Ravens' RB Mark Ingram II Quotes 8.3.20
COURTESY OF BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
What are your thoughts about being tested every day for COVID-19? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I think it's necessary. We're trying to have the safest environment that we can. So, just to ensure that everybody is healthy and doing what they're supposed to do, I think it's necessary. They're some good protocols to have in order to have a safe facility."
Are you pretty happy with the guidelines the NFL implemented for you guys as a team? I know there were some concerns ahead of training camp. Are you pretty confident about what's in place right now? (Todd Karpovich) "I think that they've done a good job, so far. We came in last week; the first three of the four days were testing. Now, we go on 14 straight days of testing. Then after that, I think it's three or four times a week of testing. So, we're just trying to make sure that everybody is healthy, everybody is safe and making sure everybody is doing the right thing when they leave the facility. Hopefully, we can be safe and healthy and have a great year."
We were talking with RB J.K. Dobbins the other day, and he was talking about how you were really doing a lot to take him under your wing. Can you talk about your role as a mentor and how you see that shaping up with him? (Pete Gilbert) "He's a great, young 'back. He had a great career at Ohio State. That's what this league is all about – especially running backs - is being able to pay the game forward. I have guys who paid the game forward to me. So, just to be able to pass the game down, pass knowledge down – anything that he wants to know – I'm there to help him and there to support him. That's that; you're only as strong as your weakest link. So, you try to bring everybody on. You try to bring everybody to playing at a high level [and] everybody competing at a high level. He's a good, young dude. He reached out to me when he got drafted. He didn't have to do that. We've been talking over the offseason and we're finally in the building together, so that chemistry will keep getting stronger and I'll keep helping him."
It sounds like with that answer, you've embraced the situation. Were you surprised, at all, that the Ravens went in that direction in the second round after having the best rushing attack in the history of the game? (Jerry Coleman) "Listen, I've been in the league for 10 years. This is my tenth season and I've never seen a team that didn't either bring in a running back or draft a running back. That's the norm. So, it didn't surprise me. I think that it was the high value pick right there, where we were at. I don't think many people thought he would be there. I'm not necessarily surprised. We run the ball a lot, we put emphasis on running the ball. So, being able to have our backfield – me, Gus [Edwards], Justice [Hill] – add J.K. [Dobbins] to the mix, I think it's an elite backfield [with] guys who I think can start anywhere in this league and play anywhere in this league. We'll be competing. We'll be working and we'll be working together to have the best rushing attack again."
I mentioned to head coach John Harbaugh last week that you saw 14 victories – maybe you could go north of that – and he kind of smiled and said, 'You've got to get that first one.' What gives you that kind of confidence that you can best last year's record? (Kirk McEwen) "We added a lot of key pieces this offseason with free agency and the draft. We're bringing back our ballers and playmakers. We added more ballers and playmakers. We've got our coaching staff back. So, we just have confidence in each other. That's the goal – to have a better season than we did last year. We didn't finish how we wanted. We wanted to be champions. That's the standard here, nothing less – it's championship mentality. So, you have to work one day at a time. We're back in the facility working together, strength and conditioning today [and] meetings. You win those 15, 16 games [and] you go north of that record by winning each day. We're focusing on today. We'll ramp up this week, ramp up the next week. Each phase, we'll continue to ramp up. That's how you keep stacking. That's how you keep stacking, that's how you keep building and that's how you have a better season."
I'm just wondering, seeing some of the difficulties that baseball has had restarting its season – has that added at all to any of the anxieties or uncertainties that you might feel as you guys ramp up? (Childs Walker) "Yes, you're seeing this stuff … There are cases, but you just try to stay positive. We try to stay with the protocols that our team has set for us in the facility. When you leave the facility, just try to be as safe as possible. Stay at home and taking on the necessary precautions to make sure that you're not exposing yourself unnecessarily to anything. You just try to have a positive mindset. Obviously, we're aware of it and we're cautious of it. We're trying to do the best we can with the circumstances. We're trying to stay positive and stay hopeful."
