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Transcripts: Veteran Report Day Media Availability (7/25)


On his mindset coming into the new year:"A lot of excitement. There's a lot of excitement in Baltimore. We know what this team can be, but right now, it's just focusing on us each and every day. [I'm trying] to get better each and every day to get to the point of where we need to be. I'm excited to start training camp [to] get things going and just see the hunger in this group." 

On if he feels the expectations for this season and if there's a small window:"I don't know about small window. I think that we've been a really good team for a long time, and some things have happened here [or] there. You do look at our roster and there is a lot of talent. There's a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and I love our coaches too, and organizationally, it is an amazing place to be and play. So that's why there's a lot of excitement in this town and this facility and everywhere. So, it's time for us to get to practice, work hard each and every day. That's what it's really all about." 

On if he's optimistic about the roster this season than the previous years:"I don't about any more. I'm always extremely optimistic and excited. I think anytime you're playing at a place like this, you've got a chance to win, but there's definitely a lot of excitement [and] optimism, especially with the few additions that we've had. Like I Said, you've got to look at both side of the ball; it's dangerous." 

On if there's any unfinished business going into this season:"Yeah, I think we've gotten close, and that's a part of it. I think that's something drives you. [It] drives each and every one of us that's been here and played here during those years, just letting those guys know that we do have unfinished business, and it's time to roll." 

On how he'll adjust to all the new pieces on the team and who will get the ball:"Just being a team player. I think that [if] you do things the right way, [and] you play the right way, the balls will come to you. But at the same time, it's important to spread the ball out. I know that the guys that we have on this roster are able to get open, make the big-time catches and do all of those different things. So again, just being a team guy, I just want to win games. That's all that matters to me." 

On finding the balance in OC Todd Monken's offense:"I'm still learning. I'm still learning the offense, and that's why I'm so excited to get back to training camp and really carve put my role and find out the 'do's' and 'don't's' of the offense, find times where maybe I'll take something that maybe I shouldn't, but Lamar is on the same page as that." 

On if this current roster reminds him of his time at Oklahoma: "Yeah. You look around the room. and it's a lot of dogs; it's a lot of dogs everywhere. and that's what we played with in Oklahoma. So that's a beautiful thing, and that's what this time of the year is about. [It's] about getting together, having all of these personalities mesh together, getting better together [and] grinding together. This is a tough time of the year, so we've got to embrace the grind as one." 

On what it would take for the team to put it all together and win games in January: "That's a great question. I just think it's, you know, we've been so close, and I think that if we get the opportunity to get there again, we've got a lot to prove and, it's unspoken business, so I'm excited to get to that point." 

On how his role has changed being a vet in the tight ends room:"I've obviously learned so much from Nick [Boyle] and being that young guy and him being a third-year, I learned a lot from him; just being a leader. You look up to guys that are older than you [and] have been through it, and so I'm just going to be there for those guys and try to give as much as knowledge as I can, just be a good person and teammate and show them the ropes." 

On if he did anything different to prepare in the offseason walking into a new offense: "Not really. It's one of those things, I feel I can grasp a new offense pretty quickly. But this is a time where you really dive down and learn and get to it, but basically the same thing. I've just been working hard; getting strong, getting fast – I say that every year – but, I can't wait for the season, and I can't wait for this training camp to start and getting better." 

On what stood out at Minicamp in the new offense: "Well, it's going to look different. I'm excited for all the Baltimore fans, really everybody to see the difference of what this offense could be. I've got a lot of respect for Coach [Greg] Roman and what we've had and kind of the things that we have built here. I think there's a lot to stand on with that. This is going to be a different offense…there's going to be little nuances, here or there. We're going to be able to throw the ball and do good things. I'm excited about the receivers; Coach [Todd] Monken is doing his thing. He's really teaching well and making us all excited about learning and [the] install of his offense."  

On how he sees his role changing in the new offense: "I think it'll be different. It's hard to pick out one little thing, but I think I'll be able to do some different things, different routes, different combinations of routes that we can feed off of. I feel like I can run any route in the tree. I think I'm going to be able to do that and be utilized that way." 

On if the Ravens have the deepest tight end room in the NFL: "It's a deep one. It's for sure a deep one. I think we've got a great group. We have a great coach, Coach [George] Godsey. He's the ringleader of it all, and we learn a lot from him. It's going to be a fun year. It's going to be a fun tight end group, and I can't wait to see the plays that these guys make." 

