Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton
A lot has been talked about with P Sam Koch setting the all-time record for games played by a Raven on Sunday. When you think of Sam, what kind of comes to mind in your dealings with him? (Jamison Hensley) "Good to see you. With Sam [Koch], what comes to mind is, I think of a guy who's always trying to get better. No matter what, this guy is never satisfied about what he's done in practice, because there's always some little things that he wants to work on. Even when he has a great day in practice, he'll tell you, 'Nope, it wasn't good enough.' So, I just love the way he's worked, and that's really one of the reasons why he's been able to have the success that he's had. He's arguably, probably, the best punter in this league. What he's done for the game, and how he's changed the game, with his different arsenal of punts, it's been outstanding. And that's another reason why he's able to do what he's done for so long and do it at such a high level."
Along those lines, it's not just his punting that's been that remarkable; it's the fact that he's 7-of-7 passing, former special teams coordinator/associate head coach Jerry Rosburg called him the best holder he's seen. Have you ever come across someone who is that kind of complete player on special teams? It seems to be rather unique. (Pete Gilbert) "A guy at his position, as a punter, I probably haven't seen a guy as good. You're exactly right; he can do it all. He can throw. He is the best holder in the National Football League. He's probably the best holder ever. This guy, he can do it all. He's a great, great athlete. He loves to work, and he loves to get better. You can go on and on about Sam [Koch] and the great things he does, because he's a true competitor, he loves to compete, and he just wants to be the best. And I know Sam; he won't sell himself, but his work honestly speaks for itself. What he's done in this league has just really been outstanding."
Switching gears here a little bit; how big of an impact is losing ILB Otaro Alaka for your special teams unit? Who can fill the void there with him out? (Todd Karpovich) "Otaro [Alaka] was playing his butt off for us. He's a young guy; he was given an opportunity. We saw him out there; he made a tackle before he went down. Obviously, we're going to have some guys that are going to have to step up and continue to play at a high level in order for us to continue to be successful on special teams. But losing him, it's unfortunate; it's part of the game. Obviously, we wish him well, and I know he's going to come back stronger than ever."
Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale
How do you see us matching up against Eagles T Lane Johnson and C Jason Kelce? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I think that that whole offense starts with Jason Kelce. He is the Tom Brady [or] Peyton Manning, if you will, of centers in this league. I think he's playing at a very high level. Just like the city of Philly, I think he's a blue-collar guy. But the thing that stands out is just how smart he is and getting him in the right protections, because he handles that show. He studies defenses just like we study offenses from a coach's perspective. It's really hard to get them in the right protections when you're running different kinds of pressures and things like that, because he's so good at doing it. Lane [Johnson] is battling an ankle injury; we don't know if he's going to go or not, yet. But he is a top tackle in the league as well, too, in the NFC. So, it's always fun going against those two, especially Kelce, because of who he is and what a great player that he is. He is a perennial Pro Bowler; I know he'd get my vote if I was in the NFC and I could actually vote for him."
It's been a little over a year since you all signed ILB L.J. Fort. He was obviously a guy that had bounced around a lot from several teams. Did you know anything about him prior, I guess, with watching him on film? And what do you think has really worked that he's been able to make an impact on this defense? (Daniel Oyefusi) "L.J. [Fort] has done a great job as far as coming in here and learning the system. I think it's an easy system to learn [with] the way it gets taught. But I knew a lot about L.J., because he was one of those guys that bounced around as a special teams player primarily, early. He's fit into a role here on our defense. I think early on, it really helped Patrick [Queen] out there, because he's seeing things; the game is slower to him than what it is for a true rookie. So, he's been doing really well, and he's been productive for us."
