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Transcripts: Ravens Training Camp (8/17) Zoom Press Conference


Opening statement: "Hi, everybody. I appreciate you being here. [It was a] good first day – a lot of fun in terms of football. If you enjoy football, I know you enjoyed that today as journalists doing your job. I had a chance to interact with Jimmy [Smith] one of the times, and we both had big smiles on our faces. Man, it's great to be out here and great to be practicing football. I thought it was sharp. I thought our guys had a lot of energy. I thought they were into it [and] enjoying it. They've been really chomping at the bit to get out there and do football. This is a beginning for us. We have a long way to go [and] a lot of work to do in a short period of time, but we're looking forward to getting to it. So, what questions do you have?"

What stood out in today's practice? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I thought the energy. I thought the guys' excitement to be out there was really good. There are a lot of football nuances there. Whether plays are made or not made really [isn't] that critical, because there are just a lot of reasons that aren't really related to necessarily … The pass rush isn't 100 percent. We're not full-speed live. We're not tackling today, and those kinds of things. But I thought they were energetic. I thought they were playing hard, and it's a good beginning."

You had WR Devin Duvernay back there catching punts, and he looked pretty good. Is he an option for doing some of that this year? (Todd Karpovich) "Sure. Everybody is an option. That's why we put guys back there. We have a group of guys working; they've been working. He's never done that in college, but he has good hands [and] a good feel for it, so he'll be part of the conversation."

What seemed different to you? Obviously, no fans there and coaches wearing masks, but other than that, to me, it appeared to be just a regular first practice of training camp. (David Ginsburg) "Yes, it is. It's football. It's way deeper into training camp than the first practice. We've been here for quite a while. We had numerous, numerous days of conditioning – rookies had the most. We had other days – numerous days – of rookie-only practices that were ramp-up practices. We had our ramp-up practices with our team, and now, gosh, it's August 17th. We're 26 days from the first game against the Browns, and we're just getting into pads. So, in less than three weeks, we'll be into game week, so we understand that. We understand the urgency of it, and we're going to try to feel our rhythm there, adjust accordingly and try to be ready to play in the first game."

How do you get the rookies and the free agents to understand what it's like to 'Play Like a Raven?' There's no handbook on that. Do they just pick it up from the veterans? How does that work? (Kirk McEwen) "It's a process. We talk about it, we show it to them, [and] we try to teach. I think the veteran players teach [and] the coaches teach. You try to understand … I think when you come into a new organization, the first thing you want to do is belong – find a way to belong. We have a lot of guys with a lot of character, and belonging here means understanding what it means to 'Play Like a Raven,' in a nutshell. There's a lot that goes into that, and we try to bring them along. But we think we have the right kind of guys that fit the mold, and we expect them to pick it up quickly."

How did C/G Matt Skura look? (Shawn Stepner) "I'll have to go back and see. He's just on a process still, right now. He was really good yesterday. I saw the tape and thought he moved well. Today, we didn't do a ton with him, but he's in there, and he looks good. So, I do expect him to be able to be ready for the season, but we're going to be smart with our process with him and make sure he's fully ready to go, every rep that he takes."

Sorry to ask you this after practice, but there are some reports that WR Dez Bryant is going to visit Baltimore for a workout. Do you have any comments on that? Can you confirm that? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, the only comment I have is that we're not commenting on workouts and who's coming in. Like always, we're looking everywhere, at everybody, all the time. Our scouts are always tilling the fields and trying to find whatever we can – plant the seeds and find the players that can help us, and that's what they do. Whoever we bring in, once the workout happens, I'm sure that will be announced – but we're not commenting on that."

WR Marquise Brown has done a lot of work this offseason to really add some weight. Have you seen that so far in the times that you've seen him out on the field, and how do you think that has helped him? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, I think it's helped him. You're going to be more durable. You're going to be faster, better, stronger – all those things – with training. He's trained hard; that's the bottom line. I don't think weight is the point. It's being the best, the most fit, most explosive and most durable. You build up the calluses in training – all those things. He's worked hard at that."

