OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS COACH ROB LEONARD
What progression have you seen with OLB Odafe Oweh since you started working with him? (Jamison Hensley)"I think he has been progressing pretty well. First off, he walks into the building every day [and] he's eager to learn. When I got here, he said, 'Coach, I want to be the best.' So, when a player tells you that, it's pretty easy. I just have to hold you to the standard that you said you want to be. But, preaching consistency, as you do with all of the guys, and he's been great. His attitude has been great, just being the same guy every day."
With a number of players working their way back from injuries last year, is there an adjustment to getting them back to game-level stamina? (Cordell Woodland) _"Are you saying currently or just overall? _(Reporter: Currently, with guys like Marcus Peters and J.K. Dobbins?)I'm more with the outside linebackers, like with regards to Tyus [Bowser], but they're following the process of rehab, they're in meetings, controlling everything that they can control. As they progress, it's always more football oriented once you get healthier and healthier."
He's not out on the field yet, but what are your impressions of OLB David Ojabo in the meeting room? _(Luke Jones) _"'Jabo' [David Ojabo] is great. He has great positive energy. Him and Odafe [Oweh] have a great relationship. That's what you're trying to create in that meeting room is a brotherhood and guys that genuinely care about each other. I once heard that it's hard to get two guys to trust each other, let alone 11 on the field. So, it's nice to have that from two guys who have known each other for a long time. So, it gets guys to open up more, and it's been great. It's been really good."
What do you think OLB Daelin Hayes can do to take his game to the next level? _(Bo Smolka) _"Daelin [Hayes], he got hurt last year. He missed a lot of time. So, with some regard, he's still going through what like rookies go through in terms of learning the game and playing the game. And really same thing with him, just staying the course, trying to get his eyes and hands right. I think that's my job as a coach. The key to playing fast is, 'You have to look at this, you have to strike this guy.' The more he trusts his keys, he'll be able to player faster and hopefully have some success."
We haven't talked to you since you were hired, how well did you know head coach John Harbaugh before interviewing here, if at all? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"I didn't know [head] Coach [John] Harbaugh. There's a few times in your career [where] you're around a lot of star players, but when 'Coach Harbaugh' you see down on your phone, I was pretty starstruck. But, he's been great. I was, quite honest with you, flattered that he offered an interview, and it's been awesome. It's been awesome being here."
You have been short on numbers with some guys injured, but has that given you an opportunity to evaluate some of the younger guys with how many reps they are getting? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Absolutely. They need all of the reps that they can get as young guys. The experience, that's been awesome to see, to be honest with you."
OLB Odafe Oweh was impactful a year ago, but it seems like things have slowed down for him. What are you seeing from him in camp? (Pete Gilbert)"You're constantly building, and the answer is again, just reading his keys, trusting what he's looking at and hitting it over, and over and over again so he can play fast. And, trust his instincts. I talk with Odafe [Oweh] a lot about matching his upper-body violence with the violence of his legs. He has God-given ability to run, and he can take off. So, working his hands and all of those types of things is a big part of his progression."
What does having an accomplished guy like OLB Justin Houston in the meeting room mean and have you learned anything from him? _(Luke Jones) _"How could I not? If you look up the stats of how many sacks this guy has had, he's right up there with the biggest names you can think of. I think it's 102 [career sacks]. So, I always refer to him, 'How do you see this? Do you see it the same way?' Because details are everything. So, it's one thing to go over it in the meeting room, another thing to actually have done it and what works. So, I'm constantly relying on him as source, and he's been great."
How has OLB David Ojabo kept up to date in meetings without being on the practice field? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Like I said, [a] great attitude every day. My message to him every day is just, 'Control what you can control. Be attentive in meetings, how's your rehab going and keep building.' And, [I've been] trying to keep him patient through that process. That's kind of the message every day."
OLB ODAFE OWEH
On things slowing down for him in Year Two:"Yes, I feel like I'm just a little bit more comfortable. Things are slowing down. Like I've said, my legs are getting a lot stronger, so it's helping me be more explosive and bend the edge and stuff like that. But in terms of the general schemes and stuff like that, just getting more comfortable and understanding where my place is in the defense. It's all helping; it's tying together well."
