Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. We have a little bit of a personnel announcement. We've got Demetrius Williams going on IR [Injured Reserve]. He's been struggling with his Achilles. He's got a bone spur of some kind underneath his Achilles' tendon that's been hampering him, really, since last June, and there are various treatments. As you know, he went through training camp. We got him back the end of training camp. He's been kind of on and off throughout the season. He went out and saw Dr. King in Los Angeles, and he recommended surgery immediately. They're going to have to go in and scrape that bone spur off. It's going to be a pretty delicate surgery, so he's going to have to undergo that at some point in time here in the near future.
"As a result, we've signed Terrance Copper as a wide receiver. He was in New Orleans most recently with the Saints. He was actually in London this weekend with them, and got let go. They had a roster situation. We brought him in, worked him out with three other guys yesterday, and we feel like he's the best guy for us right now. So he'll sign today, and hopefully, he'll be at practice here this afternoon. We'll see."
On if he can believe the season is almost half over after all he's been through in his first year as a head coach:"I can believe it. We're excited about the fact that it's almost half over and we're in the hunt. We're excited about playing a game that's going to be meaningful this Sunday, and I'm looking forward to the second half."
On if it's anticipated that Copper will return kicks:"He's been a return guy pretty much his whole career and in college. And he's been a really solid special teams player throughout his career, so he'll be contributing, I'm sure, in some way or another."
On Williams' surgery being a "delicate" operation, if it's something where he wouldn't be back next year:"I haven't been told that. I think he'll be fine next year. That's something that our medical people could answer. So no, I don't want to overstate it, but it's a surgery that takes, because it's involving the Achilles and the foot, there's going to be some recovery time on it. We want to get at it as soon as we can, and move forward and get him into rehab."
On if it's an unusual surgery:"I don't know the answer to that. We'll have to get that to you when we find out more details about it."
On if WRs Marcus Smith and Ernie Wheelwright will have to fight it out to see who will be the third wideout for Sunday:"Marcus or Ernie could be the third wide receiver. It could be Terrance – he could be in the mix to do that. He's been playing all along. It could be Yamon [Figurs] if Yamon comes back from the knee bruise. So we've got a lot of options in there, and I think whatever guy or combination of guys gives us the best chance will be active and will be playing. It could be any one of those guys or a combination of those guys."
On if he feels like the players are buying into what he's telling them and are all on board:"Well, I think so. Yeah, I do."
On if Williams aggravated his injury during the game last week, and that it's unusual for a player to catch a 70-yard TD pass one week and go on IR the next:"Yeah, well, no it didn't happened during the game. It was an injury that he's been, really it's been all the way back to June, and he's been fighting through it. He didn't practice at all last week, and it was really hurting him so much that he couldn't run. So we chilled it, we had it in a boot, they had certain treatments, we got him to the game, he was able to play in the game. You even saw him, I think, pull up at the end of the touchdown pass a little bit right in the end zone there a little bit. It was just grabbing on. We tried to work it and make it, hope that it would improve and he could get through the season, but it just isn't getting any better."
On when the surgery is scheduled:"I don't know that it's scheduled yet. Shortly, we'll let you know."
On if CB Samari Rolle will be able to participate and be up this week:"There's a good chance he'll be up. He practiced the walk-through today. I think we just need to see how he goes through practice, how it responds, how he feels after a good, hard practice today and then Thursday. Probably, it could go up to game time to make the decision, but we're hopeful."
On if a "cleared for contact" is the final determination now:"He is cleared for contact. I think it's a matter of the fact that he hasn't been out there moving around with the helmet on, and all the movements, and just kind of see how his neck muscles respond."
On CB Chris McAlister's knee:"Chris got a second opinion over the course of the last two days by Dr. Uribe down in Miami, so we're awaiting for the results on that. We held Chris out of the walk-through. We'll probably hold him out of the practice today. They've studied it. I think they've got a really good idea of what it is. It's really between the doctors and Chris to make a decision about what's best for Chris going forward this year, how much we can get done, for the rest of his career, how it's going to affect the rest of his career, and we're really hopeful that he'll play for us this year. We should know by the end of the week, I think, what direction that goes."
On if surgery is on the table for McAlister:"Yes, it's an option."
On if it could be a possible Injured Reserve situation:"Potentially. It's a choice that I think the doctors and Chris will have to make as far as how much more damage can be done."
