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Super Bowl Wednesday Transcripts Part 1

Posted Jan 30, 2013

Quotes from the Baltimore Ravens media session.

HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH

(opening statement) “Good to see everybody. We’ve gone through a lot of the media stuff obviously and here we are right back again. We thought we had that behind us but that’s not the case. This is the Super Bowl right? Our guys are excited about that too, but what they’re really excited about is the football. We had a bunch of guys last night studying tape. The guys were really fired up to get to the football part of it this morning. We’ll take a little break for this and then we’ll get back for meetings after lunch and then we’ll head out for practice at Tulane. We had a chance to tour the facility yesterday, and they did a great job over there. So we’re looking forward to that. We’re hoping the rain lets up so it’ll be a nice dry practice, we’ll see how that goes, but our guys are excited for football and they’re prepared to attack this day with an enthusiasm beyond anything that has ever been known to mankind. So we’re topping that, too. We’re ready to go.”

(on how they are preparing to play in a dome) “We’ll spend a lot of time on noise and sound and it’s not, we’ve played in Atlanta, we’ve played in some of these places. You’re right, we don’t play in domes very often. We have an indoor practice facility that helps us. We’ve been in there a lot of the last few months so we’re pretty sure we’ll be ok. We’re looking forward to it. It’s a great venue.”

(on the number one lesson he has learned from his brother 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh) “I think the lessons just keep coming. Jim is a competitive guy and I guess the number one lesson would be you never take Jim lightly in anything ever. Expect his best at all times because you’re going to get it. He’s going to come to compete. He always has and he always will.”

(on what makes the pistol read option so hard to defend) “I think it will have staying power in the league, the pistol read option. The beauty of it is and part of the genius of it is it’s such a simple idea. It goes back to Nevada and Coach Ault out there. You can run your whole offense on it. You aren’t limited to an option type attack out of it. Not just the entire run game but the entire pass game as well. The backs get position to protect. You can run all your drop back stuff, you can run power run game inside and outside, and you can run read option, triple option. So it’s just a very versatile type offense and it forces you to defend a lot of different elements of the offensive attack.”

(on why he prefers a 3-4 defensive scheme) “When you watch our defense you’ll see that it is all based on personnel. That’s the main thing the personnel and the guys you have. We try to set all of our schemes up, in all three phases, around the guys that we have to put them in position to do the things that they do best. But there are a lot of elements of the 4-3 in what we do as well. We’ve been in over fronts plenty of times this year. We’ve been in under fronts plenty of times this year. Terrell Suggs is such a hybrid type of player he allows you to do so many different things. He can play like a defensive end and he can play like a drop outside linebacker. Paul Kruger is very versatile too, as is Courtney Upshaw. So those guys give you the ability – I would call us more of a multiple front. We run both odd and even fronts.

(on who his role model was growing up) “Absolutely. Our dad. Our dad and our mom. I would say our parents – parents should always be role models. Those are the number one people that influence, and as parents, that’s the most important role that we have. Everything we do our kids are watching and we watched our parents and tried to be like them.”

(on whether he ever wanted to be the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles) “I was definitely afraid of the media there, so who would want that on you. Those guys are all sitting right over there. No, that was never a thought really. Andy (Reid) was a guy that I’ve admired, and have learned so much from. I just wanted to do the best I possibly could to make sure that we were successful coaches. We had a great staff, Jim Johnson, all the guys that you know that have been through there. It was just a great great experience in Philadelphia and it’s historic what was accomplished there by Coach Reid, his coaches and his players.”

(on the matchup between the Ravens receivers and the 49ers defensive backs) “That’s a huge matchup, on the perimeter downfield and on the edges our, playmakers and receivers against their defensive backs. Their two safeties (Dashon) Goldson and (Donte) Whitner are just tremendous tacklers. They also do a great job downfield in the pass game, the number of interceptions, those kind of things. All four safeties in the scheme are four of the premier safeties in football and probably two of the best safeties in the nation in football.”

(on TE Vernon Davis’ athletic ability) “You can’t sleep on Vernon Davis. You can’t sleep on any of those guys. I mean, you know people don’t talk much about Randy Moss but he can ‘Randy’ you at any time. What does that mean? It means go up overtop of you downfield and make a play over guys who are sitting in their cover. He’s been doing that his whole career. Vernon Davis is just a spectacular athlete – he’s a good blocker as well – but the crossing routes, the seam routes, the seven routes, all the routes running downfield away from the quarterback. Colin Kaepernick is exceptionally gifted in that area, throwing those routes. Those two guys have the chemistry and they’re capable of making the big play and lighting it up at any time.”

(on whether it’s harder to prepare to face his brother because he is so familiar) “It’s probably a little tougher emotionally. It’s a little tougher just from the sense of – I don’t think you think about it when you’re coaching against somebody else. It’s more about the scheme and the strategy. There’s a little bit of a relationship element that’s more strong than maybe coaching against someone else. I’ll have a better answer for you after the game. I’ve never been through this before, this is all new.”

(on whether he has thought about holding up the Lombardi trophy) “I have given no thought to that. You don’t earn the right to even think about that until you’ve won the football game and become the one true champion. We’re not the one true champion at this point. We’re going to fight like crazy to earn that award.”

(on whether he has spoken to Ray Lewis about the performance enhancing drug reports) “No. The thing about Ray is he is one of the most focused – he’s been through so much. Ray, he’s a singularly focused individual. He understands what’s important and he understands what’s important is our football team heading into Sunday. And he also knows there’s nothing to it. I understand that’s something that he has never ever been involved with. I think it’s kind of too bad that someone was given the opportunity to get some free publicity out there, undeserved and unearned, really for no reason. As a football team, that’s not even a factor for us so we’re moving right through to our challenge which is the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.”

(on what Ray Lewis said when asked about the allegations) “He kind of laughed about it and told me there’s nothing to it. He told me the same thing he told you guys. Ray is honest, Ray is straight forward. He’s told us in the past, he’s never taken any of that stuff, ever. I believe Ray. I trust Ray completely. We have a relationship. I know this man, and I know what he’s all about. It’s too bad that this has to be something that gets so much play.”

(on balancing family time and football time during Super Bowl week) “We have talked about that. We have the family hotel all set up. Our organization did a great job. New Orleans did a great job. There will be opportunities for our guys in the evenings to do that and then get back here to get their rest and everything. So there’s a balancing act there. Our families are important to us. We always have the kids around the facility as you guys know. The kids are allowed to come to practice, those kind of things. Coaches kids, players kids, it’s all the same to us. So we don’t want to change that, it’s kind of our routine and how we do it.”

(on his progression to being a player’s coach) “You’ve got to write that article because I don’t know that I would describe it that way at all. I think one of the great benefits of growing up in the house that we did as coaches kids is that we saw dad do it. There are some principles that you grip on, that you can’t learn early on. The number one thing is that you put the players first. If you’re a coach, why are you doing it? You’re doing it for the players. You’re doing it for your students. Just like a teacher, coaches are teachers and we learned that as kids. Our dad had the players over all the time, players’ girlfriends and  wives. Players who had kids, their families were over. That’s just the way it was. We always had that kind of relationship. At the same time, as a coach and in football, you have to have certain standards and certain things that you stand for and you believe in and a certain way that you do things. You hold firmly to those things. That’s the thing that you do as a coach, you try to give everyone love. If you give everyone love, then you’re going to be successful.”

