Sort of a unique question – wondering whether the team, maybe the offensive linemen, are doing anything interesting or unique to promote team bonding? Maybe playing video games, weightlifting contests, anything like that? (David Ginsburg) "You know, I wish more of the O-line played video games, because I'd be totally for it. But, that hasn't been the case. I think we've been just keeping in close communication. We haven't had any contests of any sort, but we've been keeping close communication and just making sure each other, and each other's families are alright. And we know we have a trust within each other that people are still working out, taking care of their business. It's pretty much been like that."
Have you gotten any updates from your agent as far as an extension with the Ravens, or any news on that front? (Todd Karpovich) "We've been in talks for the last couple of years now. I'm comfortable with where we are in that regard. When the time comes, it'll come."
What are your feelings about what happened to George Floyd in Minnesota? (Ximena Lugo Latorre) "It's a constant thing going on in America. It's something that, obviously, it's pretty easy to see what's happening, and hopefully justice prevails in this case. It's really sad to see. I really feel bad for him, and his family, his loved ones. Just keeping them in my prayers."
We haven't gotten to talk to you really since Marshal Yanda retired. I'm wondering with his retirement, do you kind of feel like you're more of the standard-bearer in the offensive line room now? Do you feel that guys will look to you more? (Childs Walker) "Yes, I think guys – even when Marshal [Yanda] was there – they looked at me in that in a different sense than they did Marshal. I think guys definitely have been more open to asking me questions and letting me take in that leadership role for them."
As we've gone through the last several months here, has your perspective changed on kind of a role and an approach to the team and to your role, and what it means to be where you are and have these possibilities relative to what's been going on in the rest of the world? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, I've always maintained the same mindset when it came to what kind of role I wanted on the team – and that's to be a constant leader. Someone that's reliable and that everyone can count on – whether it's on the field or off the field. If guys … And that requires being very emotionally and mentally stable, so when things like this go on in the world and you got some guys that want to talk about it, I try to be that person that's there for the team. Just try to be that stable mind for everyone."
I know you said with the contract when a time comes, it'll come. Do you feel that something could come this year in terms of an extension? And a lot of people were wondering what was your reaction when you saw the numbers come out for [Houston Texans] T Laremy Tunsil? (Jamison Hensley) "My first reaction was I was just super happy that he got what he got, first of all. And I was happy because he deserved it. I felt in my heart of hearts that this position is definitely one of the Top 2 [or] 3 hardest positions on the field. So, for him to get respected like that with how much he got paid made me feel very happy for him, because he deserves it."
Given that G Marshal Yanda has moved on and you're going to have some different pieces in on that offensive line, this time you guys would usually start to get to know one another. Is there going to be kind of a crash course coming up here? Do you think it's going to be a difficult thing to recover from? (Mark Viviano) "It's definitely going to be a crash course, like you said. Everyone's got to … Especially the new guys, the younger guys, with the type of offense we run – very detailed oriented. It's going to be a crash course for a lot of people. Luckily, we have a good amount of … More than half of our returners coming back. So, they're well-versed in this offense. I'm happy that I can be one of those people that already knows what's going on. I'm not kind of coming into it new. There are going to be guys that are going to have a lot of questions coming in – I think everyone is going to have questions – not just the O-line. So, it's going to be just getting guys up to date. It's going to be a part of the process."
What do you think of the drafted offensive linemen, G Tyre Phillips and G Ben Bredeson? From what you can tell via virtual meetings and stuff, how are they adjusting to even that? (Shawn Stepner) "Everything that I've seen and heard is those guys are doing well. In the virtual workouts as well, they've been showing up and getting the job done. I haven't heard any negative reports yet, so it's all been good so far."
I know you've been an NFLPA rep in the past. Whenever discussions about returning to play happen, what are the important things to you? And how do you see those deliberations going down between the players association and the league? (Aaron Kasinitz) "The biggest thing to me is the player safety. I know people want to see sports, and I know that's very important to their well-being mentally. And I'm all for that, but first it comes [to] players' health and safety and their families' health and safety as well. People need to be aware – it's not just players that are going to be OK if they get it, but they have families they have to go home to every day. We all, as a union, we all just want to be on the same page. All 32 teams, we want to make sure that everyone's following the same guidelines and taking the same precautions, because as much as we all want to see football back and all the sports back, we love our families just as much. We want to be just as safe."
Has the league or the Ravens reached out to you guys to say when you're going to be returning to the facility? (Kevin Richardson) "No, they don't have a set date yet, because it's not just one facility that has to open – it's every facility that has to open."
You were talking a little bit about the offense earlier. The offense, obviously, has to evolve every season and every offseason. Obviously, it's not as big a change as you guys had last offseason when [offensive coordinator] Greg Roman took over, but have you seen tweaks to this year's offense with Greg? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, there's always little tweaks here and there, but for the most part, we're not deviating from the plan. We're still who we are, but I always expect tweaks here and there every year, because everyone's always trying to get a little bit better, make something a little bit better. That really makes a difference, so yes, there's a little bit of tweaking going on."
You've blocked for both QB Joe Flacco and QB Lamar Jackson. What have been the biggest differences in that transition now that you've had a couple seasons with both? (Kyle Barber) "They're just completely different players when it comes to mobility. I think that's probably the biggest difference. Where you know one guy [Joe Flacco] is going to be here in a set place most likely, this other guy [Lamar Jackson], he's either going to be here or he could be 20 yards the other way. So, it's different in that regard, but my mentality when I go out and I play – I don't really think about where Lamar is going. I'm just thinking about blocking."
