Transcripts: Training Camp Report Day (7/26)


On the excitement and motivation of this team:"You said it – the word that comes to mind is excitement. It's kind of the start of getting down to the real business. We have a lot of goals and aspirations. For us, it's being the most disciplined team, focusing on the details during this time, and being a hungry team – which we will be."

On if he had a chance to link up with QB Lamar Jackson during the break before training camp:"No, it was just one of those things where everyone was just kind of out and all across the country. But we all stayed in touch, we all talked. Just wasn't able to make it happen."

On WR Rashod Bateman being out in his home state of Arizona:"I saw that he spent like a couple days there. He didn't hit me up. So, I was kind of sad." (laughter)

On the biggest thing he wants to impart upon the rookie tight ends:"Just keep on working. Come out here, each and every day. Training camp is such a … It's one of those necessary evils. But this is a time where you can really grow, and for them – I said it before – the sky is the limit. They're both extremely talented players. We have other guys that are extremely talented tight ends. It's going to be a competitive group. It's going to be a group that works each and every day, brings the energy, makes big plays, and we're going to be ready to go. It's a special, special group. I'm excited about it."

On the comments from the anonymous defensive coordinator regarding QB Lamar Jackson:"We'll see, whoever that was – for sure."

On if he pays attention to any NFL positional rankings during the offseason:"Never. I've never been someone to, really, look too deep into that. At the end of the day, I go out on the field on Sundays – and whatever day I'm playing – and let my play speak for itself. I go out there and I'm a hungry player. I kind of wear that on my sleeve [and] on my chest. I'm just blessed man – I'm blessed to be here, blessed to play for this organization. I can't ask for anything more. So, I'm going to keep on bringing it, keep on going, and I don't really care about the rest."

On his reaction when WR Marquise Brown was traded and how the offense will change moving forward with him:"I was sad. That's one of my guys. I've been playing with him for a long, long time at Oklahoma, and then now here. He's one of my good friends. So, I was sad to see him go. I know he's going to do big things in Arizona. But with that being said, we've got a great group of receivers. Like you said, Rashod [Bateman] is going to come into his own and have a big, big year. But a bunch of other guys – 'Duv' [Devin Duvernay], 'Pro' [James Proche II], Tylan [Wallace], and some others. And I'm excited about the rookies, too."

On what impressed him the most about TE Isaiah Likely during OTAs and minicamp:"He's got a natural, kind of knack-feel for the game. I think that he sees the game really, really well. He's really fluid. When he sees something open, he takes it. He's got a little bit of me in him, for sure." (laughter)


On how he's feeling going into his 15th training camp:"I feel pretty good. I feel [like] I'm in great shape, ready to go. I'm excited. Honestly, it feels the same. Just that beginning of the year excitement, that potential, knowing all the hard work you put in in the offseason, making sure it pays off, seeing other guys in the building for the first time … It's like the first day of school. Everyone's been working hard, looks good. So, I'm excited."

On his thoughts on the new training camp schedule that has the team practicing in the afternoons:"I think that the coolest thing is using the data. We've been tracking all of this information from training camp, regular season, just collecting all the information on output, explosion, how much load we take per day. All of the different math that comes up from the data we collect during practice. Then, using that to put together the best practice where we can get maximum workload, but also while recovering and making sure we're at our best. With the injuries that we had last year, I think that was a high priority. We have a great team of people who work through that information, so it was cool. But, he [head coach John Harbaugh] did share it with us. We went through the whole process, the why. For the leaders, I think it was huge for us to kind of get an understanding of why we're making the changes, because this is definitely a big change. Everyone naturally wonders why, but then you see this is the data behind it, so it's just trying to be at our very best and be the most efficient with our work."

On the difference in training camp now versus when he first joined the league:"Training camp has definitely changed a lot since my younger years. (laughter)The two-a-days; I got a few years of that. Now, the way we do things is definitely a lot more efficient, I think is the best word. There's a time where you need to kind of get prepared, and get your body together, shock your system so that you get ready for a game and put yourself in the position to have success at the beginning of the year, and training camp is for that. But, you also want to kind of build up to it. You don't want to move too fast. Back in the day, first day we'd come out here and put full pads on, and we're out there banging full speed into each other. The times have changed a lot over the years, and the game has changed a lot. So, it's cool to see all of the different changes and stuff that go into preparing for a football season. But, I think where we're at right now with the ramp up period, kind of building to it … I think that we're in a really good place. I tell these young guys all of the time, 'You don't realize how good you have it!' It was definitely different. It was a different era. But, it's cool to see. I think that it equates a little more excitement, because you know that you come in – you prepare in the offseason to get ready for this moment, but you know there's still a process, and you still have room for growth. You don't have to come in and just jump right into it – you get to build. So, I think we're in a really good place. I see a lot of guys … We look good. The team definitely is in a really good place right now. Everyone feels that way, I guess, at the beginning of the year, so you have to take it with a little grain of salt. It's the work from now that's going to really matter the most. But, we really are in a good position today."

