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Ravens Wednesday Transcripts: Week 11 vs. Steelers

Posted Nov 14, 2012

Includes Head Coach John Harbaugh, QB Joe Flacco , RB Ray Rice and OLB Terrell Suggs

Ravens Wednesday Quotes: Week 11 vs. Steelers

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: “Great to see everybody. Thanks for coming. [We’re] getting ready to go – very excited for our week of preparation. We had a good start, so we’re on our way.”

It’s usually about what you do and not what the other team does, but now that it’s official that Ben Roethlisberger won’t be playing, is there a mindset that goes with not facing him? (Joe Platania) “No, not really. We don’t really concern ourselves with injuries. We haven’t concerned ourselves with our own team’s injuries. Why are we going to concern ourselves with somebody else’s injuries? Our focus is going to be on the team that we are going to play – it always is – and playing as well as we can play.”

Nothing changes in terms of preparation because he is not there? (Jerry Coleman) “Nope. [It will be] the same exact preparation.”

In terms of Byron Leftwich, what do you see from his style of quarterback? (Aaron Wilson) “The thing about Byron, personally, I’ve always been impressed with is, first of all, is his competitiveness. [He has been] highly successful. At one time, with Jacksonville, he was one of the premier quarterbacks in football. He’s still got those skills. He obviously has a lot of wear left. He hasn’t played a lot lately, so he’s very healthy. [He has a] strong arm – a very smart player. I’m sure they have the whole offense up for him. So, that’s my point. You defend the offense. They’ve got weapons all over the field. They are arguably one of the most talented, if not the most talented, offenses in football. All those guys are going to be out there playing, and Byron Leftwich or Charlie Batch is fully capable of running that offense very well.”

Mike Tomlin is a Super Bowl winner and has a lot of success at a young age as a coach. What do you see from him and what type of coach he is? (Aaron Wilson) “I haven’t really been digesting that. That’s not something I’ve been thinking about. We have a lot of respect for Mike, obviously, a lot of respect for their whole staff.”

Joe Flacco is as durable as it gets. He has never missed a start; he is a winner. How happy are you to have a guy like Joe as your quarterback? (David Ginsburg) “We’ve always said we think the world of Joe. I personally hold him in the highest regard. He’s our quarterback. He’s my quarterback. We all believe in him. We’ve said that many times, and we’re excited to go into this game with him as our guy.”

As the game changes and becomes more of a passing league, do you see the same sort of old-school style when Baltimore and Pittsburgh play? (Aaron Wilson) “I think we see old school mindset. It’s one of those games that will be played very well. It will be played very efficiently. It will be a rough, tough game – like they all are. That’s how they are all played.”

With Todd Haley’s offense, do you still have to be aware of Mike Wallace and the deep threat that he has? (Ryan Mink) “Absolutely. [And] not just Mike Wallace. Of course, Mike Wallace is a huge, big-play threat. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders … Heath Miller is a down-the-field threat when they run the seam routes and the seven routes. Every single one of those guys can get loose on you at any time.”

Joe had that 92-yard, game-winning drive last year. What do you remember about that particular drive? (Bo Smolka) “You know what I remember, mostly, is the very first catch that Anquan [Boldin] made to get it started. Usually that’s pretty important in a two-minute drive.”

John, the Ravens are one of the few teams that have had success at Heinz Field. How much confidence does that give you heading into Sunday night? (Ed Lee) “I don’t know. That’s all stuff that is fun to write about, I guess, and maybe read about. But, it doesn’t mean that much to us. We are always confident. We are a confident football team no matter what. It’s always good to play well. We’ve been playing well. We’ve been improving and getting better. So, that’s where our confidence comes from. But, it’s a new challenge. It’s going to be a very difficult challenge. They are a great football team, but we’re excited to go play them, and we’re confident we will play well.”

