Transcripts: Ravens OTAs

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "It's good to be back, good to see everybody here, good to have an opportunity to talk about football and talk about the Ravens and be out there and see some football being practiced. It's fun; you can't wait to get blocks – well, sort of blocks and sort of tackles – but hand-offs and passes and calls being made and everything like that. It's awesome to be back out here on the grass with the guys, and we're enjoying every minute of it yesterday and every minute of it today.

"[Former Executive Vice President of Public Relations] Kevin Byrne is here, obviously. I see Kevin Byrne is back there. Good to see you, Kevin." (Kevin Byrne: "Good seeing you.") "We love you, man. Is [your wife] Sally here? Oh, there she is. Oh, we love you way more, Sally. (laughter) It's good to have you here.

"What questions do you have?"

With all of that said, how do you think your practice went today? (Mike Preston) "I thought it went well. It thought the guys were into it. It was fast. We did a good job of handling the tempo. It's a fast practice with no contact, which is always a little bit of a challenge. And our guys have done a really good job of that yesterday and today – of making it fast, executing, trying to make the right calls, play with good technique and then not run into each other. It's not as easy as it sounds. So, I thought the guys did a good job with that. We've got a long way to go as a football team, for sure, in pretty much every area, but the guys are working at it."

This is voluntary, but your quarterback is not out here. Have you talked to him, or do you have a sense of his plan over these weeks? (Bo Smolka) "Yes, we've been down this road many times through the years. So, I'll just let Lamar [Jackson] speak for himself on that. It's for him to talk about. You can ask him."

Traditionally, quarterback is kind of that exception. We know of veterans that aren't here voluntarily. Is it a concern not having him here? (Luke Jones) "It's not for me to speak for somebody else on that. It's up to [Lamar Jackson] to speak for himself on that."

With the addition of CB Kyle Fuller, what does he do for your secondary? And you've got a lot of talent back there now. How are you going to find snaps for all of those guys? (Todd Karpovich) "Yes, oh yes, they'll be plenty of snaps for these guys – we found that out last year. He's a veteran player. Kyle [Fuller] – he's from Baltimore, as you probably know, and [he went to] Mount Saint Joseph High School. He's a proven corner. He knows how to play the game, fits what we're trying to do right now in the secondary really well. I think his veteran presence is going to add a lot to our defense. I think it finished off our secondary, in terms of … Never say never, but for now, I feel really good about that group back there – I mean, really good, about the secondary, personnel-wise."

We saw DB Brandon Stephens play a lot on the outside. I know he was a cornerback in college, safety here. Are you looking for him at corner? Is it this kind of thing where you're just going to try him all over? (Bo Smolka) "It's almost like you're saying. It's almost like we're not so much trying him all over; we're kind of playing him all over, because he can. He's very versatile. We've got a lot of safeties. We added another corner now, so there's a lot of depth in there. But he can play outside; he looked good today, doing it. He can go inside in the slot; he's done well with that. He can play safety. We haven't played him as much at safety in these last two practices. But I would say he's a corner/safety instead of a safety/corner at this point in time."

What do you like about what you're seeing from S Kyle Hamilton so far now that he's been on the field for a little bit? (Jeff Zrebiec) I like his [Kyle Hamilton's] demeanor – kind of a calm-demeanor guy, and he's picked up the defense exceptionally quickly so far; not that he's been perfect, but he's studying. You can tell he studies hard at it, and he's got a good grasp on the defense already, and he's moving around really well."

How exciting is it to see CB Marlon Humphrey back and playing as much as he is? And knowing there are going to be others to come, coming off the injuries being such a big storyline? (Luke Jones) "Yes, it's a big deal. I sit up here and try to play it cool on that, but it wouldn't be real. It's exciting to see Marlon [Humphrey] out there. He's practicing; he's been going full speed for quite a while now. Marcus [Peters] is in great shape. He's coming along really well. We've seen him; he's been back in the building, rehabbing, so [I'm] excited to see him in training camp. And all the other guys are kind of in line for that, right now."

