RAVENS MANDATORY MINICAMP: DAY 1
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening Statement: "It's good seeing everybody. Minicamp – the start of the next phase of what we're doing, probably the real true beginning leading into training camp. I thought we had a good practice. The guys were up for it. They were looking forward to it. They were tuned in, locked in. Plays were made of both sides of the ball. It's not competitive in the sense that we're tackling or even contesting passes too much, but, from the standpoint of trying to get things right, be in the right spot, play with good technique and play fast, it was good."
What would be a successful three-day minicamp in your mind? (Jerry Coleman) "Like I just said, we play fast. Compete against yourself from a technique standpoint, assignment standpoint, communication standpoint. The ability to over-communicate and to exaggerate technique is really important in these kinds of practices. I want to see the guys play fast and think fast, and that's the next step into training camp."
What does over-communicating entail? (Mike Tanier) "Over-communicating is communicating more than you think would be necessary."
Is over-communicating stating the obvious? (Mike Tanier)"You would think it's obvious, but we have calls out there and we have adjustments that we make. Making sure we're all on the same page is what it is. So, if I'm responsible for making a call that says I'm going to be in and out with the slot receiver, and we're going to play it this certain type of way that we have, I'm going to make sure that the guy I'm working with knows and the other two guys I'm not working with know. And they know they're on their own, and we're going to make sure we're on the same page with that stuff. So, that's over-communicating. Don't make any assumptions that the other person knows exactly what you mean, because you know what they say happens when you assume. We try to avoid that if we can."
DT Michael Pierce was briefly on the practice field and left. What happened there? (Childs Walker)"He's not ready to practice, just from a safety standpoint, for his own health and safety. We recognized that, and we pulled him off for that reason."
Is it a problem when players aren't able to practice? (Kirk McEwen)"It's a problem, absolutely. We want guys practicing. We want them ready to practice, physically able to practice. That's very important."
Is there an endurance drill yet? (Kirk McEwen)"There's a conditioning test. Is that what you're talking about? He hasn't run it yet, because he hasn't been here. Most of the team has passed the test. There are a few guys that still have to pass it. That will be in training camp. If they don't pass the test in training camp, as you guys know, they don't practice. But for this practice out here, we don't hold them to quite that standard. But, he's not ready for that practice yet. You can probably tell."
CB Jimmy Smith mentioned the secondary will be a strength of this defense. Do you concur? Is it one of the best backfields in the League? (David Ginsburg)"You want me to make that comparison, and then I'm going to tick off the linebackers and tick off the … Maybe I'll motivate the D-line that way and say that the secondary is the best part of the group. I'll tell you one thing – I'm joking, but I'll say this, too – the standard is high for those guys. We have a lot of resources committed to the secondary, and we think those guys are really, really good players. We value the secondary. We value coverage. We think it's really important with the defense that we play and the way we structure our defense. So, we love having those guys back there, and I expect those guys to play at the highest level in the National Football League this year."
What can you tell us about CB/RS Cyrus Jones? We haven't seen him at practice. (Luke Jones)"He has a health issue. It's not for me to describe it, exactly, but he's not allowed to practice right now. He had, kind of, an episode a few months ago. I really would leave that for [head certified athletic trainer] Ron [Medlin] to describe, because I wouldn't be able to do it justice. Or even Cyrus, if he chooses to. But, he's not cleared to practice at this time because of that. We do expect him back for training camp, as far as I've been told, but I think there are tests and things like that that he has to pass."
What has stood out to you in T Ronnie Stanley's development since his rookie year? (Jamison Hensley) "He's another guy that, to me, the bar is very high. He was the sixth pick in the draft. He's very talented. He wants to be the best left tackle in football. I think if you asked him that … He probably told you that a minute ago. That's his goal. He tells me that quite often. He's had a really good offseason. He's worked for that. I would say I expect that, too. I want him to be that. It's up to him to go do it, but I'm pleased. He looks good physically; you saw him. He's in really good shape. He's strong, and he looks like he's primed to have a really good year."
One guy that doesn't get a lot of national attention is DB/LB Anthony Levine. How valuable is it to have that type of veteran on the secondary? (Jamison Hensley)"The Swiss Army knife, right? He plays everything. And he'll remind you [that] three of the last five plays against the Browns to get into the playoffs, he made them. Has he mentioned that to you yet? The guy is making plays, you know? [If] you keep making plays, you keep making money, I guess. He's earned it. He's a football player, and I'm really glad he's on our side."