(on whether the players are ready to get to the football part of the week) “I think they’re enjoying all of it. I think they’re enjoying the media part as well. They’re doing a great job. We thought our guys were just tremendous yesterday. You got a chance to see who they really are and what they’re all about. The fact that their personalities were able to shine through in a really positive way is really good. It’s really important. It’s positive, it’s good for football, it’s good for the Ravens, good for the NFL, and good for both teams. So that was great. But those guys are football players, we’re football coaches, you guys are football fans, and everybody wants to get to the game. We tell our guys the game isn’t until 6:30 on Sunday. You can’t play the game on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday. It won’t be played until Sunday so now it’s about preparation. Let’s make the most of this day and we’re going to do that.”

(on the importance of the turnover battle) “The turnover battle is a factor in any football game. It’s huge. More so in the Super Bowl obviously. Both teams have done a good job of that. I think it’s a strength for both teams. It’ll be a big part of the game.”

(on running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery) “Wilbert Montgomery is our running backs coach. Wilbert is a star. He’s a star coach, star human being, star father, and star husband. He was a star football player for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was an All-Pro player, one of the best backs to play the game. At one time, he was the fastest human being in the world, did you know that? He was, a long time ago. He’s a great coach. I think Wilbert is a rising star in the profession. To me, Wilbert could be a head coach in this league just like that and do a great job. Hopefully he’ll get that opportunity.”

 

QUARTERBACK JOE FLACCO

(on how the experience at the Super Bowl has been) “It’s been fun. It’s good to kind of get back into a little bit of a normal schedule and get back to preparing for the game and things like that. Yesterday and Monday were a good time to settle in and get ready to go.”

(on if this experience is normal) “No. It’s a little different from our normal schedule, but you have to try to find the things that you would normally do and just take comfort in knowing that you’re going to get to those things at some point. All of the stuff that surrounds the game is so big. The stuff that normally is involved week-to-week is just a lot bigger.”

(on if it feels like a bye week) “I guess it was that way a little bit, a little bit like last week. In a bye week you would actually get away and last week we actually just started our preparation a little bit earlier so that now this week we can come in here and just make shore we really sure up what we do well and get rid of the things we don’t want.”

(on the offense evolving under OC Jim Caldwell) “I think it’s been an evolving thing ever since we played the first game against Cincinnati. I think Jim (Caldwell) has done a great job of taking the reins and adjusting to the situation that he was thrown into. I think we all have responded pretty well. We’re getting better each week and hopefully we can continue that on Sunday.”

(on making a statement during the playoffs) “I don’t know, that’s not really for me to worry about. You guys will talk about all of that stuff and debate it no matter what, so it’s just our job and my job to go out there and play the best we can and leave all that stuff for you guys to kind of debate between.”

(on if the Giants game was a turning point in the season) “I guess you guys can look at it that way, but, listen, we lost three games and one of them wasn’t very good but the other two were pretty close football games that we lost in the last couple of minutes. It wasn’t like we were playing terrible football. So it may look like that, but I think that we had the confidence throughout and we were just getting ready to hit our stride and get healthy.”

(on if beating the Giants was a confidence booster) “I think anytime you win a football game your confidence probably goes up a little bit. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact that they were the defending champs or anything like that.”

(on throwing the ball deep) “It’s fun when it works. We have guys that are really making some plays right now. Torrey Smith: he can stretch the field, Jacoby (Jones) and Anquan (Boldin) with his strong hands. We’ve been successful with it and hopefully we can continue to do that.”

(on the 49ers secondary) “They are a physical group of guys. We have to make sure we play with speed and run our routes crisply and make sure that we’re ready to have some contested catches and go up there with strong hands like Anquan (Boldin) is used to. Everybody has to get on board with that and I think if we do that then we’ll have some success.”

(on how to beat the 49ers defense) “I think the biggest thing that will get us off to a good start and be able to challenge those guys will be our offensive line doing a great job protecting and run blocking for our running backs. If they can start off good and kind of set the tone then we’ll be able to do what we want to and get to a little bit of the stuff that we think can throw (San Francisco) off a little bit. If not, it may be a tough day for us, but I think our offensive line has been doing a great job and if they can continue to do that then we’ll do what we want to be able to do.”

(on the changes along the offensive line) “We’ve had guys go down with injury. We’ve had young guys step in there and we wanted to see what they could do. We’ve made changes with that. The group of guys that we have in there right now is playing really well together and I think they’re a really good group. We didn’t make the decision to go with this offensive line until the first game of the playoffs, which is kind of a crazy move in some people’s eyes, but I think these guys have been playing really well together. I think the guys that are up there right now have a lot of talent and it’s a really good line. I think it’s paid off and hopefully they can continue to play the way they have been and I have a lot of confidence in them.”

(on reports about LB Ray Lewis using performance enhancing drugs) “It’s just crazy. I think a lot of people don’t understand what Ray Lewis is all about and, for some reason, people want to go out and try to get him. They put him in a bad light. The bottom line is Ray is a great person and a great person for this league. For somebody to do that and try to put a bad light on someone in this situation is kind of crazy at this point.”

(on whether the reports are distracting) “I don’t think so, no. I think Ray (Lewis) does a great job of handling those kinds of things so there for all of us just kind of take his lead and don’t really worry about it.”

(on making the playoffs every year since he’s been in the league) “It’s pretty cool. It will mean a lot if we can go win this game on Sunday. I think when you talk about winning as quarterbacks in the playoffs, I would think that all of them have Super Bowl victories so that’s really the only one that matters and that’s what we’re trying to get.”

 

WIDE RECEIVER TORREY SMITH

(on 49ers tight end Vernon Davis) “He’s a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. He doesn’t play like a tight end. When it comes to blocking he definitely gets down. He’s very physical. He can make all the plays as a receiver. He is fast – you can put him out there and line him up against a corner and he can beat him. I think that shows the type of talent that he has.”

(on his game following his brother’s death) “I play the same regardless. Even though my brother passed, I’ve always gone out and played my heart out for my family every time I step out on the field. That’s my brothers, my sisters, even my mother and my grandmother. Those are the people that helped me get to this point and depended on me.”

(on whether the talk about the Harbaugh brothers makes him think about his brother’s death) “No, I have brothers, I have two sisters.”

(on the 49ers secondary giving up big plays to Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones) “They were able to make some plays. One of them looked like busted coverage on the post. He was just a little flat footed and a little miscommunication. Julio was able to make some plays against them and other wide receivers too. That’s just part of the game. You win some battles and lose some battles. Julio played a great game last week. I think that’s a credit to him because they’re definitely a tough secondary. That isn’t easy to do.”

(on whether it gives him confidence knowing that Julio Jones was able to have a big game against the 49ers ) “I approach each team the same, regardless if they’ve allowed zero passing yards all year or a million. I feel like I can go out there and make big plays against everyone. You just have to go out there and do it.”

(on being a balanced offense) “I feel like we can run and throw with anybody. They are one of the best defenses in the league, but we play against the Steelers and they’re one of the best defenses in the league. It’s an NFL defense. They’re tough. They have some playmakers and they are great in all phases – especially up front. They are stout against the run and they can rush the passer. When you have that it makes it a lot easier for the guys in the back end, not to mention they’re already talented. We’re not looking past them by any means. If we go out there and play our game, we feel like we’ll be alright.”

(on handling his brother’s death) “That’s just life. That’s just how I am as a person anyways. I don’t really get caught up in an emotional roller coaster, I just try to stay steady. Part of doing that is staying consistent in what you do. Being part of this team and part of this family, we’re focused on one task at hand. Regardless of my brother passing or Mr. (Art) Modell or injuries, we all stay focused at the task at hand and that is trying to be the best team we can possibly be and make it to New Orleans. We’re here and we have an opportunity to win it all. That’s what we want to do.”

