Ravens Wednesday Transcripts: Week 1 At New York Jets (9/7)


Opening statement:"I appreciate everybody being here. Beautiful day for football. [The] guys worked hard, had a good practice and we're on to our preparations for the Jets. So, what questions do you have?"

QB Joe Flacco was officially named the Jets starter for this week. Will it feel any different playing against the quarterback that started for you for your first 10 years here? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Probably, before the game it will be good to say hello, but once you get into the game, it's the game. We have to defend their offense, and Joe [Flacco]'s ability to play in that offense, and that's really what we're looking at. We talked about it today, we anticipated that Joe would be the guy. That's who we talked about today in our meetings. We're on track, and we're going to have to do a good job. Joe's a heck of a quarterback. He's capable of making plays, making throws, he's experienced, he knows what he's doing. They're confident in him, so we're going to be at our best and put our best foot forward defensively against that offense on Sunday."

When you think back to the year where you made the transition to QB Lamar Jackson from QB Joe Flacco, what stands out in your memory about the way those guys handled it? _(Childs Walker) _"That's a great question. They both handled it great. If I think back quickly, Lamar [Jackson] was excited to be with Joe [Flacco] and learn from Joe, in terms of what Joe could teach him as a quarterback, and he did a great job I thought. Joe was great with Lamar; Joe supported him and helped him, and even at the end there – when Joe came back and Lamar was the quarterback – Joe was very supportive of him there. If you remember the story in the playoffs, Joe wanted Lamar to stay in the game there. So, all those things are true."

The Jets have three rookie first-round picks. Do you go back to college or preseason film to scout those guys? _(Todd Karpovich) _"We know the college tape; we actually do go back to it. We've watched it on all those guys, obviously, so we know the players, and all you can really do is watch them in the preseason and try to get a feel for what they're doing now as they fit into what they do. We know we're going to see those guys on the field, those guys are all … They had a great draft. Those guys are all playing, even deeper picks in the draft, so it's part of their team. They're a very talented team, including those guys. So, that's part of our challenge."

Do you like what you've seen so far from RB J.K. Dobbins, and when do you expect to make a decision on which backs are playing? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"I would say to all those parts, I do like what I've seen so far. He's really ascending quickly, especially in the last week, week and a half. My plan is to decide by the end of the week which backs will be up. Really with J.K. [Dobbins], just kind of measure where he's at in terms of how he's moving, and the same with the other guys. So, he's practicing out here and we'll see by the end of the week where we're at."

How does a situation like this where a couple of key guys are in question to play, how does that effect your game-planning? _(Cordell Woodland) _"It doesn't. The guys who are going to play can do everything that the other guys can do, so it's not really effecting our gameplan too specifically. That's kind of where we're at."

Do you sense anything different from the players going into this Week 1 since so many of them didn't play during the preseason? _(Bo Smolka) _"Yes, it's a great question for those guys when you go in there and ask them. I don't know the answer to that. I know they're excited to play. I sensed something different today, because it's Wednesday of the game week and they know they have a game. So, you go from the foundation building, to the competition part of it – the real competition – and they're excited about that."


On going against QB Joe Flacco and the Jets' offense:"Well, I think first things first, is he [Joe Flacco] is going to have a lot of emotion – it's only natural. When you play against your old team, you're going to be locked in. And he knows this: We haven't changed much – he knows this – so he's going to be fired up, and he's going to have that advantage. But at the same time, it's football. [In the] first week of the season, everybody's been working on their different wrinkles, and everybody has the stuff that makes them excited. But at the end of the day, you've just got to go out there and play good football and execution. But playing against him, he's an old vet. I think there are only five guys from the 2008 draft class still playing; it's crazy [that] there are going to be three of them on the field in New York on September 11th, so that's exciting. We're still going. But I've got a lot of respect for him. I think he's a great player. And I love to compete, so, we'll go out there, and we're going to give it our best shot."

