Ravens' DC Don Martindale Quotes 8.12.20
COURTESY OF BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
Previously to this, you talked about you guys had the All-Zoom team [and] you wanted to see how they looked on the field. I know you haven't really gotten a full glimpse, but what do you like with what you've seen so far? Have they translated the Zoom sessions into something that can be useful on the field? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, they really have. The biggest thing is when everybody came in – especially the rookies – because we hadn't had a chance to lay eyes on them; I was just glad we didn't get catfished by anybody. But they were pretty much what we expected as far as coming in and knowing where they're at. We haven't done a whole lot of full speed reps yet, 11-on-11, but we're in that ramp-up now where you're starting to see some guys that have really grabbed a hold of this package and they're doing well with it."
You talked about the rookies – what have you seen specifically from LB Patrick Queen and LB Malik Harrison? (Shawn Stepner) "I think they're exactly what we expected. They're young and they're making some mistakes, but for the most part, they're great. First of all, they're great people. I've had some good conversations with them besides just football, and we really haven't even gotten into the 11-on-11 pads where you can see their instincts. But I think from all the film that we've watched; I think they've both done a really nice job and haven't disappointed anybody."
How do you see T Ronnie Stanley leading the team? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "He's on offense and it's a little bit different with all of the different protocols that we're following. We haven't had much time to spend – any time, really – with social distancing in an overall team meeting. But Ronnie is one of the best tackles in the league. So, I think he's doing fine. But like I said, I've been with the whole defense, I haven't even paid attention to the offense yet. I'm just trying to make sure we have 11 defenders on the field."
How does CB Tavon Young look? Does he look pretty healthy and ready to play?(Todd Karpovich) "Yes, it's like I said through Zoom and talking to him … He's moving well, he's shaking any rust that he had off. He's going to be back to being Tavon Young real quick, and we're excited about it."
The Cleveland Browns [are] reloading their coaches again. Their offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt comes in with head coach Kevin Stefanski. I'm wondering, do you have the upper hand because of stability? Or does Van Pelt gain some sort of edge because you don't have anything to go by on his part? (Kirk McEwen) "I think it's an even slate, I really do. I don't think anybody has an upper hand. I think that without having any preseason games, there's no tape and that works both ways. We have some new pieces, which has been noted by you all as well. We're going to do some different things that we haven't done. I'm sure they're going to do some things that they haven't done, whether you look at Minnesota tape, Cincinnati tape and all the different places that all those offensive guys have been. We know that they're going to be a formidable opponent and we're looking forward to it. All eyes are ahead. What is it, 32 days now, or 31 days before we play Cleveland? I think that can go either way."
I know it's just a ramp-up practice, it's not pads or anything like that. But when you get the vets out there today, all out there for the first time, does that kind of elevate the energy out there for you and the rest of the team? (Garrett Downing) "The energy has been great. It's been great every practice. Having five months apart, I think the energy has been great, because we're just glad that everybody can be around each other – no matter who's there and when they were there. The thing that we're excited about, having the vets out today for a ramp-up, is we're all on the same schedule now. Because with the different protocols the league has – and they've done a great job with that as well – the rookies came in, injured vets and quarterbacks then came in and then the vets. There were like three different schedules going. But I knew when 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] put this schedule together – which was a task in itself – for the team, because you've got three different sections of it … I knew August 12 was the day I had circled on my calendar, because we're all on the same schedule now. But to answer your question, the energy – you're seeing it build."
When you look at CB Marcus Peters since he entered the league, his interceptions are just clearly far away more than anybody else. From your dealings with him, why do you think he is so much better at picking off quarterbacks than everybody else so far? (Jamison Hensley) "I think there are two things; I think there's instincts and just ability itself. I've said this before; Marcus Peters is one of the smartest corners I've ever seen play the game. That's his film study, recognizing splits – not just his film study and splits and offenses and all that stuff – but individual guys as well. He's just been a tremendous asset to our defense on the back end there. The way we look at it right now is we have three starting corners; they'd be No. 1 corners any place else, any other team that they're on. It's been a great combination, and it's great getting those guys back."
Along those lines, do you expect that you guys will probably get more interceptions as a defense this year because of some of the additions you made up front, getting after the quarterbacks a little bit more with that front pressure? (Ryan Mink) "Man, I hope so. (laughter) You just don't know - it's year-to-year. But I think that takeaways are going to be a big priority for our defense, just as well as anybody else. I think that with the changes that we made up front and the additions that we made, we're big where we're supposed to be big, and we're fast where we're supposed to be fast. We're really excited to see the product in this next month getting ready for Cleveland."