How important is minicamp for the team to understand the new re-tooled offense under offensive coordinator Greg Roman? (David Ginsburg)"It's a big step. It's three days of really practicing. We want to see execution, whether it's from pre-snap, alignments, cadence, time of the snap count, operating all the changes we make at the line of scrimmage, throwing, catching, blocking things the right way, footwork, all those things. You can't work the whole offense in three days, but we want to look like we know what we're doing. Since it's a new offense with, really, a new cast of characters, including … You have to say Lamar [Jackson], because it's new for him, too. It's not like you have a quarterback that's been in the offense for five years operating with new guys. It's really new for everybody, so every practice is really vitally important."
DE Chris Wormley is another young player who could have a bigger role this year. Can you talk about what you've seen from him over the last year? (Cliff Brown) "Chris is very steady, very consistent player. [He has] long arms. [He's] very powerful, physical inside there. His pass rush continues to improve. He has some smoothness and slipperiness about him as a push rusher. It'll be fun to see. He's a guy that, I would say, is a very reliable player. We're relying on him to be that this year."
This has been OLB Matthew Judon's first time at practice, how did he look? (Aaron Kasinitz)"From what I saw, he looked good. He looked like he was in shape. He played fast and worked hard; knew what he was doing. He looked good."
Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris
How is the offensive line coming together? (Jim Forner) "They're doing a nice job. They've come in here and worked very hard, from the beginning of pre-OTAs, and [are] learning the system. Everyone has worked diligently learning the system. Greg [Roman] has come in here and has done a real nice job of packaging our system. You all saw a lot of it, last year, what we did. David Culley has come in and helped us along the way with the passing game, and the rest of the assistants have all contributed. The players have done a fantastic job of working towards it. It's a work-in-progress, but each day you can see everyone's getting a little bit better. If we continue to do that, we'll make good marks."
What makes T Ronnie Stanley special, and where have you seen him make leaps from his third to fourth year? (Ryan Mink)"I've seen Ronnie really mature as time has gone on. My first year here was his second year in the league, and then you could just see his maturity as a player – understanding the position even more, playing with more leverage, playing with more strength. He's very athletic. He could play tight end. He's quick enough to do those kinds of things. He likes that left tackle position, and you have to have a great left tackle in this league to be successful. He's taken the steps each practice, each day, to master and become a good left tackle in this league."
You've been around a lot of offensive linemen and you talk about what it means to be athletic. How tough is it for offensive linemen to be so big while maintaining athleticism? (Jamison Hensley)"He [Ronnie Stanley] has been blessed. The good Lord has shined a lot of good talent on him, and if he'll continue to develop that talent, who knows? The sky is the limit for his ability and growth."
Has the new offensive scheme been an adjustment for you? Have you had to learn new things? (Mike Tanier)"I've been very fortunate. There are some things, yes. Overall, I've been fortunate enough to be able to use the same terminology that I've used since I came here. We've adapted that with the line play, so that's worked out well. The other terminology that's been incorporated, we've had to put in there. But, there's been some new growth for myself and for the line, too."
With G/T Alex Lewis on the sidelines for practice, is the left guard position going to be battled for throughout training camp? (Bo Smolka) "I think that's the way – I think that's how football should be. I think, give everyone the chance. Between now and our opener, we don't know what's going to happen per player. So, let's let each day take its course, and let's see how each player plays. Usually, the cream surfaces to the top at the very end."
We've seen a lot of G/T Jermaine Eluemunor on the practice field today, what have you seen in him? (Ryan Mink) "He's done a very nice job. I think Jermaine has grown as a player. I think each year, each practice, he's had some good growth. He played as a rookie. That's tough. We put him in a very difficult situation, but he responded well. Last year, he played again at tackle. He can play left tackle. This guy is athletic. He's another big guy that can move and that's very athletic. I just saw continued growth, and I said, 'Give him a chance.' So, I put him back in at [left] guard, and he's doing a real nice job there. We'll see how it all pans out."
When you were doing fumble drills today, I saw you kind of jump on T Ronnie Stanley. (Aaron Kasinitz)"I had a little fun over there. I wanted to make sure he secured the ball. I was going to try to rip it out of there from him. He did a good job of securing the ball. He covered it up in the fetal position, elbows covering up the ball and knees pulled up tight. He did well."