On the emotions of playing your former team, as it pertains to QB Joe Flacco:"I think the first things first is that you have a lot of relationships in the building, so pre-game, you go out there, and you're looking to see everybody, everybody is looking to see you. You kind of want to show some love, but you've also got to stay locked in and can't let that distract you from your pre-game routine – if it was me doing it, looking forward into it. But it will be a whole lot of raw emotion. The guy [Joe Flacco] is … This was his home for the longest, and so he's going to have a whole lot of raw emotion, and he's going to come with a lot of passion and stuff, so that's definitely something we have to kind of weather storm for in the beginning part until we just start playing football."

On if the team feels fresh after the preseason, or if there's a worry that they won't start fast:"I don't think we're worried at all – that's for sure. At the end of the day, you've got to go out there and do it. But I think we're eager. It's been a long offseason, and camp was hard, but fun, and I think we got a whole lot better. And so, I think now it's just a chance to go out there and show it. You really don't know what you're going to be until you go out there and play a football game, and so it's a little different in the regular season, Week 1. So, I think we have to salvage our identity, figure out who we're going to be, but I think that we're going to be ready to go. No doubts about it – we're ready to go. I saw a lot of guys competing, a lot of plays being made today, and come Sunday, you've got to show it. But at the end of the day, I have no doubt in my mind that we're ready to go play football."

On if there is an extra energy within the team, given the imminent return of key players:"Yes, yes. I mean, at the end of the day, we believe in everybody in this locker room, and if we have to go out there short-handed, we'll go out there and compete and give it everything we have. But it's always exciting when you've got your best. I think [that] when we're [at] full strength and we know what kind of talent we have, we know we're a tough team to beat. So, it definitely gets us excited when we can be full strength. We're almost there; we're not there just yet, but we're almost there. But it's football – things are going to happen, [and] you're never really [at] full strength. This is the strongest you're going to be all year. Things are going to happen, but we've got to just keep rolling our sleeves up and keep going out there and putting in work. But I'm confident in everybody in the building. We've got a great roster."

On philosophical or schematic differences with defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald's style of defense:"Every person has their own unique differences, but the core of your defense is the same – you are who you are – and I think that was important [in] hiring someone familiar with the scheme and what we do. We're already kind of built for it. So, the scheme is the scheme. But definitely, everybody has their different influence on it, and [defensive coordinator] Mike [Macdonald] has definitely come in and put his influence on it. He's a great coach. I love what he's done so far."

On if he can delve into those specific differences with defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald's style:"Not at all, not at all. (laughter).I'm not giving away the gameplan. They'll find out on Sunday." (laughter)

On his comfort level with playing on the edge:"Yes, yes, I enjoy it. I enjoy being on the edge. You're going against tight ends, and tight ends can't block me in this league. (laughter)But at the end of the day though, I'll play wherever they put me. I just want to get out on the field and try to help the team win football games. But definitely, I feel like … We did a little bit of it in camp, and I think it looked really good. I felt, just, at home doing it, like I used to, so it's no big deal. But at the end of the day, I think that whoever we put out there … We have an arsenal of weapons all over the place, and we can kind of do different things based off of what kind of look we're trying to give them and what we're trying to take away [from] what we think they're going to give us. So, I think it's a coach's dream to have just plenty of weapons you can use in different ways. If you want a big edge, you have it with me, 'Urb' [Brent Urban]; but if you want that speed, those guys, 'J-Hou' [Justin Houston] and Odafe [Oweh], they're spectacular off the edge. So, I think that we have options, and [it's] the same thing with the safeties and stuff – there are a lot of options. [With] linebacker play, we have a rotation of guys. So, it really just depends on what we're trying to do. I'm really excited about it. I think Coach Mike Macdonald has done … He has a great gameplan, he's going to mix it up and keep it interesting, and it's going to be fun."