What are your thoughts about DE Calais Campbell calling you a defensive genius?(Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I think that that's just noise out there. We've put together two good years. I think it was nice that Calais [Campbell] said that. I think it's one of those things that belongs to everybody on the staff. And like I've told you guys; this game always has and always will be about the players. You can go one way or the other on that double-edged sword, and we don't pay attention to any of those type of things."
When we talked to head coach John Harbaugh the other day, we talked about S Earl Thomas III coming in with some very lofty goals and a lot of focus. What have been your impressions, just in talking to Earl in the early days? (Childs Walker) "I think Earl [Thomas III] is just getting ready to add another year to his Hall of Fame career. He's coming in in great shape. Last year, he was coming off of the leg injury, if you all remember, and it took him a little while to get going. Now, he's going 100 miles per hour and he looks like he's ready to go, to me."
Obviously, we asked a lot of players about whether or not they considered opting out of the season. For you, as a coach, was it a decision for whether or not to come to work? If so, what went through the decision-making process? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I think with the protocol that's been established with the league and the NFLPA, it's obviously a safe environment. It's football, and I never thought about opting-out, no, because I don't think they would've ever brought us back if they thought there was a high rate of whatever … A danger or whatever you want to call it through this pandemic. I felt safe coming back. We take all the precautions and the protocols. We wear our masks and do all the six feet apart, social distancing and things like that. The thing I told the players with all of those things is, 'We're all in this together. We're taking care of each other, and we're taking care of each other's families.' Who would I be if I couldn't wear a mask? I just say, 'Show your discipline. Show your mental toughness. When you're in meetings, everybody wears their masks.' Like I said, we have these monitors on that flash when you're within six feet of someone. It ends up being like a dog trainer collar, if you will, because I know when I'm not wearing it now and I get around people … Like if I go home, even with my wife, I'll step back from her. (laughter) You just know what six feet is now. I never thought about opting-out though."
OLB Jaylon Ferguson obviously got more playing time at the end of the year after OLB Pernell McPhee went out. Can you talk about how much you think that will help him this year and what kind of growth you're anticipating seeing from Jaylon this year? (Cliff Brown) "I think there's a couple things with that. He played the last 10 games; [Pernell] McPhee got hurt in the sixth game if I remember right. He made tremendous strides last year. The biggest part, if you remember me telling you, it was about halfway through the year when he finally got in, what he felt, was the best shape that he's been in. He's come in this year at that type of condition. His body has changed. He's a year older. All those second-year and third-year players start to get that old man dad strength – you know what I'm talking about there. They've had a year away from college football and they can really train and just focus on themselves and not the Combine; not going to this visit, that visit, this visit, that visit and just focus on themselves, and he's done that. As far as the knowledge of the package, he's right on time with everything right now. We're really looking forward to some great things from him."
At every level of your defense, you have guys who can play positions beyond what they are penciled in as, or they are cross-training at different positions. How versatile do you think this defense is, and just how much easier does that make your job? (Jonas Shaffer) "The versatility that we have with the veterans has been phenomenal. You look at different players, and you can point out different guys. A guy like Chuck Clark for example, he played five different positions last year – same thing with Anthony Levine Sr. There are other guys who can play a bunch of different spots, which helps you in different packages. I always say, we'll have the best 11 out there to play the game. The best 11 might be a different group. There might be six others coming out versus a different personnel. The NFL, just like the NBA has become, it's all matchups, and right now, with the talent that we have, it's a lot of fun."
Overall, if you look at your defensive rankings, you are among the top in almost everything. I'm guessing that run defense is something that you do want to improve upon. How do you go about that? Traditionally, you have been one of the top run defenses in the NFL. How do you want to improve upon that going into this season?(Jamison Hensley) "Like I said earlier, we have gotten bigger where we needed to get bigger at, [and] we have gotten faster where we needed to get faster at. There are a lot of things that go into that. When you start playing with a bunch of leads, like we were [doing] last year, and someone breaks a run, sometimes you are not playing the opponent at that time; you are playing the clock. But it has definitely been a focus of ours. I know the Cleveland [Browns] game stands out to me, and probably everybody else, and so does the Titans game. I think that's the reason why [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] made some of the moves that they made. Like I said, on [August] 17th, we'll be in pads, and we will keep making it a major focus. I think Calais [Campbell] said that you have to earn the right to rush the passer, and we have to knock-down that run game, because trust me, the Cleveland Browns are going to try to run the ball."