Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, [it's] good to see everybody here. I really appreciate everybody being here. [It was a] great day, obviously cool – the players appreciate that. I want to start off just by acknowledging the passing of [vice president of security] Darren Sanders. His funeral was this morning during practice. Many of us were there yesterday afternoon and last night at the showing and the viewing with the family. One of the best people I've ever known, one of the most stand-up people I've ever known. [He] impacted everybody in this organization, one way or another, including myself. One of the best friends I've ever had. He was there for you in good times and tough times, especially. If you were at the showing last night, you would know that from one o'clock until eight o'clock, it was a steady stream of three parking lots full of cars. People in and out, it was packed for eight hours. It wasn't just here; it was everywhere in the Baltimore community. So, rest in peace Darren Sanders. OK, what questions do you have?"
What was kind of your impressions … I know it takes it up another level in training camp with padded practices. What was kind of just your impressions in watching guys out there? (Jamison Hensley) "It's the first day of pads – there's good [and] there's not good. I thought for the most part, we were pad under pad, we were square, we were playing with our hands. Fundamentally pretty sound. You can tell first day, [there were] not too many guys on the ground. That's an indication that guys are playing pretty good technique. From there we'll watch the tape and see what we learn from it."
What can you tell us … T Alejandro Villanueva wasn't out there today, and then we saw G Kevin Zeitler leave halfway through practice? (Luke Jones) "We have vet days for a couple guys. It was a vet day for him [Alejandro Villanueva] today, so we'll try to do other guys. [Kevin] Zeitler had kind of a foot issue that he went in with. I don't know. It doesn't look serious, they tell me. But we're going to protect those guys probably, especially the older guys, through training camp as much as we can."
I know it's hard to see individual guys out there on the practice field, but with G Ben Cleveland getting in the pads there again, can you kind of assess a little bit of where he is? He looked certainly like he's somewhere you'd want him to be. (Pete Gilbert) "I can't wait to see the tape, really. He has some things … We talked about some things in pass protection. His sets get a little open. He drops his outside foot a little bit sometimes, so he was working on that today. Hopefully, that was better – maybe you saw that. So, we'll see where all those guys are. Technique is pretty darn important in the offensive line; I'll tell you that."
You guys announced the official OLB Justin Houston signing. He passed his physical and I guess signed. With COVID protocols, do you have any idea when he may be able to practice? Or is the date still up in the air? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's a five-day thing. If you're unvaccinated, you have to go through the five-day testing protocol that they had last year." (Reporter: "So, five days from yesterday the clock starts?") "I don't know what day. It's either yesterday or the day before, I don't know. Probably from when he signed. When did he sign? Yesterday?" (Reporter: "Yesterday.") "OK. I'm not worried too much about some of that. (laughter) They'll tell me when he's going to be there. We'll plug him into practice."
Do you have an official day … Do you know when QB Lamar Jackson will be back yet? (Jerry Coleman) "Yes, Lamar [Jackson] is a 10-day. So, you just have to go back and count your days." (Reporter: "We've tried. (laughter) The math is funky.") "I don't know, call [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and ask him." (Reporter: "We didn't know if it was Friday or Saturday.") "He gets a little closer … Friday or Saturday? I'll plan for Friday – plan for the best and we'll see."
What have you liked about CB Brandon Stephens so far when watching him for a while and watching him in pads? (Jeff Zrebiec) "[He has a] natural understanding of the game back there, especially given that he was a running back for two years in college – that's pretty darn impressive. So, he's a very quick learner [and] kind of a natural mover for a defensive back."
With C Bradley Bozeman at center, as far as the snaps early on it seemed like it was a little rough, but it seems to have cleaned up a little bit. Are you feeling better about that? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, I mean, I didn't feel bad about it the first day. We just have to chase it every day. We had some high snaps today from a couple of the centers. The snaps need to be there as much as possible, and it's tough. All of a sudden, you have loaded pressure coming from one side or the other, and you have to get moving out of there. Your hips might come up. You might drop. You might step up, and all of a sudden, the ball starts moving somewhere, because your hands are moving on the release. So, we just have to keep working on that under pressure. It's one thing to be out there just sitting there snapping; it's like throwing batting practice. It's another thing when it's real."
RB J.K. Dobbins has talked about how this offseason, he obviously worked on his football game, but he also wanted to learn Spanish. I know the offseason is a time to recharge those batteries, but it's also time for personal growth to become a better person and better human. What do you want guys to take away from the offseason with that chance to learn stuff? (Jonas Shaffer) (laughter) "I don't speak Spanish, so it doesn't matter to me if he learns it or not. (laughter) We have a lot of people who work here that do. I'm sticking to English, [but] I want to learn Italian. That's a goal someday, I just haven't found the time to do it. I've learned a lot of football, though – football language. I'm not sure how to even answer that. I think it's great. I want guys to be well-rounded, of course. We do stuff in the offseason, too. We're not all hardheaded, but right now, it's not really on the forefront of my thoughts."
