Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening Statement: "OK, good to see everybody on board here. I'm glad you're with us. [We're] preparing for a very important matchup with the Eagles up in Philly; that's occupying our time right now. A couple notes – I want to congratulate Sam Koch; he's going to set the all-time games played record for the Ravens. So, that will be a great accomplishment for Sam. And also, Patrick Queen got the [AFC] Defensive Player of the Week award, so we're very proud of that as an individual award, but also as a team award. So, the guys will all be really proud of that. OK, what questions do you have?"
You mentioned about P Sam Koch. A lot of people when they talk about punters, they kind of get pushed off to the side a little bit. What has Sam represented for this franchise? (Jamison Hensley) "Gosh … Continuity. He's a guy who has persistence in how to do it the right way. I haven't really given it thought, but I think he epitomizes what success looks like over the long haul. A guy who's dedicated to the process, taking care of the details [and] working extremely hard. [He's] incredibly competitive about what he does. The other thing that people may or may not know, he's kind of changed … Sam [Koch] is going to be remembered, in his craft, for changing the way punters punt. He's the guy who's come up with all these different types of punts and these different kicks. He's got … I don't know how many he's got, but it's many, many of them. It's with the directional punting, the way he sprays the ball around, puts it on the sideline and the different rotations he uses, these are all things that punters are copying now. You see it, really, all around the league right now. So, he'll be remembered for that for a long time."
When you look at this Eagles team, they've thrown the ball 196 times and rushed 123 times. Because they seem to do a lot of intermediate stuff, what kind of challenges does it give you guys as far as pass coverage goes against these guys? Especially when they use their tight ends? (Todd Karpovich) "Zach Ertz, as you mentioned … It looks like they might be getting some of the receivers healthy, which would be a big benefit to them. [They have] a big pass protecting offensive line, and of course, Carson Wentz. Plus, they use their running backs quite a bit in the pass game, and they're very adept at it. It's a West Coast-style offense, similar to what you see in Kansas City. Of course, Coach [Doug] Pederson and Coach [Andy] Reid worked together for a long time. So, we understand kind of how that system works a little bit and how challenging it can be to defend it."
Last year, you guys were successful with the combination blocks. How has that gone for you this year? Has that been a problem area for you guys at all? (Mike Preston) "We can get better at that, for sure. It's something that we did at probably the highest-level last year, especially with Marshal [Yanda] in there. It's something we're working on. It kind of goes with a lot of other things we can continue to improve at. We have to, and I'd say that's one of the things we're working on."
How impressed are you with this defense, not just with the takeaways, but defensive backs getting sacks and going the other way? It just seems like everyone is contributing and everyone has a different role on every given play, perhaps? (David Ginsburg) "What you've seen from the defense … In terms of that last part, that's a great point you made. That's kind of how we're built; we've been that way [for] at least the last three years, predominantly. So, we want to play that way whenever we can. It's been good to see the production, especially the last two weeks. We're doing a good job throughout the year, but we know we have a long way to go. We have a lot to work on. We're going to be attacked a lot of different ways. We know we're going to be challenged this week with scheme and ideas. So, you just have to be ready for all of that stuff and just try to put our best foot forward every single week – that's what we're trying to do."
In five weeks, the Ravens are the only team in the league to have scored in every quarter this season. Is that something you're aware of? And if so, is that something you take pride in? (Kirk McEwen) "I did not know that. Sure, that would be something that's a positive, but I didn't know it. That's good, thanks."
Obviously, there's always interest in QB Lamar Jackson and running. His rushing attempts have decreased this year. Is that something going into the season as a team saying you wanted to reduce that, or has there been other factors involved in that? (Jamison Hensley) "I'd say other factors. It's not something we said we wanted to do, but we also understood and knew that things are always going to change and evolve. That's the nature of football. That's the nature of things, right? So, one week to the next, one year to the next, how we're defended, what we chase in terms of … We're just trying to move the ball and score points, really, by any means necessary. There are really no rules in terms of what direction we go with those kinds of things. We just want to find ways to get it done. We're searching for those things on offense right now. We always will, and that's where we're at."
