Transcripts: Saturday Training Camp (8/13)


Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. I appreciate you guys being here. Beautiful day, right? Man, the humidity broke, so guys appreciate that. We're coming back after the game; had the day off yesterday, so first day back. [We] got them moving again. I thought they did a good job. It was pretty sharp today. It was good to see that their focus was there. What questions do you have?"

You've seen some players around the league do a hold-in during contract negotiations, where they report but don't participate in practice. What do you think it says about QB Lamar Jackson that he's gone the other route and is participating in everything? _(Jamison Hensley) _"I don't make comparisons. I don't really see too many guys doing that. But Lamar [Jackson] is doing a great job. He's practicing every day. The business part of it is the business part of it; I'm very confident that will get done when it gets done. You can't really rush it. I don't think either side wants to rush anything; both sides want to be happy when it's all said and done, and probably both sides unhappy when it's all said and done, to some degree, right? That's kind of how it works. But he's doing a great job. He's practicing well; he's a great leader; on the sideline, he's right into the game. So, everything, thumbs up."

TE Isaiah Likely and S Kyle Hamilton have had some really good one-on-one battles. How do you think Kyle is doing matched up on tight ends? _(Todd Karpovich) _"I think he [Isaiah Likely] is doing great. He's doing fine. The one-on-one, like we said before, he's not going to go take Isaiah Likely down in a competitive ball drill here in one-on-ones; we appreciate that. But then Isaiah made some good catches, but Kyle [Hamilton] has been right there. He's doing a good job. He's playing well. I thought he had a really good game. [There were] some things to clean up, like all the guys, but he had a really good game Thursday night."

We didn't see RB J.K. Dobbins out there. Is that the case due to the ramp-up process, and is his progress as usual? _(Bo Smolka) _"Yes, they were planning on these two days – today and tomorrow – kind of being an evaluation day based on the week of work. So, they went through whatever process they're going through, [and] he [J.K. Dobbins] should be back Monday."

Having a Swiss Army knife like OL Patrick Mekari take leadership at center, how do you see his value? _(David Andrade) _"You said Swiss Army knife; it's probably a very good analogy. He [Patrick Mekari] plays every position on the offensive line and plays it well, including probably the toughest position, mentally, with the snaps, center. So, we appreciate that. He could start at any position. He was a starting center Thursday night. Tyler [Linderbaum] will be back at some point. But if Pat Mekari goes in to start, if he starts the first game at any spot, I'll be very confident that he'll play really well."

Along those lines, what have you seen from G Ben Powers? He's gotten most of the first-team reps at left guard, but we also saw him move around quite a bit in the game on Thursday. _(Luke Jones) _"It bodes to how valuable he is right now. We want to make sure that when we have our eight guys active, we have all of our spots covered, so he worked at center to get him some game work at center in case he needed to do it, and he did a good job, played well. That's really valuable for us."

T Ja'Wuan James is making the transition from right tackle to left tackle and got his first game action at left tackle on Thursday. What did you see from him? _(Tim Barbalace) _"Yes, that's a good observation. I felt like he [Ja'Wuan James] played really well, especially really well [when] pulling. He's a great athlete. He pulled on sweeps, pulled on the back side of counter plays. He was really effective pulling. [His] pass protection was … He would probably give himself – I don't know – a 'B,' knowing him. I thought he was pretty solid, but he's going to keep chasing the pass protection, and he's always been a good pass-protection guy on the other side, so I think he's going to do really well with that. I thought it was a successful debut on the left side."

Is WR Makai Polk a guy you've seen come on and start to pick up momentum here as an option at receiver? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Yes, Makai [Polk] has had a good camp. He's a guy … He flashed, really, from Day One. He's a very fast, very athletic guy. He had a couple plays [and] mixed it up in there a little bit blocking, and it was a good start for him."

WR Rashod Bateman had another really strong practice out here. For a Year Two player, can you speak to the importance of staying on the practice field consistently and getting better that way? _(Ryan Mink) _"Critically important. It's a practice sport; we've said that before. You have to practice to improve; there's no question about that. You either get better or you get worse; it's a fact. It's a football fact and probably a life fact. So, he [Rashod Bateman] has been out there practicing a lot – as much as he can. He's doing well with it."

