WR WILLIE SNEAD IV
I'm hoping you had a good offseason. Could you just take us through a little bit of how your workouts went and whether you saw the results you were looking for? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, I had a great offseason. With everything going on with the virus and all this craziness going on in the world, I was still able to get a lot of great work with my father. I started working out [in] February until we reported last week. I got the results I wanted. I feel faster. I feel lighter; I dropped like seven pounds. I really am feeling good at this weight. I haven't been this weight since my first year in the league. [I'm] just feeling pretty good going into the season."
At 27-years-old, you're the old man in the room now. I want to know what it's like, your transition from being undrafted out of Ball State, a practice squad guy, then you caught balls from one of the best ever in QB Drew Brees, and now you're working with QB Lamar Jackson. You're the leader of the room. Can you reflect on the journey? (Kirk McEwen) "Man, the journey's been awesome. There's been a lot of highs and lows. I had to overcome a lot, especially coming into the league. Like you said, I was an undrafted guy, came into Cleveland [and] got cut, bounced around a couple practice squads and landed in New Orleans. I was definitely given an opportunity to just prove myself for another camp, which I was blessed with. It worked out for me. Three seasons in New Orleans made me a better player and made me a better leader. I got to be around a lot of great guys over there, down in New Orleans. Then the Ravens came calling me, and ever since then, I haven't looked back. It's funny that I'm the oldest guy in the room now, because I still feel like a young man. I'm around all of these young guys now – they make me feel young. They push me and we feed off of each other. Just to be the oldest guy in the room is an honor and a blessing. I have to take that role on seriously and try to lead by example every day."
Do you take on a mentor role for those younger players? What's your relationship or what do you plan to tell them as first-year players in the NFL? (Todd Karpovich) "It's a little different, especially for the rookies. They haven't had their usual offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp, so it's different for them. I just try to lead by example right now. They have so many questions, I just try to lead them by example, like I said. I just give advice where I can. They're a young, hungry group. They just want to learn on the run. Me, as a leader in the room, I've just got to give them the right advice, lead them in the right direction, show them how to be a pro [and] how to handle these situations that are coming up right now. So far, they've been doing really good. They've been killing these workouts. I know they had their first day on the field today. I'm just happy with this group because we've got a lot of great, young guys."
Along those lines, what kind of sense do you get from those young players and their desire? Particularly a guy like WR Miles Boykin, to kind of prove themselves and have that quote unquote breakout year, and as a group for you wide receivers to take this group to another level? (Ryan Mink) "For us, it's just taking the next step. Like you said, we have a really young corps of guys. It's not like we have seven or eight years in our room. These guys are still learning on the run, and every year is important to these guys. Every practice is important. Every rep with Lamar [Jackson] is important. So, just being able to watch the film, learn from the mistakes and continue to grow in the area as a receiver, catching the ball, running the routes – that just gives the coaching staff a lot of confidence that we can pass at any down. It doesn't have to be third down, it doesn't have to be first – we can throw whenever. That's just going to come with the volume of work that we get this training camp. Guys like Miles [Boykin], guys like Marquise [Brown] are going to take that next step, because they expect that out of themselves. We're all pushing each other at the end of the day. These young guys that are coming in, they're hungry. They want to prove themselves at the same time, so there's going to be a lot of great, healthy competition. I'm excited about it. At the end of the day, guys are going to have to prove themselves, prove their worth and get out there and make these plays."
WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown – you've seen the transformation in person now, we've seen it online with the workouts. What strikes you the most about seeing him compared to when you last saw him in January? (Pete Gilbert) "I could tell he put on a lot of weight. He's put on a good amount of weight, and you can tell he's solid now. I know the first thing he said coming into the building is, 'I'm trying to block somebody. I'm trying to set the tone in the run game, man.' I could just tell by his build that he took that part seriously. He wants to look the part. He wants to put on weight, and he did that. He was committed to putting on a little muscle. The speed is always going to be there. I know he's healthy now. His foot is feeling a lot better. He's moving a lot better. I think now it's just time to get on the field. That's all we've been waiting on – run these plays, going against the defense and just proving that part. From just looking at him, he looks like a totally different kid from when I saw him last year. I'm super excited to see what he can do."
