Transcripts: Sammy Watkins Zoom Press Conference

Were you surprised that you didn't return to the Kansas City Chiefs and that nothing happened where you could go back to the Chiefs? When did you kind of, in your mind, [realize] that it really was starting to get serious with the Ravens? (Jamison Hensley) "No doubt. I just think for me and the Chiefs, I had my fun there. It was an amazing, amazing time [and] a great organization. I just wanted a new scenery for myself. I just think going through this process and knowing I was going to be a free agent, you look at a lot of different teams. There was one team that stuck out, and it was the Ravens and Lamar Jackson. I heard too many great stories about just the team and the history of Baltimore. But I think when they hired one of my favorite guys that I train with in the offseason, [pass game specialist] Keith Williams, and of course [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman], the offensive coordinator who I worked early in my career at Buffalo, it was like, 'Man, this will be a good fit.' They have a great team, and I think that they're trying to get over that hump. I think it's a great matchup for me and what I want to basically do, as far as my career, and what type of team I want to play for."

There was a lot of talk before you signed about whether receivers would want to come to the Ravens because of the run-first nature of the offense. Do you have any concerns along those lines about if you'll see the ball enough? Or maybe your past experience with offensive coordinator Greg Roman [will] allay those fears for you? (Childs Walker) "Not really. I'm not going to worry about where that ball goes. If we run the ball every play and win games, and that's what it takes, [then] that's what we have to do. But having that experience in his offense before, he does a lot of different things to mix it up. If you can … If we can maximize and get better at the passing game and throw a little bit more, kudos to it. But if we can line up and Lamar [Jackson] run the ball and let all these other great running backs in the backfield tote us to playoffs or, hopefully, the Super Bowl – I'm down for it. But I'm pretty sure they're definitely trying to fix the passing game. It would definitely be fun to go in there, incorporating passing and letting Lamar [Jackson] show the ability that he does actually have in the passing game. That's kind of what I want to come into, and hopefully, we get that job done."

You mentioned both pass game specialist Keith Williams and offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Can you talk a little bit more about their approach? Like with Keith, what does he do that you like when you're working with him that's seemed to bring out the best in you? And also, with Coach Roman, the same thing; when you were in his offense, you had the best year. What about those two guys specifically seemed to get the best out of you? (Cliff Brown) "For me, I think [pass game specialist] Keith Williams helped me as far as getting open, just mentally getting prepared for a game and just the art of running routes and making it easy on guys to actually get open. He can take a guy that runs a 4.8 [40-yard dash] and make sure he can separate from guys, get open and catch balls. I think that's the most critical thing with the wide receivers that are going to be in the room. No matter what type of guy you have, stature [or] speed, he's going to make sure you're being you within the play, but also [that] you have the ability to get open with whatever route or concepts that [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman] is going to call. For me, I know he doesn't get all of the accolades and Greg isn't [considered] up there with all the other 'high' offensive coordinators, but when I was in Buffalo, I had my best times with him. I think I had 1,000 yards, 60 catches [and] over 10 touchdowns. So, I can't complain. I know that he's going to do a [good] job of getting the ball not only in my hands, [but in the hands of] 'Hollywood' [Marquise Brown], whatever receivers that we draft, or whatever receiver that is there. And Lamar [Jackson] is going to have fun throwing the ball around, passing and just making plays. I think that's the most critical thing."

Your first year, you played all 16 games, but you haven't since then. Is there anything you can do in the offseason or in-season to ensure that they'll have you for a full season? (Kevin Richardson) "Yes, sir. I think there's a lot I can do, and I do a lot. I just think for me, I have to be smart. I talked to Coach [John Harbaugh] and his staff; I'm a guy that goes 100% [and] a guy that really doesn't know better. I told them that they have to protect me, know when to [not] let me kill my legs and make sure I'm getting good work, but also knowing when to pull back. I think that's very critical with having a coach that understands that. I think that's why I was successful at the Rams and played all [16] games, because I had a good coach who kind of knew when to pull back, when to have those not necessarily rest days, but not doing 100 plays at practice. I was able to go into the game and be successful and feel really good about myself. [When] you feel good, you play good. That's the thing about this league, it's hard to feel good on a daily basis and go out there on Sundays and play. But most times, the guy that's having success, they're body is feeling good and they're having fun with it. I just think [it's about] staying healthy, getting my massages, eating right, staying on the same page as this training staff and doing the right things in the weight room, which I've heard that they have a great program. So, I can't wait to get started with those guys."

