Transcripts: Rookie Minicamp Day 1


Can you just talk about what it's been like here in the last 24 hours since showing up and meeting some of your new teammates? (Garrett Downing) "Honestly, I'm really enjoying it. This whole process is a blessing for me. For everybody here, it's a blessing. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We really are part of less than 1%, so it's all a blessing. I'm enjoying it. I'm enjoying meeting all my teammates and meeting the staff. I think [with] kind of getting a feel for the way the organization is run, it's something that I can fit into very easily. So, I'm happy to be here."

That's a charismatic position group. Have you been invited onto CB Marlon Humphrey's podcast yet? As far as when you go into that room, that's a big personality and big talent room. How do you fit in with that? (Pete Gilbert) "One, just be myself. It's a big personality room, because they all have their own personalities. No one is trying to be anyone else; they're just being themselves. So, that's just me – I'm stepping in there and being myself. I may not have the most energetic type of vibe as they do, but I don't see an issue fitting in. Obviously, the guys that are in the room, for me, the No. 1 thing is to learn how they do things, learn how to be a pro on and off the field, learning from them and eventually, make myself a better player as well."

Is CB Marlon Humphrey someone you knew at all at Alabama when he would come back? What are your thoughts about playing alongside him? (Garrett Downing) "Marlon [Humphrey] was on the way out when I was coming in as a recruit, so I didn't necessarily build a relationship. But like you said, with him coming back, he was always very supportive on the sideline. Every now and then, he would give some intel on what he sees. So, I never really built a relationship with him. I've already had brief conversations with him over the past two days, just getting to know each other. Obviously, we're both from Alabama, not just University [of Alabama], but from the state of Alabama. So, it's something I look forward to doing in the future, for sure."

Do you know about CB Marlon Humphrey's reputation down there as a prankster? (Jonas Shaffer) "Somewhat. (laughter) A little bit. A little bit of it."

Are you aware of the Alabama pipeline to the Ravens? They've drafted more Alabama players over the past ten years than any other [school]. Are you familiar with that? Did you think about that when the Ravens drafted you? (Jamison Hensley) "I'm very familiar with it. I think it was kind of ironic for me. One of my family members said to me when Anthony Averett was chosen, he was chosen like one pick before me, or something like that. So, people always try to compare our game, or something like that. Or they say, 'Hey, you look like Anthony.' So, I'm very aware of it, and I look forward to being the next one in line."

Were you aware that you were executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta's first Alabama pick? (Ryan Mink) "I did not know that. I didn't pay much attention to it, but now I know."

How has playing for Alabama head coach Nick Saban prepared you to play in the NFL? (Cordell Woodland) "Oh man. Playing for Coach Saban, there's a lot to come with it, but it's all necessary things. There's nothing that he does that doesn't translate over to life or on the field. So, it teaches you mental toughness, for sure. Not just because of the guys you're going against in practice, but just the way the organization is ran. He teaches you how to prepare. You're not going to be able to be successful, let alone get on the field with him, if you're not prepared as much as he is. He does everything that he preaches to us. It really trickles down to the players, which is why I think they continue to be successful. It was a blessing for me. It's something that I'll look back on and be able to tell my kids one day."

You talked about the mental toughness. You overcame some injuries, and you finally got on the field consistently last year. Do you really feel like the best is yet to come for you and you still have a lot to prove? Because you hear a lot of the pre-Draft talk, and people think that you can be a starter at this level, but you just didn't get to play a whole lot in college. (Luke Jones) "One hundred percent. I mean, any time someone asks me that, I let them know that last season was nothing, really. It was good. It was solid, but it's nowhere near the surface. I know and believe, I think everyone here believes and that's why they took a chance on me, that my best football is definitely ahead of me. My college career was different than others, even different than some of my teammates, but it was similar to some that were able to be successful at the next level. So, I never compare my story to anyone else's – it's mine. I'm glad it happened the way it did. I wouldn't really want it any other way, because I learned lessons that I wouldn't have learned any other way than the things that I went through. So, I'm thankful for the way it happened to me, and it got me here."

When you say people compare you to CB Anthony Averett, are you similar to him? What is your style as a corner? (Cliff Brown) "I would say similar in the fact of his athletic ability, I think, is pretty similar. He's a fast, twitchy guy. He can play man to man, inside and outside. He's smart. He's not going to do undisciplined things. Those are all the traits that I've been able pick up. Obviously, I think one comes with being from the University of Alabama; Coach Saban is going to recruit a certain type of guy, and we're all going to learn the same thing. So, if someone is looking at it from that way, then we can just both pinpoint that we both trusted the process while we were there, which is probably why we're similar."

