Top four takeaways from the first training camp press conference of Ravens ILB Patrick Queen
Rookies around the league reported to training camp last week and on Friday the Baltimore Ravens top two draft picks addressed the media for the first time since reporting. Rookie inside linebacker Patrick Queen, who the team selected in the first round out of LSU with the 28th overall pick, touched on several interesting topics when he stepped to his virtual podium.
Here are the top four takeaways from his first training camp presser minus his comments on being ready and excited to have an instant impact in the Ravens’ defense because they will be featured in a more detailed piece:
How serious the Ravens are about staying healthy and on mission amid COVID crisis-
The Ravens were the hottest team in the regular season in 2019 but had their championship aspirations snuffed out by the Tennessee Titans in a stunning upset loss in the divisional round of the playoffs. Baltimore is on a mission heading into the 2020 season and isn’t planning on letting COVID-19 or any actual opponent to get in the way of a deep postseason run.
They don’t have to waste much time stressing to their rookies the importance of abiding by the league’s health protocols when they’re at the team facilities and practicing responsible behaviors that reduce their risk to exposure to the virus when they’re outside of the building. If they all share a similar mindset as Queen then they know what’s at stake and what’s required of them to ensure that their available and able-bodied on game days.
“Its football season,” said Queen. “This team is pretty mentally strong, and everybody understands the task at hand that we have. Every day we come in we have the simple task of six feet apart, wash your hands, keep your mask up and just do what the people tell us to do. If we do that, we’ll be fine and the season will be perfect for us.”
How SEC competition helped prepare him for the NFL-
Even though he was just a one-year starter at LSU, he made those starts in the toughest conference in all of college football. The South Eastern Conference is the cream of the power five conference crops where they churn out more Pro Bowlers, All-Pros, and quality to above-average NFL starters than all the others. Queen believes that going up against players that week in and week out on Saturdays that he’ll likely be seeing on Sundays in the pros helped him prepare and get a glimpse of what it is like to face off against the best on a routine basis.
“No matter what team you play in the SEC, it’s a battle every week,” said Queen. “You’re going to hit the training room, you’re going to get ready, you’re going to get right for the week coming up.”
“My biggest thing is just the level of competition is always greater in the NFL than it is in college and just able to play in the SEC, playing hard-nosed football every week. I feel like that prepared me for the NFL.”
Going up against the likes of Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide and Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs may have been hard-fought battles at the collegiate level but going up against the elite talent of the Kansas City Chiefs and playing six games in the black and blue division of the AFC North will be an all-out war every time he and his fellow Ravens take the field this fall.
Disappointment with eliminated preseason-
Speaking of NFL competition, Queen and the rest of his class both drafted and undrafted will have to wait until opening weekend of the regular season get their first taste of live action against an opposing team since the league and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) agreed to go from a reduced number of exhibition games to none at all last month.
It’s really disappointing for the Ravens who, like most teams, rely heavily on the tape that their players put on film against players that they aren’t familiar with to ascertain who will make their final roster.
Baltimore has a strong tradition of absolutely dominating in the preseason in recent memory which is a credit to the coaching and quality depth that they have both sides of the ball behind their starters but especially on defense where their second, third and even fourth stringers have feasted on the reserves of other teams in an effort to prove themselves to the Ravens or even a scout of another team that might be watching for who to claim off waivers during the final round of cuts.
The Ravens have completed four straight perfect preseasons without a blemish on their record and with the exception of 2015 which should’ve been an omen of what was to come that year, they’ve gone undefeated in exhibition games in five of the last six year. Their last loss in the preseason came on September 3rd, 2015 when their reserves battle against the Atlanta Falcons and narrowly lost 19-20.
While Queen expressed his disappointment in not being able to carry on that proud tradition and get those valuable tune-up reps before the real bullets start flying in September, he knows that adjusting and overcoming new challenges comes with the territory in the NFL and he’s focused on being as ready as he can be for Week One.
“They take their preseason games here very seriously and that’s a learning process for us,” Queen said. “For me not to be able to get that, it’s unfortunate, but at the same time, you’ve got to adapt.
“When the time comes, Game 1, let’s rock and roll. We’ve only got so much time to learn everything. I’m going to grab it as quickly as I can.”
Queen believes that safety Chuck Clark will continue play-calling duties-
The inside linebacker is typically the player with the microphone in his helmet that receives the defensive play calls from the coordinator and relays them for the rest of the team. In the Ravens defense, that player has a green dot on their helmet, signifying that they are the one relaying the plays to the others. Last season that was safety Chuck Clark and Queen believes that he’s earned the right to continue carrying on that responsibility.
“I’m pretty sure that Chuck will have that right to keep it being the play-caller right now,” Queen said. “I’m just going to go under his wing, learn how he does things how he carries himself. And eventually, fill into that role that he has.”
To expect a rookie, even one as talented as Queen, to come in after an entirely virtual offseason program and a little over a month of actual practice time before the season start to be the signal-caller for a defense he is still getting the handle of would be a recipe for disaster when they have a player like Clark who is lauded as one of the smartest players on the entire team on both sides of the ball and knows the defensive playbook better than anyone outside of maybe coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale. The defense bounced back from their rough start to the season last year once Clark was the one communicating the plays and getting his teammates in the right positions and alignments.