Transcripts: Ravens Practice Availability (8/23)


Opening Statement: "[I] appreciate everyone being here. [It] was a good day today, and we're kind of in the middle of a short week. We're getting ready to head down to Tampa [Bay] to play the [Buccaneers]. [It's] our last preseason game, and we're trying to get prepared for that but also at the same time, we're pointing towards the Houston [Texans] game. So, we're trying to get focused on that as well. We do have a few decisions still to make in terms of the roster. And then, also guys are playing for opportunities here and everywhere else. So, there's a lot at stake going forward, but really, we're trying to focus on having a good practice today and tomorrow and then go play the game on Saturday. So, what questions do you have?" 

Did it feel weird having no fans during practice? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, it did. It did. It felt kind of quiet. We have a saying B-Y-O-E (Bring your own energy, bring your own enthusiasm).So, we had to do that today. Then they have the dirt out here. They have to get … I tell you; this is the greatest organization ever [because] not only did they resod the fields but they resod the side grass. Steve Bisciotti is the best." 

The left guard is something everyone's has been talking about. Do you feel any better about that pending decision now that we are closer to the end of training camp? (Cordell Woodland) "Absolutely. We have a good handle on all of it, and the guys have all played well. And we're still rotating guys. You saw in the last game; we moved some guys around and got them work in some different spots. We'll continue to do that probably through the last preseason game because it's the way it goes during the season. But we'll probably wait to make any kind of announcements – if we do – before the first game, we'll make them after the next game with respect to what we have to do on Saturday night."  

Do you think once the left guard position decision is made for Week One, will the decision be made for the season or something that could be competition midway through? (Kyle Barber) "You know, that's a great question. When you go in, you go in planning for it to be settled. You know, that's what you want. You want it to go well, and you want those guys to be cohesive and work together and become a unit. But also, for the ability for guys to plug in and not have any kind of drop off or any change at all. So, we're working for all that stuff, so the answer to your question is yes, we want it to work. We want it to be great, but also, we'll be working for all the variables." 

CB Rock Ya-Sin and other corners are back on the field today. Do you feel good about them being back and the amount of time they'll have to ramp up for the Week One game? (Ryan Mink) "I do. They have to go to work. They have to keep picking up speed, all those kinds of things. [They have] to get their technique honed. That's a lot of time to be out, but at the same time, they were in great shape before. And they've been in all these meetings, they've been in the walk-throughs. So, they should be up to speed mentally, so I feel really good about where they're at."  

We didn't see TE Mark Andrews out there today, was it an injury thing? _(Childs Walker) _"[It's] nothing serious. He's just dealing with something that we're kind of working through right now."  

Do you anticipate QB Lamar Jackson playing this last preseason game at all?_ (Bo Smolka)_ "You know, he wants to, I can tell you that much. So, that's all I really have to say about that. Is that what Forrest Gump said? 'That's all I really have to say about that.' I'm going to leave it that, a Forrest Gump quote." 

Since RB J.K. Dobbins is back now, what are seeing out of him, and do you anticipate him playing in the preseason? (Brian Wacker) "That's a great point. We're going to want to see J.K. [Dobbins]. J.K. has looked fast out there; he's looked good. [We're going to be] giving him more and more work here the next two weeks. He's going to be taking tons of reps and be getting ready to go. He's not going to play in the last preseason game. He probably wouldn't do it anyway based on what happened last time. So, he'll be ready to go in the regular season, and we'll get him ready." 

You've talked about how hard you saw WR Rashod Bateman work to come back. What were a couple of the signs that you saw along the way that made you say, this is going well, and I see his dedication? (Childs Walker) "Well, I don't know. He cared so much. If you're going to say a 'sign,' he just cared so much. And there were some emotional roller coasters. He'll probably tell you that. You know, there's some emotional roller coasters through that whole process, and he had he had to kind deal with that. Only an individual can deal with that himself. You can't do anything for him in that way. But he kept fighting. He kept working. He looks really good out there, and I'm expecting him to have a really great season." 

