Transcripts: Ravens Thursday Zoom Press Conferences


With cuts on Saturday, over the next few days, do you give guys on the proverbial bubble more reps in practice? Or [do] they have to make the best of what they get and flash, because other players also need the reps [since] it's been a short training camp? (Todd Karpovich) "It's just an ongoing process. We don't do that, there's no more reps built in for that. That's a good question. No, we just kind of [keep it] business as usual, and we'll decide when we have to decide on what route we'll go with guys."

What do you say to players who don't make it to the roster? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "That's the toughest thing. We do have the practice roster, which in many ways is like the roster this year. We talked about that last press conference. So, a lot of young guys, their goal is to make the practice squad. But we just talk about each individual player and their situation and circumstance, what they've done well, what our thinking was on it and what our plans are for them going forward, and [answer] any questions they might have. We try to help them out in any way we can, always, going forward. You build relationships with the guys. You spend so much time together that these are lasting relationships that you have. So, just talk to them as friends and based on the situation and where we're at right now and where they're at."

When do you feel like you have a good feel of what the character of your team is going to be in a season? Is it normally four weeks? And does that change with the abbreviated [preseason and] no preseason games? (Kirk McEwen) "We have great character. I don't know exactly, there's a lot of definitions to how you could ask the question, I guess, to what you're really asking." (Reporter: "When do you know what your team … The makeup, how you'd face adversity, all those things that go into intangibles?") "I feel like we have great character and toughness. I believe we'll handle adversity very well based on the men that we have, coaches and players. How you go about doing those things always remains to be seen. The story, as you know, always remains to be written. Hopefully, we can write our own story rather than have it written for us. And that's what we'll try to do this year."

You guys have a couple, as far as travel stuff, short trips – Washington D.C., Philadelphia. There's been a lot of talk of travel and the COVID-19 regulations. Have you guys thought about going in day of? Or is that not something that you think is a good idea? (Jeff Zrebiec) "That's not something that we think is a good idea."

Film in the preseason, how much does it really actually give you? When you don't have any preseason games to watch as you prepare for your first few opponents, how much do you actually get out of it? What do you actually see from it? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "You see a lot in preseason. You see the players playing. You see the structure of the defense. Especially with a new staff, we're going against a completely new staff here. So, we don't really know what they're going to play, how they've kind of interpreted their players into the scheme that we might think they're going to run. It's all a guessing game. Whereas the preseason, while they don't show you everything, they do show you structure that they're working with and you get to see the players practice to a degree, for sure. I think you miss a lot without seeing the preseason tape."

OK, so what do you do? Do you call anyone? Do you call anybody in Cleveland and say, 'Hey, what can you give me?' (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "I don't think anybody in Cleveland is going to be talking to the Ravens about what they're doing in practice. (laughing) So, no. We don't do that. (Reporter: "They have houses around their practice field. You could go sneak up in one of those houses.") "No, we would never do that. That's not how we work here, as you well know."

You talked about [how] the stadium yesterday was going to be more situational [and] operational. I know at the last stadium [practice], the scrimmage game, you had some concerns about execution. Do you feel the emphasis you wanted to make yesterday got there? How else can you sharpen execution without game situations? (Bo Smolka) "Execution is what you do in practice, definitely. We've had, what three days of practice since the stadium scrimmage? We had a lot of good things in the scrimmage, too. No question about it. So, it's just a work in progress, especially, as everybody knows, with the shortened training camp type of the season. It continues every single day. We'll work on it every single day, and it won't be a finished product come Cleveland [on] Sunday, either. It will be something we have to keep working on all the way through the season – it's just the way it works. That's the way football is. So, we'll keep doing that day-in and day-out every single day."

You were very honest in the spring in saying that the situation of having to work from home wasn't as bad as you expected. So, although this training camp isn't exactly as it's been in the past, was there anything that actually worked out really well? Anything that was better? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "I liked the ramp-up period a lot. We kind of did that two years ago on our own. We built in kind of a ramp-up period. So, that paired with the conditioning and bringing your guys along into the practices is a really good idea. I think the doctors and everybody involved say, 'We'll follow the science on that.' The science on that is indicating that that's a good thing to do. So, I did like that part of it. It was a little much, probably, more than you might need, especially if you did have an offseason program. But it's a positive thing, I like that a lot."