(on the challenges of staying focused on football after his brother’s death) “There are ups and downs in everything. That’s the beauty of this game. There are always going to be a lot of different challenges. It’s about how you overcome them. There are going to be a lot of highs, a lot of lows. You have to stay steady through it all. That’s why I think our quarterback is a great person for it. He’s really a testament of us. He stays level headed. We could be down by 100 and he could have the same facial expressions as if we were winning. I think that’s how our team is built.”

(on the 49ers defense) “I think they’re a great group. They’re very solid; All playmakers, very physical in the run game as well. Combine that with that defensive line and linebackers that they have and it’s a recipe for success. They’re very talented.”

(on his chemistry with Anquan Boldin) “Anquan means a lot to me. He’s like a big brother. He’s very smart. He’s like a quarterback on the field. You combine that with me coming in – I was a little bit raw. I needed to get better and more consistent with route running and things like that. ‘Q’ already had the work ethic and he’s a great pro to be matched with. There aren’t too many guys that will take you in as a rookie. For me, I could make plays but I wasn’t as polished. Anquan is very polished. To be around him, it’s helped me out so much over this past year.”

(on Anquan Boldin’s ability to be physical as a receiver) “Oh man, Anquan is physical. He’s (outrun defenders) several times this year. He’s huge. He has a linebacker’s mentality at receiver. You see corners running from him sometimes. I think that the way he plays the game at receiver, you can admire it.”

(on if he’s learned how to come down with the ball from Anquan Boldin) “You just have to have that anyways. I wouldn’t say necessarily that he taught me to go up and get the ball. I know if the ball is in the air, it’s either that guy or me. In order to benefit our team, I need to come down with it. I’ve always had the mentality that if the ball is in the air, it’s mine.”

(on the difference with Jim Caldwell as the team’s offensive coordinator) “I think it’s the same. It is a different guy calling the plays – that’s not knocking (former offensive coordinator) Cam (Cameron) or Jim. I always feel like I can get my baby brother to call plays and if we’re out there executing, he’s going to look like a genius. I just think that Coach Caldwell has done a great job mixing it up, being consistent and having a game plan and sticking with it. He has a vision and a goal for us – an objective, really – and he’s been able to accomplish getting that across.”

(on throwing downfield more in a dome)  “I don’t know. It just all goes with the flow of the game. We’re definitely going to take shots. We’re an aggressive offense. I think it all just depends on the flow of the game. (Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell) doesn’t just line up and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to throw 20 deep balls and just see what happens.’ It’s all part of his plan and we’ll see what he whips up.”

(on Joe Flacco’s personality) “I don’t think he’s necessarily boring, but if you didn’t know him, he could definitely come off that way. Once you interact with him and see how he goes about his everyday life and see him in the locker room, he’s not boring at all. He’s very sarcastic. He’s pretty funny. He has a lot of personality, but if you just look at him under the helmet, he has the same facial expression and it comes off that way.”

(on whether he can outrun Joe Flacco’s arm) “I’ve just learned to keep running. Never underestimate that it’s not going to make it. Just keep digging and you can always go back to it, but more often than not, he throws where it needs to be.”

(on Joe Flacco’s deep passes) “I think he throws a catchable ball, regardless of where it is on the field. There are times where you see a throw and you’re like, ‘Wow, how did he fit it in that window?’ He has a huge arm. He can make every throw and I think people really underestimate that.”

 

CENTER MATT BIRK

(on his decision to return for this season) “I mean, I always say that I’m playing until I’m not. I told Art after the season, I just need some time. Every year is just exhausting and the way our season ended last year, it takes a while to process those emotions. For me, before my physical well-being, if I feel like I can do it again or if I want to do it I need to make sure that it’s good for my family. People say, ‘What do you mean it’s good for your family? You’re an NFL player. You make a ton of money.’ But it’s a big sacrifice on their part, on my wife and I have six kids. You have to coordinate a lot of things and you have to make sure everybody is on board. (My family) just kind of took off; we have a little place we go to and hang out for a couple of months and that’s what we did. I don’t try to set a timeline on it or rush the decision. I just wake up every day and just live and see how I feel. It just got to the point and made the decision that we could do it again.”

(on if how close the team was last year played into his decision to return) “A little bit. That was as tough of a way to end the season as you can probably have. It was kind of in the back of my mind, I sure would like to give it one more run with this group.”

(on the success of the offensive line) “We just study real hard and we work fundamentals and techniques. There is no secret formula, you just try to prepare as well as you can and then go out there and do your best. It’s a good feeling to know as an offensive lineman that you have a quarterback and you have receivers and running backs that we know if we do our job up front those guys are going to make plays and good things are going to happen for our football team.”

(on the most difficult task for an offensive lineman) “It kind of depends. It depends on the situation and who you’re going against, who your opponent is. The most important thing as an offense is to have balance and to be able to do both and then the defense can’t key in on one or the other and you can keep them off balance a little bit.”

(on what he will do after football) “It’s scary. I joke but I’m kind of serious. People say, ‘What are you going to do when you’re done?’ and that’s probably why I’m still playing. The unknown is scary in some ways. You’re never going to be able to replicate some of the feelings, some of the emotions that you get playing this game. But I think it’s also important too, that’s a good life lesson to have: to keep everything in perspective. If this is as good as it gets for you then you’re in trouble. Through spirituality, through your family, through relationships, a lot of things, you need to have everything in the right perspective and you need to realize all of this is going to be gone someday. It ends for everybody.”

(on if his family wants him to retire) “Sometimes but then in the offseason I’ll be home for a month or two and they will be like, ‘Isn’t it time for you to go back to work?’ I like to try to get involved and they have a rhythm at home. When we have the reentry period in the offseason where I’m home a lot more, there’s always a few bumps on reentry.”

(on how Joe Flacco has been this week) “Joe has been Joe. He’s always the same, that’s the thing about him that you have to love. He’s not impressed by anything or anything that he does. Obviously he’s a hot topic this week but it doesn’t really affect him one way or the other. I really don’t think he cares too much.”

(on his expectation for Joe Flacco on Sunday) “I expect for him to be Joe. To go out there and play solid like he always does. He’ll do whatever is asked of him to help our team win.”

(on if this is the final opportunity for a lot of guys on the team to win the Super Bowl) “I don’t know if this is it but there are a lot of guys that are getting up there in years (in the league) and this is their first opportunity and you never know when it could be your last. We talk about opportunity a lot, how you have to seize the moment and appreciate the moment and make the most of the opportunity. The future, who knows? I know teams go through that, they have a window that will close and then they rebuild but as far as the Ravens’ franchise overall, they’ve been pretty good for a long time. It’s a pretty big window that they’ve had but the future is unknown. You have to make the most of it.”

 

CORNERBACK COREY GRAHAM

(on growing up in Buffalo) “It was very exciting. I had a great time in Buffalo. My whole family is still there. I enjoyed playing high school football there in the Catholic league. It’s very good competition. I enjoyed it. If I could do it all over again, I would go back and do it again.”

(on his 1700 yard season) “Is that what it was? I was alright. Not too bad of a year. In high school I was a running back and kind of a receiver. If you were throwing the ball, I was the receiver. If you were running the ball, I was the running back. But I had my high school coach. He did a great job of getting me involved in all things. He was like my mentor. Even when I was in college, I went back to train with him. He was a great coach for me and we had a pretty good team. Our basketball team was pretty good but our football team was alright. We could get it done. We had some good times.”

(on his influences in Western New York) “My brother was the one who influenced me the most as far as getting me above the fray to play football. He was the one that pushed me to be the best I could. (He had me) running early and training in the morning and doing all types of stuff. Him and my coach, I would say, they were the two people that influenced me the most.”

(on joining a Super Bowl bound team after leaving Chicago) “This has been amazing. It’s been unreal. I think everything this year has been amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I not only got the opportunity to get a chance to play, but I got the opportunity to play with guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. It’s been amazing. We’ve been riding a long time and now we’re here in the Super Bowl. We have one more step to go, but it’s been an amazing ride so far.”