What are the kinds of things that you as a coach are looking for in OTAs [organized team activities]? (Cordell Woodland) "You're looking for guys … We tell them, 'We're not competing against each other.' There's no physical contest out here at all – that's what they've got to understand. You're competing against your ability to execute and to move and to communicate and to have perfect technique, at high speed, without running into each other. So, that's what you kind of look for. I like to see crispness; I like to see execution. I would think Day Two compared to Day Four will be different, compared to Day 10; we should see a lot of improvement."

What are your impressions of P Jordan Stout as far as holding and punting? (Todd Karpovich) "He's got a big leg – I can tell you that. And even when he misses, it still goes pretty far, which is kind of cool. That's good. He's got good misses, I guess, you can say. Holding – he was perfect today, holding, so that was a good start."

How different was it for you guys to have special teams consultant Sam Koch on your coaching staff? (David Andrade) "It was different. Punt practice seemed a little quieter and calmer out there – I don't know why. But [special teams consultant] Sam [Koch] is an intense dude, and having him with those guys [and] with the young guy [Jordan] Stout, is just a blessing for us."

Wide receiver is obviously a big topic. How excited are you about your young wide receivers and seeing them all kind of develop and step into bigger roles? (Ryan Mink) "[I'm] really excited about it. I think at some point in time, you've got to put guys out there. We all like to cling to the known, the names, whatever it might be, and the opportunity to throw those guys out there and see how they do … I can tell you this, they're working really hard. I mean, they understand the situation, and I think they're making the most of it. They've been here, really being honest with you, for almost months now. They've been here from the beginning working extremely hard every day."

S Chuck Clark is another guy that has had his name said a lot, especially after the Draft. What does it say about him, being here? I know you got questions about guys not being here? What does it say about him, showing up for voluntary workouts? (Morgan Adsit) "It's Chuck [Clark]. It's Chuck. He didn't want to miss OTAs [organized team activities]; that's something that was important to him, and he came in here on Tuesday ready to go and in great shape, and [he] picked up right where he left off. He just walked in the building, and he was Chuck Clark – running the defense. So, it's not surprising at all."

I have a silly question: I think it's just for the rookies as I've seen during camp; what's the extra padding on their helmet? (Morgan Adsit) "Yes, those are … I forget the name of them. Does anybody remember? Guardian Cap. It's called a Guardian Cap. See, [senior vice president of communications Chad Steele] should have my back on that." (Chad Steele: "Absolutely, the Guardian Cap." – laughter) "The Guardian Cap. It's a concussion-type of protection. So, obviously, it's to lessen the blow, especially for the linemen, who have more of the multiple contacts in practice. It's required for the whole team in the first two weeks of training camp, for all the front-seven guys. It's not required now, so they have the choice not to wear it. And we pretty much put all the rookies in it, as a matter of … They're rookies, so we're requiring them to do it. But in training camp, you'll see all those guys in it for the first two weeks."

TE Mark Andrews

What have been your impressions of the first couple days of OTAs, and just how has the spring has gone so far? (Luke Jones)"It's just been great to be back with the teammates, with the coaches. Obviously, this time of year, you really start to miss football. It feels great to be back in Baltimore, here in this city, playing for this franchise and getting ready for a big season."

Can you get done what you want to get done without Lamar being here? (Pete Gilbert)"I know Lamar [Jackson] and I know … I've talked with him. I know how hard he's working. He's extremely motivated, extremely hungry. So, there's no worries over there. I know what he's doing. We're all working and doing our job here and getting ready for him. We'll be ready to go, and I'm confident that he's going to be ready and show everybody what he's got, and what type of hunger he's got right now."

I don't think anyone would be mad if you didn't show up for OTAs. So, why did you come? (Childs Walker)"Because I love it. I love football. I love this place. I love this organization. It means a lot to me. [It's all about] just getting back and getting better. Just being here, being around the guys, being around the new guys. [Tight ends coach] Coach [George] Godsey – getting to meet him. Just being around the fellas, making that team camaraderie. That's what it's all about, and I think it starts now."