When both teams have injuries to star players, does the physical nature of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry become even more important? (Peter Schmuck) “I don’t know if it could be more important. It’s important, it’s critically important, no matter who is playing. There will be great players playing in that game. Every time an 11 takes the field, there will be 11 great players out there. It will be very exciting to watch and be a part of.”

What makes these running backs tough? With these injuries, all three of them have had their opportunity and been able to do pretty well out there. (Jason Butt) “First of all, it starts with the offensive line. Their offensive line is a big, physical offensive line. They maul you. That’s their whole thing. The backs are downhill backs. Both [Jonathan] Dwyer and [Isaac] Redman are hard-running guys – very difficult to tackle. You have to wrap them and take them to the ground. You’ve got to gang-tackle, those kinds of things. We will see if Rashard [Mendenhall] plays, and [Chris] Rainey is a breakaway threat at anytime; he’s had some time in there. Again, they’ve just got a lot of good players.”

They are obviously ranked No.1 in total defense right now, ranked No. 1 against the pass. Against the pass in particular, what have they done well that has enabled them to have that kind of success? (Matt Zenitz) “They’ve done what they always do. They pressure you, first of all. They’ve got very good pass rushers. They do a good job of trying to get their guys in one-on-one situations. Their pressure package is predicated on creating the matchups they want in the pass rush. And then they’ve got playmakers who catch and run and make plays. And obviously, the quarterback has played well. I kind of got backwards on that, didn’t I? I got it flipped around and starting thinking back about the quarterback. Let me rephrase that. Pressure, I think they have very good corners on both sides of the ball. Their safeties play with good vision – run and pass. It’s always a combination of the front end and the back end, and they’ve just done a good job. And they have a nice package.”

Pernell McPhee has missed the last couple of games. How is he progressing in terms of getting closer to getting back on the practice field? (Luke Jones) “He’s getting closer. We’ll see how he does this week.”

Are these games against the Steelers measuring stick games for you guys? Do they let you know where you are as a team more than your average game in the season? (Childs Walker) “I haven’t thought of it like that. No.”

John, you guys made a move yesterday to add depth in the secondary. Would it be wrong for us to link that to Jimmy Smith and his progress with his groin? (Glenn Clark) “You can’t have enough corners. We all know that. And, Jimmy’s got the groin issue. We are going to have to take that day by day and just see where we are at, but it helps to have Chris Johnson here. That’s something I probably should have mentioned right out of the gate. We signed Chris Johnson, formerly of Oakland and other teams. He had a great workout yesterday, looked really good. [He is] a great guy – a guy we’ve always respected as a player. We’re very excited to have him on board.”

Regarding Flacco’s durability, how much of it is being big and strong, and is there technique involved? Can you get coached to protect yourself and staying healthy? (John Eisenberg) “I don’t know. My wife rides horses and she says that when a horse throws you, you are supposed to lean forward and grab the neck, and then when you jump off you are supposed to roll and kind of take the momentum out of it. We have not worked on that drill with Joe. (laughter) So, I’m not sure, but he is durable. He’s just a tough guy, and we’ve protected him pretty well over the years. Everybody’s got their style. Tyrod [Taylor] has done a great job. Dennis Dixon is here. Those guys are always prepared for their opportunity as well. At any position, at any time, you are ready for the next guy to go in and play.”

How much can Dennis Dixon help you prepare for Pittsburgh? (Ed Lee) “Not really a lot. Obviously, it’s a different offense now with Todd Haley. We’ve studied those guys over the years. Dennis is focusing on being the best quarterback he can be and learning our system and preparing himself to play.”

Is there anything for any of the new guys that you share with them about his being their first Baltimore-Pittsburgh game? (Drew Forrester) “We just talked about the kind of game that you guys talked about – the style of the game that it is. Our players maybe share that with them a little bit. But, you have to experience it to understand it. So, we’ll just let them experience it, go in there and do their best and play ball.”