It's got to be satisfying for you to see ILB Patrick Queen just two games after having a tough outing rebound to be named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. What do you attribute that to? (Kirk McEwen) "I think it's the same thing, and I'm smiling here, because everybody keeps bringing up the Kansas City game. Once again, it's the same thing I told [ESPN reporter] Jamison [Hensley] last week; he just finished his preseason, if you will, in a regular year. He's grown by leaps and bounds. I think we're just scratching the surface of what kind of linebacker … He's still learning, as all the rookies are. I think he's just scratching the surface of what he can be in this defense. I was really happy for him. I told him we'll see what he does this week. But the thing about that – the AFC [Defensive] Player of the Week – I think that's great, but I think we probably took second and third place of the voting with Marlon [Humphrey] and Marcus Peters, as well, in the voting for that. So, hats off to him. He did a great job. He's playing faster each week. He's starting to see schemes slow down. The game is slowing down for him. I was really happy for him."
How would you describe how impressed you've been with CB Marlon Humphrey's start to this year? (Garrett Downing) "I think he just picked up where he left off last year. He was a dominate Pro Bowl, All-Pro corner last year – both he and Marcus [Peters]. The thing that he's doing now is he's starting to communicate even more than what he has in the past, and it's great to see. I've just been impressed with how he's attacking the football; whether the receiver caught it, because we were in tight man coverage and he didn't have a chance to see it, or whether we're in zone coverage and he's attacking a ball if they're throwing it his way, which a lot of times they're not."
You had five defensive backs get sacks last week. Is that a high risk, high reward situation? Or do you have it schemed-up where you're kind of covered in the back end when you bring those guys out of the secondary? (Todd Karpovich) "The thing of it is, people like to say, 'High risk, high reward,' but yet we're No. 1 in scoring defense. So, I don't think that there's as much high risk as what people think, because you're pressuring backers. I've told you guys this before; if you're coming off that bus and you're a nose or you're a corner, be ready to be a free runner to the quarterback, because we want to hit the quarterback and I think all 11 guys are all eligible to go do that. We showed that last week. It's what the protections give you, the looks give you, the formations give you, all different things go into that. [Outside linebackers coach] Drew Wilkins and I, we have a late night on Monday where we're studying protections [and] we have a lot of fun doing it. We try to find the rule breakers, because ever since I've been to school, you can ask my mom and dad – well, you can ask my mom – I've always been good at breaking rules."
It was a year ago today that the Ravens traded for CB Marcus Peters. Do you remember, even leading up to the point of when you actually finally got him, did you think you had a chance of getting him? What was your reaction through the whole process of when you thought you were maybe able to acquire him? (Jamison Hensley) "I knew that there was a discussion, but I found out about that discussion right before we got him. I think that anytime you talk about adding a player of that caliber – [he has]  interceptions now, over his career – you're fired up. I think the only one who was happier was [pass defense coordinator] Chris Hewitt and [defensive backs coach] Jesse Minter, the secondary coaches. It was one of those things that you don't know a guy until he gets here, and every day I'm happier, because I got to know the guy. I'm getting to know the guy and what a great person he is, what a great player he is. He wants to do all the right things, and he wants to be the leader on this defense, and he is."
Just how happy are you with the way the defense is playing right now? When you come off a performance like you did against the Bengals, what do you say to the guys about how they can get even better from here? (Ryan Mink) "I think that's the best time to be a coach, is after they come off a performance like that, because they see what it feels like to execute and communicate and be all on the same page for, basically, about every play. We knew we had it rolling. We had to re-emphasize some things at halftime. Coming back out for the third quarter, like we started that game, I think it was nine series without a score; we call that a 'kill.' If it's three series without a score, we call that a 'kill.' We know analytically that you really improve your chances every time you have one of those in the game. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun to grade. It was a lot of fun to watch. But that's over, and we've got all eyes focused on Philly, because we have another tough offense to go against. They've got two really good running backs. We've talked about their offensive line already. They have a really good tight end who's been a good tight end for years there. They've got some receivers coming back. You know with the injuries that they have fought through and they're still fighting through … It's like with those guys coming back, you're facing a volcano that's getting ready to erupt. We just have to hope and make sure that it doesn't happen on Sunday, because they're just getting all of their people back. So, it's going to be a tough challenge. All eyes are headed towards Philly [and] have been towards Philly."
