Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. I just want to open up by saying condolences to Jerry Coleman and the Coleman family, after Jerry's mom, Jan, passed away yesterday. I know she's had a long fight, and Jerry and she are very close. We talked about her a number of times. So, condolences there and our prayers are with them. OK, what questions do you have?"
QB Joe Burrow - I think it's been three straight games of 300 yards passing for him. How different is he when you watch film than, maybe, just what you would normally expect out of a rookie quarterback? (Jamison Hensley) "He looks good. Obviously, he did it in college [and] he was the top pick in the draft. [There are] high expectations there, and he's fulfilling them. He's been very effective, as you said. Three hundred passing yard games, three of those in a row – that's pretty remarkable to say the least. I don't think it's ever been done before. We just have a lot of respect for him. [We're] just trying to study what they do, how he's utilized, the weapons that he has. They have a lot of good players on offense, obviously, especially at the skill positions. They're just excellent; they always have been it seems like, and they continue to be. So, we're studying that. We're going to try to do the best we can against it."
Is there always a little intrigue for you and your staff when you're getting your first look at a quarterback in the division that you could be facing for some time to come? (Childs Walker) "Sure. I haven't thought about it like that. We're just trying to figure out a way to slow down that offense and try to figure out a way to win the game. So, I think that's something, probably – sure. It hasn't really been at the forefront of our minds, honestly."
Another QB Joe Burrow question. You guys, obviously, didn't have a need for a starting quarterback. You were picking late in the draft. Burrow wasn't going to be there. How much scouting do you do pre-draft for a guy like that, just knowing that he might be in the division for a while? (Andrew Gillis) "I personally don't do much. I just looked at him because I was watching a bunch of players in the Southeastern Conference, so I saw him all the time. Our quarterbacks coach, James Urban, looks at everybody. Our scouts look at all the guys. So, there were certainly reports on him; we have those. But personally, I only saw him through scouting other players."
In terms of your passing game, the yardage hasn't been there. QB Lamar Jackson has yet to have a 300-yarder. Is that mainly because you're a running team? Or is your passing game not yet in sync the way you'd like it to be? (David Ginsburg) "That's not really the standard. We haven't set 300 yards as the standard for success. That's not really how we measure it."
Well, granted, but you're ranked 31st and I was wondering whether you could attribute that to the fact that you guys run? (David Ginsburg) "I don't really need to attribute it to anything. We're just going to try to do the best we can, be the best team that we can be, work on all the different things we can work on – which is everything. There are plenty of things in the passing game, and the running game, that we can work on protection-wise, how we block, how we run. There are a lot of things that we can get better at. So, you try to work on all those things all the time and try to improve as best you can. We understand what the issues are. We study them very closely; we know what they are. It's not something I really want to broadcast. That's what we do. That's what we do every single day, and we'll be working on it again today."
When we last heard from you Monday, you had not yet, I guess, seen the memo or gotten the conference call relative to the new NFL protocols regarding COVID-19. As there are new spreads and more talk about this, I'm just wondering if you have any further comment? I know you're asked about this a lot about moving forward through this difficult situation for the league. (Mark Viviano) "I really can't think of anything right now. It's just whatever it is, we do it. We don't really care what it is. We want to play, so we'll do the best we can with all of it. That's really all I think about on that."
What kind of impact or what kind of imprint have you seen LB Josh Bynes have on the Bengals' defense? (Jeff Zrebiec) "He's been just a good player for them. He's playing in the middle. He's definitely, I'd say, the leader of the defense in there. He's in there on most all of their personnel groupings, not all of them. He's the same player he's been. I go all the way back. He's still playing well, he's still a force in there, especially against the run game. Obviously, we have a lot of respect for Josh [Bynes]."
In past years, M&T Bank Stadium was quite an advantage for the Ravens because of the noise. I could clearly hear QB Patrick Mahomes on Monday night, but the Washington Football Team seemed to be louder. This may be a question for you or not, but is there any way to make the fake noise a little louder in M&T Bank Stadium? (Kirk McEwen) "Yes, that's not a question for me. I'm not in charge of that. I would direct you to [Ravens president] Dick Cass and that group. Dick leads them up – the stadium people. It definitely did seem louder there, so I really don't know. That's a good question. I don't think too much about that."
