Transcripts: Ravens Practice (9/20)


Opening statement:"[It's a] great day for football. [I] really, really enjoyed being out there with the guys. [The] guys worked super hard. It was [a] good, tough, fundamental football practice getting ready for the [Indianapolis] Colts. We have a great respect for how hard they play, how young they are, [with a] new staff – a lot to get ready for. What questions do you have?" 

What is the status for CB Ar'Darius Washington after he was placed on injured reserve yesterday? (Brian Wacker) "The injury is upper body – muscle deal. He's being evaluated, I'd say this week, just to see what the term of that might be. It'll be multiple weeks, and we'll see where it goes." 

After big, emotional, divisional wins like this past Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, have you ever addressed the team to avoid that "letdown" after a victory like that? (Jamison Hensley) "I've never used that word. I'm not even sure how it applies, really, in that sense. I think we have a mutual understanding right now – a vision – for how we want to approach wins and losses and everything else in between. We talk about that. It's not just all of a sudden we have to come up and say, 'Hey, we won a game. Now what?' This is something that … We're here together every day. From the offseasons through training camp, these are the kind of topics that you have when you're building together as a football team. Patrick Queen, being one of the captains this week, he spoke to the guys, and he brought that up in the post-practice little talk that he gave there and did a great job with it, but it wasn't anything anybody wasn't thinking about. It's one week at a time. You have to be 1-0 every week, and that's what we're trying to do – really 1-0 every day, 1-0 every drill, period, play. That's what we shoot for." 

Is there an advantage to watching film of a team that you have a common opponent with like the Indianapolis Colts also playing the Houston Texans? (Kyle Barber) "There's some familiarity, but it's really more about how similar they are maybe the teams you've played in the past. They actually have some similarities to Houston defensively – kind of the same family tree defensively, scheme-wise. That's something that we can use to our advantage in some respect. It's kind of how it works around the league. It's the San Francisco [49ers], Seattle [Seahawks] tree defensively. You certainly learn to understand how those different kind of groups of coaches operate." 

What was behind that decision to sign RB Kenyan Drake to the practice squad after he played for the Ravens last season? Also, is there any injury concern with RB Justice Hill? (Brian Wacker) "I'm just going to leave all that up to the injury report. It's not anything to our advantage to talk about any of that stuff right now. We're happy to have Kenyan [Drake] back – excited about him right now. Everything plays out the way it plays out." 

What does RB Kenyan Drake bring to the team other than familiarity? (Brian Wacker) "He's talented. You've seen him. He was in [training] camp [and] in preseason there [with the Indianapolis Colts]. He's fast. He's an athletic guy. [He] catches balls out of the backfield. [He's] probably a real good fit in this offense. It's funny – I was watching the [Cincinnati] Bengals tape last week again from last year as we were preparing. He was on the tape, and he had good games in those two games he played. I was thinking, 'Man, Kenyan Drake looked good in those games.' It's like that and next thing you know, here he is. I mentioned that to him this morning when he came in." 

How encouraged are you by the fast starts the defense has had in games not allowing a first down in the first quarter of either contest this season? (Noah Trister) "Yes, very encouraged. [I'm] very encouraged by the fast starts. That's something that we work on every day. We have a fast start period in practice every day. We want it to be good. I feel like the guys are just locked in. Every game's different. Sometimes you start; Sometimes you finish. I think we're trying just to take it one series at a time and do the best we can." 

With players like OL Patrick Mekari and S Geno Stone who for multiple years in a row have not come in as starters but then call on them to start, do you see a common trait in those guys who are able to do that? (Childs Walker) "That's a great question. I guess you can talk in terms of professionalism and attention to detail and character and intelligence and toughness and all those kind of things, probably, are the traits for guys to be able to do that. Guys who are ready because they get ready every day. It's not like all of a sudden, 'Oh, I have to get ready to start now.' They've been considering themselves a starter every day in practice from Day 1 and preparing as such. Then therefore, when their opportunity comes, they're ready. What's the old saying? 'When preparation meets opportunity, that's a formula for success.' It's a truism, and I think those guys have shown that." 

As a former special teams coach, did you see the play that the New England Patriots ran against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2 with sideways motion to block a field goal? Have you ever seen a play like that, and is this something that the NFL could take out of the game? (Kyle Goon) "I haven't seen that. I thought it was a really great play – really well executed. They were able to time up the snap operation perfectly well. It doesn't need to be ruled out, because all you have to do is change the tempo of your snap count so it's more of a surprise play. I think now if that's something they think a team might do against them, then they'll just change up the timing of the snap count. What a good idea that was, and they got it. It was a great play. I thought it was brilliant." 