Who were some of the older guys who taught you how to be a receiver in the National Football League? How about the art of blocking – how hard is that to learn in the NFL? (Mike Preston) "I think going into New Orleans – I mean, I learned from a lot of guys. When I was in Cleveland, I learned from Andrew Hawkins [and] Nate Burleson. Just watching Josh Gordon every day, he was a crazy talent. Then when I got to New Orleans, Marques Colston was somebody that really taught me how to play the slot game. When I [went] there, I was an outside guy. I played a lot of 'X.' I played a lot of 'Z.' But Marques was the slot guy. I didn't know how to watch film really, and he taught me how to watch film. He taught me how to see coverage in the inside role. When he retired, I took on that role and that's when I made a big jump as a slot receiver. Andrew Hawkins was huge, just with the footwork and the quickness. Colston really taught me how to take it to the next level in the slot game, because in college I didn't really run in the slot. I was more of an outside guy, but Colston was a huge part in my development in the NFL as a slot receiver. For the blocking part, that's just [a] want to. That's just want …(inaudible)… I know Mark [Ingram II] is going to hit the hole. I know Gus [Edwards] is going to hit the hole. I know Justice [Hill] is going to do his thing. That's just my brothers, man. That's want to at the end of the day. Get in there, get dirty and handle your guys so you can get those big runs. At the end of the day, if you're blocking your guy, our offense is going to succeed. You could see that last year, just being one of the best offenses in the league, breaking the rushing record – that's all just will and want to. When you put that stuff on film, the young guys see it and they want to do it. You see teams around the league, guys are taking more effort in the blocking game. That's just the mentality at the end of the day – to want to get in there and put a body on somebody."
Everyone keeps talking about the next step for QB Lamar Jackson. From someone who catches passes from Lamar, what are you expecting from Lamar to take another step this season? (Jamison Hensley) "I think his role as a quarterback is going to get better when he's in the passing game, for sure. He made a lot of great strides last year in the passing game, but I think the outside game is where he really wants to take [it] to the next level; hitting the comebacks, hitting the out-routes, hitting the hooks. Throwing inside is so easy for him. He makes it look fluid, but I know when we were talking this offseason, he wanted to get better at throwing the outside game; hitting the go-balls, stretching the field a lot more. And he has taken pride in that. I think when he starts doing that, people are going to really respect him as a passer, more than a runner, and that's kind of where he wants to get better at – the passing game – because everybody knows what he can do when he runs. He's probably the most lethal threat in the NFL when he has the ball in his hands, but throwing the ball, I think he definitely wants to take the next step. And just seeing him in the last couple days, my guy is going to be primed and ready to go."
I'm wondering how you are adjusting to all the new protocols that are required because of the pandemic? And also, what's been your reaction as you've seen some of the difficulties that baseball has had as they've started up their season? (Childs Walker) "Coming into the building, it was different. It's an adjustment. You have to take these tests every day. Coming in, we had to wait a week to get in the building, which was different. But once we got into the building, I could just tell [that] the Ravens organization in itself took that next step of making sure everybody is safe. Everybody is doing everything they have to do to make sure that we are all being safe, staying clean, and just making sure that we are taking care of ourselves, at the end of the day. I think, as a professional, we are not going to be able to do a lot of things we are used to doing, like going out to dinners, doing different activities, going out, and stuff like that. You have to be a pro. You have to know what is on the line right now. The season is on the line. If guys test positive, that is going to be a problem. You always want to come up negative [and] you want to keep a positive attitude. That's what everybody has been saying around here. I think baseball is baseball. I don't know how they are doing it. I don't know how they are handling it. But I know the NFL and the NFLPA took the best steps to make sure that we can have football this year. And when it comes down to it, every guy has to hold themself accountable to make sure that they're ready for Sundays, they're healthy for Sundays. And hopefully, we can make sure this thing goes all the way."
How much time do you think you need to get the offense and the passing game in-sync? How long do you expect that to take, and do you feel like you have enough time? Obviously, there is a bit of a time crunch compared to most years. (Garrett Downing) "I think this year is even better because Lamar [Jackson] is in Year Three. We have the same group of guys, for the most part. We have a lot of young guys coming in, like I said before. But I just think Lamar has a good feel of the offense now. I feel like he has a great feel of the guys around him. Just watching the film from last year, he sees where he can get better. He sees where we can get better as an offense, and I think as we get on the field every day, do little stuff with each other like running through routes and then the walk-throughs – those are important. I just think Lamar is seeing it more and more and more each year. I told him that. I told him, 'From Year Two to Year Five, you are going to see a tremendous difference.' He's in Year Three now. He's still so young [and] has a lot to learn still, as a pro, but he sees the angles that he can get better at. And I just think that our offense is just going to get better in the passing game. It's going to start with Lamar, and he's doing his part to make sure that we take that next step."
