Transcripts: Rookie Minicamp Day 2


Opening Statement: "We're back. It's good to have you guys back. I appreciate it. We're back for some football. Vinny [Cerrato], it's good seeing you, my man. You've got the Michigan jersey on. (Vinny Cerrato: "I'm ready.") His son is playing hockey there [and] USA Hockey, also. Congratulations. (Cerrato: "I appreciate it.") "That was fantastic, yes. I was always a Michigan fan, but now … I was a Michigan [State] hockey fan for a while because of [son of former special teams coordinator/associate head coach Jerry Rosburg] Jerad Rosburg, right? You always have to cheer for your friends. Now, I'm a Michigan hockey fan. He was Michigan State, that's what I meant to say. [I was a] Michigan State hockey fan for Jerad Rosburg. So, we got that, and we can clip that and cut that properly. (laughter) But now, [I am a] Michigan fan for Cerrato. That's what it's about.

"Happy Mother's Day out there to all the moms. Especially Happy Mother's Day to my mom, Jackie Harbaugh, the greatest mom [and] the most passionate mom I've ever met. She's a great mom. And then to my daughter's mom, Ingrid, my wife, Happy Mother's Day. Moms are amazing. So, thanks for all they do.

"With this camp now we're having, this rookie camp, it has kind of a specific purpose. Everything we do has a purpose. Everything we do has a tempo and a method to it. The biggest purpose here, right now, is to basically teach these guys how to practice, how to meet and how to operate in the National Football League, in terms of how we do things. So, the guys did a great job yesterday. The tempos were good. They worked hard. They learned. We start teaching them the fundamentals of what we do and see how they learn it and everything. It was a lot of fun. They're having fun. So, we'll have another day today and tomorrow, and then we'll be onto the next thing. So, what questions do you have?"

Does the weather at all kind of crimp what you like to do? Does that get in the way of some of the things you like to evaluate and do with these guys? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It gets in the way … The weather gets in the way in the sense that we're not outside. We like to be outside, it's a lot more fun. We're in here, but the fields are too wet to go out and do anything on right now."

You mentioned the process of learning how to practice. For you as a head coach, is it exciting to see some of your new assistants going through a practice setting like this for the first time? (Luke Jones) "It is. It's great to see the new assistants. It's exciting to see those guys. Like you said, new assistants [and] new players. We do have a thing … We have certain protocols that we have at practice, because we like to keep our coaches away from the players while they're playing [and] while they're practicing. You can't be out there on Sunday telling them what to do. So, we like to … It's like, I think it was [former president Dwight D.] Eisenhower who said, 'If you're going to fight in the Northern Atlantic, you're going to train in the Northern Atlantic,' which is why you're going to tell me I should've been outside today, probably. (laughter) But you want to make it tough on them, so I want the coaches back. They were creeping up a little bit yesterday, so they were scolded."

You talked about the difference in practicing. Would you say this is a steep learning curve going from a college practice setting and the transition to learning to practice in a pro setting? (Kyle Barber) "That's a great question. It's a steep learning curve in many ways. In other ways, you just tell them, 'It's still football. Let's not overthink it a little bit.' It's still 100 yards by 53-and-a-third. There are still 11 on each side. The hashes are different. Some of the receiver splits and the DBs messed up some of their leverages, because they just kind of got out of whack on the hashes. So, that's kind of part of it. But it's a pretty steep learning curve in terms of volume. There are very few teams out there in college football, offense, defense or special teams, they all do all the things you see in pro football, but very few do all the things that a team will do in pro football. So, there's … We say they're drinking from the firehose, a little bit, but we want them to drink from the firehose. We come out, and we do a tempo period. No contact, but it's fast. Man, everybody is moving fast. It's like, 'Oh my gosh, how can I …' It's the first day they got their installs. I'd rather them understand what they've got to build into in terms of their knowledge and tempo the thing, rather than go slow and then later say, 'Well, now we need to go faster, because we know what they're doing.' Let's start with a tempo, and then let's work our way and build into it."