The defense has forced a turnover in 17-straight games, the longest streak in the NFL. Is that almost a point of emphasis each week in practice? Or is it just the guys are playmakers on defense making those kinds of plays? (Todd Karpovich) "Yes, I think it's both. It's always a point of emphasis; it's something that we talk about every day on defense. We have drills directed that way and we try to practice that way. We try to scheme that way, too. And then our players, we have players that do make those plays. Marlon Humphrey is a great example. Marcus Peters is another one, and others. I think our guys take it to heart. That's something they try to do; every defense does. It's very important. Turnover margin is critical in winning football games. We didn't win the turnover margin though; we lost it 2-1. So, we were disappointed with that. That's something we really need to bounce back from."
I know this is something that you do not study, but around the league scoring is up for pretty much everybody. Do you, just off-hand, just observation-wise, do you think why that is this year compared to any other year? (Jamison Hensley) "I have some theories. I'll keep them to myself at this time, though. But I do have theories – yes." (laughing)
How creative do you have to be when other teams know your gameplan? (Ximena Lugo Latorre) "You'd have to be really creative if they know your gameplan. I'm not really sure where you're going with the question, though." (Reporter: "Like other teams, we've been seeing during the games … For example, they stop QB Lamar Jackson a lot. We don't see the team like last year. Last year everything seemed, probably, more strategic, and this year everybody is stopping you. It looks like it's challenging. I don't know, that's just my point of view.") "I understand what you're saying now. Nobody really knows the gameplans, but it's a work in progress. Everybody is a work in progress right now. You don't just pick up where you leave off from one season to the next. We were a work in progress last year, and it took us a while to get going. Hopefully, we can do the kind of things that we did last year on offense, but we still want to improve in those things, too. We didn't finish the way we wanted to as a team. Every year is different. Every year is a work in progress. We have a lot of things to work on; we really do – offense, defense and special teams. Those are all things that we're very aware of, coaches and players. We talk about them. We look at tape. We study all of that stuff very hard, and we want to do it. But every game is a different game. Every game is a different challenge. We're playing against defenses and offenses that are doing the same thing we're trying to do; they're trying to win. So, it's a chess match, but it's also execution and all those different things. That's what football is; nothing is guaranteed and it's a hard competition. Winning in this league is really challenging. It's one of the hardest things I think there is to do in life, probably – winning in the National Football League. So, we're working hard at it every single week, and we're going to try to improve, to the point that you're making."
Before the season, we talked a lot about WR Marquise Brown being healthier and being able to practice fully. How have you seen that health and ability to practice affect him on the field on Sundays? (Aaron Kasinitz) "That's a good point. I really do think that – this kind of follows what we were just talking about – practicing is very important in this league. And if you don't practice, it's hard to get better, let alone maintain any kind of a level of execution. So, being on the practice field for anybody is important. I think Marquise [Brown] did a really good job last year of playing pretty darn well for not being able to practice. We still watch him and monitor him very closely, our people do, to make sure that we … I don't think he's completely past all of that yet, especially for a guy who runs so much when you have a foot [injury]. So, he's done a great job. He's so tough. He works so hard. He rehabs – rehabs, I don't know if that's the right word – but he trains all the time to be out there. So, the practice … The short answer to my long answer is he's done a good job and it has impacted him greatly."
QB Lamar Jackson
How would you assess the passing game thus far? And I know you talked Sunday about missing a few throws. Are you happy with it, or do you see it as a work in progress that you're getting better at every week? (David Ginsburg) "I see it as a work in progress. I'm getting better every week – not just myself, but my team. And no, I'm not happy, because those passes; I would like to connect with my guys on those passes. I feel like it's a lot of yards and touchdowns we've been leaving on the field when we don't connect. So, that's' probably why our passing is not where it's supposed to be. But it's still early in the season. We have 12 more regular season games, and I feel we're good though."
Like you said, there are some passes you want back there on the field. When you look at the film, is it more of a fundamental thing with your footwork or your base? What are you seeing on film that's not letting you complete those passes? (Daniel Oyefusi) "We're just not hitting them – that's all. We just have to, like I said, just get in practice and connect. We work hard in practice, and when we start connecting there, then it will transition over to the game. We'll be fine."