Is there something about being comfortable there because you go so often and you see it and you know what you’re getting into? (Nestor Aparicio) “There probably is. It’s a stadium that we’re used to being in. We know the bus ride. We know how the fans are going to react to us, and we like that, too. It’s all part of it. It’s just a great environment to play ball in. The AFC North is special, and when you play each other, it is like that. It’s kind of like family. So, we like that place.”

How are they going to react to you? (Drew Forrester) “It’s not going to be real nice, probably.” (laughter)

Jacoby Jones was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Do you take personal pride in knowing that this is a unit that you addressed so early in free agency? (Kris Jones) “We are really happy for Jacoby. Anytime a player gets an honor, we look at it like a team thing, a unit thing. Those guys are all real proud of that. We’re excited about the play of all of our guys, so when guys have success, as a coach, it is kind of a rewarding deal. But, we move on to the next one”

 

QB Joe Flacco

On if he has watched WR Torrey Smith’s game-winning touchdown catch from last year’s game at Pittsburgh: “Yeah, somebody actually just had the clip of it today. So, we’ve seen it.”

On what he remembers from that play: “I remember not really realizing whether it was a touchdown or not or who the flag was on, so it took me a little while to respond to it.”

On how much a play like that can serve as a catalyst for future games in Pittsburgh: “I don’t know. I think each game is separate. I think we’re a pretty confident team to begin with. It may help out with some of that, with some of the young guys on the team, if anything, but I’m not really sure.”

On if he feels that play built his trust in Smith: “No. That really didn’t matter to me. I have to go to him when the coverage calls for me to go to him, and he is either going to make [the catch] or he is not. I am either going to make the throw or I am not. It doesn’t really matter what he has done in the past. I have to make sure I can rely on him in the future, and I have all the confidence in the world, and I always have had. Even in that game, I think it happened that way.”

On if he has any sort of empathy, being a fellow starting quarterback, for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: “I’m sure there is. I honestly don’t have too much of a relationship with most of the guys out there, but when you see them out at different events and things like that, there is definitely that little bit of camaraderie and things like that that go on.”

On what it says about him that he has never missed a game, gone to the playoffs every year and twice engineered game-winning drives vs. the Steelers: “I don’t know. It’s our job, and sometimes games turn out where you have to win games like that, and sometimes they turn the way where you kind of just win them or you lose them. I’m not really here to talk about that. I think they have been good games, and we’re definitely proud of them as a unit. Other than that, we haven’t really given it too much thought. We’re happy in the moment, and we’re excited when we get that win, but usually we have to move on pretty quickly. This will be just another one of those. No matter how this game goes on Sunday, we’re going to have to move on quickly and get ready for the next one.”

On if he is proud that he has not missed a game in his career: “I haven’t played too too long yet, but definitely. You want to go out there and you want to show up for your teammates every Sunday, and you do everything you can to make sure that happens.”

On how different the mentality is on a normal drive in the second quarter or a potential game-winning drive: “I’d like to say you have the same exact mentality, because it’s pretty much a similar scenario – no matter what point in the game it is. You have to go out there and act like you are going to put the ball in the end zone every time you get it. But, there is definitely a sense of do or die. You either win or you lose. It’s right now. It’s definitely a more immediate result. We all understand that. I don’t know if I’d necessarily describe it, but we can all feel it when we take the field.”

On how he has been able to stay so durable: “We have a good team. We have good offensive linemen, good running backs, good wide receivers, and that all plays into it.”

On how much Smith has grown as a wide receiver since his game-winning catch at Pittsburgh last year: “He is growing every day. He is becoming better and better every single route that we have. He is just really developing and becoming really, really confident.”