There were a couple guys we didn't see out there – DT Brandon Williams, OLB Jaylon Ferguson, WR/RS Chris Moore. Are any of those longer-range concerns? (Childs Walker) "Jaylon [Ferguson], no. He should be back in a couple days at the most. He's OK – just normal training camp-type stuff. Brandon Williams, same thing. Iman Marshall had a major knee injury yesterday, unfortunately. He had been working hard and was practicing well. He just came down on his right leg really awkwardly, and he's going to need major surgery. I believe it's ACL and MCL. Chris Moore broke his finger a few days ago, so he's just in the process … It's amazing, that same thing happened last year, so Chris knows how to deal with that, and he'll be fine, but it'll be a few weeks until that bone heals."

As far as T Orlando Brown Jr. and his evolution from coming in as a rookie, playing right tackle and now being in his third year … Without having G Marshal Yanda there, has he taken more of a leadership role on the line? (Pete Gilbert) "That would be a good question for him. I think he's a natural leader with his personality, and that really hasn't changed; he's the same guy. He's into it. He really is motivated. He wants to be a great player. He's in there working with the guys, and I think he's the same guy, but more mature, better, just because he's another year into it. He's only going to continue to get better, so all plusses with Orlando."

You had the music playing [at practice], and I know you talked about this a week ago or so. No crowds are expected, but is that just something that you've been doing and want to continue to do, in terms of loud music to simulate a crowd? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, part of it is to simulate the crowd. And, who knows? I saw the Cowboys are going to have fans, so maybe we're getting ready for the Cowboys game – or are they coming here? I can't remember. But, it's what we do. It's fun. I think it's good for the guys to have to cut through the noise, so-to-speak, whether it's crowd noise or just from a concentration standpoint. It's a valuable tool, and I think we all enjoy it, so we had the music."


What are the challenges you see in this training camp? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "For me, it seems like a pretty normal training camp - 12-hour days. There's a lot going on in the world, but, to me, it seems like a pretty normal training camp – getting as much stuff in as you can. It's pretty normal, so the typical challenges with every year training camp."

Last year, you shared your goals and you said you wanted your season to end in Bowls – Pro Bowl, Super Bowl. Pro Bowl, you checked off. Super Bowl, not so much. Can you say what your goals are for 2020? (Kirk McEwen) "After last year, it was cool to get some of those accolades that I've always dreamed of since I was young. This past year, I was able to go to the Super Bowl to do something on the field before the game. It was kind of something … But anyway, I was on the field during the Super Bowl and [was] just walking around, watching the other teams warm up. The energy I felt down there in Miami, it really just triggered my whole offseason into just thinking, 'Man, the only thing I really want is a Super Bowl.' I know Lamar [Jackson] has spoken about that a lot. He's the leader of this group, and we're all trying to get the same thing. I think if all eyes are looking towards that, looking towards that … That's the mindset we're trying to take every day in practice, every day in meetings and all the things we do – it's just eyes on that. It all goes one step at a time, one practice at a time, one drill at a time. For me, it's just try to end in a Bowl again, but just the big thing – and that's the Super Bowl."

It's no secret the secondary played so well, especially in the second half of last year. Now having CB Tavon Young back, CB Jimmy Smith coming back and all of you guys having a full training camp to play together, how exciting is that to think how you can build what you did last year, which was pretty darn good? (Luke Jones) "It feels good. We did well last year. It'll be the same guys – well, Tavon [Young] is back – but for the most part, it will be the same guys. But it's a whole new season, and every season is slightly different. It's really encouraging to start the year with Marcus [Peters], start the year with Tavon, Jimmy's [Smith] back [after he] signed with us in the offseason. We're really good. With Marcus, no one has gotten the ball in [their] hands – interceptions – as many as he has since he's been in the league. Him and Earl [Thomas III], he gets the ball, too. Just having all those playmakers, there's just so many different minds and thoughts – how we can see this, how do they see this? So, I'm just leaning on those guys to help myself get the ball a little more often. We're all just gelling together. It's going to take a couple of practices to really figure out how well we're going to do with different packages, but, right now, I think we're kind of on that way. We've got a lot more steps to take to gel into that secondary that we want to be. We want to be the best in the league, and we're just going to take it a practice at a time."