Would you be able to share your reaction and feelings when you see the Bengals go out to kick a field goal with 37 seconds left in a 27-0 game? (Jamison Hensley) "Why are you doing that to me? You know what it was. (laughter) He knew what it was, because it was awful quiet when I yelled it across the field. So, there's some people that take that as a victory. We'll see. We've got plenty to talk about the next time we play them."
Just a quick technical question. When you guys do the blitzes, it's six guys up at the line of scrimmage and you have someone like DE Calais Campbell, or DE Derek Wolfe, engage a guard or a center and then drop into that shallow zone. Is there a full term for that? Can you just kind of walk me through what that does for your defense? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think that it just shows how unselfish they are. Getting back to the high risk, high reward part of it is, some of those sacks just came on four-man rushes, and I'm not talking about the standard four-man rush. [Pernell] McPhee, to me, played like a Pro Bowler on Sunday against Cincinnati. But as the rest of them are, and I complimented them today, it's because of how selfless they all are. You've got a guy like Matt Judon who is … We know he has the franchise tag. He was genuinely, really happy for his players, for his teammates that got the seven sacks. He plays an important role on that, because just like Washington we had … Getting back to studying the protections, we had free runners in Washington, and he happened to have success from that. This game, we had Calais [Campbell] as a free rusher. It's how you set up the protections with the different looks that we give that gives each one of those guys a chance. It's just everybody doing their job. I don't want to get into it any further than that, because I'm sure [Philadelphia Eagles head coach] Doug Pederson is interested in the answer to that question, too." (Reporter: "But do you have a name for it? It's not a 'Coffeehouse Blitz?' I think that's what some of the Bengals were calling it.") "Coffeehouse? That's a good name for it. It's just executing the defense and doing their job. It's the old offensive mentality, 'Block the little ones and turn the big ones loose.' It's just doing that in reverse; they're thinking the big ones are going to come and surprise – they dropped out. That's how we got the pick against Cleveland; Calais dropped back in coverage."
With no fans in the stands or very limited fans in the stands, how much of an effect are the quarterbacks going to the hard count having on defenses this year, or even the threat of the hard count, because maybe they're a step lower than usual? And related to that, everyone hears it when they play Pee Wee football, 'Just watch the ball. Don't go offsides, just watch the ball.' Why is it maybe not as easy as it sounds to not jump offsides with the hard count going? (Adam Kilgore) "Because when the stadium is quiet, the quarterbacks can change the flux of their voice. I think that we've done a nice job of not jumping. It's all relative; it is just, see the ball and when the ball moves, go. That's what you need to emphasize. But the quarterbacks, it's like all home games for them. Now, it's not going to be … I think there's, what is there going to be, 7,500 people here at this one? So, it builds back, and then it's us against the world mentality going in there to Philly, because they have very similar type of fans of what we have in Baltimore. It's a blue-collar city. I think that's why, going back to Jason Kelce, he's such a blue-collar guy; that's why I think he's a fan favorite. If there's only 7,500 of them, it's not like a full stadium before, but it's going to be something. Honestly, we're going to be happy to play in front of some fans, too, because I thought the Cincinnati game was the first time that we really, really got used to not playing in front of fans and having fun doing it. We miss our fans. We have the best fans in the league here in Baltimore. They're a part of the defense, as I've said many times the last two years. They're just as big of a part of the defense as the players that are playing in it. I can't wait until we can get rid of this terrible disease or virus, whatever you want to tag it, and get people back in the stands and start living life normal. But yet, we don't want to rush it. Because I know as soon as we get lax, and everybody else sees it just like I do, the numbers start raising back up again and we can't do that, either. So, as soon as we can be able to do that, that'll be awesome. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. We'll be able to know … It's 7,500 [fans], right? At least it'll be easier to pick out who throws the, what is it? The D batteries out of the stands, if that happens."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
How tough is the Eagles' defensive line with DT Fletcher Cox and DE Brandon Graham? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "When you talk about their defense, you really have to start with their defensive line – [Fletcher] Cox, [Brandon] Graham – but it doesn't stop there. They've got really good depth. They role guys through, they keep people fresh, [and] they play a unique style. So, they're extremely productive, not just on sacks, but on quarterback hurries. And they really are aggressive at trying to disrupt the running game with how they play up the field. It's a very unique style, and our guys are hard at work. But they're outstanding players, and they have a really good scheme."