(on the team being a family atmosphere) “It’s been great. That’s one thing that I was hoping for. In Chicago it’s like that too. The teammates were very close. Everybody was close to each other. Everybody got along. I didn’t want to go to an organization that was the opposite. You hear some stuff on SportsCenter and some stuff on websites talking about how players are fighting each other and they don’t get along with their coaches. It’s the complete opposite here. It’s a family oriented organization. They treat their players good. It’s a first-class organization. There’s nothing more I could ask for.”

(on getting to play defense) “It’s been unreal. That’s what you ask for. You wait five years and I finally get my chance to play on the defense. I couldn’t ask for anything more. When you get an opportunity you make the best out of it.”

(on why he thinks he didn’t get to play defense in Chicago) “I don’t know. It’s different reasons. My second year I was fortunate to get the opportunity to start in eight games and I felt like I played pretty well. But things happen for a reason. They ended up getting different things out of me. They wanted me to be the special teams guy there and so I went out there when I got a chance and made the best out of my opportunity and tried to be the best special teams player in the league. When you’re doing that, sometimes you get labeled like that. It’s tough like that. Sometimes it’s hard to get that label off.”

(on when Baltimore told him he would get to play defense) “No team will tell you that, but it was as simple as this. Obviously they brought me in for special teams but he told me if I showed that I deserved I could play on defense that I would get that opportunity. That’s all I was asking for was the opportunity. I wasn’t asking for any coach to say, “Well yeah, you’re going to play on defense” because that’s based on play. I was just saying if I showed that I deserved to play, will you find a way to get me on the field, and he said yes. That’s all I needed to hear.”

(on the Bears trying to re-sign him) “The Bears did try to resign me. They tried to re-sign me. It wasn’t like they just told me to go ahead and walk. My special teams coach said that he wanted me to be there. Obviously, I wanted to be there with him, but I knew I had to move on and do something bigger.”

(on asking Lovie Smith about why he wasn’t playing on defense) “It was different situations. There wasn’t much to say, really. I would ask him what I needed to do to get better or show that I needed to be on the field and he would say, “Corey, you’re doing everything that I asked you to do.” I don’t know what the situation was, but he fit me as a special teams (player) and he wanted me to be that, and that’s just what it was. I felt like I was playing pretty well when I was there my last two years. I felt like I could have been on the field, but it’s a different defense. In Chicago, basically, you have your two corners, you have your nickel, and that’s it. It’s not a system like here where you sometimes have six defensive backs on the field at the same time and stuff like that. It’s a system where they can create packages and put guys in to get you there. In Chicago it’s a cover two system. It’s simple. You have your exact spots and that’s it. When you watch teams like the Ravens and the Jets, you see different guys, different sets, a lot of guys on the field, a lot of defensive backs. I knew in coming to a different system that I’d have the opportunity to show why I should be out there.”

(on whether or not the offer from the Bears was competitive with the offer from the Ravens) “It wasn’t competitive. It’s funny how things work. Not only was this the best situation, but it was the best situation financially for me also.”

(on his previous contract in Chicago) “It wasn’t a bad contract. It was a one year deal for $1.5 million. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. You go there and you show what you can do. I was fortunate to go out there and make the Pro Bowl and I just tried to do the best I could on special teams. Going into that season, I had a really great training camp and I thought I’d have the chance to play on defense, but things didn’t work out for me. I knew that eventually I was going to try something different.”

(on whether or not other teams were interested in signing him this year) “Yes, I had the opportunity to go to several teams. It was Detroit, Chicago and Seattle. The year before I could have went to a few teams also, but I wanted to be in Chicago at that point. I felt like I would have gotten the chance to play on defense. I didn’t know that going there. I wanted to be there and live there. My family was happy. I wanted to be there. I knew after this year that it was time for me to go.”

(on the offer from Detroit) “I felt like I could definitely have the opportunity to play in Detroit. I just didn’t know if it would have been the best situation. I looked into everything. I wanted to play on defense and that was probably the most important thing. Obviously financially you wanted to get the best situation also. I wanted to go to a competitive place. I wanted to go where I could do well. Don’t get me wrong, Detroit had an up-and-coming team. They made the playoffs last year. When it came down to it, I just felt like Baltimore was a better situation financially and as a team. The offer was closer than Chicago but it wasn’t near Baltimore.”

(on what his view of the Lions was when he was comparing teams) “It was alright. The coaches were really cool. It seems like they really want to improve their building. It’s different. When you go to an organization and you see the way they do things in Baltimore, this is a top of the line organization. It’s tough to compete with Baltimore. I couldn’t tell you exactly what Detroit is missing. You just know it when you see it. They had done well and they have a bunch of young talent, but it’s just different. You can’t really call out exactly what they’re missing. I had a sit down here in Baltimore with the head coach and I thought this was a better situation. Detroit had a lot of things up and down with their defensive backs, but I just felt like I was wanted here more in Baltimore.”

(on the Ravens defensive scheme playing to his skills) “I pretty much think I could play any scheme, but I like it. I love this scheme here. It’s not predictable. A lot of guys can do a lot of things, especially a player like me that can play inside and outside. I think I fit well with this system.”

(on what time he ran in college) “I didn’t run because I broke my ankle in my senior year of college in the fifth game of my season. At the combine, I had a boot on my foot still. I had to get a plate and two screws in my ankle, so it hurt me a lot. I wasn’t able to really run like that my senior year. When I ran it on my junior day before I broke my ankle I was actually pretty fast. I was a 4.3 (second) guy. I ran a 4.37 (second 40-yard dash). I broke my ankle my senior year and I wasn’t really able during my whole first year in the league. My first year was tough. I was probably at about 70 to 80 percent.”

(on playing for the Bears) “I loved being in Chicago. They drafted me and gave me an opportunity to play when, to be honest with you, I didn’t even know if I’d get the chance to play in the league. You go to a D1-AA school and you break your ankle and you can’t run at the combine and show what you can do. When you come back and try to run it at pro days, you might be at 70 percent. You’re just hoping just to get by. I was blessed just to get an opportunity to play in this league. I was hoping I would get picked up as a free agent. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get the chance and they gave me a chance. I was whipping all over the place. I was thankful they gave me the chance to play on special teams and I gave it everything I had. It wasn’t until my second year when I started in eight games that things started to change. I knew what I could do at this level. I was playing against the best receivers in the world and I held on so I felt good about it. After that season, everything turned. I was at starting corner and they moved me to safety for two weeks and when I went back to corner I was behind everybody at corner. I didn’t agree with the way things went.”

 

LINEBACKER TERRELL SUGGS

(on what it took to return from injury this season) “It’s definitely been an uncharacteristic season for me, especially with the injuries. I’m a guy that doesn’t normally doesn’t get hurt and had two injuries this year that were supposed to sideline me for the rest of the year, but I just refused to accept that. What drove me to work so hard was the possibility of being here. I knew we had a team that was right there on the brink, was always on the brink, so I just wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t want to watch the season on the sideline and I definitely wanted to help my teammates reach this point.”

(on if he has fully recovered from the injuries) “I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m even close to normal right now. You know what I mean? It’s the tasks. It’s the goal. All of that is bigger than how you feel. I guarantee you, come February 3rd, when the clock reads 0:00 in the fourth quarter, if the score reads how I expect it to read and how I want it to read, I promise you I won’t feel any pain.”

(on what players stepped up when he was out with the injuries) “Courtney Upshaw. He’s been phenomenal for us. Not only that, but the play of Paul Kruger, ‘Krug,’ coming down the stretch. He had to really focus on the task at hand. When we got Pernell McPhee back, he was injured and missed a couple games, but it seemed like we all got back to being somewhat healthy at the right time. When you have all of your weapons, you can start a run.”