We didn't see DT Justin Madubuike today. Is he dealing with something? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, he had a little headache problem, migraine deal, so we're kind of working through that right now. You don't mess around with those too much."

How do you feel like the team responded to going from practice to game action and ramping up that intensity? _(Nikhil Mehta) _"I thought they did really well, and it's a good question, because we talked about the tempo of the practices a little bit. We probably had three bad angles in tackling; that's not bad for the first preseason game. So, I was happy with that, and we've just got to keep building on it."


How good was it to see QB Tyler Huntley look as sharp as he did on Thursday night? _(Ryan Mink) _"[It was] great. Great. I was happy for him, happy for us. Sometimes out in practice the way the rotation goes, and we have a lot of young receivers, a lot of young players … Sometimes it hasn't looked as good as it did the other night, so I was really happy to see that."

With QB Tyler Huntley having played as much as he did down the stretch last year, how much has that helped him in his overall development? _(Luke Jones) _"I've been around some backup quarterbacks that were backup quarterbacks and you really thought they were … But until you play football, and real NFL football and take snaps, you haven't played. You've practiced a lot, and you've maybe done some things like that, but I think it certainly has helped him advance. You could see it the other night."

In Year Five now, how much do you talk to QB Lamar Jackson about the fine line between taking off and running or not? _(Jamison Hensley) _"I always tell him, 'Don't let me coach you out of being a great player. Trust your instincts.' We want to run the first play the way that it's been designed. So, if the design of the play is to throw an in-cut and the in-cut is there and we're protected, let's throw it. If not, now we go talk about the second play, and that's when he lets his great natural ability take over and run. So, there's a fine line, but we want to run the first play first, and then let your great natural ability come through."

You spoke very highly of the way QB Lamar Jackson came into minicamp. Do you feel like he has brought that momentum into training camp? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, and then some. He's looked as good and as sharp on many of the things that we worked at specifically and emphasized; I call them the 'squeaky wheels.' The 'squeaky wheels' are getting better and he's in a great place."

QB Lamar Jackson has developed a lot of chemistry already with TE Isaiah Likely, and obviously we know about his connection with TE Mark Andrews. What is it about tight ends that you think he really likes? _(Ryan Mink) _"I'm sure there is something about tight ends, but I would say that Mark [Andrews] and Isaiah [Likely] – certainly Mark, and it sure looks like Isaiah – have great natural pass-catching ability. So, heck with the position … Doesn't matter what you call them. Call them peaches; it doesn't matter. They're good football players, and good football players find a way to get the ball."

Everyone has been talking about more emphasis on downfield passing. What do you think QB Lamar Jackson had to work on coming into this year to strengthen that part of his game? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Because of the way that we're able to run the ball, a lot of times we get one-on-ones on the outside. So, we want to be able to take advantage of those. Look, if you're not constantly assessing your game … I've used the example before, I think you guys have heard me say, 'Michael Jordan always knew how to drive the lane [then] he had to learn the jump shot. Then, he had to learn a fade away.' It's the same as football players and quarterbacks. What area of my game needs improvement? What area of my game can I grow? Maybe it's not a great improvement, but grow. So, that's where we are. That's the deep ball."

You've had some moving parts at center throughout training camp. Is that a challenge for the quarterbacks? _(Todd Karpovich) _"It is. They all do a great job. We're with them every single day. You guys see us with the quarterback-center exchanges. We start every day that way. They're doing a heck of a job. It is a challenge. Today, we worked on some silent count, getting ready for an away game. So, that's a whole other thing. They do a great job communicating. You'd love to have Tyler [Linderbaum] out here. He's hurt right now, so we're rotating a little bit. But, as soon as Tyler is ready to come back … That's the important thing. Whoever the starter is with the starting quarterback, as much as you can."

There were a few false starts during practice today. Was that due to working on the silent count? _(Cordell Woodland) _"The music was going, it was a little [loud], and we're working all of our various cadences. The only way to do that is to do it. You just have to take your lumps at practice, and say, 'We jumped offsides,' and make it a lesson. But we can't just go on 'one' every time."

QB Lamar Jackson said a few days ago that he has been emphasizing keeping his left arm calm while working on his mechanics. What does that mean in terms of the broader picture and why does that matter? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Just throwing mechanics in general, if you rip out your left elbow, your left shoulder, then you get wild. That's when you can get wild. So, just generically speaking, [if] you watch any NFL quarterback throw, there's always some calmness to the left side. It's not this rip to throw. Watch a baseball pitcher, same thing. It's calm here, fire in the back hip kind of thing. But, that's what it is. It's just very calm left side."

