JOHN HARBAUGH – HEAD COACH
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody coming on. I appreciate you guys being here. We had a good practice today. Guys were in great spirits. It was sharp and like we want to see. So, we just keep moving forward. The rest of the day we have meetings, we have a walk-through and conditioning sessions. So, that's what we have going for today. I feel like the guys are doing a great job. What do you have?"
Is the practice going to be at the stadium again tomorrow? Is it just another … Is the intent just for another dress rehearsal, just to get guys acclimated to the stadium again? (Jamison Hensley) "We have a script that we're going to use. It's not going to be a contact practice. It's going to be an execution, operation practice. So, a lot of situational work, a lot of technique-type work. But it will be a competitive scrimmage like we had on Saturday night."
Could you talk about WR Devin Duvernay and his projected role for this season? (Mike Preston) "That's a good question. I feel like that's being determined as we speak. He's earning more and more every day. He's done a really good job. He's a hard worker. He doesn't say a lot, but he works a lot. I just love the way he works. He's done a great job with the route-running catching hands. He's been especially good downfield tracking balls, in terms of the deep ball. I think he's going to have a role. We'll see exactly how it plays out. Early in the year … [With] rookies this year, I think it's going to kind of be to be determined across the league as far as the rookies without the extended offseason or the [preseason] games. He's done a great job. I'd put James [Proche II] in that same category. The guys have done really well."
Before the draft, we heard similarities between WR Devin Duvernay and WR Marquise Brown. Have you found those to be true? Are they comparable in any way, shape or form besides speed? (Mike Preston) "Yes, they're both really fast, like you said. They both track the deep ball really well. I think that's there. They're kind of built different. Devin's [Duvernay] a thicker body-type guy, and Marquise [Brown] is kind of a real smooth and gliding-type runner with his speed. So, while the similarities are there with the speed and stuff, their styles are a little different. When you watch them, it's kind of apparent."
With the scrimmage on Saturday, did you like the tempo? Did the rookies get a good sense of the speed of the game, what they're going to see? (Todd Karpovich) "I did. It's a good chance to … They've been in practice every day, so they get a good feel of it. We practice fast, but until you really get out there and you go live … And not just for a period here or there, but you do it for more. They're going to go on the field, it's an extended drive and [play] two or three drives back to back. It has to help. It's [as] game-like as we can do. It's the best that we can do for those guys. These guys have played a lot of football, most of them in big programs, so I don't think they're going to be too shocked by it all. But this year is going to be like no other. It's going to be a lot of things that are going to happen that we'll be seeing for the first time. So, it'll be fun and exciting in that sense, but I do feel like our guys are up to the task."
We haven't seen DT Justin Madubuike at practice since the scrimmage. Is that anything serious? And does that maybe change some of the questions that are on the table for you guys as you think about defensive line depth with the roster cutdown? (Childs Walker) "It's not that kind of an injury. It'll be a little bit, but it won't be … Nothing close to season ending, it won't even be multiple weeks during the season. He got caught up in a little pile. He's kind of, I would say, a little more than day-to-day. Maybe week-to-week here for a couple weeks, and we'll just see where he's at. But he'll be OK."
Leadership can be a hard thing to quantify. RB Mark Ingram II, last year, came in and really showed how much of a leader he is. This year, DE Calais Campbell is on TV with national doctors. He's really so much of a leader. You knew he was when he came in, Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Have you ever seen two guys come in and assume leadership in a new team so quickly and so smoothly? (Kirk McEwen) "That's a great question. Really, I'm not sure. I can't think of two. They're something. They're really amazing. They're outgoing people, high character guys and they really care about their teammates. I think, maybe, those are the qualities of leadership where it all starts. They're pretty special. I don't know if I can think of two guys like that. That's a good question."
What's been your impression of RB J.K. Dobbins, the growth you've seen from him during camp and the role that you expect for him this season? (Ryan Mink) "Again, like I said, it'll be … I think he's definitely going to have a role. He's definitely going to have probably a significant role, but again, it comes down to how it goes. He's looked really good in practice. He works really hard. He's just the most coachable guy. He has a lot of talent, and he's very coachable. So, he wants to be good, he wants to play. He's confident. Confidence plus coachability plus talent; it's a pretty good combination, and he has all of that."
Going back to this weekend's practice at the stadium, I think it was defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale who told us yesterday that you came as close as you could to approximating a preseason game. How good of a job do you think you did? Do you feel that, at this point, you've done everything you can to kind of prepare them for a game day? And when do you officially move to the Cleveland Browns? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "[It's] hard to grade yourself. I wish they would've let me do that in college, that would have been great. (laughter) I don't know … This is a different year. So, how well you can do it? I don't know. We did the best we could. We did a good job. The players responded. The key is that the players respond, [and] I feel like they have, definitely. And we're working on early games. We're doing that this week. We're working on the early games in the season right now."