You guys draft a lot of Alabama players. Does the culture kind of help them transition to the league for you guys, especially knowing your culture? (Cordell Woodland) "Yes, I think there are certain college football programs that are built more like NFL programs. Alabama is one, [and] Michigan is the other one, I would say. The two top ones, if you want to say, they're the two top ones I would say. Now, maybe I'm a little … Those are the ones I'm thinking of off the top of my head. So, those guys generally come in, and they kind of know what to expect. It's a little flatter for those guys, in terms of practice and understanding how it works."

Were the kids when they came in … The Draft Picks, were they what you thought on film? (Vinny Cerrato) "Yes, they were. They were. You know exactly how ... That's a great question, because you always kind of hold your breath a little bit, like, 'Ah.' I can remember … I can remember a couple times when I was an assistant coach in Philly [Philadelphia], and they'd draft a guy in the first round. I'd see him for the first time, and I'm like, 'What are they looking at?' (laughter) It turned out to be right in the end, sometimes. That first impression is kind of real, but all those guys made a great first impression yesterday. I'm very happy with every one of them. Undrafted guys, too, they looked good. So, it'll be fun for you guys to watch them today."

You mentioned undrafted guys. You did bring in six wide receivers, and I think five of those guys are 6'2" or taller. First of all, does that stand out? And was that something you guys were looking for – to bring in some size guys to maybe complement the rest of the group you already have? (Luke Jones) "Sure, that wasn't by chance. That wouldn't just happen. So, we were looking for the bigger guys, and we found some guys. Guys wanted to come here. I know that runs counter to some of the stories that you read out here, but guys wanted to come here. We've also gotten … We've had a lot of conversations with veteran receivers that want to be here. Geronimo Allison is out here. You'll see him out here today working out. [I'm] talking about in terms of tryout, and then there are other guys that want to be here, too. I think we have a great crop of free agent wide receivers, because they saw the opportunity."

How many of the undrafted guys came off your draft board? Because at the [Pre-Draft Luncheon], executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta said you had like 170 or 190 [guys on your board.] So, I'm guessing that you guys were recruiting those guys that were still on your board at the end. (Vinny Cerrato) "Almost all of them, I would say. I don't know the number. [Executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] would know the number. I didn't really get the chance to ask him that, what the number was. But [assistant director of college & pro personnel] Mark Azevedo is our scout … He's an area scout, but he also leads the charge with the undrafted guys. He's great at it. He's been doing it for a long time. He recruits those guys. He gets to know those guys. The position coaches and area scouts do the same. I think we do a great job of recuring those guys. We're always mad when we don't get a guy. We think, 'Why wouldn't you want to come here? We're offended.' But these guys wanted to come, so we're happy about that."

Besides S Kyle Hamilton, you have a lot of good, skilled [safeties]. How beneficial is it having, in the physical part, players like S Marcus Williams, S Tony Jefferson and even S Chuck Clark? (David Andrade) "We're very deep at safety. We were deep at safety before, and then you add a guy like Kyle [Hamilton] and then the depth explodes in your face. It's like, man, the depth chart is full with really good players. We know all about the guys that are playing back there. Chuck [Clark], we know about Chuck. You guys have seen Chuck; he's one of the best safeties in football, in my opinion. Marcus [Williams], obviously, was a high-price free agent that we were pleased to get. After that, Tony Jefferson … Tony Jefferson can play football. Geno Stone is a really good, young safety. Brandon Stephens who started last year at safety for us, he also has corner flexibility. With all of those safeties, he's probably going to be moving to corner a little bit and playing, but he can play all the spots. So, there's flexibility there. I'm really happy with that group."

