JOHN HARBAUGH – HEAD COACH
Opening statement: "Hey, everybody. Good to see everybody. I appreciate you guys all being here and watching practice. [It was] a good, hard training camp practice day. I really appreciate players pushing through it. I thought they did a really good job of competing. It was a very competitive practice, which is good to see. And we'll continue to improve and try to do the things that winning teams do in practice and prepare for the season. So, that's where we're at. What questions do you have?"
What are some of the pros and cons from not playing any preseason games at this point in training camp [practice] number eight? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "The biggest con is the fact that you don't get to see your young guys in game action – get to see them tackling, making plays under pressure when the lights come on, so-to-speak. But just the idea of it … It's very challenging to simulate a game completely in practice. So, it would have been good to see those guys compete and take that step before they play a regular season game. The pros … I don't really see a pro, to be honest with you. I'd rather have the preseason games, but I do understand [that] it's a unique situation we're in this year with the pandemic, and that's the result of that. I think we're handling it great. I guess the pro would be that our players and coaches are handling it so well; our organization has handled it so well. That's probably the biggest pro in my eyes."
CB Tavon Young seemed to be in the middle of everything today. How good has it been to see him back? And how valuable is it to have a guy like that, especially with his skillset in the slot? (Jeff Zrebiec) "He looks great. He looks to me like he picked up right where he left off before. He's really trained hard, and you can see that. He's moving great. He's a very good football player, and he's playing very well. So, I can't wait to see him play this year. I'm excited for his season. He's a special kind of guy."
OLB Tyus Bowser is a guy you've been with since Day One, and it's a big year for him. What are your expectations for him this year? And how has he developed over the time that you've seen him? (Todd Karpovich) "The expectations are high. He has really, really worked. I see it on the practice field; he's doing a lot of things really well. He's setting the edge well, he's pass rushing, he's dropping into coverage, and he's working on special teams. So, there is a lot on his plate, and I feel like he's been successful at every single thing he's taken on in this training camp. I really expect a big season from him; I really do. He's very motivated, and he's a very hard worker."
I know DE Derek Wolfe wasn't out there today, but you guys talked about, he's someone who was on your radar for a long time from afar. What have been your impressions now of getting to see him work on an everyday basis? (Luke Jones) "I'd say an even better player. As highly as we thought of him … And this goes all the way back to his days at Cincinnati – following him through that program which we follow … He's a guy who had a chance to be here, [but] it just didn't work out in the draft. We really liked him at that time, and I would say [he's] even better than advertised. He's really having a great camp. He's a tremendous guy [and] a big-time leader. Just really everything that we were looking for, he's bringing to the table."
The Ravens announced that for the initial part of the season, there will be no fans at M&T Bank Stadium. Do you know if the team is planning to use the ambient fan noise? And have you been told by the league any rules on how loud it can be, when it can be used or anything like that? (Jamison Hensley) "There are some rules out. I'm going to say … And this is just of my knowledge, because I'm not studying those memos right about now. We have a lot of great people in the organization look at those things. My understanding of it is, is that the ambient crowd noise is required. It's at a certain decibel level, and it has to be kept at that level as background sound the whole game. That's what my understanding of it is. So, if it's different or changes, then it will be different, or it will change. Then beyond that, you have the ability to put music up until 15 seconds before the snap – 15 seconds on the play clock. I don't know how loud that can be. So, we'll be looking into that, and just try to figure out what makes the most sense for us and just move forward on it. It's not the biggest deal in the world. I'm not worried about it in any way. I don't think it's going to matter. I think playing well, and playing winning football is what really matters. But it will be interesting to see how it plays out."
I'd like to get your thoughts on you guys announcing no fans right now, where some teams are allowing fans, and in the other sports there are no fans whatsoever. So, is it equitable in your opinion? And what's going on in your mind with not having fans? Are the stadium practices valuable in that fashion? (Jerry Coleman) "Yes, the stadium practices are good in that sense, because we get a feel for an unusual situation, which is playing a game without fans. As far as one stadium to the next, I think it will be pretty similar at most stadiums, for the most part. I'm not too worried about it. It's nothing we can control. I just want to make sure we're a good football team [and] playing well. To me, that will make the biggest difference in our outcomes, and all the other stuff is up to other people."
