Ravens' OC Greg Roman Quotes 8.12.20
COURTESY OF BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
You haven't had much time to see QB Lamar Jackson, but you know he worked very hard during the offseason. Is it too early to assess some of the improvements he's made? Or are you going to have to wait until he's on the field and gets a little more live action? (David Ginsburg) "Really in the case of everybody right now, there's a lot of mental, obviously, conditioning going on – physical conditioning, a lot of mental work. We're starting to be able to do some things on the field. With as much meeting time as we've had in this offseason, that's just as valuable as can be – and we're ramping up. Everybody is really focused in right now. Starting Monday, we'll be able to practice, and I really think that's when we're really going to get into a lot of the physical football-related things. But Lamar [Jackson] is looking really good, and he's working hard every day to get better. We're in a period of time right now that we're able to get a lot done mentally. Everybody is really focused in. This is a really heavy week for us mentally. We want to try to get a lot done this week, as far as our offense and how we do things, so we can kind of hit the ground running. We'll focus on the physical [part of the game] Monday."
When you look at the four running backs you have, they all have different skillsets. Is it going to be a challenge splitting up the carries to those guys? How do you balance that with that group? They're all talented guys. (Todd Karpovich) "We're fortunate to have a group like that – and the more the merrier. We'll be able to utilize all of those guys as we move forward, and you can't have enough really good running backs. Mark [Ingram II] is, obviously, in my opinion, one of the best running backs in the league over time. He still maximizes runs as good, if not better, than anybody that I see in the league. And we've got three younger guys that are really coming on. In our offense, we don't look at it as a problem at all. We look at it as a really good thing. So, I think we'll continue to develop them and develop things we do with each of them. A lot of them … Most of the guys can do, pretty much, everything that we do. They're not typecast, so to speak. We really like that group. We've got high expectations."
We had TE Mark Andrews on a couple of days ago. He says he wants to be the best tight end in football. He looks like he's well on his way. Hurdling defenders – seems like it's innate for Mark. I kind of like it, but that does have mixed results. I'm wondering – is that something that you'd like to eliminate from the game? Or is that up to him in the heat of the battle to do what he needs to do to get down the field?(Kirk McEwen) "That's an interesting question, because his instincts … When a players' instincts take over, and they're hurdling a player in the heat of battle, I have no problem with that – as long as certain principles are adhered to, such as ball security, number one. If you're going to do that … Mark [Andrews] is not the first guy on our team to do that. Nick Boyle is, kind of, famous for that. So yes, when we're playing, we're playing hard, we're going after it and we just need to execute those types of instinctive moves with great ball security. We had one incident last year that, hopefully, we learned from. But if somebody is going to just try to tear your legs out, why let them do that? Avoid that hit. It's got to be an in-real-time decision with great technique – specifically with ball security."
How do you see T Ronnie Stanley leading this team? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Ronnie Stanley – I really think he took giant leaps last year as a player, as a professional. With Marshal [Yanda] gone now, Ronnie is really stepping up into that leadership position, and he does a great job just being himself and we love him. He's really becoming one of the best offensive tackles in football. He understands it's not what you just did, it's about what you do next. So, he's working really hard. I think Ronnie is a very intelligent person. All of this experience he's gathering, he's really putting it to use. We're very fortunate to have him."
What are, kind of, your expectations for a WR Marquise Brown who, as everyone says, is now fully healthy? (Jamison Hensley) "High expectations, but the real expectation is to just come in every day – one day at a time – work hard, really focus in on what's important, be a great teammate, and he's doing all of those things. I think the score will take care of itself, so to speak. Marquise [Brown] comes in and handles his business every day as a pro – which he does. We certainly feel that having gotten through last year with his physical situation and certain things he was working through, he did so in a very professional way – which really showed a lot of maturity. He looks bigger, faster, more explosive, his movement skills are looking pretty sharp right now. We have high expectations for him, as we always had."
I know it's still early, but wanted to get your impressions on G D.J. Fluker and how you see him fitting in on the offensive line? (Luke Jones) "D.J. [Fluker] is doing a really nice job. He's working hard and he's got a great attitude. As we get moving into next week's on-field work, we're going to get a really good feel as we go. So, we're doing a lot of technique, fundamental work right now. A lot of teaching, learning and communication, and we really can't wait to see how everybody looks once we get going next week. But really happy to have him here. Everybody on the offensive line is working very hard right now, and I think we've got some really good depth there as of this date. We'll see how it shakes out."