On if there is a feeling that the upcoming stretch of games will give a sense of what kind of team this is: “I’m sure. You can probably feel it a little bit. At the same time, I think our job and when we’re at our best is when we come in here and kind of go about our business the same, no matter what the circumstances may be. I think we do a great job of doing that. For the most part, I would think we’re pretty much the same, but there is probably a little sense that the next few weeks are going to kind of determine a good amount of how the season goes. I think we’ve set ourselves up nicely. We’ve played very well in the first half. That doesn’t just get put to the wayside now and forgotten about. Those games will be accounted for, come playoff time, to determine the teams that get in. These games will be important, especially for the division. We have half the games left in the division – one against Cincinnati, two against these guys [the Steelers]. It will definitely be important for our AFC North championship [pursuit].”

On if players want to play against the best players of other teams: “I think you want to. I wouldn’t say you are necessarily disappointed when you find out those guys aren’t playing. At the same time, you do want to go out there, and you want to beat what you believe is a very good opponent when they are at their best so you can say that you’re better than them, and they don’t have any excuses. This is a tough league, and sometimes things happen to guys that don’t allow them to get out there on Sunday. That’s just the way it is, and we can’t really put too much thought into that. We just have to go out there and play the game. A win is not going to be any different to us just because a couple of their guys aren’t playing.”

On if there is a level of comfort going to Pittsburgh because he has been there so many times: “I’ve sat a lot of games on the sidelines at that field just back in college. I don’t know. I’ve played there [six] times. I don’t know if that adds to it, but I’m sure it probably does, somewhere inside of all of us. We’ve played there a good amount. We’ve really gone and played pretty well there, so we should be happy and confident when we take the field, and I think that we are. I’m sure that does add to a little bit to why we are confident there.”

On if scoring 55 points this past Sunday gives the team more confidence going into this week’s game: “No, I don’t think so. I think we already are a confident group. From week to week, you can’t really say what we did last week is going to carry over to the next week. It may, but I don’t think that was the reason. I think it was because you put in the hard work that week, and you had a good plan and you executed it well. That’s completely separated from the Oakland plan. Hopefully, we go out and do that again, but it’s not going to have anything to do with the Oakland game. It’s going to be because we came up with a good plan, came out here and worked on it, and then went on Sunday and executed it.”

On his impressions of Steelers CBs Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis: “Good. They’re playing well. We’ll see what happens on the back end, but those guys are going to have to come up, be physical, and they’ll probably rely on those guys a good amount to play our guys pretty tight. I have a lot of confidence in our receivers. We’ve played Taylor a good amount over the years, and Lewis has started to show up a little bit. Obviously now, he is in there for the long haul, so it’ll be exciting to get out there and get a feel for them [in] live action.”

On if there has even been a point leading up to a game where he was injured enough that he didn’t know if he would play: “No.”

On what the toughest injury he has ever had to play through: “The toughest was back [in 2009] when we beat New England in that playoff game. I never thought I wasn’t going to go, but I definitely had a tough time moving around that week. At times in practice, it was tough to have my legs underneath me. I could drop back and throw pretty comfortable, but moving around here and there was definitely a little tough that week.”

On how much the offense will open up if Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark can’t play: “I don’t know. Those guys are going to have good guys on the back end no matter what. Obviously, those guys give you something that maybe not everybody in the league has. They are physical. Troy is a little bit unpredictable. They may not have that, but whoever they do put back there is going to be a good player, and they are going to come in and definitely make sure they have something to show us. We can’t take them lightly, and we have to go out there and just execute they plays the way they are meant to be.”

On if quarterbacks getting hurt remind him of how fortunate he is to still be healthy: “I probably think about how fortunate I am to still be standing, but it’s the name of the game, so I don’t put too much thought into it. It’s just the way it is. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with a head injury like that. Hopefully, I have a lot of football left, so you never know. It’s a crazy game. It’s a game we all choose to play. Sometimes things like that happen – hopefully just not too often.”