On if LB Antwan Barnes is 100 percent, and his impressions of him:"I think he's 100 percent. You know, he's got the bumps and bruises that most guys have this time of year. [He's] done a good job of fighting through them. I think he's a young, developing player. He's done a nice job on some pass-rush stuff. Rex [Ryan] puts him in some packages. [He's] done a good job on special teams. [He] could get better in a lot of ways, which he understands, and he works hard every day."
On how the offense has been successful in controlling the clock:"That's a great question. I think they've been very successful in controlling the clock. A lot of that, though, is really the defense, if you think about it. We tell our defense all the time that time of possession is their responsibility for the first three quarters. If we get those three-and-outs like we did Sunday, and the kind of field position we had, we're going to win the time of possession battle. I think our defense has done a great job of putting our offense back on the field to control time of possession."
On the best advice he's gotten from Andy Reid or his dad on playing a team twice after you've beaten them once:"I don't know that Andy really every talked about it that I recall. My dad, they never played anybody twice. It was college football. The biggest thing that we need to do is understand we know this team, but we don't know them as well as we think we know them. So we've got to go to work and study and play a tough football game. And the guys, I'm sure they'll be excited to play the Browns. The Browns will be excited to play us."
On what the Browns are doing differently or better now:"I don't think they're doing anything particularly differently or anything in any way better. I think they were a good football team Week 3. If you look at what they've done defensively, I think they're averaging, if you take our game out of it, 13 points a game [that] they're giving up over the course of the last five or six games. That's tremendous defense. They had a good defense going in. Everybody believed they were a good defense, and they've proven it really over the course of the whole season if you look at it. And offensively, they've got weapons all over the place. They'll get [Kellen] Winslow back. That's going to be a big thing for them. Braylon Edwards is playing well. [They've got a] big ol' physical offensive line. It's the Cleveland Browns. It's a good football team."
On if LB Ray Lewis has surprised him with how hard he works:"I don't know. You can say, 'Are you surprised?' I would say 'impressed' because when you're not really around a great football player or a great athlete… Here's a world-class athlete, a Hall of Fame-type of athlete. You kind of wonder what makes a guy like that tick. The thing I've been so impressed with is his work ethic. This guy does it all. He does it in the physical side in the offseason, he does it physically during season, he practices very hard, and he studies tape. Everything you ever heard about Ray Lewis is true."
On the weather element possibly affecting the games in November and December:"Our goal all along has been to be a November and a December football team. That's a challenge that's in front of us; that's something we want to accomplish. I think you play well in November and December and on into January when you're a strong football team. Our guys will have a chance to prove that they're that."
On the Browns having Winslow back from the staph infection and what he can do to minimize risk of infection at the Ravens:"Staph infections? I have no idea. But I'm going to check with my medical staff, and we'll get back to you on that. I'm not too up on staph infections."
On if any wide receiver responsibilities change without Williams there or if someone will fill in for Williams directly:"Right, that's a good question. It's more of a group effort to replace Demetrius. In other words, some guys' roles might change a little bit. You might see [Derrick] Mason in some different spots, you might see [Mark] Clayton in some different spots. We might use more two-tight end things in some different situations, the new receivers bumping in for where they can bump in. Cam [Cameron] is going to have to get a feel for those guys in terms of where they contribute and what they do best, and see how he plugs them in. So we won't be the same exact offense with new guys in there."
On if WR/RS Yamon Figurs is making progress:"He's making very good progress. Over the weekend he made a lot of progress, so he looks a lot better. We'll have to see if he gets through the next few practices."
On if he's determining playing time for the three running backs by situations:"Willis [McGahee] is the starter. He's been starting for us. We are using them by situations. I think we're using them formationally, using them by different kinds of plays, and we're using them also by the hot hand a little bit. I think in a game you get the feel if someone has got something going, we keep them in there, like Willis did two weeks ago. So probably all of the above."
On if he's feeling comfortable with deciding when to play certain players in certain roles:"I think as we go, Cam and Wilbert Montgomery get a better sense of the guys and what they do well in our offense. It's tactical in the sense that we've talked about the defensive players. You try to put the best guy in the best spot to do the best thing against the guy he's lining up against as best you can, and you kind of see during the game how it's playing out."
