HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
Opening statement: "I was just asked a question by ESPN reporter Jamison Hensley [about] when the cooling tents are going to come out, and I just want to make it clear to all you media members; that's for players only, not media. (laughter)
"So, it was a good day. [There was] a little different tempo you saw at practice that you really haven't seen here in training camp in the past. So, I think we got a lot done from an execution standpoint. It was hot. It heated up. The guys handled it well. We had some guys out of practice – some guys with minor things – [Devin] Duvernay, for instance, and other guys we just held out for vet days, so nothing major on that front. OK, what questions do you have?"
Were you able to see that play that S Tony Jefferson II made, and what did you think of it? _(Jamison Hensley) _"I saw it. It was a great play; it was a great play. To go back there … He's in quarters coverage, carries the deep-over route; that's a big-play opportunity for the offense. I don't know how he got his hand on that ball; that was great in and of itself. Then he finds a way to tip it to himself and catch it and make a diving catch, and then he got up and ran."
What's the strategy with the pads? Are you sort of spacing it out, as far as going back-to-back days with it? _(Todd Karpovich) _"Yes, it's part of the tempo [and] what we're trying to get accomplished, in terms of ramping the guys up."
Do you think we have already seen the best version of NT Michael Pierce? Or does he still have room to sort of build on that pass-rush production that we saw in Minnesota last year? _(Childs Walker) _"I think he has room to build on it. Yes, I'd agree with that. He looks really good out there; he's practicing well; he's very fit. But I still think he's shaping himself and rounding himself into football shape. And in the big picture of his career, I know he's not satisfied with where he's at or how he's played the last couple years. He's been good, but not, probably, to his expectations yet. So, I believe he has a statement to make."
With NT Michael Pierce and DL Brent Urban – I know it's early in camp – do they look like the same players you remember? Or if not, how have they changed? _(Shawn Stepner) _"They look exactly the same, if not, better. It's early, we're not in pads, we're not in games, [so] it's hard to say. But from a practice standpoint, they look as good as they ever did."
With RB Tyler Badie – I know it's extremely early – have you seen what you've expected to see out of him, or has he kind of surprised you? _(Cordell Woodland) _"No, we've seen what we thought. We thought he'd be good, and he's been good. [He's] quick, smart, picks up the plays well. [He has] kind of a quiet demeanor; you give him a coaching point, and he kind of shakes his head and keeps moving and tries to get it right. When the real football comes on, I think that's when you find out about the running backs."
I don't think we ever asked you about when you signed RB Corey Clement, right before the start of camp. What did you like about him, and what have been your impressions? (Luke Jones) _"I've always thought he's a really physical guy, really quick-footed, downhill guy, who really didn't know how physically impressive he was – when you see him in person – and his attitude is just off the charts. He and I have a handshake now that he taught me, so we'll see how it goes. Maybe we'll show it to you later." _(laughter)
We've seen LB Vince Beigel do some stuff on the outside but also handle some responsibilities at inside linebacker. Obviously, it's a way's away from making the 53-man roster, but does he have the kind of flexibility to do that during the regular season? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"I think he does. He's done it before. He's always played outside 'backer, but he's been in a lot of 4-3 systems, where he's played off the ball, usually as a WILL [weakside linebacker], sometimes as a SAM [strongside linebacker]; that's kind of what he's doing here. Really, we adjust like some 4-3 teams do in certain change of strength things that take the 'backers off the ball. So, he can do it, for sure."
Going back to those safeties, S Marcus Williams and those guys seem to communicate very well back there. How do you find them progressing? _(Todd Karpovich) _"I agree with that. We really emphasize over-communication, and we even use the term obnoxious communication. We want to be obnoxious communicators – that's the goal. You want to be loud; you want to jump off the screen, man; it's a flat screen. You guys know what that is, right? You guys have your TV shows? You've got to jump off that screen. That's what you've got to do as a communicator. So, I'm really, really impressed with those guys, and not just those guys; I feel like on offense, we're getting better and better. I feel like the quarterbacks have taken a step in that way, too, and are doing a great job."