What are your impressions on some of the rookies, like S Kyle Hamilton? (Cordell Woodland) "Extremely excited about that draft class – a lot of ballers. Kyle Hamilton is a really long, rangy guy, really athletic. And then you look at the two guys in our room, Charlie [Kolar] and Isaiah [Likely] – it's just fun being out here. It feels like they're lightyears ahead of where I was [as a rookie], or how I felt. They're very confident, they understand the offense, they're running great routes, they're catching the ball well. The moment is not too big for them, which is great to see for them."

What are your impressions of TE Charlie Kolar and TE Isaiah Likely? (David Andrade)"Like I said, they're understanding the offense, they're running fast routes. I think they both have a natural, kind of, knack for football [and] understanding the game – which is special. I think both of those guys are going to good players for long time."

Coming off a season where you're an All-Pro, entering a contract year. What do you focus on in the offseason? You look a little leaner. Were you focused on that at all?"We say this every year, 'Mark, you look a little leaner.' (laughter) Well, I just work, man. I work hard. My family and I, we work out all the time. We catch balls, all that good stuff. So, I'm hungry. But I don't really care [about accolades]. Obviously, it was an honor to have a great season. But that's not the end goal. The end goal is to, hopefully, [become] a Super Bowl champion and have a ring. That's why I'm here right now, that's why we're working hard. We have a special team. And obviously, last year wasn't the year we wanted, and we had a lot of things that kind of played into that. So, once we get guys back healthy, and we're working together, it's going to be awesome."

Is there anything different with the way you're doing things now, because of all of the injuries, have you seen anything thus far? (Pete Gilbert)"I think they're making an effort to do certain things – make extra warmups, stretch more, just the schedule throughout the day. [They're] just being mindful of how we're feeling, where we're at in the year. There's a long season ahead; there's a long year ahead. It's not a race, it's a marathon. So, I think they're doing a great job of being mindful of that, which is awesome to see."

You're a young guy, how does it feel to hear a guy like rookie TE Charlie Kolar say, 'I grew up watching Mark Andrews?' Are you embracing that mentorship role? (Ryan Mink) "It's humbling. For me, when I came out of the league, there's certain guys that I really looked at and looked up to. So, for me, to kind of be that type of guy [and] role model, I'm going to everything I can to help both of these young guys – every one of these tight ends – in any way I can, share my knowledge, share what I can do. We have a great room, like I said. It's going to be scary. We've got a lot of tight ends that can play some ball."

Is it too early to look at what you have now on offense and compare it to the 2019 offense? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think with just having all these guys, we're going to have the ability … I think [when] you look at last year, we got a little thin at times. There's a lot of guys in our room that can play football, and we're only going to get better and better, learn the offense more. I was actually able to … Nick [Boyle] was in Arizona for a lot of the offseason. I saw how hard he worked. He was with his family, [his wife] Kristina. His two kids Broc and Blakely. We had a good time out there. But, I saw how hungry he was. And if you see him right now, he looks like a different person. He's ready to go."

CB Marlon Humphrey

The way last season ended for you prematurely, how does it feel to be healthy and back out there and taking as many reps as you did? (Luke Jones) "It feels good. It feels really good to be back. Of course, nobody was too happy with how things ended. I know my season ended early, so I'm thankful to just be back playing ball and being healthy and being with the guys."

Why is it important that you show up for OTAs [organized team activities]? (Jeff Zrebiec) "For me, just getting back into it, getting back into the swing of things, and also they pay me a decent amount of money, so I think I can show up to some of the … I think it's really important – whether you do all of it, a little bit of it – I think it's really key just to at least show up. Whether you do a week, two weeks … These guys, they invest a lot into you – the organization – so I think you could show up some. I know everybody trains differently; some guys don't come; some guys feel they can get training elsewhere. But nothing it better than practicing and training with the people you're going to be with all year, and I think it's never too early to start the chemistry with not only the players, but the coaching staff, getting a new plan with [director of sports nutrition] Sarah [Snyder], the nutritionist, getting a plan with [team clinician] Dr. Tricia [Bent-Goodley], mental health. There's just so many different things and resources that you'll deal with the entire season, for six months, that I think getting a head start on that is always a good thing to do."