QB Joe Flacco
On if he feels the offense is more fun now with the flexibility and versatility that QB Troy Smith brings to it:"I heard [Derrick's] answer, and he's exactly right. It's always fun when you're going out there and playing on Sundays. We're out there having a blast, and when you are winning it makes it that much more fun. That's what we've been doing the last couple of weeks, so it's been a blast."
On what he thinks he could do better after reviewing the film of his catch last week:"I don't know, man. I'm out there trying to catch the ball. I'm not a receiver. As a quarterback coming out of the backfield, all I was trying to do was catch the ball and that was fine."
On what he has learned from the film of his first game against the Browns:"It's been helpful a lot. I got to go back and look at all my throws, but they've been playing a little bit differently as a defense, and they've been doing a good job the last few weeks. I think they're minds as a team kind of got restarted with New York, and they've been playing pretty well. We're going to go into Cleveland and be ready to fight the crowd and be ready to go against a good team that's ready to go."
On what he feels the Browns are doing better now than the first time they played the Ravens:"I don't know. They did a good job against us, and they were doing a good job all year. We had some help from our defense that game, and they scored a touchdown. Every defense we've played is pretty darn good. They're a division opponent, and they've been playing good."
On what the Browns are doing differently now than at the start of the season:"I think they're probably going to try to put a little more pressure; that's what they've been showing. We'll see. Every game is different and we always anticipate that teams are going to bring pressure against us, so we'll be ready for it."
On how he feels the team offense is different from the first game against the Browns:"We're a young offense, and every game we're growing and getting more experience and we're just getting better and becoming more comfortable with each other. So each week we've improved, and it's going to continue this week."
On whether it was a conscious decision over the last few games not to throw interceptions or is he just better at taking care of the ball:"You always try to get out there and not throw interceptions. You really try to run the offense and run the play and execute it to the best of your ability. At the end of the day, if you do it all the way you're supposed to, then you usually don't throw an interception. That's what we're trying to do every game."
On if DT Shaun Rogers presence causes the Ravens to speed up the offense a little bit because of the push he usually gets at the line:"He's a good player and he's been a force in the middle all year. But as an offense, we believe in what we do and we're going to go about our business. We're going to run the offense the way we know how to do it. Our offense is set up to get the ball out of the hands of the quarterback, so we're just going to go in there and run our offense the way we have all year."
On whether he thinks the team will use the no-huddle offense that was successful against Miami again:"We're going to want to do that every week, every week we can. That's part of the game plan this week and we'll be excited to do it."
On how much of a factor he feels controlling the clock has been in the Ravens' success this season:"It's huge. Our defense is a big part of that. When they go out and can get three-and-outs for us, that means the offense isn't on the field that long for those guys. If we can go out there and control the ball, then it gives our defense rest and they're able to go out there and time after time to get three-and-outs. Time of possession is really reflective of how both sides of the ball play, and we've been doing a good job of that. If we can continue to that, then it should help us in the long run. But we're trying to put points on the board, and if we have 50 points I don't think we're going to be complaining about having 15 minutes of possession."
On how close he is to his offensive line and how much do they mean to him:"I feel like I'm really close to those guys. They mean everything to me. If they weren't there I wouldn't have a job. They've been doing a great job all year and they take great pride in protecting me and protecting whoever's back there. You can really see that and hear that when you talk to these guys."
On if the young offensive line looks ahead to their growing as a unit in the years to come:"Right now we're so stuck in the next week and what we can do with our next opponent, but if you do sit down and think about it, it's really cool to think about how young our offense is and how we can grow with each other the next couple of years."
On whether he goes out to dinner with the offensive line each week:"Yeah, we go out and they've been great. We have a good time and get something to eat, and we usually go to do it a couple of days before the game."
On if he picks up the tab:"They help me out a little bit."
On how much the effectiveness of the running game helps him as a quarterback:"Anytime you have a rushing game it helps out a quarterback because it opens up things in the pass game and takes pressure off everybody on the team. We're going to do what we can to be successful. We've been a good running team all year, and we're going to continue to do that."
TE Todd Heap
On what he thought of the new things in the offense last week:"It worked. It was good. I think we threw them off a little bit. They weren't expecting it. When we were able to capitalize on it, then they really have to start adjusting. Those are some good things we saw."
On how his throwing arm is:"*(Laughing) *We'll see. We may put that in later down the road. We'll see."