When you go up against a team with another Heisman Trophy winner on the other side – obviously, you guys have three Heisman Trophy winners – is there any kind of excitement? Do you guys have any camaraderie or relationship or anything like that? (Garrett Downing) "No, we don't. I've never met Joe [Burrow]. I've never met him."
Not even at the Nissan Heisman House, Lamar? (Ryan Mink) "No, I wasn't there when he [Joe Burrow] got his award. I wasn't there. I was here, actually."
Have you seen him on TV at all? Do you have any thoughts about QB Joe Burrow's game? (Ryan Mink) "I like his game. [I've seen that] he broke records for passing yards in consecutive weeks. That's pretty dope. But I don't wish him success against us. (laughter) I do want to win this game."
There have been a lot of positive COVID-19 tests around the league. Do you guys talk in the locker room about not going to any place off the facility that you could get COVID-19? (David Ginsburg) "We really don't. But our guys … We're smart enough to know not to go out and not follow the protocols. Myself, I go home, so I'm good. But I feel like my guys do as well. So, we've been fine here so far."
How do you think T Orlando Brown Jr. did on Sunday flipping from right to left tackle? And it has to be nice knowing that if an All-Pro in T Ronnie Stanley can't go at left tackle, you have a Pro Bowl guy who can flip over and handle his business. What did you think? (Kirk McEwen) "I feel Orlando [Brown Jr.] did a great job at filling in for Ronnie [Stanley] in the left tackle position. That was his original position before [coming to] the league, but he just did a great job protecting my back side. And 'Fluke' [D.J. Fluker] got in there at right tackle and did his thing too, as well. So, our offensive line just did a great job Sunday evening."
Do you think your chemistry with WR Marquise Brown has gotten even better? The throw that you made when you rolled out to the right and he kind of came back to the ball and you found him for the near touchdown, it seemed like a TE Mark Andrews-type of 'ad-lib' play. Do you feel that the connection between you two has grown even more? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, for sure. But it's still a work in progress. We want to be perfect on the field. We haven't been connecting on our deep passes, but we're going to get there. It's football, and sometimes it doesn't happen. But we've been finding other ways to succeed. We're going to keep it going. We're going to get better at it."
You and TE Mark Andrews both mentioned after the game that you're seeing a lot of different defenses – a lot of different looks. Last year, in particular, it seemed like when you got around the edge, you got 8-10 yards every play. Now, it seems like there are defenders always there. Where would you say is the biggest adjustment you've seen defenses make for what you guys are trying to do? (Jeff Zrebiec) "They're just trying to – I'll say – run straight to the line of scrimmage before I can get past our line or get by the middle linebackers or the outside linebackers. They're just running downhill pretty good – that's all. But we're going to find ways to fix it. It's still early in the season, like I said before."
What do you expect to see from the Bengals' defense this Sunday? (Ximena Lugo Latorre) "A lot of single-high – I'll say. But I really don't know, because when we get into games, defenses like to change up their schemes against us. So, I really don't know. We'll have to see when we play them."
You talked about not connecting with WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown on the long passes. What do you think you need to do to correct that, with not just 'Hollywood,' but the other receivers as well? (Kevin Richardson) "Just keep working in practice, because that's where it starts at. And like I said, it will transition over to the game pretty soon."
You talk about defenses adjusting. How important does that make your in-game, early adjustments that you and offensive coordinator Greg Roman are making? And have you had to do more of that this year – have conversations early in the game? (Ryan Mink) "We probably do it before the game. When the game comes, it's up to 'G' [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] to do his thing, and I just have to do my thing out on the field – to go against the defense and see what they're doing."
How is your connection with WR Willie Snead IV? (Ximena Lugo Latorre) "I'd say it's good, as well. We just have to get Willie Snead [IV] involved more, because he's a big factor for us on offense."
When you're not connecting like you want to be, mentally, what's the challenge there? What's the balance, specifically during a game, to not get discouraged and try to keep going and keep hitting those? Take me inside what you're thinking. (Shawn Stepner) "If we don't connect, we move on to the next play. We move on and see how the game goes, and if we have another opportunity to throw a ball down the field, we probably will connect. That's just what it is. It starts in practice, though – keep working in practice, then in the game it will be a lot easier for us."