To the amateur eye, it looks like QB Lamar Jackson's grip on the ball is a little bit further back on the ball then it has been in the past. Have you noticed a difference? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Not to me. You may have seen a couple. It moves around. I have no issue with that at all."

When you talk about the 'squeaky wheels', is QB Lamar Jackson keeping his left arm calm one of the things you're talking about? _(Childs Walker) _"Sure, everything from whatever it is we're working on. A particular throw, a kitty throw, a particular drop, a drop on this particular play action … Whatever it is, he's been great with. That's what that is. Mechanically speaking, that is something that we've talked a lot about."

QB Lamar Jackson's private quarterbacks coach Adam Dedeaux has been out at training camp. What has it been like working with him and exchanging ideas? _(Kyle Barber) _"I've known Adam [Dedeaux] for years. Adam and I work very closely together, we're very friendly. We're colleagues. He asks me questions; I ask him questions. It's been a great symbiotic relationship."

We've seen QBs Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley more under center. What kinds of challenges does that present work-wise or what are you hoping to take advantage of that big picture? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"I'm old school in the sense that I believe that you teach quarterbacks timing from dropping under center. I learned that from Andy Reid many, many years ago, that philosophy. I still believe in it. So, we do a good little bit of it during training camp. I think it's very, very important to learn to drop. We did some in the game the other night. And then, as you evolve, or protection-wise it's certainly easier sometimes to be in [shotgun]. But it's easy to feel what that throw feels like when you have to separate from the line of scrimmage and do it – catch and drop. Now transition that same feeling, that same timing. That's what we're doing."


On how he felt entering this training camp and the preseason game:"It was a good start, getting out there [and] playing on the field again. Just starting the season off. We got out with the 'dub' [win]. So, that's always a great start."

On if there's a story behind the slippers:"No, it's Saturday. I'm feeling comfortable. Came into work with my comfortable shoes on." (laughter)

On where he's grown the most as a quarterback entering Year Three:"Just more taking [things] play-by-play. Really dialing in every play and taking everything that I could get out of the play. So, instead of looking at what I did bad or what's next, or what's coming up, I'm looking at the play we've got ahead. I feel like I've grown there, and that feels better."

On if anyone said something to him after tumbling over the pylon during practice:"[Quarterbacks coach James Urban] 'Urb' did – 'Urb' was the first one. He came and told me … He was just messing with me about it. No, I was just showing them that I could get up in the end zone, that's it." (laughter)

On QB Lamar Jackson's performance so far through training camp:"He's throwing the hell out of the ball – excuse my language. He's throwing that ball right now. It's good to be learning from someone like him – my friend, everything. It's a blessing to be right behind him [and] learning from him."

On if it impresses him how QB Lamar Jackson is able to tune out the outside noise:"For sure, I look to him when there's stuff like that. All the outside noise, he just blocks it out, continues to focus on what's going on right now instead of what's outside, because we can't control any of that stuff going on outside, and what everybody is talking about. But one thing we can control is what's going on on the field. He told me that, so it's crazy I'm telling you all that. It's great to learn from him, for sure."

On how he managed his injury:"Yes, because you know how you get an injury and you try to 'baby it' a little bit. You try to compensate on stuff. I had to just shut it down – I shut it all the way down. [I] didn't throw for a minute. I didn't throw over the whole break. And then the first time me throwing was back in fall camp. So, I just didn't try to mess with anything. [I] just let it heal on its own, and it was all good."

On what stands out to him about this group of undrafted rookie free agents:"Just like me, I was undrafted, so they're ready to work. They come in ready to work, trying to get better, and they're making a lot of plays, for sure. That's always a good thing, I guess – an undrafted person coming in and making plays, rather than just being a guy. They're showing a lot of potential, for sure."


On if he goes anywhere where he doesn't hear people yelling his name:"No, I don't. (laughter)Probably at home. That's about it, though."

On if he's still adjusting to people yelling his name:"No, not really. This is my fifth year now. It's been going on for like three years now. I'm good. I'm good with it."

