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Transcripts: Ravens Training Camp (8/24) Zoom Press Conference


Opening statement: "Hey, everybody. Good to see everybody. I appreciate you guys being out today. Obviously, a beautiful day; warm, but not so much that we couldn't handle it. I thought our guys did a great job coming off the short practice yesterday. We were at the stadium and it was a very physical practice. Today, we were in the shells. I thought it was a good, fast practice today. We're moving forward. So, what do you have?"

How did QB Lamar Jackson look out there today after having two days off? (Jamison Hensley) "You were there, right? Oh, you weren't there today? (Reporter: I'm sorry – I was there, and I thought he moved around well. But you have a better football eye than myself.) You have a good eye. You're there, you saw it. You're reporting to the fans. (laughter) No, he was back. He looked good. He had a good practice. So, we're moving forward, like I said."

RB J.K. Dobbins, he had some highlight reel plays yesterday at the stadium. He's pretty much looked good all camp. How are you seeing him progressing? What kind of impact can he make this year? (Todd Karpovich) "I expect him to have an impact. What kind of impact? That certainly remains to be seen. He's going to get an opportunity to play, for sure. I like everything we've seen so far. It's just camp – we're just a short period in – but he has certainly lived up to expectations so far."

We've asked you a lot about the interior offensive line, but you do have that open swing tackle job that G/T James Hurst had for so many years. Who do you see in the mix there and how do you see that competition shaping up so far? (Luke Jones) "That's a spot right now that's been kind of rotational. Of course, Will Holden is the tackle who's out there right now. He's taking reps at both sides. We have flipped Orlando [Brown Jr.], D.J.'s [Fluker] gone out. Tyre Phillips has gone out there too, and Parker Ehinger has gone out there as well. So, it's rotational right now. Like we said, we'll get through this week and then, hopefully, we'll start honing in on who is where and what spot exactly, how the depth chart works out. Those things have to take care of themselves. Those are things that you can't make decisions for them until you have to play a game. Hopefully, by the first game … We'll make a decision, but I'd like the decision to make itself in terms of the productivity and execution before then."

John, I asked you this about a week ago about the roster and the numbers. You guys have lost a couple guys along the way here, so you have gotten down. Are you any closer to that? Or is that something you just have to play by ear, and it depends on how many guys are healthy, how many people are available to practice and all of that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Certainly. I think your last point is exactly right – we have to have numbers for practice. Right now, we're a little lighter than we want to be for practice. We have to adjust practice accordingly, which we did today, and we'll continue to do. We've got plenty of reps for the guys that we have out there. The guys are working really hard."

Was DE Calais Campbell a vet day today with the quick turnaround from yesterday? (Luke Jones) "Yes."

S DeShon Elliott – as I'm watching him out at practice, I see he's a very vocal guy, whether it's on the field or off the field. Has he always been that way since he's been here? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes. He likes to talk. It's a good thing, most of the time, and sometimes, you have to tell him, 'OK. I've heard enough.' (laughter) But it's always positive. This guy is energetic, [an] 'All-ball' kind of a guy. A great communicator on the field, and also a great communicator off the field, too. It's just who he is, and I'm real pleased with that part of him."

I'm not asking specifically about the injury, but is there any chance you get TE Eli Wolf back soon? (Jeff Zrebiec) "There is, yes. I don't have a date on that yet. I'm not expecting that to draw out too much longer. I'm hopeful to see him back in the next couple of days, but I haven't gotten word of that yet. As far as the rest of the injuries go, the plan right now is … The first injury report is going to come out … Oh, I have it right here. Let me check. September 9, OK? So, that will be the definitive time on the injuries. Until then, everything is a couple days, no more than a week, and if it's more than that, I'll try to keep you informed on that of any serious-type injuries that come up. The rest of it really is just training camp stuff, Eli's [Wolf] in that category until further notice. We haven't heard anything different on that, and we'll go from there."


We have not gotten to talk to you since the practice last Friday. Can you give your perspective on what happened with Earl Thomas III and the fallout from that? (Childs Walker) "I'm doing good. But right now, as a team and as an organization, we're just moving forward and putting that situation in the rearview, and we're just trying to get through training camp healthy and get to the first game."