You mentioned dropping the weight, the seven pounds. How exactly did you do that aside from just working out, and why did you want to get to that weight? What did that mean for you on the field? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I think for me, I've been playing at 200-202 (pounds) the past three years, and I think that was just really heavy for me. I didn't feel as good. I didn't feel as quick, as fast. I think that affected me in the passing game a little bit – just creating separation, getting open, getting down the field a little bit faster. Some ways that I did that were just training in Florida. It's hot, it's humid, we're sweating every day. My dad has me on the pavement, running. Just my diet as well. [I'm] eating clean, trying to cut out the carbs, the sugars, all that stuff. [I'm] just being disciplined and trying to attack this 2020 year the best I can, because this is my contract year. I'm up again, and I just want to get the best out of it. And I feel like dropping weight really helped me. I have my hand fully healthy now. There are no surgeries, no nothing. For me, I'm just excited for the opportunity to come out here with these young guys and to be able to push the offense to the next level. That is my expectation for myself. I'm here now. I feel great. I'm just ready to go. I'm ready to play some football."
What are you going to miss this training camp without the fans? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "That is going to be an adjustment. I know we look forward to the fans, the cheers, all that stuff, but we have to keep people safe. I think that's the number one priority – is making sure that everybody is safe and healthy. I know it stinks. That's the worst part. Especially come gameday, I know they are going to have a limited capacity, but I know people are going to love football. I know just having football around, is just going to bring people up. And I know they have been looking forward to sports. I know basketball is going. I know baseball is going right now. But, when football comes around, can you imagine the fall with no football at all? I mean, I can't. So, it's going to be an adjustment without fans, especially in training camp, but I know once we start rolling on Sundays, I know the whole environment in our nation is going to change. I think people are just ready for football, whether it's at the stadium, or it's at the house. So, we'll make it right. We are going to make it fun, and I'm just looking forward to the whole football vibes again."
WR MARQUISE BROWN
A lot has been said about your offseason workouts. [Head strength and conditioning coach] Steve Saunders said you really got after it. Can you tell us what your mindset was going into the offseason, what you did, and what the results were? (David Ginsburg) "My mindset going in was, first off, to get healthy. I just wanted to get back to my old self. Started off in the beginning of the year just working on my foot, getting my leg back right, my whole left side of my body. And then, ramping up into May and June, I started moving around, doing routes, cutting. Then June and July, I started back working on my speed. I just took the time out to address every part of my body, just to make sure I was going into the year right."
Did you gain 'X' number of pounds of muscle? Are you heavier than you were last year, yet, just as fast, I'm sure? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, while I was gaining weight, I made sure I was running. I kept track … I got the Ravens to send me a GPS tracker down to make sure I was still running at top speed, at good speed. Everything, with gaining weight, was keeping my speed and getting faster."
I know you worked hard last year, you played through it, you never complained. But looking back at it, how challenging was it to play with your foot being less than 100 percent? How uncomfortable was it? (Luke Jones) "I'm not the guy to complain. If I'm out there, I'm going to do all I can do to help my team. It wasn't the best circumstances, but I was just blessed to be in the NFL. I was just thankful that God allowed me to be where I was at. So, it's no complaints. I had a good year, to me, dealing with what I had to do. [I'll] just continue to push forward."
How much better do you think you can be with a healthy offseason and fully recovered from the injury and taking the next step? (Jerry Coleman) "I feel I got bright days ahead. I feel 100 times better than I did last year. So, all I got to do now is focus on the plays, focus on the stuff that I'm supposed to focus on, instead of focusing on my feet and trying to stay healthy."
What was it like working out with [free agent] WR Antonio Brown this offseason? QB Lamar Jackson even remarked about how hard he works out – lifting weights before and after the workout. What would you learn from a guy like that? What was it like working out with him? (Todd Karpovich) "I've been working out with 'AB' [Antonio Brown] since I was in college, so I know what he's about. He's a guy that's going to push you, and he is a guy that takes care of his body. So, I learned about him … Just about making sure everything is right – even when you're not injured, always work on yourself and always better yourself."
I saw you in the locker room last year. You were down to 157 [pounds]. You didn't look like a pro players' physique. Was there one time in the season where you were on the field – and you're playing with grown men at 157 [pounds] – was there one scenario where you knew you had to get stronger and bigger, even though you put up good numbers, respectable numbers? (Kirk McEwen) "I always knew, even in training camp and even through the season, I was like, 'I got to get back.' It wasn't even about the weight; it was about the strength – getting my strength back to what I was used to. And just being out there, moving and trying to do different stuff that I was used to doing and not being able to do it was kind of frustrating. But then again, I was just … I had a great team around me to keep me in good spirits, to just do whatever I can to help the team."
Did you say, specifically, how much weight you did add and put on this offseason? (Jamison Hensley) "I'm up to 180 pounds now. [I'm] feeling good and feeling strong. Ready to get after it."