I've got kind of a broad roster building question for you. You have in your conference a team in the Kansas City Chiefs that's going to be really good for a long time, presumably, and a player in QB Patrick Mahomes, who is very unique and is going to be there for a long time now. I wonder, because you know that, does having a team like that and having a player like that … Can it influence any roster decisions as far as targeting a kind of player on defense you might want? Knowing that hurdle is there, does it tilt any decisions in any kind of direction? (Adam Kilgore) "I think you always have to be conscious of who you play, but more so in your division. You have to understand the teams in your division and how you have to matchup. Certainly, in your conference, and probably to the next degree. If you're talking about the reigning champs, it's going to be in your mind. You always think about New England, of course, we have for years, because they've been so good. But not specifically, probably, to a great extent. I think it's part of it, but it's not a dominating part of it by any stretch. You try to build your team along the lines of how you want to play; philosophically how you see the game as a coach, the players who come available to you, the type of players you like, what your vision kind of presents. To me, it's kind of a visionary type of a thing – what you can create with the guys that you're able to bring into your program. So, more about us than them, but certainly them is in the process to some extent, sure."

QB Lamar Jackson is obviously a very unique player and you have a very unique system. Do you have an awareness, when you look at what other teams in your division have done, that they're going out and getting specific players that are meant to play the Ravens? (Adam Kilgore) "I don't think so. I don't think people say, 'This player is going to be able to stop that player,' per se. I think people try to bring people into their system that fit how they want to play; what the system is and the style they play and the type of players that the coaching staff and the organization is looking for, generally. Some teams have long history, like Pittsburgh, so you kind of understand what they're looking for. Other teams, they're a little newer to it. That's just kind of how it works around the league. I think we look more at how people play us schematically and how they fit the players that they have into that scheme in terms of how they want to play us."

The NFL will be closed on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to ensure that every member of the NFL family has the opportunity to exercise their precious right to vote. What are your thoughts about this? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "My thoughts are that we'll be working that day as a coaching staff, getting ready for the Indianapolis Colts. We certainly aren't going to miss a day of work, so we'll have to work from home if that's what the NFL chooses to do. I know that I've always voted, and I've always worked on Tuesday, because it's always been in November and we've always had games all the way back to 1984. So, I don't see it as a problem, but the NFL wants to make it a priority. So, we respect that, and we'll just work from home as coaches. I'll figure out what we'll do with our week. I assume we'll probably give them Tuesday off that week instead of Monday, and we'll roll."

Back in the 2011 season, there was the lockout and some people would say that the defensive level of the players was not so great early in the season. Are you afraid that early in this 2020 season, with the pandemic and the offseason program [being] very different, this kind of thing might repeat? And considering how QB Lamar Jackson has a unique playing style, do you think that some kind of an advantage for you guys? (Henrique Bulio) "That's a good question. That's probably one that we don't know. You can make an argument that the offenses will be ahead of the defense, that the defenses will be ahead of the offense, that special teams will be even more important early in the season, that young guys won't have as much of an impact, or [they] will. I just don't think there's any way to know for sure. We just kind of have to be ready for all the contingencies and just try to react to whatever we see. I think all those things are possible, but I don't think we'll know until we see it. That's what makes it so interesting and kind of fun this year."


How's the groin injury from a couple weeks ago feeling? Have you ever had that issue before? And what were you feeling that caused you to miss a couple practices, and how are you feeling now? (Shawn Stepner) "Actually, I was just getting a little maintenance. I just felt a little … It wasn't really anything major at all. I'm good now. I was good the day I sat out of practice, but they just wanted me to just keep it safe – stay in the safe zone, because the season is coming up. But like I said, I'm 100[%] right now. I'm good."

