HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
Opening statement: "First of all, I'd like to start off by just acknowledging [Washington Football Team head coach] Ron Rivera – Ron and Stephanie – our good friends. They're good friends of Ingrid and I, we go back a long way. I love Ron, and the fight that he'll now conquer. Our thoughts and our prayers are with him completely. And as he said on his text, they've got this and they're going to do great with it. So, first to open up with that and we'll open up with any questions that you have."
With WR Marquise Brown, do you see a noticeable difference with his speed this camp and his ability to catch the ball? (Todd Karpovich) "We track all of that, and I would say he's faster based on the tracking that we have. He's always looked fast to me, but …. That deep route he went and got today, he really showed that acceleration and burst. It was really a third or fourth gear. How many gears are there on a sports car? Whatever it was, he was in it. He went and got that. He's doing a really good job. He's probably more consistent, because he doesn't have the foot [injury] to deal with and he's getting stronger every day. So, you see it more consistently, probably, than the past."
How does WR Jaleel Scott look to you? I'm doing the math; I'm having a hard time figuring him into the equation if he doesn't play special teams. (Kirk McEwen) "That's a good question, I expect him to play special teams. He's done really well on special teams in training camp. He's really notched it up, and I expect him to be very capable of being a contributor on that. We always tell our guys not to count numbers – that's not what you do as a football player. You go out and you perform to the best of your ability. The competition is against yourself, your own ability, your skillset, the playbook [and] the defense, in this case. So, he's got a great chance to make our team, and he's doing fine. He's doing a good job. He's playing well."
With TE Mark Andrews, it seems like for him, he just has this ability to always get open. From your football standpoint and technical standpoint, why do you think that he has that ability to consistently do that? (Jamison Hensley) "That's a great question. That would be a great question to be able to have in a scouting formula to find that. But you call it a knack, you call it a feel – he has that. He has a great awareness of what's going on around him spatially, and he's also, obviously, a gifted athlete. So, he gets open. In the end, you see the result, and the result is that he knows how to get open."
One other wrinkle that we've noticed with TE Mark Andrews is that he's been practicing holding a little bit for the kickers. Is that just sort of an insurance policy? (Childs Walker) "Well, we've got to have a backup holder. We have to have one. We've had different … Eric Weddle did it, if you remember. You try to start with guys that you think have really good hands. (laughter) So, we're training Mark [Andrews] to do that. Nick Boyle snaps; Nick works the snaps. You've got to have your backups ready."
It always seems like at some point in training camp, tempers will flare among them. How do you try to handle that? I mean, you want to have guys be emotional, but how do you kind of balance it out? Can you tell us anything from what you know happened out there between S Earl Thomas III and S Chuck Clark? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know exactly what happened at the end of practice. I just came off the field and came in here, so we'll find out the details of it. It just lasted longer than it needed to, for me. You're going to have these things in training camp. You're going to have … Tempers are going to flare, sure. It happens every training camp, especially right about now, probably. But I don't like them when they extend like that and eat into our reps. We're going to have to find out why and make sure that doesn't happen. We need to keep our eye on the prize, which is preparing for the Browns."
LB L.J. FORT
Now that you're here from the start of training camp, how much more comfortable are you feeling? And how much do you take it upon yourself to be a leader for a very young position group? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, I'm a lot more comfortable with the defense and the scheme and everything this year. Getting those Zoom meetings in OTAs, and actually getting the full install of the plays and everything, it's been great. So, [there's] definitely a lot less thinking on the field and just flying around and playing."
What kind of advice are you giving to LB Patrick Queen and LB Malik Harrison? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I think the biggest thing, just coming from college to the pros, is how much you have to emphasize technique. So, just working with little things here. They've done a great job already. You can tell the jumps they've made from Day One to now – like two weeks into it. They're progressing really well. It's basically just technique, and the speed of the game you'll adjust to quickly."
Talking about those two rookie linebackers [Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison], what has stood out to you about them skill-wise? (Childs Walker) "The talent's there. Like I said, it's just working on technique and everything. With Patrick Queen, he's what you want in a first-round pick. He has the talent, he understands defensive concepts, he has some 'dog' in him, so he's going to be as good as he wants to be. Malik [Harrison] is right there. He has a big frame, and he just has to work on his technique and being able to use it, and he's going to be a great player as well."