On whether trick plays make it more fun:"When they work, they're a lot of fun. When they don't work, then it's like everybody is [saying], 'What are they thinking?' So it was fun. When we got them to work, that was [great]. Definitely, when you know they're not expecting those things, you can catch them off guard."
On using different formations to keep the opponent of balance:"I think it changes teams' preparation against us. They see us doing different things, and you have to go out on the practice field and prepare for those things. It makes them have to change their focus a little bit."
On if this is a different Browns team than they faced earlier in the season:"Well, I think they've got some guys back healthy, so [they are] different personnel-wise. But they're also playing well. They've been playing a lot better as of late, and that's what we have to expect coming out on the field this week."
On picking up some pass-catching slack with WR Demetrius Williams injured:"We're all going to have to pick up slack with having guys out and having guys hurt. That's everybody's job."
On where the Ravens are compared to the first meeting with the Browns:"I'd like to think we're a little bit further along. Where we are right now, we're definitely on a roll as far as winning games, so we want to keep that going."
On how he feels about where the team is record-wise at this point in the season:"Of course, we'd want to have a few more wins, but we're in the hunt. That's all we can ask for right now. All we can control is the next game and what happens from here on out. We can't look back and say, 'What if this?' or 'should've, could've,' all those things. We have to look forward and make sure we take care of business going ahead."
On whether the offense is comfortable bringing one quarterback in for a play or two then going back to the other quarterback:"I don't think it's changing our offense completely. We're still running the same offense. I think those are just specific incidents where we can take advantage of a few things here and there that the defense poses."
On if they feel comfortable playing with either Joe Flacco or Troy Smith at quarterback:"They're both out there at the same time. It's the same thing. I don't even think it's any different."
On getting the most out of players like DT Haloti Ngata and G Ben Grubbs by utilizing them at different positions:"I think putting Haloti out there definitely puts some extra weight on one side of the line. He's a guy that can clear a path, and I think we saw him do that this past week."
LB Ray Lewis
On how he ranks DT Haloti Ngata with other DTs he has known in his career:"Haloti is one of those special ones. He has the perfect size; he has the perfect ability, man. He plays almost like a quick man. That's how good his feet are. In the years to come, that guy is going to be a great defensive tackle, if he's not already great. I just love his intensity. He loves the game of football, and I just think his upside is way bigger than anything he's already done so far."
On whether he agreed with those who felt Ngata may have taken some plays off for the Ravens:"Never, never."
On if it's his love for the game or his professional pride that keeps him at the top of his game in his 13th season:"Every year I tell people, time and time again, football never changes. It never changes. It's whatever you put into it. So for me, man, I love just competition. Bottom line. You listen to all of the [speculation of] who's coming in, who's this, who's that, and the bottom line is you still have to line up between the white lines. In my offseason I always prepare for that and then when football [season] comes, that's the fun part. The fun part is just to get back out there and always just raise these young guys and to always keep them playing at a high level. That's always been my job since I've been around here 13 years. The game just continues to get better and better as you get older."
On what area he feels he has grown the most during his time in the NFL:"Grown the most? I think you grow in so many areas. I don't know if I can explain them all. I just think that every year you gain different levels of wisdom in just the game of football. You won't understand it until you start getting up to that point when you've played with the good ones, like a Rod Woodson or the Shannon Sharpes, and you see the things that they started seeing when they [were] older. Now with me being in that position, I'm like the tutor to a lot of these young guys trying to teach them the game and trying to get them to understand it. I just think I grew tremendously, man, in so many ways."
On what he thinks about the young linebackers who play with him on this team:"I like everybody we've got. [Jameel] McClain, he plays the game, he practices just the way he plays. And it's amazing that you can come in last week and grade out at 100%, I don't care if you have one play. We have just a great corps of guys who love to play football – [Terrell] Suggs, Bart [Scott], all these young guys, [Brendon] Ayanbadejo. We have a lot of guys who just love football. Me, as the a leader, I just love tutoring them and trying to make the game slow down for them and try to get them to really understand what the next opponent is all about."
On if he still has film sessions at his house for his teammates:"Absolutely. Most of the time I don't even go home now, because I know a lot of guys like to go do their own thing. Every day we leave here we just stop in right after lunch or we stay right after the meetings. We meet at least four or five times outside the coaches' [meetings] a week. Absolutely."