S Jessie Bates III, the Cincinnati safety, raised some eyebrows when he said, 'We know that Lamar Jackson wants to go to '89' [TE Mark Andrews] and '15' [WR Marquise Brown]'. Just from a bigger perspective, you look at Seattle and they've had a really good passing game focusing on mainly two guys. Does target share matter to you in big picture as long as you guys are having success with the passing offense? (Jonas Shaffer) "I lost you at the end there, but I think you said, 'Does it matter big picture as long as we're having success and moving the ball?'" (Reporter: "Right.") "No, not as long as we're having success and moving the ball. I think it will matter in the long run. I think people will defend the guys you're throwing to; we certainly do that on defense. But we're not trying to throw to two guys all the time. We're not really trying to throw to seven guys either, but we've had games where we have spread it out quite a bit this year, where he's hitting multiple targeted guys. So, I think it will play out differently from week to week, but I also think it's something we need to continue to look at."
It's been a while; you don't play the Eagles very often, but obviously, you came up with that organization. Any feelings about that now? Or is it just so far removed that it's nothing special, it's just another game for you this week? (Bo Smolka) "There are a lot of great people there; people who are still friends to this day, of course, both in the organization throughout, and then also in the community. We have friends in the community still that we keep in touch with. So, all of that from a personal standpoint is good, but from a football standpoint, no. It's a big game, because it's a big game. It's the next game, and we're in a race right now. We need this win. We need to play our best football. We need to improve. Really, that's all any of us are thinking about."
I want to give a follow-up to that question. You and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson both became head coaches after working for Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, and both of you have won a Super Bowl as a head coach. How is it to compete against head coach Doug Pederson? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "We both worked with Coach [Andy] Reid, so I think we both kind of have a lot of the same views on things, maybe – the same experiences. Doug [Pederson] was a player; he played quarterback in the NFL for many years. He was there Andy's first year, which was my second year in the NFL coaching. He was the backup quarterback, and he was my holder. So, we kind of got that experience a little bit, but I have a lot of respect for Doug. The way he runs his program and the way he coaches his team, they do a great job with their guys and we understand that."
You had a nice shoutout to your fans on Monday about how much you miss them. Philly is going to have some fans on Sunday. This will be the first time you play with any substantive amount of people in the seats. Any thoughts about if that changes anything or any feeling or thoughts? (Mark Viviano) "We're probably going to underplay it more than overplay it, because we really don't know. Obviously, we've played in front of a lot more fans than 7,500. So, we should be fine, but we haven't done it lately. To your point, it will be different from the last couple of weeks. I just don't know what an impact it'll have [or] how loud it'll be. So, we'll just go in there and play the game and see how it plays out."
We just talked to CB Jimmy Smith and I'm curious – obviously, you have a lot of players who move to different roles, but what he does specifically, all the different things he plays, how difficult is that? Is that something you would be able to task a younger player with, or does his experience really make a difference? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I do think it's that; his experience makes a big difference. He's just seen a lot of things. He's been in a lot of meetings. He's played in a lot of games. He basically, fundamentally, knows how the coverages are built and [how] they're organized. Now, what he's had to do in the last, really, year and a half is really dig into the details of the different spots. He's done a really good job of it. I'm really proud of him. There are not many corners who can … There are some. We know there are some good examples of guys who have done it, even here – all the way back to Rod Woodson and then, of course, Brandon Carr. I don't think it's really that normal for guys to make that kind of a … I don't want to say a move or a switch, because he's still playing corner, but to expand like that. So, yes. [I'm] really proud of him for how he's done with that."
QB Lamar Jackson
First of all, how are you feeling relative to a week ago at this point? And as far as what you saw last week in the passing game – 37 passes and 19 completions. How are you feeling about the passing game overall? (Pete Gilbert) "I'm good. I'm way better than I was last week – no illness, no stomach aches, nothing like that. The pass game, we're still working on it. We have young guys that came in and stuff like that. We're just finding ourselves right now, and we're good. I feel like we're going to be good. In practice we've been doing very good, I feel. Our guys are getting open, catching passes, and getting downfield. I made good throws to those guys. It's going to come to us, though. We're going to be better."