Can you talk a little bit about your young wide receiver corps and the leap that you expect those guys to make? And I know we have talked a lot about QB Lamar Jackson and his next step in, kind of, throwing outside the numbers and some of those throws. How important is it going to be for those wide receivers to take that next step in order to allow Lamar to also take that next step? (Ryan Mink) "Everybody on the offense is really important. A lot was made, in some circles, about how we use wide receivers. I think we were seventh in the league last year in touchdown passes thrown to wide receivers. I think we had 17, off the top of my head. So, if we are not throwing to wideouts every play, we're throwing a bunch of touchdowns to them, so we want to continue that. We definitely are an offense that wants to attack the defense where they're weakest. So, when I look at the stats sheet after a game and nine people have caught passes, I'm very happy, because you become a harder offense to defend. Having said that, we're really excited about our wide receivers group. Marquise [Brown] and Miles [Boykin] were rookies last year. We've got some young guys this year coming in that are kind of learning the offense and working their way through things right now. We've got some veteran presence with Willie Snead [IV], Chris Moore. So, really, as a group, we're very excited about them. I think the guys … Today was the first day we were really able to go out and work off together [at] full speed, on air, and [I] really liked what I was seeing in terms of chemistry with Lamar [Jackson], and the quarterbacks, and the wideouts and the tight ends. So, that was really exciting this morning, to finally get to do that."
Regarding QB Lamar Jackson, a couple weeks ago, he said that his main focus was to try to get better at downfield passing, out-breaking routes. Where do you see Lamar improving this season? Where do you see his next step? (Shawn Stepner) "I don't want to, 'One giant leap for mankind,' quote, but I felt like last year he made a gigantic step in every phase of his game. And I feel like this year, there's an opportunity to make some steps – as he does, as any player does – constantly striving for improvement. I think his knowledge of the game will improve. Game management, I think he's got an instinctive feel for that. But I feel like he'll continue to improve in those areas. We're always looking to improve accuracy [and] decision-making. We feel like Lamar [Jackson] has got very good vision; I think that's pretty obvious when you watch him play. He's not robotic out there; he's pretty natural. We're always trying to improve accuracy on all different kinds of throws. Consistency, and then decision-making, which if we can get two to five percent better in those areas, it'll be pretty impressive."
You've got a couple moving pieces on the interior of the offensive line. How do you go about evaluating those positions and the offensive line as a whole in a year where you don't have preseason games, and you are on a bit of a time crunch heading into Week 1? (Garrett Downing) "Yes, that's definitely a question that you've got to put some thought into, and I really think it's going to put a premium on how these practices go, starting Monday, once we get pads on and we start practicing for real. I think every rep is going to carry an added value to it when you consider no preseason games. I definitely think that's going to really be our platform to evaluate what gives us the best chance to be the best group we can be. Everybody is going to have an opportunity, and we are always constantly trying to develop every player to their utmost. Because even if they aren't a Day One starter, we might need them pretty quick or somewhere down in the middle of the road. Pat Mekari was a great example of that last season. But practices are going to be very telling, as far as evaluation goes."
Along those lines, I imagine this is an organizational decision, but when you guys are preparing for a season where anything could happen off the field, is it a more difficult balance to strike between preparing for what you want the best version of your team to be and what it might have to be in Week 6 or Week 7, if some guy is possibly out for completely unexpected reasons? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes, you just don't have a crystal ball. There are a lot of factors that could happen; a lot of 'what-ifs.' You've got to plan for some of those scenarios. So, you want to be as flexible and adaptable as possible – certainly from a personnel standpoint. I think there's definitely possibilities that you're going to need a lot of guys to play in the course of the year; that could happen, so we'll see. It's definitely something that we are trying to build for, to be as adaptable as possible. It just goes back to every player in that locker is important."
C/G Matt Skura, before the injury, was playing at a very high level. What impressed you the most about Matt's game last year? (Jamison Hensley) "I thought Matt [Skura] got bigger and stronger, and played bigger and stronger last year. I really think his work in the weight room with our strength and conditioning staff in the offseason leading into last year allowed him to be a little bit more of a physical presence in there. And that, coupled with the fact that he's played guard, he's played center, he understands and he's a very intelligent player. So, I really think his understanding of the game made his communication process almost utterly seamless at times. That's something he takes a lot of pride in, but a center is so important as far as getting everybody on the same page in today's NFL. Just practicing against our defense everyday kind of forces our hand. We've got to become great communicators, and it starts with the center and the quarterback. So, coupled with Matt's ability to communicate and direct traffic, that physical presence that he's really improved on really showed up last year."
I asked defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale this as well. Considering the unknowns of the pandemic, did you feel the need to research and talk with your family and make a concerted decision about whether or not you'd return to work this year? And if so, how did that decision-making process play out? (Aaron Kasinitz) "It never really entered my mind. Once I got here, without putting any thought into it and witnessed the attention to detail, the resources and the planning the Ravens organization put into the facility procedures – it's a thought that never crossed my mind. Quite frankly, just the unbelievable preparation, forethought, the resources, the space and that everybody, really, was able to come up with some great solutions – it never even entered my mind. Now if I came and saw something other than that, you never know. But it's really impressive what our organization has done to do the best job in a unique situation for all of us."