OLB DAELIN HAYES
You're known for your versatility – rushing the passer, dropping back, setting the edge against the run. Is there one aspect of what you do that you enjoy doing the most? (Jamison Hensley) "I enjoy rushing the passer. I feel like there's no quicker way to change the outcome of a game than sacking the quarterback. So, probably rushing the passer is my favorite part."
You talked a lot after you were drafted about how you grew up really admiring the Ravens and were a fan. Take us through your emotions walking into that building, seeing the photos and just knowing that it sunk in that you were a Baltimore Raven. (Luke Jones) "Yes, it's just rich in tradition. You just get this … I got goosebumps when I first came into the building. You talk about a long line of great players that came before you. So, the standard was the standard, and you feel that when you walk in this building. It's just a feeling of excellence, and it just fired me up, and I was excited to get to work and anxious to get on the field today. So, yes, it was great feeling."
I know it's just Day One of rookie minicamp, but you touched on it – what was it like to get on the field? I'm sure it's been a while, in terms of a practice-type setting. What do you hope to get out of this week, in particular? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Just to get better each and every day. Taking small steps, whether it's learning the defense, closing the fronts, assignment – getting our assignments down – playing with technique. Obviously, we don't have on full pads right now, so everything is just about playing fast and playing with extreme attention to detail to your technique. So, just getting better with that, getting more comfortable in the system and just getting better each day. Just being a sponge, absorbing as much knowledge as possible, coming to work every day with that humble-worker mentality – blue-collar mentality – and like I said, just getting better."
Have you talked to any former or current NFL players – I know a lot of Notre Dame players have come into the NFL – for advice about how to make the transition to this? And secondly, how much does this defense seem the same or different than what you were in at Notre Dame, and how do you see yourself fitting in? (Cliff Brown) "At Notre Dame, we've had a lot of guys, especially in my class last year, because I redshirted when I got hurt. I had a lot of guys who entered into the league last year, so I had a lot of guys at my disposal to just kind of ask what was their rookie year like, what to expect. And the biggest thing is just being a sponge. Obviously, being a sponge, absorb as much knowledge as possible, do your best not to make the same mistakes twice, learn from your mistakes and just continue to get better day-by-day.
"[The defense] It's pretty different. I'm playing SAM in our Raven front and then "D-end" [defensive end] in our sub-package, so it's a little bit different. There are some nuances that are different, but football is football. It's just about, once you get your assignment down, obviously, getting comfortable in the nuances of a new defense, just relying on your technique and getting better each and every day, and then just playing ball."
Have you had a chance to talk to run game coordinator/defensive line Anthony Weaver? I know you're both Notre Dame guys. Has he talked to you about being a Raven and what it is to be a Raven? (Kevin Richardson) "I have not spoken to [run game coordinator/defensive line] Coach [Anthony] Weaver yet, but I definitely plan to by the end of the week – by the time rookie minicamp ends. The Notre Dame connection, so I've definitely got to go sit down and talk with him, but most of my time has just been spent with [outside linebackers coach] Coach [Drew] Wilkins and [coaching fellow] Coach [Matt] Robinson, just learning the defense, trying to get better and be as prepared as possible when I get on the field."
What has it been like for you since the Draft and coming up to this point, to finally put the pads on, get on the field and finally be a Raven? (Gustavo Salazar) "After the Draft, I think I had a day, really, and then we started meeting to get our install. Like I said, it's a blue-collar mentality. It's all about working and being as prepared as possible. So, I think I had one day to really just kind of sit and enjoy the feeling of getting drafted, but after that, it was time to get ready to play ball. So, it's just really been working, install stuff, studying, and obviously, working out, staying in shape, and then just coming here and getting ready to play."
Do you think you have to put on any extra muscle or weight coming into this season, or do you feel pretty good with where you are? (Todd Karpovich) "I feel pretty good with where I'm at. (laughter) I'm about 255 [pounds], so it's probably about where I played at this past [year] – my senior year. So, I feel pretty good about my strength, my weight. Yes, I feel pretty good about it."
One thing the Ravens like their EDGE guys to do is drop into coverage a good bit, and OLB Matthew Judon was someone that they had who did that a lot, and he moved on. Where do you feel you are, as far as your pass coverage? I know you did it a good bit at Notre Dame last year. And do you feel that could be a path for you to seeing the field a little bit more, sooner than later? (Luke Jones) "Yes, I feel like it's something I feel pretty comfortable in. Obviously, it's just about learning the nuances of the defense and just getting familiar with these different sets and different route combinations. At Notre Dame, I was dropping, but we didn't really get into the … A lot of times, I was always aligned to the boundary, so not a lot of route combinations came at me. There were times where I could be on the field, and there's all types of things that I could be adjusting to. So, it's a little bit … It's different, but that's what practice is for, that's what this time is for. So, I'm excited, I'm embracing the challenge, and [I'm] excited to see how that manifests itself in the fall."