You talked about the versatility of a couple of the guys you ended up drafting and I assume maybe some of the undrafted guys. How challenging is it for them to not only get up to speed with practicing at the pro level, but also to train in multiple positions and learn different schemes that you guys are planning to utilize? (Kyle Barber) "Yes, it's tough. It's tough. Gosh … You learn your whole career. I mean, Marcell Dareus is out here working out. You've heard of him, right? I mean, gosh, he's out he working out, and he even says, 'Coach, I'm learning stuff out here.' You're always learning. As a coach, I've been doing it, I think, 36 years now, and you can't believe every day that you learn something. But these guys are just starting. The idea is to get them up to speed right now [so] they can compete in the OTAs and compete against themselves. The other thing that's tough for these guys, especially the tryout guys, is they're trying out for a spot on the team, but there's no competition here. You're not competing against the guy across from you. So, you're just competing against your own ability to execute the technique and get the assignment right, basically. We're kind of watching how they move and how they learn, because that's all you're allowed to do. So, it's a big challenge."

You mentioned S Chuck Clark. There's some talk about him, his future, his status with this team. Do you see him still definitely definitively fitting into this year's team? Or is his role something you have to consider after signing S Marcus Williams and drafting S Kyle Hamilton? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Everybody's role is what it is. That's why, as a coach, you're so excited about … The idea is to have as many good players as you can have and have them in the right spots and the right roles. I love the fact that we have very versatile players in the backend and at safety. So, to me, Chuck [Clark] is a big part of this team, and I'm planning on Chuck being here. I'm not going to worry about all the other stuff. The other stuff is the other stuff. It's part of pro football, I understand it. But I love Chuck Clark, I love the way he plays, and I'm very happy that he's a Raven."

C Tyler Linderbaum is obviously a talented guy, a lot of expectations. Physically, you've seen what he can do. How important is it mentally for him to pick things up quickly, because he's playing a thinking man position, and if he starts, he'll have a huge responsibility? (Cliff Brown) "No question. Two things about that: I think he's in a good spot, because he played center his whole career. So, he's done all that, and [Iowa head coach] Kirk Ferentz is an O-line coach, and he always has great O-line coaches at Iowa. So, he's well-schooled that way, just like all the Iowa offensive linemen. The other part of that is it's a challenge, because now it's pro football, and he has a lot to learn. So, how fast he progresses with that will probably be the main thing in terms of whether he starts or not and how we do it. We have other guys, too. Pat Mekari … I talked to Pat about his role, so Pat is going to have a big role with us. However it shakes out, how it shakes out, time will tell."

I have to ask; we saw you at the AEW [All Elite Wrestling] show on Wednesday night. How did you like that? Have you thought about that as a post-coaching move? (Luke Jones) (laughter) "Yes, give me … They didn't give me the mic – probably rightly so. One of the guys did tell me … I'll have his name for you later, the nicest guy in the world outside the ring, but man, he transformed. He came out of the tunnel, and I was like, 'Woah, is that the same guy I was talking to?' But he stared me down. So, I didn't want to overreact – you never know what could happen out there. But seriously, it was fun. Brian Pillman [Jr.] is my guy. He's the son of my college teammate and college roommate Brian Pillman, who was known as 'Flyin' Brian.' Remember 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' back in the day? Superstar wrestler, so I love Brian. I love his family. I love Brian Jr. So, to support him was the reason we went. The other benefit was we had a ball. I mean, how about Marlon [Humphrey] back there with the shades, and I had the two big guys [Ben Cleveland and Tyre Phillips]. I had to tell [president of All Elite Wrestling] Tony Khan, 'Those guys are under contract with us. Leave those guys alone.' But we had a great time."

When people talk about T Daniel Faalele, I think they throw around the term developmental, but you look at what he did in the Big Ten, I think just one sack allowed last year. To you, what stands out to you about where he is right now and where he needs to go? (Jonas Shaffer) "Everybody is developmental. I'm developmental. We're all developmental. Right? We're trying our best to become better at what we do. But he's going to play this year, there's no doubt about it. The guy is big. He can move. He has good feet. I was just watching the tape just now. He's moving his feet really well, and yet, he has so much to learn. He has to go to work every day to get better, but I anticipate him playing football for us this year."