On if spreading the ball around opens up more ideas going into the game at Pittsburgh: “You know what? I think that Pittsburgh realizes what kind of team we have no matter what we do week to week. They’ve played us a good amount. They played these tight ends last year, so they’re going to have their game plan and they are going to have their way of defending us. I don’t think that really is predicated on what we’ve done last week or the week before. I think they have a good feel for how we play the game and what kind of guys we have on our side of the ball. They’re going to have their way of defending us, and we’re going to have to make sure we get a good feel for it early on. If we have to make any adjustments, we’ll do that.”

On what he remembers from his first-career road game, which happened to be at Pittsburgh in primetime: “It was a lot of fun. We went up there, and we played a game that we probably all think we should have won. We weren’t quite able to do it, and they pulled it out in overtime. Obviously, we were disappointed, but it was a lot of fun to go up there. It was a great place to kind of … Being a rookie, just going up there and feeling how physical they are as a team and how good they are as a team, it’s always been a great place to go back to every year. The other thing I remember is we hit [former Ravens WR] Derrick Mason in the corner, and if we had probably challenged the play, we might have gotten a touchdown out of it. We never challenged it, and they called it incomplete. We’ve played good up there, and that was just another one of those games, and we have to make sure we continue to do that.”

On if playing in primetime adds extra fuel to the fire: “I don’t think so. Maybe a little bit subconsciously. You guys will talk about it a little bit, so it always ends up being a little bit bigger deal than I’d like to think it is. It’s just another game. I don’t really think it matters whether you play it at 1, 4 or 8 o’clock. But for some reason, it tends to matter a little bit.”


RB Ray Rice

On how much confidence the team has going to Pittsburgh after last year’s game: “It’s always fun playing in Pittsburgh. [It is a] tremendous organization – much respect. The win there definitely felt a little sweeter than it did winning here. It’s always great to win on the road, especially the way we did last year. Needless to say, last year is last year. They are a different team; we’re a different team. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.”

On if he looks at this as a good chance to put a good showing on the road, especially in a primetime game: “We are looking for a chance to – No. 1 – control the division, but it just so happens to be the Steelers. You can’t take anything away from them. Even without Ben Roethlisberger, they’re still going to play great football. That’s how much confidence coach [Mike] Tomlin has in that group. We know our challenges ahead.  They are a physical bunch. They haven’t changed a lot on defense, even with their stars out – [Troy] Polamalu. They are still coming after you. They are going to hit you hard. As a running back – especially on that field and that grass, as a running back, [it will be] a nice little day for us.”

On the mindset of the team going into this game: “This is the week that Ravens fans, Steelers fans always look forward to. It’s one of the most old-fashioned rivalries in football. In my five years, it’s been one of the most fun games to play in. Obviously, winning is better, but even the losses you take from, and you try to build off of it. We draft a team based on how we are going to be able to compete with the Steelers. But now, I think we are neck-and-neck with them. Obviously, they have won more Super Bowls than us, but they know coming into this game what kind of game it’s going to be.”

On what he does to prepare his body for the cold weather:  “What do you do? You put a little bit of Vaseline on your skin, warm your body up, so your skin doesn’t crack. But otherwise, I don’t wear any sleeves. I’m not that kind of guy. I played up north. I’m used to this cold weather. I know how to prepare for it, but it’s the time of year where you lather up, and obviously, for me, nothing on my arms, but I’ll be isolated within. Thirty-six [degrees] is actually hot once you’re playing. Anything below 32, then we have a problem.”

On QB Joe Flacco never missing a game: “Joe’s tough. I don’t want to go into weight room numbers, but the quarterback is actually pretty strong. Look at it at both ends … I don’t want to sell short … Ben Roethlisberger is one of the few quarterbacks that’s played with injuries. They say you can play hurt, but you can’t play injured. I’ve seen Ben play injured. It shows what kind of toughness that guy has. If he’s going to be out this game, obviously, you know it’s something very serious, because the way of the nature he plays the game. On our end, I’ve seen Joe Flacco play hurt, but right now, we are a pretty healthy team. Our goal as an offensive group is not to get Joe hit, and we take pride in that. But even when he does get hit, you always look back and check on him, and he’s getting up. He’s ready to roll. That says something about our quarterback, because quarterbacks, obviously, when guys are coming free at him – by him throwing the ball and everything – he’s really unprotected. People say the running back position is tough, but I get to brace for a lot of my hits. It feels a lot different, because I’m protecting my body. Usually when you get a hit on a quarterback, it’s one of those free shots. And [Joe has] taken a few of them, but he’s able to bounce back, and we take pride in protecting him.”