Have you spoken with QB Lamar Jackson yet? If so, what was that conversation like? You've faced Lamar from the opposing sideline a couple times. What are you biggest takeaways from being an opponent? Obviously, you're not on the field as the same time that he is, but from watching him as an opponent up close. (Shawn Stepner) "I definitely had a great conversation with him and kind of talked to him like, 'Man, this is your show. I just want to be a part of it. You're a special talent, and I just want to come here and help out, as far as making plays for you and making it east on you.' He just said the same thing, 'I just want a guy who can go out there and ball, have fun, enjoy himself and bring that swagger.' I can't wait to work with him. I think for me, I watched him play twice. It's really no knock on him; the guys need to be put into situations to have fun and go out there and make plays. I think [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman] is going to put him in great situations. As a quarterback, you know the wideouts have to do their job. You hear this knock on why guys didn't go there, or why guys are taken out [and] they run the ball, or they do this, or do that. I just think coaches call plays, and players have to play. They're going to put us in the best situation to make those plays. I think Lamar [Jackson] is going to go out there and kill it, throw for however many yards that he's been doing and scoring touchdowns. I just want to be a part of something special, and I think we're going to get the job done."

Last offseason hit the whole league really hard with the changes, as far as preparation goes for the regular season. This year looks like the sport in general will have a better picture. What are your expectations now from Baltimore? (David Andrade) "Just go in there with my head down … I mean, with my head high and go to work. I think there's not too much to it: go home, earn my respect, go practice hard [and] do the right things on and off the field. Getting the group of guys – get the wide receiver group [together] – and we go to work and just find ways to get open, have fun and really just get ready for the season. I think that's the most critical thing is that this offseason, we actually have that time. We're going in earlier, and it's critical to get on the same page with Lamar [Jackson], so we can go out there [and] have fun, enjoy this season, hopefully win games and hopefully get to the Super Bowl."

For you, you're coming in as a veteran receiver, and it's a young group of guys. What are your thoughts of kind of being the veteran leader in this group? (Garrett Downing) "I like it. I think I was that guy for Kansas City, being around the top guys. I was around Tyreek Hill, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman [and] Travis Kelce. I kind of know my role. I just let the guys know, 'Man, we all play our role and play a part in this thing, no matter who's bigger or who's higher. No matter who's catching all the touchdowns or passes, we're going to play for each other. We're going to be brothers.' The biggest thing is communication. I think if we can communicate with all of us and go out there and play for each other, we can win a ton of games and just find multiple ways to get better. I'm going to be learning from 'Hollywood' [Marquise Brown]. He probably does things differently than me; he probably does different releases, I don't know. Just learning from each other and literally going out there on gamedays blocking for each other, playing nasty and doing whatever in our might to will a win in. Like I said, try to go out there and catch passes, block and do whatever to get the 'W.' I think that's the most critical thing and the energy I can bring into the room."

You mentioned earlier in this conversation that you needed a change of scenery. Outside looking in, you had the best scenery. You were in two-straight Super Bowls. What needs to change and what's your perspective on that? (Mark Viviano) "You've been in a place … I was at Kansas City for three years. Like I said, I had my best times there, and I really enjoyed my time. I think my time was up; I just wanted to be somewhere different. I think the best place to be, and to be around some younger guys and another MVP quarterback that's really good … You scout around the league like, 'Where do I fit in?' Once I took my visit, right away I knew I fit in at the Baltimore Ravens. Just the vibes, the energy [and] the coaches were amazing, and I just wanted to … You go through this being in the league for seven years, and you just want to make it right and be somewhere where you can probably spend the next five or six years if everything goes well. The organization is Top 5, and I just wanted to be somewhere where it's going to be fun at. I think Baltimore will be the place."