How do you think things have gone thus far, because this will be the last time we speak to you before Game Week? So, where you guys are in training camp, through scrimmages and all that, how would you assess things in your mind? (Jerry Coleman) "I feel [that] we're right on schedule with everyone coming together. Our offense is flying around – moving around great. Our defense is making plays out there on the field. I just can't wait until the real games come – show the world."

Do you feel like you can just pick up where you guys left off last year in terms of running the football in the offense? (Jerry Coleman) "Yes, I feel so. But like I said, we're going to see when the games come."

What's it like watching WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown torch two of the best cornerbacks in football? He had CB Marlon Humphrey early in camp; I think he got CB Marcus Peters. What's it like to watch 'Hollywood' run at full speed – you know he's healthy – and be able to hit him on the fly like that? (Kirk McEwen) "In one of the scrimmages, I had underthrown him [Marquise Brown] and threw an interception, because he's running so fast. I just have to work on me – getting my playable ball for him to run through the passes and score touchdowns. But like you said, he was going against the best two corners in the game right now [Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters]. They're making each other better. Last year he was hurt a little – a foot injury – but right now he's 100[%]. He's doing his thing. I just can't wait until we play the Browns."

Baltimore got two new wide receivers in this year's draft, but because of the pandemic, obviously, there's not a lot of time to build chemistry with the new guys. So, going into Week One, do you think you and the rookies will be able to hit the ground running, or do you expect some lack of chemistry earlier in the season? (Henrique Bulio) "I feel like we should hit the field running. Those guys, they improved a lot from when we first started – including myself. I just can't wait until we get out there on the field, because I'm really tired of practicing – going against our guys. But yes, I just can't wait until you guys see the rookies. Devin [Duvernay], James [Proche II] and J.K. [Dobbins], those guys have been balling out so far."

How much do you think no preseason games will impact you going into the season? Obviously, you dealt with it in college, but how is it impacting you as far as coming in with a couple new players and a new running back, etc.? (Todd Karpovich) "It really didn't impact me. I'll just say, the young guys, for their NFL experience, they have to wait for the regular season to experience what it's like out there on an NFL field. But I'm good. I've been with my guys a whole two years. Just the new guys, it'll be the real chemistry, probably, down farther – upgrade, I should say – but we'll just see when the games come. I feel like everyone is ready."

The COVID-19 positive test numbers have been really, really good so far. Does that surprise you in any way? Are you pleasantly happy about that? I know you're a guy who doesn't go out a lot, but the way that NFL players are taking this as seriously they are, what are your thoughts on that? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "Yes, that's good. We all want fans in the stadium. We want our fans to give us that momentum to get out there and take the field by storm. And everyone should be safe. I know everyone wants their family safe, so we just have to do our job by following protocols, and that's what we've been doing here. And you like you said, the league's been doing a great job with that. So, I'm happy for that."

You talk about going to the Super Bowl so much as a goal. I was just curious, as a kid, are there any memoires you have of watching Super Bowls – any players, games, any of your favorite Super Bowl memories that you have from watching the games? (Cliff Brown) "Yes, the Ravens vs. 49ers; I watched that game – when the lights went out. I wanted the Ravens to win before I was a Raven. (laughter) And then to actually be here now is great. But I'll say, that was my [most fun] Super Bowl [I've watched], because the lights went out, then the 49ers made a comeback, and the Ravens pulled out the victory. It was a great game to watch. I was mad. I was mad how the game was going because it was looking like they were cheating." (laughter)

We have not gotten to talk to you since the Ravens put out the statement last week with the various anti-racism measures. What was your feeling about that and sort of the process that went into you guys putting that statement out? (Childs Walker) "Yes, I'm just happy we have a great owner [Steve Bisciotti] who's on our side, [and] a great coaching staff who's on our side, because we're going ahead busting our behinds. I know I see a lot of policemen who are cool to us football players, but then to someone else our kind – who's not a football player, who's not known – they treat them differently. So, for our staff to be behind us 100%, I love it. I [couldn't] be in a better place."

