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Week 4 At Buffalo Bills: Wednesday Transcripts

Posted Sep 25, 2013

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: “Good to see everybody. Thanks for being here. Obviously, we’re excited about the challenge going forward up in Buffalo. [It’s] a tough place to play, always has been. They have great fans in Orchard Park. We haven’t been there a lot; it’s going to be a new experience as far as the football team, [because] since 2008 we haven’t been there at all. [We] don’t have a lot of guys that have played there, so we’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a big challenge; they’re playing well. They’ve got a great young quarterback and an enthusiastic, physical team. They play really hard, and they’ve got playmakers. Their offensive playmakers are really as good as anybody’s in the league. So, it will be a big challenge.  As far as personnel moves, we made a change: We brought in Jeromy Miles from Cincinnati.  We’ve been playing against him the last few years. He’s a special teamer and a safety. We think he’s going to be a heck of a developmental safety for us, and we think he’ll give us immediate impact on the special teams part of it. Brynden we put to the practice squad; we feel pleased with that. We like where he is developmentally and where he’s going as a football player.  So, that’s where we are with that.”

What do you see in Buffalo EJ Manuel and the challenges he presents for a defense? (Pete Gilbert) “EJ is a big, strong-armed quarterback. His development has been so rapid. [We are] very impressed with how far he’s come in a short time. Obviously, they’ve done a great job, their coaching of him. They built the offense around his skills, which are many. He can run the read option, he’s got great poise in the pocket, and he can throw the ball downfield. [He is] just a very good young quarterback.”

The Ravens haven’t been to Buffalo in many years. Is it really a factor when you go into a stadium that you haven’t seen in a while? (Jerry Coleman) “You’re right. It’s going to be crowd noise. We’ve been in those kinds of venues before. It’s a good challenge for us. It’s going to be loud, and that’s always difficult, but we’re excited about it.”

Did you reassure Daryl Smith when he came to the team that he wasn’t expected to replace the legendary Ray Lewis? (Dave Ginsburg) “With Daryl, that wasn’t necessary. He’s a mature man. He understood the situation completely. He probably had a better handle on it than anybody. He was the guy going into the situation. He obviously respects Ray, and he’s excited to be a Raven and he’s done a great job with it. Daryl Smith is playing really, really, really well. And, he’s also a great leader for us.”

It’s a challenge to play on the road in any NFL stadium, but what is it about certain venues that present more of a challenge than others? (Peter Schmuck) “The biggest thing about where you go play on the road is how good the team is you’re playing. Everybody seems like they play better at home, normally. It’s an advantage in the National Football League. Every place is tough. We feel like it comes down to how well we play in the end. It’s up to us to go in there and play well, neutralize the crowd and overcome the opponent.”

This week, you’ll face the first running quarterback you’ve seen this season. Is it more of a challenge the first time you face a running quarterback in a season and particularly tough facing EJ Manuel because he is a rookie? (Mark Zinno) “Probably so. We haven’t seen too much of him, so we don’t have a feel for him in person. That’s a two-sided coin – the fact that we haven’t seen him, also the fact he hasn’t seen us and doesn’t have a lot of experience. So, that will play both ways.”

Terrell Suggs has had three sacks so far this season. What’s impressed you with the way he’s started his season? (Garrett Downing) “We’re always impressed with Terrell Suggs. He’s a premier defensive player in the National Football League, obviously. As you said, he’s rushing the quarterback exceptionally well. But [it’s] just not that. He won the Unsung Hero award we give out the very first game, the very first week, the very first victory we had, because he did all the things that [are] the dirty work-type things – the things you don’t talk about too much. He’s a complete player.”

Are you pleased with the rotation at [outside linebacker]? We were all wondering how [playing time] would shake out. Elvis [Dumervil] is playing a lot and Courtney [Upshaw] is playing a lot as well. It seems like you’re able to keep those guys all fresh and active on game day. (Matt Vensel) “We are very fortunate to have, really, four guys that can play in there, because Pernell McPhee is playing a role as well. So, we’ve got four guys playing the edge, rushing the passer, doing a great job. As you said, they all stay fresh, and they all play as hard as they can.”