Can you talk about what that week was like? You went to Baltimore for a visit; you were supposed to be in Indianapolis; they were talking to WR T.Y. Hilton; they were talking to you. Was that touch-and-go there – where you thought you would end up? And how difficult was it to make a decision when you were going through that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It wasn't difficult at all. Like I said, I love Lamar [Jackson], love the team. I always watched the Ravens organization. Like I said, they're Top 5. Being that I had [pass game specialist] Keith Williams go there was like a double-plus, and [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman] being the 'O.C.' and knowing 'Hollywood' [Marquise Brown] a little bit, it was just a surreal moment. And then, once I went there, I knew right away, like, 'Man, I'm going to Baltimore.' It's just one of those feelings where you know it's home, and you make the best decision. And hopefully, you're looking, kind of, for the future [and that] I have a great year here, and hopefully, I can maybe do another contract there and end my career there. That's where my mindset was, with just how amazing the meeting was with everyone there. So, just really, I'm focused on staying healthy, and hopefully, I can get this thing going on the right foot and play my best football for the Baltimore Ravens."

You're a pretty versatile receiver, and you can play on the outside, you can play in the slot, and I'm sure that's something offensive coordinator Greg Roman is going to exploit against defenses. How much are you looking forward to him being creative, moving you around the field and taking advantage of matchups? (Todd Karpovich) "I actually went and looked at my last time I played in Buffalo [2016], and being in that offense, they moved us around a ton, actually. I moved around in several different spots, and he [Greg Roman] found so many special ways to get me the ball – whether it was quick on a shallow, whether it was a double-move, whether it was going deep. And I just can't wait. He's going to utilize us in so many different ways. He's got a complex offense. I know the world hasn't been seeing that yet, but he's definitely going to open it up this year, run the ball and do, I'm pretty sure, all types of things with this offense. We're going to have a lot of athletes, a lot of speed around the field, and I just think it's time for the world to see Sammy Watkins – the one that was balling in college and running around the field having fun. I think I'm that guy, and I just have to put a healthy season together, go out there and will some wins, have fun and enjoy the process."

You've earned a reputation as a big-game player. You had a big Super Bowl, some big playoff games. Why do you think you've been able to do that? And connected to that, was it important for you to be on a team that has a chance to play in those types of games again? (Cliff Brown) "It's always been about my availability, and that's been a knock on my whole career. Have I had a good career? Have I had a great career? Super bowl, I've been to the playoffs four times now. But I think just going out there, having fun and playing, I can play the best ball. I think I'm just as elite as any other receiver in this game, as far as going out there and matching up, playing the game the way it's supposed to be played – blocking, running great routes, getting open. I just have to put it all together, and this is critical. I'm in my seventh year now, to where, hopefully, I can put it all together, stay healthy, go out there and ball, be elite, have fun and win games. This is just the team that can get over the hump. When you look at defense, they have a Top 5 defense, Top 10 defense. When you look at offense, they've got one of the best run games beyond anybody in the NFL – No. 1, I think, No. 2 – whatever it is. [They've got] one of the Top 5, Top 10 quarterbacks [in] Lamar Jackson – MVP. So, when you've got that, you can put those small pieces together, and this team can be special, and I just want to be a part of that. Hopefully, we can go into the season winning games, have fun and start off [with] what they've been doing. They've been winning games, been going to the playoffs, and we've got to get over those couple humps. But other than that, I just want to be a part of something special, and hopefully, will another Super Bowl in with these guys."

You've talked about pass game specialist Keith Williams quite a bit, and I know he was a personal coach for you. What was kind of the genesis of that relationship, and how much recruiting did he do even before contract talks heated up with Baltimore? (Luke Jones) "He didn't do a lot of recruiting; I think I did the recruiting. Once I saw him get the job, I was like, 'Man, we need to make something happen. Talk to somebody in the office.' It was all fun and games, and, somehow, the Baltimore Ravens popped up the next day or two, and we got the visit. For him [Keith Williams], he helped my career and not only my career. If you look at the top guys – Tyreek Hill, that's his No. 1 guy – and several different guys in this league that … Davante Adams – his career has just been excelling since he's been dealing with Keith Williams. He just knows how to tap into the mind and the body and knows what [can] get you over that hump, as far as routes, and what's your mental on certain routes and how to approach DBs in different situations. To have him on deck and to have him every day in practice and every day in my corner or in my ear … I just know there are going to be some special things happening this year, and I really can't wait to take off and be around and work with him every single day, and work with [wide receivers] Coach Tee [Martin], work with [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman], work with Lamar [Jackson] and work with everybody on the team, honestly, because I just know we've got some great guys in the building."