On if he attended the "Tight End U" summit this offseason:"I didn't go. I unfortunately had a wedding I had to go to. I know Isaiah [Likely] went. He had a great time. I saw all the videos of those guys. I just think it's an incredible event for those guys to get together and mesh and learn from each other." 

On if it's exciting to have a new role in the offense: "Yes, I think it's new and exciting. Anytime you can learn something that you've been ... I've been playing in the same offense for the last five years. I think as a player, I'll be able to grow, learn, and I'm just going to soak it all in like I'm a rookie." 

On if he endorses the idea of the coaching staff having certain "veteran days" off for him at practices throughout the season: "I love to work. [My] body feels great. I feel like if [the coaching staff] come[s] to me and say[s], 'Hey, you want an off day?' I'll probably fight it a little bit. I've got a big picture in mind where I want to be playing late in the playoffs and feel incredible. That's my goal. I know things happen, but being smart is part of it. Todd Heap was someone that talked to us two or three years ago, and he said, 'By year four or five, the biggest thing for me was I learned to practice and play smart.' So, I'm trying to adapt that a little bit." 

On if his improvement as a blocker will help make him better as a receiving threat:"Yes, just being versatile. I know what my bread and butter is. It always will be being a danger in the pass game. I feel strong. I know I'm able to do those type of things. Hopefully, we'll be able to use that in different ways and maybe be hidden a little bit. I don't know if I'll ever be hidden to defenses, but we'll see." 

On if anything surprised him about Odell Beckham Jr.: "I don't really know about surprise. He's got a great attitude, great personality. He's an infectious person to be around. He's got that 'It' factor to him. [I'm] really excited to see all that hard work that he's been putting in and see him in training camp and just get this offense meshing together as one and moving towards the same goal. Not taking any days off and pushing each other to be great." 

On what has stood out about Todd Monken as a coach: "He's fiery, he's fiery. He really loves what he's doing. I really believe there's no other place he'd rather be right now than the Baltimore Ravens this year, right now teaching these guys. I think that's an awesome thing. It's a cool thing to have a coach that's so fired up. [Monken] loves what he does [and] really believes in his offense. I think it's cool." 

On if the workouts that Lamar Jackson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers had together in the offseason gives him more confidence about everyone being on the same page offensively: "I think that those type of things are important. I think it's more so important just chemistry. I know Lamar [Jackson] is going to put the ball where it needs to go. I think it's awesome. I think it's awesome that those guys were able to get together and work together. [It] just shows their commitment to working together and being teammates." 

On if the identity of the Ravens will be on offense:"I hope it comes for both [sides of the ball]. I think that's where dangerous teams come from is having a great defense, which I think we have. It's a very good defense, and then a great offense. If we can feed off each other, it's going to be a dangerous team. Usually, it's a little bit lopsided is usually how teams work, but if we can make both those happen, it's a good team." 

On if he agrees with 49ers TE George Kittle's comment made at the 'Tight End U' summit about taking Andrews' hands to make an ideal tight end in the NFL and who would give Andrews competition for best hands (laughter):"I think a lot of those guys [at the Tight End U summit] have incredible hands. That's very sweet of him [George Kittle] to say that (laughter). There's a lot of great tight ends in this league. I think everybody's got their unique style, unique playing abilities. That's why it's such a cool position because everyone brings their own flavor to [the game]." 


On his excitement level for training camp: "It's really exciting. Obviously, the opportunity to get back to playing football is, obviously, a great one, but just [with] the changes that we've made as an organization and as a team, it's hard not to get excited. To get to play with Odell [Beckham Jr.] and obviously, Lamar [Jackson], Zay Flowers – seeing those guys' connection throughout the offseason – and just being focused and ready to go." 

On his comfort level with the offense: "Obviously, it's always a work in progress. Going into Year 10, I've played in a lot of offensive schemes, but it's always good to have a challenge [and] to be able to come in and be able to get into something different. I think that allows you to grow, and I'm looking forward to seeing the whole offense grow – not just myself, but the offensive line adapting to the new scheme, Lamar [Jackson], obviously, being able to have more hands on with the play-calling and just all the players that we have surrounding him. It just gives us a great deal of talent, and obviously, it looks good on paper, but we've got to put it together, and I look forward to doing that." 