Where do you feel that weight the most? (Shawn Stepner) "I get that question a lot. I don't feel it yet. (laughter) So, I don't know. I don't really feel it because, I guess, I put together a good regimen with the running. So, it wasn't something that I just put weight on, and then I just tried to get out there and just start running. It wasn't like that. It took time for the weight to actually even stick on me. I would gain the weight, lose it, gain it, lose it. It started sticking around June. I'm just trying to keep pushing forward."
We heard WR Willie Snead IV say that you said that you were looking to block somebody. Where do you expect that weight to help you starting Week One? (Shawn Stepner) "I think it'll help me [with] absorbing hits off the catch, blocking, anything physical. Just to be able to have that extra weight and strength behind you to help with injuries."
Do you think that gaining this much weight can affect your speed? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "What people fail to realize, when I was at 'OU' [University of Oklahoma], I was 173-170 [pounds]. So, I honestly just gained about 10 pounds. I actually lost weight last year. To me, I feel back to normal, sort of to say. I feel like myself."
QB Lamar Jackson mentioned about the possibility of [free agent] WR Antonio Brown joining your team. What's your thought? Would you like him in the locker room? (Kevin Richardson) "'AB' [Antonio Brown] – he's a guy that's going to bring the best out of you. I feel like he could fit in this locker room. He's a guy that's competitive and he's going to go out there and give 100 percent, and seeing stuff like that is going to make other guys want to do the same."
I know last year you joked about, from your rookie duties, you had to drive QB Lamar Jackson from the facility, and so forth. If you could go way back to your time in South Florida, do you remember Lamar Jackson as a youth football player? How do you explain South Florida youth football, in general, with the talent that's down there? (Bo Smolka) "We were just talking about this in the locker room yesterday. The talent down there is just crazy. I remember Lamar [Jackson] … He's been a quarterback since I could remember. He was one of those guys. He was already bigger than everybody and he would just get it … He was doing the same moves that he does now, throwing it all across the field. There's talent level all around there. Little kids from age 7-13, it's out there. Trying to get to the NFL – that's their dream, to get to the NFL. To those guys, I just tell them to just keep working, and put school first."
On that same note, how have you seen QB Lamar Jackson change, if at all, after winning the MVP? He's a superstar, a mega superstar now, on the cover of Madden, everybody knows who he is. What do you see from Lamar [Jackson], what have you seen this offseason since then? (Ryan Mink) "I feel like he's more hungry. Even with all of that, he's still … He pressed the issue about the Super Bowl. That's his Number One goal – he wants to win a Super Bowl, and he wants to win more than one. So, it's our job to make sure that we're right to go out there and compete, and at a high level."
Just looking back at some of your plays last year, there were some instances where you would go down, maybe stumble, before you had any contact. Was that just self-preservation? Was it your body, your feet not feeling 100 percent? (Jonas Shaffer) "A little bit of both. Sometimes, I would try to make a cut that my foot wasn't able to make, and I would go down. Or sometimes, I just know that I'm not going to be able to make that move, so I'll go down. It was more about getting the yards that I could get, get down, get ready for a next play. It was better for me to be in the game than to be out the game."
You mentioned that you got the GPS tracker from the Ravens this offseason. I'm curious – how did your speed this offseason compare to what the numbers you were putting up as a rookie? (Garrett Downing) "Even with my first day running, not even going top speed, I matched my highest speed since I've been at the Ravens. So, I was pleased to hear that; [coaching analyst – performance] Sam [Rosengarten] was pleased to hear it. From there on, I just really can't focus on speed again until July. I just had to make sure it was still there." (Reporter: "And was the speed, basically, the numbers you were putting up back at 'OU' [University of Oklahoma]?") "No, I didn't get there yet. I haven't touched that yet." (laughter)
What advice did [free agent] WR Antonio Brown give you when you trained with him in Florida? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Just, basically, the best thing you can do in the league is to be available. So, just to make sure, year-round, that I'm training my body to withstand the NFL, withstand 16 games. And also, working on your craft to be consistent game-in and game-out."
I'm just curious – I know you guys, obviously, have put a lot of things in place to protect against the spread of coronavirus. Is there anything to you that's especially weird, or jarring, or interesting that you're encountering in the facility every day? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I wouldn't say weird, because I feel like, here, they're doing a great job of just having everything … Locker rooms – we got separated lockers. We got monitors to track how close we are to people. Honestly, I feel like they're doing … They're making it as safe as possible, and that was something that everybody was skeptical about – how it would be. But once we got here, we were like, 'This could work.'"
Is there any kind of lift, or any kind of exercise that you can attribute to your muscle? Was there any kind of favorite one that you did in your workouts? (Ryan Mink) "No, I really don't have a favorite one. Just whatever I got that day, just attack that workout 100 percent. That's the only thing you can do to try to maximize anything you're trying to do."