RB Mark Ingram II said something interesting when we talked to him yesterday. He said, "The 2020 Ravens are still looking for their identity," and kind of specifically on offense. Do you agree with that statement, and do you find that valuable? Is an identity something that you as a coaching staff and as an offensive staff look for? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, I think we've got a good identity. We've got to just continue to fine-tune and take care of the details on certain things, but the identity is definitely something that we kind of hang our hat on, and I think it really becomes a function of overall efficiency and execution, which we're working hard at. As this year progresses and we keep working, I definitely think that identity can appear to change, at least."
You spoke about the identity. I think everyone assumed that when TE Hayden Hurst was traded in the offseason the passing game and the offense would evolve a little bit just because of how much you guys relied on tight ends last year. Is that something that's part of the equation here, as far as trying to shape that new identity in the passing game, because tight ends aren't being targeted quite as much across the board? (Luke Jones) "Yes, I think that's probably a factor. Again, we're working hard, and whether you're throwing to tight ends, receivers, backs, really, the focus is execution, and whatever pass route you might run, it's just being sharp, crisp. At times, we're doing a really nice job; we just have to work on our consistency. I really think everything in our offense is a work in progress. Guys are working hard, and we're really focused on one game at a time this year. And right now, it's the Philadelphia Eagles and all the unique challenges they present."
WR Devin Duvernay got loose on a 42-yard run on that reverse. It's probably something that you can't break out very often, but are you trying to scheme other ways to get him open and out in space due to that speed? (Kirk McEwen) "Yes, that's definitely one of the reasons he was drafted. And I think you'll see him continue to be a part of the offense in every role, really. Every position is a football player first. So, his responsibilities as a blocker, as a receiver, if you want to call them the 'gadget plays' or whatever; I definitely think those things will increase as his production does. So, he's doing a nice job, and he's definitely a guy who's really, really going to blossom into something special."
You will sometimes hear running backs talk about needing "X" number of carries to get into a rhythm. Is that something you think about at all as your continuing to balance this running back rotation? (Childs Walker) "Yes, I definitely think that's a consideration. It's definitely not the highest priority. The highest priority is to win the game, and in order to do that, we want to score points and limit turnovers and be efficient situationally. Making first downs is a big part of that, and that's something [where] the more efficient you are, the more opportunities you have to run plays, essentially; and then, now we get a chance to get more into a rhythm. So, that's really important to remember when you're discussing those kinds of scenarios. And we have to continue to work as an entire offense to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and that rising tide will lift all ships."
I had a fan ask me this question, and I wasn't even sure of the answer to it: When QB Lamar Jackson is in shotgun and sometimes he turns to hand it to the back, he turns the opposite way that the back goes. I didn't know if that was just a miscommunication or that's something that, schematically, you guys feel gives you an advantage? (Ryan Mink) "That's a good question. We had one incident in the game the other day where a mistake was made. But a lot of times, we can put a tag on a run to where the back is going to enter frontside or backside. There are several different ball-handling tags we can add to basically say where the ball is going to get handed. We've done some of it this year, and we'll continue more as the year goes on to kind of mix that up. But that's something that will kind of switch up week to week – that kind of thing. But yes, that's a good observation."