On if he expects a lot of carries at Pittsburgh after how RB Jamaal Charles performed last week: “They came in with a great plan. The Kansas City Chiefs really did come in with a great plan. But this week is more … We have to take what they are going to give us, but I think running the ball is something that we have to do well against them. I’ve always said it: You don’t pick up and say, ‘We are going to run the ball at the Pittsburgh Steelers.’ They take a lot of pride in that. We’ll be smart when we run it, but we will try to execute at a high level and get some great runs. I’m sure we will be passing the ball as well. We have some burners on the outside. It’s pretty amazing to be amongst this talent this year. When you win the way we won last week, people probably expected 300 yards rushing out of me, but we did it on the opposite way. It’s great to see our team coming together.”

On if the next couple of games will say a lot about what kind of season the Ravens will have: “Yes, the next couple of weeks … Me and the weight room will have a lot of great things in there, because I have to start wearing my big boy pants now. It’s going to be a tough stretch for us, but to be 7-2 right now where we are at feels pretty good. If we were on the flipside of it going into this tough stretch, it would be very difficult. But right now to be 7-2 and know that we control our destiny and not any other team is a pretty good feeling. At the end of the day, we all have to go out there and play football. We have to execute at a high level, and it will be something that we will be looking forward to.”

 

OLB Terrell Suggs

On if this game feels a little different with players such as QB Ben Roethlisberger, LB Ray Lewis and S Troy Polamalu missing from action: “First of all, we don’t know if [Roethlisberger] is out. The guy played down here a couple of years ago with a broken ankle. So, until the ball kicks off on Sunday night and they start calling plays under center, I wouldn’t rule him out just yet. But as far as everybody else being out, yeah, it’s going to have a little bit of a different feel. Especially in this session, leading into the game, [there is] no 86 [Hines Ward], no 43 [Troy Polamalu], no 52 [Ray Lewis], no 21 [Lardarius Webb]. it’s definitely going to be different, a different feel. But once that whistle blows and the bullets become live, I don’t expect anything less than traditional Ravens/Steelers. So, it’s going to be that – it’s going to be what it is.”

On if he is skeptical about Roethlisberger being ruled out until he sees it for himself: “Yeah, until the ball is snapped, I’m still preparing as if he’s playing. Like I said, I saw the guy play with a broken ankle. He came down here, and I believe broke his nose, and the guy continued to play. And if you all recall, it didn’t pan out too good for us at the end of that game. So, like I said, until that ball is snapped, when we’re on the field and their offense is on the field, I’m not ruling him out. You can never question this guy’s toughness, but guys like that, it’s what this game is about. That’s what it’s going to take to win. It’s when you can taste the blood in your mouth that you know it’s on. So, that’s why this is the most heated rivalry in sports, next to Heat/Celtics – shout out to King [LeBron] James. This game sends a shockwave through the NFL. Everybody is going to go through their game on Sunday, but please believe they’re going to rush home, get on their couch, get all nice and comfortable and see the Ravens play the Steelers. This is it. This is the week everybody’s been waiting for.”