WR Marquise Brown
You and QB Lamar Jackson have hooked up a few good times in these four games, but I know you're looking for a few more long ones. What have you seen from that passing game? Are teams now aware of you, very much, going deep and have moved to stop that threat? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, teams know about me going deep. But when we get our chances, we've just got to keep working on it and just hit them when we get the opportunities to."
I'm wondering – I'm watching CB Marlon Humphrey and everybody stripping the ball out in these games. How successful are they at getting the ball out from you and the other Ravens receivers during practice? (Kirk McEwen) "Me personally, they haven't gotten the ball away from me. (laughter) But they do a great job at it. They practice it every day. We have to keep the ball high and tight going against them, because every chance they get, they're going for the ball."
We talked earlier in the year about you being healthier and you being able to practice. Now that you're four games in, how has that ability affected you on the field on Sundays? (Aaron Kasinitz) "It's made me more comfortable each week. When I'm able to practice and get those plays in that we're going to run during the game – once I get in the game, it makes it a lot easier. It's not like it's the first time that I'm doing something. It's been beneficial, and going forward, I just hope that I can stay healthy."
You came inches away from your first touchdown [of the season]. How much are you itching to get into the end zone? (Ryan Mink) (laughter) "I've got to get in there on that, but I have to take them as they come. This week coming up, I'm going to try to do my best to try to get in there."
What's your level of satisfaction with the passing offense so far? Like you said, you want to hit on some more of those deep shots. What do you feel like you guys need to do to kind of get in sync and get the passing game humming? (Ryan Mink) "Just keep working. It's only four games in. We're still learning; we're still building. Just get better as a whole unit. Like I said – when the opportunity presents itself, we've just got to hit. If we hit on a couple passes, people wouldn't even be questioning some stuff. We'll just take our chances and hit them when they come."
You and your teammates – you guys are young, healthy guys. You follow the protocols. When you see what happened in Tennessee, or even in New England with QB Cam Newton and CB Stephon Gilmore testing positive [for COVID-19], what does that say to you? Does that raise your concerns at all? (Mark Viviano) "Yes, it raises my concerns, because I know those guys are professionals. I know they're not trying to do anything to jeopardize themselves or their teammates. So, for them to get it, it just shows how cautious you've got to be when you're outside the building. It's not just about you – it's about the staff, the whole NFL. We've just got to be cautious when we're away from the building."
What do you see different this season after having a year of experience playing in the league? (Ximena Lugo Latorre) "We don't have any fans – no fans in the stands. It's football – each year, I learn more. I get more comfortable. The game slows down more for me. But it's football."
Are you going to vote? (Ximena Lugo Latorre) "Yes, I'm going to vote."
QB Lamar Jackson was talking about how defenses are defending you guys differently this year. He was saying defenses are playing a little more downhill – that they're pushing up at the line of scrimmage more. Do you notice that? What's your take on how defenses are trying to stop you guys this year? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, when I watch film, I see guys are actually coming downhill trying to stop the run. But from my perspective at receiver, I can't really see that during the play. A couple plays, I'll ask what happened there, or what happened [here]. [Lamar Jackson] He's like, we had pressure on this or that. So, it's our job to adjust, and we watch the film. Each week, we've just got to learn from it and get better."
LB Patrick Queen
Are you looking forward to your reunion with QB Joe Burrow? And could you tell us what kind of relationship you guys had at LSU? (David Ginsburg) "It was a crazy relationship between us. As word got out, some things got heated sometimes, and that's just the competitor in both of us, and we're still good friends to this day. Joe [Burrow] is a great guy – a great competitor. Day One, when he came in, he went to work against all of us, so I'm looking forward to this rematch."
Is there any sense of a greater appreciation of where he's come from, knowing you guys kind of had similar paths – late starters, and playing your way to first-round picks and now starters in the NFL? (Daniel Oyefusi) "Yes, of course. Joe [Burrow] is a phenomenal athlete – a phenomenal person. He came up, [and] his story was very touching, because mine kind of relates to his. So, I respect everything about him; his game, his attitude, his work ethic – everything he does for the game and does for his family, as well."