On if he expects this offense to be among the fastest he's played on or just faster than last year: "A lot faster. Obviously, Zay Flowers, seeing him, and what an unbelievable rookie he his – just to be able to have him come into minicamp and OTAs [organized team activities] – and he already has that mindset of … If you've ever had a chance to sit down and talk to him, he has a mindset that he's been in the league already for three years, and obviously, he's a sponge. He's willing to ask questions; he's willing to soak it up and learn. And obviously, when you have a rookie and rookies – and a lot of our rookies are like that … [When] you have a group of rookies come in and [are] willing to do that, the sky is the limit for those guys, as well." 

On the tempo:"Oh, the tempo. Yes, yes, I mean, yes, that, too. Obviously, the offense allowing Lamar [Jackson] to check plays and get into little different things that he sees to get us in the right play [and] just to be able to hit those things … Obviously, we had a little bit of struggle last year getting out of the huddle a little bit and things like that, so being able to call a lot of stuff at the line of scrimmage and get plays at a high tempo, it's incredible." 

On how much pride he takes in always being available:"I mean, you can't make the team in the tubs, man. (laughter)That's always been the motto, right? So, just … Like you said, going into Year 10, it's just that mindset of not letting your guys down. You've got 53 guys that are willing to lay it on the line; you never want to be that guy that's in between. So, just being ready and being focused and doing everything you can to be sure that you're available, that's always been my motto and my key to my success in my career so far." 

On how bringing in the new pieces and re-signing QB Lamar Jackson affects the energy heading into the season:"It was a long offseason for all of us for a while, but we're here, right, and that's the exciting thing. We got things done. I know everybody is happy to get out there, and obviously, minicamp and OTAs [organized team activities] was a snippet of just what you see on offense. And obviously, having a defense that's going into Year 2 [with] our defensive coordinator [Mike Macdonald], and they're playing faster, and they have a lot of talent. Obviously, [David] Ojabo and those guys – and Odafe [Oweh] – they're going to challenge us, and that's what you want, right? As a veteran guy, you want to go out there knowing that you're going to be challenged every day so you can raise the bar day by day, and I think we've done that." 

On what he sees with OLBs Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo:"Well, No. 1 is they have a great teacher, mentor in [outside linebackers coach] Chuck Smith. You look at his resume and the things that he's done over [the] course of [his] career of coaching and challenging rushers, and you can see it already in OTAs [organized team activities] and minicamp – just talking ball with those guys and saying, 'Hey, I can see this a mile away,' and then them changing it like that. And that's that belief of iron sharpens iron, right? So, when you can have that effect in your locker room, where guys are just trying to get better and sharpen that iron and sharpen that tool, the success is never limited." 

On the offensive line:"Obviously, we have some great veterans like [Kevin] Zeitler, Tyler Linderbaum stepping up off an amazing rookie year, and then Ronnie [Stanley] coming back healthy, and he played his butt off for the time that we had him throughout the season, and I know it's a challenge to get back from injuries like that, because I've experienced it myself. Just having a full offensive line … And obviously, the left guard spot is wide, but that's the challenge, right? We're challenging those guys to step up, and whoever may take that rein, we'll bring them along, and that's a part of being a veteran group." 

On if his preparation during the offseason changed after going from a more run-centric offense to this new offense:"Well, not necessarily, because you have to run the ball to set up the pass. Even though we've got all these weapons and things like that, you just can't sit out there and throw the ball 40, 50 times; you've got to set it up, and that's what the league is about. I think, with the skillset that we have, we have the capability to not only free up some players, like Mark Andrews, who is used to getting double-teamed and things like that, [but] now we have guys that can win one on one on the outside. And so, that's the beauty of this offense – allowing Lamar [Jackson], his growth, to keep on growing as a quarterback, but also being able to spread the ball to the running backs, receivers and the tight ends, as well." 

On his perspective of the situation with the running backs:"I think you kind of see that kind of creep up every other year for that position. But I will say this, man: Running back is an important position, right, because they carry the ball. And I understand we have Lamar [Jackson] as a runner, as well, but just to be able to have that three-headed monster, whether it's running back by committee or you have one superstar guy back there, it takes all 11 to operate on offense, man; it doesn't take one guy. The offensive line has to do its thing, the quarterback has to get us in the right call, and obviously, we have to execute. So, whoever may take that role this year … Obviously, J.K. Dobbins being healthy, Gus [Edwards] being healthy, and all the other guys that we have, we just look forward to them stepping up and getting it done." 