Just going back to last year when S Tony Jefferson went down, you and S DeShon Elliott were the two guys who were expected to step in and fill that safety role. Obviously, DeShon goes down and go on to, kind of, stabilize the secondary. Fast forward now – just what about DeShon's game will allow you guys to play well and play in cohesion on the backend? (Daniel Oyefusi) "Me and 'Shon' [DeShon Elliott], we communicate really good out there on the field together. He has a high motor, a lot of energy [and] a lot of aggression out there on the field. When we're out there paired together, when we're out there, we just gel together smooth. It's been like that in the past. We've been out there running with the 'two's' before we stepped into our roles as starters. So, we know how each other plays."

Just talk about the last year. You went from trying to elbow your way into the starting lineup to getting the green dot – which I'm wondering if you're possessive of – to now, you're the head safety in the room and trying to get S DeShon Elliott up to speed. How has that last year been? It seems like a whirlwind – [you've got a] new kid – you've got a lot going on. (Kirk McEwen) "Right – a lot can change in a year, honestly. Last year, I look at my situation that I was in, in training camp, and I was a special teams player and a second-string safety looking like if it was the best fit at the moment. But you just ride it out and ride the wave, and eventually your time will come. Now, I look at it here and it's a blessing. I'm just taking the most of this opportunity and running with it. It doesn't matter how you come into this league. It just matters what you take and what you do with your opportunity."

Just as a follow-up – are you possessive of the green dot now that you have it? Is that something that you don't want to give up – calling the plays on defense? (Kirk McEwen) "I'll do whatever the defense has to do so we can operate out there as best we can. We're all out there … There's a couple of us out there that have it and know how to use it."

A lot of your teammates have been very outspoken in their respect for you, your game, your knowledge of the game. How important is it to you to have secured that your teammates are so behind you? (Mark Viviano) "I think that's what we stand on here – in our team and our organization – is that we're a family. We're down for each other. If you're down for the ultimate goal that we are about around here – and that's winning and trying to get a championship."

How do you deal with negative distractions? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "With negative distractions – they're out there everywhere. Social media, you hear things, but I know what I am. I know what the people I care about, what they think about me and what they think, the people that know things that are going on. At the end of the day, it's just how I can move forward. I'm in a positive mindset right now."

Pass defense coordinator Chris Hewitt yesterday told us that the thing that sticks out about S DeShon Elliott is his confidence, and we can hear him talking from the sideline sometimes. Do you have that impression of DeShon as well? How does that, kind of, blend with your personality on the field? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Definitely, as a 'DB' [defensive back] – the natural nature – you've got to have that confidence and that swagger on the field, and he has a lot of it. We love it as a defense, and that's what he brings to us. When we're out there … If he's going to make a play, you're definitely going to hear it from him. Or if somebody else makes a play on our defense, you're going to hear from him about it. We love that, and that he brings that."

I understand you wanting to move forward. In doing so, does it feel like a weight has been lifted to have that resolution from last Friday to now? (Pete Gilbert) "I'm done addressing that, honestly, and the organization [is] as well. So, we're just moving forward at this point"

What is the best advice you have received to help you as the newest starter? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I played with a couple of safeties that were here previously – guys that I looked up to. Just knowing that this organization, that we stand on defense here, and at the safety position alone – a lot of people look at you as a leader on the defense. Just accepting it and running with it."

How do you feel about the [COVID-19] testing and everything? We haven't really talked too much about COVID[-19]. The NFL, so far … I know they had a bunch of false positives. I don't know if you guys discussed that as a group. How do you feel things have come along so far? (Jerry Coleman) "Right now, out here, we're just trying to do our best in staying healthy, doing protocols. Right now, I'm in here doing the interview by myself – that's why I don't have a mask. But when I go back in there, we all got our masks on [and] practicing our social distancing. So, we're trying to proceed and move forward with the best procedures around the building so we can all stay healthy and go play other teams."


The last couple days, your coaches have talked about what a vocal player you are and what a vocal player you've always been. Does that go back a long way with you? Where does that confidence that we see on the field come from? (Childs Walker) "Preparation. I've always turned myself to be in my book [and] work hard. I came here being able to be around guys who work hard. And establishing that leadership that I've been following from Chuck [Clark], the leadership that my coaches bring, and also just my teammates. All my teammates – they play hard. So, when they play hard, [it] makes me want to be more in my book. And if I'm in my book, I can be more confident in myself. So, that's pretty much where I get it from."