What does rookie G Ben Powers do well? (Bo Smolka) "Ben is really growing. Each practice he's getting better. Again, I think he does some things … He has some instinctive qualities that sometimes aren't coached. He can see and react to situations with that innate ability. That's been a plus to see."
What did T Orlando Brown Jr. do to impress you throughout the second half of last season? (Jonas Shaffer) "The way it worked out, we had a bunch of injuries. It was his chance, and it was called opportunity and preparation. His preparation put him in that position to take advantage of opportunity. He took it and ran with it. He did very well, and he's in that same position now, and he's doing a heck of a job. He's growing in that area, too."
Where have you seen T Orlando Brown Jr. make strides?_ (Ryan Mink)_ "I think game experience has helped him. He transitioned from a left tackle to a right tackle. That's tough. He had never played right tackle before. That was his first time. It took him a while to get used to it because there are a lot of, as I say, motor skills that have to be re-developed, from the brain down to the feet, hands, and everything else that's involved. It took him a little bit to adjust, but once he developed those motor skills, he's been doing a real nice job. He's doing a real good job as a run blocker and with pass protection. He's a big man and long, and he's really working on his technique."
When I talked to T Orlando Brown Jr. last year, he said you were selling him short on his total number of knockdown blocks. (Jonas Shaffer)"Yeah. (laughter) They have to be knockdowns for me to count them."
With QB Lamar Jackson's improvised runs, when you're coaching the offensive line, do you address that? Or do you coach the offensive line for when Jackson takes off? (Jamison Hensley)"We have a blocking scheme that's built, and we do that first. So, however that scheme is built, we're going to execute that first. After that, once I go to the second level, if people have changed and moved, then I have to adjust, and we let Lamar do his deal. He reads what he's supposed to read, and we do our part. We make sure that we synchronize everything from tackle to tight end, or two tight ends, to make sure that's all uniform and fit, and then Lamar goes from there."
How much chemistry is involved there with QB Lamar Jackson and the offensive line when you get to those improvised plays? (Shawn Stepner)"It is, and it's still execution of blocking scheme. Once you do the execution of blocking scheme, Lamar has his own reads he has to go through that are built in with our schemes."
Considering all the talented edge rushers in the league, how valuable is it to have two young offensive tackles that have experience in T Ronnie Stanley and T Orlando Brown Jr.? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I don't think that they've batted an eye. We've faced those people from all the way through the season and preseason. That's just part of competition and growth. They'll get better by going against good people."
A lot of people expect this offense to be very run-heavy, and that falls on the offensive line. How much do you talk to them about that? (Ryan Mink)"That's true. The latter part of last season, you saw what took place. When our number was called and it was time to run the ball, those guys stepped up and they did a wonderful job with it. We'll see how this takes place this year. As I said, between now and September, who knows what we're eventually going to develop into with our growth. I don't want to say we'll be all run-heavy or pass-heavy. I think we'll work towards that team chemistry with what needs to take place."
CB Brandon Carr
On the last time he did not have dreadlocks:"Five years ago. It's time for a change [to] get some good energy. I had a good offseason, so I want to keep it going."
On how the defense is looking after changes:"We have some young talent, some new faces, guys who have proven themselves across the league that are joining the party, and we're just excited to have everybody in the house this week, to kind of get out here on the grass with these shorts on still. So, [it's] still kind of early, but we're making some improvements. It's a day-to-day fight, day-to-day battle to get better."
On if the Ravens' secondary is one of the better backfields in the league:"I always think highly of my backfields, for the past 12 years now, so I wouldn't say anything less about this one. But we have a lot of talent in this backfield, a lot of guys who have made plays throughout their careers, new guys who are rising, a lot of potential on the backend. But, you know how it goes. We have to go out there and put that work in every single day."
On what a versatile player like DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr. brings to the defense:"[Anthony] Levine, that's your pro right there. That's the definition of pro. He comes to work every day, lunch pail ready, hard hat on, chip on his shoulder, just ready for whatever comes his way, and he handles any position we put him in."
On the value of participating in voluntary activities as a veteran:"I just like playing football. They do a great job of letting us have our peace in the offseason, but we know when it's time to come to work. We have a lot of young guys who need rest, but also just need some coaching as well. I have a lot of insight. I think I can just give them all my knowledge, pass it on to the next young stud out there. I also look forward to just this locker room, this chemistry we have and just hearing some of these stories every day."