Did you feel like OLB Tyus Bowser was starting to put it together in the second half of last year? And do you have a feel for what may have clicked for him? (Childs Walker) "You're going to get a chance to talk to him; that's a great question for him. I've seen a guy that really works. He's very, very determined to be good. He's probably his biggest own self-critic; there's no doubt about that. I think he's very hard on himself, which can be really good, but sometimes you're too hard on yourself. I really see his confidence; maybe last year it started to really come together. Now his confidence is there – 100%. And I think he's very, very ready to go and determined to have a great season."
ILB Chris Board was in the mix last year for inside linebacker; I don't think he was ready for that yet. He's an imposing, physical specimen. Where is he this year? (Kirk McEwen) "I'd say vastly improved. He's a guy who didn't play a lot of inside linebacker in college as a 'in the box' type-guy, so he had a lot to learn. He's just very diligent, and we've seen a big jump so far in this training camp. He's all over the field. He was very noticeable today at practice; I know you guy saw that. He made a bunch of plays today. So, yes, Chris Board has made a big step, and we expect big things from him."
I just wanted to ask about WR DeAndrew White. We saw him come on the field halfway through practice today. Is he a guy you expect to be in the mix at returner? What are your thoughts on the way he practiced today? (Aaron Kasinitz) "He looked good out there today, didn't he? He came out about halfway through practice – maybe before that – and jumped out and made a couple catches. So, he looked good. I had a chance to chat with him briefly after practice. He's in great spirits. He's appreciative of the opportunity. Everybody is in the mix. That's what it is; it's an opportunity. All you really need is a chance to get out there on the field and play and perform and show what you can do. I know he's a guy who has a great work ethic and is just a young guy with a lot of talent. So, I'm excited. For just getting his pads and getting his equipment out there while practice was going on – after he cleared his physical – and then coming out to practice, he did a heck of a job."
OLB TYUS BOWSER
You really seemed to come on last year in your third season, and it's no secret you're going into a contract year – a big year for a player. With that in mind, where do you think you are in your career entering Year Four? (Luke Jones) "I'm nowhere [near] where I want to be. I'm still working. I still have the standard that I have that I want to get to. I'm just taking it a day at a time to get there. It's going to be a process, especially with how this camp is going. I just want to take advantage of every practice, every snap that I get to work on what I need to to be the best. So, that's just been my main focus."
What can you tell us about your training camp so far? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "It's been a rollercoaster, just with the COVID-19 and the protocols and everything that's going on, along with the short preparation, just getting ready for the season and not having any preseason games. It's all been a whirlwind, but I've been able to focus on just one thing; and that's coming into practice, going into meetings and learning what I need to. That's just kind of been my main thing; just been dialed in to practice and working hard. Whatever comes after that, I'll deal with. But my main focus is dealing with practice, being around the guys and helping us get better to achieve a certain goal."
Is this the best camp you think you've had over your career? If so, what do you attribute that to? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I don't think so. [There's] always been a thing I need to work on each year. It's been a building block for me, just coming from my rookie year to now. I've always had things to work on. So, I've just been trying to get better in each and every way. Whether that's being a better pass rusher, working on my running blocks or just getting to the football, being a better leader on the field for the younger guys. There's just various things that I've been working on this year. So, I really can't just tell you whether my second or first year has been my best. It's just kind of been all over the place, but I've definitely just been trying to be the best player that I can be, being a role model to the younger guys. [I'm] just trying to be the best player that I can be to help this team win."