The last couple days – you being a Texas guy and S Earl Thomas III being a Texas guy – was that harder to watch him go through this? Does it make it more personal for you? (Pete Gilbert) "Since being hurt the last two years, I kind of just realized the NFL is a business. And I trust and believe in what Coach Harbaugh and people upstairs are doing. So, honestly, what happens here – besides me being on the field and me doing things that I can control – I can't really take it any kind of way, because the NFL is a business. So, it is what it is."

You've played in six games in two seasons. The best ability is availability. When people talk about you not being on the field, what do you say to that? (Kirk McEwen) "I think I've got myself together physically, mentally and spiritually. I feel like God is going to bless me with the things I need to stay healthy this year. And I'm going to do the best I can to stay healthy for my teammates and play for them. I love this team. I love my defense. I'm just trying to stay healthy as much as I can, so I can be able to make the plays I need to make, to get us to where we're trying to get to and our end goal. So, I'm trying to play for my boys."

What's it like working with S Chuck Clark? How's your relationship with him? (Todd Karpovich) "Chuck was here a year before me. When I came in, we were both sitting behind two great players – Tony [Jefferson] and [Eric] Weddle. So, when I came in … Weddle and Tony were more of my mentors, but Chuck [Clark] was there to help me and guide me along. Any struggles I had mentally with the playbook … See, I wasn't used to sitting behind anybody. So, he was already here and was experiencing it, and I was asking him, 'How does it work?' I kind of just learned how to grow from him. And then, sitting back and watching his success, watching how hard he worked, and just being able to see the path that he's about to start, I just want to be a part of that. And honestly, Chuck is my 'dog.' I ride for Chuck. Win or lose, I'll always ride for Chuck."

Coach Harbaugh said yesterday that it's your time now. Could you talk about how eager you are to get out there and play, and show what you're able to do, after struggling to get on the field the first two years? (Garrett Downing) "Of course. I'm excited. I love the game of football. Whether they pay me or not, I'll play this game. And my health has been the only question I have from everybody. I'm not worried about my health, because I'm going to be healthy; I'm going to be at 100%. I'm going to do what I have to do to be productive for this team. Every game, every day, I'm going to work my ass off – excuse my language – but I'm going to work my butt off. And I'm just trying to be here to win with my homies – with my brothers. That's all I care about. I don't care about anything else. I don't care what people say about me outside this building. The only people's opinion I care about are my teammates and my coaches – the only people I care about."

What's it like to practice against our quarterbacks? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Lamar Jackson is like that. He's the man. If he doesn't win MVP two times in a row, I'll be shocked. That boy is like that. And being able to play against him, it just helps us build as a defense, because we'll never play against anybody like him ever – no matter what game it is. So, being able to play against him makes us better every day. I know they're striving every day. We're just knives sharpening knives. We're going against each other [and] trying to be great."

Can you talk a little bit about your nose for the football, your desire to make plays, make big hits, get turnovers like you did in college, and whether the 'Joker' nickname plays into that? (Ryan Mink) "Making plays is what I want to do. As long as you fly around to the football and be in the right spots, and don't try to force anything, the plays will come to you. I've learned that being in the NFL. Honestly, if it happens, it happens, and I feel like it's going to happen for me a lot. Me translating my game to the league – honestly, it's the same thing. It's me just working hard. If you be consistent and work hard, eventually the hard work will pay off. My 'Joker' moniker – you never know what will happen with me. Just like the 'Joker,' you never know what's going to happen. But we're both going to come crazy, we're both going to come wild, [and] we're going to handle our business – no matter what."

Pass defense coordinator Chris Hewitt said yesterday, that at times, maybe you're a bit overconfident. Is that an accurate description, perhaps? (Jerry Coleman) "I wouldn't say overconfident. I feel like being confident in your abilities strives [from] and it comes from just being able to know that you prepared the right way. If you're preparing the right way, then you're going to be confident in yourself. And I've been preparing as a starter for two years. And so, I know what I can do, and I know what I can bring to this team to help my teammates be great. And they expect me to be great, and I love that they expect me to be great. And honestly, if he [pass defense coordinator Chris Hewitt] says it's overconfidence, I'm going to prove to everybody out there that my confidence is very worthy of it, for sure."

