WEDNESDAY TRAINING CAMP TRANSCRIPTS
TE Hayden Hurst
On his emotions starting his first NFL training camp: "It's exciting. It can't really put words to it right now. It's just crazy to think that I'm here, about to start an NFL training camp, and three, four years ago, I was playing baseball. I just feel humbled and blessed to be here, and I couldn't be more excited to get things started."
On his connection with QB Joe Flacco going into training camp: "We worked on a lot of stuff during the spring. I think it took me a few practices to kind of get where he wanted me to get, as far as getting my eyes around and getting on the same page with him. But where we are right now, I'm pretty confident that he has a trust with me. He expects me to go make plays, and that's what I'm going to do for him."
On what rookies have been doing for the past few weeks: "We really haven't left this place. We've been here working, we've been with Steve [Saunders, director of performance] in the weight room, been out on the field doing stuff. So yes, I'm extremely prepared to get out here and get to work."
On his efforts to prepare since minicamp: "I've stayed on top of everything, as far as my conditioning. I went home and took a break, but every morning I was at my old high school working out. I wanted to stay on top of everything, didn't want to come back out of shape. Like I said, just really did everything to sharpen my game during minicamp in the spring. [I'm] ready to get out here and get into football games."
On if he senses excitement and momentum from veteran players: "Everything has been positive from those guys. They're showing a lot of excitement to get out here. There's a lot of buzz in the city about all the free agents and the draft and everything that we – guys we brought in. I'm excited to be part of that conversation. Again, I'm just ready for football to start. A lot of talking and interviews and stuff have gone on before, but I'm ready to put the pads on and play football."
On what differences his teammates can expect from him playing with pads: "I think I showed a lot of the guys what I could do during the spring. It's hard to kind of get a tell on what guys are going to be like when you're just in helmets and jerseys, but I'm a pretty physical player. I've always prided myself on that. I'm excited to get out here and show those guys what I was able to do in college, and that's what I'm going to bring here."
On if experiences in baseball, including failure and struggles, will help him be more productive from Day One and avoid the learning curve for rookie tight ends: "I know there's a lot of pressure on me being the first pick for the Ravens. It comes with the territory, but everything I went through with baseball has definitely made me the player I am today. My clock's a little bit quicker, I understand that, but it doesn't really put pressure on me. It's just expectations I want to live up to. I just go out and do what I do and play football. I have a lot of confidence in who I am and the football player I am. As far as the playbook goes, it's a lot, but the coaches and the meetings and everything, they'll get us ready for it."
On if he's had conversations with veteran NFL tight ends: "I was able to talk to Todd Heap a little bit. Some of the guys at South Carolina – Justice Cunningham, Jared Cook – those guys reached out to me and just told me to go do what I do. The game gets a little bit faster in the NFL, but at the end of the day it's football. You've got to understand the playbook, learn some things, but just go do what you do."
On the advice former Ravens TE Todd Heap provided:
"I didn't get to talk to him a ton. He called me during the draft process. It was a little crazy, but he left me a voicemail, and it was essentially along the same lines: 'You're a good player; there's a reason why [you] went 25th overall. Just go do what you do."
On if he feels the expectation to produce right away: "I kind of get that feeling. I understand they want me to play early, but again, football is football. I'm going to learn the playbook. I have a lot of confidence in what I was able to do in college. I know the type of player that I am, and I'm going to carry it over here. Once I learn the playbook and I can start playing it even faster, it's going to be exciting."
On if attention paid to QB Lamar Jackson lessens pressure on him: "During the whole process, it was kind of weird. He gets a lot of the questions, but it comes with the territory. He's the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. He's the quarterback, but I don't really have a problem with that. He takes a little bit of the pressure off of me, but the expectations for both me and Lamar are pretty high. We're great players, and I think we're going to live up to it."
On if he likes being part of the "wave" of offensive changes: "I think that's going to be awesome. They brought in a lot of free agents, with 'Crab' [Michael Crabtree], with John [Brown], with Willie [Snead IV]. I just want to do my part down the middle of the field and help Joe out, and that's going to take pressure off those guys on the outside. If I do my part, I think opportunities for our offense are pretty endless."
On winning the Ravens' team award for "best hair" last week: "I love it; I take a lot of pride in my hair. The people have spoken!"
S Tony Jefferson
Opening statement: "I'm a married man now! Been with her since 10thgrade, and finally tied the knot. She was a little shaky at the altar. I didn't know if she was going to say, 'I do,' or not, but she did, so, it's exciting." (laughter)
On emotions preparing for a training camp, especially the longer stretch: "[It's] a longer training camp, but obviously, it just means you get more opportunities to build a chemistry with your teammates and just to be out here and play football. When you go away from the spring and you go home, the first week is kind of cool, but then after a while you start missing your guys and you start missing being around everybody and playing football, because it's our job. Like I said, I think that extra week is obviously just going to give us more opportunity to build and get better."