Everybody's trying to figure out what it was that made you make the leap last year. I don't want to call it a wake-up call, but did you notice that you and OLB Tim Williams Jr. came in in the same year – him in the third round, you in the second – and then, in October of last year, for lack of production, he was gone? Did that do anything to you? Did you notice that? (Kirk McEwen) "I definitely noticed it, because he wasn't in the room anymore. You pay attention to all of that, and you definitely take that into consideration that you have to come in every day and produce. This is a league where you come in and do your thing, and when you're not consistent, when you're not doing what you're supposed to do, they're quick to replace you. I've just been mainly focused on me, focused on what I can do to get better. Whether I had a bad snap or a bad practice or whatever, what can I do to improve the next day to continue to help me get better?"
When we talked to head coach John Harbaugh a few minutes ago, he said he sees a more confident guy when he watches you practice this year. Do you think that's true? And if so, where do you feel like that maybe started to elevate for you? (Childs Walker) "Absolutely. I've always been confident. But, just each year, I've been able to grow, learn the game more, be around my vets, just even learn from the younger guys. A lot of these guys have a great talent and are able to make moves, do different things. I just learn from everybody. That's just helping me become wise in the game, to learn the game more, and that just helps me play confident. It slows everything down, and I'm able to go out there and do what I can. Definitely, I'm confident this year. I'm definitely confident in what I can do in the future, and I'm looking forward to it."
Getting CB Tavon Young back on the field, twice he's had season-ending injuries. To see him back out there looking as good as he does, does that surprise you? What do you see from him so far? (Pete Gilbert) "It's not a surprise. You always fall down, but the main thing is just trying to get back up, and that's what he did. He's had his injuries, he's had his fall downs, but one thing he is, he's strong. He has a strong mindset. He has great pride in himself and he's definitely confident in himself to go out there and come back and be who he is. I feel like he's even better than what he was before. You can see it out there. He's playing fast. He's moving fast, and it's great to see that. It's great to see him back on the field. I missed him from these last couple years. I'm definitely looking forward to this year to see what he can do."
You've been on the field when that M&T Bank Stadium crowd helps your defense disrupt the offense on the other side. With no crowd and no home-field advantage – as it comes to that – what impact might that have? (Mark Viviano) "It will have a pretty [big] impact. It's always great to have our fans there. They're always energized, [and] they're always ready to come and root for us. It's going to be a different vibe. Just having this last practice [at M&T Bank Stadium], it was kind of like a pre-visual of what it will be in the incoming future. But I know our guys are going to bring the energy. We have great [veterans] – along with [Matthew] Judon, 'Phee' [Pernell McPhee], Mark Ingram II. Those guys are going to bring energy to this team, and they're going to have us going. Along with us individually, we're going to come out there and take care of business, because we have a mission that we want to accomplish. So, each and every [Sunday] – whether the fans come in, or if we're away and there are fans or whatnot – we're going to come ready, we're going to come energized, [and] we're going to come focused to go and try to win each game."
DE DEREK WOLFE
Obviously, the Ravens had said they followed you from afar for a long time, and you spent a long time in Denver. Now that you've actually been able to be in the building and practice, how do you think the start of your Ravens career has gone? (Luke Jones) "I'm finally home. It feels like … They welcomed me with open arms, man. My teammates have welcomed me with open arms. The organization has welcomed me with open arms. It was a sigh of relief, because obviously, when you spend so much time in one place, you start to get comfortable and your family is comfortable. And then when you have to uproot and leave, it's a difficult situation. But I couldn't be happier, really."
What can you say about your new teammates? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Nothing but good stuff. These guys are ready to win. They want to win a championship, and they're willing to do whatever it is to win a championship. They put the work in every day, and we bring energy to practice every day. It's fun to come into work."