On what this rivalry means to him: “It’s a good, old-fashioned alley fight. You need a good one of those every now and then. This is why the two teams don’t like each other, because we’re so similar – you never cross paths without having a few things in common. So, if you look down the line in their team and our team, it’s pretty similar. So, it means a lot. This is why you play football, for games like this. You remember some games, but these are the games that you tell your grandkids about. You know, when we go down to Heinz Field and you see the towels, and you see the colors, you know you’re in a fight. Please believe we know what they’re going to do. As soon as we walk in their stadium, they’re going to lock the gates. But that’s what we want. We definitely want them to lock the gates behind us so we can get in there and we can have it out. We’ll see, when the clock reads 0:00, we’ll just see what happens. We’ll see how it goes.”

On if he believes that Heinz Field is the toughest place to win: “Definitely, because their fans are so involved in the game. Their fans are just like our fans – they’re emotionally tied to how this team performs. So, there’s going to be a lot of emotion riding in this game, and they’re going to live up to it. I’ve never, ever had a down game – like there was no energy in the stadium – in Heinz Field. I said it last year: This is my Madison Square Garden. If there is one place as a football player you would want to play, it’s definitely being the bad guy in Heinz Field. It’s definitely being the visiting team playing there – there and M&T [Bank Stadium]. I love playing at home, but when I’m talking about opposing stadiums, there’s none better than going to Heinz Field.”

On if playing Pittsburgh gives him a good idea of where they are as a team: “It potentially can. It depends on how both teams fare throughout the course of the year. Everybody, I think, was expecting the third matchup [in 2011] between the two teams, because we always play each other three times in a year. So, it always depends on how the other teams fare. So, you’ve got to see how it pans out, but there’s really nothing more important than the game this week. So, I guess we’ll address that next time around.”

On how much trust WR Torrey Smith earned with teammates after the game-winning catch in Pittsburgh last year: “Well, we’ve always trusted Torrey, and he showed all year last year that he can play in this league. He’s going to be a good player in this league, and he made a big catch at a time when we needed it the most. It’s kind of like he grew up; he stopped being a rookie in that game, and he went on to have a phenomenal season. But we’ve always trusted the men that lined up, that suited up in the black and purple. And when you’re across that line, we trust you, so that’s why we’ve had so much success here throughout the years.”

On if he will prepare for Steelers QBs Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch: “We’re going to prepare for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don’t think the game plan is pretty much going to change [regardless of] who’s under center. They’re going to be who they are. They’re going to do what Pittsburgh does, and they’re going to play Pittsburgh football. We’re going to show up and we’re going to prepare all week, and we’re going to prepare to play Raven football. So, we’re just going to prepare to play the Steelers, and if 7 [Ben Roethlisberger] is under center – and I expect him to play, like I said he played with a broken ankle – but whoever we get, we’re going to play football.”

On if the nature of this rivalry game ever changes depending on what players are out on the field: “No, no. It’s never going to change. As long as there’s an NFL, as long as these two teams have to play each other, the rivalry is always going to be what it is. So, like I said, it’s not going to change. Yeah, we would like to have 52 [Ray Lewis] here, we would like to have 21 [Lardarius Webb]. Yeah, they would like to have 43 [Troy Polamalu. Like I said, I still think 7 [Ben Roethlisberger] is going to play. They would like to have 86 [Hines Ward], but they don’t. So, it’s two teams; it’s business as usual. And like I said, we’re both going to prepare to win the game.”

On if the mindset is to circle this game on the schedule every year: “The mindset … It circles every player. The player doesn’t circle it. The player just knows – if you’ve ever been a part of Ravens/Steelers – that there’s nothing like it. It’s definitely something that’s special, and it’s special to be a part of. It’s always a game you get up for.”

On if he likes the direction the defense is headed in over the past few weeks: “You have to keep progressing. You don’t want to [say], ‘Oh, we’re getting back to our … ’ When you change something, change is permanent. You don’t want to do something one week and then not do it the next. So, we fared pretty well the last two weeks, and we’re just trying to keep it going. So, it’s nothing to be happy about. Then again, it’s nothing to not look at. So, we’re just going to keep trying to get better around here.”

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