On if he's ever been as optimistic for a season as he is right now:"Definitely, like I said, it looks good on paper. Everything looks good on paper, but we have to get out there and execute. And it's not going to be beautiful every day, it's not going to be exciting every day, but it's a learning experience for all of us, because I don't think any of us [have] played with this amount of talent on this side of the ball before, especially myself; I can speak for myself. So, being able to have a great play-caller in [offensive coordinator] Todd Monken, and also having Lamar [Jackson] here and signed up for multiple years, that just gives the offense a little bit more comfort. So, you'll see guys raise the bar and find their roles in that offensive scheme, and we'll just see how it goes, day by day." 

On his first impressions of T Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu:"[Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu] is young, athletic, and he's poised to learn; like, he really wants to learn. He asks questions all the time. And as much time as he takes up asking questions in meetings, right … (laughter)But he asks those questions, and that's what you want for young players to do. And I tell myself there's a reason [why] I keep on coming back, right? It's because I feel like I can still learn the game. And when you have that mindset, it's a beautiful thing. Once you're able to put that ego aside and say, 'Hey, I just want to learn football – whatever way that you guys want me to learn it, I'm going to do that – and I'm going to put my spin on it,' and it comes up with a master recipe." 

On being an elite mover in space:"I like that. I like that. I like that. I like that. You're warming … He's warming me up over here, OK? (laughter) Keep going! Keep going! Keep going! Keep going!" 

On potentially adding more screens into the offense and what that dimension could bring:"Obviously, you look at our division, right, and we have top rushers in Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt, and you have to find ways to … 'How can I slow them up a little bit?' So, being able to add that to the game definitely controls the rush a little bit more, but also, like I said, spreading the ball out and getting your athletes out in space and letting them do their thing is also a beautiful thing, too. So, being able to open up the offense like that is … I'm looking forward to it. Obviously, like you said, I'm an elite runner; I appreciate that. (laughter)But just getting out in space and just having fun with it, right, because nobody wants to sit there and just hand the ball off in straight dropbacks all the time; you've got to have some gimmicks to get the guys open and out in space, and that's how you just get the ball. Those are cheap, easy yards, we call it. So, any time you can get the ball out in space and get 20, 15 yards – whatever the case is – it's all about moving the sticks forward." 


On how different it is having a full season under his belt and knowing the people in the building:"It's a lot more different. I'm very comfortable, to say the least, [and] just happy to be here with the guys, more familiar faces and just excited to get the ground up running, starting camp here, so I think it's going to be good. [It will] have me starting the season off on a high note." 

On where he was last year compared to now, being with a team and being financially secure:"Last year to this year, I think that's what life is all about in a nutshell. I'm not saying I wasn't financially secure before, but you know it is definitely nice to have the bag that I have now and whatnot. I'm just more worried about going there with my guys, laying it all out on the line, not having any worries at all. Whatever happens, happens. I just know I'm going to give everything I have while I have it." 

On the flip from devaluing the inside linebacker position to receiving a record deal:"Honestly, when you get at the mic, sometimes you just say what comes to your mind, in a sense. I think that goes for whoever, whatever you have to say that comes out of your mouth. I don't think it's a devalue at the position. You look across the league, from myself, to the [Fred] Warners, the [Shaquille] Leonards, [Tremaine] Edmunds in there, 'Foye' [Foyesade Oluokun], all the guys. I think there is a lot of, in teams that win, I think a lot of them have really good linebackers unless you have a superb guy like [Patrick] Mahomes and whatnot, but I'm not saying that they don't have good linebackers over there, as well." 

On expectations defensively for the Ravens this season:"I feel like the expectations are very high. I feel like if we play to our standard, [if] everyone stays healthy, I think the defense – we're not weak in any spots, if you ask me. I like our D-line versus anyone. I like our secondary versus anyone. I, for sure, like our linebackers versus anyone. So, when I look at it from that perspective, I feel like we do our jobs, [if] we get the ball back to Lamar [Jackson] and the 'O' [offense], there is going to be a lot of great things that are going to happen." 