You coming in with a guy like DE Calais Campbell, it could be viewed by some that you were kind of the under the radar signing. Do you view it as that, and if so, do you kind of relish in that role a little bit? What do you think? (Shawn Stepner) "Look man, I couldn't be more grateful to have a guy like Calais [Campbell] on the team. I might be 30 years old. I might be going into my ninth season, but there's still something to be learned from a guy like Calais. He's been in the league four years longer than I have. Every single day, I pick his brain, he picks my brain, and we compete with each other. It's fun to have competition. If you're a great athlete, a great competitor, you want somebody to compete with every day, and that's what we do. We push each other, we make each other better. When one of us is a little tired, 'Hey, come on. Let's go. Let's get it. We're in the weight room. Let's go to the weight room. Let's get this early lift in.' We push each other to be great. Iron sharpens iron. So, it's great to have a guy like him around. I hope he feels the same way."
It seems like you looked at everything before you came here. I think you were weighing here or Houston. You mentioned DE Calais Campbell, that was one thing. Head coach John Harbaugh being sort of a player-friendly head coach, defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale, playing with QB Lamar Jackson, a contender. Was there one thing that really sealed the deal for you? (Kirk McEwen) "Elvis Dumervil. I talked to Elvis Dumervil, and I was like, 'Hey, man. What do you think?' And he was like, 'Yes. Sign with them immediately.' So, he was like, 'You're going to love it there. It's your kind of place. They play your kind of ball. It's a defensive organization.' Even though we have a great offense right now, our defense is the backbone of this team and of this organization, really. Growing up in northeast Ohio, I got to watch the Ravens play football all the time, all their games were on. So, I got to watch that 2000 Ravens defense. Those were like my early years of football. So, that's how I learned how to play defense was from watching the Ravens and how they played flying to the ball, ripping the ball out, playing physical, being nasty and gritty and very humble – that's the kind of football I like to play."
I don't know how much interaction you've had with CB Tavon Young thus far, but as a guy who's had a couple of injuries derail him a little bit, he's back out there playing at a very high level. Does he remind you of anyone since you've been with Denver for so long and seen other players? Does he remind you? (Pete Gilbert) "I can't say he reminds me of anyone, but his ability is unbelievable. He's just got so much ability that … There's multiple players I could compare him to. But I don't like to compare guys to anybody, because everybody is their own man and you have to make your own name in this league. I don't really like being compared to other players. I don't ever want … To me, that's not a compliment, man. I'm my own guy. Let me be my own guy, don't compare me to somebody else. I think that he … The sky is the limit."
After a couple of weeks of getting to watch DT Justin Madubuike in live practice, what's kind of jumped out to you? (Childs Walker) "Oh, the kid can play. He's going to be a good football player, man. He's a great rookie. He's strong, he's tough, physical. He wants to be good. He listens, he writes down everything. That's all you can ask for. He's always asking questions, always trying to get better. I think that kid is going to be a really good football player."
DT Brandon Williams referred to you and DE Calais Campbell, recently, as the twin towers. Where is this D-line right now? How's that relationship with 'Big Baby' going so far, and just the progress you guys have made so far, not even two weeks in? (Bobby Trosset) "I was talking to Calais [Campbell] and 'Baby' [Brandon Williams] about it yesterday, about how special we can really be. When you've got a group of veterans and you've got a group of young guys that are playing well, you can roll guys like the hockey roll. Just rolling guys in and out and being fresh. Just wreaking havoc on offensive lines. 'Baby' and I actually have a ton in common; our birthdays are just days apart, our daughter's birthdays are just days apart, we both have English bulldogs, we both like to hunt. So, obviously, him and I, we got along right away. Same with Calais. The group is gelling really well, and we're getting along really well. We care about each other, and that's what's most important, man. You've got to be able to trust the guy next to you out there, that he's going to do the right thing, he's going to do his job every time. I'm really happy to be here. I'm really grateful."
How bummed are you that … The team announced we're not going to have fans for the initial games, at least, for the season. How bummed are you that you don't get to experience that M&T Bank Stadium crowd being a new guy and you don't get to hear a wolf howl? (Ryan Mink) "That's a bummer. I'm more bummed out for the fans themselves, because they're not going to get to [go]. Who knows? Maybe a couple of games in we might be able to start letting some fans in. Maybe by the end of the season, going to the playoffs, we've got a full packed stadium. You never know what's going to happen in the future. But I do, I feel worse for the fans than I do for myself. Because, to me, I'm out there to do a job. Whether people are screaming and yelling for me or not, I'm going to do that job."