You mentioned CB Marcus Peters. From your expertise as a corner, what makes Marcus Peters so good at picking off passes and getting all of those interceptions? (Jamison Hensley) "I think the thing I've come to realize is … This interaction when – I can't remember what game last year – so, I went to him and I was like, 'Hey, what do you … I think I see a couple of plays where I could maybe steal some interceptions. Which plays out of this group do you think you could … Tell me what you're seeing.' And he was like, 'I think I can get an interception on every single play.' And I'm like, 'Uh, well, could you like … I'm just trying to pick out a couple.' He's like, 'Every single one.' So, he sees it a lot different than the average corner. He's able to see things as it kind of comes. He's really good at film study and different things. Me trying to turn on that, being more of a student of the game, leaning on him to add something to my game I think is the biggest thing. That's what I think has led him to be so successful; mainly just the film study and being able to see things way before they happen."

Can you talk about your approach to training this offseason? We saw some of the videos you posted. One was like running up a rock pile. It seemed like you got a little creative with it. What was your approach to training this offseason? (Garrett Downing) "The offseason was a lot different. You had to get pretty creative; [I] ended up at some playgrounds, ended up at Wade Sand and Gravel [Company] in Birmingham, Alabama – that's where I was running up those rocks. Actually, my little brother told me to come check that out. It was a good way … It was really fun. I know it was kind of crazy how all of the things that were going on with the world, but I was back with all five of my brothers and sisters. We did a lot of family workouts and it was good. Jungle gym, a lot of push-ups, pull-ups, a lot of home workouts, but the main thing I tried to do this offseason was just to get as much different types of work as I could. My sister runs track at LSU, so I got on the track and did some track workouts. I did really a little bit of everything. I kind of tried to do all around and anything that could get me at my highest heartrate going – that rock pile was definitely pretty tough. It was me, my little brother and my big brother. My big brother, I don't think he worked out for another week – he was so out of it from that. So, it was really challenging, but one or two and you're just about done."

I imagine you're not too upset about not having preseason games, but maybe for some of the rookies who are still trying to figure things out not having them. What are you trying to make sure to do with them and the younger guys on defense to learn what they need to learn to get ready for Week One against the Cleveland Browns? (Pete Gilbert) "Not having preseason, a lot of vets kind of don't play too many reps in those games. But I know with times, it wasn't going to work with the schedule, and NFLPA … We agreed that it would be best if we didn't have any games. For some of those rookies, it is what it is, but it's definitely going to affect them a little bit. Even for the guys who won't be able to make this team, a lot of times they'll get picked up on another team. It kind of sucks in that matter of not being able to show off your talents to 32 other teams in those games, and better yourself making plays in games. On the flipside of that, if you're here, you have an opportunity to make this team. The biggest thing is you've got to get those reps in practice. We've got some young, undrafted guys in our secondary, and the biggest thing is you've got to treat every day like a game rep. I've been trying to get in some of the guys' ears that truly, every rep is a tryout. For our team, we have a great set of scouts. It doesn't matter if we're doing a walk-through, anything – they're watching you at all times. You've got to have that mindset that everything you do in the building is kind of being watched. Without those preseason games, it's a lot more eyes on the little things as opposed to those preseason games."

You were talking about earlier how kind of normal practice felt. Is there some comfort to be drawn from that after such an unusual five months? (Childs Walker) "Yes, definitely. It seems like it's kind of setting in with the whole mask thing. It took a pretty long time to really get used to it, but when you get back on the grass, it's all pretty normal. You're out there practicing with the guys, having a good time, grinding it out, blood, sweat and tears. That's kind of really the only normal thing you've got going. In the building, you have all types of different things – six feet apart here and there, masks on in meetings, Kinexons, so you won't be around somebody for 10 minutes too long. So, we've got all these things inside, but once you get outside, it's kind of just back to ball. It takes away all the different things we've got to protect us, which is all good. We get on the field and just get to be kind of back to what we've done to get us here, and that's just play football."

