Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. It's game time, really. Here we are, it's a week and a day [away] from the first game and we're excited. The players were in this morning, and we did a couple of things as far as taking care of ourselves physically. We did go through some player cuts and that operation today. We'll be working on the practice squad for the next 24 hours. We'll have that group together by noon tomorrow, and then we'll be getting into game week. So, that's where we're at right now. What questions do you have?"
Have you made a final decision on going with the three quarterbacks? I know that's been talked about and you were talking about it the other day, but do you feel you're going to be going with three quarterbacks for the initial 53-man roster? (Jamison Hensley) "It looks like that right now. We'll have to see, but it looks like that right now."
We saw a name on the tryout list that we haven't seen in a while, TE Crockett Gillmore. That's something that was kind of unexpected. Can you let us know, exactly, is he trying out as tight end? I know he was thinking about offensive line at one point. Anything, any information you can give us on that? (Jamison Hensley) "I'm really not at liberty to talk about that. We're not … Tryouts are not something that we're commenting on right now, so I'm not. I guess I can confirm [that] he is coming in, but the details of it, I will probably reserve until the workout is finished."
With the condensed training camp and no preseason games, are there areas of the roster you're trying to stack, position-wise, more than other positions? Or are you just keeping the best 53? Does it just come down to that? (Todd Karpovich) "It's both, to a degree. You want to keep the best 53, no question about that, but you still have to have enough numbers at each position. So, you have to balance those two things out, make sure you have what you need and then try to balance out with the best players as possible. Sometimes you might see it skewed a little bit from normal numbers toward one position or another, and that would be, to your point, to keep the best possible 53."
Is there a possibility QB Tyler Huntley comes back on the practice squad? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I don't think we've announced our cuts right now. So, [I'm] just not going to comment on that until four o'clock when the cuts are in. Those are, to some degree, speculation. We haven't released that yet."
I know you've talked a little bit about practice squad formation this year and how it's tough to evaluate other players. How do you expect your team will try and evaluate other players around the league without a preseason, without some of the things you usually have? (Aaron Kasinitz) "It's just very challenging. You're exactly right, how do you do it? What do you do, read clips? It's like … What did [ESPN reporter] Jamison [Hensley] say about some player? Or the ESPN reporter in any city, what did they say? Is that really going to be enough to determine whether a player could be on your 53 [-man roster]? That's really a hard one to do. I think you have to go by what you had on guys in college, or if they have tape from previous years. The veterans are a little bit different. The veterans are guys you do have a chance to evaluate, but the rookies, you just have to go with your draft grades on those guys and go from there. You really have no new information that you could really every count on based on what you read. You have to go by what you had coming out of the draft."
In terms of the protocol, where you may not get a player in and then out to the practice field until late in the week, and that would almost rule him out of Week One … Does that factor in, at all, for you guys when you decide? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It factors in for everybody, I think. How much time … I think it's only, maybe, two days if they've already been in the protocols already, and then it's the full time if they're coming off the streets. Most of these guys, I assume, would be in camps and they wouldn't be missing any days of testing if you were to claim them. But I do think claiming is going to be different this year. We'll have to see. We're going to find out, but I really wouldn't expect there to be a lot of claiming going on. It would have to be based off draft grades, pretty much, for the rookies."
After this experience, can you do another training camp without preseason games? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Sure, you can do anything that they require you to do. If we didn't have preseason games in the future, this is how we would do it; it would be something like this, I'm sure. And if that's the way the NFL and the NFLPA [National Football League Players Association] decides to go down the road, then we'll just deal with it and handle it. I would expect us to have preseason games in the future. How many of them they decide to have or negotiate is really up to them, and we'd be fine with whatever. But we did miss the preseason games – I would say. It would have been helpful to see other players on tape around the league, and it would have been helpful to evaluate our own guys. It was tough for these guys to really establish themselves without having some game-tape and game opportunities to play. So, hopefully in the future we'll have – to some degree – preseason games."
In the course of a day in informing players they're cut, is the tone different this year because you have 16 slots, and because practice squad guys could become regular Sunday roster guys more easily? Does your tone to them and your encouragement to them feel different this year? (Bo Smolka) "Yes, you try to be encouraging, because all these guys are on the brink of making the National Football League. There's really nobody that comes to camp that can't compete at this level; they're all right there. But it is different this year in that sense, because you have guys who can come up and play; they can come up and play Sunday against the Browns from the practice squad. Or with the possibility of having potential situations where you might need to bring up 10 players or something like that; that's something that you talk to those guys about. So, we talk to them about being ready if they make it to the practice squad – being ready to actually – not just work on developing their game and improving and earning a spot on the roster, but actually being prepared to play the game that week. That's definitely something that they're going to have to think about."
The wording is a little confusing on the rule. When you bring up a 54th or a 55th player from the practice squad – or if you bring one up – does one of them have to be an offensive lineman? Or if you already have a certain number on the roster, does it not have to be? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Here's my understanding of it – and I could be proven wrong on this, but this is the way I understand it: If you bring 48 players – if you made 48 active – as opposed to 47 – it went up from 46, so you have 47 now; you can go 48, [but] it has to be an eighth offensive lineman. So, I'm pretty sure everybody will do that. Why wouldn't you bring up your eighth offensive linemen if it has to be one? Then the next two spots are for practice squad guys – if necessary. You could bring up to two practice squad players up and activate them in the 48. So, you still have to have – if you have 48 – eight offensive linemen, but you can use two of those other spots – the way I understand it – for some other positions that you might need based on the circumstances. They would not revert to waivers until after they were brought up for three weeks, and for each game they're brought up, they'd be paid the full-contract salary of a 53-man roster player."
After you do the 53-man roster and do the practice squad, do you have candidates in mind of players who could be on Injured Reserve – kind of that short-term Injured Reserve – which could make it even more roster fluid at this point? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, those are definitely conversations that we'll have to have after tomorrow just to see if there's something we want to do along those lines. I'm sure every team will be looking at that based on their injuries. I will say, we're healthy; we're pretty darn healthy. We did a really good job, [and] our players did a great job in training camp – 'knock on wood.' (knocks) I don't really believe in that, but I thought it was kind of funny. (laughter) But we've done well with that, and hopefully we'll be able to continue to do well. But I was pleased with our health situation coming out of training camp."
There's a lot of speculation as far as interest in DE Jadeveon Clowney. Do the Ravens have a level of interest, and is that a move that could possibly happen? (Jamison Hensley) "Again, I'm not going to comment on any impending, possible moves or anything like that. I think anybody would have an interest in a player of that caliber, certainly – anybody across the league would. He [Jadeveon Clowney] is a great player, [and] he's – from all accounts – a good, hard-working guy. So, it just depends on peoples' situations – roster situations and cap situations – to determine all those kinds of things. So, I wouldn't comment on our specific interest, really, on any player in that sense."