There are a lot of new players in that secondary to work on that chemistry with. What are your impressions so far of some of these guys? (Pete Gilbert) "I like it. I think 'Pepe' [Damarion Williams], some of the young corners we've got, Kyle [Hamilton], a safety … Marcus [Williams] will be here next week. I'm going to get on a call with Kyle [Fuller] today, so [I'm] excited. I've heard a lot about him. I've heard he's a really, really smart player. So, I know, with Marcus [Peters] coming back, really smart guy, Kyle, really smart guy, Chuck [Clark] – I think that's enough smarts where I can just play ball. (laughter) I'm really excited about some of the guys that are here, the young guys and some of the guys that will be here next week working with us."

Given the way they secondary struggled because of so many absences, for executive vice president & general manager Eric DeCosta to address it so aggressively, as a leader of that group, how does it feel? (Pete Gilbert) "It feels good. I think we definitely had some let-downs last year in the secondary, especially … We lose Jimmy [Smith], kind of, so we're kind of revamping, getting some guys back healthy, adding a couple pieces. So, I'm really excited about the guys we [selected] in the Draft and the guys we picked up in free agency."

Obviously, you guys were familiar with defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald before. But him coming in as defensive coordinator now, what have been your early impressions, as far as how much change there you could be? (Luke Jones) "I'm excited. I'm really excited for [defensive coordinator] Mike [Macdonald] – a coach I liked when he was here. I know he went to Michigan and did well there; they won their conference and everything. So, I really just like the flexibility that I've been seeing with what he's been doing. The vision that I've seen … We want to have it to where any DB [defensive back] can play any position at any time. I think that's kind of the vision I've seen behind it. I'm getting reps inside; I'm going to get some reps at safety; get some reps here; Chuck [Clark] comes down and plays corner. So, I think that flexibility is going to make us be able to do a lot of good things in the secondary. And then also the difference of just changing up looks. A lot of times, if you show this, you play this; if you show this, you play this. Sometimes we'll show opposite; sometimes we'll show this; sometimes we'll show exactly what we're doing. So, I think it will definitely keep the offense guessing a lot more than what we've been in the past. So, a couple different things that I've seen so far, but I've really liked kind of the flexibility of what Mike and 'Harbs' [head coach John Harbaugh] and what everybody – it's kind of a joint effort – has brought to our defense."

Because of injuries, you have played a fair amount in the slot role in years past. Do you like that kind of flexibility? Do you like bouncing inside, outside and kind of doing a little bit of both? (Ryan Mink) "I think early on, when they first asked me to do that, I was like, 'What is going on? Why would they …' But I think it goes back to me; when I was at Alabama, I redshirted my freshman year, and I remember … Going into that spring, I just remember talking to myself and thinking to myself, 'Man, when I get the chance to play, it doesn't matter what position they ask me to play, I'm just going to play it and do the best that I can.' And so, I think ever since then, it hasn't really mattered what position anybody asked me to play; I've always tried to do what I can and just give the best ability that I can. So, for me, it doesn't even matter where I play. If they tell me to put my hand in the dirt, then I might … I'm going to have to say something (laughter), but that year at 'Bama [Alabama] just changed a lot for my mindset and just made me be thankful for any time a coach asks me to just go out there and be able to start."

What happened on the play itself when you got hurt? It looked like a football play that you've been involved in 100 times. (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes, honestly, I don't know. Injuries happen, so it was just looked like a traditional thing, but I just got injured."

You mentioned that each guy has an individual approach to how they train and whether they should attend OTAs [organized team activities]. When it's a quarterback, does it resonate differently in the locker room that QB Lamar Jackson is not here? As a veteran, you know it. (Mark Viviano) "The guys that are here are kind of the guys that are here. I know Lamar [Jackson] has been training a lot, but we've had a big attendance. I know Lamar will be here soon. I guess, when things are really going fine in training camp … If it was training camp, it would be really bad, but I think as long as guys are working, no matter where they are, that's the biggest key. As long as you're working … I spoke with Lamar early in the offseason; he said he'll be coming in, so we'll [be] really excited to get him out here. I know 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley] has been doing a really good job [of] kind of running with the ones and everything, Like we said, injuries happen – I think we saw that last year – so any time somebody can get reps in someone's place, I think it's always good for the future of the season, whether you're … COVID[-19] should be over, I think, so they'll be no more COVID games, hopefully. But I think any time you can get some reps for somebody, it's always good to get those reps."

