FRIDAY PODIUM AVAILABILITY: WEEK 13 AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, [it's] good to see you guys. I appreciate you being out. What questions do you have?"
I know we've talked about the grass, but I've gotten over 100 questions asking about the grass. Is this Bermuda [grass]? I don't know what that is. Is this Bermuda grass that's gone dormant? Do we know? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes. It's Bermuda [grass] that goes dormant. That's the word – dormant. You could say hibernation, but that's more for mammals, I think. I think dormant goes for plants. Am I right about that? Is that how it works?" (Reporter: "I think so.") "Yes." (Reporter: "I mean, people are concerned.") "OK, they just do a little research. [University of] Kentucky's field, they play on Kentucky's field at the end of the year. The University of Kentucky, have you ever watched a game there in November [or] December?" (Reporter: "Yes, that's right.") "There you go, [it's the] same kind of grass. What more can I say?" (laughter)
Has DT Calais Campbell passed concussion protocol? If so, was today a vet day for him? (Luke Jones) "I don't really have anything to add on that. I don't know. He practiced yesterday. We'll see what's announced when it's announced. I have not been updated on that at this stage."
Yesterday, the NFL suspended Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown because of fraudulent vaccination. Are you confident in everything that the Ravens have done going through all the vaccination statuses and things like that? (Jamison Hensley) "I am. I am confident in our process that we go through. [Executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] heads that up with [vice president of football administration] Nick Matteo. Those guys have been very vigilant ever since the COVID-19 protocols were put into place. I know that they're on top of all of that. I don't follow it detail for detail, certainly, but I know they've been on it. I feel very confident in our people with that."
I know that you're not consulted with the schedule stuff, but backending all the AFC North games, does that make it … Is that something you'd prefer didn't happen and have it more spread out? Does that kind of change anything? (Jeff Zrebiec) (laughter) "Some things just don't matter in life. It's good to know what matters and what doesn't. And that's one of those things that what I think of that doesn't really matter. I don't have a problem with it. I'm excited to play the games. They're here. They're at the end of the year, which is when it matters the most. I'm excited about it, but scheduling has never been something that … I guess I have commented on it before, haven't I? (laughter) I was going to say I had never, but oh, whoops - all those Monday night games. We've talked about that, but we've gotten a few lately."
All five of your corners on the 53-man roster missed at least one practice this week. I know you're not going to say who's active, but will there be some decision-making, do you think, because of injury status with that position? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, we'll have to wait and see who we have. We don't know. As a coach, you try to get as many people ready as you can. You go play the game with the people that you have, and we'll see where we're at with that as we go. We don't know at this point."
With this illness, is it just a thing where you hope for the best by Saturday [or] Sunday? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes, that's really exactly what it is."
I have a non-Ravens question. A lot of people have talked about the state of offenses in the NFL and how there's not really been a hugely dominant force. Do you have any thoughts on just why scoring is down? There's not really a breakout MVP-level quarterback around the league. (Jonas Shaffer) "A macro-league question?" (Reporter: "Yes.") "No, I don't have any thoughts on it, to be honest with you. (laughter) If I had a thought, I would share it, but I don't. We're focused on us. We're trying to score as many points as we can. We're working really hard at it. We'd like to score more than we have lately, obviously. We're trying to keep people from scoring as many points as we possibly can. So, that's really what we're focused on." (Reporter: "Good strategy.") "Thanks, I appreciate that. High-level strategy, this is deep stuff." (laughter)
FB Patrick Ricard
On what advice he offers about this Ravens-Steelers rivalry: "I think the biggest piece of advice is just to know that the rivalry is real. It's not just a normal NFL game. It's probably the most physical game of the year, and I think you just have to bring your hard hat and know that you really have to bring your big-boy pads, because it's going to be one of those kinds of games."
On if there was a rivalry close to Ravens-Steelers when he played at the University of Maine: "Kind of, because our rival was UNH [University of New Hampshire], but it was really lopsided; I didn't win one [game]. I played UNH five times, [and] I lost all five times. But it was definitely a physical game. It was probably the most physical game of the year, so it's similar, for sure, but it's not like the Ravens-Steelers. It's not even close."
On if his injuries are just later-season wear and tear that he has to work through: "I've had MRIs, [and] everything looks good structurally. It's just kind of end of the season-type thing, overuse. I just have to stay on top of it, make sure before I come out here, it's warmed up, it's loosened up, it's ready to go, and I've been doing a good job with that. The medical staff has been doing good. Last week, I felt great on Sunday, and this week I should, too."
On his increased workload: "Ever since Nick [Boyle] went down last year, my snaps have gone up, so I got used to it at the end of last season, but this year, it's just been consistently the whole time. If you look back two years ago, I was getting in the 30% of snaps; now I'm getting like 60%-70%. I think it's definitely a difference, because I can't just go super, all-out every play, because I know I'm playing more. But it's a lot of fun. I can really get in a groove, really get a feel of the game and get a lot of reps, and I enjoy it. I think it's a lot of fun."
On if he expects to get the Steelers' best game: "I think so, just because they're an organization where if they have a bad loss, the next week, they're not going to have another bad loss. They're going tighten everything together and really give their best game. And I think we're going to get that from them, because of what happened to them last week, and they're playing us in Pittsburgh. It's a big game for both of us, so I think we're really going to get their complete best, for sure."
On if he's still optimistic about the rushing attack heading into the colder months: "It was tough for us when we started the year, our whole running back room was gone. We had to bring in new guys, and I think as the season has gone on, the guys that have come into this organization have been doing … [They're] understanding the offense, and we're doing better. I think our [offensive] line is starting to get in the groove of different things. Yes, I'm confident in our running game no matter what. I think we have to do what we have to do in certain games, and now it's going to get colder. I think we're going to improve in our running game."
On if he enjoys playing in Pittsburgh's hostile environment: "Yes, especially a place like Heinz Field. Being on the Ravens, going there, it's probably the most hostile environment that we play in. It's so crazy seeing all those towels, fans just screaming. My wife has been to a couple games, and she hates it, because those fans are brutal. They were cussing her out, and she was just sitting there. (laughter) So, it's always great whenever we get a win there. I don't think there's a better feeling than that." (Reporter: "Was she wearing your jersey?") "Probably. (laughter) It made it easy for them."
On overcoming injuries and still leading the AFC with an 8-3 record: "Oh, it's incredible. Just imagine if we had everyone from the start of the season right now [with] how good of a team we are, but that still doesn't matter. I think it's just a credit to this organization and the coaches and the players that we have, that we're able to still be successful and find ways to win. I don't think anybody thought we would be where we are right now."
On if he's seen anything different from QB Lamar Jackson this week after coming off of a tough game last week: "Lamar [Jackson] is an absolute competitor. He's very accountable. He understands if he plays good or not, and I think he's been more focused this week – more than ever. In his eyes, he didn't have the best performance, and we're going into, obviously, playing the Steelers. So, I think he's just so locked in, and I think he's going to perform better."
On how tough TE Nick Boyle's return to action has been: "With his kind of injury, I think it's just incredible that he has even come back at all. I think that's very inspiring. And it's just something that he's going to have to work through, and he's a very tough guy, so if he's feeling pain, you know it's definitely there. So, I think he just has to do what he has to do to get back feeling healthy and feeling like himself again."