COURTESY OF BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
Miles, we talked to you this offseason, and you talked a lot about your workout program and some of your goals and stuff, but what has your training set you up to do here early in the camp? How do you feel like it's helped you so far have such a good start to training camp? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Just being able to be more physical, having more endurance out there and just being an all-around player of the game. I'm feeling more explosive, and like I said, I'm just feeling good. Last year at camp, I was probably hurting at this time, just leg-wise. I think maybe not having OTAs and stuff like that might help my legs right now, but I'm feeling great."
I think you mentioned during the offseason that you really had to rest up after last season ended, you were pretty banged up. Was that any part of your ups and downs last season? Did you have a clean bill of health for much of 2019? (Jonas Shaffer) "I would never call myself a football player and talk about injuries. If I'm playing out there, then I'm playing. It doesn't matter what I'm feeling, what type of aches I'm feeling. I think probably just the biggest takeaway, for me, is that obviously, as a rookie, you don't necessarily know how to take care of your body. For me, I just had to go out there, and I'm learning from the vets now. I've done that over the offseason and even now into camp. My body just feels completely different. I just feel healthier right now. And like I said, obviously, after the season I was banged up. But when you have this long of a break, I think that's where you're going to see a lot of players benefit from, because I've had this whole offseason to focus on my body, focus on my strength and conditioning and just be ready for camp."
You're penciled in as a starter already. WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown came in in great shape. You look great. Are you ready to take that Year Two leap? How much pressure do you put on yourself? Everybody is looking at you to do big things this year. (Kirk McEwen) "I don't think that there's any pressure … I [don't] feel any pressure. I think a lot of us will tell you that the pressure should come from yourself, and for me, it does – absolutely. I put the pressure on me, because I want to be the absolute best I can for this team. I know I have to do what I'm capable of in order for this team to win a Super Bowl, and that's our Number One goal. So, for me, it's always been, 'OK, my rookie year is under my belt, but now I'm seeing things faster. I'm doing things faster. I'm making plays.' So, for me, I've been blessed to be, obviously, on this great team, on this offense and have a great coaching staff that's around me to be able to help me go out there and play."
How is your connection with QB Lamar Jackson this year? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre)"It's been growing a lot, obviously, over these first couple days of camp. I feel like we've had a great connection, and it's only going to grow. We're talking a lot more things out. We're seeing things quicker on both sides. Just being able to build that connection [and] that chemistry this early in camp has been great for us."
What's your reaction when the Ravens work out a player like WR Dez Bryant? I know they didn't sign him, but what were you thinking when you learned they worked him out? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Honestly, it has nothing to do with me. That's their job. My job is to go out there and play to the best of my ability every day, and that's what I try to do. Whatever happens, happens. But I've got to focus on myself and this team first."
Now that you've gone through a season as a rookie, how valuable is it for you to go up against CB Marlon Humphrey and CB Marcus Peters in practice every day – just in terms of your long-term development? (Luke Jones) "It's huge. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to practice against, because not only are they competitive, but they'll also … After practice is over, we'll talk about, 'Oh, I saw you did this; I saw you did that,' and we'll just kind of talk things through sometimes, where I ask them kind of what they're seeing. They're great. Obviously, going to practice against two of the best 'DBs' [defensive backs] in the league is awesome for me – just to be able to experience that. And hopefully, when I go into the game, it's a little bit easier. But, man, those guys are tough, and they make it hard day-in and day-out, just because they're so skilled and talented."
When head coach John Harbaugh was talking about you the other day, he was saying that you're taking it very personally, trying to win every battle for the ball. Is that more of a mental thing, or is there a physical-technique component to that? (Childs Walker) "I think it's both. Any time the ball is in the air – I'm 6'4", 225 [pounds] – it's got to be mine. That's why I'm out there. And personally-wise, I just feel like this is my time. This is time for me to be able to take over, and when the ball is in the air, I've just got to go get it. That's what this team needs, and that's what I'm here for."
You mentioned off the top that you feel more explosive this year. Can you just talk a little bit more about that? (Garrett Downing) "Yes, just being able to work with [head strength & conditioning coach] Steve [Saunders], I think he put a great offseason program together for us. Like I said, I've felt more explosive. I know what to expect now in Year Two in terms of what it's going to take day-in and day-out to be an NFL wide receiver. So, for me, I was just able to prepare for that, and I had a long time to do that. Since, obviously, we didn't have OTAs or anything else, I had a long time to prepare. Like I said, I've felt great so far, and I'm just going to continue that pace."
A year ago, as a rookie, you were playing in preseason games and getting ready for the regular season. This current rookie class won't have that. What are they missing, and what can they do to make up for that? (Mark Viviano) "I think part of what they're missing is the atmosphere. But, now, with the way this season is going, they might not even really be missing the atmosphere if we don't have one. So, I think that the biggest thing for them is just to be able to take these reps when we're going full pads and take them like game reps, honestly. Especially with wide receivers, when we're out there, we're running as fast as we can anyways. We don't really tone anything down when we have padded practices. But I would say that's the biggest thing. Obviously, going up against our great secondary is a great, great way to prepare for a game. So, I've been trying to tell them just, 'Make the most out of all the reps that you guys are getting, because this is kind of it; this is what we have right here.' And obviously, we have great people to practice against and with, but this is all we have right now."
What have been your impressions of the rookie wide receivers? (Ryan Mink) "They've been great. They've come in here, they've done everything that's asked of them, they have great attitudes, and I think they fit great in our room. Honestly, I already feel like they're a part of the room in terms of chemistry. They want to learn. Every day they go out there and try to get better. They want to learn, and they just have great attitudes, and they've been making plays."