In talking with QB Lamar Jackson and what you've seen out of him, how much potential do you see in his ability to evolve as a passer? What potential do you see in him? (Jamison Hensley) "The potential I see in any quarterback I'm with. It takes guys getting open to be great and look great and be the Patrick Mahomes of the world and be Tom Brady and be all these other top quarterbacks. You've got to have that No. 1 receiver, that No. 2 and that No. 3, nowadays, to go out there and be successful and literally throw the ball with your eyes closed and be unconscious. If I can go out there and be healthy, and the other wideouts – 'Hollywood' [Marquise Brown] – we can go out there and make plays. We've got a top tight end – Top 5, Top 10 tight end – that goes out there and runs great routes and catches the ball. [If] we can be a balanced offense and go out there and get open when we need to get open, I think Lamar [Jackson] can throw for those 4,000 yards or those 4,500 yards, 5,000. Whatever these guys are putting [up], I think he can be that quarterback and be elite in this game. It's no knock on him; when you watch film, honestly, everybody wasn't getting open, and I think that's a critical part with this offense. We can blame the offensive coordinators, but as players, we've got to do our job, and that's the thing. I've got to go out there and get open, and 'Hollywood' and whoever we have on the field has got to get open for Lamar. If we do that, he'll be up there with the elite guys who we talk about every day."

Many fans were asking and waiting for that weapon that QB Lamar Jackson needed. How do you feel now that you are the weapon and that much-needed guy in that position, along with WR Marquise Brown? (David Andrade) "It's the same day, every day, with me. I've just got to go out there and be myself. Like I said, as long as I stay healthy on that field for 18, 19, 20 – however many – games to get to the playoffs and through the season, I'm going to be dominant, and I'm going to make plays, and I'm going to score touchdowns. As long as I'm out there healthy, I'm going to do my job and whatever it takes to will a win and block and do everything I need to do for the team, and it's the same thing for any other guy. We're all out there trying to make plays and win the game. If we can all be healthy and on the right page and do whatever we need to do for Lamar [Jackson] to be comfortable and throw the ball around and do what he's been doing, that's what we need to do."

People talk about the Ravens' culture all the time. Head coach John Harbaugh is known for giving players veteran days off and taking care of his veterans. Other than pass game specialist Keith Williams, Coach Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, is there anybody you talked to about what it's like to play for the Ravens? Whether it's a former teammate, a guy currently on the team, who gave you advice on how you'd fit here? (Jeff Zrebiec) "One guy, my guy who came from the Chiefs, De'Anthony Thomas, told me this is one of the best places to be in your career, because everything is fun, there's great energy, great vibes. Coach Harbaugh sets the tone in the building, and just really, they take care of their players, [and] they've got a great weight program. He was like, 'Man, you're going to really like it. It's definitely different from the Chiefs, as far as the workout plans and different things.' But he just told me, 'Man, you're going to love it.' And as I walked into that building, just being around everyone, I just knew this is a great vibe, [and] this is what I need. This feels like a college atmosphere, and I just can't wait to get started with those guys to fix my body, do whatever I have to do to stay available on the field and have fun and go out there and play games."

What's it like to change sides of the rivalry that's started now between the Ravens and the Chiefs? And what would it be like to go against those guys, potentially, down the road? (Ryan Mink) "I think it's pretty cool. I played the Ravens for the last two years, and they've been battles. They're the team that we're probably practicing for in training camp. So, I can't wait to line up against my other brothers, who I played against, practiced against every day. I kind of know what they like to do. I can't wait to line up and have fun and go toe-to-toe, and hopefully, get Lamar [Jackson] his first win against the Chiefs. I think it's going to be fun."

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