There's so much talk as far as the run game with RB Mark Ingram II, RB J.K. Dobbins and even QB Lamar Jackson, and rightfully so. RB Gus Edwards, do you feel like he's overlooked still? What has he showed you this preseason so far? (Shawn Stepner) "Overlooked by the talk that you're talking about? Like media talk?" (Reporter: "Basically, yes. And just kind of the credit he gets around the league.") "I guarantee you he gets credit around the league by the defenses and the defensive coaches. So, that's more our world. We don't really think as much about the media part of it, like how much attention somebody is getting or that. I do think some guys are underrated [and] some guys are overrated. But we all have those opinions about players. He's respected by defenses, and they know that he's a must-stop player in terms of the way he runs the football. So, he's going to have a big role. He's better than he was last year. When you watch him in training camp, he really has worked on the things that he could to improve. I think he's going to be even better than he was last year. So, I'm looking forward to seeing him play this year."
How tough of a decision will it be for the No. 3 quarterback spot on this team? (Jamison Hensley) "It'll be real tough. Tough on a scale of what? What's the scale you want to give me for the, 'how tough is it going to be' question?" (laughter)
Tell us about the competition. How has it looked between QB Trace McSorley and QB Tyler Huntley? How tough of a decision has it been made by their performances out there? (Jamison Hensley) "We'll see. They're all doing well. I like what they're doing. They're in different stages of their careers. It plays out every day, but we like them both. We like all four of our guys. They're all doing a good job, but they're all in different places right now in their development."
RB GUS EDWARDS
You had 711 rushing yards last season for arguably one of the best backfields in NFL history. You see the Ravens take RB J.K. Dobbins with the 55th pick; they were surprised that he was still there. What was going through your head, and did you think, 'Man, here I am – the only undrafted guy in the room?' I know you work hard, but did you feel like you had to work harder after seeing J.K. added to an already really good room? (Kirk McEwen) "First of all, I'm not going to say I wasn't surprised; I was real surprised because I thought that he [J.K. Dobbins] was one of the better backs in the class. We got that much better on draft day. He's been a great addition. He's a hard worker just like the rest of the group, and he fits right in."
How comfortable do you feel catching the ball after this training camp? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I feel great. We've got a lot of work in. We had enough time to prepare. I practice catching the ball after practice [and] before practice, so I think I've gotten better at that – definitely."
We've all talked a lot about how it's a unique year for rookies – no preseason, shorter training camp and all that. Have you talked to RB J.K. Dobbins or any of the other guys about what it's like? And what do you remember as a rookie that stuck out about actually playing in a regular season game for the first time? (Aaron Kasinitz) "My rookie year, we actually had five preseason games, so I had a lot of time to prepare and be ready. I think J.K. [Dobbins] is going to be good; he's going to be just fine. He's been getting a lot of reps. He's been getting better each and every day. He's been coming to work, so I think he'll do just fine without it [preseason]."
Do you feel like the offense can just pick up where they left off last year at the end of the season in terms of running the football? And do you think you have a little bit of an advantage due to teams not seeing you guys up close and personal – although, the Browns did, twice? (Jerry Coleman) "I think we got better as a backfield. We're more experienced at the schemes. So, we just have to prove it. I personally think we got better, so we're just going to have to prove it in a couple of weeks."
After two years of putting up more than 700 yards – you've averaged more than five yards a carry in each of the past two seasons – what do you think is kind of the next step for you? And what is your expectation for what your role will be in the offense this year? (Garrett Downing) "We have a deep backfield, but there's also a lot of carries to go around. My job will be to just make sure I'm ready when the opportunity presents itself and my number is called upon. And that's something I'm going to be ready for."
One of the things that running backs coach Matt Weiss told us, is that this is a group that genuinely gets along really well. He said that you all went on vacation together. Is he romanticizing it, or do you think that that's really the truth? And if it is, why? How are you not ridiculously competitive with each other? How can you be so tight? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "Oh, yes, yes, we definitely do get along. I don't know how it's going to go this year, but we have dinner every Thursday night and do stuff like that just to build camaraderie with each other. Actually, I think the competition is what brings us closer. Every guy is competitive in the backfield. We're all hard workers, and those things that we have in common just brings out the relationship – the friendship."