How does it feel to have your first minicamp as a Raven? (David Andrade) "It's pretty surreal, just being out here and being a Baltimore Raven. It's a dream come true. I get the opportunity to come out here, get better, make mistakes and learn from them. I have great coaches who have been helping me throughout this weekend, and I'm excited to build on it."

What have been your early impressions of the rest of the Draft class? I know you met C Tyler Linderbaum last week at the press conference, but what about the rest of the guys? (Luke Jones) "Everybody is cool. Everybody is real cool. Even guys who weren't drafted who are free agents … It's so funny with this sport. We've known each other for literally two days, and we come in, joking around like we've known each other for a while. So, I think it's pretty cool. The whole locker room situation, it's fun."

We've talked about your versatility and how you can move all over the field. Will that make what you have to learn more [challenging] with learning a new system and then maybe playing different roles? Is there going to be a lot of thinking between now and say training camp? (Cliff Brown) "It's definitely challenging. Even the stuff we're doing right now, where I'm just learning both safety spots is challenging. It's the NFL – that's what guys get paid to do. So, I'm up for the task, but I'm just going to rely on coaches and vets to help me out, whether that be playbook stuff or mentally how to navigate the game and the play. Yes, it's going to be a challenge, but I'm ready for it."

It's real early, but from what you've seen, how much is this system the same or different than what you were playing at Notre Dame? (Cliff Brown) "[It's] pretty different from Notre Dame, I would say - communication-wise, [and] obviously terminology-wise. We didn't run a lot of Cover 3 at Notre Dame, and pretty much, that's most of what we've been doing here so far. Obviously, it's a vanilla version of it, because we're kind of just getting a taste. But yes, it's fairly different, but there's still a lot of defense to learn."

For this whole experience, I'm sure you had expectations coming in for what it would be like. What's the reality? What are your impressions so far? (Melissa Kim) "It's definitely as hard as I thought it was going to be. It's definitely as challenging. But at the same time, I've been trying to take a step back through it all, even the most challenging parts this weekend and just acknowledge the fact that I'm here, and I'm poised to leave whatever mark I will. Hopefully, it's a good one. I'm pretty confident that it will be, but I'm just excited to be here and be able to perform for a great franchise like this."

Did you have the speaker in your helmet? (Kyle Hamilton: "I do. It's very loud.") What was that like? What kind of adjustment is that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "They didn't give me a warning, so I didn't know I had it until I came out for practice. But the first period we actually used it, [defensive coordinator] Coach [Mike] Macdonald said something, and I like (jumps back). I had a jump scare, because I didn't know that he was going to be talking to me just yet. But I got used to it. The first time I heard it, I had no clue what he was saying. Now, I can kind of identify it pretty quickly. So, it's a pretty cool nuance to NFL football that I appreciate for sure."

I know it hasn't been too long, but have you had the chance to have any communication with the veteran members of the Ravens defense and the secondary specifically? (Luke Jones) "Yes, I won't name names but … Well, I'll name Daelin [Hayes], since I know Daelin. But I've talked to Daelin a good bit, obviously. He texted me right after I got drafted and congratulated me. He said, 'Let's go win a Super Bowl.' I said, 'Bet, let's do it.' I won't name names, but somebody DM'd [direct messaged] me on Instagram very soon after I got drafted and said, 'Dinner on you.' (laughter) So, we'll see how that goes down the line. But yes, it's all been good so far."


What were your early impressions of these first couple days? I know you were here last week, but now getting on the field and getting some practice time in. (Luke Jones) "It's been awesome to get around the coaches and kind of learn the scheme and learn their offense. A lot has been thrown at us, but we're working together as an O-line, trying to get it down as much as possible. I thought that these past two days have been awesome."