On if QB Lamar Jackson's contract status has been a distraction so far, and if he could see it becoming a distraction later on:"No, I don't. He doesn't really talk about it, so it hasn't really been a distraction. I think it's definitely interesting how it's going, for sure, but nobody knows what's going on. He's his own agent, so I guess whatever conversations they're having, hopefully they're good. Hopefully they can get done pretty soon here, but I have no doubt he'll be here for his whole career, so I'm excited about that, being his teammate for a long time."

On having CB Marcus Peters back in the secondary and how he looks after a few weeks of practice:"Yes, I'm really excited to get Marcus [Peters] back. He's been looking good. He's actually been looking good from the first day he first did individual. So, he actually kind of surprised me. Even the other day he was like, 'If I look bad, tell me.' I was like, 'Bro, I would.' (laughter)So, he looks really good. I'm really excited to be back out there with him, [and] I think we'll have a really good corner duo with him and of course [Kyle] Fuller."

On what stands out in his memory from the 2018 season during the transition from QB Joe Flacco to QB Lamar Jackson, and how they handled it:"That's not that long ago, but I guess it kind of happened pretty quick. I think it was, I guess rookie year Lamar [Jackson], you didn't know when he would eventually play, and it kind of … I kind of remember it happening seamlessly. I think Joe [Flacco] got hurt, so it kind of happened kind of injury thing, and then Lamar started winning all these games and we were just riding behind him. So, it was good. It kind of went pretty seamlessly. I just remember it being a little weird, because when I got here Joe was the QB, Super Bowl MVP, had done a lot. So, it was interesting in that point, but as far as how it went, I thought both guys handled it really well."

On if it's going to be weird seeing QB Joe Flacco across the line of scrimmage on Sunday:"It's going to be a little different. I remember Joe [Flacco]'s count, 'White 80, White 80 …" (laughter)So, I'm used to that a little bit, but it will be good to see Joe again. I have a lot of respect for him. Hopefully he just plays decent, he doesn't play pretty well, but it will be really good to see Joe again."

On what kind of challenge he is expecting facing QB Joe Flacco:"Yes, Joe [Flacco] can throw it. That's one thing; when Joe wants to throw the ball deep, he'll throw it deep. He's a guy who can make all the throws. So, I think early on you have to limit what their core can do. They have some really good wide receivers; they have four really good ones, with [Corey] Davis, the first-rounder [Elijah] Moore. So, they have some pretty good guys on the outside. There are good running backs. I think keeping everything in front of us will be key."

On how excited he is to play on Sunday after not playing at all during the preseason:"Really excited. Me and Chuck [Clark] – I don't know what game it was – we were about to go out there before we were told we weren't playing. Chuck had his pants on. I was like, 'What are we doing?' (laughter)I'm really excited to get out there without playing preseason, but it kind of did a good thing … I'm kind of itching. So, it's good to have this feeling going into Week 1."

On how he views last year, and if it makes him mad or want to make up for lost time:"It's a good question. I don't really think too much about last season. The good thing about having a bad year, just as a team, as an individual, it's just you have a lot to look forward to this year. I don't think anybody was … We had a couple guys who had some really good years last year, but as a team, collectively, we obviously didn't end up where we wanted to be. So, there's just a lot to look forward [to]. [I] don't really think about it too detailed, but you for sure just know it wasn't the result you wanted, and at times it was some pretty ugly games."

On how much the secondary talks about forcing turnovers, and the potential they have to provide a lot of takeaways for the team:"We talk about it a lot. I was talking [about] it to Marcus [Peters] before practice started and I said, 'Marcus, man, I'm going to get you two in this first game.' He said, 'Marlon, if you get me two this year, I'll be happy.' I was like, 'I was talking about in the first game, not the year.' (laughter)So, we talk about it a lot, obviously Marcus, that's his specialty, getting those turnovers. Hopefully I get a couple. I know Marcus Williams – all the Marcuses, we have to work on that – but Marcus Williams, I know he makes a lot of turnovers as well. So, just in the secondary we talk amongst ourselves, and then defense, your defense only goes as far as how much you can take the ball away. So, consecutively playing good, mixing up looks, just playing fast a lot of times. Tips and overthrows … You can lead the league if you catch all of those, so I think turnovers will be a big thing for our defense this year. I'm just ready to put it all on the field and just let it loose."

