DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Ok, good to see everybody. Just finished up the main part of our preparation, obviously, for the week. Thought we had a really good week of practice. The guys are preparing for a tough football game against a really good team. Obviously, there's a lot on the line, but there always is. There will be a lot on the line on Thursday; there will be a lot on the line for the rest of the game throughout the course of the year. So, this is another one of those opportunities, more than anything. We're looking forward to doing everything we can to take advantage of it."
Talk about A.J. Green and what he brings to their offense and the playmaker that he's been at such a young stage of his career... (Mark Zinno) "A.J. is a guy that obviously has gone up and made catches for them; he's made plays for them. He's a tremendous athlete. He's still learning his craft, I think, as a wide receiver. But, he's learning pretty quickly. That catch he made against Pittsburgh that he got hurt a little bit on, that's as good a play as you're ever going to see in this league. He's a guy we're going to have to contend with for many years to come in the division, so we're really impressed with him."
Cam Cameron said he thinks Lee Evans may need another week or two. Do you think he's getting closer? (Aaron Wilson) "I think he's getting closer, yes. He's definitely getting closer. Just have to see how it goes."
How has Dannell Ellerbe progressed? He's practiced on a limited basis, but he was a full participant yesterday, as far as getting back on the field? (Luke Jones) "He's progressed well. It's another situation where we're just going to have to see how it goes. You just don't know. Hamstrings are very tricky. We've got other guys that we've brought back a little bit early, and they've reinjured it. Anthony Allen is an example of that. So that's… It's going to be something that we're just going to have to see, really, on Sunday. I think he got through the practices pretty well, but until you open it up and feel right before the game that it's not going to grab or pull, you really don't know."
Is there an update on Ray Lewis? (Rob Carlin) "No."
Can you use the crowd to your advantage this week with a young quarterback? (Jim Forner) "Yeah, I think so, absolutely. We have a great crowd. We haven't been anywhere yet where it's been anything like being at home, and we've been in some great places. The last two road games have been tremendously loud places, but they aren't like M&T [Bank Stadium]. Our fans are the best. I'm pretty sure they're going to be pretty fired up for this game – big time."
Throughout the season, there are ups and downs. How much did you learn from your dad in terms of how to handle the ebb and flow of the season? (Aaron Wilson) "Pretty much everything I know I learned from my dad. He understands that. You get a chance to talk to him after games and put it in perspective in terms of remembering what's important. I think it goes back through the course of the week. We had our little boxing match on Monday in our press conference. I think the thing that I was trying to keep focused on is the fact that it's really about football. It's really about the way you play. It's really about not turning the ball over – really playing field position football and doing all the things you need to do. Within that, there's very much conversation about [when] you run it, you throw it… All those kinds of decisions are very good conversations. But to try to get into the – I'll use a crazy term – the esoteric stuff, you know, it just is not valuable. It doesn't help you really, as a football coach or a football team. So we leave this to you guys. You guys are journalism majors. Man, you know how to put those things together and craft. (laughter) Some of you, right? One of our guys just [flinched] over here. (laughter) So, we just try and focus on the football. What we need to do is go out and play a good football game, and then we'll see what happens."
Have you found any weak links in Cincinnati's defense or have they been pretty solid all year long? (Mark Zinno) "Yeah, I don't think [there are] any weak links. They're a top five defense. When you watch them on tape you can see why, they're strong in every facet. But you attack them. There are openings in every defense, just by scheme. There are opportunities in there just by the way your guys execute. And that's what we need to try to take advantage of. We do that by playing well."
Matt Stover is getting into the Ring of Honor this weekend. What are your thoughts on that and what he's meant? (Garrett Downing) "Thanks for asking about that. Just had a chance last night… They had a reception here last night for Matt and his family and friends. It was great to be around him, and his beautiful family, and just talk about the time that we had together here and the time that I played against him – all those years when he was a Raven and a Brown. You know, it goes back. But he's one of the special guys and really good for the community. I think, going forward, this is the beginning for Matt in a lot of ways. The things that he's going to do in business and the things that he's going to do for this community, for Baltimore, for all of us, is just going to be neat to watch."
Brendon Ayanbadejo has gotten work in and played some, and you've had different guys that have been rotating in there. How confident are you in the linebacker depth if somebody goes down and you can't fill it? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I mean if that happens… What you're talking about is if we have a certain guy at that position injured and can't go on Sunday. (laughter) The thing about Ray [Lewis] is, Ray is Ray, you know? You can't count Ray out. There could be reports out there, and you guys could turn over some rocks and figure it out and ask and think you've got something, and you might have something. But you might not, because you're talking about Ray. We'll find out on Sunday. Ray has had shoulders dislocated, and he's done 35 pushups on the sideline to prove that he can go. He's had hamstrings that he's torn off the bone because he went ahead and went when he shouldn't have. I've been updated on some of his history. That's Ray Lewis. And the injury is not any kind of a serious, serious thing, or career-threatening. I think I saw a report that it was career-threatening this morning. (laughter) No, that wasn't your report. (Harbaugh says to a certain reporter.) You didn't report that, you're right. (laughter) So, Ray may go, he may not go. The Bengals, they'll have to prepare for him either way, so it doesn't matter. But I think it's something he could play with, possibly. But we are very confident in our linebackers. And we're confident in our defense. You go out there as a defense, is what you do. We've had plenty of injuries all year; we've had lots of guys hurt throughout the course of the year. We'll play with the guys that we have, and we're confident in those guys. We have a really good group. We have a really good defense, and we'll play well."