The Ravens have had some slow starts this season but really picked it up in the second half. Is it a matter of halftime adjustments, or what do you feel has been the cause the past two weeks? (Jamison Hensley) “We haven’t looked at it in those terms. We need to start faster. It was field position this last game. You look at each game and each situation. Then it’s execution. We’ve had penalties that have caused us some problems at times that didn’t come up so much in the third quarter. We’ve played well in the third quarter the last two games, but it was a problem in the first game. So, you chase all those things. We want to start the game well, and we want to start the half well. We want to finish the first half and the second half well. So, we’re chasing all that. And we’ll try to start faster this week; that would be a good thing.”

How patient do you have to be with the development of a young player at the cornerback position? (Jeff Zrebiec) “It would be nice to have the luxury to be patient with any position, but cornerbacks are out there [alone], and if they don’t play well, you’re going to struggle. You might have to protect them a little bit with the coverages you play. That’s probably the one thing you can do. But, they have to play and they have to play well.”

James Ihedigbo is playing very well. How do you feel about his development, especially on pass coverage? (Pete Gilbert) “James has always had the reputation of being a big hitter, a big run defender. But you’re right, his pass coverage has been exceptional. He’s done a good job in that area. We want to keep building on that.”

Are you surprised with how well James Ihedigbo is coming along? (Pete Gilbert) “I don’t know if anything surprises me about James. Everything we have asked him to do, he’s done well.”

Joe Flacco was a league leader in deep passes last season. Is his performance this year a consequence of having to adjust and gel with the new players on the offense? (Garrett Downing) “You’ve seen the games, and you know it’s just a matter of making those plays downfield. We’ve taken our shots downfield, we’ve come up with the ball at times, and other times we haven’t. So, we need to make those plays.”

You’ve mentioned that the running game has to improve. Are you confident a player like Marshal Yanda on the line gives you an excellent chance to improve the run game? (Joe Platania) “Marshal is a great leader. He’s a great player. And not just Marshal. We have a lot of confidence in the entire offensive line. We think we have tremendous running backs. Ed Dickson has been blocking very well, as has Billy [Bajema].  So, we have all the ingredients to have an exceptional running game.”

Do you attribute the Ravens getting off to a fast start in September every season to your preparations in training camp? (Mark Zinno) “We’ve played well in September. We’ve played well enough to win. Truthfully, it is training camp. We do a great job in the offseason with the offseason program. [Strength and conditioning coach] Bob Rogucki and his staff always have our guys in shape. We stay pretty healthy through training camp, which gives you a chance to have good practices. Ozzie [Newsome] does a great job of building a 90-man roster, so we have great competition in training camp and we have better practices. We believe performance follows practice. So, if you can build a good practice throughout the week and also throughout training camp, you should be good in September.”

Everyone talks about the success the Ravens have in the draft. When you pick up a player like Daryl Smith or James Ihedigbo, how fortunate do you feel you are to find players like that are often overlooked but have great talent? (Jamison Hensley) “I just really haven’t done the fortune graph to answer that question exactly. But, we feel like we do a great job as an organization of evaluating players in the NFL. And credit goes to Ozzie [Newsome] and Vince [Newsome] and Eric [DeCosta] and all the guys in that department. We do a good job in that department of finding guys that fit us personality-wise. A lot of times, guys come here and they’re better than they were with other teams. And, that’s what you try to do.”

What type of challenge will the Bills’ pass rush present this week? (Matt Zenitz) “They’re an excellent pass rush team. It starts with Mario Williams, obviously. He’s still the premier pass rusher that he’s always been. [He is] just a physical specimen in every way and a polished pass rusher. Marcell [Dareus] is doing a great job inside working guards edge to edge and centers. Kyle Williams is a pass rusher that you cannot sleep on. He’s done a nice job of either bull-rushing or making people miss. And Jerry Hughes has really come on as a pass rusher. He’s a guy who was drafted in the first round by the Colts and really didn’t hit his stride in Indy, but seems to be hitting his stride in Buffalo. So, there are four very good pass rushers.”

Do you expect Ray Rice to be practicing this week at all? (Dave Ginsburg) “Very hopeful. I would expect that. That’s the plan right now. We’re going to try to get him out there today and see what he can do, and we’ll have our fingers crossed.”