Are you concerned at all, or do you think it's accurate that QB Lamar Jackson is too locked-in on WR Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and TE Mark Andrews? Looking back, you can certainly see times where other guys are open and he's throwing it in tighter windows for those guys. Or is he seeing what he should? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, there are plays that he [Lamar Jackson] executes perfectly, and there are some plays you'd like to have back. But essentially, we don't want to be so aggressive that we're taking … We want to throw the ball to the open guy, and that could be anybody. At times, we're really doing a good job of that, and at times we're maybe getting a little greedy. So, those are things that will continue to improve as we move forward. That's definitely kind of a staple concept, staple philosophy of ours; we want to really put pressure on the defense and throw it to the open guy as much as possible."
Earlier this week, Coach Harbaugh said that he thought WR Miles Boykin was playing pretty well, but the catches weren't there. So, how would you assess his first five weeks, and is there anything you can do to get him more involved in the offense as the year goes along? (Andrew Gillis) "Just like everybody else, the rising tide of execution and efficiency will raise all ships and create more opportunities for him. I think Miles [Boykin] is doing a good job in a lot of phases. He's been really unheralded as a blocker; I really feel like he's coming into his own as a dominant blocker. [He's] doing a lot of the 'dirty work' that nobody really notices. But also, yes, there's definitely room for him to be more involved, and we're certainly encouraged by how he's practicing every day. And again, we want to throw the ball to the open guy. As a receiver, you can't control what's thrown to you, but you can control getting open and running the right route and continuing to improve your mastery and skillset of route running and whatnot. So, he's working hard at that, and we have high expectations for him."
OLB Jaylon Ferguson
You seem so much more comfortable on the field this year than last. How would you describe the change from Year One to Year Two? (Kirk McEwen) "Actually, I'm just now settling into my Year Two. A lot of guys don't consider you Year Two yet until you get four games in. So, I'm actually settling into my Year Two, and it's actually helping me out with my comfort level, because I'm around the same guys, the same scheme. So, now it's all about playing faster [and] playing better. Days like today when I'm going out to practice, this is a day to play faster, play better, get better on the little things in Year Two."
When you talk about setting the edge at this level, what are the most important components that go into that? Is it more of a technique? Is it more just determination? What is the most important? (Childs Walker) "I think it's a little bit of everything you said – it's technique. At the same time, you've got to be strong, you've got to be determined to hold that edge. Because just like how I'm determined to hold that edge – and I've been working on my technique all week – that 'O-tackle' [offensive tackle], he's been working his tail off, too. He knows my game. I've been studying him; he's been studying me. He knows that he's got to seal me off on the edge, and I know I have to get that edge. So, at the end of the day, it's all about who wants it more. And I just feel most of the time I want it more, because I want to play on the ball. I want to rush on third down, and I've got to earn my right to rush."
Along those lines then, that game against San Francisco when you went against [49ers] TE George Kittle – who, as you know, is probably one of the NFL's best blocking tight ends – how much of a learning experience was that for you? (Jonas Shaffer) "It was a great learning experience. This year, versus last year, I see a big difference in my game. Because now, I'm more sticking to my role. I'm more confident in my role as the edge-setter than last year when I would get in front of them like, 'Oh, it's George Kittle.' I've got to get on my Ps and Qs. Now, he's just a nameless, faceless opponent. Much respect to his game, but when it comes down to setting the edge, I refuse to be denied."
As you're early into your second year here, when you think about the fact that P Sam Koch is about play his 230*th* game for the Ravens – setting the all-time mark. Can you even wrap your head around that number? Granted, he's a punter, it's not the same level of physicality you have to deal with. And yet, 230 is a lot. (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, 230 [games] is a lot. Sam [Koch] earned it. He's still here. Even being a deep snapper, being a punter, it doesn't matter. Everybody is trying to make it to the NFL. And to be able to stay here this long, it says something about his game. It says something about Sam that he's got the stuff to stick around."
As a pass rusher this season playing in games without crowds or with only a few people in the stands, what is the challenge like against quarterbacks? I know they use the hard count. Is it any more difficult this year than a typical season when the noise is there? (Adam Kilgore) "Actually, being with no fans in the stadium – being hard count – it wouldn't be the best suggestion, because it's quiet in there. I'm already on cues. I can already hear it. You can mostly hear everything up close, so the silent count doesn't really bother us. And plus, we go against our offense all week long, and our offense moves the ball. We've got snap count, we have silent count, and then we're facing Lamar [Jackson] all week. So, [we're] going into gameday prepared. I literally have seen the worst that can happen at practice this week. So anything that's coming to me; let's do it."
