Chris Board already said it, so that way, it relieves a little pressure off of me, so that way we can play fast. That's what 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] wants us to do."

On his impressions of LB Chris Board in OTAs:"He's been great, flying around, special teams, defense. He's just doing a great job on the field, communicating and stuff like that."

On what is it like to play with S Earl Thomas:"It's great in that back end, him giving calls from the back end down to us. We can look to him, and he'll tell us what he wants to play, and it's great, him being back there in that post."

On if multiple team officials expressing faith in him gives him peace of mind:"It gives me a lot of encouragement. It gives me a lot of confidence. That's one thing I was lacking coming in here, thinking I was kind of too small to play linebacker and stuff like that. And 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale], those guys getting me fired up and letting me know I could do it, with those guys backing me up, it's just given me more confidence."

WR Willie Snead IV

Opening statement:"First off, I'm looking forward to going to Beach Bash this weekend. Looking to have a great time with all the fans."

On how he feels the offseason program has been going, particularly with rebuilding the offense:"I think it's been going really well. I think the offense is starting to mesh together, and it's starting to make sense to a lot of guys. I think right now, it's just more about getting the reps, getting out here, getting the plays going, and then just getting the concepts down at the end of the day."

On if it's strange seeing the wide receiver turnover and being one of the more experienced players in the room:"It's exciting, to be honest. We have a lot of young guys in there. We have a lot of new faces, but it's a challenge at the end of the day, and just to be able to go out there every day and do what we love, that's what I look forward to. To be a guy in the room, after all the years just looking up to guys, just to be where I'm at now is just a blessing. I know those guys are looking up to me, so I just have to be able to be the same guy I've been over the past year, couple years, and continue to make plays."

On how the receiving corps has changed:"It's a totally different room, to be honest. Besides Chris Moore and a couple of the draft picks, it's brand new, and that's just a challenge in itself, to get used to those guys and get the chemistry with other quarterbacks. But there are a lot of guys in there that are talented, and they're willing to work, so that's the awesome part, stuff to look forward to, is just the competition and to be able to push each other."

On if QB Lamar Jackson looks different this spring from the end of last season:"I think Lamar is just a rep guy. He has to get out there and get 100 reps in every day. He has to throw the ball every single day. That throwing motion … He's a quarterback at the end of the day. He's going to get it right, and at the end of the day, he can make plays. Whether it's with his arm or with his legs, he's a playmaker. I think in time, it will come. He's still young. He's still getting the hang of things, especially with the new offense and everything, but once the timing is there and we get everything down, I think he'll develop more as a passer."

On what assistant head coach/pass game coordinator/wide receivers David Culley has brought to the offense:"Culley has been awesome, man. He's brought a lot of knowledge, a different viewpoint this year. He has so much wisdom. He's been around the league for almost 25 years, and just that experience in itself can definitely transform a room and it can obviously make us look at the game differently. Culley has been awesome since he stepped in the room, and he's going to allow us to do good things this year." (Reporter: "When you say different viewpoint, can you be more specific?") "He's coached with Hines Ward. He's coached Terrell Owens. He's coached DeSean Jackson. He's coached so many guys, different personalities. He's coached quarterbacks. He's coached receivers. He's coached in Andy Reid's offense for years. That different standpoint, just to look from a different viewpoint of how he sees offenses, how he sees routes, how he sees scheme, those types of things, you can't take for granted. So, when he brings up points or nuggets, as I like to call them, I don't take it with a grain of salt. I take everything in. A lot of guys take it all in, and when you transfer it out onto the field, that's when you see his wisdom really kick in from there."

On if he did anything different in the offseason to prepare for the spring:"A lot of running. This year, I was feeling pretty healthy, lower body-wise, so I did a lot of running, just trying to lighten up. I dropped 10 pounds, and I'm just trying to run faster this year, run by guys and definitely get some more separation in my game."

On if he wore the red jersey at practice due to his recovering finger:"Yeah, I had a slight procedure early in the offseason. I'm just being precautious right now. It's early, but I feel great overall. Today was the first time I was out there doing contact stuff, and I've been feeling pretty good." (Reporter: "A lot of guys with that injury would just stay away from OTAs. Why not for you?") "I feel like my role on this team has grown a little bit more, not as a No. 1 receiver, but as a leader on the team. I definitely just wanted to be here with the guys and grow with the guys and learn the offense as they learned it. [It's good to] just still be around the guys, bring that energy, bring that life and just continue to get better."

On how he lost weight and if it was difficult:"I like to eat, man. (laughter) My 'pops' was cooking a lot of my meals this offseason, so we were really strict with my diet, and we hit that track running back in February. February, March, down to April, I just tried to stay consistent with my weight, and that's really a big factor for me. When I was playing in college, I was 193, so these last couple years, I've been at 203, 200. I'm just trying to experiment, see if I can get back to that weight, and see how I feel at that weight."

On what will make the tight ends stand out this season:"They have Bobby Engram as their coach now. I know they're going to be a lot crisper in their routes. They all have a year under their belt. When you talk to Mark [Andrews] and Hayden [Hurst] and Nick [Boyle] – he's been a clutch guy for us – but just I think the experience those guys have now compared to last year is going to allow them to grow and allow them to make more plays. I'm looking to expect big things from those guys, and I know they expect big things from themselves."

On what hardships he has endured and what they have meant for his career:"I've been through so much pain, just from a little kid, always being overlooked, and being hurt two years ago when I was with New Orleans. I had a serious injury. I had a car accident, and it really set me back. To be honest, when you embrace your struggle, you definitely get to where you want to be in the end. Now, I'm with a great organization. I'm with great teammates, and I'm right where I want to be. If you look down on your troubles, and you say, 'Woe is me,' and how I'm hurting, you're going to stay at that part. But if you embrace things that are happening to you, look at the positives in your life, then you can grow from those negatives and continue to get better as a person. Thank you for your question. I appreciate that."