On which young guys he expects to have breakout seasons this year:"We've got some guys. I think that [the 2022] draft class was really good. [Isaiah] Likely flashed a lot; [Kyle] Hamilton flashed a lot … Let's see – who else really flashed a lot? [Tyler] Linderbaum just got in there, and it seemed like there was no drop-off. There were not a lot of times when we kind of noticed that he was a rookie in there. So, we've got some really good guys. 'Pepe' [Damarion Williams] – I love 'Pepe.' I love the juice he plays with. So, we've got some guys that I'm really excited to see. It will be live bullets, so you really get to see who guys are. So, I'm really excited about that. [It's] their first games. I remember my first one. So, it's really exciting."

On defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald:"I just think he [defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald] brings a lot of understanding to us. He's a guy who seems like if we want to change something … We can talk about things in the meeting. We're on the field today doing a walk-through, and he's like, 'Tell me if we got it or not, and we can throw it out or keep it in.' So, he'll just … A coach that's understanding like that, that's willing to switch things up to get us in the right thing, it's just really exciting to have that. And I just really like the energy he brings."

On his best advice for the young guys set to face their first regular season game action, and just how different things are in the NFL during the regular season:"Man, I think … One, I would say … I remember my first game; I walked over there and saw A.J. Green, and I was just like, 'Wow, that's A.J. Green.' (laughter)So, one, you can't be too starstruck, because you're in the same category as some of these guys you kind of looked up to. And then two, it's just, these are grown men. At college, you've got a couple guys that are OK, some are good. But … And I remember seeing [Jason] Kelce with the Eagles snap the ball and come around the corner so quick, and just everybody is fast. It seems like the game is going at a speed that you've never really seen, and it sometimes takes a while for that to set in. So, the biggest thing is, though, you've been drafted here, you made the team – obviously, you can do something really great, and you belong here. So, trust in that, and everything else takes care of itself."


On his Week 1 deadline for contract talks:"As of right now, we're still talking. The week isn't over yet, but soon. Soon will probably be the deadline, it will probably be cut off after this week."

On if he has considered taking out an injury insurance policy like other high-profile players have done in the past:"I haven't thought about any injuries, or anything like that. I just came off one last season, and I'm feeling pretty good this season. I don't even want to put that in the atmosphere. So, on to the next question on that one."

On if injuries are something he will think about:"I should have just stayed with you on that one. No, I'm just playing. But yes, I will be doing that. I will follow up on that to both of your questions."

On what the whole process has been like negotiating himself while preparing to play:"It's business, so it's just been business the whole process. Just taking it a day at a time. Whenever we meet, we meet, stuff like that."

On if his deadline for contract talks is by kickoff on Sunday:"Kickoff, I will not be talking about a contract. (laughter)I'm thinking straight Jets around kickoff time. (Reporter: "What is the deadline in your mind?)The end of this week. The end of this week … Friday. Friday."

On if his decision to not have an agent was just for his own comfort level:"I'm comfortable, but it's probably different because it's your quarterback, and not an NFL agent, stuff like that. I've been pretty cool, [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] has been pretty cool with it."

On if he feels like not having a new contract signed before the season is a risk:"It was a pretty big risk last season, the year before. I wasn't thinking about contract negotiations around that time. This season, it's going to be the same thing, but I'm just playing football. Anything can happen, but God forbid the wrong thing happens, I'm keeping God first and just playing ball, like I've been doing."

On other players around the league representing themselves:"We're still talking about me representing myself? (laughter)That's it, nothing else? No, I'm just playing. Go ahead, finish your question. Finish your question. (Reporter: "Have you talked to other players who have represented themselves to get their perspectives?)No, not at all. I'm a different player than any of the other players who represented themselves, so I haven't."