WR TYLAN WALLACE
Welcome to Baltimore. I hope you had a good first practice out there. Just wondering, have you been able to have any contact with QB Lamar Jackson? Has he reached out to you at all? What do you feel … In going from college to the NFL game, what do you think is the biggest challenge to get acclimated to this level? (Jamison Hensley) "I haven't met Lamar [Jackson] yet – I'm looking forward to that, for sure. I think the biggest thing, at least for me, is the different way they run offense in the NFL. Obviously, I come from Oklahoma State. We were a big tempo team, one word and go. So, it's definitely different from getting in a huddle, hearing the play called and getting out there. I'm definitely excited to get in here and learn. The first day wasn't too bad. It went pretty good, but I definitely have a lot of learning to do."
Welcome to Baltimore. I know at Oklahoma State you were primarily a right-sided receiver. Is that any kind of challenge with transitioning to the NFL, especially the Ravens where they ask receivers to line up anywhere and everywhere? (Jonas Shaffer) "It's a little bit of a challenge, for sure. Obviously [for] me, I didn't play too much on the left side as well either. So, moving from outside receiver to inside receiver is a little bit of a challenge, but nothing I don't think I can handle. So, I just have a lot of work to do."
Just wondering, how do you go about learning the Ravens scheme and playbook? How have you been doing that so far? (Ryan Mink) "It's been pretty good so far. But for me, the hard part is knowing when to actually put the book down. I think yesterday, I was trying to get in there. Obviously, I was really nervous, and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing when I got out there. So, I'm trying my best to get into the playbook and learn it as best I can. I think the hard part for me is knowing when to put it down, for sure."
Can you just talk about getting to know WR Rashod Bateman a little bit? Obviously, you guys are coming in and you're going to be probably spending a lot of time together. Can you just talk about getting to know each other and that dynamic? (Garrett Downing) "Just over the past couple of days talking to him, [he's] a real good guy. I think we're obviously building that bond a little closer every day. [He's] a real good guy, and I'm really looking forward to spending more time with him and getting to know him more."
What is it like being reunited with RB Justice Hill? You guys put up some big numbers a few years back for Oklahoma State. I guess, what has he told you about the Ravens that's really resonated with you? (Luke Jones) "It's a blessing to be back with a former teammate, especially a guy like Justice [Hill]. [He's] a real great guy and a good friend as well. But for me, obviously, he's said nothing but great things – great organization and everything. I actually talked to him yesterday, I believe, asking him about how his rookie minicamp went. So, just getting a few tips from him and knowing what to expect and everything like that. So, I'm looking forward to linking back up with him."
We talked to OLB Daelin Hayes and he was saying about he got goosebumps when he walked into the building. What was your emotion like? Not just as you reported here, but they sent out a picture of you signing your contract earlier. What kind of was going through your head as you took these two important steps? (Jeff Zrebiec) "So much was going through my mind. You come back and you have to sometimes take a step back and look at where you're at. This is what I've been working for, really, my whole life. It's really unreal to really even be in the position I'm in now. So, it's really hard to explain, but it's just something I've been looking forward to my whole life. I can't believe that I'm actually here now."
Welcome to Baltimore, Tylan. I wanted to ask you, in college, you were the best guy at making contested catches and played much bigger than your size. How confident are you that that will translate to the NFL level? And if so, why? (Cliff Brown) "Definitely. I have all the most confidence that I can definitely translate that to this next level. I think, like I was telling you, the biggest thing for me is I have to know where I'm going and what I'm doing first before I can worry about all of that. So, that's the biggest challenge for me right now. As long as I can get that down, then everything else will take care of itself."
What are you hoping to show the coaches that they haven't seen yet in the scouting or when they talked to you? What's the impression that you're trying to leave this weekend with the coaches? (Gustavo Salazar) "The biggest thing for me, I think I want to show them that they can trust me, obviously. [I want them to] know that I'm going to go out there and give it my all. I'm going to obviously do what I'm supposed to do on the field, as well as off the field. So, as long as I can build that trust between my teammates and my coaches, then I think that's all I need to do."
You may have gotten this after you were drafted, but there's been a couple people compare you to WR Steve Smith Sr., who obviously had a run with the Ravens and is a very popular guy in that building. Have you ever met WR Steve Smith Sr.? What do you make of the comparisons? Is he somebody you'd like to talk to in the future, just to talk about his experiences? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I've actually never met Steve [Smith Sr.]. It means the most to me to be compared to a receiver like that with that caliber. I'd love to meet him and obviously get to know him a little bit, talk some ball and everything like that. Like I was saying, for me, I think I need to take a few more steps before I can really appreciate that comparison."
Obviously, a lot of buzz around in Baltimore when the Ravens hired Keith Williams as the pass game specialist. Have you gotten the chance to meet with him? Do you have a sense for how he just kind of approaches how receivers and everyone on the team wants to run routes? (Jonas Shaffer) "Definitely. For me, talking with [pass game specialist] Coach [Keith] Williams, he has that attitude that I really appreciate about him. He expects the most from everybody – all the receivers. Going out there, he doesn't expect anything less from you. Even just being out there for him today, you can tell his coaching style. I really appreciate it, and I'm really looking forward to getting coached by him even more."