 

QB Joe Flacco

On how the locker room reacted to Ray Lewis’ comments about the team’s lack of leadership: “It is what it is. Ray [Lewis] knows better than that. Things happen. I think we’re usually a pretty good team with stuff like that. If you look around the league, there are probably a lot of leadership problems then. So, like I said, Ray knows better.”

On if it’s weird hearing that criticism from Ray Lewis rather than any other pundit: “Ray is one of them for a couple minutes a week now. (laughter) It is what it is.”

On if somebody has addressed the situation: “When you get the information of what happened, it just is what it is. You laugh about it, kind of. It’s funny some of the things that we deal with. I don’t really have too many comments on it, because they’d all be taken the wrong way and out of context. But it’s not really an issue.”

On if teams are more aware of his ability to throw the ball long: “I don’t know. It will be there. We can’t force anything. We still have to take chances. It’s not like they’re high percentage all the time. They’re either going to be completed, and it’s going to be a big play, and that’s the risk you take. If not, you’re sitting there at second-and-10 or whatever it may be. I think, overall, we just have to click a little bit more on everything we’re doing. But that’s growing, and we’re getting better.”

On how much the deep passing game has been hampered by WR/RS Jacoby Jones’ injury: “I’m sure it’s definitely affected. You stick Marlon [Brown] right in there, and he’s got similar abilities in terms of speed, and he’s a really good wide receiver. It’s just a matter of being a little bit more successful in some of the other things we’re doing so that other areas can open up.”

On how concerned he is about the running game: “We’re still trying to run the ball. If we’re going to, we’re going to still have to try to. It’s not a big concern for me. If we’re going to run the ball for 2.6 yards per carry, then maybe we’ll throw the ball a little bit more. That doesn’t really affect me too much. I’m cool. (laughter) But yeah, we need to run the ball better. We need to clean a couple things up, and when you look at the film, we’re really close. We’re blocking things well. It’s just a little thing here or there, but a lot of those runs are so close to hitting. If we continue to do what we do and just mix it up a little bit like we did in the second half of that game, then we’ll start hitting some runs. A lot of yards per carry in the NFL gets so much affected by having a 30-yard run here, having a 20-yard run here, and that’s really what we haven’t been able to do yet. We haven’t been able to get any chunks to really get to the point where, when you see the end of the game statistics, those yards per carry and the total yards are up a little bit because we just haven’t hit for any chunks yet. When we start to do that, then I think those stats will start to go up a little bit.”

On the chemistry between him and TE Dallas Clark and WR Brandon Stokley: “We know, between Marlon [Brown] and those two, that it’s going to get better and better each week. They’re good players, so it’s only a matter of time before they really start being productive. Dallas [Clark] has a good feel for running routes on guys. When he’s matched up on a linebacker, it’s a good thing for us. I’m going to trust that he’s going to win, and that’s kind of what happened a couple times in the game on Sunday.”

On if it’s easier working with new veteran receivers than rookies: “There are a lot of things that go into that, and the biggest thing is that they have confidence in the fact that they’ve done it before, and they’re obviously good players because they’ve been in the league that long. With some of the rookies, you don’t know. You’re trying to find out if they’re a good player, and at the same time, you’re trying to teach them the offense. With these guys, you know they’ve had success, you know they’re good players, they’ve been in a couple of different offenses, so they can adapt to that kind of things. It’s just a matter of … You realize as a coach and as a quarterback that you just have to be patient, and it’s just a matter of time. With the rookies, you have to be patient, but at the same time, you don’t know if it’s ever going to pan out. You have to have faith that you picked a good player and you really see the good in them, and eventually it pans out. But with these guys, like I said, they’ve done it before, and you can have confidence that they’re going to be able to do it continuously.”

On if he thinks the fans and media puts too much emphasis on leadership in the locker room: “Listen, it’s important. You’ve got to just make sure you’re talking about the right things, which is game play and things like that, how we are in the locker room during the week. People are going to go out and do things after games and celebrate and do that kind of stuff. Everybody cannot be everywhere, and nobody can prevent crazy things from happening. Stuff is going to happen, and you’ve just got to deal with it.”