What is this process like, just being here meeting so many new guys? I know it's very early and you just got out on the field today, but does it remind you of anything? Was it almost like when you went into Alabama? What's the feeling been like here? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's kind of hard to compare to Alabama, because it's the next step. I do believe that Alabama is the highest level in college, in my opinion. I don't think it will get any more difficult or better than the University of Alabama, but this is still the next level. This is still another step. One way I would probably say it's kind of similar is that you just really hit the ground running. As soon as you get here, you get checked in and all that, and then we're going right to work. When I arrived as a freshman at University of Alabama, I had about five minutes to say bye to my mom, and then we unpacked the dorm, hopped in the van and [it was], 'I'll see you later, Mom.' So, things like that kind of prepared me to not be overly anxious or not be overwhelmed when I do get here."

Have any of your former Alabama teammates, I know there were a few from Baltimore, that reached out to you? (Kevin Richardson) "Marlon [Humphrey]. Marlon, 100%. He reached out to me about two days ago, just saying, 'Welcome, excited to have you.' He asked when I was landing – I was about to fly at the time. So, he's been the main one that's reached out to me, for sure." (Reporter: "I was referring to the present Alabama teammates, like Shane Lee and some of the guys like that.") "Not necessarily some that were [from] here, but just guys in general were just saying congratulations. I got a ton of those. They were very supportive. Alabama is a family. So, they all reached out and made sure they told me they were proud of me and all of those things."


Congratulations. Obviously, you lived in Randallstown, MD, for a time. What's it been like to be back and playing for the Baltimore Ravens? (Luke Jones) "It's definitely different – coming out here and being around Owings Mills, [MD]. I played at Northwest Regional Park, for the Wolfpack [local youth football team], so, it's just weird. I haven't been back in 11 years, so being back now is just … Everything is different – nicer buildings. I remember the train station was kind of the rundown part, but now it's all nice and [there's] a downtown area, so it's pretty cool. I'm excited."

When you lived here, did you find yourself rooting for the Ravens? (Garrett Downing) "I did. Actually, Ray Lewis, his daughter played [for the] Wolfpack on a lower age group than me, so it's pretty cool. He used to be at all the practices and stuff like that, cheering her on. She played linebacker and running back, so that was pretty cool."

So, you played your first organized football games here locally? (Jamison Hensley) "Right down the street. Right down the street. Literally, I drive past it every day. I keep looking like, 'That was me over there!' So, I mean, it was just kind of cool just seeing [it and] stuff like that, for sure."

When you arrived back here, what went through your head? Are there memories rushing back that you haven't thought of in a while? What was it like? (Shawn Stepner) "It's just trying to remember everything, like where I lived, because I lived like 10 minutes away from here, so it's like, 'How do I get home?' I'm trying to remember how everything goes and stuff like that, so it's just kind of cool. I can't leave anywhere. I'm just kind of stuck at the hotel, so I can't go anywhere, but definitely, I just have to just go back, talk to a few people, talk to old coaches at Wolfpack and stuff like that. It will definitely be cool."

What do you remember about the first time you saw LB Ray Lewis come to a practice? What did you think that time? (Garrett Downing) "It was actually weird, because I was like, 'Is that Ray Lewis?' Everyone was crowding him, and I was like, 'That's a big dude; I think that's a football player.' That's when everyone was like, 'That's Ray Lewis.' I just saw him, and I just kind of gave him his space. But as a young kid, I was excited for sure. And then I went to Ed Reed's camp in Randallstown, [MD], like right down the street. I got an autograph from him, so that was pretty cool, too." (laughter)

What's your favorite pizza place around here? (Donna Jean Rumbley) "I don't even know anymore. Like I said, I'm 11 years, 10 years now … I have to renew myself with everything around here, so we're going to see."

You built quite the reputation of being a receiver out of the backfield. This past year was kind of your first year being the man. How big was that for you, and how much do you want to prove that you are also the kind of guy who can be a three-down back? (Luke Jones) "Definitely every time I talk to people, I don't like to refer to myself as a scatback. I like to say I'm a running back, because at the end of the day, when you play running back, you don't sign up just to receive the ball; you sign up to run the ball; you sign up to block – a lot of things. So, going into my last year, I just wanted to prove that to everybody. The biggest thing was durability; 'Is he going to be available? He's not 200 pounds; can he hold up?' So, my biggest thing was just going out there and just being able to show I can play against the best of the best, so that's what I did."