Can you talk a little bit about the offseason strength and conditioning program that the team put together? I know it's early, and you guys haven't had any real practices, but do you feel like the program that was put in place for everybody will give you guys an advantage once the season does roll around? (Ryan Mink) "We have a great organization here. [Head strength and conditioning coach] Steve [Saunders] does a great job doing the necessary exercises, necessary conditioning, necessary movements that we need to be successful – that we need to improve [and] that we need to get better. I just believe in our organization. I believe in our coaching staff, and I think that we're in a good position to start the season off strong. But, like I said, it's just one day at a time. We're back in the facility, finally together, have strength and conditioning meetings [and] walk-throughs, so we just need to win each day. I just feel like our strength and conditioning coaches do a great job of preparing us and getting us ready, so I have the utmost trust in them and how they've been preparing our team."
We've talked about the addition of RB J.K. Dobbins, but when a team takes a running back in the second round, do you think it will have any impact or affect your role as far as on-the-field at all this year? (Jamison Hensley) "That's really not up to me. How we practice [and] how we play … We rotated 'backs last year, so the coaches will decide how to rotate us and how to play us all. We all have special talents [and] special abilities, and all I do is work my butt off. I compete my butt off no matter where I'm at, no matter who is in my running back room, and that's just the bottom line. So, I try to be the best player that I can be and bring my best foot to the table every time I step on the field."
You mentioned the team brought back their coaching staff and playmakers from last season. How significant is it to have the same offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, and the continuity of so many familiar teammates? (Kyle Barber) "It's huge. You have a team last year where we were comfortable operating together in an offense. So, just to be able to grow another year in that offense with our playmakers that we had last year and then add-in more playmakers, I think that's nothing but an advantage for us. We're familiar with the offense. We can just continue to get better in the offense, continue to get better [at] communicating within the offense and add more nuances to the offense. To have our 'OC' [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] back [and] great 'DC' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] back, that's nothing but an advantage for us. I'm thankful they are back, because I love both those coaches."
You are a veteran guy. I'm curious, just on a general level, with this offseason and not being able to practice until mid-August, what factors do you think are going to separate the teams that handle this well, versus the teams that may struggle to get on the same page or struggle to put together the type of team they want? (Aaron Kasinitz) "The camaraderie that you have within your team, the ability to be able to communicate within your team, the ability to be able to improve every-single day – those are all key factors in having a great team. And obviously, you want your teams to stay healthy this year, so I think all those things factor into having a great team that is going to start the season fast and have a successful year this year. So, we have to win the day. Each meeting, you have to be able to translate what we are learning in the meeting onto the field and make the necessary [and proper] adjustments to be successful. We have a great coaching staff. We have great players with the right mindset. We have a great organization with the right mindset. … (Inaudible) … I have the utmost confidence that we'll be able to accomplish those things as long as we stay on course."
Who were some of the mentors you had when you showed up as a rookie or second-year guy, and what did you learn from them that now is the same kind of message that you want to pass along ? (Pete Gilbert) "I had a lot of older guys when I got to New Orleans. I was there with Darren Sproles, Will Smith – rest in peace, Marques Colston, just a number of guys that were helpful [and] gave a helping-hand to me. I knew they were successful. They had 10-plus-year careers. Sproles is a legend. [I was on the roster with] Pierre Thomas. Those guys, they weren't selfish. They were welcoming with open-arms to me – the entire locker room was – and I think that's where my mindset comes [from] with helping the younger guys, because as a veteran, you have to be able to help your younger guys. You are only as strong as your weakest link. You have to bring everybody up to the standard. You have to bring everyone up to [an] elite level. Competition breeds excellence, and when you have everybody competing at a high level, every-single person gets better. When you have players that are competing at a high level and playing at a high level, that's how you win games; that's how you win championships. The more players you have that are playing at a high level, the more ballers you have that are unselfish, I think that is a sign of a great team."
How did your calf injury last season shape how you wanted to rehab and get back to strength? This offseason, we saw the work that you were doing with Dr. Reef down in Miami. It looked really interesting. What did you want to do with your body at this point in your career? (Jonas Shaffer) "I just want to stay sharpening my tools. [I want] to continue to improve [and] continue to get better. Obviously, any deficiencies that you had, you want to make those strengths. Rehabbing my calf; obviously, in the beginning of the year, that was my first goal – making sure I got that back to full strength [and] got that back to full health. Make sure I was able to be explosive. Make sure I was able to be functional. Make sure I was able to be stable. Make sure that I was able to do everything that I need to do to be elite and play at a high level. From training with my guy Tony Villani down there, and obviously, doing my rehab and my prehab stuff with Dr. Reef, I just try to do everything necessary to make sure I'm bringing my complete package to the table and have my best season in my tenth season. That's what I worked on, and I'm thankful to everybody who helped me."