On how much off-field bonding relates to on-field success: “There’s definitely something to be said for it. I think in NFL locker rooms, there’s not quite as much off-field bond as maybe a high school or college locker room, just because in high school you’re hanging out with everybody, you’re going out on the weekends, and in college, you’re literally living together. In the NFL, you have people that are married, have families, and you have guys that are single, so it kind of goes two ways. The married guys with kids usually hang out with married people with kids, and the single guys usually hang out with the single guys. So, it’s a little bit tougher to have that off-field bond. But we’re here together 24/7 almost, so you’re able to build that locker room chemistry, and I think that’s what really translates.”

On if he feeds off getting yelled at by opposing fans: “That’s always fun, yeah. Beating a team, not beating a team – it’s still fun. It’s funny to hear the things that the crazy people say, and you’ve got to love it. Why is our sport the way it is? It’s because you have all those people. And I don’t mean ‘crazy’ in a bad way, but you have all those crazy people – 70,000 of them, usually … I don’t want to go see a football game, but those 70,000 people do. I wouldn’t be a good fan – I’d be sitting there watching the game [saying], ‘OK, cool,’ but these guys are going nuts. It’s awesome to be on the sideline and have to deal with that a little bit. And just some of the things that they say, it’s unbelievable.” (Reporter: “What do they say?”) “Oh, I don’t know. I probably can’t say it here. (laughter) But yeah, it definitely makes for a lot of fun. At the end of the day, our sport exists because you have those people that are out there willing to show up to the game and just die for their team on Sunday, even though they’re just sitting on the sidelines and cheering for us. It’s amazing what lengths people will go to.”

On his stiff-arming capabilities: “I don’t know if I’ve ever bragged. I’ve kind of always had that, even since high school. When you’re rolling out of the pocket, obviously to the right – when you’re to the left, the ball is usually in my right hand – it’s just kind of a natural reaction to get it out. I probably have decently long arms. I am 6-6, so you can kind of keep people off of you a little bit. (laughter) But yeah, I haven’t really thought about it too much.”

 

DE Marcus Spears

On if he thinks QB EJ Manuel is acclimating to the NFL quickly enough to be successful right now: “It just depends. Guys get comfortable at different times of the year. I think he feels good about the guys that he has, and they’re doing pretty good on offense. Every game they played this year they could have won. I don’t think anybody is upset about how he’s playing. You’ve got the best of the best that make bad decisions at times. It’s just a part of the game. As a defense, you want to respect those guys as much as possible, because they make the [offense] go.”

On preparing for the different styles in RB Fred Jackson and RB C.J. Spiller: “You just prepare for each one. This game – especially up front on the defensive line – is about playing blocks, getting off blocks and getting to the ball. They present some different challenges; they have two different styles. [C.J.] Spiller is super fast. Fred [Jackson] is more of that conventional running back that can get it in between the tackles. He can get outside, he breaks a lot of tackles, and he makes guys miss. Both of them bring a different facet to the game. You just prepare for both of them, see what their strengths are, and try to attack them.”

On how much the defense wants to continue its streak of not giving up a touchdown: “You just have to go out, play and do the best that you can. You guys know – you’ve been covering this game for a long time – this game is about wins and losses. When we get in on Monday, we worry about how it looks. But if we win, everything is fine. It’s a week-to-week thing. You’ve got to prepare and get as ready as possible for the next week and try to continue to be better.”

On how much the last two games have helped the confidence of the Ravens’ defense: “Obviously, you feel good about what you did the last two weeks, but that can go downhill real fast if you don’t have a successful outing the next time. Three weeks ago we were the worst team in football. You understand how fast it can go from being, ‘These guys are struggling and they’re terrible,’ to ‘They’ve pitched two games with no touchdowns.’ It’s a short-lived business. If you don’t show up every week and continue to have success, then opinions turn.”

 

OLB Terrell Suggs

On if he has liked the way MLB Daryl Smith has played: “I think he’s been doing a good job, especially considering the shoes he’s got to fill. I think he’s been doing a fantastic job. He’s Daryl Smith; we can’t expect him to be Ray Lewis. He’s doing a great job of being Daryl Smith and making some plays for us.”

On if MLB Daryl Smith is a quiet guy in the huddle: “Oh no, he’s very verbal. He’ll let us know … He’s very verbal. We all are, though. That’s what makes us, us.”