I know you're on defense, but you've seen QB Lamar Jackson out on the practice field. You saw him all of last year. What do you kind of foresee as maybe the next step in his progression this year? (Jamison Hensley) "I think for Lamar [Jackson], it's kind of hard to really put even a cap on what he can do. Just off of the things he did last year, he's kind of on a path that no one has ever been close to. Michael Vick was kind of the Top Dog in his era, but Lamar is kind of in a class of his own. To put a cap on him, it would be pretty hard to do. I think some steps that he could take is probably just connecting on those deep passes. I know we had a lot of things here and there, but I think with 'Hollywood' [Marquise Brown] getting healthy – he put on some nice weight and I'm not even sure if he's 100 percent right now, but he's coming along. We've got [Devin Duvernay] … I don't even want to mess his name up, so I'll just say 13 – the Texas guy we just drafted, he's got some speed. We've got a lot of guys that I think can really get up top, and I think it'll just be able to take Lamar's game to a whole other level. I think if he can hit … We always know Mark [Andrews]. Mark basically is always open, but we can just add on to hitting those deep passes, deep corners, deep posts and all of that, Lamar's game can go from … Who knows, he could go MVP two times in a row. There's no telling what he can do. To put a ceiling on him – I don't think there is one."


How is it training with G D.J. Fluker? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "It's going really good. D.J. [Fluker] is somebody who works hard. He came in here with the mentality that he wants to do his best for the team and for the O-line, and he's giving it everything he's got. I've been really impressed with his work ethic and his drive and his focus every day at practice."

Now in your third year, G Marshal Yanda is not there on the right side, do you feel any more pressure or want to be more of a leader on that offensive line? And maybe [what are] some of the things you learned from Marshal that you can take into developing that role? (Pete Gilbert) "It's only natural, I think, as a football player that's been in a system for three years, to want to be a better player, to want to be a better leader, to go on and do better as I get older. What Marshal [Yanda] did here, it's going to be so hard to replicate. It doesn't matter, really, who you are and what you're capable of. He was just so important and so special to our offensive line room, as well as the franchise. Just the lessons and things he taught me as a young player through the first two years of my career … Just an understanding now and creating it and living your life a certain way to where you're productive as an offensive lineman, as a football player. It's hard to replicate what he was. At the end of the day, I'm approaching this year with the mentality that I have to get better. Obviously, I didn't do everything that I needed to do to help us win against Tennessee [2019 Divisional game]. At the end of the day, that's the ultimate goal – is win a Super Bowl. Whatever that is, whatever the coaches want from me, whatever the team wants from me, from myself, I want to be a better player and I want to be a better leader."

Where are you in your development? You've got T Ronnie Stanley on one side – All-Pro. You're a Pro Bowler. Are you one of the best right tackles in the league? Or do you still have a ways to go before you put yourself in that category? (Kirk McEwen) "I've still got a ways to go. At the end of the day, your top guys are your top guys, and they've been consistent [and] they've been proven over the years, over the last four or five years – and that's [Saints] Ryan Ramczyk, that's [Raiders] Trent Brown, that's [Cowboys] La'el Collins, that's [Chiefs] Mitchell Schwartz, it's a long list of guys … [Eagles] Lane Johnson – it just keeps going. But there are guys who have been in this league longer than me and have been just as productive and more consistent over the years. I'm not there yet. At some point, I'll get there. That's where I'm working to get – is chasing the guys at the top. At some point when you get there, elevating your game even more."

Have you had a chance to talk to DE Calais Campbell about how your game is and what you can improve on [with] your game? How great is it to play against him day-in and day-out? (Kevin Richardson) "I talk to Calais [Campbell] all the time. He's such an incredible talent. He's a great teammate. We found that out at the Pro Bowl this year. Now, I think he's just connected, really, with all the Ravens guys and with all the coaches as well. Having him here in the building, being able to practice against him every day, walk-through against him, asking questions, it's been so beneficial. He's a different type of player. He's somebody who … Very rarely do I go against someone that's my height, my length, similar [to] my weight, we're similar in strength. So, it's different for me and it allows you to, I guess, develop in a certain way, understanding how to play the position in a different way. And I think at the end of the day, because of how good he is … (inaudible)..."