When you talk about changing the temp of practice, do you still have the same amount of opportunity to evaluate guys? _(Kyle Barber) _"You don't get as many opportunities to evaluate them – that's a great point – you just don't. So, they're not in pads, it's an execution practice. Like we told them, we want to be fast and perfect – that's the goal – to be fast and perfect. Communication is kind of the foundation of that. So, they're not fighting against each other for position and leverage and all that kind of stuff, so it makes those opportunities when they do, like yesterday, even that much more important."
Is it in your nature or what you want out of training camp and what you've grown up with to kind of say, "Alright guys, that'll do it," in terms of physicality? _(Pete Gilbert) _"No, no. That would be like living in Loser World. 'Oh, oh, I guess we'll do it.' No one is making us do it. We've determined, because we really studied it and thought about it, that this is the best way to make our team the best. And it's not just about injuries or it's not just about ramping up tempos and things like that; I also have a suspicion that it's going to help our execution in the end. It's kind of a knowledge before physicality kind-of-a mindset. That's kind of what we're chasing – execution before physicality. We'll see how it goes, and we'll see how good we are, especially early in the season."
To my amateur eyes, it looks like you added some new wrinkles with the run-pass option stuff. Is that something that you guys went to work on this offseason?" _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Yes, I think all those things really – to be honest with you – have been in the playbook. We've got all those RPO [run-pass option] plays in there. We probably haven't tapped into them all. The principles are all the same, and the routes kind of tweak a little bit. We have been a big RPO team, but yes, your amateur eye is pretty keen. You saw a lot of it today, and I thought it was pretty well executed, and our defense … Part of it was for our defense, too, because we're going to see some of that stuff early in the season. And we're learning; it's tough stuff to defend. It's challenging."
Do you encourage the young quarterbacks to kind of try things out; "Can you fit the ball into here?" How do you manage that line? (Mike Giardi) _"It's a great question. Yes, you kind of want to push the envelope and figure things out, but [if] you throw too many interceptions, the experiment is over pretty quick. _(laughter) So, if I was a young quarterback, I'd probably try not to throw interceptions if I was trying to prove myself; at least that's how I feel, as a coach. And I don't want to see fumbles. One of the guys had a big catch and ran down the field, then he got the ball punched out. To me, it's like it negates the whole thing. So, that ball is everything. You guys know the stats on that, right? The ball security is everything. So, if you play like you practice … Lamar [Jackson] is going to test things out more, but the young guys – to your point – I think probably not quite as much."
We saw a lot of three-safety looks in 11-on-11 today. Is that something you're just working on today, or is that defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald trying to find the best guys to have on the field? _(Gerry Sandusky) _"I think it's more scripting and install. All those periods – those six periods – were all install periods, so we're installing the defenses, and the offense was also scripting some defenses they needed to see, so it was all more structural."
ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/DEFENSIVE LINE COACH ANTHONY WEAVER
How different is the scaled-back tackling and physicality of training camp from when you played? _(Jamison Hensley) _"It's certainly a far cry from when I played, for sure. But, certainly, for the betterment of the players. We've certainly applied every bit of science we have, obviously we had what we had last year with all of the injuries, and we're trying to prevent that. So, we're all bought in, our players have bought in, we're having great practices and that's what's most important. [I'm] thrilled with the way things are going right now."
What have you seen from NT Michael Pierce so far? (Ryan Mink) _"Michael Pierce is a mountain of a man. The thing about him – when he puts his hands on you, you can't help but feel them. Even when I'm doing individual drills, I feel like I'm fighting a bear. _(laughter)So, he's certainly going to help our team. When you think of him, you think it's just run defense, but the effect that he has on the middle of the pocket, and making that quarterback throw out of a well, is going to help our edges, too. So, happy he's here, thrilled to have him. Love him, love him to death."