I have a theory that your performance has changed since we don't have fans. (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Since no fans? (laughter) I have to do a better job then. Since the fans aren't here, it shouldn't matter. So, I have to do a better job then."
Your rushing attempts are down from the previous two years. Is that something that you wanted to decrease this year, or are there other things involved in the rushing carries going down for you? (Jamison Hensley) "We have guys who run the ball very good for us, and we're winning, so it really doesn't matter. We're 4-1, so it's a plus for us right now. But it's cool, I guess. As the season goes on, we're going to see, [and] if we need to, coach is going to adjust. But right now, we're doing perfectly fine without me running so much, so we're doing good."
You're 4-1, but a lot of people are "gloom and doom" and pointing to last year. Is that tiring to you, or are you able to block that out? (Kirk McEwen) "Last year was last year. We're just trying to have a better record than we did last year, and we're still trying to chase what we want [and] what we always talk about in this building. Let the outside noise be the outside noise, like I always say."
Can you talk about what it's like going against a defense in practice that gives you that many looks? And when you go on Sundays, do you ever see defenses give you as many looks as your own defense does during the week? (Cliff Brown) "Yes, when we go into games now, defenses change up their scheme from what we see on film. But I wouldn't say … Like our defense, Coach 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] and the defense does a great job at disguising and doing their job – filling in holes, and blitzing quarterbacks and sacking quarterbacks. They've been doing a great job, so I wouldn't try to put my defense against anyone else's defense, because they're different."
Are you planning on practicing today? (Shawn Stepner) "Yes, for sure. The whole week."
A couple times, regarding the passing game, you have said you're right there, you're almost there, you'll be fine, you'll get it together. Regarding the passing game, do you think that you are almost there to kind of put things together, or is there a lot to work on to get this passing game consistently where you want it? (Shawn Stepner) "Week One, we had a pretty good day when we played against the Browns with our passing game, and there was nothing being said about it. But now, it's like since we're not progressing, I guess, from that week, people have second-guesses going on. But I feel we're going to be good. Like I said, it's still early in the season. We're going to strive for greater as the season goes on, and it just starts in practice. If we get better in practice, then we should be good."
We saw, and head coach John Harbaugh told us that you had some headset issues on Sunday. Can you take us through what happens when you don't hear a call and how you react to that? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, I pretty much have warp plays that are in my back pocket. If we don't get a signal, we just go to the line, we call the play there, and [it's] on to the races." (Reporter: "And is that you calling the play? Do you make that decision then?") "Yes, at that point."
You guys are still rotating the running backs and different guys get a different amount of carries every week. As a runner, do you feel like you need a certain number of carries to hit your rhythm? Or is that something that people talk about from the outside and maybe isn't that relevant to the players? (Childs Walker) "For the running backs, I don't know. They probably do, but for me, it really doesn't matter. If my numbers is called, then I just do what I have to do. I don't know from a running backs standpoint. You have to ask those guys."
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was on a podcast talking about how you know whether "a guy" is "the guy." He was like, "Look at Lamar, in college. We knew he could sling it. That guy can sling it, and you knew he would get his footwork and stuff straight, and he would be really good in the NFL." To hear a guy who is going to be a Hall of Famer and an all-time great talk about you and look at you like, "Duh," of course you're going to be great, when coming out of college there were so many people who were saying, "Well, I'm not sure about Lamar as quarterback." What does that mean to you? (Peter Gilbert) "It means a lot coming from a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and a guy who's still competing at a high level. 'A-Rod,' that's pretty cool coming from him. I appreciate that."
After the past couple of games you've had with WR Miles Boykin and WR Willie Snead IV not getting a whole lot of targets, what's the dialogue like after those games? Are those guys on the same page as you with why the ball hasn't come their way, and the team is winning, so it's not that big of a deal? How do you move forward after those couple games? (Jonas Shaffer) "Like you said, the team is winning. But I feel my guys still need the ball in their hands, so we're going to do a better job of getting those guys the ball in their hands. There's no bitterness or anything like that going on in the locker room whatsoever. Our guys are still our guys, and we're still a brotherhood going on here. But yes, as the season goes on, and as the weeks go on, the guys should be getting the ball a lot more."