On his offensive line and their pass protection:"Yes, I'm feeling pretty good. Those guys … We're stacked right now at the offensive line position. Those guys have been working their tails off, and they're looking pretty good, so I'm ready for the season. I'm looking forward to it."

On if he's answered the questions about whether or not his style of play is sustainable, given that, for the most part, he's maintained a good health status:"Do you know how the injury happened? Trying to pass in the pocket. So, yes, it is what it is, and yes, like you said, I feel like that's a no-brainer. I've been good [with] how I've been playing. But when I tried to shed and stay in the pocket, I got hurt for the first time. So, yes, I think it speaks for itself."

On if he'll play in the preseason at all, and if he'd be OK without any preseason reps:"I don't know. I don't know. I might give it a shot. I don't know yet. I don't know yet."

On New York Jets QB Zach Wilson getting injured last night:"You're not wishing that on me. No, we're not wishing that on me. That doesn't have anything to do with me. But I hope he [Zach Wilson] gets better. But like I said, we're not wishing that over here; we're not wishing that at all."

On if New York Jets QB Zach Wilson's injury will change his approach on playing in the preseason:"No, I really don't know yet. I don't know if I'm going to play; I don't know if I am. I don't know yet."

On if he would like to play in the preseason:"I don't know yet. I don't know yet. I don't know yet. I don't know yet. I don't know yet – that's my answer." (laughter)

On his chemistry with WR Rashod Bateman:"Yes, he [Rashod Bateman] did [have a nice day today]. I feel it's [the chemistry] is pretty good. Like I told you guys before, offseason, as soon as we got to working, he was looking pretty good then. And we had probably one hiccup day. When we were back out here, we had a little vet day, a mini-vet day, but other than that, he's been looking pretty sharp. He's been looking good – looking like a receiver [No.] 1, for sure."

On why he added lean muscle this offseason:"I just wanted to look the part. I just wanted to look a little sturdy back there, look a little big. I felt like it worked. I'm still fast, I'm still moving around how I was before; I just added a little more weight."

On if he sees TEs Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle and Isaiah Likely as a three-headed monster:"Hell yes, it's looking like a three-headed monster this year. Yes, it does. But along with that, we've got our receivers on the outside, too, so it's going to be a dangerous offense, I feel."

On what he likes about this current group of wide receivers:"Those guys are hungry. They're getting active each and every day, they're getting better each and every day, they listen, they always want to get better each and every day. I just like it; they've been dogs out there. They're aggressive with catches [and] making contested catches. [They're] looking pretty good, for the young guys."

On what stands out to him about WR Rashod Bateman and why he's confident in Bateman as a No. 1 wide receiver:"Like I was just saying, our young guys are making contested catches, and 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman] is a young guy; he's in his second season. He's been making great catches – back-shoulders, beating corners over the top. He's been looking pretty sharp [in] all phases."

On if he plans on taking a more active role in game planning and calling plays this year:"Yes, I think so. If I see it in the game, I'm definitely going to call it. I'm hoping so, yes."

On if he feels like this has been a no-drama camp for himself:"Yes, I like it like this. I was able to start Day One. What is it, like Day 15 or something like that for us? I'm feeling pretty good. Nothing is wrong with me, I'm good."

On his embrace with Tennessee Titans QB Malik Willis after Thursday's game and if he knew him before:"No, actually I saw that throw that he made at the Combine, like a 65-yard bomb, and I told [quarterbacks] Coach 'Urb' [James Urban], 'He has an arm on him.' Then, I saw him in the game, he did that little spin roll to the left and went crazy. I was like, 'I like him. I like him a lot.' He's a great quarterback, and he made some down-the-field throws, too. He's going to be good in the league."

On if it is cool for him to see quarterbacks entering the league being compared to himself:"It's always like that, not just myself. It's other great guys; [Patrick] Mahomes, Deshaun [Watson], Kyler [Murray]. Always getting compared to other guys, but he [Malik Willis] is going to be good. He's going to be good."

On if he has a hard deadline in mind for putting contract negotiations aside as the season approaches:"Yes, we're coming up to it. It's coming up. It's coming up. The season is coming up. We're going to be good for the season."

On if he has any updates on his contract negotiations:"No, there aren't any updates. No updates."

On if it is fair to say that he would like to have his contract negotiations done by Week One:"Yes, for sure."

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