Do you see the potential for more consistent production from the interior pass rush? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, I do. I do. I'm certainly pleased with the guys we've added. It's definitely an area of focus for us. We know we want to get sacks and all of those things, but we want to lead the league in quarterback harassment. Whether that's pressures, hits, hurries, we want to make sure we're doing whatever we can to harass that guy in order to help those guys behind us. It all works hand-in-hand; rush plus coverage. We take a tremendous amount of pride here in stopping the run. We're going to do that and earn the right to rush the passer. And when we get those opportunities, we're going to make sure we try to affect them every way we can."
NT Michael Pierce didn't play a lot of football the last couple of years because of injuries and the Covid year, and then he wasn't here for the offseason. Was there a curiosity about the kind of player you were getting and how pleased are you with him? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Not at all. I've been a fan of Michael Pierce – actually, his linebacker coach at Tulane was with me at Houston. He ends up transferring to Samford, but he told me [Michael Pierce] was a linebacker. He told me, 'Coach, I told him one summer, if you come back over 250, I'm moving you to D-Line.' He came back over 250, but he never lost those linebacker feet. Football is in him. It's something he's done his entire life. It's certainly not something you forget, and you see that every time he steps on this football field."
Have you seen more development in DT Justin Madubuike's game coming into training camp? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Absolutely. Justin Madubuike is a man on a mission. He's a guy who is constantly asking questions, constantly trying to figure out ways to refine his craft and be better. And it's not just him, it's Broderick Washington, Travis Jones since he's been here. All of these guys are ball guys. Calais (Campbell) is a tremendous influence on them from a leadership standpoint, and I expect you to see the best version of each and every one of those young guys."
How quickly is DT Travis Jones picking things up as he goes through his first training camp? (Garrett Downing) _"Well, first, we're trying to get Travis Jones some more wins than he had at UCONN. _(laughter)Let's do that first and foremost. But, he's doing great. He's doing great. He's a guy who's in here very eager to learn, [I] know he's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and just comes in every day trying to get one percent better. And that's all we ask for. So, we try to go into practice with purpose and intention and try to focus on one thing. Eventually, we'll stack those things on top of each other and we'll see where he ends up at the end of camp. But, very pleased with where he's at."
You mentioned that the regulation of contact is for the betterment of the players. As a former player and now a coach, how does it change preparation for tackling? (Mark Viviano) "It is, not to the extent that it was during the Covid year, and everyone is operating under the same rules. So, I think as long as you emphasize tracking near hit, angles, effort … Tackling is tackling. These guys have been tackling their whole lives. They're going to get guys on the ground. So, as long as everyone is operating under the same set of rules and stipulations, we should all be about the same. So, I don't worry about it too much. Hopefully it keeps them from having fingers like this. (gestures to his own hand)So, I don't worry about these guys at all in terms of that."
What is standing out to you about DT Travis Jones? _(Ryan Mink) _"His size. His size. He's another guy just like Michael Pierce. He's 330 [pounds], he's 6'3", 6'4", ran a 4.9 [40-yard dash], and you see every bit of it on the film. So, the thing that I think is going to surprise people is just how quick he is. He's not just a run-stopper and a pocket-pusher, he has the ability to affect the passer too and win on the edge. So, I'm excited about the kid. When it all clicks, it's going to be fun to watch."
Are you really stressing to your guys that we want to get more sacks and harass quarterbacks more to help the outside linebackers? _(Ryan Mink) _"Absolutely. It's something we emphasize. We emphasize all phases of the game. We know we have to stop the run first and foremost, regardless of whether this is a passing league or not. You have to earn the right to rush the passer. It's a direct reflection of the toughness of your football team. But once we do that, we're going to try to harass quarterbacks however we can. We can help them schematically by making sure we put them in the proper places to get the right one-on-ones, and then they have to go win. And with the guys on this roster, I expect us to do that."
How much do you reference a year ago and your struggles with stopping the pass? Is that something you point to? _(Pete Gilbert) _"I don't, I don't. We've learned from those mistakes. At this point, we've made the corrections schematically and from a personnel standpoint that we need to make, and now it's time to break off the rearview mirror and look forward. Those things happened for us – they didn't just happen to us – they happened for us. And I'm happy that this team has a chip, and I think you're going to see it every game come September."