When we were talking to CB Marlon Humphrey, he was talking about how the Super Bowl was, really, his only goal, after having personal goals in the past. Looks like a pretty obvious thing to talk about a Super Bowl as one of your goals. But considering the way your season ended last year as a team, how is this vibe different maybe than past years when you think about long-term goals? (Aaron Kasinitz) "At the end of the day, as a team, it starts by winning our division in the AFC North, winning our conference and then, obviously, doing what we have to do to get to the Super Bowl and winning that. It starts with the small goals, and that's one week at a time, taking it. As of right now, the focus is on Cleveland. After that, the focus will be on whoever we play, and so on and so forth. I think long-term, we all want to have the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. But we understand that it's the small goals that come first, and that's week-to-week. That's what the NFL is – it's a bunch of great teams who we're going to play this year. So, that's our main focus."

This is, obviously, a historic year. You're preparing for a football season in which one of the factors is avoiding a virus and spreading a virus. How big is that weighing on you guys, league-wide, I guess you can say, as you try to get through a season coming up? (Mark Viviano) "I trust the guys in this building. They trust us, our coaches are trusting us, the front office is trusting us to make sure that we continue to maintain our negative test results as a team. It's scary, in a way, because we don't understand the effects of this virus long-term, from an individual standpoint. If I get it, is this something that's going to affect me for the next 10 years? Where[as] if somebody else catches it, it may only be for five or six months. That's really just where all the uncertainty, for me, kind of comes from. Ultimately, I'm locked in for the season; I'm ready to play some ball. It's unfortunate that things haven't been taking care of from the virus standpoint and we're not able to get it under control, I guess, as a nation. Hopefully, we get to that point. Right now, I'm really focused on being ready Week One, and like I said, taking it week-by-week."

Today was the first day with pads on. How good did that feel to [take] the next step towards real football? How different was the energy level today? (Shawn Stepner) "Really different – we've got a great team and we've got a lot of confident players, a lot of confident coaches that trust in us, that trust in our scheme. Players that trust in their abilities and talents and work ethic. It was just exciting to finally get out there and be able to play some real ball with the pads on, be able to physically grab and move guys and hold them, and all of that different stuff – it's exciting. We were all super excited to get back in the building two weeks ago. It was a whole other level of energy today."

There's a report that [free agent] WR Dez Bryant is visiting the Ravens for a possible workout. What would it be like … Because I'm sure you watched him growing up. What would it be like to have a Dez Bryant on the Ravens? (Jamison Hensley) "I can, honestly, only speak from what I've seen on film, and he's a great talent. He's clearly one of the best to play in a Cowboys' uniform. If we do sign him, I'm sure he's ready to go. They make great decisions upstairs."


What are your goals for the season? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I really want to be a champ. I want to be a champion. I want to bring another championship to this organization. That's the biggest goal, and I think that's a goal for everybody, [and] right now, that's what I'm striving for. And just continue to lead on defense, and at my position, make an impact on the field. I think my biggest impact, obviously, is sacks and causing turnovers, so I'm emphasizing getting the ball this year. One of my distant goals – and I wish it happened this [past] year – is to get a pick. I want to get a pick this year, so we're going to work on that. I have the best hands on the team; I just haven't had the opportunities. Sometimes, on passes to the flats, I'll be worried about just batting it down. I'm going to try to turn those into turnovers and go ahead and pick it off. So, if I get a pick this year, it's going for six. That's a couple of my goals."

CB Marlon Humphrey was talking about how it just felt really good to get out there and do normal practice stuff today, with everything feeling so not normal outside of it. Did you feel something similar? (Childs Walker) "Yes. Yes, it felt good to be back in the pads. This virus has affected a lot of us. It has impacted the whole world, and it has impacted how we do things on a daily basis in and outside the building. So, with that being said, going forward, football is different. But, just getting back out there with the guys, getting a sweat going, starting the plays and more contact – we have the pads on – [so] just for a split moment, it felt like we didn't have to worry about this virus. But, once we get back in the building, the guys are great about it. And once we cross back over to those doors, we have to go back into – well, not quarantine – but being safe [and] practicing our safe habits that we have. I have my mask right here. I took it off so you can actually see my mouth moving. We're making sure we sanitize everything. We're making sure we take the steps just to try not to spread this disease while we're here. But out on the field, running fast, getting back, it felt a little normal."

