SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR CHRIS HORTON
Opening Statement:"It's good to see everyone today. [I] hope everyone's doing well. Just a quick little recap from the game – it seems like it was forever ago – but I'll just try to give you as much as I can remember. I thought all the guys went out there [and] played well, [and] they competed. We gave them an opportunity to make some plays. We didn't really have that many opportunities in the punt return game, but one of the learning moments we did put a ball on the ground. Obviously, we've been coaching our butts off with that. James [Proche II] knows what we expect whenever he's back there – ball security first. The last two days have been really good for us. I thought the Commanders came in here and really did a good job and gave us a great look. We had some really good punt and punt return work which is what we look forward to. It's what we needed, and we have some young guys doing some good things. I'm really looking forward to seeing those guys go out on Monday night and perform at a high level. Questions?"
What did you see out of RB Keaton Mitchell as far as the kickoff return?_ (Jamison Hensley)_ "Keaton [Mitchell] is doing a great job. We have him back there for a reason. He has an elite speed. He has great vision, and his ball security is outstanding. We're just going to continue to give him opportunities back there. We have some other guys that we'll also put back there this week and give opportunities to. But Keaton is doing a great job. We put him at gunner. We're letting him play out there. We're putting him as an inside player on kickoff and just allowing him to utilize his skillset – his speed [and] his physicality whenever he's out there."
Did you like what you saw from P Jordan Stout in the preseason as well? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, I do. I thought Jordan [Stout] came out and punted the ball really well. He had a great hang time on those punts. He gave our coverage an opportunity to get down the field. Obviously, there are some things that we're going to continue to work on as far as keeping the ball out of the middle of the field. But, when the ball was in the middle of the field, he had hang times which allowed our guys to get down the field and cover. So, I'm really pleased where Jordan [Stout] is. Obviously, we're going to continue to work."
You spoke highly of LS Tyler Ott from the moment he arrived. Were you pleased to see him practice and did it carry over into the game? (Luke Jones) "Practice has carried over into the games. Again, I thought in the preseason games, you don't really get as many rushes, but I thought the last two days, what we got out of [Tyler Ott] from the Commanders and what we've seen from the Commanders, has really proven ourselves right that this guy can get it done. I thought his field goal snap on that 60-yarder [field goal] … From snap to hold to the kick, it was outstanding."
In a preseason setting where contact is going to be very limited, what are you looking for when you're evaluating young guys? (Adam Kilgore) "We're looking for guys that fly around. That play with high level of intensity, play with good effort, play with physicality and just really see who can execute under pressure and not make the mental mistakes. Then we will give those guys opportunities throughout the game to kind of really go cover some kicks and make some plays. And we just really want to see guys play the Raven way."
On K Justin Tucker's 60-yard field goal, it looked like it could have been good from significantly longer. Do you guys measure the exit velocity or how far kicks could have gone, where they could have been made? Is there an analytics approach to it?_ (Ryan Mink)_ "There probably is, but I don't think when we're in the game, I don't think [special teams coach Randy Brown] is thinking about that. Throughout the pre-game, Randy knows [Justin Tucker's] line, and he's like 'Hey, we can be good from here.' And we line up there, and we kick the ball. We put 'Tuck' out there, and he's going to expect to make the kick. It was a great night for it."
What have you seen the young wide receiver crew from a special teams' standpoint like WR Tylan Wallace? (Brian Wacker) "Again, all these guys are doing a really good job. Specifically, Tylan [Wallace] is in his third year. And if we just remember, when Tylan was a rookie, he played lights out for us, and last year it wasn't so great from him. This year he's come back, and he's given himself a great opportunity to really go out and excel on special teams. As far as some of the other guys, what I'm seeing from Dontay [Demus Jr.] and Sean [Ryan], I just want those guys to come out there and be physical. [I want them to] run around, put their helmet on somebody and just play our style of football. And they've done a really good job of that."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE MACDONALD
How are you navigating all the injuries at cornerback? _(Kris Rhim) _"I've thought about it, and I assumed that question was going to happen. But I think it's an opportunity to, one, just give a shoutout to Marlon [Humphrey] and the things that he's done for our defense and our team. I mean, you're talking about a guy that has been here in the offseason, has taken on a leadership role. He's out there every day. He practices extremely hard, he practices the right way, and he's a teach tape every practice. So, obviously, we'll see the length of time that he's going to miss, and we'll miss him – absolutely – but we do have good players in our back end. And the expectation is to come in and to produce and execute and play the way that we play. So, we'll take it one day at a time. I'm sure they'll be pieces moving from here – between now and when we get kicked off – and [we'll] see where we're at. But right now, we're just trying to figure out where to put all the spots, and I think [it'll] come into clear focus as the season approaches."
Have you thought about the different roles for players like S Kyle Hamilton? Are you concerned? _(Kris Rhim) _"Yes, we have. With Kyle [Hamilton], it's a function of how much we want to move him around on a per-play basis. It's not easy going from one position to another. If you can package it to make it a little cleaner … And whoever fills in for his [Kyle Hamilton's] role – if and when we do move him – that's something else that we're considering, as well. So, it's not just Kyle that we're considering, when you talk about moving him."