As hard as it is to assess individuals without the tape, I've been out here three times and my notebook is filled with No. 93, DE Calais Campbell. Just what are your impressions of him so far? He seems to be brilliant. (Jason La Canfora) (laughter) "I agree with that. He is flashing a lot. He's just a big, powerful guy. He's practicing hard. He's healthy. We have to do a great job … He talks about [how] at this stage, he's not going to be out there every day and every play. He doesn't need that. The plays he takes though, he wants to be cutting edge and play with his hair on fire. That's what I see him doing."
Have you noticed any improvement on FB/DL Patrick Ricard catching the ball out of the backfield? (Kirk McEwen) (laughter) "I think he's looked good so far. I thought he was pretty good last year, but he was kind of limited to the flat routes that we ran. So, hopefully we can expand him a little bit. He's going to be a little more on [the] line [of scrimmage] with Nick [Boyle] being out. So, he'll be a little more of the in-line, Y-type stuff, so that would entail, obviously, more routes. I don't think he's going to become Mark Andrews anytime soon, but he's doing a good job."
Are you following the Olympics? Is there a special game that you're following? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I've been following the Olympics, yes. At night, I've been watching all the races. It was really cool a couple times when the distance runners, even some of the middle-distance runners, when they fall down and come back and win a heat. That was pretty cool to see. It's great stories. Seeing Simone Biles bounce back, fight through that and do something and win a medal, that was pretty incredible. I like the stories. I like the stories about the people. It makes me proud to be in athletics. It makes me proud to be an American when you see what people are doing. Yes, I watch the Olympics."
Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris
How challenging is it for you when you're already without T Ronnie Stanley and T Alejandro Villanueva has a vet day, then G Kevin Zeitler leaves? How difficult and challenging is it to juggle the guys around at different positions? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, we try to train them early and put them in those positions during OTAs, so it's an easier transition. And the guys know that's their role, and the more they can do – guess what – the longer they get to stick around. It's an opportunity for them, and they embrace it and do a heck of a job with it."
We've seen G/C Patrick Mekari play all over the place for you. How do you go about instructing him at each position, and how do you value him as a five-position guy? (Bo Smolka) "What we do is try to make him work in the individual periods. So, he's working not only in scheme out there, but he's in the individual period – those days or whatever days we put him in that – so he gets to build some continuity and develop his skill level and craft. He's really valuable. He's one heck of a young man, a fierce competitor and embraces everything we give him. He does a great job taking coaching and applies it like you like to see."
Are you going to continue using G/C Patrick Mekari as a left tackle? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "He's going to play multiple positions. He has got the ability to play either guard, center or tackle." (Reporter: "I see him playing more as a left tackle.") "Yes, we're doing that because we have some needs right now, so we have to give him some work there. Hopefully, it's going to help us down the road, if we need him in that position."
How do you think C Bradley Bozeman's transition to center has been? (Jamison Hensley) "Bradley [Bozeman] is making a nice transition. He played [center] at Alabama – at the top level. I think he won two National Championships, maybe three. So, he's done a very good job here. He came in, learned our system – our communications system. Fundamentals, technique – he applies that. He's been a starter at guard [and] did a great job there. He's transitioning now to become a center, and his communications skills are … He's getting us in the right place at the right time. Like everything else, we're just in the beginning stages of this, but he's doing one heck of a job for us."
What about G Ben Cleveland? He seems to have captured everybody's imagination. (Kirk McEwen) "By shooting squirrels and eating them, too?" (laughter) (Reporter: "Yes, he's a really down-home guy, he's huge.") "He's a fine young man. I'm glad that we have him. We're blessed to have all these young men here. They're good people, they're hard workers, and they try to apply the Ravens' style, and Ben [Cleveland] has done the same thing. He's stepped in here, and he's embraced everything we've asked him to do, and he's doing one heck of a job. I'm looking forward to seeing how he continues to develop."
Have any of the "Ben's" [G Ben Bredeson, G Ben Cleveland and G Ben Powers] separated themselves? (Kirk McEwen) "I think they're all … Right now … [It's the] first day in pads, so I'm not going to say anything right now, and just let it happen. Usually, that will take place as time moves on."
Without QB Lamar Jackson here and C/G Bradley Bozeman shifting over to center, how much is Bradley missing? (Shawn Stepner) "Well, you can only play with what you have. So, this is good for the other three quarterbacks that are here, and they're hearing his communication, and we're hearing their communication. So, you never know in the course of a game what could happen, right? We might have something like that take place, and the quarterback has to step in, just like it happened up in Cleveland last year. Trace [McSorley] had to step in and all of a sudden, Lamar [Jackson] comes back. The quarterback is in charge, and we follow suit and help him along the way."
You mentioned how many young guys you have out there, but adding G Kevin Zeitler and T Alejandro Villanueva, how valuable has it been knowing what kinds of players they are and their veteran presence? (Luke Jones) "Yes, you can't take away the veteran experience. These guys are pros, and they embrace their positions and their craft, and they come daily to work to get better, and that's what you love about these young men and also those veteran players – that they are trying to get better each day."