On if he sees offenses getting more serious and if it causes him to be a more serious studier of film:"No, it's something I've always done. It's something I've always done. That's kind of what makes my game simple. I like to study people more than they probably even study themselves, so when I do step on the field the game is easy. You just react to the football. It's just taking a test. I tell the young guys this all the time. You take a test every week, [and the more] you prepare for it, the easier the test is going to be. You just go make the play from there. I wouldn't say it's hard. I just think if you study, everything will fall into place."
On how he compares the Browns that the Ravens played in September to the Browns they will face this week:"I just think the expectations were definitely high the beginning of the year, and now, I think they're trying to get back to doing what they're doing. They had a big win last week in Jacksonville and things like that. I just think they're trying to get back to their form of all the expectations. If anything has changed, I don't know; but the bottom line is we'll find out Sunday if anything has changed once the game gets going."
On how many more years he feels he can and wants to play:"I don't know. Life is freaking incredible and loving football is just what I do. One thing about me, when it's done, it's done. There's no hesitating [about] if I'm done or if I'm not done. You know me, [I could] easily [play] three or four more years, but that's going to take care of itself however it comes out. God, himself, my prayers are just simply letting me focus on the next step and that's the next day. So whenever that comes it comes, but right now I just love playing. And it's good to have a [good] group of people that you're playing around; that's so important. Like I said, you won't understand it until you have played with veterans like Rod Woodson and they tell you how much you energize them. And now, I'm looking at all these young guys and saying, 'Wow, you guys really don't' understand it.' It's just a pure joy to be out here and just still going."
On if he feels he would like to be a coach after his playing days are over:"I'll be coaching my kids. I've got kids to go coach."
On what it meant to have Mike Singleterry as a coach and mentor earlier in his career:"Everything, everything. More importantly, I think it was a lot of things off the field as a man that he taught me as well as on the field. On the field, I think [he and I] just saw eye-to-eye on so many things, by being the studier he was of the game and me being a studier of the game as well. So I think on the field we were always kind of clicking, whether it was one little thing that he wanted to correct about my fundamentals here or there. But I think off the field, I learned a greater amount from him, and I greatly appreciate it."
On if he feels the Ravens' defense is peaking right now:"I think it will start peaking once we really just start getting everybody back and completely healthy. Samari [Rolle] is coming back this week, which is a great edge for us – things like that. [Dawan] Landry is still trying to figure out what he's going to do. I just think, overall, we're just kind of healthy and the next thing is the next man is stepping up, and that's [been] big for us. I don't want to say we're peaking or anything like that. I just think it's the next game, and I think as a defense if we just keep playing to the level that we can play at, then the sky is the limit for us."
On if the Ravens' 4-3 record is where the team hoped to be at this point in the season:"You can actually be better. There's only one undefeated team in the NFL right now, bottom line. When you do look at the season, you break the quarters down in the season. If you're over .500, you know you're right in the race and in the thick of things. If you look at the way the AFC is going, everybody has got two or three losses one way or another. So, as a ball club, I just think we're sitting right where we're supposed to be right now."
WR Derrick Mason
Opening statement:"I just want to let everybody know that it's cold outside."
On if that's preparing him for Sunday's game in Cleveland:"Preparing me for what, man? Shoot. It ain't going to be that cold Sunday. It's supposed to be about 66 degrees or somewhere around that."
On what he remembers of the Browns' secondary from the first game:"I mean, they played good the first game. We ran the ball effectively. I think that kind of threw them off a little bit. But, I mean, their secondary played very well. And they've been getting better each and every game. I've been watching – that young secondary is very good. Then, they've got [Sean] Jones back. That's a plus for them, and [Willie] McGinest is back, so that's a plus for them also. So they're getting better as the season has progressed."
On how he's feeling after missing practices last week:"I'm feeling fine now. It was a little setback for me, being [under the weather]… But, when you're not allowed to go out there and practice, you don't get that cohesiveness you need with your quarterback on a week-in and week-out basis. I think this week will be a little bit better."
On his take on the "Suggs" offense:"Is it the 'Suggs' offense? I think that was one of those things that he just wanted to make you all chuckle about."