We've seen a lot of S Ar'Darius Washington at the nickel position this summer. How do you think he's handled that, and what do you make of his overall development? _(Luke Jones) _"Ar'Darius [Washington] has done a great job. I think you really felt him in the game. He plays extremely fast, [and] he plays decisive. He's not the biggest DB [defensive back] of all time, but he throws his body around, and he doesn't play little; he plays like a big player. So, I give him credit for that. He's a tough player, and he's a lot more consistent this year, I'd say, [than] at this time last year; I think he'd say the same thing. So, I'm pleased with A.D.'s progress, for sure."
What have you seen from CB Kevon Seymour during training camp? _(Ryan Mink) _"I think 'Key' [Kevon Seymour] has had a great camp. I think you can put him in the Ar'Darius [Washington] conversation of just being more consistent. I think he's playing more confidently, especially in his man-to-man techniques. But he's a guy that … He's just … Shoot, he's kind of been in a few places. He's been a great special teams player, and I'm sure that he'd tell you that he's excited about having an opportunity to expand his role on defense. So, if and when his opportunity comes, I expect him to be out there making plays, just like everybody else."
Maybe the silver lining with the cornerback depth is that you have two really good safeties in Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton. How confident are you in those guys to pick up the slack if you're entering the season shorthanded at cornerback? _(Garrett Downing) _"Yes, I mean, I would say, I'm extremely confident for [Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton] to go in and play really good football. I wouldn't say they've got to pick up any slack. [When] you start trying to do things outside of what we're asking you to do within the scheme, I think that's when you get holes and seams that you're not trying to create. So, they're doing a great job. They've both had great camps. I have a lot of confidence in those guys, [and] I think it's going to be exciting to watch them [in] the game. But the expectation is not to do anything extra, but [for them to] just do their job."
With OLB David Ojabo having a full camp this year, what has kind of stood out to you in him coming back from that injury? Does it look like he's a full go? Does he look like the same guy you coached at Michigan? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, like to your point, this is [David Ojabo's] first camp. He really is a rookie in really almost every matter of the word. So, we're preaching consistency, just like we did with Odafe [Oweh] last year and focusing on day-to-day routine, the process, taking it snap by snap. Don't get too high. Don't get too low. It's a long season, and we want him out there for the long haul, so the expectation is that he's going to be able to produce for us consistently. So, that's the message that we're trying to get towards him, and I think he's accepting it. I'd say for being a [first-year player at training camp], it's [been] a good first camp."
Where has OLB Odafe Oweh made the biggest strides this offseason? _(Ryan Mink) _"I would just piggyback on my answer [with David Ojabo]. I think you do see a daily focus from [Odafe Oweh] on what we're asking him to do within the defense. I'd say his rush is a lot more decisive. I think you see a more consistent plan on a down-in and down-out basis, and the message to him is … I told him the other day: 'Can you do it for 55 plays? Can you do it for 60 plays?' That's the challenge, and I think he's taken that head on. I'm proud of his approach there and his mentality, but we'll see. That's the next step for him."
Talking more in generality rather than anybody specific, given the date and what you guys have ahead, how difficult is it at this stage to incorporate players and to get them ready to play a major role, while you're evaluating and trying to make roster decisions at the same time?_ (Jeff Zrebiec)_ "It's the hand that we've been dealt, so we have to take it head on, and we're rolling. If you have a different approach, then all you're doing is wasting time. But to your point, there's certain things that we wanted to get to at this point if you would have considered everyone was available. So, you have to kind of put your ego aside and table those things, and for certain guys based on where their development, you have to evaluate that. Now, you're looking at, 'Hey, let's make sure we're doing all the stuff, and everybody is on the same page.' We'll get to the stuff that we want to get to in time when it's the correct time, but right now [the] time is to get everybody rolling up to speed."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TODD MONKEN
What did you get out of the last two days with the joint practices with the Washington Commanders? (Garrett Downing) "Oh man, it was awesome – awesome to compete against another team. [The] different looks kind of heightens the intensity of a practice. It reminds you of what this is all about. It's about winning. It's about competing and winning individually and then ultimately winning as a team. It was really great. It was great."
You came into training camp and the offseason with a very detailed idea of what you want the offense to look like. How much is that picture going to change, if at all, once you get more familiar with the players and what they bring? (Adam Kilgore) "All the above. You have an idea of what you want it to look like. It's always a work in progress. We're always under construction – a player is, an offense is. As we still learn each other and [our] strengths and weaknesses. It's a little bit harder when you don't play a game yet, right? You don't know that. What it'll look like Week 12, 13, 14 compared to what it'll be to start, that remains to be seen."