With the addition of CB Kyle Fuller and you coming back, CB Marcus Peters, the safeties, there's talk that the Ravens could have the best secondary in the league. Is that something that you guys kind of want to put out there and prove to people that you can be that kind of unit? (Ryan Mink) "I would love to prove it; that's the biggest thing for me. I would love to make that statement be true. I know there's a lot of work to go into it, with me coming back from injury, Marcus [Peters] coming back from injury, a rookie, Kyle Hamilton, a vet, Chuck [Clark], that's really led our defense the past couple years. I know we have all the pieces, so I think it's all really down to the players to just go out there, communicate, be fundamentally sound and prove it. I think we're in a position that I can't recall we've been in before, with just who we have, and I think it will all just come down to us."

2020 was a big turnover year for you, but last year, turnovers were an issue for this defense. Has that been one of the biggest points of emphasis so far this year? (Cordell Woodland) "Very big, very big mission on the forefront – turnovers. It's crazy, when you look at great defenses, you look at that … Since that [ESPN] 30 for 30 [show about the 2000 Ravens] just got announced it was coming out … I was unaware of how special that defense was. Coming from Alabama, we don't really watch that much NFL, so I knew nothing about it, but I'm hearing [that] sometimes the only two scores would be two defensive touchdowns or something like that, and I'm like, 'Crap!' So, that group has really inspired me, led by Ray [Lewis] and all those great players. There are just so many things I'm so excited about this year. I'm excited to see 'PQ' [Patrick Queen] take a big step; I'm excited for me to take a step, getting back to where I was; I'm excited for Marcus [Peters] to get back healthy. [There are] just so many different guys that I just see leading our defense and making those plays that kind of got us the names we've gotten. So, turnovers are a huge thing for us. We want to preach turnovers, think turnovers. I might be walking in the cafeteria and hit somebody's lunch plate out of their hands trying to get a forced fumble (laughter). So, that's a really big thing for us. I think you can have a great, fundamentally sound defense, but if you have no turnovers, your defense still just kind of is whatever. So, I think turnovers are the name of the game, and that's what we're … You can't go too crazy in OTAs, of course, because of contact, but I think [in] training camp, we're going to be some pests on the offense. Hopefully, we don't get too many on our offense [in practice], but hopefully it translates to the season, and we get a lot."

How do you feel about [your new podcast] Studio 44? Have you had any feedback from people who want to do it in the future? (David Andrade) "Yes, it's been great, actually. I've really enjoyed that. I've also … I know my teammates, but I've started to learn them a lot more by sitting in front of them and asking them some questions. So, it's been really good kind of being on the other side of interviewing guys and different things. There are some guys that I might have to ask every day to join – Marcus Peters is at the top of that list. (laughter) I'll be trying to get Lamar [Jackson] once he gets back and a couple other guys that I'll have to annoy quite a bit. But it's been really cool to get that experience. That's a dream job of mine – to kind of be in media after football – so [I'm] getting my reps in now while I'm kind of still in it and kind of learning those early-on mistakes and things to learn. I know, in every business of life, no matter what occupation, there are so many things you learn when you're young in that career, so that's kind of the goal of that. But so far, I've really enjoyed it."

A couple of answers ago, you said, "to get back to where I was." Did you look at yourself more this offseason? I'm just curious about how you approached how you played and what you can do to, as you said, get to where you were? (Cliff Brown) "I just wanted to get back to just playing really good football. For me, I think, a lot of my … I've never been a 10-interception guy. My biggest goal has been to just play fundamentally sound, and that's just doing my job, locked-in, hands on, technique, and so, I think it got a little sloppy last year before I got hurt early on. So, for me, just getting back to that and just having fun playing ball. I think I've always been having fun, but it's a lot more fun when you're making plays, as opposed to when you're getting out of the base you've kind of built yourself upon. Just getting back to that is what I'm really excited about."