On if he feels like a deal is close:"I don't know. I don't know."

On if he feels closer to a deal than at the beginning of training camp:"I have no clue, you'll have to ask the guy who I'm talking to. Talk to the GM [Eric DeCosta] about that."

On going against QB Joe Flacco this week and what he meant to him as a rookie:"Actually, I'm not going against Joe [Flacco], the defense is. I'm going against the Jets defense, but he meant a lot. Playing with a Super Bowl quarterback, seeing what he did on the field, stuff like that, how he took apart the game, took apart practice and stuff like that. Seeing him sling the ball from one side of the field to the next side of the field, from our 20 [-yard line] to the opposite opponent's 20 [-yard line] … It was ridiculous. It will be great seeing him."

On having big goals for himself and if he's starting to get impatient to reach those goals:"I've always been impatient, ever since Draft night, but you have to take it a game at a time, a practice at a time, a week at a time. We can't peak too soon, that's what Coach [John Harbaugh] preaches each and every day, each and every meeting. So, we're just going to keep it that way, and take it a day at a time until we achieve that goal."

On who on the team he thinks will have a big year other than himself:"The Ravens offense, the Ravens defense [and] the Ravens special teams, just because we're hungry and just like my guy said, the season didn't end well for us last season. So, yes, all of us."

On if there was any awkwardness during his transition with QB Joe Flacco and how their relationship developed:"He [Joe Flacco] was still the starter when I got here. There was nothing awkward going on in the locker room. If I asked a question in the meeting room or something like that, he would give me an answer. There was no pettiness going on with Joe, he was being a real professional quarterback. So, it was all good."

On how eager the team is to play:"Very eager. We're tired of going against each other, practicing against each other, waking up early and seeing each other all day, not seeing another opponent. We're very eager right now, but we're going to take it … We can't peak too soon; we have to take it a day at a time."

On how he handles high expectations going into the season:"How I've been doing it each and every season. I'm not worried about the outside noise, just playing my game and we're just doing our thing. I'm not worried about anyone else, [I'm] just focused on the Ravens."

On if he is preparing any different for this Week 1 after not playing in the preseason at all for the first time in his career:"It won't impact me at all, I don't think. I just haven't gotten tackled, that's about it, but I'm going to still do what Lamar does, as always."

On if he is intrigued to see how the Ravens' new parts come together against another team:"To be honest with you, no. I just want to go out there, let our guys go out there and show what got them here [and] just do our thing. I'm not really looking to see how 'he' plays, or what 'he' does out there. I just want to score points, and win the games."

On his chemistry with C Tyler Linderbaum:"It's been wonderful. It's been wonderful. He's looking pretty good, to be honest. I told you guys this before, he's a fast center, and he's smart. Very smart. He catches on very fast, and I'm looking forward to it this season."

On how he feels knowing T Ronnie Stanley is getting closer to being back:"It makes me feel great. I haven't had him a whole season, and part of the year in 2020. So, it will be great having him back, but we have Ja'Wuan [James] right now, and he's looking pretty good. But like I said, I'm looking forward to seeing Ronnie [Stanley] back out there."

On how eager RB J.K. Dobbins is to play and how he looks:"Day-by-day he's getting better. I told him I want him to slow down, but he's looking pretty good, [and] hopefully he'll be out in a couple weeks. I'm looking forward to that guy, and he's very eager to play. He's been hearing the outside noise, [and] he's ready to go and I'm ready for him to go, too."


How has QB Joe Flacco impressed you most throughout this camp after QB Zach Wilson went down – the way he's kind of taken over that No. 1 role while Zach has been sidelined? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"He [Joe Flacco] has been great. He's been the same since the day I met him. I'm sure you guys are familiar with his personality; he's very even-keeled, same guy every single day, does a great job in preparation, very likeable in the locker room, and he's just been a very calming force – if you will – just running the offense."