What are the emotions like being drafted by the Ravens – a team that likes to run the ball? You might have opportunities as guys come back from injury? (Ryan Mink) "It's just a great opportunity. The first thing that Coach Harbaugh said was, 'You ready to play with Lamar [Jackson]?' I was like, 'Yeah! Yeah!' (laughter) So, I was just really excited just to get the opportunity, get my [foot in] the door. At the end of the day, that's all you can wish for – is an opportunity – so I'm grateful to have one."

You were an All-American in the top conference in the country. When you're sitting there on the board late in the rounds, what are you thinking, and how difficult was that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Like anybody, it would be difficult. When people tell you one thing, tell you you're going to be a third-, fourth-round pick, you sit there, and you're like, 'Dang! Fourth round just went by; fifth round went by.' You're just sitting there, thinking, but at the end of the day, I just knew I had to be confident in myself. It was just a little setback. At the end of the day, like I said, I'm grateful for this opportunity – little setback – and just going out here and just being grateful for what I have, because a lot of people wish to be in my shoes, so I can't complain about it."

With your background in Baltimore and knowing that they like to run the ball, when you're sitting there with your name on the board, did you think that might be your spot? And did you have any involvement with them in the pre-Draft process? (Jeff Zrebiec) "The crazy thing is, we only talked about it one time, and that was at the Combine. I talked to them one time, and around the fifth round, Coach [running backs coach] Craig [Ver Steeg] called me and was just like, 'Hey, we've got a sixth-round pick; hopefully you're still there. We've got some other guys, [but] if everything works out, we're going to come get you.' And I was just sitting there; fifth round guys by, and I'm like, 'Coach, I'm ready to ball!' I sent him a text like, 'I'm ready to go!' (laughter) He called me, and then everything worked out perfectly. So, that was great."

Can you talk a little bit about the challenges of your childhood with Hurricane Katrina and having to relocate? (Ryan Mink) "I never see anything as a negative. With life, stuff happens, and I used it as a positive. It taught me a lot of things about adversity and toughness, and I've used that on the field. A lot of times, people don't come from where I come from, see what I see, so a lot of times, it's just another thing to just add on to your stripes. I just use that as motivation to just keep pushing forward."

Are there any players that you follow or you've modeled your game after? (Kevin Richardson) "Definitely. During the whole Combine process and the Senior Bowl, everybody was like, 'Who do you like to watch? Who do you model your game after?' And I always just say Aaron Jones and Christian McCaffrey, just because of how Christian McCaffrey runs his routes and Aaron Jones just being a smaller-frame guy, being an every-down back – that's just how I mold my game."

Can you tell me about moving away in high school? Were you not wanting to move? Was it exciting? Just tell me about that. (Cliff Brown) "So, I went to Friends School of Baltimore, which is like right down the street. And that's when Cyrus Jones was around there, so everyone was at Gilman cheering on Cyrus Jones. And we only had like 20 people at our school, so … (laughter) I played lacrosse, so that was my big go-to. I played AAU lacrosse and travel lacrosse, so I was going to play lacrosse in college if I would have stayed, because with 15 people on the football team, people are not looking to give out offers like that. (laughter) So, I just told my parents … My mom got a job opportunity in Memphis, [TN]; she was like, 'Do you want to go? We can stay if you want to.' And I was just like, 'Yeah, let's go try out The South,' because they're known for football and stuff like that. So, luckily, everything worked out."

What was your dream school in lacrosse? (Jonas Shaffer) "I was talking to Loyola [University Maryland]. Loyola, Maryland, some pretty good schools. I tried to model my game after Myles Jones – big midfielder – at Duke. I definitely modeled my game after him." (Jonas Shaffer: "Offensive midfielder or short-stick D-middy?") I was offense. I was a midfielder. Actually, a hybrid – I played both. I was good at defense, but I could score the ball, too."

Obviously, there are a lot of running backs coming off of an injury, but it's a pretty crowded room of guys whom the Ravens have invested Draft-capital in. How do you feel about all the competition? (Pete Gilbert) "Anywhere you go in the NFL, there's competition. So, just going in there and being able to soak up information, that's the biggest thing I can do [and] just learn from the older guys. That's why they're there – just to set that mode. I'm not coming there, being like, 'Oh, yeah, I'm the top guy.' I'm just going in there ready to learn. That's all I can do."