NT MICHAEL PIERCE
On why it was an easy decision to come back to Baltimore and what made him feel that way:"It's just, like I said, when I first came back in a bunch of interviews, it's the people around the building. You obviously know your teammates, 'TJ' [Tony Jefferson II], Marlon [Humphrey], Ronnie [Stanley], Lamar [Jackson] etcetera, etcetera, Gus [Edwards] and all of those guys. But just the rapport I had with our coaching staff, obviously we know who Coach 'Harbs' [head coach John Harbaugh] is. [Defensive coordinator] Mike Macdonald was the linebackers coach at the time, but having familiarity with him, I played with [inside linebackers coach] Zach Orr, [Anthony] Levine, we can just go on and on about those guys. But like I said, seeing Manny and Shorty in the cafeteria again, [team clinician] Dr. Tricia [Bent-Goodley], 'Ms. Val' [Valerie Wideman], [team chaplain] Johnny [Shelton]. I have a really, really special relationship with all of those people. So, it's like a homecoming for me. So, that was a no-brainer."
On his impressions of assistant head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver:"He's awesome. I had [former Ravens defensive line coach] Joe Cullen … Two different types of coaches. Both great in their own right, but Coach Weaver has been in the game, [he] played for years. [He] played here. He understands the culture; I understand what he wants from me, and it's a pleasure to work with that guy. He brings a great energy to the game. Great energy to practice, meetings. It's just, like I said, everything you could really ask for. Being an ex-player and just really understanding the lulls and everything. He keeps everyone focused and energized, and all of that kind of stuff. It all plays a role. So, he sees the game from a different viewpoint, so I think it's really, really beneficial."
On what is different about himself from when he first left Baltimore:"I've grown a lot. I have a leadership role now, I had a little bit in Minneapolis, but like I said my role has changed, but as a player, I think I've been rushing a lot better. I've been around the quarterback a lot this camp so far, and I've just been working on that part of my game, as well as stopping the run. At that time when I first was here, we had Timmy Jernigan and Lawrence Guy, and they slid Za'Darius [Smith] inside, and obviously Brandon [Williams] in front of me. So, I was just needed to be a run-stopper. The league is changing; I'm the last of a dying breed I like to say. But, I think I'm getting better at the pass rush. I did well last year, and I just have to keep working on that part of my game."
On if this is the deepest Ravens defensive line group he has been a part of:"Yes, definitely. We have a chance. I don't know if you guys have been seeing how Travis [Jones] has been playing … That's the one. So, obviously 'Brody' [Broderick Washington] is taking another step, 'AC' [Aaron Crawford] is playing well, obviously we know what Calais [Campbell] can do. We just have a lot, a lot of talented guys. Obviously, we know who 'Urb' [Brent Urban] is. We have a lot of different looks we can give people. So, obviously nothing is set in stone until we play it out, but I think this group definitely has a lot of potential, and we have a lot of different sizes and a lot of different looks that we can throw at people. So, that's always good on paper. But, September 11, we'll show it."
On taking the reins from former Ravens DT Brandon Williams:"It's kind of crazy. Like I said, 'Baby' [Brandon Williams] and I are two different people. He is a very, very outwardly outgoing guy. Like I said, I'm more of an inner-circle kind of outgoing guy. But I've learned so much from Brandon, I wouldn't be here without him, obviously. He's like a big brother to me. It's a little different. I don't sing and all of that stuff, but he brought that energy to practice. We kind of have Calais [Campbell]. He's kind of outwardly outgoing like that. But, like I said, I have Calais in front of me. It's a pleasure just to be able to share knowledge with those guys. Like I said, for me I came in here as an undrafted free agent. Brandon, 'LG' [Lawrence Guy], Albert McClellan, they all wrapped their arms around me and brought me along. So, that's kind of what I'm trying to do for 'Trav' [Travis Jones] and all of the young guys. So, it's cool. You never expect that kind of thing to happen when you're an undrafted rookie. So, like I said, it's a full circle moment, but I'm enjoying it for sure."