How much better do you feel entering your third year with what you were able to do last year? And as you mentioned, the running back group is that much better with RB J.K. Dobbins. You personally, how much more confident and better do you feel heading into this season? (Shawn Stepner) "I feel blessed to be here. Honestly, to still be here, it was a long way coming. Year Three; I try not to think about what I have done, because I personally don't think it's been enough. So, I plan on having a better season than I did last year, actually."
Coach Harbaugh was just saying, that certainly around the league when it comes to defensive coaches, you are not underrated. But I think it's fair to say, in the media, you don't get a ton of attention league-wide. Do you feel underrated as a running back? (Pete Gilbert) "When we're talking about my team, I know my team has tremendous faith in me and trust in me. They put me out there in a lot of crucial situations, like third down, so I don't think I'm underrated in that aspect. I feel like I have great trust in the building, and that's the most important thing, actually."
Have your teammates been enjoying your music that's been playing at practice? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, I've been getting good feedback. It's something that I like doing. It's something that's fun, and I'm glad I've been getting good feedback from it."
RB J.K. DOBBINS
RB Mark Ingram II shared the backfield in 2017 and 2018 with [Saints] RB Alvin Kamara. They had a really nice backfield. Have you discussed that dynamic with him at all? They were able to dominate for a period [of time]. I'm wondering if you've talked to him about that or have you thought about that? (Kirk McEwen) "We talk about being great every time we talk about anything like that. We've got a room full of guys that just want to do their best to help the team win. However that works, that's how it works. We're glad to push each other every single day. We're just going to try to keep our momentum going, practicing hard, and things like that."
Last time we spoke to you before training camp, you kind of joked about how you don't know how patient you can be. Just given your first training camp, how do you think you performed? Do you think you've proven that you're ready to have a main role in the offense? (Daniel Oyefusi) "That's a hard question. Of course, I go out there every single day and give it my all. But it's just kind of hard, because I don't know what people are thinking, and things like that. My thing is just keep going hard, and the chips will fall into place. Of course, I'm not going to be patient. I'm working as hard as I can to play, to get on the field and help this team win. The other things, that'll take care of itself. I don't really know what kind of impression I've given off, but hopefully it's a good one."
How have the team veterans helped you during the camp? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "They've given me a lot of information; just how to take care of myself, how to move as a professional athlete, and things like that. How to practice, what to do just to stay on top of my game. All the veterans here, they've been so great to me. They've helped in any way they can. I'm grateful to be around those guys."
I'm curious – what did you know about RB Gus Edwards before you were drafted? He's a guy that doesn't get a lot of attention league-wide, but what we've seen here from him in a couple seasons in Baltimore, he's a guy that's five yards a carry, really tough runner. But he's also really quiet. He's not going to draw attention to himself. What did you know about him, and what has changed about your impression [of him] after being with him for a while? (Pete Gilbert) "Me and Gus [Edwards] got a good relationship. That guy is a great player. Some people, they don't get that much attention, but I don't think that really matters when it comes down to it. He plays hard. He knows that he can do anything as a running back. He's a great player. Just getting to know him, being in the room with him, [we're] building a great relationship. I feel like he's a funny guy, really. He isn't that quiet when you get to know him, I feel like." (Reporter: But did you have an impression of him before you were drafted? Did you know much about him?) "I know he played at Rutgers and we [Ohio State] put a whooping on them boys, but that's about it." (laughter)
Are you kind of happy that you're in the NFL right now and not worrying about playing in college? Do you feel like you're ready with your NFL debut less than two weeks away? (Jerry Coleman) "I feel like I've been preparing well for this first game. Hopefully, I can get in there and make some plays. Just being in the NFL is a blessing. It's the NFL. You dream of being in the NFL ever since you were a little kid – five years old, four years old, however old you are. It's definitely a blessing and I'm very grateful to be in the NFL, for sure." (Reporter: "I meant as a follow-up also about not being in the Big 10 [conference] with what's going on right now.") "Yes, that's tough right now for my guys at Ohio State. Hopefully, they figure it out, and hopefully, they can figure it out soon. I hope I get to see those guys play."
I'm just wondering – [running backs coach] Matt Weiss shared a story about how you were talking smack in the weight room and the strength coaches were getting a kick out of it. Where does that come from? Have you always been like that? Can you explain why? (Ryan Mink) "I've always been like that since like middle school, because I was always taught just to work hard. If you work hard, great things will happen. It's not like bad talking to the strength coaches. Me and the strength coaches have a great relationship. They know that I'm just trying to get better and they push me. The more I talk, the more they push me. Even though they already push me and hold me to a high standard. But just me talking and messing with them about the workouts, it just helps them push me even harder. It's definitely great and I've always been that way. I've always had a great work ethic, I feel like."