On the death of OLB Jaylon Ferguson, how the team has processed his loss and how they will honor him this season:"That's something that has been hard. It's been hard for all of us. After minicamp when it happened, we had a call and everyone got to say something if they wanted to. It was just a prayer and all of that good stuff. But, it really is just one of those things where you couldn't believe it when it happened. It was just like, 'Wow.' You forget that things can happen, and quick. It's one of those things where he was a good friend, and you miss him every day. You wish that … You just feel sorry for his family and just his potential on what he could have been. Still today, it's something that is just inside. Coming in for the first day, and knowing that he would be here normally if he didn't pass away … And, just knowing that you miss him. Guys talked about him today, there was a lot of conversations where it was like, 'Man.' You definitely have that sense that you lost a really good friend, a person that you cared about. It's definitely still hard, but I think that it's something that we have to kind of manage as a team. I know that a bunch of guys want to do something for him this year, and for his family to show our appreciation for his friendship and to try to help his family out. So, I don't know what everyone is going to do, but there are definitely some conversations going on to figure out what we can do moving forward. That's one of those things where it's heartbreaking, and you just pray for his family and try to make sure that whatever we can do to help each other through the process, we try to do it as a group. But it's something that I'll probably think about every day this season."

On the anonymous criticism from an NFL defensive coordinator of QB Lamar Jackson:"That's a foolish statement. If you win 12 MVPs, you're the best quarterback of all time. Certain people will always have their opinions, and you can't care about what other people think. Everything that Lamar [Jackson] does is – if he goes out there and wins the Super Bowl three years in a row, people are still going to be critics. So, it really doesn't matter. We just handle our business and do what we do. But, Lamar Jackson is a great quarterback, and he's a guy that is just getting so much better each and every year. I know that he is motivated by the critics, so I hope that that craziness that comes out benefits us as a team. But, at the end of the day, he's a phenomenal quarterback, a guy that I have a lot of respect for. I love going to battle with him. So, let the haters talk. We let them chirp, and we'll just win football games."

On what he shared on the team call after the passing of OLB Jaylon Ferguson last month:"Honestly, it was kind of in the moment. I definitely shared something, but I don't even recall exactly what I said. It was kind of one of those things where you just were expressing yourself and feeling what you were feeling in that moment. It's one of those things where you've just got to appreciate life. You never know when it's over. I always felt that way when I was a kid. I kind of got reminded that life happens fast. I was around death a lot as a kid and growing up, and it's just like every day is precious. Probably the biggest thing is just trying to make sure that we keep his family as a part of [our] family, and trying to make sure that we do something to kind of just show our love and appreciation for who he was and what he represented. He was a great Raven. But, it's going to be something that's hard to deal with all year. I think that as team we're definitely going to do something for him. That's the cool thing. Anytime you lose a guy that you consider a brother, it's hard. I went through it in college, and it's something I still think about all the time and often. [When] it's someone you care about, someone you have a lot of love for like that, it's tough."

On his reaction to his Madden rating for this season:"Madden's always shown me love. We've had a good relationship over the years. It's kind of funny. I think most people – you go into Year 15 – there's supposed to be a decline. Everyone assumes a decline for years. I think for the last – since Year 10 – they've expected a decline, right?. But for me, I've always felt like I could still be the best in the league. I feel like I still have a lot of good football left in me, otherwise, I wouldn't be doing it. The way I trained this offseason, the way I feel right now, I feel like I'm going to have a big year; I'm going to dominate. So, it's just kind of like, 'Yes, we'll see.' They think I got a little worse – that's OK. But, I know where I'm at right now, and I feel like I got a little better. We'll see how it goes, but it is Year 15, and I get it. The outside world could think, 'He can't keep going. He can't still be at a high level.' And I'm thinking, 'Well, we'll see.'"

On the team's mindset coming off a season where they missed the playoffs:"If that doesn't give you a little bit of edge, I don't know what will. There's a bad taste in your mouth the whole offseason. When you're preparing and training, you kind of have that taste in your mouth the whole time. When you lose in the playoffs, you have a bad taste in your mouth, but you knew like, 'OK, we were close.' But, we didn't even make the playoffs? It's a little different. It gives you a little bit more of an edge when you're going through your training camp … Not just training camp, but the preseason workouts, and just trying to get ready for this moment. I think we're in a good place, though. I think we know what we can be, and that's what is most important. The pieces are there, now it just comes down to our execution, and our development from now until the season starts, and then just go out there and earning our way. We're in a position where we know it's going to be a lot of work; it's not going to be easy and we're going to have to roll up our sleeves and get dirty. But, I look into guys' eyes, and I see a whole lot of guys who are ready and willing. So, I'm excited."