You mentioned that S Eric Weddle and S Tony Jefferson were your mentors. What would you say was the best guidance or wisdom that you took from those two guys? (Childs Walker) "From 'Dub' [Eric Weddle], it was, honestly, just being in that book. He was a master when it came to the playbook. He knew exactly what was going to go on. Every play during the game, he could tell everybody what to do on their assignments, and I strive to be that great. I strive to be that mentally tough. I strive to be that smart in this game of football. It's not just about running around, because after six or seven years, your ability will change. It's going to be more about mentally. So, that's what I want to be able to translate to my game, to help me make plays with my physical ability. And then 'TJ' [Tony Jefferson], he just brought that 'dog.' I already had the 'dog,' but he brought that 'West Coast dog.' So, it taught me how to be 'your boy' with 'dogs.' So, we're trying to bring all that to the field – me and my 'dogs'. Me and all the boys on defense, we're [going to] go crazy."   

You mentioned coming up with S Chuck Clark. When two guys at your position … You guys both had to wait your turn. You guys both had to be patient. To get the opportunities, almost kind of coincide together at the same time, what can you say about that? Does that add, maybe, a level of chemistry between you and Chuck, or something a little extra? (Shawn Stepner) "First off, it's all God. When I was younger, I had to learn how to be patient. I had no patience when I first came into the league; I was always, 'Go, go, go.' Being able to learn that patience, and realizing, when your time comes, you have to take advantage of it, and take the opportunity and run with it. I learned that from Chuck [Clark], sitting back and watching him. When 'TJ' [Tony Jefferson] went down last year, then I went down last year, Chuck stepped up. He did the things he needed to do to be a great player and to be consistent, and that's how it is. For me and him to both be able to finally be on the big stage together, we're going to make some noise out there. I trust him; he trusts me. We love each other, so I know we're going to play for each other, and we're [not going to] let each other down."

Can you talk a little bit about how difficult that was last year, when it looked like you were finally going to have that expanded role on defense, and then, in the first game, you suffer the knee injury? And then, everybody is talking about how you can replace S Earl Thomas III, who is a potential future Hall of Famer. Is your belief that, 'Hey, I can make this defense even better, even though I'm stepping in behind him?' (Ryan Mink) "Injuries happen. It's football; injuries are always going to happen. It definitely hurt me, but it made me tougher, it made me more mature, [and] it made me look at the game differently on the mental aspect of it. And the Earl [Thomas III] situation, Earl is a Hall of Famer, no doubt. We have the same agent. So, of course, I respect Earl and his game, but I'm not worried about Earl; I'm worried about me and what I can bring to this team for my teammates. I know I'm going to make my plays, [and] I know we're going to strive to be great. So, whatever I have to do to do that, that's what's going to happen. Whether it's eight picks, 10 picks or no picks, whatever I need to do to help my team be great and win every game we need to win to accomplish our end goal, that's all I care about."


Last time we talked to you, you talked about wanting to be the best tight end in the league. Given that ambition, do you feel like you're being harder on yourself than you ever have been before? (Childs Walker) "I think being in the league for two years now and playing those two seasons, you've got to be able to self-reflect. I know the type of player I can be, and hopefully, I'm going to be. So, just being hard on myself is what you need to do as a player. If you want to reach the goals that you want to reach, you have to have a vision of where you want to go. So, in my mind, I know where I want to go. I know where I want to be as a player, as a teammate. So, it's not a bad thing to be too hard."

Could you just talk about where the passing game is right now in terms of chemistry? I know that was a big talking point coming into camp, because of the lost time. But just where do you feel like the overall passing game is right now? (Garrett Downing) "The passing game is going well. [Offensive coordinator] 'G-Ro' [Greg Roman] has been dialing up some great plays. Obviously, the more we rep and the more plays we get, the better we're getting. So, you can kind of see the progression from where we started to where we're at now, and it's looking good. I'm excited for the season. I'm excited to throw the rock around. All of our receivers are stepping up. Those guys are balling out right now, and tight ends are doing their thing as well. So, it's going to be a fun year, especially in the passing game."

Along those lines, it feels like with the guys on the outside – WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown being 100%, WR Miles Boykin [going] into his second year and the rookies that came in and are catching everything … Does is feel that the field is more spread out and there's more room for you, because of what they're able to do? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, they're definitely making their plays. I think [defensive coordinator] 'Wink' [Don Martindale] is still a little bit worried about the middle with the tight ends in there. So, maybe, in a little bit, he'll start looking the other way." (laughter)

You've got so many distractions leading up to the season. Watching ESPN today, they were running a fantasy football marathon. You're the No. 3 tight end behind TE Travis Kelce and TE George Kittle. Do you pay attention to that? Do people bombard you with that? Do you listen to all of that outside noise when it comes to fantasy? (Kirk McEwen) "No, you can't. That stuff is all opinion. So, obviously, you get tagged in everything like that every day that, 'You're the third best, and you're behind all these guys.' You can't look at that as a player. You've got to stay true and look at your film, look at what you've done, how you're playing each and every day. This is a business of, 'What are you doing for me lately?' So, that's kind of how I approach it – try not to look at all that stuff and just grind, get better as a player each day and perform for your organization."