RB Mark Ingram II
You mentioned at the start of the season that playing in front of no fans is kind of like a high school scrimmage. Playing in front of 7,000 fans is what Philadelphia might have in there. Maybe it's more like a high school game? Maybe you had bigger crowds in high school? What are your thoughts about there actually being people there, to whatever number? (Mark Viviano) "I think it'll be fun. I think everybody in the league misses the fans – whether that be your home fans or being away. Just being able to go in [with] 7,000 fans – like you said, it'll be like a high school game, per se. Even the 250 immediate family members that we had, you could hear them screaming their hearts and souls out when the game gets close. They wouldn't stop yelling, 'defense,' on third downs, or whatever, or when we make a big play. Just multiplying that to 7,000 – I think it'll be a good step up for crowds. I think it'll be fun. We're looking forward to it."
I wanted to ask you how many snaps, ideally, would you want a game? I know you're a team-guy, you'll do whatever. But you ripped off a 20-yard run [at] 4:45 in the third [quarter]. Looked like you were picking up steam. How many times would you like to tote the rock? (Kirk McEwen) "As many times as possible. As many times as they call my number, that's how many times I would like to run it. Obviously, I want the ball. Obviously, I want to be on the field, getting into a rhythm, making plays. But at the same time, we have a great room. We have great players in our room – all guys who can be explosive, all guys who can make plays. Being in a rotation, that's just what it is. We stay fresh, we stay healthy. We all just try to be mentally prepared for when our number is called to go in there and play to the best of our ability, to make the most of our opportunities, to maximize our touches. Obviously, I want the ball. Obviously, I want to play. That's all great, but we have a great running back room, a great running back rotation. They use us differently. We'll just be ready for when our number is called to go out there and execute to the best of our ability to help our team win. That's our main focus – is just being the best we can be each and every snap our number is called."
Are you paying attention to your stats? (Ximena Luge-Latorre) "You catch them here and there. But it's not like I'm pondering over them daily looking at my yards per carry, or my carries, or whatever."
You can't help but compare to what we saw a year ago from you guys – particularly in the rushing game. How much is different relative to what teams are doing to you, or is it what you guys are doing yourself, that you haven't been able to match what we saw a year ago. Or, also, is it just 2019 was a historic year, and maybe that will never be matched? (Pete Gilbert) "Obviously, 2019 was a historic year, and we just had a lot of things going for us. And 2020 is different, and the 2020 Ravens are different. We just have to find ways to continue to improve. We have to find ways to continue to get better. We know that we haven't played our best as an offense yet, and we're striving for excellence. We're striving for better execution. We're striving for having a complete 60-minute game. And we're striving to make sure we have our best football game coming up here on Sunday against the Eagles. We know we're not satisfied, but we're striving for excellence. We're striving to be better each and every day, each film session, each walk-through, each rep at practice. We know that we want to improve. We know we want to get better. And we have to get better in order to get to where we want to go – which is to be champions. The 2020 Ravens are still working on our identity, and we're still working to be the best possible versions of ourselves."
How was seeing your baby at M&T Bank Stadium? (Ximena Luge-Latorre) "I love seeing my kids all the time. Just to be able to see them in the stands … I can actually pick out my family. I saw my daughter early in the game, and she was trying to give me snack, or something – and I acted like I got it, I acted like I ate it. She was super happy and excited. Just to be able to see her and she can see me, and be like, 'Hey, that's daddy.' That's what I do it for. That's my 'why' – my family, God first, my family. That's what I do it for. It's always great to see her at the game and be able to spend some time with her."