On how CB Jimmy Smith has grown as a veteran:"You're saying he's not a young guy? He is a young guy! (laughter) Jimmy [Smith], man, he's gotten better since I've been here, every single year. [We're] just trying to keep him healthy, just keeping that lockdown status. I think he's been a guy that has proven himself in this organization for a very long time. I'm just excited to go back to work with him this year."
On if there is anything about S Earl Thomas III that surprises or strikes him:"He's a dog, man, everything you want in a safety, so we're excited about having him out there as well."
CB Jimmy Smith
On the first day of minicamp:"Defense, we didn't have our best day. We've had plenty of strong days during OTAs, but today wasn't to our standard. But, overall, we're young, we're fast, we're very athletic. It's all about execution at this point."
On if the defense will be one that grows:"Yes, we have a lot of young players, so we have no choice but to grow, hopefully sooner [rather] than later."
On if he ever thought he would be the last continuous veteran on the defense from the 2011-12 seasons:"A little bit. I always hoped to be here. After you get your second contract here, you hope to stay, but to actually reach the end of it – this is my last year in it – so to reach the end of it is an accomplishment for me. But yes, it's always a weird thing to see so many people leave, and the people that you look left and right, and there's no more 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] or those guys that I used to look up to or be next to every day, it is different. A lot of new faces, a lot of new people, but I think that the locker room is still one of those same locker rooms where everybody gets along, and it's really no huge drop-off with the people we have and the talent we have."
On if there was a point in the offseason when he thought he might not return:"I don't know. I read some of your articles, and that's what it said, but I thought maybe I would be here. The Ravens know how much I love them, and I know how much the Ravens love me, and I went through some stuff. It could have easily gone both ways, so I'm excited and happy to still be here."
On how he teaches new players to "Play Like a Raven":"They need to follow, watch us, learn. Download some old film, how the old guys used to get down. We go over it every day. We talk about it in the meeting rooms, and the coaches reiterate it every day. It's kind of for the young guys now to open their eyes and watch."
On if it is important to him to instill the Play Like a Raven mindset in the younger players:"Absolutely, because that was instilled in me. It's our job as the vets to pass that tradition down. Especially for this organization, especially being a defensive guy and for all the young defensive guys we have, I think it's extremely important for them to understand the type of defense we play here and the brand of football we have to play in order to keep up what we believe is a Ravens defense."
On how he is feeling and how important the offseason was for his health:"I feel great. I feel like a father of three right now. It's pretty good. I feel great, though, to be honest. It's a full offseason of being healthy, and every year I say the same … I'm actually healthy. I'm doing well, and I'm looking forward to doing well this year."
On if he is more attentive to his health than he was as a younger player:"Yes, when you get older, you tend to pay a lot more attention to that, because you start to realize the years run out pretty fast. Yes, my nutrition was huge for me last year, and I stayed on top of that, and it's been working for me." (Reporter: "Is that a change from the past?") "Yes, when you're young, you can eat chicken wings, hot wings, pizza, then go out and play a game, and there's no problem. The older you get, you start to actually feel like one candy bar kind of slowed me down today. You definitely have to pay attention to that. But like I said, when you're young, you don't really notice it until you start getting older."
On how he approaches the last year of his contract:"That's going to play itself out. The Ravens know I always want to be here, but whatever happens, happens. I know I can still play the game, so if I'm here, I'll be obviously grateful. If not, I'll continue my career somewhere else."
On if he feels this year is especially important:"Every year, every year for me is important. I'm still reaching and striving for certain goals that I haven't attained yet, so every year I want to make sure I do the best I can."
On if the Pro Bowl is one of his goals:"It's on there, for sure." (Reporter: "What are your individual goals?") "I would like to get more than five picks in a season. I hit four a couple times, got two touchdowns, but I've never gotten more than five, even in high school, so that's a goal. The rest of the goal is just the normal one, make the Pro Bowl, making sure our defense, our pass secondary, is No. 1 in the league this year. That's a huge goal of mine, and all of ours. So, there are certain things we're trying to hit this year for sure."
On how CB Brandon Carr manages to play for such a long career:"All this old talk! (laughter) Actually, I took a page out of his notebook. I took his nutrition guy. He's the one that has started 190 million games unscathed, really. So yes, I took a page out of his notebook, got with his nutrition guy, and he's the one that kind of got me on this. When you watch a guy that's been playing for, what is it, 13 years now for him? Playing a cornerback position at 13 years in the league, it's not easy to do. So, to watch a guy like that get it done year-in and year-out, hats off to him. You want to follow some of the stuff that he's doing, obviously, because he's doing it the right way."