On what is going through his mind as he starts training camp for his third season:"Basically, at the start of every camp, [there are] just high hopes of everything, and then Day One hits, and your legs are gone. So, obviously, it's just the preparation and just taking care of my body that's in my mind right now. Going into my Year Three, I just want to do better than I did last year, with the preparation."

On having afternoon practices and if the heat bothers him: "No, not at all. Yes, I do [like the idea of afternoon practices]. Basically, [No. 1], it gets you in shape better, so when games are hotter and you're moving more, that's a plus for that. And then just the way the day is set up now, it's so much easier just to be able to get in and get all your work done, and now you've got time to recover. So, I love the schedule now."

On the general vibe of the team on the first day: "Yes, we were actually talking about that in the locker room – me and 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley] – and we were all laughing and stuff. We were like, 'It's all good vibes; everybody is smiling right now, until the Day Two legs hit; then everybody is in here mad at each other and telling everybody [to] get back.'" (laughter)

On reporting to training camp without OLB Jaylon Ferguson, who passed away this offseason:"Yes, it's tough. That was my guy. He grew up 25 minutes away from me. So, I definitely miss him, [and] it definitely hits hard, but we're just going to go out there and do it for him this year. [We're] still sending prayers to him and his family and just keeping them in our prayers, really."

On if he spoke during a team meeting following OLB Jaylon Ferguson's death:"On the call, I didn't say anything, honestly, because I was still processing it at the time, and it was just so random. My coach called me at like 7 a.m., just to let me know, and I was just sitting there shocked and broke out crying, really, and then I still couldn't grasp it. It took me, probably, a good, two, three days just to calm down and be able to accept it. But it's still tough."

On how he is grieving with the passing of OLB Jaylon Ferguson:"I think you've just got to remember the good things about everything. Yes, they can bring up the negative things and all that stuff, but you've always got to just remember the good things. And yes, it still hurts, and we're still going to live with it, but I think just remembering the good things just gets you through it."

On how not making the playoffs creates motivation:"It makes you hungry. I don't like having a bad taste in my mouth. And I know, the last game of the season, it didn't end how we wanted it to, and we didn't make the playoffs, so the only thing on our minds right now is just getting ready for these preseason games – to go in there and just get off on the right foot – and just be better than what we were last year."

On working alongside new defensive coaches: "Yes, I love it. We've got Mike [Macdonald] at 'DC' [defensive coordinator] – he was my coach my rookie year – then you've got 'ZO' [inside linebackers coach Zach Orr] in the room with us now. So, we've got two football guys, two guys that love football, who bring energy every single day, who love to communicate with us and get feedback from us, so now we're able to talk to our coach and tell them what we think. And everything is working together. Like I said, 'ZO' is an All-Pro, so he knows what he's talking about, he knows what he's doing. So, it's everything I need."

On how he would feel potentially wearing the green dot and communicating calls to his teammates:"Yes, I mean, it's normal; it's just football at the end of the day. It's just getting the call and communicating it to everybody else. We do have to know the situations and stuff. Just in case your coach can't get you the call, you've got to know every situation. But for the most part, it's easy. It's just like college; just get the call and relay it to everybody."

On if communicating calls to his teammates is something he's been doing the last couple years in practice:"Yes, I have."

On if he's surprised at the level of criticism for QB Lamar Jackson:"One thing I know is when you're doing stuff, and it's different than what everybody else does, and you're great at it, people don't like that. So, Lamar [Jackson] is going to keep being Lamar, and wherever that gets him – which I know is going to be high places, great places – hats off to him. But haters are going to be haters, man. That's all it is."

On how he feels he's progressed throughout his career:"I feel like I've progressed a lot. I just feel like that level is just going to keep rising every year, every year, every year, and it's going to get better and better. And like I said, this is just Year Three, so now it's time to put it all together; it's time to display it Week One and throughout the whole season, consistently."

On how he is taking strides to become an every-down linebacker:"I think it's just an understanding thing now. It's just understanding how everything goes together – like I said – playbook-wise, conditioning-wise [and] everything that I was working on, [and] I feel like I've got that down pat now. So, it's just a point of me going out there and proving it and doing it over and over on a consistent basis this time."

On having a full offseason with ILB Josh Bynes:"Yes, I've got somebody that I know I can trust, I've got somebody that I know I can talk to, and I've got somebody who's going to talk to me. And just always [having] an older guy on the field –  that's somebody that's going to help you – because they've seen a lot of things. There's always something that you could do better, and they see that, because they've been there for so long, [and] they know how to master those things. So, just being able to get that feedback from him helps me out a lot."

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