QB Lamar Jackson has talked about you sending him and quarterbacks coach Tee Martin plays. Is that something that you've always done, and can you talk about that process a little bit?_ (Garrett Downing) "Well first off, if you empower your players, then … I will say this – [if] you're more receptive to their ideas, and they put more time and effort into it. [It's] not just things that they see, but things that they may see on film, or what's on their mind in terms of a better way of doing it, because if they don't have confidence in what we do, you're really in trouble. So, I think that's a step in the right direction. When players have ideas or thoughts or suggestions, it's been my background to [say], 'Hey, let's take a look at it. Let's take a look at what you see.' As long as it's well thought out, and I think it fits. There does come a point where you can't have 28 suggestions for [gosh] sakes, but the reality is you do want them involved. You do want them feeling good about the process – how we go about game planning, and once they do that, then there's a certain amount of empowerment [and] ownership into what we do. And then, they feel terrible when it doesn't work because it was their idea. They become the OC, and [I] say, 'Huh, it was your idea.' I mean, [heck]." _(laughter)
You said that WR Odell Beckham Jr. brings trust to the offense. Where do you see the connection between QB Lamar Jackson and Beckham Jr. right now? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Well, you're developing always. Years ago, at The Manning [Passing Academy], Peyton told one of our quarterbacks – his name was Nick Mullins at Southern Miss. I said, 'What'd you get out of it?' He said, 'Peyton Manning said never get tired of running the same routes over and over and over. Don't ever get tired of being elite at the little things – don't ever get tired of that. That's how you build a certain chemistry [and get] an idea of how they're going to come out of their breaks and when, their body language, what they put into their routes.' I think that's always ongoing since Odell's new here. But, Odell is an elite route runner – [he] does take pride in that. So, I think as we continue to go and move forward, I think that'll continue to build."
Are you a fan of trick plays? (Ryan Mink) "I like plays that work. So, if that works then I'm into trick plays. I mean, I don't know. It's … We'll see. Usually, that's what the players come up with. That's usually what they like. They've got like the triple reverse pass – something like that. And they're usually the ones throwing it, just to say that."
Has there been a better feel between QB Lamar Jackson and WR Odell Beckham Jr.? _(Jamison Hensley) _"I think so. I think so. I think with all of the guys, Odell's a part of that, and the players that have been out there. That comes with reps like anything – same with offensively. The things we do in practice that you have success with builds confidence into calling it – same with players. The players that you keep, and that you trust show it in practice. So, when you see certain things in practice, it's easy to carry over and call it in the game. If not, then you're just guessing. So, there's a lot of work that goes into it."
What have you seen from RB J.K. Dobbins now that he is practicing? (Melissa Kim) "Well, we're excited to have him out there. What we've seen so far is, to me, a player that is eager to get going. He loves playing football. That's what I see, and he's being diligent in what he's missed from a mental standpoint. That's what I like. He's still building himself up to being able to go a full practice, but I see diligence. I see a guy that's eager to get going. He loves playing football."
We've seen WR Zay Flowers be very dynamic in the joint practices with the Commanders and in the first preseason game. What does that show you?_ (Ryan Mink)_ "[It's] what we see every day. I mean, that's just it. Usually, a player's elite skillset shows up. The physicality of a player will show up. The ability to stop on a dime and make people miss – you'll see that show up. So now, with that, that is obviously a strength of his. Now, we're working to refine some of the other things that will make him a complete player."
What have you learned about TE Mark Andrews these last four weeks? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Alright, Mark Andrews [is] highly competitive, an astute learner. He wants to know how we see a concept, and he wants to do whatever he can to help us win. To me, that's what he's always done, but you don't see that until you get around him – how he loves to compete [and] how he approaches every day. He's one of the first guys in our offensive meeting – he's sitting right there, ready to go. He's wide-eyed. He's taking notes, and that's impressive."
Is there a time when an idea pops in your head when you see RB J.K. Dobbins running out there, especially now that he's back on the field? (Shawn Stepner) "Sure. It's hard because it's early, but all players are like that, including J.K. What you see on a daily basis builds trust into what you want to call. So, whether it's a matchup player at running back, tight end or receiver where you feel like they can win on their own, or you start to see how they run the football. Their skillset I think adds to that. So with every day, I'll be able to see more of that – not that I haven't seen film, but I haven't seen it in person yet."
Are you big on calling plays from upstairs in the coaches booth? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"[I like being] upstairs [in the coaches booth]. Yes, always upstairs. [It's] much easier to spread out. [It's] much easier to stay calm. The emotional side of it is much easier because at the moment, you feel like you can scream. No one's right there even though you think they can hear you through the glass. The reality is, it allows you to stay a lot more focused and try to keep it as calm as you can, as calm as you can. I'm human – so it doesn't mean I don't get frustrated, or I don't make mistakes – but it's always allowed me, and I can see it better."
Obviously, it's your first year here, so are you pretty careful about what you're showing during preseason or joint practices? _(Kris Rhim) _"Well, what we're trying to show is what our guys know and what we can [take] to the field, and they can execute. So, we're not playing everybody. So, when we're not playing everybody, the group that's out there, what can they run and execute at a high level? Does that make sense? So, we're showing what I think they can execute – if that makes sense – at this moment in time."