You mentioned the defense wanting to be plug-and-play and having the slot guys play outside and vice versa. In the first half of last year, you were having some breakdowns in communication, it seemed like, before snap. With defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, does it change the expectations for you guys and what you need to know how to do before the snap or just how you handle things before the snap? (Jonas Shaffer) "[Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald's] actually doing a unique job I've kind of never experienced; he's really having everybody understand the whole philosophy of mainly just the group of a coverage, as opposed to, 'You've got this call. How do you play this call?' He's kind of saying, 'Grouping these calls all together, what is the whole idea of this call?' So, I think he's done a really good job of kind of really helping us all be smarter, to where I know what the D-line is doing; I also know what the linebacker is doing; I also know that the safety is doing, because it's, 'The reason why I call this defense is because of this.' And so, it's been really unique, and I really like how he did the early-on part of the offseason program, with kind of just explaining different things to us and kind of making us smarter football players. And then, as OTAs have started, he's kind of started putting the calls to paper and then grouping it all together. So, it's been really good – the way he's kind of taught us."

OLB Odafe Oweh

How has it been having OLB David Ojabo here as a teammate? (David Andrade)"I feel good man. That's my longtime friend since high school. He got me through a lot of stuff. He got me through a lot of stuff as well. So, it feels good to finally be in the league with him and get a chance to craft and really just go and win."

How are you feeling physically after getting offseason shoulder surgery? (Todd Karpovich)"Yes, honestly, I had surgery the end of January. So, [I'm] a few months out. But I feel good, I feel good. I'm just trying to strengthen it, take it day-by-day, and I'm going to be out there soon."

How much better do you feel entering Year Two than entering Year One? (Garrett Downing)"I feel like just the knowledge of things that I didn't know my rookie year. Things I didn't even know I didn't know. In the classroom, in terms of my body, being more prepared. You know I had the shoulder thing. I feel like everything else … I'm farther ahead of where I was rookie camp, [and] all that stuff. I just feel better as an athlete. And then, obviously, being a good outside linebacker, I feel good as well."

What are your early impressions of defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald? (Childs Walker) "I love Coach Mike [Macdonald] already. When I first got here, he laid it down for me and told me what he expected of me and what he wanted. He wanted me here [for OTAs] and everything. I'm buying in. I think a lot of the other guys are buying in as well. And I saw what he did with David [Ojabo], one of my friends and everything. So, I'm cool with it man, I'm cool with him. I'm a full go. Let's go."

Did your shoulder bother you all last year? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It kind of bothered a little bit. But coming from Penn State, growing up where I grew up, you learned to play through stuff like that and not even thinking about it until the end. It definitely got a little bit more kind of hectic towards the end of the season, but I'm good now. I'm straight."

What are your biggest takeaways from Year One heading into Year Two? (Pete Gilbert)"Basically, I'm just extremely raw. I'm a 'potential' guy, basically. So, I'm watching the film [from] last year [and] I'm like, 'Oh, I did crazy good. I did all this stuff.' And then you watch it now in the offseason, and I'm like, 'There's so much stuff you can work on.' So, there's a lot to build on. I'm so excited, because even next year – or even this year – it's going to be a crazy jump. And I'm ready."

I know the Ravens are still thinking about bringing back OLB Justin Houston. I know you guys were pretty close last year. Have you all kept in touch? (Jonas Shaffer)"Yes, we've kept in touch. We were together in California like right after the season. But, yes, I'm down for whatever. Justin Houston, he taught me a lot last year. Obviously, off the field and on the field. We can use all the help we can get. So, I'm cool with it."

Can you talk about some of the expectations you have for yourself this season? (Ryan Mink)"Just to dominate more. Finish. Be there more for my team, in terms of making the plays in situations that we need. Be more aware, in terms of things going on around me. I don't want to give you like the specifics, because you don't do that. [I just want] to be an overall better player and everything like that."

Do you write down your goals? (Jonas Shaffer)"I write them down, put them on the wall, walk past them [so I can] always see it [and] hold myself to it. That's the type of guy I am."

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