On turning the page after an emotional end to last season: "Mentally, it was tough. We were a play away from being in the playoffs, but I know for most people and myself, it took about two or three days, and I was ready to get back to work. I was back in the weight room, ready to work. Sitting and moping around about it's not going to do anything, so I just try to better myself, help the team out for this coming year. All that's behind us. It's 2018, and it's a new year.
On where he feels like the team can be this season: "This team can be wherever we want to be. Man, we've got so much talent. Everybody is excited about the opportunity that we have. We're loving the moment. Obviously, like I said, last year wasn't how we wanted it to end, but the best part about it is we have another opportunity, and it's about what we do with it. Like I said, I think everybody's fired up. Everybody came in here smiling, happy and excited to get rolling."
On overall vibe and energy returning: "It's been great, man. From the coaches, to the staff, the cafeteria staff, I think everybody feels the momentum that we have heading into the season. But, like I said, it's only going to go as far as we make it and how far we take it. Everybody, like I said, the momentum that we have right now going into the season I think will do us well."
On how he sees tweaks to the defense under Don "Wink" Martindale affecting him: "Wink knows me; he knows what I like to do. He knows where to put me, and I think that's going to be able to heighten my game this year. Play your guys to their strengths, and Wink does a good job of doing that, giving us a lot of freedom to be able to be ourselves, and I think that's going to help a lot of guys just to be able to let loose. Obviously, we don't want to be any sit-back defense; we want to be aggressive, so, that fits me, and I think that's going to help me improve my game a lot."
On if he'd like to play closer to the line of scrimmage in certain instances: "I mean, yeah, I like playing closer to the line of scrimmage. But at the end of the day, I'm a safety, so I've got to be able to play back wherever I need to be – half or deep. Last year, it was the first time I really had to do some of that stuff, so it was a learning experience for me, but that's behind me. I worked on it, I got better. But yeah, it's going to be fun."
On where the momentum heading into camp came from: "I think we had a great spring. I can speak for us defensively, we were flying around. Everybody's playing fast. I think that's one thing we can all say was that we were flying around; everybody's playing fast. When you can play fast, more plays are going to be made. Like I said, 'Wink' [Martindale] is giving us a lot of freedom to make plays, and the opportunity is going to be big for us."
On if he will be used differently this year compared to last year: "It is what it is. Whether I'm up near the line of scrimmage or on the line of scrimmage or if I'm playing deep safety or half – I have to be able to do all of that. Like I said, it's part of being a safety in the league. You don't want to be called in at one spot. You don't want to be a, 'I'm a "line of scrimmage-type safety,"' or whatever. I know I can do it all. They do, too. It just took added experience a little bit. I learned the good from the bad and the bad from the good. So, we'll move on."
On what's different about the defense: "I think we put in most of what we need to put in. It's still, obviously, the same defense, but we've tweaked it. And we've tweaked it to where we as a defense could … Like I said, we can have freedom, we can move around [and] allow guys to play to their strengths. And when you get guys playing fast, it's just going to create more opportunities, more big plays. We have goals set in place, and that's what we're trying to do."
On how encouraged he was to see CB Jimmy Smith practicing: "I don't know how Jimmy does it. He just heals really fast, and he heals good. I mean, he was out there in individual drills in minicamp off an Achilles [injury]. That's kind of rare. That's going to be huge having Jimmy back on this defense. He's a huge part of this defense – a big, strong, lengthy guy who can jam the best receivers. We have some depth and some great players on this defense."
On if he likes the consistency of the defensive personnel: "Oh yeah. A lot of times what people don't understand is it takes time to build chemistry with guys and to play off each other, feed off each other. So, it's just another year of having everybody back. Having Tavon [Young] back – that's going to be huge. Tavon is a great player; he can play inside, outside. He's one of those guys where he can move around. We're looking forward to that."
On the care he has to take with an extra week of practice: "I mean, football is football. At the end of the day, it's just a week. I don't think too many people are stressing about that. Just be a pro: Get in the hot tub, get in the cold tub, get massages, get your treatment and go to practice and get better." (Reporter: "Do you think it's an advantage or disadvantage?")"I think it's an advantage. I would love to be with my wife and my kid for an extra few days, but at the end of the day, this is my job. I love being here, a Raven. We have an opportunity ahead of us where we could be champions, and who doesn't want to be here to do that? So, I think it's an advantage."
On how much he spent studying RPOs [run-pass options] in NFL offenses this offseason: "Well, the RPO, that's been the talk of the league and stuff like that. For me, I came from the NFC West, so I've seen that pretty much my entire career before coming here. I spent a lot of my offseason mainly in the weight room and studying film on, not only myself, but other players in my position. I watched a lot of Harrison Smith, a guy who's versatile. That's one thing I worked on was versatility – being able to be versatile. The RPO thing is kind of new more to this side of the league, but I've kind of seen that my whole career."