(on facing San Francisco’s pistol offense) “I’m not going to say too much because I’m pretty sure they’re going to be watching this. We just know it’s a problem and too many teams haven’t had success in stopping it. We get the ultimate test on the ultimate stage. They’ve been a team that’s been primarily known for their defense; they took the challenge. That’s a stress with the guys over there also. It’s going to be interesting and we’re going to have a lot of fun playing this game.”

(on what type of leadership role he has taken on the defense) “The way I contribute is I try to be like Ray (Lewis) and see things before they happen. Guys will tell you that I’m constantly talking, even at the snap of the ball, something. They know what to listen for and they know when to tune me out. I’m pretty much just trying to make sure we’re all on the same page, especially the guys on the line.”

(on how to stop the 49ers rushing attack) “Get 11 hats to the ball, definitely. Frank Gore and (Colin) Kaepernick, they’re going to get their touches and they’re going to play some ball. We just better be out there ready to play with them.”

(on how to slow down the 49ers offense) “That we have all 11 guys doing it. One man is not going to stop that offense. It’s going to take us all. It’s not just particularly one guy that’s going to win this game for us. It’s going to take pretty much everyone in uniform.”

(on what makes the pistol offense so difficult to defend) “They can do so much and do so many things. They can pass out of it. They hand the ball off. There are so many things they can do with it. They can even bring in the trick plays. You have to stay fundamentally sound to defend so many things and play.

(on pacing the energy level of the team this week) “You think this team has a problem with doing it? With myself and Jacoby Jones? With the guys that we have in this locker room? We’re going to have fun today. Sunday will get here soon enough and then it will take care of itself. We’re going to go be the Ravens on Wednesday and y’all may get a performance out of me. I may be singing at practice. I’m taking requests. Hit me on my twitter, @untouchablejay4. We’re going to be us. Were always going to be us.”

(on when he knew he was ready to return from injury) “I don’t know man. I just took upon my faith and prayed and made the decision that I was ready to play. God took care of it, so I can’t really say when I knew, it’s just kind of a feeling.”

(on why his numbers differ greatly in the postseason compared to the regular season)  “I don’t know. The second half of the season is always the best half of the season for me. Playing in the playoffs, (they’re) aren’t too many teams playing. All your family members are watching. Most importantly, all of the people that ever doubted you are watching. That’s why the playoffs will always be my favorite.”

(on how the Ravens managed to finally reach the Super Bowl) “I don’t know. I think the majority of the group on our team, like I said, my mentor told me, ‘You will learn more in failure than you ever would in success,’ so I think we just learned from the past two times we’ve been in the AFC Championship and other big games that we were in. We learn from our mistakes. This time, we were a more mature team and a more experienced team when we got there and we got over the hump.”

(on if Ray Lewis addressed the team about the allegations) “No, because we know it’s all feathers in the wind. It’s petty gossip for the simple fact that we saw how hard he worked. He did it at the facility and at no time was he injected with anything. The man just stayed working out. He just stayed at it. We’re not even going to waste our time with it. We just thought it was hilarious that they have another reason why we’re on this run, but that’s alright. We’ve been getting it this whole playoffs so it’s nothing new to us. We’re not going to pay it any mind.”

(on if he was ever doubted as a player) “Yeah, they have. They still doubt me now. You’re going to get it every day, but I’m going to keep the haters at work. I’m not going to give them any rest. I’m going to give them all something to hate on about me.”

(on whether the Ray Lewis allegations have been a distraction to the team) “Do we seem distracted? Come on man. We can handle a lot. This team has very broad shoulders. We don’t let too many things bother us. Like I said, we know each other. We know our general (Lewis). We’re just really good at not paying attention to nonsense. We’re not distracted at all.”

(on if he would like to hurry up and play the game) “No, because I’m sure Dan Marino probably thought, ‘I’m just itching, I’m just ready to get out here and play,’ and thought he was going to be in a lot of them and he was only in one. We’re going to take our time with this one. We’re going to let Sunday get here and take care of itself. On Wednesday, you can only take care of Wednesday. That’s pretty much what we focus on. We’re going to have some fun and enjoy today.”

(on if he enjoys watching other good defenses when he’s not playing) “We like watching our own defense. We appreciate a good player or a great play. We’ll definitely say it. That’s pretty much it. We give respect where respect is due, but we don’t go out of our way to go watch a certain group.”

(on if it is difficult to prepare for facing a unique offense) “Yeah, it’s kind of different. It’s a new offense. It’s not a traditional offense, so it may be difficult to prepare for. At the end of the day, it’s all football. It’s all run, pass, kick, block and tackle. I think if we do the little things and get back to the fundamentals, we’ll be fine.”

(on if he is impressed with 49ers TE Vernon Davis) “Definitely, he’s a freak at the position. He’s definitely one of the best, if not the best tight end.

 

DEFENSIVE TACKLE HALOTI NGATA

(on the Ravens’ 3-4 defense) “This year, we’re moving around a bunch and using two defensive ends quite a bit instead of just having the 3-4 with one big end and one small end.  It’s been more of a mix this year.  Right now, it’s probably the hot thing to do, but once the offenses figure it out, the defenses will probably move back to the 4-3.”

(on who he thinks is the best overall athlete on the Ravens) “I’d say it’s probably (punter) Sam Koch.  You watch him in practice doing all of the different things he can do and it’s pretty amazing.  He can throw the ball, he can kick it, throw it with his non-dominant hand.  He can do a lot of amazing things. It’s pretty crazy.  Terrell Suggs is also a pretty amazing athlete. For how big he is and how fast he can move--- man, he’s so quick.  He has fun with everything and doesn’t make anything too serious.  I think that’s why he’s able to go out there, be a freak and just make a lot of plays.”

(on the comeback of NT Ma’ake Kemoeatu) “For him to have a year off and come back and play has been amazing.  His dedication and passion to play the game is so great.  With our culture---we’re both Tongan---we don’t like it when people say no to us.  We like to prove people wrong and he’s definitely done that.  He’s fought against time because he’s definitely older now.  He’s been a great addition to our team and a great leader. He’s a great example for our younger linemen.”

(on the keys to winning Sunday’s game) “I think we have to stop the run.  (49ers RB) Frank Gore is definitely a dangerous running back.  We have to stop both him and Colin (Kaepernick) running the ball, but I think it all starts with stopping Gore.”

(on the defensive patience needed to play against the 49ers) “We definitely have to be patient.  We have to make sure that if you have a dive, you take the dive.  If you have the quarterback, you take the quarterback.  We’ve got to be careful and make sure that we communicate and get a stop.  Our guys up front have to beat their blocks because they do very well with double teams.  Once we get to the running back,we have to bring him down.”

(on the challenge of stopping the 49ers’ option offense) “It’s tough.  When we played Washington with RG III (Redskins QB Robert Griffin III), they hit us in the beginning of the game with a bunch of read option and pistol formation plays.  We had to adjust, and once we did, we did better. Hopefully, it doesn’t take us too long to adjust (on Sunday), and hopefully the things that we’ve been practicing will work.  We can’t hesitate, and they’ve been successful getting a lot of teams to hesitate and guess.  Communication is key.  You have to understand what you’re doing.”

(on the soul-searching team meeting following their three-game losing streak) “We had a little therapeutic session.  It was huge that our coach (John Harbaugh) was able to stand there and listen to some of our concerns.  That takes a lot of heart and humbleness to sit there and listen to that.  Once we got all of that out, we started communicating better.  We started talking more coach-to-player and player-to-coach.  It brought us closer and it definitely helped our team.”