I know you said you have yet to meet QB Lamar Jackson, but have you thought about what it's going to be like to play with him? Is that a player that you've seen a lot? Have you watched him a lot being in college and watching the NFL? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes. Like I was saying, it's going to be a great experience to play with him. Obviously, watching the NFL … You can't not watch the NFL and not really know who he is at this point. So, just watching him and appreciating the way he plays the game, I'm just looking forward to getting to know him a little better and, obviously, building that chemistry."
G BEN CLEVELAND
I think you probably get a sense that people are very intrigued about you and squirrels at this point. How would you describe … I thought I heard you describe it as a squirrel diet. How would you describe your squirrel diet? How does that really actually help you? (laughter) (Jamison Hensley) "It's one of those things … I don't know if it was a specific diet. It's more so one of those things where you eat what you've got in the freezer from the fall. I had a few squirrels freeze-dried in there. So, you get a little hungry, I don't have any deer meat left, fry up a squirrel or two, and you just go eat that."
I know it's early, just Day One of minicamp. There's a lot of talk about where you'll [be] starting and all that. What do you feel in your mind that you have to do to prove you're ready to come in and be that Day One, plug-in starting guard? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think that's way too far ahead into the future to look at. I'm really focused on today and getting the playbook down and kind of understanding how these new guys work being here in rookie camp. It's a bunch of new guys. We're all seeing this playbook for the first or second time. So, right now, really and truly just focused on getting in sync with these new guys and learning this playbook. You can't go play fast until you know what you're doing. I think that's definitely step one – is just making sure you get that playbook down-pat. That's really what I'm worried about right now. [I'm] not really thinking ahead to fall [training] camp and that starting job. Obviously, that's the goal for this year, but that can't happen until I get the playbook down and learn my assignments."
I'm not sure if you're a big WWE fan or not, but [pro wrestler] Braun Strowman tweeted, wondering if you and him were related in any way after he saw some video of you walking onto the field. Any comment on that? Any truth to that? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, I literally just saw it in the locker room after practice. I couldn't really think of anything to say back to that right now. It definitely was kind of cool, because I've followed him for a long time. He's on Instagram, he likes to hunt – big gun guy and things like that. Obviously, we look alike. I'm sure we have a lot of things in common, but yes, I was kind of shocked whenever I saw that. So, I haven't been able to come up with the right response for that one yet." (laughter)
I know we've all seen your physique and just how toned you are for a guy your size. Was there a point in your career in high school – maybe middle school – where you realized how important your diet was and just how significant that was in terms of a fuel source? (Jonas Shaffer) "Honestly, I don't think that was ever really a concern of mine until college. Heck, I can remember back in high school on Tuesday nights after practice, we'd have Little Caesars pizzas, and I'd take two or three pizzas home and I'd sit down and eat two whole pizzas before I went to bed. So, obviously, the dietician part was not there in high school. But I got around some people with a little bit better knowledge of nutrition and fueling my body whenever I got into college. I think, probably, sophomore year [or] something like that is when I really started to take that seriously and put away the fast food and put away the fried foods and things like that and just try to put better fuel in my body."
Two quick questions: I know you're a bench [press] guy and love to work out. What do you think about the Ravens' facility and their weight room? The other thing is – Coach John Harbaugh's brother-in-law is, as you probably know, [University of] Georgia's [head] basketball coach, Tom Crean. How much did he play in talking you up to Coach Harbaugh? (Kevin Richardson) "[The Ravens' weight room] It's everything, it's top of the line. Our facilities and things at Georgia, they were great. The strength staff was top-notch. But it just goes to show you this next level of the commitment and work effort that these guys really show in the weight room. I've seen a couple guys working out yesterday just through my walk around the building for the first time. That's awesome – I'm sure I'll definitely spend a lot of time in there. But no, truth be told, until you said that, I had no idea Coach [Tom] Crean was his [John Harbaugh's] brother-in-law. I don't know if he talked me up or what he did, but whatever was done worked."
How much are you looking forward to working with a guy like G Kevin Zeitler, who has been a really successful guard for a long time in the NFL? Have you had a chance to talk to any of the veteran offensive linemen through text or anything like that? (Luke Jones) "I haven't really talked to a lot through text, or anything like that. [Bradley] Bozeman reached out to me the night I got drafted – just kind of was setting himself up as a friendly face. [With] him playing in the SEC, we kind of had that common ground. But everything is kind of still separated here right now. So, it's hard to see these veteran guys face to face. But it's exciting to get to work beside people who have played at this level for so long, just because of the knowledge that they have of different techniques and different things to pick up on. There's so much that a young guy like me is going to be able to learn from them, regardless of how successful I might've been in college. The NFL is a completely different game, and it's something that they've seen, so it's something that I can learn from them on."
What does the term "Play Like a Raven" mean to you? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I think it means just go out and play physical. I think that's something they pride themselves on here, is playing physical downhill, being able to run the ball, give a relentless effort on every single play. Just giving everything that you've got for the team. I don't consider myself to be a selfish player. I do what I can for the team to the best of my ability. I think that's what it means to, 'Play Like a Raven,' is just to go out there and give everything you've got for the team."