WR Willie Snead IV
On if it feels like he's back too early: "A little bit, but it does feel good to be back. Football is right here, it's about to start up – that's the most exciting part."
On if the longer training camp will be a benefit: "I think so. It definitely can be looked at that way – spending more time with the QBs and just bringing that team camaraderie together. I guess building that 'band of brothers,' so to speak. That's definitely a good way to look at it, and just spending more time with the playbook and just preparing our minds to have a great year and things of that nature."
On if he worked with the quarterbacks or other receivers in the offseason: "Yeah it did [happen]. We got together with Joe [Flacco] a few times last week. I didn't get to catch Lamar [Jackson] back in Florida. I wasn't sure what type of rookie stuff he was doing, so I didn't want to bother him. We definitely got to link up with Joe and have a few days together. I think that was really good for us."(Reporter: "How many receivers?) "It was a few of us. I can't remember the numbers, but it was a few receivers, tight ends. It was a good group. We got a lot of good work in. I'm just really excited to get going here."
On what he accomplished by having extra time with QB Joe Flacco: "I think it was just taking a step [forward] that we did in OTAs and minicamp and put it all together out there on the field, just one-on-one with the quarterback. That type of time together is beneficial – just later down the stretch in the season – and just being on the same page with different routes and knowing the receiver, the quarterback and what he's thinking, what I'm thinking. It's hard to do versus when there's nobody out there. But just that timing and building that relationship … We had only known each other for a few months, so that extra time is very beneficial, especially when we're trying to do something special this season."
On what about QB Joe Flacco makes him eager to work with: "I think Joe as a person is just open to change, very open to new ideas. I think that's one of the things that I've realized working with him the past couple months. He's always open, and I can tell him something or speak what I'm feeling, and he takes it with a positive energy. That's one thing that's great for a receiver – when your quarterback can relate to you and give his ideas at the same time, so that way you're on the same page. That's just been the biggest thing, and knowing that he's totally healthy and has a lot of energy and confidence going into this season – that's exciting as well. He's told me plenty of times that he feels really good about this group and definitely about this season coming up."
On the advantage of being a part of a brand new receiving corps: "We just all bring something very different to table. [Michael] Crabtree is 10 years in and brings that old vet mentality, that different swagger. Me and 'J.B.' [John Brown] came in together in 2014, and he brings that speed down the field. Chris Moore does the same thing – a special teams guy. Me – I work the slot, I work everywhere, blocking, especially. So we all bring something unique to the table. I'm just excited for the young guys to see what they can do, because this is going to be a great camp for them as well. It's going to be fun, and I definitely think we have a great group of guys in that room."
On where the receivers met with QB Joe Flacco: "It was here [in Owings Mills]. We actually went at the park across the street. (laughter)Yeah, there's plenty of fields out there, so we just picked one." (Reporter: "Anyone notice that there were some Ravens practicing?") "Yeah, a few kids actually saw us – a group of kids playing football. It was fun, just being out in that type of environment is cool."
On how many times they practiced together: "Probably twice. Not too many days – we weren't trying to kill each other. But we were just definitely trying to … The time that we were out there was very beneficial, and we just wanted to take advantage of that. Coming into the days right now, we just needed our legs for now. It's just getting into the flow of things, catching from the quarterbacks. That's all it really was about."
On how he is feeling health-wise: "I feel great. I definitely trained a lot since my time away. I trained down in Florida with my pops, and he pushed me to the limit, because I know this training camp is going to be tough. I just want to put myself in the worst situations to prepare myself for right now. But I feel great, my legs feel great, and my body feels amazing. I'm just ready to have a great year."
On how long it took to build chemistry with Saints WB Drew Brees: "I think with Drew it took the whole season, because when I first got there, I was an undrafted kid, bottom of the roster. When I made the team, it wasn't a surprise to everybody, but as the camp went on, they could see this kid could play. And as the season went on, I would have to build that rapport with Drew week-in and week-out. There were different plays, the game was different every week, and we would have to be on the same page about certain things. So once that year was established, then it was easier to talk to Drew; it was easier to be on the same page with him. That was the 2016 season. Last year wasn't a good year for me, but that experience I brought from there to here is really beneficial, because I can talk to Joe [Flacco] about schemes and different things that we did in New Orleans and bring it here. That's why I said he was very open to all that – just the idea of running routes differently and being at a certain spot when he needs me to be. That's kind of the terminology that I try to talk to Joe about, and he's been very open. It's easy for me to talk to him from that standpoint."