Now that you've been through your first training camp with Head Coach John Harbaugh, what are your strongest impressions of him? (Childs Walker) "I love him. All the players can be themselves around him. He pushes us. I already love playing for him. I feel like I can be great under him. I'm glad I'm on his team."
In this room, in this crowded running backs room with all of these great players, what do you think is something that you do differently than anybody else? What's one thing that you can offer that, maybe RB Mark Ingram II doesn't or RB Gus Edwards doesn't, or anybody else does? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "I don't want to talk too much about that, but all those guys can do something well. Every player in the room is great. We've all got our different styles. I don't really know how to answer that question. But I believe a lot of people don't know that, in college, I had a lot of catches, and stuff like that. So, I can catch the ball out of the backfield, and things like that. But everyone in the room could do that. We're all pretty well-rounded. I really don't even know."
WR DEVIN DUVERNAY
You and WR James Proche II are both from the great state of Texas and both are about the same size. Proche II made a nice one-handed catch today – you saw it. They all said, 'Woah, stop showing off!' The ball never gets into your body; you have really soft hands. I'm wondering, is there a friendly rivalry or competition between you and Proche II? (Kirk McEwen) "It's just us as a receiver group competing. We're always trying to outdo one another. That's just part of the game and part of the competitive nature that we all have, so it's always fun seeing your teammates make those types of catches."
Coach Harbaugh talked about how you just have a hard-working mentality and approach. Can you talk about that aspect of your game and where that comes from? (Garrett Downing) "Yes, just taking care of business. I'm a competitor. I want to win, [and] I want to be better. So, I just think about that all throughout the day – throughout practice – and thinking how I can better myself and just keeping that business mentality to carry on about my business."
What else can you say about your transition to the NFL from college, and what would your coaches say if they were asked the same question about you? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I think my transition's been going well. [Head] Coach [John] Harbaugh, [assistant head coach/ pass coordinator/ wide receivers] coach David Culley and all the special teams coaches have done a great job of just preparing me for what's to come. Being [that there's] no preseason and things of that nature, they're having to take extra steps to have us prepared for that in practice. I think we had a great scrimmage. Being able to fly around, go live and hit each other, that was a good chance to help that transition."
We had a press conference with CB Marlon Humphrey a couple of weeks ago, and at that point he was like, 'I don't know his name, No. 13; I don't want to get his name wrong.' You go from being 'the guy' at Texas, to coming here with the Pro Bowl corner who doesn't know your name. What's that like in trying to re-establish yourself, and does that provide a little extra motivation? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, yes, like you said – starting fresh. I just try to make a play when the ball comes my way and do what I can to continue to get better and get open and just make the play. I know I'm a rookie now – starting over – and I'm just going to have to do what I do to make a name for myself and continue to develop and earn people's respect."
Does CB Marlon Humphrey know your name yet? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, I think he does." (laughter)
How is catching the ball from QB Lamar Jackson different than anybody else you've played with? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "He has a real live arm. He has a strong arm. [He] puts a lot of zip on the ball, but [it's] very catchable. It's been great to be able to play with him. I never would've thought I'd be playing with a guy like this, but I'm super excited for the future."
How has it been fielding punts? And also, do you think you'll get an opportunity to do that this season? (Todd Karpovich) "Yes, I think I'll get an opportunity. It's been going well. Coaches had asked me [if] I'd done it before. I said, 'No, but I'm up for the challenge.' [I'm] looking forward to getting better at that as well, catching punts and kickoffs. Overall, it's been going well in practice, and I've been doing a great job."
Does your competitiveness come from a lot of your family members having played in pro sports or big-time sports? (Mike Preston) "Yes, I'd say so. It was just kind of driven in me when I was a little boy. I've always been competitive in whatever it was I was doing. It just stuck with me. It's just a drive that I have, the love that I have for winning and the love I have for this game. I just try to never let up and just continue to keep pushing and keep pressing until we get success."
No preseason games, you just played a whole college career in which you never played preseason games. I know it's a different level. You're moving up to a new level. Are you OK without having the preseason games? Are you ready to hit the ground running on September 13? (Mark Viviano) "Yes, I think I am ready to hit the ground running. Like you said, in college there's no preseason, so you kind of roll with things and have scrimmages and such. Like I said earlier, I think the coaches have done a great job of preparing us, especially rookies, for the first game since there is no preseason. Just making sure we're used to the speed of the game, the contact and everything. But I do think I'll be ready come Week One."