COURTESY OF BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
Opening statement: "OK, I appreciate people being here. You were the crowd today, so I'll be interested to hear what you think about the stadium environment and those kind of things with the crowd noise and the music and stuff like that. So, let us know what you think about that. Good practice; I'm proud of the guys. It was really good circumstantially to get in the stadium [and] work in a semi-realistic type of an environment for the game. I think every time you change environments, it's a challenge for execution. And that sure showed up today, but we fought through it, and I think it's a step in the direction toward playing the game. Now, we've got to lock in and get better, and we have plenty to work on. So, what do you have?"
In just watching the execution of the guys, in this environment, did you learn anything different than what you've seen from them in training camp? Did you learn anything new from the guys? (Jamison Hensley) "We'll find out more when we watch the tape, because that's a very specific question [and] I think you'll find out when you watch the tape. Generally speaking, I just think we can be a lot better execution-wise in every area. It was good to see some tackling, especially from the young guys. It was good to see some competing, you always appreciate that. I feel like the guys are really excited. There's a lot of enthusiasm to go play. In this kind of an environment, you sort of need to generate energy on your own, and the guys did a good job of that. But we have work to do. It's a different kind of preseason, so we've got to learn from it, and we've got to improve every day as we go forward."
Just going back a couple of days to the team's statement, obviously, that you put out. There was a very positive reaction to the statement. I'm curious, did you hear from coaches in your life or around the league or people that you know as a reaction to that statement? (Garrett Downing) "That's a great question and a timely question. Let me dig up my texts here. I'm going to look at my texts, because I got one from my dad. The question about the 70's was such a great question, and he texted me just this morning. So, I'm going to read it to you. Is that alright? Because I think it's really great. Here's what he said: He said, 'Really impressed with how you wove the 70's and today into discussion. I haven't thought about the similarities of the times. Making rooming lists, in 1973 both Ohio State and Michigan started Black quarterbacks. Teams having player boycotts, community protests, [Michigan head coach] Bo [Schembechler] making facial hair and hairstyle exceptions. It seems we have come so far, yet much work to be done. Sadly, I do not remember a time I talked to my players about what was happening. Why? I don't know. That's the difference. You're meeting in the open dialogue, honest dialogue with no agenda but a sincere desire to understand each other. Of all the positive things achieved back in the 70's, we never talked openly to each other. The key to getting over the finish line is open, honest and unfettered communication.' I just texted right back, my dad, 'Wow, dad. This is so right. Pure gold.' So, yes. That's who I heard from on it. That's the only person I heard from on it. That's the main person."
A lot of people are going to be talking about the QB Lamar Jackson throw to WR Marquise Brown. I know that is an area Lamar is trying to get better at. How good was it to see him getting one of those deep throws to 'Hollywood' there? (Jamison Hensley) "Oh, at the end for the score. Yes, that was great. It was great. But we've seen a lot in practice, and we know the timing, but when you get in a game, it's different. Protection things happen. Move around; you have to operate. That was a scramble play, so that was good to see in that sense. But I just can't wait to see the tape, to be honest with you; just take a look at it and look at the details of where we need to continue to improve. It ends up being about fundamentals, about execution, about not making mistakes, [and] playing error-free football. We had pre-snap penalties; there are just way too many of those out there. Those are the types of things that have to get cleaned up, because 'winning football' is not 'losing football' first. That's what we have to understand, and we have to get that into our DNA right now."
We saw C/G Matt Skura get some nice reps today as we have in practice recently. Is he kind of where you guys hoped he would be in terms of the ramp-up? (Childs Walker) "I would say so. I don't know whether he's there yet or not. This is going to be a good test for him, for sure. You look at the tape and see how he did in this setting here – see how comfortable he felt and how powerful his legs were and things like that. So, I'm definitely looking forward to that. But to see him out there and see him competing is a pretty big deal at this stage with the injury he had. So, he deserves a lot of credit for that."
I witnessed a number of guys on the sidelines having some adamant conversations when they came off after a different series. In a scrimmage setting two weeks from the opener, is there a sense – a build up here – of urgency, so-to-speak, with the season ahead? (Mark Viviano) "Absolutely; no question about it. Our guys understand that we're playing a very good Cleveland Browns team in our first week. We're going down to Houston in Week Two. Then we have the Chiefs coming in on Monday Night in Week Three. Then we have the [Washington Football Team] in Week Four. The focus comes right back to the Browns in our opener. So, it's here. We don't have preseason games to work out the operational, execution details – understanding those kinds of things – and we need to be really good at it in order to make sure we play good football. So, the guys are urgent, and they want to get those things right. So, all the things you're talking about – that conversation back and forth – is very welcomed. I want to see that."