CB TAVON YOUNG
After everything you went through last year with the injury … One, how good does it feel just to be back on the field? And two, how do you think the camp is going for you? (Luke Jones) "I'm excited to be back with my guys. Second time doing this, but every time I come back, it's just a blessing. It's just another day to step on the field; another day to just compete, have fun and do what I love the most."
How well are you adjusting to the changes in the secondary? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "It's cool. We all have a tight camaraderie and we're a tight group. The main thing is communication, and we all have that. Everybody knows the playbook. It's been cool."
How nervous were you to stick your neck in there the first time? [Was there] any trepidation after such a serious type [of] injury? (Kirk McEwen) "No, at first, when I first came back, I was thinking about it a little bit. But once I stepped on the grass, it was like, it is what it is – let's go. Let's do what we do."
You're one of those guys who's got a nose for the ball. If it's on the ground, it seems to find you lots of times. I assume that's not just luck. What are some of the things that you do … Why is it you're always one of the guys that's around the ball? (Pete Gilbert) "Hey, I'm just blessed. No, it's just knowing what's coming sometimes. Just having a feel for what the offense is doing. Since I was a kid, I've been around the ball – just scoring crazy touchdowns. I guess it's just something that just comes with me."
Do you feel as if it's almost contagious? Like, if you get one, you just believe you're going to get another? (Pete Gilbert) "Oh yes, definitely. You've got to have that mindset. When you get one, you just get that extra boost in your confidence that another one is coming, and another one. So, that's what I look for, and when it comes, you've just got to go with it."
Pretty spirited practice today between offense and defense. It seems like you were enjoying the give and take with TE Mark Andrews and with WR Marquise Brown. How beneficial is that – especially for a guy like you who has missed some time – to get an opportunity to match up with a tight end like Andrews and, obviously, a quick receiver like Brown? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's good, because during the season, I'm going to face all types of receivers playing in the nickel spot – tight ends, big receivers sometimes, slow receivers, fast receivers, receivers who are good with their hands. So, going against Mark Andrews, he's one of the best tight ends in the league, I feel like. Me and him, we go at it. We always chat it up. And Marquise [Brown], you already know, he has that super speed – something that's always good to go against. He's one of the fastest receivers in the league, and we compete – that's what we do here."
What kind of an impact do you think S DeShon Elliott can make now that he's getting some more playing time with the starters? (Jamison Hensley) "DeShon [Elliott] – he's a high-energy, high-motor … He's another guy who's around the ball a lot. I feel like he can be a great player for us – and he knows that, and we know that as a team. We're just getting him in the motions. He's ready to go, for sure, I know that."
Can you talk about how difficult it was for you last season having to sit out and debating on the surgery? Especially since you signed an extension and all of that? How difficult was that last year? (Ryan Mink) "It was rough, but as long as my guys were shining, it kept a smile on my face. I came to the games – as many games as I could, home games. Every time I'm around, it feels like I'm out there. It was alright, but it's rough at times because you want to be out there. But now that I'm back, I'm just ready to go."
I imagine part of your motivation coming back, you were looking forward to getting in front of that home crowd. There's not going to be one from the start. What is the thought about playing football with no fans in the stands? Is that going to be weird for you, you think? (Mark Viviano) "It's something we're going to have to adjust to. But at the end of the day, we've got to play football, and we have to do our jobs. We have to do what we do. But 'Ravens Flock,' we love you, and we can't wait to get you all back in there."
I know it's in the rearview, but can you actually take us through what happened on the play where you got hurt? (Jonas Shaffer) "To be honest, I really can't tell you which play it was. But I had neck pain throughout the camp, kind of. And then just one day, it was like I was putting on my helmet and I couldn't really take the pain from it. So, after that, I just checked in with the training staff. I couldn't really re-call which exact play it was."