Just watching some of your highlights from Missouri, there was a lot of pistol formations, a lot of play-action and motion. Do you feel like this offense is similar to what you ran down in Missouri? (Jonas Shaffer) "Definitely. A lot of stuff I was talking to Coach [running backs coach] Craig [Ver Steeg] about was just the same stuff that we talked about at Missouri. It's just going in there and just getting used to the game speed. The game speed is a little different, and the terminology is a little different. So, just coming in every day and [at] practice, just drilling it out and just trying to limit my mistakes as much as I can – that's all I can pretty much do."


Congratulations, first of all. What have the past 24 hours been like getting here, knowing you're officially a Raven and getting your first practice work in? (Luke Jones) "[There are] a lot of emotions going through my head. It's always been a dream of mine to be in the NFL. I finally had my first practice today, and it was fun. It was a great experience."

One of the things that the Ravens said stuck out to them was the fact of how many downs you're able to play and how often you're on the field. Is that something you take pride in? How do you go into making sure that you're able to be a three-down lineman? (Cordell Woodland) "It's just the mindset, I feel like. If Coach [Harbaugh] wants me out there, I'm going to be out there. If he takes me out, then I'll be out. I have the mindset to go out there and dominate every snap I'm on the field."

Just reading up on you, it sounds like your football really took a turn for the better in 2020 during the pandemic. A lot of people didn't use that time to the best of their ability. You cut weight and got stronger. What do you remember about what you kind of wanted to do during that year when a lot of people were really struggling? (Jonas Shaffer) "That 2020 year, it wasn't an off year for us. We were practicing, lifting and everything, we just didn't have games to look forward to. So, that year was still a work year. I take every opportunity to get better."

How tough was that though? I mean, you're seeing other schools and other conferences playing. Like you said, you got to work, but gamedays is when you have the most fun. (Luke Jones) "Yes, it was a little tough, but I just try to take it day by day. I don't try to worry about tomorrow; I try to live in now and try to get the most of it."

During that time, did you ever think about entering the transfer portal or anything like that? (Kevin Richardson) "No, UConn was home for me. I lived right down the street from UConn. If you start something, you have to finish it. So, I started with them, and I was going to finish with them."

How much did you feel your game improved? A lot of people talked about your Senior Bowl and how strong you were then. How much did you feel yourself improve during that pre-Draft process? How excited are you for the NFL coaching you'll get here? (Ryan Mink) "Throughout the Senior Bowl, I feel like I became more consistent with my hands as a pass rusher. I feel like now that I'm in the league, getting a little better coaching and going against better competition, I'm only going to get better from here. So, it's going to be good to see."

Do you see yourself as a pass rushing defensive tackle? Do you want to be in on third down? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, sir. Of course." (laughter)

I know you haven't been in the building long, but do you have an ideal playing weight that you want to be at in the NFL? (Jonas Shaffer) "The coach hasn't told me anything right now. Right now, I've been around 325 [pounds], so I feel good right here. If Coach wants me to go up, I'll go up. If he wants me to go down, I can go down. It doesn't matter."

Do you have a chip on your shoulder for being in the third round? You kept hearing over and over, "First round talent. We had him … We thought he might go in the first round and then ends up being there." What did that mean to you? (Pete Gilbert) "I really wasn't big into looking at the mock drafts or anything. I was just trying to get in the league. I was just trying to get my foot in the door and stay."

The idea of working with DT Calais Campbell, I don't know how much you know about him, but I'm sure you've heard a lot since you got drafted. I don't know if you've talked to him at all. (Travis Jones: "No, not yet.") What he's been able to do and what he's meant up front, how excited are you about that? (Pete Gilbert) "Calais [Campbell], he is a vet. So, I'm just trying to soak up anything from him, try to pick up some of his practice habits and take things from him that I could apply to my game."

How thirsty are you for some more wins? I know UConn, they were a little few and far between. Now you're joining an NFL franchise that's had a ton of success. (Ryan Mink) "It's going to be a little different, winning a little bit more. I don't even know. It's going to be fun."

You mentioned taking pride in your improvement as a pass rusher. Are there any defensive linemen that you've really tried to model your game after and watch a lot of film on? (Luke Jones) "I like Akiem Hicks, Fletcher Cox – bigger body guys. I feel like we have similar body types. I feel like I could learn a lot from those guys."