On why it was important for him to play one snap in the preseason opener last Thursday:"Just to get a feel, timing, stuff like that. And then once I did it, I got enough of what I needed and got out. (laughter)But yes, it was like that."
On if there is an intensified drive paired with his comfort:"Yes, being comfortable, I feel like that's key. If you're not, you get jittery, you mess up thinking about all this different stuff. So, while I'm out there on the field, I try to be really comfortable, but not too comfortable [to] where I'm not being active. But just being comfortable in who I am, and what I bring to the team and stuff like that, and then obviously, running around, having a motor, trying to make plays and stuff like that. So, that's going to lead into gamedays and everything."
On what he knows about playing against tackles at this level now that he didn't know as a rookie:"If you beat them once … You can beat them, but they study, too. In college, you can beat them on the same move a few times. But you might beat a guy the first week on one move or even in one series, but he's going to learn. You've got to have a counter to that and all that different stuff. And guys are athletic, they replace well and stuff like that. So, knowing that, this year, it's helping me have counters to my 'fastball' and stuff like that. It's helping right now."
On if his role in the room has changed from Year One to Year Two:"I'm stilling learning. I'm always still learning. So, like you said, he [Justin Houston] is still the 'O.G.' in the room, and we brought in a bunch of young guys, as well. So, we're all just learning, trying to pick up from each other's brains. A lot of guys … There's probably, I want to say, three guys that played here [last year] in the room, so we're all just picking each other's brains, trying to find something new. But I'm still a young guy. I'm still a rookie, actually – three games in, then I'll be out, [and] we'll be good."
On if he keeps a running tally of how many training camp sacks he would have:"Yes, I'm trying to. Every practice, I'll be like, 'I got three, two,' all that stuff, but then [head coach John] Harbaugh [is] like, 'I don't think you got this one, or Lamar [Jackson] would be like, 'Yeah, I don't think you got this one,' but I got those ones; I got it." (laughter)
On if a big part of his offseason was adding different pass-rush moves to his repertoire:"It was just mainly working on my footwork, because a lot of times, my upper body and my hands were mismatched – they weren't connected. So, I was swiping, but my feet were wrong, so I couldn't get around the edge. So, tying those together and then getting more violent with my hands and stuff like that; working with Justin [Houston], too – guys like that – so it's helped."
On everything being connected with his spin move on his one snap in the preseason game:"Yes, exactly – lift the legs, the hands and then feeling momentum and spinning back out. So, yes."
On if the Yoda version of OLB Justin Houston or the Sansei version of Houston is a better mentor:"Sensei. Sensei has a different swag to him right now. He's dropping the wisdom, he's real calm. It's different. He has a different vibe to him this year – you can tell. So, Sensei, definitely."
On what it's like to have OLB David Ojabo on the team:"Even though he wasn't in the building, I was always with him, checking up on him, making sure he was good, but it's good to have him in the building, learning with him. I haven't been in the same building with him, learning football, since Blair [Blairstown, NJ] High School, so it's crazy – me and him snickering in the classroom and stuff like that. It's good to have him there. I can't wait till he gets back [fully], and it's going to be crazy."
On if he needs to get a few more snaps in the preseason:"It's not up to me, man. It's not up to me, so we'll see. We'll see."
On if he prefers to play more in the preseason:"Hey, I'm always on 'Go.' I can go whenever they need me, but it's not up to me."
On his friendly rivalry with former Penn State teammate LB Micah Parsons:"Me and Micah [Parsons], we were just talking yesterday, actually. We sent each other clips of the games and practice and what we're doing every day. So, he looks good right now, too. That's my brother. We're always competing. Whenever I finish a game, I look at his stats; whenever he finishes a game, he looks at my stats. So, we're going to keep on competing, keep on working and push each other to be better."
On if QB Lamar Jackson ever admits when he's sacked in practice:"No. He always says, 'I'll juke you,' all that stuff, but 'I got you, bro,' so it's cool." (laughter)
OLB STEVEN MEANS
On how much energy he brought to the first preseason game and where he gets it from as a veteran:"It's an honor and a blessing every time we get to step on the field, especially on gameday. I told God I was going to give this year all of me. Whatever I have left, I'm just going to empty the tank. So, every time that I'm out there, that's how I'm trying to be."