When you're going against QB Lamar Jackson – it's not the first time you've gone against him – what is the biggest thing you have to account for when going against a quarterback like that? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Everything. He [Lamar Jackson] is dynamic. He's very deserving of everything he asks for, if you ask me. But his arm, his legs, his mind, his toughness, his tenacity – you've got to worry about it all. And he presents a lot of problems other than just being able to throw the football."

The Ravens really didn't play any of their starters in the preseason, plus they have a new defensive coordinator in Mike Macdonald. Has that made preparation for this week a little tougher than usual, or is this just kind of a typical Week 1 challenge? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Yes, it's a typical Week 1. Obviously, [with] the new [defensive] coordinator [Mike Macdonald], you're never quite sure of what his flavor is going to be to the system that he was raised in. But at the same time, it's no different. We've got changes to us; there are changes offensively, defensively on our side of the ball. I'm sure [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman], who has been there for a while, has changes [on] his offensive side of the ball. So, you just never quite know what those changes are and what they're going to look like. It's a lot of typical Week 1 stuff, but there is, obviously, the added wrinkle of him [defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald] being a first-time [NFL] coordinator and not being quite sure what he's going to do. But you trust what you install, and you've just got to go play ball."

Does your offense change a lot with QB Joe Flacco in place of QB Zach Wilson, or is it basically the same concepts with just a slightly different skillset in the middle? _(Childs Walker) _"There are wrinkles there – obviously, with regards to Joe [Flacco] and the things that he's capable of doing and just being a veteran presence back there. But it's a dynamic offense – this whole [49ers head coach] Kyle Shanahan system that [offensive coordinator] Mike [LaFleur] has been raised under. There's our foundation, obviously, but there are obviously things that we can do that take advantage of Joe's traits, and, obviously, from a gameplan standpoint, with regards to the opponent we're playing."

Did you go back and watch film from the 2019 Ravens vs 49ers game that you were a part of, or is that no longer relevant at all? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"There's a lot of different personnel. You have your principles. Obviously, [Jeff] Ulbrich is our defensive coordinator, also, and he's had some games against the Ravens. For the most part, we've kind of evolved since those days and so has [Ravens offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman]. I know it seems like it was only a couple years ago, but a lot can change in a couple years also. So, there are principles that we've kind of evolved to over the last two years since we've played, and principles that are different. Are some things similar? Sure, as they are with Baltimore, but at the same time, there are changes that have kind of evolved over the past couple years."

Not to speak for QB Joe Flacco, but do you get the sense from him that he has some extra juice this week playing the Ravens? (Bo Smolka) _"No, he's kind of like Bill Nye the Science Guy. _(laughter)He's very just calm. You guys know him, right? There is a human nature – he won't admit it I'm sure – it's kind of a big deal for him. But I think he's old enough, and he's been around the block enough, and he's been in enough big games where he's able to put aside his personal emotions and keep the main thing the main thing, which is doing his job to the best of his ability and playing the best he can."

With the Ravens adding new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, do you watch tape from him while he was at Michigan? How do you game-plan for someone new in a role like that? _(Kyle Barber) _"You watch whatever you can. Obviously, there's Michigan tape, there's the preseason, there's the system he was raised in. You just try to gather as much information as you can to get a good idea of what his principles are going to be. But at the same time, that's why Week 1 league-wide you're dealing with those same issues with everyone, whether you've been … Like I said with [Ravens offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman]; I'm sure that Greg has a lot of new wrinkles that will be presented to us. So, it is a rules-ball game. There's not as much eating going on as much as there is just play rules. And when you get into personnel sets, you try to gather all the information that you can as quickly as you can so you can start implementing the changes that you need at halftime, and see if you can take advantage of whatever it is you're recognizing. You try to gather as much information as you can, however you can get it, and you play the best game you can."

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