On differences he sees with defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald approach to calling plays in his second year:"Absolutely. I have a lot of respect for Mike and his play calling, even from when I got here mid-season last year, just because it's someone's first season calling plays, that doesn't mean [it's] their first time calling plays in a sense from the outside view in a sense. I'm very grateful to be playing for Mike. I think there're a lot of great things that are in store for the defense. He puts a lot of the guys in a lot of good positions to be successful. I think it's going to be really good for the defense. We're all just excited to put it all on the line for him." 

On if the defense could take more risks and come up with some bigger plays this year. "I think when you just surround, when you're surrounded by playmakers – PQ [Patrick Queen] next to me, you have Marcus [Williams], Kyle [Hamilton] on the backend, 'Marlo' [Marlon Humphrey], then up front, we have our guys – I think when you are just surrounded by playmakers and everybody is doing their job to the best of their ability – playing balls to the wall – I think good things are going to happen. We're just more focused on that. We're just going to take it one game at a time, and I feel like if we do that, good things are in store for us." 

On the coolest thing he did this offseason that did not involve football:"Well, it kind of did involve football, but it was when I went over to Okinawa, Japan, with the USO. That was over in June. Just being over there with the soldiers and their families, and then [they] put on like three football clinics, I thought that was … It was pretty sick and very eye opening [to see] just the impact that we have on the soldiers who are making the ultimate sacrifice, putting their lives on the line day-in and day-out to keep us safe. Just to see how that brightens their day and their kids' days, their wives' and significant others' [days], it meant so much to me. I feel like I could never repay those guys for what they do, but just being able to take time out of my off season to go over there and spend time with them, it meant the world to me. So, I thought that was probably the best thing I did this summer, and I'd love to do that any time or any chance I get." 

On if any experiences while traveling to Asia with T Ronnie Stanley, CB Marlon Humphrey and OLB Tyus Bowser brought him closer to his teammates:"Honestly, when those guys … When we first got there, we were hearing all of these personalities from the different guys – like Ronnie [Stanley]'s personality with 'Marlo' [Marlon Humphrey] and then 'Ty Bo' [Tyus Boswer] as well, then myself – [I was] still learning the guys and what not. It was great the entire time. There was never really a time where it was like a language barrier or anything like that. [We used] Google translate for sure. Then, [in] most places, they spoke English, so that was always good. It was great just being out there and seeing how we interacted in other countries. I think we all learned something about each other. I would have to ask each and every guy what they learned about one another." 

On if the addition of offensive playmakers will help the defense going forward:"I think that's going to be huge for our defense, going against like a very good O-line with Tyler [Linderbaum] starting at center, on to the tackles with [Kevin] Zeitler – well, tackles [Morgan] Moses and [Ronnie] Stanley – and then with the inside as well and with the [running] backs from the J.K. [Dobbins]s, the Melvin [Gordon]s, all those guys and the receivers on the outside. Having a matchup against Mark [Andrews], [there is] no better work than that to get in the league. I think it's definitely going to make the defense get better. I'm going into practice just like [it's] a game, trying to get those guys better as well as getting myself better as well. I think it's going to be great, and I'm just looking forward to those hot, summer camp days with the guys, bonding." 

On the mentality and the approach of this team as it enters training camp:"I think it's one of … [first and] foremost, get them most out of each other, staying heathy and playing to our standard and not getting complacent because it's easy to be paper champs, but what really matters is what you do between those lines. What are we going to do starting today when meetings officially kick off, just our mental intensity, our attention to detail, and I think if we abide by those things and do what we have to do, I think the sky is the limit for all of us." 

On his anticipation with the crowd and fans attending training camp:"I'm excited. It gives you something to look forward to because sometimes in camp, the first couple of days are easy, and then after that, you get tired. You get the 'camp legs' and things like that. Then when the fans are paying their hard-earned money to drive down here just to come out to watch us practice, you definitely want to give them a show, [especially] some that are not fortunate enough to make it out to our games. Then, to have interactions with some of the players, I'm looking forward to that and just being able to chat and mingle with as many fans as I can over camp because I think it means the world, and I'm very grateful for those guys' support because they give us way more support than sometimes I feel like we deserve in a sense." 

On if he's thrown any more baseballs since throwing the first pitch at an Orioles game:"I have not. (laughter) I didn't think I was going to get that one brought up today."