On what it's like being back with the Ravens for his second tenure:"Yes, it's a blessing. I wanted to come back here, I prayed to come back here. What most people don't know is that this place resurrected my career. There was a point where I was almost done with ball. Then, I got here and started having fun again and started loving the game again. To leave, they told me I was going to come back eventually. Eight years later, I wind up coming back, and it's a blessing. I owe a lot to this organization."
On how he would assess how training camp has gone for himself and if he's made the impression he wants to make:"I think that's where I can go wrong, trying to make an impression for men. Like, I'm trying to be the best I can be for God. Every single day, I want to improve, and I want to be … I'm trying to make an impression on myself and just leave this game empty with nothing left in the tank."
On what it's like as a player with training camp to be winding down and realizing roster cuts are coming:"You said camp winding down? (Reporter: Training camp is over tomorrow, officially. You still have to do all of this.) (laughter)Yes, camp it feels like we're in the middle of it. But, like I said before, it's a blessing and I've been in this position before many times. I've been fortunate to not be in this position the last couple of years, but every other single year, it's been the same way. So, it's exciting to get up knowing that you have something to prove, knowing that you just get to go play. Once you just kind of breathe, you do all of your due diligence, you make sure you're studying the plays so you can play fast, you make sure you're taking care of your body so you can play fast … Once you get out there, you just have fun and let it rip."
On if he sees his role on this team as similar to the role of former Ravens OLB Pernell McPhee as a go-to edge rusher:"Yes, I was here with 'Phee' [Pernell McPhee]. That's my guy; he's a real good dude. But, I'm here anywhere they need me. I told them, 'I'll put my hand in the dirt at nose, three-technique, five[-technique], set the edge or rush.' So, it's just trying to show them that I can really do all those things like I've been doing in my past."
On what has stuck out to him about OLB Odafe Oweh:"[He's] real twitchy, just a freak athlete. He's one of those guys who will be in the league for a long time. [If] he continues to just keep growing and keep wanting to grow, he's going to be one of the dominant players here, for sure."
On seeing tempers flare up at practices around the league and why he thinks that hasn't happened here:"Yes, it's definitely physical. It's tough, it's competitive. But, I think that the main objective that we've been keeping in the forefront is the team. It's all about the team; it's all about getting better. So, a guy might get you, and you just have to go, 'Alright, we get to strap up again. If not that day, the next day, and I'm going to give it to you.' You don't want to be the guy on the receiving end of that, so you have to try to keep forcing that, keep imposing that."
On how he would describe the ups and downs of his career and how he's still pushing forward: "Have you ever been on a roller coaster?" (Reporter: "Oh, yes.") "That's me. That's how I describe my journey – ups and downs and crazy turns. But through all of it, I just stand firm and just thank God for it. This is a whole bunch of adversity that came my way, and for me to be able to stand tall through it and keep being prayed up, I'm going to be able to inspire many kids when I go back to Buffalo [NY], when I go back to my environments and talk to them and tell them about all the things that I had to go through even at the highest level. So, I think that was the purpose for it."
On saying his first stint with the Ravens resurrected his career: "So, when you're in college, you kind of … I don't like school, and so, I'm in college, and you've kind of got a certain idea on how you feel like the NFL is. You're like, 'Man I can't wait to just play football and don't have to worry about anything else. I don't have to worry about school.' And then I got to the league, and I got drafted to Tampa, and it was just the total opposite of what I thought. I wound up falling out of love with the game, wound up being conflicted once I got released after that first year; I was like, 'Do I want to still play?' Baltimore called me; they called me to work out. I wind up coming in, they sign me, and I still didn't know at that point, but once I started coming out here and playing – we were in the indoor, we were out here, and I'm playing – and it's just like it gave me a whole different feel. It really resurrected my career. It was a blessing for me to come here, because I was almost done. And the organization, [head coach John] Harbaugh, the way that they just let you play, they let you show your personality, they let you be you, they let you just go; [they] weren't being a stickler about every specific detail. But yes, they resurrected my career."