What is the biggest challenge facing the Eagles? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "You know I mess with the Ravens' Spanish fans. I like them. They've showed me love since I first got into the league. But the biggest challenge for them is to stop us. Stop us on offense, and then turn around and keep that same energy when our defense gets on the field."
I want to take advantage that we are here and it's Hispanic Heritage Month, and you have a lot of fans, and all of the fans all the time are saying to me, 'Please get Jaylon Ferguson to say hi to us.' So, can you say hi to all of the fans that love you in Latin America, and in Spain, too? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I can. Hey, thank you all! This is Jaylon Ferguson, 'Sack Daddy' with the 'Hollywood' [Marquise Brown] hood on, saying thank you to all my Hispanic fans. Happy Hispanic Heritage Month."
Just wondering your thoughts on [Philadelphia Eagles] RB Miles Sanders and the Eagles' running game? (Ryan Mink) "Respect to [Eagles] Miles Sanders and his game, because he gets downhill and he runs. He's not afraid of contact, and he's good at contact. He'll spin, he'll jab, or he might just run through you. Then I noticed the Number Two back right behind him – Boston Scott – straight out of 'LA Tech' [Louisiana Tech University]. That's my former dog [and] teammate, but not teammates – not on gameday. We've got to tackle him and hold all 11 hats to the ball every time. Hold our gap and be very disciplined in everything that we do, because he's a good back. He'll break on you at any second. Only way to beat that is with discipline and technique."
As you watch last week the five 'DBs' [defensive backs] getting sacks, you were very close – and in on a lot of the contact – not coming up with the stat though. What's that like in the locker room? Because you guys win [and] it's all cool. What's the playful, joking around about things like that then, and this week? (Pete Gilbert) "I'm about to lose my name. I'm about to give 'Sack Daddy' to 'Marlo' [Marlon Humphrey], because 'Marlo' is the sack man. He's sack man. Give it to the whole 'DB' [defensive back] room. They stepped up. They're helping us out. We don't have regular DBs that are scared to tackle us – who's going to go for the knees. We've got guys that are coming off the edge who are going to get sacks. Our 'DBs' are like smaller versions of 'D-linemen'. So, much respect to our 'DBs'. Shoutout 'Marlo' – 'Pro Bowl Marlo', 'Pro Bowl Jimmy' [Jimmy Smith]."
P Sam Koch
Thanks so much for doing this. As you're setting the record for most games played by a Raven on Sunday, what does that record signify to you? And you're very business-like, as we know, throughout games; will there be any kind of emotion knowing that this is an all-time franchise record? (Jamison Hensley) "Coming into the league, it was one of those things ... I wanted to come out here and prove my talents were worthwhile in this league and to take it game by game. And now I look back, and it's 15 years, two-hundred and I don't know what the exact number is, but two-hundred some games (230 on Sunday), and it's like, 'Man, that's been quite the ride.' But there's so much more to prove, so much more that I can do. This week, I'm kind of looking at, so many people talk about it, and it's definitely an enjoyable moment. I wouldn't have been able to do it without my wife and kids supporting me along the whole time, along with all the coaches that we've had and Morgan [Cox] and [Justin] Tucker; without those guys, I wouldn't be here today. But it's a very proud moment. [I'll] just go out there and focus on our game, and on to the next."