(on why the players precipitated that meeting with the coaches) “I think part of it was the way some of our practices were going and how long we were meeting.  It wasn’t anything too serious.”

(on the camaraderie among the defensive linemen this season) “It’s been better this year than in other years.  We’ve done more things together as a unit like watching film, eating dinner and stuff like that.  It just feels a little closer.  I think our younger guys are growing up, and we also have Ma’ake (Kemoeatu) who’s an older guy.  We just jell.”

(on LB Terrell Suggs coming back from his injury) “Terrell’s passion and fire to come back was amazing.  I think it made (LB) Ray Lewis want to come back from his tricep injury.  I think it trickled down throughout the whole team.  I don’t know if people understood how significant Terrell is to our team, and him coming back definitely helped our defense.”

 

RUNNING BACK RAY RICE

(on playing San Francisco’s defense) “One thing about the running game is that this defense just takes what’s there – maybe it’s two yards, maybe it’s three. You have to make the best of those situations. We know it’s not going to be easy at all, but it is the Super Bowl, and you have to go out there and give it your best shot at whatever you do because there is no tomorrow after the Super Bowl.”

(on his success this season) “I’ve been patient with my runs. I haven’t been forcing anything. I’ve always said as long as I don’t force the issue, something good will happen. We have our best five linemen out there doing a great job. In the last couple of weeks, the run game has went this way. With that being said, with all that focus on the run game, we pass the ball really well, too. It’s all about having that balance. You have to balance the offense. You’ll be able to move the ball, but the moral of the story is you have to get down there and you have to score. You can have a bunch of yards, but if you don’t have any points to show for it, you find yourself out of a football game.”

(on why his team is in the Super Bowl) “I’ve always known we had a great team, but now we have weapons. We play together, and that’s the best feeling about this whole situation is to know you have a great team. When you have a great team, all things are possible. I don’t have to be the center of attention, but I know I’m a playmaker on this team. When it comes, I just have to make the play. My number is going to be called fairly often, but there are other guys out there that can move the ball. That’s just one of the situations where I don’t have to worry about me going out there and doing too much. I’ll do my job, and my job will be just enough.”

(on his accomplishments) “Last year was the contract. This year the contract is done, I’ve played another Pro Bowl. What’s next? We’re here at the Super Bowl. You win the Super Bowl, and the only thing to chase after that is a legacy. That’s where I’m at in my career now. It went by fast. I can’t believe next year is going to be my sixth year in the NFL. It’s one of those things that goes by fast. I’m glad I didn’t let this time by. I just took advantage of the opportunities I had.”

(on football’s life lessons) “One thing I’ve learned about football that I apply to my daily life was in life you have to hold yourself accountable. If you hold yourself accountable, great things are coming. I hold myself on the field, but you have to hold yourself accountable off the field as well. Another thing is family and brotherhood. You take that brotherhood and family that you’ve learned about in football and take that to life. Anytime you have a close-knit group with somebody, the moral of the story is you have to work together. In life and with your family, you have to work together. You can take a lot of football lessons and apply them to life.”

(on favorite running backs as a kid) “As a little kid, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith; I have some Walter Payton apparel. Out of modern-day running backs, LaDainian Tomlinson, (Maurice) Jones-Drew. I’m just a big fan of the running backs because you see everybody’s differences. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, that guy’s a running back.’ Now it’s more like for me, I like to catch the ball. I don’t mind catching them. A catch for me is like a long hand-off. Once I get it, the stat book says different, but you can make a big play on a catch.”

(on who will be the star of the Super Bowl) “It’s hard to say who’s going to be the star of the game because I look at Super Bowls, and just think about the year the Giants won when David Tyree made the catch. The stats run huge numbers, but that catch went down as one of the most memorable plays of Super Bowl history. I just think that your star is being here. You’re in the biggest game and biggest spotlight in the world. Stats are a hidden agenda in that game. It’s all about who makes the play. If it be the guy who came off the bench, the next thing you know if he makes the wining catch, he’s going to get the most media. He’s the star.”

(on Ray Lewis) “He’s been going for 17 years. You have to be doing something great like that for people to come at you. He’s been doing something right for 17 years. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer. When you’re doing something right, there’s got to be that one thing somebody wants to talk about. He takes it in stride. He handles it. He’s taught me how to handle things as well. It’s our job to send him off right for his last game. Then, he can write another chapter on life because he’s going to do something great after football.”

(on Baltimore’s offense) “Just going to the game, how do you not respect our run game over the last couple weeks? We’ve been putting up tremendous numbers. You go down to the playoff stats, the Ravens are ranked pretty high. We’re up there with the best of the best statistically, offensively. It’s the best of the best right now in the playoffs. The regular season is done. In all reality, you have a whole new season right now. Right now, we’re one of the best teams in football statistically in the playoffs.”

(on preparing for the Super Bowl) “I’m definitely excited to get back to practice. I can’t wait. I worked out yesterday. I feel pretty good. I got some conditioning in. I’m treating it like a regular week, taking care of my body. I got a nice deep tissue massage. I’m back to the grind, old school.”

(on making it to the Super Bowl after coming close in past years) “I just think now when you do something that hurts so bad that you have to think about something for a whole year for it to set in. When you get close, it’s like, ‘You know what? Not this time.’ I think that was the most convincing thing about it. People say maybe against the Broncos, people call it whatever you want without the pass we’d lose the game, but we went up there and dominated New England. No one is talking about how the Ravens dominated New England. We outscored them 21-0 in the second half. That was the way to get into the championship because we didn’t want that feeling of them getting close to coming back. That was the only way to get over what happened last year. It’s not that the growing man just beat them, but the growing man dominated them at what they did best. What they do best is score points. Hats off to our defense. I know you’re talking about New England, but it was just the only way to get that feeling out of your stomach. You know how you get that itch? I got in the locker room, and I felt sick when I got there because of that feeling of thinking about how many guys were crying and thinking about our old equipment manager who was fighting a stomach virus. He was sick. It was just a sick feeling coming out of that place that day.”

(on being portrayed as an underdog)  “The world already portrayed us as underdogs. I don’t watch the news and all that stuff, but sometimes it comes across. You check your Twitter or something, and it says the Ravens are four or five point underdogs. I don’t know. I guess that’s for the world to decide. I’ve been the underdog my whole life. Being the underdog just feels like you have something to prove. If you always put yourself at the top, the only way you can go is down. Being the underdog, you have to climb and get to the top, and the only way you can get to the top is winning the Super Bowl.”

(on running backs around the league) “With the running back value said to be going down, what Adrian Peterson has done to bring it back up has been really special. It’s been really special to see what a lot of running backs have done this year. I think every running back came out with a chip on their shoulder this year because everybody was saying our value was going down. I’m satisfied where I’m at, but look at what Adrian Peterson did after knee surgery and his ACL.” 

 

TIGHT END DENNIS PITTA

(on being a rising talent) “Opportunity, I think that’s what this league is about. You have to be confident in the player that you are and the talents that you have. I think, finally, last year and this year, I’ve been getting a lot of opportunities to make plays. You have to make the most of them when you get them.”

(on learning from Ed Dickson) “I think we’ve learned a lot from each other. We came in together and so we’ve kind of gone through this process together. I get to bounce things off him and he gets to bounce things off me. When you get to play with a great player like Ed, you get to learn from what they do. I can kind of mimic some of the things he does and vice versa.”

(on playing in the Super Bowl) “It is meeting my expectations. I’ve never experienced this let alone go to the Super Bowl. You don’t know what you expect going into this and finally getting out here it’s a great experience, a lot of fun. Somehow we’ve got to try and focus on football with this game on Sunday.”