Are you focusing on the Indianapolis Colts' defensive fronts and linebackers in preparation to play them? (Mike Preston) "That's the No. 1 issue for sure. That front is outstanding. The two tackles are two of the best in the league. [DeForest] Buckner – obviously [a] pedigree guy, slippery guy, long, plays hard and all that kind of stuff and then [Grover] Stewart. We loved him in the [NFL] Draft. He's just a load in there, and he's [an] explosive, talented guy. Two defensive ends coming off the edge – one of them a [University of] Michigan guy, Kwity Paye – they play classic to that style. Then, inside backers – you've got [No.] 44 [Zaire Franklin] is flying all over the field, making plays left and right. Then, [Shaquille] Leonard of course, he's [No.] 53 – we all know about him. He's been good for a really long time. That's the heart and soul of their defense right there." 

What is the challenge of preparing to face two different Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks stylistically in Anthony Richardson and Gardner Minshew, as we do not know who will play at this point? (Pete Gilbert) "It's definitely something that we have to take into account. They run the same offense, but they run it differently. One might lean toward one area, another might lean toward another area more. You have to play to the strengths of the quarterback, so you have to defend to the strengths of the quarterback. We have to defend to the strengths of both of those guys right now at this point in time. The offense is still intact the way they run it. That's what we'll be looking at." 

Is it a testament to all of the players who have stepped up despite the injuries to the regular starters? How much emphasis do you put on the back roster building and finding different ways to acquire players? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, it is. I think our scouting department [and] personnel department is the best in the league – from Eric [DeCosta] and Ozzie [Newsome] and all the guys over there. They're just tremendous – Joe [Hortiz], Vince [Newsome], George [Kokinis] – just a bunch of guys that do a great job all the way down through the whole group. So, that's one thing, and the other thing – we try to coach guys. There's the development aspect to everything. That's what I think everybody does their best at that. But to me, the credit belongs to the guys themselves. Those are the guys that are out there preparing themselves for the opportunity, then making the most of their opportunity. They certainly deserve the credit." 

Do you have to change practice at all since there were eight players that were not practicing today? (Jamison Hensley) "That's a great question. No, you really don't because they expanded the practice squads. That's allowed us to maintain a good practice. That was a good move the NFL made." 

What has been the difference with ILB Patrick Queen from last season to this season? (Brian Wacker) "Good question. I just feel like [Patrick Queen]'s just picked up where he left off and continued to grow. He has a growth mindset every day. He doesn't let anything slow him down. There's no drag in the way he operates ever, and it shows up in the way he plays. I'm just proud of him. I love everything about him. I think he's established himself as one of the top linebackers in football for sure. That's exciting." 


On if playing in the NFL has been what he thought it would be so far:"Absolutely, I've got vets around me. I've got Lamar [Jackson]; I've got Mark [Andrews]. I've got everybody around me making me comfortable, so it's making my job easier to execute and be as detailed as possible." 

On his comfort level with what he's seeing and the assignments:"I'm super comfortable, because Coach [Greg] Lewis and Coach 'Dub' [Keith Williams], they do a great job of – when we're in the meeting room – making sure everything is detailed. And when we're on the field, [and] me and Lamar [Jackson] see a look or anybody at receiver sees a look, we go back and tell him, and he'll come back and hit you on it if he sees the same look." 

On if spending some time with QB Lamar Jackson in Florida this offseason has contributed to the chemistry they're developing:"Yes, I think it did, because it was me, 'O' [Odell Beckham Jr.] and 'Nelly' [Nelson Agholor] out there, and we knew we were going to be three receivers that were going to be playing a lot, and we had to get out there and get some work together. We knew we had to do it fast, because if we wanted to have the season we want to have, we had to do it." 

On what he enjoyed about the WR Nelson Agholor touchdown grab:"Oh, I just enjoy seeing our guys score. I just enjoy anybody on the field making a play; even if it's defense, you'll probably see me jumping around on the sideline. Like after Geno [Stone]'s play, I was jumping around, running around. So, I'm just excited for all my guys." 