You, obviously, had a fair amount of experience with a shared backfield in New Orleans. Has that sort of helped you be that voice of experience in the room as, maybe, you've helped everyone understand their roles in this current situation? (Childs Walker) "Yes, I think we have guys in our backfield … We have great runners in our room who are all alpha dogs, who all want to carry the ball, and who are all capable of carrying the ball and toting the load. Just being and having experience sharing the ball in a number of backfields, I think I could just give my experience. I can just share my experience, share my knowledge through situations that I've had to go through, through situations I've had to endure over my career with sharing the ball. You just have to be mentally prepared, mentally and emotionally ready to be prepared when you're spot-playing. When your number gets called, you have to make sure you control your execution on your assignment, the way you perform when your number is called. Those are things that you can control. I've just experienced that so much throughout my career that I think I can just be helpful and share my experiences and how I deal with sharing backfields with Gus [Edwards] and with J.K. [Dobbins] and Justice [Hill] as well. I'm there for those guys, and we all want the ball, we all want to play. But we have a great room, and we rotate, and we stay fresh, and we stay healthy, and that's great for our team."
I'm sure you understood when you lost G Marshal Yanda – a potential future Hall of Famer – that it is going to be a challenge to replace him. But now, you're five games in – how difficult is it, still, to really fill in for him? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't ever think you fill that void that Marshal Yanda left. That's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and someone who for 13 years was playing at the highest level ever for an offensive lineman. So, I don't think you ever fully replace that. All you can do is just hope to get another great player who is a true pro in his own right, a true dominant force in his own right. I think we have that with our young guys on our offensive line, and in our offensive line room. We have great depth, and I think those guys are continuing to improve each and every week. They're continuing to get better each and every week. I think our line is jelling. We've had to deal with some injuries, and guys who have been plugged in have performed at a high level and executed their job at a high level, so we've been able to be successful as an offense. I'm excited about our offensive line room. I'm excited about the guys who have been playing each position. We'll continue to improve, and we'll continue to get better. Those guys have a bright future – all of our young guys on the offensive line."
Last night, [Tennessee Titans] RB Derrick Henry tossed [Buffalo Bills] CB Josh Norman like a blow-up doll. As you watched that, (A) – are you jealous a little to be able … Could you do that to a defensive back? And did he ever do that to you when you were playing at Alabama together in practice or something? (Pete Gilbert) "I never played with Derrick Henry at 'Bama' [University of Alabama]. And he would not do that to me. And I can do that to somebody else. I'm not jealous, but he's a big dude, and obviously he has a great stiff arm. But my stiff arm is pretty strong, too. So, I feel like if a 'DB' [defensive back] came up to me a little reckless – thinking that it was sweet – that I could probably toss him out of the club, too. (laughing) But good job Derrick, keep running the rock. 'Roll Tide' for life."
CB Jimmy Smith
How does this defense rank among the many good ones that you've played on? Not just in takeaways, but in the way that it's really formed so that everyone can make a big play? (David Ginsburg) "It's similar to some of the defenses we've had as far as the veteran leadership, the young players, but I think we have a really, extremely talented defense this year. I think 2011 comes to mind when I think of it. And 2017, I want to say, is another defense that [comes] to mind when I think of some strong defenses we've had. But this [defense] ranks right up there with all them, as far as depth, talent and just veteran leadership."
Along those lines, what was it like being part of a performance where five different defensive backs got a sack, including you? (Luke Jones) "It was fun. You can get that out of 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale]. He likes to send those DBs [defensive backs]. He likes to send everybody from anywhere, so it's not that surprising that he did it – [that] he called all those – but it was pretty cool that all five of us could actually get a sack."
Now that it's been five weeks and you've been bouncing around different positions more than any other point in your career, how does that change things for you? How has this year been different for you personally? (Aaron Kasinitz) "It's been fun. I get to do different things; I play tight ends, drop down in coverage from safety [and] play some corner – something I'm pretty used to, I guess. Lately though, since Tavon [Young] has been down, I've been playing a lot more corner, so the role has kind of shifted back. But I'm comfortable doing whatever they ask me to do."