Were you surprised that the Ravens locked you up and not ILB Josh Bynes? You guys came in at the same time, and the Ravens had a history with Bynes, yet they chose to go ahead and sign you. What were your thoughts, and were you surprised? (Kirk McEwen) "I [wasn't] too surprised, just for the simple fact that I embraced special teams. I know that's a big priority for the Ravens here, and it's a staple of my game, and I'm sure I'm going to continue to do that. So, I think special teams was the tipping point there."
What are your expectations for yourself this season? You talked about being more comfortable now that you know the system a little bit better. What are you looking to prove this year? (Ryan Mink) "I'm looking to go out to play. It's whatever the coaches want me to do. If it's to play linebacker at a high level, I'm preparing to do that. If it's [to] be a special teams ace, I'll be ready to do that. Anything to help this team win, that's what I'm about."
Take us on the field: It's teammates against teammates in practice, but it gets heated. How does that happen, and how do you handle it? (Mark Viviano) "Especially when you don't have pads on, and people are going at different tempos, you get into it here and there. But at the end of the day, it's just football; stuff like that is going to happen. You want stuff like that to happen – the aggressive, little squabbles here and there. And at the end of the day, there's no ill-will towards anybody; it's just what it is."
What are you doing when players fight during training camp? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "[I] just focus on the next play – the next rep. It's not like a huge thing. It happens. It's part of the game – part of practice. I don't think I've ever had a camp without a fight or a squabble."
People always talk about the speed of this defense and how complex it can be with defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale. You've played different places. What do you think sets apart this defense compared to some other ones that you've played with? (Jamison Hensley) "I think just the aggression. You're not over-coached here. You're allowed to be yourself and make plays, [and] at the same time, staying within the scheme of everything. You're not [harping] on the tiniest details that keep you trapped in a box. 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] and [linebackers coach] Mike [Macdonald], they let you make plays, so I feel like that's the best thing. And just being aggressive; we're playing man, we're pressing you, we're blitzing you, we're getting after you."
LB PATRICK QUEEN
Now that you've started camp and the practices are underway, what kind of progress do you feel you've already made in this short period? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I feel like I've progressed in every part of my game – just from [a] run standpoint, to [a] pass standpoint – just trying to level the playing field that I'm on now going from college to the NFL. [I'm] trying to get adjusted to the game tempo. [The] offense has been giving a great look and the coaches on defense have been coaching me very well. I'm looking forward to the next few days and getting into the season."
How do you feel seeing yourself on Madden 21? Have you played against WR Marquise Brown yet? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "It's crazy being on Madden 21. I haven't played as myself yet, but it's just something that you dream of growing up. All the little kids … Always creating yourself on Madden, wishing to be in that moment – and I actually don't have to create myself this time. I'm very humbled by that. I have not played 'MB' [Marquise Brown] yet. I'm looking forward to it. I heard he's the best, so it's going to be a great matchup."
Just as a young linebacker, what are you trying to learn and what are you learning from LB L.J. Fort, who's had a couple years in the league now? (Daniel Oyefusi) "The right way to do things. [I] know the game moves more efficient than college, and just a lot more tells that you wouldn't notice about yourself. Trying to get my tells out of the way. Trying to learn new techniques that they've been accustomed to being in the NFL that I haven't used in college. Coming into this level, everything is very detailed. You miss one little thing, it's blown. So, I'm just trying to get every little thing down pat and trying to be very detailed in my game."
What has it been like playing with LB Malik Harrison at linebacker? (Todd Karpovich) "It's exciting – somebody that's my age playing alongside me. He's more of a 'thumper' type of guy. So, when I come in and play alongside of him, it's going to be really exciting just to see him about to hit somebody. That gets my juices flowing, and can't to see what he does in the future."
Leading up to the draft, around Baltimore, it was LB Patrick Queen or [Chargers] LB Kenneth Murray, Murray or Queen – and [Murray] he went at [number] 23, five picks before you. Do you feel there's some motivation for you? Do you feel linked to LB Kenneth Murray, somehow, because of your link in the draft? (Kirk McEwen) "Me and Kenneth [Murray] are very good friends. So, there's no animosity, or whatever, between us. But at the same time, coming from a different standpoint, yes, I do feel a type of way about that. And of course, I'm always going to try to prove myself. That's what I've been doing since Day One, since I played football – is proving myself day-in and day-out. I had to do it in college. Coming into this year, I wasn't a starter, so I had to prove myself again. That's what I'm going to be doing this year – is every game, every rep, I'm trying to prove myself." (Reporter: Were you determined to show your speed early on? Because everybody talked about your speed and they continue to.) "Yes, that's the 'PQ' special speed. I've got to come out guns blazing and show that off the first game."