On the challenges of defending the read-option: “There are just so many things that you can do off of it, especially when you have a mobile quarterback that can make plays with his arms and legs. Then it becomes a tough scheme to defend. You’ve just got to go back to your fundamentals, play fundamental football, and try to have the best day you can.”

On if he feels like he’s playing well so far: “Ask me at the end of the year. When I was younger, the personal accolades were a [desired] achievement for me. I think the only thing we need to account for is wins and losses, and we’re 2-1 after three games. That’s not terrible, [but] we can do better, and we’d like to be 3-0. It is what it is, and we’re going to continue to work. I say it every week: We’ll continue to work. This week we’re playing the Buffalo Bills and we’re just really ready to get to work and prepare for them.”

On if he approaches rookie quarterbacks differently: “Not really. You attack some quarterbacks differently, but not everybody falls into the category of Peyton [Manning], Drew Brees and the other guy [Tom Brady]. (laughter). Not everybody falls into their category. You play them differently, but you pretty much play all quarterbacks the same, for the simple fact that they’re an NFL quarterback. You can’t take that for granted. They got here, and if they couldn’t play, then they wouldn’t be here. [EJ Manuel] is starting, and he’s doing some good things for them.”

On his reaction to Ray Lewis’ recent comments about the team’s leaders: “I guess it’s something that I’ll have to hear him say. We all know that the media can ‘word play’ [and] misconstrue things. We texted Ray [Lewis] this morning. It’s one guy’s opinion. Like I said, we don’t know what was actually said. You can never take anything for face value. If he says it in front of a camera, it’s a different thing. We’re just having fun with it. We’ve never been the type of locker room to wear our feelings on our sleeves. I don’t really know what was said. It’s Week 4; we’ve got the Buffalo Bills. We can’t be worrying about a comment that was made.”

On if he thinks he is the leader of the defense: “We’ve got a lot of leaders on this team. I don’t think that’s one thing we stress a lot in the locker room [saying], ‘This is that … I’m the leader.’ We don’t worry about that. We worry about what we’re trying to do as a team. We have a lot of leaders on this team, and we like it that way.”

On if he enjoys the challenge of playing mobile quarterbacks: “You enjoy a challenge. If you’re a football player, you don’t want the same thing every week. You want a little different [offense], and we love that we get the opportunity again to play against one of these up-and-coming, rising quarterbacks – a dual threat like EJ Manuel. It’s going to be a challenge. It was a challenge last week of stopping that type of run scheme with the Houston Texans. We had the challenge the week before of stopping Trent Richardson, and now we’ve got this challenge. We’re just going to continue, week by week, to play teams and challenge ourselves against what they do best.”

On if the mobile quarterback is going to be the NFL’s new prototype: “We’ll see. Everybody thought the ‘Wildcat’ was here to stay, and you really don’t see too much of it anymore. This may be. We’ll just have to see how defenses handle it going forward.”

On what he has seen from the Bills’ offense on film: “I know that they like to have the up-tempo offense, but a lot of offenses are going to that. They’re a very talented team. They're a team that’s capable of beating anybody on Sunday when you go out there.”

On what he thinks of how defensive coordinator Dean Pees has run the defense so far: “What do you think about the job Dean Pees has done? (laughter) You know what I’m going to say. I think the world of our coaches and our players here, [but] my opinion is kind of biased. You guys on the outside looking in – that’s for you to assess. We’re more focused on wins and losses around here. We’re going to try and keep knocking them down and see where we end up at the end.”

 

G Marshal Yanda

On how the offensive line is working together and how he would rate the pass protection: “We’re doing a pretty good job. I think there’s still room for improvement, just in the pass game and in the run game. We’ve just got to keep working at it. But I think overall the pass protection has been good, and obviously, we all understand [with] the running game that we need to get that going. So, we just need to keep working hard every day.”

On how much he enjoyed the battle with Texans DE J.J. Watt last weekend: “It’s one of those games where you understand that you’re playing one of their best players, and you definitely want to have a good game and try to do your job as best you can. He’s a great player, but I love those games. I love the games to where you’re playing really good competition. I think it’s what you look forward to as a player. I enjoy that, those big games I get fired up for and love to play against good competition. I love the one-on-one battles; I had a lot of them at tackle when I used to play tackle, so I enjoy it. It’s fun. I’d rather play their best guy than a guy that’s not so good.”