On his excitement to play football this year after missing a significant number of games over the past few years:"Yes, this is a complete joy. I only played eight games last year due to injury. Tore my calf, tore my triceps. Before I got hurt, I was playing really, really well. It's time for me just to have a complete season, healthy and with more well-rounded games. So, I'm looking forward to this like never before. But yes, especially once you sign your second deal and you get closer to 30, they say you're nearing the end of the road. So, it's time for me to put these last few together and really, really press the gas pedal."
On what is unique about rookie DT Travis Jones:"OK, so the dude is like 6'5", he's about as big as I am, and he can move. Like really, really fluidly move. I don't know why he went in the third round, but you don't really see too many people [like that]. I don't want to Chris Jones him, but he kind of has some of those similar moves. He's just a special kid. Some of that stuff you just cannot teach. Obviously, you work on your technique and stuff, but raw ability and just want-to, he has it for sure."
On going against rookie C Tyler Linderbaum in training camp and how he held up:"He's feisty. I told some people the other day, just because you're a smaller guy doesn't mean you can't play, or you can't hold up against people. This game is leverage, this game is really just want-to. Like I said, I'm 6'0", a lot of guys I go against are like 6'2", 6'3", 6'4" in there. They might have longer arms than me, but I find a way to make my wins, and make my impact on the game. So, I think he's doing really well to be honest with you. Anytime you have a full-fledged plethora of calls, you're out there with the ones, it's your first day, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera … That's a lot. I didn't have to go through that; I was in the back, at the beginning. (laughter)He's doing really well, and like I said, he's feisty. They've had a plethora of centers who have been on the smaller side who have gone to the Hall of Fame. Jeff Saturday, the Kelce guy [Jason Kelce] in Philly. So, he's doing really well, for sure."
On how he became a better pass rusher:"For me, it had to start with the mentality. When I was called on to literally stop the run, stay in the A-Gap. When people started leaving, I started getting a little more freedom. It really was just time and repetition, for me. Like I said, people like Travis [Jones], sometimes they just have it. For me, I had to develop, develop, develop, develop and keep working. So, like I said, it's been a long time coming. I showed a little bit, but I only had eight games, so I still have a lot more to prove, I believe, and that's what I'm working on."
On if he has a chip on his shoulder from the time he has missed in recent seasons:"Yes. Like I said, you don't take any of these snaps for granted. I obviously learned that. I was scared of Covid, I got triple vaccinated and all of that stuff, and then I came back playing really, really well and I just got hurt. So, those things happen. But like I said, for me, I want to prove – especially turning 30 this year and however long God gives me in this league – that I'm a really, really good nose guard. I want to be one of the top ones whenever I do decide to go out. So, I definitely have a chip on my shoulder, but like I said, I came from the back of the line. It's going to be on my shoulder for the rest of my career."
On if he had more pass rushing responsibilities in Minnesota due to their 2-Gap scheme:"Yes, but it's just a different scheme. So, 3-4 defense, you have the 2-Gap and stuff, but in those 4-3 schemes, they just really, really want upfront vertical push. It's just a different scheme, so you play next to Danielle Hunter and those guys are screaming up the field, if you're playing lateral like we do here and just walling stuff off, that doesn't work. It's just a difference in scheme. They did give me some freedom, and [the Ravens] have actually been giving me the same freedom, so like I said, for me, it's just about nailing them down. When it comes to September 11, it's time to come home."
DL BRENT URBAN
On if he ever thought he'd have a chance to reunite with his college teammate T Morgan Moses:"I didn't, man. Yes, once I saw Morgan [Moses] sign here, and to come back, it's just so many familiar faces. It's just been awesome and a lot of fun to be with him and also guys like [Michael] Pierce. All the coaching staff is pretty similar. So, it's just great to be reunited. It's been a lot of fun."