You got franchise tagged and you embraced it. Do you feel like you're one of the best edge rushers in football? (Kirk McEwen) "I feel like I'm one of the best players in football. And I feel like that's how you have to feel about yourself. I have a lot of arrogance to me, that I just don't show. I just let my game do the talking. I think it's just confidence in who I am. I'm very confident in myself, and sometimes it might get me in trouble, but on the field, it's a good thing. So, the franchise tag – it happened. You can't do anything about it; I couldn't do anything about. But, I'm glad I'm still a Raven, so we're just going to make it work, and we are going to see how this season goes and what happens after this, but right now, it is what it is."

Along those lines, is there a different feeling being out there knowing, 'I'm the franchise guy?' Do you have a different feeling – a different kind of confidence level – that you're the guy? (Ryan Mink) "First, let's not get this wrong – we all know who's the guy here. That's No. 8 [Lamar Jackson]; No. 8 is the guy here. On the defense, I'm one of 11, and so I'm going to do my job, and I'm going to try to do my job as best as I can. I wear many hats on this defense, so whatever hat I've got to put on for that play, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. And I'm not a selfish guy when it comes to football. So, like I said, I wear many hats, and whatever I have to do – if I have to play nose [tackle] for a play, I'm going to do that to the best of my ability. I got franchise tagged; I'm not the franchise guy. We all know who that is, and that's the MVP."

When you look at the new guys on the D-line with you, with DEs Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, do you have any sense of chemistry yet, or what they might be able to provide for you, when it comes to trying to get to the quarterback and get those sacks? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, it's kind of a natural chemistry. I've watched their tape. They've watched my tape. Mr. Campbell – as I call him [Calais] – he tells me stuff in his deep voice … (imitating Calais Campbell) … I'm like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah.' And it's just natural when we're out there. We all enjoy football. We kind of socially-distant sit together at lunch, and we talk football, and we talk shop. After practice, in allowed time, we try to do stuff that we don't get to do in practice together, just to build that chemistry, because we're not going to have any preseason games to kind of see where we're rushing. You don't leave it all out there on your teammates [in practice]. You can't do some stuff that you would do in the game to your teammates, because you want to make sure [that] when Week One comes around, everybody's healthy. So, there are certain games and pick-stunts that we work on after practice, and it's natural. Derek Wolfe and Calais, they are workers, and they are proven veterans. If you turn on any tape, of any game, you'll see them. I think we're going to mesh well. We're not going to have a chemistry problem."

Every year at this time, players talk about wanting to win a championship and get to a Super Bowl. But it seems like there's, maybe, even more of that talk. We know QB Lamar Jackson has talked about it, CB Marlon Humphrey talked about how that's really his only focus. Do you feel like that is very much top of the line for you guys as a team, knowing that you have this great window of opportunity right now? (Garrett Downing) "You come into the year with that expectation – I think everybody does, and everybody talks about it. But right now, our main focus is Cleveland. That's a 'blasé-blah' answer, but our main focus right now is Cleveland. We want to win as many games early and as often as possible, and we've just got to focus on the next game. Because I think we've seen it – when we focus on something that's so far ahead, we can get sidetracked and lose sight of the goal and how we actually get there. So, we get there by starting 1-0, and then you go on from there."

Have you thought about how strange it's going to be to play Cleveland, and be your first time going full tilt out there on the field? (Kevin Richardson) "No, no, I think not having preseason games is going to be bad, because some players are gamers. Some players know when to turn it on, and I think that's going to suck more for the younger players, honestly. I think that's going to hold some undrafted free agents back, and they're not really going to get to show what they'll see on gameday. I've been in this league long enough to know where – and a lot of us have – to know how to flip that switch. When it's gameday, know what to do, how to do [it], where your hands need to be. And that's why we practice the way we practice. So, I think it's going to suck for the young guys more than all the veterans that know how to play this game."

I noticed that you … It looks like you deactivated some of your social media. Is there a reason for that? (Garrett Downing) "No, there wasn't a reason for that."

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