On what it will take for the running game to get going: “I just think that we just need to get everybody … For the most part, you watch the film, even last week, and gosh we had a lot of good blocks. It seemed like maybe there was a block here and a block there ... We just need to keep working hard together, and I think we’re going to get it, that’s for sure. We’re definitely going to get it. We just need to keep working hard and stay with it, stay confident and know that we are going to get it, because we did a lot of good things versus the Texans in the run game, but it didn’t really show up statistically-wise. But we’re definitely moving in the right direction, and everybody is on board, so we’re just going to keep working hard every day.”

On how much of an adjustment there has been with run game coordinator Juan Castillo: “He’s been great for us. He’s just kind of brought his twist on it, stuff like that. He brings a lot of experience to us, and [he’s] another offensive line coach that preaches the fundamentals and technique the same way [offensive line coach] Andy [Moeller] does. So, he’s been doing a great job, and we like having him.”

On his impressions of G Kelechi Osemele and people saying they create the NFL’s best guard tandem: “He’s a young player and he’s definitely got a lot of physical ability and he’s a tough, nasty guy, and I enjoy watching him play. He plays with an edge. But all five of us, we just need to keep working hard as a group. I don’t like ever to be singled out, even with two guys. I feel like it’s a big team sport, and I think that as long as we’re playing well as an offense, then we will all excel together.”

On Ray Lewis’ comments and if it bothers him when the Ravens’ leadership is questioned: “I didn’t hear the comments, but no, it doesn’t bother me, because we all understand the leadership that we have with our team guys and our team. Obviously, Ray, he was a huge vocal leader and stuff like that and very enthusiastic, and we all love him and miss him. But it’s going to be a different type of leadership [now], obviously. Nobody is going to be able to just jump into Ray Lewis’ role and just try to be exactly the same. But we all have a lot of really good leaders on this team, and we’re not sweating it one bit. Everybody is great.”

On how much of an adjustment it has been having a change at the center position from an experienced veteran in Matt Birk to a younger player in C Gino Gradkowski: “It’s just going to be a work in progress still, even as this season is going to be as far as Gino and us coming together and working together with the calls. And I always tell the young guys – not just Gino – but ‘K.O.’ [Kelechi Osemele] or any of the guys … And Gino isn’t going to be Matt [Birk]. Obviously, Matt was [in the NFL for] 15 years, and he could make calls with his eyes blindfolded. So, we’re going to give Gino a little bit of slack, obviously, because it’s his second year, and I think back when I was in my second year, things come at you pretty fast. And he’s making all the calls, too, as a second-year player. So, I think he’s doing a great job, I think he’s got a great attitude, he works hard every day, and I think he’s just going to keep getting better. He got better last week, and he’s just going to keep getting better.”

On how much different Juan Castillo’s schemes are than what he’s seen in the past: “It’s a lot of similarity – there’s maybe a wrinkle here and a wrinkle there. But overall, it’s just the ground base fundamentals – the run-blocking, the pass-blocking, loves using your hands in the pass protection and driving your back side knee in the run game. That’s a lot of the same stuff we had here, too, it’s just that he has a little bit of a different twist on it. But it’s generally the same.”

On what the best part of his game is fundamentally: “I think it’s a combination of things. I think you need to have a nice blend of everything. I think you’ve got to have a blend of speed and power, quickness and having good feet, and then also being able to stop bull rushes. So, it’s a combination of a bunch of things.”

On if he feels more comfortable with T Michael Oher playing on the right side with him each week: “Me and Mike have a good relationship. We’re good friends, and I like playing next to him. Obviously, I played next to ‘K.O.’ [Kelechi Osemele] last year, and we all understood [his move to left guard was] for the better of the team. But I enjoy playing next to him. We’ve had experience together over the years, so we definitely know where each other is at on the field, and there is a certain comfort level playing next to him. We just have a lot of experience next to each other.”

On his opinion of having a 97 ranking on EA Sports Madden: “Nothing, that’s not a big deal. That’s something that I don’t … Obviously, some guys get all geeked up about that. That’s a no-big-deal thing to me. As long as I’m playing well on the field, for real, that’s all that matters. But hey, I’ll take that 97 ranking, though.” (laughter)

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