On what he said to the Cincinnati cornerback after the WR Nelson Agholor touchdown:"Oh, he just said he locked me up, and I was like, 'Look, touchdown.'" (laughter) "That's basically what I said." (laughter) 

On if he communicated something to QB Lamar Jackson about the 52-yard post route that they connected on:"Yes, we both knew it … We saw it. Lamar [Jackson] saw it a little later, and I got open, and by the time I turned, he was already off it. But he saw me down the field, and he was just like, 'Calm down, calm down. I'm going to come back to you.'" 

On if he knew that the post route would be called again later after his communication with QB Lamar Jackson:"Oh, yes, I had a feeling it was going to be called again." 

On what his deep-play potential could open up for the rest of his game:"I just feel like it will open everything up for me, because if you feel like I'm going to run long, I can stop; I can stop at any route and come back. So, it will make the defenders harder to guard me." 

On if translating his confidence into success has provided some validation or comfort:"Honestly, I feel more comfortable each week – just with the gameplan and the speed of the game and just getting smarter each week. And just being out there with vet guys, like I said, they're teaching me. 'Nelly' [Nelson Agholor] will teach me something about … Because he's a master at running option routes and over routes, so he'll teach me something about that. Odell [Beckham Jr.] will teach me something about the deep ball. So, I'm just taking it all in and just trying to use it."  

On what he sees in the way teams are trying to defend him:"I would say, you've got a lot to worry about, honestly. You've got to worry about Mark [Andrews]; you've got to worry about the run game; you've got to worry about Lamar [Jackson] and then all the other receivers. So, I don't even know how to tell you; I'm just going out there and playing my game, honestly." 

On how much fun he's having during the game:"It's easy to have fun when you've got guys like that around you and everybody can make plays. So, that just makes me enjoy the game a little bit more." 

On what about the game is so fun for him:"I don't know. I just get excited to play, make plays, see somebody else make plays. And I just want to win." 

On what it's like catching passes from QB Lamar Jackson:"Lamar [Jackson] has every throwing motion. Like, he can give it to you sidearm, he [can] give it to you straight down the field, and he can put it anywhere you need it. So, just catching from him … It's going to be on you fast, too. It's going to be right in your face, so you've got to be ready." 

On how he would describe his chemistry with QB Lamar Jackson:"Like I said, a lot of it was built over the summer. We were just running through the route tree, trying to get everything on time, just trying to build chemistry and trying to do what we're doing out on the field right now." 


On how to avoid a letdown scenario in this week's game after beating such a big opponent:"I believe it's just self-explanatory with the guys in our locker room. All they pretty much know is, it's a business anytime we're out there on the field, and we don't take any opponent lightly. This is the NFL , and every team is good. It's 'Any Given Sunday.'" 

On if this week's game brings him back memories of the last time he played the Colts: "No. That night was pretty much that night. Whatever happened that night is with that night, but I'm focused on what's going to happen Sunday. [I'm] just trying to come out with a victory." 

On if WR Nelson Agholor's signing flew under the radar this offseason: "Well, I'd like to keep under the radar. He had a pretty good game. I don't want any hype going his way. [Let's] just keep it under that radar, like you said, and [he'll] keep doing what he's doing." 

On WR Nelson Agholor being terrific since he's arrived here:"Absolutely, he has. We've been connecting here on the field [and] in [training] camp, [and] I'll say pretty much the whole offseason, and it showed this past Sunday."  

On what's it like to have QB Anthony Richardson compare himself to you and what he thinks of his game:"You want me to be honest, right? That made me feel old, and I'm only 26." (Laughter) "He's comparing me, himself, and Cam [Newton], I'm like, 'Dang. Comparing yourself to me, and I'm still young.' But I appreciate stuff like that, and I did see him play a couple times in college. He played phenomenal and in his first two games [in the NFL], he has, too."  

On the connection he has with WR Zay Flowers:"I believe it's been building very well, since you said our chemistry was like 60%, something like that. I wonder what it is right now. He's been catching the ball phenomenal, making guys miss, running great routes and just doing what Zay [Flowers] does. He just needs to keep it that way." 

On how WR Zay Flowers stands out compared to other rookies he's played with: "He's his own man. He's going out there, [and] he's willing to learn. He wants to be the best each and every play he's out there. Zay [Flowers] is just a household name he's building for himself right now. He's just needs to keep staying that way, keep staying locked in and focused." 

On what differences he noticed between Week 1 and Week 2:"[It] just being Week 2. Our second game, playing alongside each other and just building chemistry within the game. That's all."  