On how much batting balls down at the line of scrimmage is a focus of his:"Absolutely, yes, it's a huge part of my game. I'm a versatile run stopper, who's able to kind of get in there, push the pocket, get my hands up. So, that's a real focal point of my game. And even if I can't bat the ball down, [I] try to figure out where the quarterback is looking or where he's trying to throw, and at least block his path of sight. So, yes, it's massive."
On if assistant head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is also emphasizing batting balls down at the line of scrimmage:"Absolutely, yes. Anytime you get tall D-linemen, the coaches are super excited to kind of get in their face and knock balls down, tip balls. It creates interceptions and that type of thing, so yes, it's always a focal point. Coach 'Weav' [assistant head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver] has done a great job of kind of stressing that, especially to a younger guy like Travis Jones, who has a huge wingspan and [is] a really tall guy. So, yes, it's been a big part of my career, and I'm sure it will be a big part of his."
On if he's gone back and shown the young players his pick-6 against Cleveland:"Yes, I had to bring up some old tape to let them know. (laughter)That thing always comes up on Twitter every now and then to kind of let the younger fans know. So, it's a nice remembrance of a great play and great part of my career."
On his perspective of the Ravens organization now that he's played elsewhere in the NFL:"It's a great spot, man. This free agency, once the Ravens kind of were in contact with me, it was a place I wanted to go. I have so many fond memories, and kind of the way they stuck with me early in my career when I was going through a lot of injuries and that kind of thing … It was a place where I worked myself out of that, and the staff and the coaches were a big part of kind of helping me get out of that endless cycle where I kept getting hurt. So, it's a tremendous organization, we have massive resources, and it's a place … It's one of my favorite places to play, obviously."
On if he experienced things here that are different elsewhere:"I think the fanbase is really great here in the city of Baltimore; it's really tight-knit, and the fans are just super excited, even compared to bigger cities that I've gone to. It seems like a place that's really loyal to its players that have played before. We have guys like Tony Jefferson II come back, Josh Bynes and things like that, so that's not something you see in too many other places. There's a kind of loyalty once you're in the program. 'Once a Raven, Always a Raven,' like a lot of people say. But I think that kind of hits home."
On what it's been like to see what QB Lamar Jackson has become since when he last played with him during Jackson's rookie season in 2018:"It's awesome; it's so exciting. Even when I was with other teams, I would always watch the Ravens to kind of see Lamar [Jackson's] progression. It's super exciting. It was just that young, exciting team; I'd always try to catch them on TV. It's a lot of fun. It's a blessing to be back here and being on the practice field and just seeing that amount of talent and what the offense has going now. It's incredible."
On his connection with NT Michael Pierce:"[During] my time here, I've been with Mike [Michael Pierce] for three years here early in my career. I think just something about our personalities resonate. We're kind of laid-back guys, but at the same time, we play a physical brand of football. That's just my guy. He's always been one of my good friends. And as soon as I signed here, I texted Mike all excitedly and stuff, just to get reunited. [With] the physical brand of football we play, our similar personalities, [he's] been a guy I've always loved playing with."
On what he sees as the potential for this defensive line unit:"I think, honestly, this is probably the most talented D-line I've been a part of – interior – top to bottom. There's really no drop off. We have young guys like Travis [Jones], obviously; even [Isaiah] Mack. There are so many good young players, where it also has a good balance of leadership, as well. It's the perfect kind of balance. There's really no drop off. It's a really talented group and one that kind of has all different shapes and sizes. We can kind of attack you however you want to play offense. So, it's super exciting. The sky is the limit, to be honest. [I'm] super excited."
On how training camp is different this year with the Ravens than in his previous stint:"It was pretty interesting to see us go through with [football performance coach] Sam [Rosengarten] – our performance director – the amount of research and things of that nature that went into our schedule now. Things are so thought out to a science, where it's just little things you never even thought of, like when are snacks are scheduled, and just such attention to detail. They really have a good thing going on here, and it's just kind of amplified as years went on."