(on getting VIP treatment) “We haven’t gotten a whole lot yet. When we came in, we got a nice big bag from Nike. That’s probably the best we’ve been treated.”

(on game expectations for Sunday) “We expect to win. I think there’s a lot going on this week and a lot of distractions. The challenge, for both teams, is to try to focus and prepare the best we can so we can win on Sunday.”

(on facing the 49ers linebackers) “We are prepared. We will be prepared come Sunday. You know, their whole defense has talent all over the board. We’ll have our work cut out for us but we are excited about the challenge. This is definitely the best linebacker corps we’ve seen. I get to see a pretty good one every day at practice. As far as an opponent, these are definitely top in the league.”

(on Joe Flacco against other league quarterbacks) “He’s one of the elite quarterbacks and I think he’s proven that. We’ve known that about him all along. We’ve got a ton of confidence in him and he’s finally able to showcase that. Who are the other quarterbacks in the league? I only know Joe.”

(on playbook changes when Jim Caldwell came in) “I don’t know from a philosophical standpoint that it changed much. I think we’ve just got a few more opportunities to make some plays. I think Jim does a good job of mixing up the pass and the run so we’ve got more of an opportunity to stay balanced with the ball than we did in the past.”

(on increased popularity due to Fantasy Football) “I think Fantasy Football is a huge part of our sport. I think people learn about you through your stats and what you’re able to do for them on their team. So, it’s a huge part of the game and part of the reason why the game has become so popular. That’s pretty much what anyone wants to say to you, is ‘you helped me this week’ or ‘you hurt me this week in fantasy.’

(on personal opinion of Fantasy Football)  “I don’t hate it. I don’t play it. When I was in college, I played it. I think it’s fun. ”

(on why Ravens would win if the game were close on Sunday) “We’ve been in that situation before. We’ve had a lot of close games and a lot of adversity this year. We’ve gone through a lot and we’ve learned a lot. I don’t think there’s any team better prepared than we are to be in a close situation like that.”

(on fans’ role at the Super Bowl) “You know, our fans are great. Somebody told me, I think, we are selling more tickets than they (San Fransisco) are . It doesn’t matter. It’s always nice to have the support. You know, there are fans on both sides and there will be a lot of fans that are just there to kind of watch the game, not (to) have one side or the other. It will be interesting to see how it breaks down.”

(on playing at Moorpark High School) “Those were some good years. I had a great coach there. In high school, I played wide receiver. I was skinny, tall, and didn’t block anyone. I just got to run around and catch passes. It was fun.”

(on choosing Brigham Young University) “It was a crazy process. Like I said, I was a skinny wide receiver coming out of high school and didn’t get a whole lot of interest for whatever reason from Division I schools. BYU was always kind of on my radar. They showed some interest but didn’t have any available scholarships, they invited me to walk on. I kind of had to work my way up from the bottom and had a successful career there.”

(on why this year is special) “We’ve gone through a lot this year. We’ve had a lot of adversity, a lot of highs and lows. It’s been a tremendous year. We’ve had a lot to overcome to get to this point. It’s been a long journey. We’ve made a great run through the postseason and had to play in some tough environments and beat some great teams. We are a battled tested team and excited to be in the position to get one more win.”

(on indirectly getting to the Ravens through the Tim Tebow trade) “I know we picked up an extra pick and trading backs with Denver, and they got Tim Tebow. If  it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be with the Ravens.”

(on QB Joe Flacco throwing to him in the red zone) “You know in the red zone, you have to take advantage of the middle of the field. That’s primarily where Anquan (Boldin) and I work. You have to be able to create some separation there and Joe does a great job of giving us opportunities to make plays.”

(on helping Flacco become an elite quarterback) “Anytime you have a lot of weapons at quarterback, it certainly helps. In this offense, we do have a lot of weapons. I think it starts with the offensive line. The offensive line has a way of playing tremendous football and giving Joe a ton of time. He can sit back, be comfortable and pick defenses a part. He can get into a rhythm and get the ball out to some of his play makers. That’s really the key to his success as a player.”

(on Flacco throwing the ball deep) “I haven’t seen many better arms than Joe. He can make any throw on the field. Obviously, he’s got a ton of arm strength to get the ball down field. He does a great job with those throws.”

(on offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell’s transformation of the offense) “From the first day that Jim came in as offensive coordinator, he took us back to the basics, working on the fundamentals, detailing things a little bit better. He does a great job on game day, mixing up his calls, keeping defense on their heels, and allowing us to really attack and be aggressive.

(on Jim Harbaugh being a “player coach”) “I think Jim’s a great coach. He certainly has the respect of all his players. Everybody looks up to him as being a great football coach and a guy who knows the game. That’s what makes him successful.”

(on 49ers against tight ends in the red zone) “That’s a very interesting statistic. They’re obviously a good defense all around. I think any time you get in the red zone and have a big body like the tight end where you can create some mismatches, it helps, especially against a solid defense like that and you have to find mismatches where you can. We’ll take advantage of some of those as well, but it’s not going to be to score against this team. We’ve been pretty good in the red zone ourselves so we’ll try and take what they give us.”

 

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JIM CALDWELL

(on the Rooney Rule) “It has been a great rule and it has worked in the past.  Just like anything else, you have to, after a certain period of time, you have to revisit it and take a look and see if it needs a little tweaking.  I think it does in this particular case. I know for a fact that there are a lot of people interested in making certain that it works across the board, not just for coaching, but also front office jobs.  I think they’re trying to work out a way to make it a little bit more effective.”

(on the problem with the Rooney Rule) “I think they’re people that have strong interest in making certain that they get the best candidate.  Obviously, the intent of the rule is that they have an opportunity to talk to several individuals and through the interview process, they find someone that can run their program in the way in which they’d like it to run.”

(on if he was disappointed about not being contacted about available positions in the league) “No, sir. I worry about things I can control that.  In Proverbs 16:9 it says, ‘The man can plot his course, but the Lord determines his steps.’ I believe that to be the case.  It’s just the way things are and we have to be able to make the best of it.”

(on how disappointing it was to have so many minority coaches fired and not then not have a minority coach hired)  “I’ve coached for a little while and it’s not the first time that we’ve seen it. That’s one of the reasons that the Rooney Rule was put in place, because you’re trying to avoid those situations if possible. We’re at that stage where guys like Lovie Smith, who didn’t get an opportunity who had won and been very successful previously. Tony Dungy was able to get a job after he was released from Tampa, we went to Indianapolis.  Dennis Green went to Minnesota, and he may have taken a year of hiatus in there I’m not cretin, but he ended up at Arizona. Herm Edwards from the New York Jets went to Kansas City. There was a point in time that it indeed did happen, as it does for non-minority candidates. This year it did not. Obviously, there’s some concern there and that’s why I think the rule is going to be revisited.”

(on how his faith surrounds him) “We don’t understand everything and it does say that in the scripture in other areas of Proverbs, ‘Lean not to thine own understanding, but trust in the Lord with all thine heart.’ You have to really believe that. You have to believe that there is a greater plan and that he does have everything set fourth for you. You might not always see exactly what that was or is until maybe a year or so down the road, but if you trust and believe and work extremely hard where you are, then just know that at some point in this he’s going to get you to the point where you should be. It may be totally different than what you imagined.”

(on making the changes offensively) “It wasn’t like we made many significant changes in terms of what we’re doing from a schematic standpoint, because we were too far down he road for that. What we did was, do the things that we knew how to do well and try to crystalize it. I also want to make sure that you understand that there is no way that I take credit for any of that. We have players that are very good players and have been in the system for four or five years that are maturing and getting better as time goes on. It just so happened that towards the end of the season things were really starting to come together. We’d shown flashes all through the year, but we just had some ups and downs a little bit here and there. Obviously, we’ve played a little more consistently since we’ve been in the playoffs and that’s worked well for us.”