On him having the second-highest completion rate in two games and what he feels that attributes to: "[It's] just building chemstry. That's the biggest thing. [It's] getting the ball out my hand [and] throwing to my guys, and my guys catching the ball. [Also], getting yards and protecting me from bad plays or anything like that, and I'm just trying to protect them as well. So, we're just doing what we should do, and that's why the percentage is that high."  

On how much easier it was operating the offense after not having too many pressures on him this past game: "Terrific. That's any quarterback's dream. Hopefully we just keep it going throughout the whole season."  

On what's impressed him on C Sam Mustipher and the chemistry they're building together:"Sam [Mustipher] played lights out. Well, the difference between him and Tyler [Linderbaum] is the name, I'll say. But he played great. [It's] him stepping in last second and just a week prior, we just had our starting center and … we really didn't have any chemistry throughout camp or anything like that. But for him to step in and know protections, knowing when to flip to certain things, certain protections, it was wonderful." 

On completing 90% of his passes in the second half of the Bengals game and what he attributes that to: "[It was] a little bit of everything and just being comfortable being in the pocket. Like I said earlier, just getting the ball out [and] just throwing it to my guys and letting them do the rest." 

On what inspired his tweet for RB Nick Chubb after his injury: "Actually, I saw it on social media. I was just getting on Twitter, well, it was Twitter [now known as X], and when I saw the hit, it was horrific hit. No one likes seeing that type of injury from any guy. And just prayers to him because he's a wonderful player on that field." 

On if he feels comfortable with OL Patrick Mekari because of the trust he's built with him through the years: "Absolutely. [Patrick Mekari] has been great at center, [and] guard for us. He just showed it for us at tackle as well. He's a guy that can do it all."  

On if he was surprised in the offseason that teams didn't aggressively go after him: "I'm grateful for being here. We have our contract situation situated, and I'm focused on doing what's best for us. I'm trying to win. I don't really care about other teams." 


On the tone and the message going into this week after a big divisional win: "Anytime you want to accomplish a goal as a team, you can't get complacent. That was really just the message. Be your biggest critic. Don't get complacent. The things that you're good at, be great at. The things that you need to work on, improve on and just strive for excellence." 

On how he would describe his role as a leader on this team:"[I'm] just being more vocal and living by what I preach. I think that's the biggest thing, is just bringing it every day, doing my job to the best of my ability and try to bring my teammates with me." 

On if he feels defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald has been able to use him and ILB Roquan Smith more creatively than how other teams in the NFL use inside linebackers: "[Defensive coordinator] Mike [Macdonald], he tries to do a little bit of both. He tries to be creative, but at the same time be a bit traditional. I think that's the perfect mix for us. [He's] just letting us go out there and play ball, so whatever Mike calls, we're going to roll with. We have the two best linebackers in the league, so we're going to make plays and just make everybody look good. [We're going to] make ourselves look good." 

On if he feels he and ILB Roquan Smith are changing the perception of what a "premier position" is:"Anytime you want a good defense, you need to have good linebackers. That's what we have here. That's what we're trying to showcase, is us being the best linebackers and showing the defense revolves around a linebacker. I think that just comes with being the type of person you want to be and trying to be great. Like I said, the message I said earlier [was], 'Just don't be complacent, strive for greatness and just keeping improving.'" 

On why he feels a great defense is built around the inside linebackers:"If you can't stop the run, you can't stop the pass in the middle of the field, and you don't have the guys that can fly around and just strike a little fear in people's hearts, then it's rough to stop people, so I feel like that's what we bring to the defense." 

On what strides he's made in pass coverage:"The biggest thing is just understanding route concepts and just being patient, knowing my skillset and using my skillset. It's just an all-around improvement of everything. Honestly, I couldn't say one particular thing. It's just every single thing about my game I improved on, and [I'm] trying to continue to improve on." 

On if he's improved on his recognition or communication:"It's definitely both. With our communication, you can't recognize what's coming. It's definitely both." 

On if he had similar responsibilities when he was at LSU: "Yes. It was kind of the same, but kind of different at the same time. [In] college, you have less responsibilities and less communication, so you just go to another level, a higher level. [There's] higher execution, higher communication [and] higher responsibilities that come with that." 

On what the biggest keys are to having fast starts defensively:"We're just starting fast, communicating and playing fast, trusting each other and just playing football. That's what we come out here and do every day at practice. We did it all throughout [training] camp. All the guys are on the same page. We all have great chemistry right now. Everybody just loves each other. Everybody's just playing for each other right now." 