We know you were an extremely confident player coming out of college. Have you found it natural to be that way here, now that you're on the field and you're one of the new guys, and in some sense, you're starting over? (Childs Walker) "If you're not confident, you're not going to be very good. I learned that quick in college. If you're not sure about what you've got to do, you may as well be 100 percent to the football. Every day I come in, I study, [and] I study at home. Just trying to get the plays down pat. Trying to know everything inside-and-out, so when I come on the field, I can be extra confident, so, 'Hey, you've got to do this, or you've got to do that.' It's not just my job to know; [it's] everybody else's job."
Sunday, you get your first look at M&T Bank Stadium … I assume it's your first look. What's that going to feel like? What do you anticipate that feeling like when you step on that field for the first time? (Shawn Stepner) "It's going to be tough without fans being there – that's what everybody looks forward to, is the fans. But you're still playing football. So, I'm looking forward to a lot – just being able to come onto an NFL field and play with my team and be able to showcase my talents on the next level. That's a blessing. Every day I wake up, I'll be thankful for that. And when that day comes, I can't wait."
How comfortable do you feel with the scheme, schematic aspect of the job – the communication and all of that? (Ryan Mink) "At LSU, we had a lot of complicated defenses. So, talking-wise and scheme-wise, it's pretty much like [how] LSU was, but it's more verbal now. I have to be on pace with everybody; not just the D-line, not just the safeties, but [with] both of them at the same time. It's a lot of talking, it's a lot of communication, but that can only make us better. That's what I'm in-tune to right now – is just trying to get better at that point, because that's the hardest point for me right now – just being on the same page with everybody else."
You talked a little bit about speed and how it's such a big part of your game. I was wondering, now that you've had some practices against QB Lamar Jackson, how does your speed match up with Lamar's? (Luke Jones) (laughing) "Lamar [Jackson] is a different animal. I feel like if I had to play against Lamar, I could probably hold my own. But that's Lamar, and you can't put any limitations on Lamar. It's been very good. I've seen a lot of things from him, a lot of stuff that I can work on. It's just exciting to be in a position that I don't have to play against him. (laughter) I look forward to everyday coming on the field, playing with him, getting his energy and just getting better."
You were talking about the communication – have you been wearing the communication device in practice to practice receiving play-calls? How is that different at the NFL level, maybe, than in college – that process? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, I've been getting the calls in from the mic – just communicating to the whole defense. It's not like LSU, because at LSU, you've got more signals that you have to relay to the defense. So, it's different hearing that coming out of somebody's mouth. But for the most part, it's the same. You still have to communicate to the front, to the safeties. It's pretty much the same, just a different way of getting it."
WR MILES BOYKIN
Miles, we talked to you this offseason, and you talked a lot about your workout program and some of your goals and stuff, but what has your training set you up to do here early in the camp? How do you feel like it's helped you so far have such a good start to training camp? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Just being able to be more physical, having more endurance out there and just being an all-around player of the game. I'm feeling more explosive, and like I said, I'm just feeling good. Last year at camp, I was probably hurting at this time, just leg-wise. I think maybe not having OTAs and stuff like that might help my legs right now, but I'm feeling great."
I think you mentioned during the offseason that you really had to rest up after last season ended, you were pretty banged up. Was that any part of your ups and downs last season? Did you have a clean bill of health for much of 2019? (Jonas Shaffer) "I would never call myself a football player and talk about injuries. If I'm playing out there, then I'm playing. It doesn't matter what I'm feeling, what type of aches I'm feeling. I think probably just the biggest takeaway, for me, is that obviously, as a rookie, you don't necessarily know how to take care of your body. For me, I just had to go out there, and I'm learning from the vets now. I've done that over the offseason and even now into camp. My body just feels completely different. I just feel healthier right now. And like I said, obviously, after the season I was banged up. But when you have this long of a break, I think that's where you're going to see a lot of players benefit from, because I've had this whole offseason to focus on my body, focus on my strength and conditioning and just be ready for camp."