On if he feels the new receivers have been brought in to create a jolt: "I think so. Like I said, I'm just totally excited. I watched [Michael] Crabtree growing up, and just the type of receiver he is and the mentality he has – he brings something special to the table. John Brown brings something crazy to the table with his speed and his change of pace on the offense. Me and the other guys, it's just like … I don't know. Everybody tells me that something like this hasn't been brought to this building in a while, and when people say that and the momentum building behind this team, you can't help but be excited about that. The change is going to be great. This time right here is going to be very beneficial coming into the season. I'm just looking forward to it and ready to get after it."
On if he had a preconceived notion of QB Joe Flacco: "The thing is, I've had a good amount of quarterbacks. My first year, I was with Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel. I was in a stint with the Carolina Panthers with Cam Newton, then I had Drew Brees. Drew Brees is probably, arguably, the best quarterback to ever pick up the football. When you go from him to Joe … I think my expectation of Joe was just [that] he's a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. He knows how to win at the end of the day. You don't win Super Bowls if you don't know how to win – granted he had a great defense – but he still made those plays. He made great plays for his team back then. I think my expectation of him was just somebody who is a professional, somebody who is a great quarterback – which I think he is. And I think it's the weapons around him [that help] make him a great quarterback. I know we brought in a lot of pieces, a lot of draft picks to help him do that, and I think that's all he needed – weapons. I think it's all on him now to be able to make those plays, which I know he can. Once he starts to get into the flow of things, and start picking up that momentum, and one game after another, I think it's going to be great. I didn't have high expectations, because I didn't know him. But I just knew he was a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, and he knows how to win. He's in a great organization, and I just wanted to see for myself what he was all about."
On why he feels that the momentum that players have been referring to is heading in the right direction: "I think it just starts with OTAs and minicamp. The competition between the offense and defense and getting after it, and you just see different players making plays, and offenses … I mean, guys were talking about the offense like, 'The offense is making more plays,' 'Joe Flacco is throwing deep balls. He hasn't done that is a while.' I don't know that – I haven't been here. I just see him slinging the ball. I see the offense with the tempo, and that's the best part about it, and that's the momentum that everybody keeps talking about. We finished on a great note, and I think people just want to see more. I think they're ready to see more, and they're excited to see more. That's what this training camp … I think being here early … There's the pros and the cons to it. You get less time with your family, but the pros are you're here earlier. You're here to get ready to play football and have a winning season. I think that's the best part about the momentum is just … We finished great, and now we're ready to pick it back up to where we left off."
On if there's a different intensity with fans at practice: "I think the energy will be a little different. The thing with the crowds is they're excited about everything. You catch a deep pass, and the routes on there – they're going crazy. Just the energy of the crowd brings the excitement, and they're actually there to see it. You want to put your best foot forward every day – not for the crowd but for yourself in general. Everybody out here is competing for a job at the end of the day. Everybody keeps that in the back of their mind, and the crowd brings a little pressure. You have to make those plays, because you're going to do it on Sundays. There can be, I don't know, 50,000 people in the stands, something like that, so that kind of pressure puts players in that mindset: 'Look, I have to make these plays in front of these people either way.' The crowd just brings a different energy and level of excitement, so to speak."
On what he learned from Saints QB Drew Brees: "The biggest thing I learned with Drew was timing is very beneficial to the connection between a receiver and quarterback. You get some quarterbacks that can just sling it. They don't need time with their receivers – they're gifted like that. But I think with Drew Brees, he wasn't built that way. He's 5-11, he doesn't have the strongest arm in the world, but at the end of the day he's going to put the ball where it needs to be – that's all timing, before and after practice. That's kind of what I want to do here with Joe [Flacco] and the other receivers. Just like, 'Look, we have to get this timing.' For him to know that he's going to get the ball out right here, even when he's getting hit, he's going to get the ball out, and I'm going to be right where he needs me to be. That's how you make plays, that's how you keep drives going, that's how you score touchdowns, because that type of timing is very beneficial to an offense. I think that was the biggest thing from here to there is Drew just honing in on timing, timing, timing. Be where I need you to be. Do the right things, do your job, all those things. Be a professional."
On where he feels the rapport is with QB Joe Flacco: "To be honest, I think Joe has a lot of confidence in us. Just from the little time that we've been together, just talking to him in the locker room, to coming out here on the field and making plays while he's throwing us the ball – I think he has a lot of confidence in our group. He's excited about our group – even the tight ends. He just has a lot of confidence. He feels like he has a lot of weapons around him he can use at his disposal. I think as a quarterback or former quarterback or any quarterback, when you have a lot of targets, a lot of guys that can make plays and you know where to find them, you've got to feel pretty good. I think he's in a good place right now. He's healthy. He's ready to go; I'm ready to go. Everybody's eager to get it going."