On if he has cut out all junk food from his diet:"Absolutely not. _(laughter) Friday is cheat day! We all know that."
On what WR Marquise Brown can expect coming off his Lisfranc injury, and if they have spoken about it:"It's a serious injury. I think he's going to bounce back just fine, knock the rust off. He's a speed guy, not a reaction … His stuff is timed. He knows where he's going, so I feel like he's going to do well with it. I don't think it's going to be an issue with his speed or anything like that. But, he has to knock some rust off and get back in the swing of things."
On if he wants to show that his play measures up to his contract:"I always want to show that, but I'd rather just let my play speak. Words aren't going to do anything for me. At the end of the, hopefully, 20 games, 24 games this year, we can sit here and say, 'Hey, I did exactly what I wanted to do."
On if it has felt like a shock to see the changes in defensive personnel:"I wouldn't say a shock, because I've watched a little bit go every year. You can imagine all the faces I've seen over the years. But, I feel like losing 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] was kind of the biggest shock for me, just because I never thought he would ever leave here. He is the Ravens, so I figured he would always be here. Him leaving was kind of the biggest shock. I love 'Dub' [Eric Weddle], hoped he would stay, but that was a contract situation. But, I think 'Sizz' was the one that kind of took me off guard a little bit."
On if he received any assurances from the team that he would return for this season:"No, obviously, as you guys know, I was going through stuff, so I just kept my head down and let God handle all of that. [It's the] same now, just same way. Keep pushing, just the same way."
On the significance of the cornerback room staying the same and seeing a large investment:"They believe in us. [Owner Steve] Bisciotti believes in us. Our coaching staff and the people upstairs, they believe in our secondary. We have a lot of vets back there. We kind of have to be the driving force for this defense this year, since we are the ones with the most experience and game knowledge."
On if there is a tradition and a pride to teach new players when they come to Baltimore:"It's kind of, I think, what somebody asked a minute ago. It's passing that tradition down. It's what I learned when I got here from 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] and from Ray [Lewis] and Ed [Reed] and Haloti [Ngata], those guys. They passed down how to 'Play Like a Raven' for this defense, and that's something that I and [Pernell] McPhee, [Anthony] Levine, the guys that have been here, we have to pass that down to the younger guys, so you know that the tradition always holds its standard when you leave here."
On his impressions of S Earl Thomas III:"Like Brandon [Carr] said, he's a dog. He's a very passionate, fun-loving guy, loves football, and I can tell that he's going to bring a lot of energy to our defense this year."
T Ronnie Stanley
On how the adjustment has been to the new offense:"It's kind of a revamped version of what we did last year. It's been kind of an easier transition, because we're kind of going off of how we ended last year on our offense and adding and sharpening things from that offense."
On how QB Lamar Jackson looks to him and if the offense is an adjustment for him, too:"Yes, definitely. From a leadership standpoint, he's doing really well. He's taking a lot of steps, maturity-wise, and taking a leadership role in our offense, and as a person, I can't ask for anything more from him."
On his own leadership as one of the veterans on the offensive line:"I'm definitely trying to take a bigger step in leadership and trying to be there more for my teammates, try to help them out, teach them things that I know and just try to make our team overall better."
On G Ben Powers:"Ben [Powers] is a good, young player, and I think he's going to be a good player in this league for years to come. He has a long way to go, but I can see the talent in him."
On what is different in the huddle when a quarterback takes a step toward being more experienced:"Just being more clear in the huddle, knowing exactly what they want, what he wants from his players and what he wants to see out of each play. And if things don't look right, he's going to fix it. He's going to get it the way he wants it to look." (Reporter: "It's not just a matter of getting the verbiage out, right? It's adjustments and things like that?") "Right, exactly. The verbiage is a big part of it, because we have a new offensive coordinator, but beyond that, getting everyone and knowing the whole offense, knowing where he wants people and things like that."
On if he's seen QB Lamar Jackson carry himself differently as the starting quarterback:"Lamar [Jackson] has taken a big step maturity-wise, like I said, being a leader. But beyond that, he's been the same person he is. He hasn't gotten big-headed over anything. He's still the same guy, and he's really good for us."
On if he wanted to change his body at all in the offseason:"Yes, I definitely wanted to lean up, put a little more muscle on. Maybe not gain too much more weight, but just lean up a little bit more."