What are we going to see in today's practice? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "A lot of offense, a lot of defense, a lot of special teams – a lot of work." (laughter)

You guys have given a ton of players reps at center – obviously – as C/G Matt Skura works his way back. Does that impact you at all, or is that a good thing because you get used to so many different guys hiking you the ball? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's cool with me. I'm cool with it. We're just getting the other guys in rotation just in case anything happens, I'll say. But it has been pretty good for me."


We just talked to QB Lamar Jackson and he was talking about how you were looking and kind of under throwing you at one point, because you're faster than you were. Can you shed some light on how you're feeling with the foot? It's obviously better, but are you still working up? Do you still have more gears to reach and levels to reach? (Shawn Stepner) "Of course, with anything, when you get surgery, it's just not something that heals over a year or so. So, every day just push to get better with football, with your body, with injuries [and] with everything. It's not … I'm feeling 100 times better than what around this time I was feeling last year. But I just have to keep pressing it and keep getting better."

What do you feel you've improved the most entering Year Two? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I feel like I'm just more comfortable in the offense, and really, with everything – with route running, blocking and knowing how I can gain more [of a] role in this offense. And that's blocking and getting in there and doing whatever I can to help the team."

I read that you put on 23 pounds. Is that accurate? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "No, not 23 [pounds] in two months like the things say. But …" (Reporter: "Since last year? Since you were drafted, how much heavier are you?") "When I got drafted, I was like 166 [pounds], 170 [pounds]. So, I lost weight through the season battling with my injury, and then I just put the weight back on and added like 10 pounds."

So, you're playing at like 180 pounds, 190 pounds? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "No, I'm playing around like 180 [pounds]." (Reporter: "180 pounds, and you're still faster than you were at 166 pounds?") (laughter) "Yes, ma'am."

How is QB Lamar Jackson different this year? How is his ball different this year than it was a year ago? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "You can tell he's more comfortable. He's reacting to things quicker. He's getting the ball out quicker. The timing is better with the receivers. Just getting out there on the same page, you can just see how calm he is and how more mature he is this year than last year."

One of the best plays of camp was you beating CB Marlon Humphrey early on. You're going against an All-Pro, both sides, some of the best cornerbacks in the game. What does that do for your confidence? That clip went everywhere. (Kirk McEwen) "They definitely help me out a lot. Even the plays where they guard me or they cover me, they're telling me, 'Right here, you could've done that. That could've helped you.' So, just having those guys, and being able to talk to [them] outside of football – their brains just help me out a lot. When I get into games with high-level corners, I kind of know how they think and how they play."

We had talked to WR Devin Duvernay about his speed. Have you had a chance to go and race the rookie yet? And if you haven't, do you think you have the speed to beat him? (Kevin Richardson) "I don't race for free." (laughter)

You know QB Lamar Jackson as well as anyone in this organization. Can you talk about his reaction to the disappointing playoff loss and you guys kind of leaning on each other as you turn the page and start focusing on the future season? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, from the time that we lost that game, [we had] a lot of conversations that night of what we could have done or what should have happened. But at the end of the day, we knew that the next thing we needed to do was focus on next year and what we could do to improve to be 1-0 each week. That's been his mindset; it's like, we have to win each week – each week – and that goes into the playoffs. You can't look over anybody [or] look over a game. You have to take each week seriously and win each week."

QB Lamar Jackson talks a lot about Pee Wee Football. I was just curious; does he ever mention with you any memories or games of Pee Wee Football? And if so, what particular games or memories do you remember him talking about that still seem like they stand out with him today? (Cliff Brown) "We talk about this all the time. We often talk about it, and now having Tyler [Huntley], he grew up, and he played football with me. So, just Pop Warner Football down there, period, we talk about games, how he might have outrun somebody or hit somebody or threw a touchdown. So, we go at it and have memories about it all the time."

How much do you think the level of competition that you guys played against – even at that age – helped you guys develop as football players? (Cliff Brown) "I think it helped out a lot, because guys get that jump from pop warner to high school, and high school to college. And it was like … We get coached so hard at a young age; it's like we know we're coachable in high school and college. We love to get coached; we love to get pushed hard just because of how we grew up."