WR Shemar Bridges and S Geno Stone were also not out at practice, are they alright?_ (Brian Wacker)_ "Shemar [Bridges] has a sprained ligament in his knee. It's a multiple-week kind of deal. So, you won't see him on Saturday. Geno [Stone] is OK. He's just a little sore with the ankle. So, we just held him out today." 

When WR Rashod Bateman had the screws taken out of his foot and had the foot surgery done as early as he could last year, is this kind of the best-case scenario, pending full contact, on what could have happened when he came back from the injury? (Jonas Shaffer) "It's a very fair question, but I don't know the answer. This is kind of when we expected him to be back. That was what the conversation was all along. But you know how it is, it's always challenging. It's never easy. I'm just happy that he's back, and he's practicing, and he'll be ready to go." 

How do OLB Jadeveon Clowney and CB Ronald Darby look now with a few practices under their belt? Do you want to see any one of them in Saturday's final preseason game? (Kyle Barber) "I do, honestly. And those guys are talking to me like they want to [play in the game]. But we have to talk about that as a staff and an organization. Also, the player weighs in [on] what's best for them to be ready for the first game. I don't know if we'll make those decisions for some of those either-or guys until probably Friday or Saturday." 


On if he thinks he has turned a corner after his foot surgery based on how he feels and his production on the field:"Yes, I think so. It's felt good to get back out there with the guys. [I'm] just still getting the hang of things, so it feels good to get back out there."  

On how he would describe the last year for him after various coaches have said he has been on a roller coaster of emotions after his injury: "I would definitely say that. It's been tough. It's been a battle, but I'm happy to be here. I'm blessed to be a part of this organization. My teammates have had my back the whole time, so [I'm] very thankful for them, and I guess we'll see what this year holds." 

On how his foot feels right now:"It feels good. I feel strong – better than I was during OTAs. [I'm] making good progress so far." 

On how close to 100% he feels:"99 [%]. Very close." 

On how excited he is to see his potential with the wide receiver group: "I'm happy with the new pieces we added. Odell [Beckham Jr. and] Zay [Flowers are] both incredible receivers. We all bring different things to the table. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken is using us very well right now, so I'm definitely excited to see what we can do Week One and the rest of the season." 

On what WR Odell Beckham Jr. has brought inside the locker room and to practice:"I would say he brings some swag and personality to the locker room. Not that we didn't have it, but OBJ is OBJ, so he's going to bring that energy with him. It's contagious. We all feed into it. So, he's been good for the locker room for sure." 

On what it is like to hear fans chanting WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s name with the stardom that he brings: "I mean, it's the same for us as it is the same for you and the kids. I still don't really understand it, but I kind of do, but it's OBJ. Lamar Jackson is on the same team, so I think you'll hear a lot of that this year." 

On how missing most of last season changed him as a person and player: "I would say it changed me a lot. I had never been through anything like this before. [I've] never been hurt, especially two years in a row. [I] had some off the field, personal issues, too, but it's been fine. I'm here. I'm excited. I'm ready to go. [It's] all I've asked for so far." 

On what is different for him and how the injury changed him:"These are the cards that were dealt to me, so I have to deal with that [and] stay in my lane, keep working, keep grinding. That's all I really can do. Control what I can control." 

On how he deals with hearing that people think he is injury prone: "I don't really care. It is what it is." 

On the decision-making process after his injury last season:"Yes, I did get hurt, and then I tried to play through it, and then I hurt it more when I tried to play through it. Obviously, I needed surgery. I couldn't push through it anymore, so that ended my year." 

On how frustrating it has been to deal with his injuries: "All I can say is, it's very frustrating, but I guess it happened to me for a reason and I'm here to see what that reason is going to bring." 

On if he thinks he had a productive conversation with GM Eric DeCosta after his social media post about him on Twitter in April: (laughter)"Yes, he said his peace; I said mine. We had a conversation, and now we're best friends. It's kind of how things work around here." 