You talk about the feeling of hearing all this stuff and people talking about you. What's it like for a punter who doesn't usually get a lot of attention? First, the completed pass and being the most efficient passer of all time, and now this. What's it like for a guy playing a position that doesn't get a whole lot of love, generally speaking? (Ryan Mink) "I always look at it this way: if you're not being talked about, it's usually a good thing. However, in this case, completing seven-of-seven [passes], we've got some great receivers here, and they always have good hands, so all I have to do is lob it out there, and it's pretty easy for them to catch that. So, we put a lot of time into the practice and executing those things. I give more credit to those guys catching the ball, especially Chris Moore last year when we went to Atlanta. But it's one of those things that it is a little bit more than what I'm used to, but I just continue to go and do my job and do it to the best of my ability. And like I said, I feel like I have so much more to prove, and [I] just continue to work on that every day."
What has it been like to be part of all these different eras? When you came into the league, LB Ray Lewis and S Ed Reed were in their prime. You have the QB Joe Flacco era, and now QB Lamar Jackson. In general, how have you seen the league change? You kind of look at punting totals from several years back, and now you're not seeing that as much across the board, really. (Luke Jones) "Yes, speaking on the way the league changes; you think about the way the quarterback position has changed with Lamar [Jackson] and the type of different aspect that he brings to the game is pretty cool to see. I kind of look at that in a way [of] how we punt today. Punting today is totally different than what we did back in 2006. Back in 2008, I believe, we had Jeff Feagles [in the NFL], who was one of the guys that I looked up to as far as punting for the Giants, and the way he could control the ball. In his final year, I think he had averaged just over 40.0 [40.7 yards per punt]. It was like 40.1 [yards per punt] or something like that, and at that time, that was big. Ever since then, those nets just kept on raising, and I was trying to find ways to keep the ball away from returners – have them make decisions. And it kind of changed the game just the way the quarterback position is changing."
Congratulations. Do you think Coach Harbaugh should let you come in as a quarterback for a victory formation? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) (laughter) "Absolutely not. I think Lamar [Jackson] and 'RGIII' [Robert Griffin III] and Trace [McSorley], they do a great job at the victory formation, and they put in all the work throughout the game to get us there, and I believe they deserve that victory formation."
You don't like the attention; we know that. But one of your long-time teammates CB Jimmy Smith yesterday called you the embodiment of a Raven. Does that mean a lot for you to hear, especially from a guy like Jimmy who has been around for so long and been around so many great players here? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, absolutely. Me and Jimmy [Smith], we've been together now, I think this is his [tenth] year. And so, to speak on your question, when I came into this league … And it's the way my dad approached work every day; he never missed a day, [and] he never took a vacation day. I always feel like each and every day, there's something that I can prove. And my wife kind of instills that into me just by the way our house is so clean. It looks like it can be in a showroom every single day. It's one of those things that when I show up to this building, I typically always have my car washed; it's always the details in that. I make sure my lawn … As many people that are going to give me crap about this, when I leave for the day, I want to make sure that lawn is right, the stuff around the house is right. And then, when I get to practice and [I'm] at the facility, I make sure that everything that I do is for the right reasons; and that's to go out there and be the best that I can at this position, and to also have that sort of leadership, so people can look after [me] and go into the weight room, workout, [and] do everything that I can that can epitomize what a professional is. I think where I learned that from was watching Ray Lewis always calling out guys in the locker room saying, 'Hey, meeting time.' Or always holding people accountable. As well as those other figures; Ed Reed and 'J.O.' [Jonathan Ogden] and people like that. When I first got into the league, you kind of learn certain leadership qualities from these guys. And today, I still try to pass those along and make sure everybody's held accountable, and kind of just lead by actions."
You mentioned your father and him going to work every day. What exactly did he do for work? (Jamison Hensley) "My dad used to be a warehouse manager. He worked for Tenneco Automotive, which is an exhaust plant in Seward, Nebraska, and he worked there for many years."