Your position comes with natural leadership responsibilities at the position. You're going to be around a lot of veteran guys. Obviously, you're used to being a leader where you've been, but is that an adjustment for you, being vocal and being in a leadership role when you're around some of the guys who have been here a lot longer? Do you anticipate that being an adjustment? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Once all the other guys get in here, I'm going to soak in as much as I can from them, especially just understanding the offense and understanding their communication. Because we're with a bunch of rookies right now, so who knows? I could be running everything wrong right now compared to what the older guys do. But yes, soak everything in I can with those guys. I think with just the center position comes leadership. You're the guy who has to put people in the right positions and make the right calls. I've been playing center for a while now; I think it just comes naturally to me."

What have been your early impressions of the system compared to what you were running at Iowa? (Luke Jones) "Obviously, at the end of the day, football is football. You're running similar stuff, but it's just a lot different verbiage. I think that's something that I'm trying to get down right now, just understanding the verbiage and communication. I've thought it's been good, but also, it's … We're only running 10% of the plays that we run during the season. So, there's still a lot more I need to learn, but I think it's a good start so far."

I forget, did you guys run a lot of shotgun at Iowa? (Jonas Shaffer) "It depends on the situation. I'd say here, we're going to be more in the gun than I was at Iowa. [It was] a little more under center at Iowa, but I feel comfortable in the shotgun. Obviously, that comes with repetitions, which we're certainly going to get a lot here."


What have been your early impressions of arriving and practicing as a Raven for a couple days now? (Luke Jones) "It's been awesome. It's been great learning the playbook and being able to be coached by [assistant offensive line coach] Coach [Mike] Devlin and meeting some of my new teammates. So, it's been awesome."

How does it feel to be a part of an offensive line that protects for QB Lamar Jackson? (David Andrade) "That's special, just in its own realm. Lamar [Jackson] is a dynamic player, so blocking for him is going to be really fun, because he can do anything, and he's like a magician out there. So, yes, it's going to be exciting, for sure."

Have you gotten to know C Tyler Linderbaum? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes. Previously, at Minnesota, we were rivals, so I hated him for four years. (laughter) But now that we're on the same team, he's actually a pretty cool guy. No, Tyler [Linderbaum] is really awesome." (Shaffer: "Did you ever bump into him at a media day for the Big Ten [Conference] or anything like that?") "No, I saw him at the Combine, and I was on a visit with him out in Seattle. But yes, it's great that we got drafted to the same team, so it will be great to getting to know him."

Even at this level, do you think that your size is going to be an advantage for you? (Cliff Brown) "I feel like my natural length was definitely going to be an advantage. Watching Orlando Brown [Jr.] and how he uses his strengths to his advantage definitely inspires me to work on my craft. I feel like being around 375 [pounds], somewhere around there, would be a great weight range for me just to play at my best for longer and compete at my best."

What do you feel like is going to be the biggest adjustment for you? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I feel like the biggest adjustment for me is going to be just learning the new plays and getting that down. It's been a pretty smooth process with this short minicamp. Just getting the full playbook and learning that and taking that in I feel like is going to be the biggest challenge. But I feel comfortable with 'Coach D' [offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris] and [assistant offensive line coach] Coach [Mike] Devlin that they're great teachers. So, I'm comfortable with them."

There are stories out there about how you haven't played football for a very long time, and so many people talk about your potential at the next level, but you do have a lot to learn. How motivated are you to prove to people you can go on the field and play a lot quicker than maybe some people might expect? (Luke Jones) "So, that's something I definitely want to prove. Every step of this journey, I've been able to compete and play early. So, that's definitely a goal of mine, and I'm going to be striving for it, but I'm just going to take it day by day and just keep my head down and grind."

Do you think your background as a rugby player makes you a little bit more special? (David Andrade) "I feel like it can be an advantage at times, but I feel like rugby is a lot less organized [than] football. There's not … The clock doesn't stop or stuff like that. So, I'd say rugby has just helped me prepare [for] the physical side of football."

Related Content