(on getting back to the core points on offensive) “We have a Pro Bowl player at fullback and a great Pro Bowl player at tail back.  Our job is to facilitate the talent and we also have great players on the outside on the flanks, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta, you name it. We have to be somewhat balanced, because we’ve got to give everybody the opportunity to run and catch the ball because they’re good at it.”

(on what they got away from offensively) “You’d have to look at statistics overall. I think they’ve been somewhat close. I think we were a little more of a running team. Last year, I wasn’t here obviously, but they ran the ball 55 times a game. We haven’t run it quite that much, but our emphasis is that we go into each ballgame knowing that there may be a game we need to run a little more and there may be a game we need to throw a little more.”

(on the message he brought to the team) “I didn’t really have anything contrived, for the most part. I’ve been around long enough to know that I’m not going to go in and try to be something other than I am, myself. I present it the way I present, and I talk about the things I believe and we believe in. This is not Jim Caldwell’s offense, it’s the Ravens offense. They’ve been running this offense for quite some time and we just tried to come in and make certain that we tried to get them headed in the right direction.”

(on how beneficial it is to have a different voice) “That’s a hard one because you’re talking about the lives of our colleagues. Changes like that certainly affect us, but they also affect our families. That’s a hard thing to look at in that situation. Coaching is a hard business and when you hear about guys, we look at it a little bit different, we hear about guys being released and for whatever the reason might be, there are a lot of other folks connected to that and it’s never a good time for that. This is the way our business is and when we don’t win that’s why I was fired in Indianapolis we don’t win, we’re going to lose our job. That’s the way it is. That’s the bottom line.”

(on if he’d take a little bit of credit for the team’s success) “None whatsoever. These are guys that are playing and playing well. They’ve done a great job. I’ve got great help with this staff, as well. I may be the newest guy in the bunch. I’m the least familiar with the things that we do. I got a lot of help from our staff, as well as seven guys that helped on daily basis that do a tremendous job.”

(on the advice he’d give Joe Flacco for handling the Super Bowl) “He’s a pretty settled guy, he really is. He has a great command of who he is and his essence. He’s not one of those guys that’s going to get overly worked up too early. He’s not going to burn himself out during the course of the day thinking about all the different odd scenarios that could come up. He’s not going to chase any ghosts, in terms of preparation. He’s got good focus and he believes in what he’s doing. You don’t have to give him a whole lot of instruction in that area. He’s a good guy, extremely cerebral and has a good grasp on this offense.”

(on how the win against the Giants served as a turning point in the season) “I think that was one of the few times that we played well as a collective team, all together. Our kicking game, our defense, and our offense sort of gelled and complimented one another. In that regard, it was a game that showed that we had been getting better. Maybe not as evident in past games we played, but we were making strides and it all came together that ballgame.”

(on if the Giants game sparked a run) “It’s the end of the year, a time when you always want to get hot and you want to be playing at your best at the end of the year and we started to do that. We just started to get a little bit better and things started to click. We started to perform better as the year went on.”

(on Anquan Boldin’s toughness) “One of the things that he brings, is he sets a tone for our entire offense. He’s not only very effective in terms of being tough and rugged and going over the middle and catching the ball in tough situations, but also his blocking as well. He does a tremendous job just of getting physical on the field. He’s a great blocker and a highly skilled guy that gives you everything he’s got in terms of his effort. Also, as physically tough as he is, he’s also tough mentally. You can’t shake him, you can’t discourage him. He’s pretty special.”

(on Anquan Boldin’s versatility) “He does so many things for us. I have a friend that coaches in the NBA and he texted me wanting to know how big Anquan is. His text alluded to the fact that he’s a lot bigger than he really is. I said, ‘He plays like that, he plays big.’ That’s how he shows up every single day and every single game. He’s quite an imposing figure once he gets rolling.”

 

LINEBACKER PAUL KRUGER

(on being given a compliment by a right tackle on the 49ers) “I appreciate the compliment. I would tell him that he’s probably one of the most aggressive tackles I’ve seen play, so I definitely have a lot of respect for him. I think it’s going to be a good matchup.”

(on practicing today) “It’s hard to focus on everything at once. All the media stuff and the extracurricular action, it makes it enjoyable but at the same time we’re down here to win a game so we’re anxious to get out there and start practicing.”

(on the journey to the Super Bowl) “It’s been a roller coaster to say the least. We’ve had times in the season when it seems like people were losing hope, and even us as players were doubting ourselves. And then we’ve had good times when we’ve won big games and had players come up and make huge plays to change our season. The fact that we’re ending here in New Orleans is just a perfect scenario for us and we couldn’t ask for a better situation.”

(on the buildup over past years of not making the Super Bowl) “I think there was build up. We’ve felt like that for a long time. Every home game you play in Baltimore you just feel the electricity that the city has. We’ve been able to carry that through the season and on our away games. Playoffs were big. Winning those last two games we played was just really special. We felt blessed and honored to be here, so it’s just a good time for us and I think Ray is right. It is our time and we’re pretty focused on the task at hand.”

(on Ray Lewis saying his teammates wouldn’t be distracted by yesterday’s accusations) “I think Ray is right. I was talking to Ray the other day and saying, ‘Man, I don’t know how you deal with it.’ He’s just a guy who’s overcome so much in his life and he’s had a career that speaks for itself. He’s a special person and a special player and I respect him. He’s a brother to me. I don’t know much about the situation. I haven’t heard that much. It’s not going to be a distraction at all.”

(on the media circus around Ray Lewis) “Me and Ray are really close. We’re good friends. He’s like a brother to me. To see it all on TV and to hear about it all, it’ll really lift your spirit. Some of it’s been negative. You can see the flaws, but there’s just so much and it’s something that we deal with really well and I think our team is used to. At this point we’re pretty focused on the game.”

(on Ray Lewis being a player who is capable of handling the media) “Absolutely. He’s the guy for the job. He’s been through a lot and has had a great career and has experienced the lows and the highs, so he knows how to deal with that.”

(on his own impact on the game) “It’s been something I’ve looked forward to for a really long time. I can’t wait to get out there on the field and start experiencing the flow of the game. It’s going to be just like any other game, but there’s a little more hype and attention around it, so I’m pretty excited.”

(on his assignment this week) “It’s going to change. Different plays in the defense will require you to do different things. Your assignment might change from one day to the next. It boils down to everybody doing their assignment and doing it well and making plays.”

(on whether or not this will be a breakout game for him) “Definitely. Anybody who has a big game in this tough environment is going to get a lot of attention. I think I could definitely have a big game. We’ll see how it goes.”

(on who the best athlete is on the Ravens) “Besides myself, I’d have to go with either Tyrod Taylor…well, top three is me, Tyrod Taylor and Haloti Ngata. Tyrod is just explosive. He’s the guy – I think he’s probably right around six foot – who can dunk a basketball any way you want him to. He’s shifty. He’s fast. He’s just kind of one of those guys who can just do anything. Haloti (Ngata) – a guy who’s 350 (pounds), a giant man – can move like he’s a running back. It’s very rare to see somebody at that size be so athletic. Sam Cook is also really athletic. He has a lot of skill. He can pick up a golf club. He can play basketball, baseball, and just do anything.”

(on the best athlete he’s ever played with) “It would have to be somebody on this team. I’m not sure.”

(on the best athlete in the NFL today) “Best overall athlete, a guy who can do anything? From what I’ve heard, Calvin Johnson, he seems like a ridiculous athlete. I don’t know. I’d have to give it to one of those tall receivers who fly around and played all types of sports.”

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