On if he admires S Geno Stone's ability to step in as a starter and be totally prepared: "Yes. Geno [Stone] is a baller. Geno has always been like that since the day he came in [the league]. It's good seeing him get his opportunity and taking full advantage of making plays. It's heartwarming. Geno just works so hard, and he wants to be so great. You can tell [by] how he prepares [for] special teams, when he comes on defense and just every day in practice." 

On what he sees as the greatest challenge going into the Colts game this week:"I think the greatest challenge is just being able to communicate fast. I know [the Colts] go up tempo a little bit, and the focus point for us is just being able to communicate when things are going fast. You'll tend to see us having a little trouble here and there with that. That's been all throughout camp, so we're just still polishing that stuff up, still getting better at that and still trying to execute those things." 

On if he tries to ignore a lot of injuries on the team or if that's something he recognizes: "That's throughout life. Playing the sport, people always get hurt. It's unfortunate, but at the end of the day, you can't let it bother you. You have a job to do. We all have a job to do. We all have goals that we want to reach. If any of us flinch or anything, then we can't reach those goals. So, I think the best thing for us is to just stay focused on the task at hand." 

On if there are shared pre-snap duties or if that's just regular communication: "Basically, with 'Ro' [Roquan Smith] having the green dot, he gets the call, he echoes the call, we all echo the call to each other, and then it's communication after that. What's the formation? What are we expecting? What's our job responsibilities? What are the checks? It's just different stuff that goes into those communications, so once 'Ro' gets the call from [defensive coordinator] Mike [Macdonald], and Mike gives us a hint in there about, 'Be ready for this or that,' but it's communication within the lines for us." 

On what ILB Roquan Smith has taught you:"[Roquan Smith has taught me to] just being more vocal. Every day he comes in with a great attitude and is always talking. That's the biggest thing for me, just being a shy person, not talking as much and just letting people be, but you get to know people better and more. It brightens the mood. It brightens everybody's mood when you talk a lot, so that I think that's the biggest thing I learned from 'Ro.'" 


On continuing his strong play from Week 2 to Week 3:"All I'm worried about right now is that we want to be 1-0 each week, so get prepared this week, no matter what we did last week [and] improve on that. Whatever amount of details we had, things go a different way [each week], really." 

On the challenge of preparing to face two different quarterbacks in Anthony Richardson and Gardner Minshew against the Indianapolis Colts:"They're both two different types of quarterbacks the way they're used, so we've been going over that. We've really just been preparing whoever we get, it doesn't matter. We have to go play our solid defense, that's just facts. We'll just go from there." 

On what he took away from ILB Patrick Queen's message to the team after practice about the mentality of not getting complacent:"I think about that all the time. For myself, no matter how good I play, whatever it was, you always want to be your biggest critic. All the little stuff I probably could've been better in that game. I could've had an even better game, in my opinion, myself. Just never get complacent and never think you can get too good – that you've arrived or anything like that." 

On how much flack he caught from his teammates on his interception return against the Cincinnati Bengals: "A lot, but at the same time, they were happy because we had a big turnover and ended up scoring off of it. That was a big thing for them." 

On why it seems that the Next Man Up mentality applies so often with the Ravens:"I just feel like everyone here is capable of playing no matter if they're on the practice squad or whatever it is. You brought into this organization for a reason. I think that's a testament to the scouts – who they bring into this place. Everyone's trusted as a starter. Once you get your opportunity, just go out there and make the most of it." 

On if it is hard to believe to know that the team is going to trust you even if you are not the starter: "A little bit. My thing is me in my rookie year, I only played two games and after that my second year I didn't really think I was going to play much. I thought I was just a special teamer. At the end of the year, my name got called. From that situation, you always prepare as a starter. That's how I think about being here. They harp on that. They tell everyone, 'No matter where you are on the depth chart, or whatever it is, just get ready if your name gets called.' This game is an injury league, so you never know what's going to happen." 

On how valuable it is to know that you are getting starter reps during practice: "It's huge, because those reps in practice mean a lot to get you ready for the game. The game's definitely a different feeling, but throughout the week getting the reps help a lot because I've been there where I've didn't get the reps at all during the week and then get thrown in. You just still have to prepare. That's really all mental reps, though, at that point. Getting the reps, being physical throughout the week, it helps a lot, because at that point, you know once you see it once, you know you're going to get it in a game." 

On if his interception in Week 2 was a play that he had seen in preparation for the game: "Yes, it was. My job really was just to hold the whole backside and then push the backline and go for the dig [route], and that's what happened."

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