After your college season, you weren't invited to the NFL Combine, and at that point, if you weren't invited, it was hard for kickers and specialists to get into the NFL. Was there a point after your college season where you thought you might not even get a shot at being in the NFL? (Jamison Hensley) "It was one of those things where going into my senior year, I was having fun in college, just going out there, hitting the ball as far as I could. And it probably wasn't until mid-way until I felt like, 'Well, maybe I do have a chance.' I didn't really know. And at the end of my last game, I had my current agent come up to me and start talking to me, and that was kind of the first time [I thought], 'Oh, maybe there is a more solid chance.' And he did all of his due diligence, and he worked hard to get me out there. And yes, I was not one of the ten guys picked to go to the [NFL] Combine that year, however, I was the first guy drafted in 2006. But it was one of those things that all the qualities that we learned from at Nebraska and to just continue to work harder for my parents, for my wife, as well as my agent just holding me accountable and trying to get me out into the public eye as far as going to one camp down in Florida, and went to Mobile, Alabama, to do a little networking. That was what kind of really led me to get a few workouts at Nebraska – one with the Ravens, and at that time it was [former special teams coordinator] Frank Gansz Jr. And I got to see him, as well as [special teams coach] Randy Brown was there with the Eagles [as their kicking coach] at the time. I got that chance to showcase my talents and got the opportunity in 2006."
Head coach John Harbaugh talked about how you've kind of reinvented the punting game, just with the different styles of punts. Can you talk about what that process was like for you, even reinventing your own game? Like you said, you were just trying to hit the ball as hard as you could when you were in college. Can you talk about that process? And also, how many punts do you have in your bag? (Ryan Mink) "Good question. It kind of all came about when you started getting returns … Well, we had Joshua Cribbs. You had Dante Hall in my early years. You always had good returners out there. Early in my career, it was like, 'Well, let's just hit a turnover.' Or, 'Let's hit a rugby and just let them catch it. Let's see what they can do.' It came to a point [when] Antonio Brown was at the height of his returning and it was like, 'How can we keep this ball away from him?' It was one of those things that just evolved, and [former specials teams coordinator] Jerry Rosburg, at that time, was out at practice and he goes, 'Why don't we try this?' So, we tried that, and it was very successful, obviously. We showcased it on a Sunday night against Antonio Brown. At that point, he didn't want anything to do with it. It was one of those things that we just kind of kept building on it and working on different punts, working on different angles and the way we approach it. It just kind of led to where we are today. We're still trying to improve in every way; trying to find new punts and new ways we can go about getting the returners to not be so comfortable back there. I credit a lot of that to just the ability for Jerry Rosburg and [special teams coach] Randy [Brown] and [special teams coordinator] Chris Horton, now, and Coach [John] Harbaugh to have the confidence in me to go out there and execute those."
What year was that WR Antonio Brown punt and do you remember what the kind of punt was? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, it was a low-line … First off, I believe it was – we were talking about this yesterday – I thought, for some reason, it was 2013, but [special teams coach] Randy [Brown] said it was 2014 on a Sunday night. It was a low-line rugby that I got on the ground and just let it roll. I believe it rolled inside the 20 somewhere. Then we hit another one of those late in the game that did the same thing, and we were able to tackle Antonio Brown."
When you celebrate stuff like this, people always want to know what's next. Do you go year to year at this point of your career in how long you want to continue to punt? How do you handle that – in terms of thinking about retirement and all that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "You kind of said it. I look at it as just going out there, doing the best that I can at the practice today. Each and every rep is a way for me to go out there and prove my worth, whether it be in practice or in a game. And [former Ravens K] Matt Stover told me a long time [ago], 'Perception is key.' So, I kind of take that to heart, where every single rep that I have during practice, I know somebody's watching, and more importantly, I know personally, I'm watching. And so, if it's not to my standards, I'm going to do everything I can to make it right and to get better from there. And with that kind of thing that Stover had mentioned early on in my career, I just kind of hold that and go out and approach each day, to make the best of it, to do my job, help out [Justin] Tucker in any way, whether it is to keep him from talking so much or (laughter) … Usually, Morgan [Cox] keeps us grounded. But keeping our games at the top of our abilities, hold each other accountable, and to go out there and be the best trio that's ever played this game. We take great pride in that, as well as the whole special teams here at the Ravens, and I look forward to many years and many more punts."