You're penciled in as a starter already. WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown came in in great shape. You look great. Are you ready to take that Year Two leap? How much pressure do you put on yourself? Everybody is looking at you to do big things this year. (Kirk McEwen) "I don't think that there's any pressure … I [don't] feel any pressure. I think a lot of us will tell you that the pressure should come from yourself, and for me, it does – absolutely. I put the pressure on me, because I want to be the absolute best I can for this team. I know I have to do what I'm capable of in order for this team to win a Super Bowl, and that's our Number One goal. So, for me, it's always been, 'OK, my rookie year is under my belt, but now I'm seeing things faster. I'm doing things faster. I'm making plays.' So, for me, I've been blessed to be, obviously, on this great team, on this offense and have a great coaching staff that's around me to be able to help me go out there and play."
How is your connection with QB Lamar Jackson this year? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "It's been growing a lot, obviously, over these first couple days of camp. I feel like we've had a great connection, and it's only going to grow. We're talking a lot more things out. We're seeing things quicker on both sides. Just being able to build that connection [and] that chemistry this early in camp has been great for us."
What's your reaction when the Ravens work out a player like WR Dez Bryant? I know they didn't sign him, but what were you thinking when you learned they worked him out? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Honestly, it has nothing to do with me. That's their job. My job is to go out there and play to the best of my ability every day, and that's what I try to do. Whatever happens, happens. But I've got to focus on myself and this team first."
Now that you've gone through a season as a rookie, how valuable is it for you to go up against CB Marlon Humphrey and CB Marcus Peters in practice every day – just in terms of your long-term development? (Luke Jones) "It's huge. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to practice against, because not only are they competitive, but they'll also … After practice is over, we'll talk about, 'Oh, I saw you did this; I saw you did that,' and we'll just kind of talk things through sometimes, where I ask them kind of what they're seeing. They're great. Obviously, going to practice against two of the best 'DBs' [defensive backs] in the league is awesome for me – just to be able to experience that. And hopefully, when I go into the game, it's a little bit easier. But, man, those guys are tough, and they make it hard day-in and day-out, just because they're so skilled and talented."
When head coach John Harbaugh was talking about you the other day, he was saying that you're taking it very personally, trying to win every battle for the ball. Is that more of a mental thing, or is there a physical-technique component to that? (Childs Walker) "I think it's both. Any time the ball is in the air – I'm 6'4", 225 [pounds] – it's got to be mine. That's why I'm out there. And personally-wise, I just feel like this is my time. This is time for me to be able to take over, and when the ball is in the air, I've just got to go get it. That's what this team needs, and that's what I'm here for."
You mentioned off the top that you feel more explosive this year. Can you just talk a little bit more about that? (Garrett Downing) "Yes, just being able to work with [head strength & conditioning coach] Steve [Saunders], I think he put a great offseason program together for us. Like I said, I've felt more explosive. I know what to expect now in Year Two in terms of what it's going to take day-in and day-out to be an NFL wide receiver. So, for me, I was just able to prepare for that, and I had a long time to do that. Since, obviously, we didn't have OTAs or anything else, I had a long time to prepare. Like I said, I've felt great so far, and I'm just going to continue that pace."
A year ago, as a rookie, you were playing in preseason games and getting ready for the regular season. This current rookie class won't have that. What are they missing, and what can they do to make up for that? (Mark Viviano) "I think part of what they're missing is the atmosphere. But, now, with the way this season is going, they might not even really be missing the atmosphere if we don't have one. So, I think that the biggest thing for them is just to be able to take these reps when we're going full pads and take them like game reps, honestly. Especially with wide receivers, when we're out there, we're running as fast as we can anyways. We don't really tone anything down when we have padded practices. But I would say that's the biggest thing. Obviously, going up against our great secondary is a great, great way to prepare for a game. So, I've been trying to tell them just, 'Make the most out of all the reps that you guys are getting, because this is kind of it; this is what we have right here.' And obviously, we have great people to practice against and with, but this is all we have right now."
What have been your impressions of the rookie wide receivers? (Ryan Mink) "They've been great. They've come in here, they've done everything that's asked of them, they have great attitudes, and I think they fit great in our room. Honestly, I already feel like they're a part of the room in terms of chemistry. They want to learn. Every day they go out there and try to get better. They want to learn, and they just have great attitudes, and they've been making plays."