On if he feels that he should be with the Ravens moving forward:"I love Baltimore. I love everything about it. I love my teammates – the chemistry [with them]. I love my coaches – position coaches. I love everything about it. I'm in the NFL. I'm blessed. I'm playing my dream. Everything's not going to be perfect. I'm not going to be perfect. The coaches aren't going to be perfect. We're going to have our battles, but at the end of the day, as long as you can communicate, talk it out, make sure everybody's on the same page, then it'll all work out." 

On if he has found any growth amidst his challenges:"Yes, I definitely say it matured me, and I don't even know what ways it did, but I definitely can feel it. My approach to the game, my approach to life, just taking it one day at a time, not thinking too far ahead and drawing what I can. My family, my friends and just cherishing the game with all my heart for real." 

On his impression of OC Todd Monken and his views of the passing game: "I love it. It's very different. I don't want to say too much, but hopefully some good things [will happen] this season." 

On his feeling being in a loaded offense:"I'm here to see just like you all. I'm going to see how we go do it. I just want to be there when everybody gets their [Super Bowl] ring. I don't really care who gets the catches and touches. I just want to be part of something big." 

On if it was meaningful to him that TE Mark Andrews called him 'Wide Receiver One':"For sure. My teammates still believe in me. They know my capabilities. They know what I can do. I've done it before. I do it in practice. It just sucks that the injuries [have] been in the way – in the way for me to prove it to you all and to everybody else. Hopefully third time is the charm in Charm City, so we'll see. We'll see." 

On the significance behind his tattoo on his leg that reads 'I Hate It Here':"I knew somebody was going to ask about that. (laughter) Me and my friends got it in 2020 when George Floyd passed away. I was in Minnesota at the time, and for African Americans, it was just a very tough time. It's still a tough time for us. You have to really find your lane out here, and me and my friends got that tattoo to remind us to stay humble – remember each other and never forget where we come from." 


On how he's physically feeling:"I feel amazing. I feel pretty dang good; I'm going to just leave it at that, because I feel so good." 

On why he wasn't practicing at the beginning of training camp:"That's a tough question. I was just being cautious. My teammates need me, so I want to be there for my teammates. And that's all it was. My teammates understood what was going on. So, it's all good now. I'm out here." 

On how difficult it was to not practice during the beginning of training camp:"Oh, I was here the whole time. I was here the whole time. I was going to meetings." (Reporter: "Right, but I meant practicing.") "Oh, that's tough. That's always tough for me, because I'm a guy who loves to play football. I love playing football; I love being with my teammates out there, and they love when I'm out there. So, it was super tough, but we got through it. We'll continue to get better as a team with me out there, and it will be a great year. It's going to be a great year." 

On his confidence and optimism this season:"Yes, I'm pretty confident. I'm pretty dang confident, especially coming off of the end of the year last year; a lot of people could see that I wasn't all the way 100% healthy, but [I] still had some pretty good games there. But I always say, those games [where] I had good games could have been even better if I was 100%. So, if I get the volume as some of the other guys, it'll be a really good year." 

On wanting to have a bigger workload:"What I mean by having a bigger workload is if the game is going … If we're running the ball good … That's all I meant … I didn't mean [it] like, 'I want to be a ball hog' or anything like that. Whatever … If the game is flowing, and I'm hot, 'Let's roll' and stuff like that; that's what I meant. But if the game is going good in the pass game, let's keep passing it. So, that's all I meant. And hopefully, I have a hot hand this year, and everyone has a hot hand so defensive coordinators are having nightmares when they see the Ravens on the schedule, because we have so many weapons. We have an amazing quarterback; we have an amazing [offensive] line [and] an amazing defense. We really have a lot of tools here, so hopefully it will be a good year for all of us." 

On if he feels 100% at this very moment:"Yes, sir, I do [feel 100%]. And by 100% … I mean, my knee felt good [last year], my body felt good, but I didn't have the offseason that I needed to be me. So, I didn't have all my speed there and stuff like that. But now it's a little different – yes." 