I know there is a lot of skill overlap between the tackle and guard positions, but is there a spot that you think G/T Tyre Phillips fits best at? (Jonas Shaffer) "Right now, we're just going to experiment with him and see. He did a really good job last year when we played Buffalo in the last game of the season. I thought that was his best game of the year as a tackle – as a right tackle. We played him at guard last year, and we threw him in with very little experience. He was a left tackle at Mississippi State, and I think he only started that one year and played a little bit before that. Now, he played at East Mississippi [Community] College prior to that – Scooba [MS] Tech. But after that … I think he's a young player that is growing, and I think he'll find his place, and we'll find a place for him." (Reporter: "Is running back one of those places, maybe?) "You know what? He gains yard, and protects the ball, right?" (laughter)
C Bradley Bozeman
On if he lost weight: "A little bit. I kind of re-shaped a little bit. I'm about the same weight as I was last year – about 325 [pounds]."
On playing center: "Oh, it's great, it's great. It's been so much fun getting back into that center role, doing all the communication, going through the whole process, learning, critiquing, all the little stuff. Coach 'D' [offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris] has done an amazing job of helping me grow along that way. So, we're just continuing to grow from there, make sure the snaps are right; I know you've all been watching that really critically. But just making sure everything is right, we're on point and where we need to be."
On if playing center now feels that same as when he played at Alabama: "Yes, it is – for sure. It was definitely some transition, [playing] two, three years at guard and now going back to center. Making sure my feet are squared – that is my biggest thing. My foot was offset just from being at left-hand stance the whole time, but I've got that back squared now. Yes, it's like I never left. Coach 'D' [offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris] kept me in the role of snapping, making sure I was ready in case something happened, so I'm just very lucky for that part and just excited to be back."
On if the shuffling of players during training camp has been difficult on communication: "It's been good. My job is to communicate – to be clear and loud to both sides of the ball. We have an amazing group of guys this year. I don't think there's anyone in our room – from the top to the bottom – that is not prepared and that is not ready to play this season. That's just a testament to their hard work, the coaches getting after them, making sure we're doing the right things. So, every guy that's been thrown in there is ready to go, ready to rock and roll, and that's a blessing in itself there, because not everywhere is like that. So, we're just excited about the opportunity to work together, figure out who is going to fill those roles and just continue to work."
On his comfort level playing center: "Very comfortable, honestly, after I got my couple snaps out of the way early in camp. I'm feeling good. [I] went back to the half glove. [I'm] just excited to be back there, and I'm feeling good with it. [I'm] getting all the protections down to a 'T' and making sure we're on the right people, especially with all the stuff our defense throws at us."
On his snaps while wearing a full glove in the spring and now going with a half glove during training camp: "Yes, I wore the full glove. I tried the full glove out and went with that in spring. But being in front of an actual body is a lot different than snapping on air. So, I got back in, got my rhythm back in, went back to the half [glove], and – knock on wood – we've been good since then."
On G Kevin Zeitler: "I love Kevin [Zeitler]. Kevin is a hard worker. He's so serious about football, but he's an amazing man at the same time. He loves the sport; he loves everything about it. He wants to be perfect. If he has one bad step, he's just upset about it, basically. So, [he's] just a great guy to play next to, a great veteran who knows how to play, knows how to win, and [I'm] just really excited about that combination there."
On DT Justin Madubuike: "The guy is a stout dude. He's one of the harder people I've ever had to move on defense, honestly, in double teams, in man-on-man blocks. He just has that low center of gravity. He can hold his place. He's a young guy. He's going to continue to grow and continue to build on his foundation that he's laid. So, the guy has continued to work out here, [and] I'm excited to see him this season."
On what he looks at while communicating at the line of scrimmage: "You're looking at everything, honestly. It's the entire defense. It's from safeties rolling down, corners pressed, corners off, how many people we have in the box. What's going on? How one front dictates how we're going to run a certain play. Honestly, it's everything. We run a pretty complex offense here, and they ask a lot from their offensive linemen, and we try to provide that comfort for them that we are the right people. So, that's the biggest thing for us – making sure we're the right people. And like I said, [offensive line coach] Joe 'D' [D'Alessandris] has done an amazing job of that – being in meetings, doing the installs, making sure we're perfect – and so far, it's been really good. We have some things to clean up, but [I'm] just excited about this year."
On communicating with QB Lamar Jackson while he's not here: "Yes, for sure. We talk every now and then. We were talking during the break and all that good stuff. When he gets back, he's going to be ready to play. [I] don't have any doubt about that. The guy, I know he's studying his butt off; he's going through the practice film; he's taking his drops probably in his living room or wherever he's doing it. The guy is going to be ready to play. He's a competitor, and [we're] just excited to get him back in a couple days and really get after it."
On how far he's come as a center: "I think just overall as a player, I've grown a lot. I've learned a lot about the game. I've continued to grow every year, every week. I've continued just to do the right things – listening to coaching, taking coaching points, listening to guys like Marshal Yanda, James Hurst, Kevin [Zeitler], all those veterans that have that kind of play style [and] all that time under their belt. I just continue to grow and continue to work on my body posture, work on my feet, work on my hands, punches, just timing – little things that have made me into a pretty good ball player now."