Obviously, the numbers for ILB Patrick Queen are very good. What are you seeing from him as far as just understanding the total game? And being a middle linebacker, you have to be a leader. What's that role been like for him? (Pete Gilbert) "He's been doing well. He doesn't try to force himself to do anything or assert himself in some weird way. But he gets the job done. He understands that it's all a learning experience. If something happens to him once, he learns how to fix it the next time it comes around. He's a really smart guy, he has a great head on his shoulders, and he plays with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of confidence. So, the sky is the limit for him."
With limited pad time coming into the season – no preseason games, a lot of new pieces – when did you know that this defense was special? (Kirk McEwen) "I think we're still building, but I think it started last year. We had to add some pieces to what we started last year. We added 'The Monstars' [Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe] in the front – we call them – to stop that run, because that was a problem for us last year. We added pieces in our linebacker room, as well. Building all that together, we kind of assumed that we could pick up from where we left off and try to get better."
Who came up with "The Monstars" nickname? (Ryan Mink) "I heard Coach 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] say it several times in the meetings. We got freaking 6'7" D-tackles [defensive tackles], 6'6" D-tackles [Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe] (laughter), so that's how that came up."
The Eagles have two tight ends who are pass-catching specialists. What do you see out of those two guys? (Aaron Kasinitz) "[Number] '88' [Dallas Goedert] and '86' [Zach Ertz] you're saying, right? Yes, like you said, they're great at catching the ball, [and] they run savvy routes. Ertz has been doing it for a little while now, so we know what he's like. He's really savvy with his routes, like I said, he has great hands, and he has good speed. So, he's going to be a factor this week that we have to take care of."
P Sam Koch is going to become the Ravens' all-time leader in games played on Sunday. I know some people kind of push off punters a little bit, but what does Sam represent for this team? (Jamison Hensley) "He's the epitome of what a Raven is. No matter what position you play, it is very difficult to make it in the NFL. And to play as long as he has, at the level he has, for an organization like this, it just shows you his dedication to his craft, [and] his special abilities. But that's pretty cool. I didn't know that. That's pretty cool that Sam [Koch] is about to play the most games [as a Raven]. He's one of my favorite Ravens, too."
We've seen CB Marlon Humphrey with three forced fumbles in the past four games. How important and how unique of a skill is that? Obviously, CB Charles Tillman did that back in the day with the Chicago Bears. But for Marlon to do it with such regularity and such effectiveness, what does it say to you about that kind of talent? (Jamison Hensley) "Marlon [Humphrey] being a man-to-man corner, you don't really get that many opportunities for interceptions, and the fact that he consciously thinks about punching that ball off every single play, even in the middle of a tackle like he did last week … And to have [three] forced fumbles in five games, and two to go back for touchdowns, are huge plays. They're interceptions, if you will. They weigh the same. They're still turnovers, [and] they're still touchdowns. So, what he brings to the table in that aspect … Like you said [Charles] 'Peanut' Tillman is the last person that really consistently could knock the ball out, and you had to be aware of that. Even last game, some of the players on the Bengals were already aware; like, you have to make sure you tighten that ball up when Marlon [Humphrey] is around, because he will punch it out."
How are you preparing to face the Eagles' receivers? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "We don't know who all is going to be up, but that really doesn't matter too much. They have some speed, some talent, they have some big guys if '17' [Alshon Jeffery] and '10' [DeSean Jackson] are back. You know what they can do [and] what they're capable of. They have tight ends who catch the ball well and do a lot. So, we're going to have our hands full, like every single week in the NFL. But we're going to take it day by day, learn their stuff, learn their schemes [and] learn every little thing we possibly can just to defend what they're going to try to do against us."
QB Carson Wentz is a guy who obviously wants to extend plays, and he has so much confidence in his arm that he will take chances. Is that the kind of quarterback you like to go against, because you know that he's going to try to put the ball in some places that maybe he shouldn't? (Pete Gilbert) "Sometimes they win those, sometimes they lose them. But we just have to make sure that we're in the right spot when he does – if he does – make a mistake. So, if he just throws it up and it's in our area, we have to catch the ones they throw to us. But we also have to make sure that we're plastering, because a guy like that is a younger, faster version of Ben Roethlisberger. He can, like you said, extend the play, get the ball down downfield and make huge plays on you if you're not strapped to your assignment."