On handling the business side now that he's in a contract year:"It's been a blessing, because for me to even be in a situation in the NFL … A lot of people would dream of being in the NFL, and for me to even be talking about a contract – another contract – is a blessing. With the whole running back thing, each organization knows who they have – each organization knows who they have as a whole team – so each organization stands alone. Guys like Saquon [Barkley] and those guys, [they're] amazing guys, and only that organization knows what to do with that situation. So, whatever the next organization wants to do with the running back they have … If they feel special about him, then they'll pay him. You can't say that … Christian McCaffrey makes a lot of money. So, I think it's all about what the organization wants to do. And as far as me, I love it here, and I always want … I want to finish my career here. I want to be … Number one, I'm a loyal man, so I only want one team. Hopefully that happens, but you never know what God has planned. So, we're just going to keep going [and] keep playing – playing good football – that's it." 

On if he and his agent have had productive conversations with general manager Eric DeCosta about the possibility of being here beyond this year: "Yes. The conversations … Mr. Eric [DeCosta] is ... He's a great … He's the best GM [general manager] – the best GM in the game – so he'll get it worked out. Whatever happens, happens. He's going to get it worked out. We have good conversations, and I have much respect for Mr. Eric and Mr. [John] Harbaugh – Coach Harbaugh – everyone. Mr. [owner] Steve [Bisciotti], so it is what it is. When the time [comes], I'm going to go out there and play and do [well]. Hopefully, I'm playing for the Ravens for the rest of my life, for my football career." 

On if he shielded himself from the negative reactions to his absence and how he takes it in when people are critical of his stance:"A lot of people don't really know what it takes to be in a position as I am in [for] what it takes to just go out on the field. It could be pretty dangerous. With that being said, a lot of people didn't like what was happening. No one even knows the truth of what was happening. So, I see that … I see it as a positive thing because God chose me to be the [person] to throw all that stuff at me, the dirt on my name and stuff like that. I just see a little bit of stuff, like, 'Oh, what is he doing? What is he doing?' this and that. But, at the end of the day, I do think I'm pretty good at football. The numbers will say that. So, I'm positive about it always because at the end of the day, the people that really love me [and] who really help me, that's the only thing that matters. And the people who genuinely care for me, I care for them back. Even if a person is rude to me or anything like that, I will just pray for them. I will pray for those people that were talking negatively about me, because that's not going to bring me down. I've been through too much to care about what someone – who I probably don't know – says about me. To those people that say great things about me, I'll do ... I'll literally do anything for the good people – I don't know who's all good here right now – but if you need any help from me, I would help you. That's where I stand with it. I will always help anyone. If you ever needed help, I would make sure to help you, unless you're just straight out rude to me. Then, I can't help you. Sorry. You have to [do it] on your own. Nine times out of 10, I'm going to help you. So, shame on those people who talked [negatively] about me because I do feel like I'm a great guy, and I would do a lot for people that need help." 

On if he feels like he has anything to prove:"Always, man. I do think that [if I'm] healthy, I can be one of the top [running] backs in the league. That flashes sometimes, but I just have to prove it, and I am going to prove it one day. One day, it will happen." 

On his thoughts on the running backs being more of a receiving threat in offensive Todd Monken's new offense than in years past: "I mean you see. You see it. I don't even have to say it. You can see it. You will see it. You know? You will see it."  

On if his approach on the contract situation will be to just ignore it like QB Lamar Jackson did last season:"We'll see. Like I said, each person stands alone in that type of situation. If that worked for him, that works for him. We'll see. We'll just see what God has planned for what's happening. I just hope I'm a Raven for life. That's all I'm saying." 

On if going back to FedEx Field stirred up any emotions for you from when you were injured there: "Yes, man. That was a great thing for me to go back. [It was great] just to feel the energy, just to feel and see everything again, because that was a hard time for me, but it was also a blessing in disguise. It made me a stronger man. It made my faith stronger. It made me a better person. So, it sucked at the moment, but now that I look back, and when I went back there, it was all smiles because I made it through that. That was a hard time, and I'm still getting better from it. It's a blessing."

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