After you got drafted and were looking forward to this, was there anything particular about this minicamp or this experience that you looked forward to? You said that this was your dream, [is there anything] you kind of thought about in advance? (Jeff Zrebiec) "There was really nothing [specifically] I was looking forward to. I just wanted to come in, have fun, meet new people and go out and compete like we did today."

Especially in college coming this way, there are a lot of big guys. When they talk about you, they talk about your explosiveness and the ability to penetrate. Where do you think your explosiveness comes from? (Jamison Hensley) "I'd say just my work ethic in the weight room. I feel like if you work hard in the weight room, it's going to transfer over on the field. So, I feel like that worked out a lot for me."

QB Lamar Jackson is one of the toughest quarterbacks to kind of get to. How exciting is it for you to kind of test your pass rushing skills against him, at least in practice? (Cordell Woodland) "That's going to be fun. I know he's fast. I'm going to try to run him down a couple times." (laughter)


Let's start with your nickname, "Pepe." Where did that come from, and when did it start? (Ryan Mink) "'Pepe' originated when I was young. I had two Spanish Godmothers, [and] they were twins. So, one of them named me 'Pepe,' and my brother is 'Papa.' So, that's where it came from."

How excited are you to be here? And what have the last 24 hours been like – arriving in Baltimore and knowing you're a Raven, officially? (Luke Jones) "It's been a dream come true. It's crazy. It's a great feeling – being able to come in here, come to the Baltimore Ravens and go out here and practice and fly around and have some fun with the guys. Yes, it's been a great feeling."

Versatility was something that we heard so much about, and the way you played all over the field. The Ravens and defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald want to be very versatile group, so how important do you feel like that is, and do you feel like this is a good fit for you? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, that's very important. My coach, [associate head coach/defensive coordinator] Doug Belk, at the University of Houston, he always knew I was up to any challenge, so he challenged me in my last year to play as many positions as I can and learn. So, coming in, I've kind of already adapted to that, so I'm ready for that challenge. They moved me around today; it went well."

How many positions did you play in college? (Pete Gilbert) "I played safety – free safety, strong safety – boundary corner, field corner, nickel, dime. I mean, I can play linebacker, too." (laughter)

What's your favorite position to play? (Luke Jones) "My favorite is just covering. Wherever I can go to cover."

Did you get the chance to play special teams in college? (Kevin Richardson) "Most definitely. [It's] very important to the University of Houston. We take special teams very seriously. I played with the best returner in the nation, got a chance to block for him, and he actually scored, so I feel like I did the right block, so he could get in the end zone. So, we take special teams very seriously, and I'm going to be sure to dominate it in the NFL."

I know it's only been one day, but you and CB Jalyn Armour-Davis are coming in together in the same position group. Are you guys kind of forming a connection? (Garrett Downing) "Most definitely. With all the DBs, I'm just that type of guy. I'm on top of the guys, making sure they know what's up. Any question they ask me, I'll tell them, answer it. We all came in together, so we might as well work together."

Can you talk about your background, starting in JUCO [junior college] and kind of taking a different path to where you are now? (Ryan Mink) "I went to junior college. I did two years at Highland Community College. It was a great two years. My first year, I didn't start [and] played a lot of special teams. 'Coach Moe' [Assistant football coach Maurice Gray], he explained to me what a 'one' means in his system. So, if you're a starter for him, you're just a guy he depends on when the game is on the line, but that doesn't mean he doesn't rotate guys. So, he told me to always stay ready, stay in the playbook, [and] he's going to rotate me and get me some burns. So, my freshman year, I had three picks, just coming off the bench. Sophomore year came around, (sighs) I was the man. I led the nation in everything. I was a baller. I got a lot of offers and things like that. I ended up going to the University of Houston. I went and did three years there. Shoutout to [head] Coach [Dana] Holgorsen and [associate head coach/defensive coordinator] Doug Belk for giving me an opportunity. It was amazing, man. It was amazing."

I know you got kind of a late start to organized football, just before that. Why was that a late start for you? (Ryan Mink) "Growing up in Miami, there are a lot of distractions. I always played football, just more so not organized. You have to pay for it [organized football]. So, my mom never said she couldn't pay, [but] I don't want to stress her out. I'd just go play with my friends in the street. But I always loved and had the passion for the game, so that's where that comes from."

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