You were rated the top pass blocker in the NFL, first-team All-Pro. How important is it to you that your next contract reflects that? And, also, did QB Lamar Jackson get you new sunglasses that he broke at the Pro Bowl? (Pete Gilbert) "Lamar [Jackson] did not get me new sunglasses, but luckily for him, Oakley had a couple more pairs. (laughter) So, I was able to get that. And then, what did you say about my contract? What was it?" (Reporter: "How important is it that it reflects that you are the best pass blocker in the NFL right now? You were first-team All-Pro, and you helped anchor the top rushing attack in the NFL.") "Yes, I definitely want to get paid my value and what I'm worth or what I feel I'm worth. I think that part of it is important, but at the end of the day, I don't think money is the most important thing to me."
Were you on hand when Ed Reed and Ray Lewis offered their points of inspiration during the team meetings? And if so, was it helpful? Did you get anything out of it? (David Ginsburg) "It was unfortunate, at the Ray Lewis one, there were only 100 people that were allowed to be in, so I wasn't able to hear much. But some of the things Ed Reed said were very inspirational, and just kind of try to hold those things to your heart and just remember them."
I know the contract thing is going to be a story, and this is the third or fourth question related to it. But you just said that money is not the most important thing to you. To your mind, what are the most important things in terms of your future? (Bo Smolka) "Being healthy, being a good person. I try to think big picture about things like that. That's what I mean when I say, 'Money's not the most important thing to me.' That's not really what drives me. That's not my motivation. Being the best, being the greatest – that's more what's important to me."
Along those lines Ronnie, last offseason, I know you really took a different approach to your fundamentals and offseason training to be the best you could be, and it obviously paid off. What's the plan for this offseason? How are you training, and in what ways are you bettering yourself as a player? (Ryan Mink) "The plan hasn't changed. I'm still focused on the fundamentals, and just trying to perfect those as much as possible. Just work hard every day. I don't think the plan really changed. I think it's still the same plan."
I know you're a big soccer fan. Bundesliga has kicked off over in Germany, and they are playing in front of empty stadiums. The thought of doing that, if it comes to that, how would that set with you, and would you be prepared to do that? (Mark Viviano) "It's kind of hard to imagine right now – playing in empty stadiums, just given the amount of games that we have is kind of limited compared to the other sports. So, those atmospheres are usually very important and play more of a role than [in] other sports in that regard, I guess. But it would definitely be different, so when that time comes, we'll see what happens. I really don't know what my thoughts would be if that was actual reality."
Is there any challenge in being one of the Super Bowl favorites, and how the Ravens are likely going to be a favorite right now in every single game you play? Is there a challenge in having that target on your back? (Jamison Hensley) "I think there's always a challenge when you have a target on your back, and that just comes with the territory. Everyone's going to bring their best game when they play you, so you just have to be ready for that. And, if you're not ready for that, then you really don't deserve to be the best. So, that just comes with the territory."
You hear about the receivers going down to workout with QB Lamar Jackson to work on chemistry. Is there any sort of equivalent to that with what the offensive line can do without getting together physically, or is it difficult to really do that if you are not in person? (Childs Walker) "[It's] super difficult to really do that as an offensive line without being together. And, I really want to bring everyone together, but I know it's pretty much impossible right now with everything going on. Definitely, in the future, that's something I would want to do, is bring us all together to be able to do drills and just work on things, because I feel that's very important. It's just really hard to get those type of things without being physically there to really correct the technique and the little things, because that's what really matters."
You mentioned virtual workouts a couple of times. With the virtual offseason program, can you take us through what those are like? Is somebody on the screen with you the whole time? What are those workouts like for you guys? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, it's usually someone on the screen with you the whole time. [It's] a lot of bands, a lot of free weights, and then conditioning is taking the phone out to the field and pretty much aiming it up so they can see you run. It's makeshift things, but I think they're trying the best they can, [and] they're doing a good job."
What was the best advice you received as a rookie, and what have you been able to offer to the incoming rookie offensive linemen? (Kyle Barber) "I think the best advice I received as a rookie was, 'The rest doesn't stop.' I used to 'rest-rest' in the offseason, and now I kind of just don't really rest that much. I just workout. I rest though; I get plenty of rest – don't get me wrong – but I try not to just not do anything for a long period of time. That didn't really set in for me until Year Three or so. It was actually told to me from [former Bears and Saints C] Olin Kreutz, who is a good friend [and] one of the all-time best centers, in my opinion. I was in Hawaii coaching an All-American high school game, but I was just chilling, just vacationing. He was like, 'This isn't rest time. The rest starts when you retire.' I was like, 'What?' I get it now. I really do understand what he was saying, and I really remember it. I would try to explain that, not just to offensive linemen, but every young player."
There have been a lot of cases over the years where players entering their contract year don't want to talk about their contract once the season starts. In your mind, would you want negotiations to be done by a certain period, or are you comfortable with taking as long as it's going to take? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Honestly, right now, I'm not really thinking about it. I think I would probably have a better answer for that when training camp starts – if training camp starts. I'm in no rush when it comes to that right now, and I'm not really worried about it, per se. So, that's just my mentality towards it at the moment."