What can you tell us about your camp so far compared to last year? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "This camp's been great. I think that this schedule and what we've been doing … The Ravens have come up with a great plan. I feel good, body feels good. I'm really in shape, and I'm running better than I ever have. So, I'm very confident going into the season. Everyone is healthy right now. So, just trying to keep that and keep going and keep that positive trend going through the season."

Can you talk about the matchups you've had with CB Jimmy Smith in practice? And also, what you've seen from S DeShon Elliott in your time practicing against him? (Ryan Mink) "Jimmy [Smith] and I have had a really, really kind of fun camp, so far. That safety position and him guarding tight end, he's honestly a natural. I think he's going to, not shock people, but he's been guarding receivers his whole career, so now he's guarding tight ends. He's so long and he's able to get his hands on, he's going to flourish at the position. I don't think that … I've been against a lot of great players, and he's definitely very good at what he does. So, we've been battling it out, and it's been fun to be able to go against him. We're making each other better. Iron sharpens iron, and that's kind of that situation. DeShon's [Elliott] been playing well. I think him flying around, he's a guy that's super eager to get going, and it's kind of his time to step up. He's been waiting for a while. He's had these injuries and whatnot. I know he's ready to go. He's a special player. He's a guy who's going to fly around, he can cover. So, that's a great addition for our defense."

As far as things going with the COVID-19 testing, we just had a bunch of false positives. I don't know if you guys have talked about that collectively, but how do you like the way things have been handled by the National Football League and the Ravens in particular, as someone who does deal with diabetes? (Jerry Coleman) "I think the everyday testing … I know the Ravens, they're obviously a first-class organization. We're doing everything that we can. All the protocols and everything, so we're being super strict on that stuff. So, I don't know too much about the false positives stuff. I know on our end, we're doing everything we can, and the Ravens are top-notch in that area."

I know he's on the other side of the ball, but S Chuck Clark seems to be very well respected in the locker room. Did the team rally around him at all this week? And why do you think he's a guy that's kind of drawn some respect from his teammates in the past year? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I think, like you said, it's been the past year that Chuck's [Clark] been kind of the guy, quietly on the defense, that guys go to. He knows that defense incredibly well, and I'm not in those rooms or in those meetings, but those guys definitely respect him a ton. He's the guy that they go to and look to when there's questions. He's a great player. He's that leader of that defense, and he gets the ball rolling. So, there's really not much else to say. He's just a great player. It's been fun being able to go against him. He's gotten better from the years that I've been here. It's been fun to watch."

I'm not asking about your situation per se, but as one of the top tight ends in the league, how much do you pay attention when a guy like TE George Kittle gets paid and when a guy like TE Travis Kelce gets another contract? Is that something that you take note of at all? Or is it not even something you see or consider? (Jeff Zrebiec) "No, obviously you see it. The tight end position is always pretty tight knit, so you're always rooting for other guys. Obviously, [George] Kittle and [Travis] Kelce are two of the best in the game. So, whenever they do something, whenever something happens, you're going to hear about that. So, it was fun. It's good to see that the position is growing. Obviously, it's been underpaid for a long, long time. If you look at what they're doing – 1,300 yards the last couple years and they're blocking on top of that. So, they're having more yards than receivers and they're blocking, but they're getting paid less than receivers. So, it's good to kind of see that get re-upped. I was very happy for them."

S Chuck Clark was just talking earlier about how the Ravens stand as a family. You guys are together, you're focused on winning a championship. What is your feel for that and the importance of that? Especially when you go through a roster change in a guy like Earl Thomas III having to leave, what does the family mean to you guys? (Mark Viviano) "It's hard to describe. It's the 'Big Truzz.' It's just something that unless you're in the organization, you're in here every day hanging out with the guys, with the coaches and grinding in training camp, it's hard to describe. Everyone in here has each other's backs. The coaches have our best interest. It's something that … We all look out for each other. So, that's really what it means. Just being a tight-knit family, loving on each other and having respect for the other man. We have that here, and I don't think it's like that everywhere else."

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