Can you go a little bit more into the relationship? You said it was kind of a 'crazy relationship.' What things went on? Are there any specific instances between you guys? (Jamison Hensley) "No, it's just typical football stuff. It's one person gets heated, then stuff breaks out. And that's really all I really want to say about that."
In a general sense, what would be your scouting report of QB Joe Burrow to others? What does he do best? (Bo Smolka) "[He's a] great quarterback. He's going to stay in the pocket and try to throw the ball. He's going to take a hit and keep playing. I just look at it as, as many times as we can hit him, hit him, and try to get back to him and get some pressure on him, because he's going to stay in there. He's a great competitor, like I said, and we just have to get after him."
What have you learned about playing in the NFL after four games? (Ximena Lugo Latorre) "Just being more locked-in mentally. Stuff kind of flashes by quick, and in college, you can get away with it [by] being a good athlete and just making plays, but in the league, they'll make you pay for it. So, one thing I've learned is to be more locked-in mentally."
When we spoke to head coach John Harbaugh on Monday, he said the biggest challenge for a young middle linebacker is dropping back in coverage – especially in zone. What are some of the challenges you have been presented as far as coverage goes? (Todd Karpovich) "Just trusting what I'm being taught. Sometimes my eyes get me in trouble when I see a little 'candy' floating around. But for the most part, I'm just sticking to my keys and just trusting the defense, trusting where I'm dropping at and just go and 'see the ball and get ball.'"
You had a tough game against Kansas City and came out for a time. How important was it for you to bounce back strong against the Washington Football Team like you did? (Kirk McEwen) "That's me. That's my brand of football. I don't stay down for long. Coming from my start in college, the ups and downs, and just being able to prevail; that's what I planned to do that game. And I'm just going to try to keep that streak rolling and keep getting these wins."
Had you ever made a one-armed, goal line stop like that? And can you talk about your hit that you had on the goal line? (Ryan Mink) "No, that's my first time doing that. But I live for goal line; I love goal line. It's your back against the wall – 'mano-a-mano.' So, I just went in. We knew he [Washington RB Peyton Barber] was a jumper, so I timed it up perfectly and just got the arm in there and knocked him back."
It's not only QB Joe Burrow that you're going against, but also RB Joe Mixon. What do you see out of Mixon? How much of a challenge is he? (Shawn Stepner) "[Joe] Mixon is a great [running] back – arguably top running back in the league right now. So, we have to come in, be physical, wrap up, drive our feet on the tackles. He can run routes as well, so he's an all-around back, and it's going to be a fun game. It's going to get 'gritty,' so I just can't wait."
You were playing in the biggest games possible on the college level at the end of last season. How much do you think that does ease the transition into the NFL? Is it kind of a nice launching pad? (Childs Walker) "That's what we live by at LSU – just competition every day. It's not just the game, but it's the practice field [too], because we had the best of the best, and that's how we felt, and that's how we looked at it. So, coming into this level, the expectations [and] the standards are really the same for me. That's why I come in every day, [and] I go to work. And practice is just like LSU was; it's competition every day. So, you can see when we get on the field that everybody's locked in, [and] everybody's doing their job and playing physical football."
You're a guy who I know has a lot of 'swagger' and kind of prides yourself on that. From what I read, QB Joe Burrow has a lot of 'swagger,' too. Who had more 'swagger' out there on the practice field? (Ryan Mink) (laughter) "That's tough. I'm going to go with me, because I like to bring a lot of energy to practice. Joe [Burrow] was more the guy like, 'I'm going to do this; I'm going to do that,' and it's over with. And he'll go into practice and do his thing – 'dot it up,' and that will be it. And then [when] I come in, I'll be all 'hooting and hollering,' doing everything I can just to get some energy into the practice and make some plays."
In the Kansas City game, when you came back into the game in the fourth quarter, I thought I saw head coach John Harbaugh talk to you a little bit before you went back into the game. Do you remember what he said to you before you went back in there? (Jamison Hensley) "Just lock-in – that's it. Just re-focus up, go out there and do what I do."
You mentioned moving on from that Chiefs game, but was there anything specific in the film room or that a coach told you in the week after that, that you stuck with and took as a learning point? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Just trust what I'm being taught, really. There's stuff that we could control in that game, and we didn't, and we paid for it. So, [from] here on out, just trusting what the coaches are teaching me and just playing ball."