On his feelings about that offense overall and what QB Troy Smith brings to it:"I think it's a good way to get Troy on the field. Troy has proven that he can play, that he is a very good quarterback in this league – not just with gimmick plays. But if he had to line up under center, he's a very good quarterback. You've got to put the guy in because he's so good at what he does. The package is good for him, the package is good for us. I don't know what we're going to do this week with Troy, but I'm pretty sure Troy will get his opportunity."
On if his relationship with Smith is similar to that of QB Joe Flacco:"Oh yeah, my relationship with Troy is real good. That's my guy. Our relationship started to flourish at the end of last season, and it continued during our two-a-day practices. But he had a setback with his illness, but [the relationship is] still there because it's not like just because he hasn't been under center he hasn't been throwing passes, that he hadn't been throwing passes to us. He has. It's still there. If he had to come in, I think our offense would still run effectively."
On how he approaches playing a team for the second time, after winning the first game:"What we want to do is not turn over the ball. That's basically what it is. I think we were very good the first game not turning over the ball and running the ball effectively. I think that's what we have to do again. In order to have some success against this team, you have to try to do some things up front, because their front guys are very good. We just have to try to eliminate the mistakes, no turnovers, and just play good football. That's basically what we want to do."
On if there is more being added to the playbook as the season progresses:"Our playbook is forever growing. It's going to grow five games from now. It's going to grow when I'm not here. It's going to grow whenever. This offense is evolving, and it's only getting better by the week. And like I said, if we don't turn the ball over and keep minimizing our penalties, then we'll be all right."
On how much lining up guys in unorthodox positions adds to the team:"I don't want to see Joe at receiver too much. I mean, he's the quarterback. You don't want to see the quarterback at receiver too much. Haloti [Ngata] on the offensive line? That's great. That's another big body. Some other things that we have done offensively, with putting guys at certain positions, it's good, but you don't want to be a 'trick 'em' offense. We want to be able to line up and play football, which we have been. But you have to throw a wrinkle in there here and there to try and keep the defense off-balance."
On if he has more fun with the 'wrinkles' in the offense:"I'm having fun because we're winning, man. If it's the wrinkles or not, we're winning football games, and that's the fun part about this business. If you're winning, everybody's having fun. If you're not, then no one's having fun, whether you're running trick plays or not."
On if he can throw the ball:"Come on, man. I am an all-around athlete. I am what you call a football player. I'm not just a wideout, I'm a football player."
On if there is a play where he will throw the ball:"(Laughing) I can't tell you that. I can't spill the beans. I can't open the bag right now. Me and Joe might think of a play or two."
Interjects Flacco from the side: "I catch better than he throws."
Mason responds: "I'm not going to say anything about that, though. But I'm done, and here's the man of the hour, Joe Flacco."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On what plays he has called for this week:"Man, I don't know. I think you all are having way too much fun with this. It's gotten out of hand. I don't know. I just know we've got to win. We've got to show up, and we've got to play some football."
On how Cleveland has changed since the teams met in September:"It looks like they're playing some inspired football. It looks like they're playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of swagger. Definitely, it's going to be an interesting game. They're not the same guys that showed up in the beginning of the season."
On whether the team is where it wanted to be in terms of record and position in the division:"Not at all, actually. We wanted to be at the head of the division."
On if he is pleased with where they are:"No, we're not satisfied. I don't want to say 'pleased,' but we're content with it. We know our season could be a lot better, and we know that our season could be a lot worse."
On how tough it is to beat a team twice in a season:"It's very hard, especially on the road, especially when it's a rivalry game. They've pretty much got it in for us right now, but we like that. We like a game with some edge, so we'll see what happens on Sunday."
On his impression of Browns T Joe Thomas:"If he's not already, he's definitely going to be one of the premier tackles in this league. With him playing the way he's playing – I think he went to the Pro Bowl last year – and the new kid, [Dolphins rookie] Jake Long, they've both impressed me. I'm a hater, so I don't give anybody props. But they've definitely got my respect, and I like playing against them."
On whether he looks forward to a challenge like Thomas:"Always. It's been a challenge ever since [we] did a commercial a year ago [for Under Armour]. Everybody's always been having a hoopla about that. But I like it. I like the matchup. Like I said, it's going to be fun on Sunday."
On what he can do as a player to prevent getting a staph infection:"I don't know. I guess have clean facilities. I don't know. I just work here, man. I'm not a doctor."
On if he is worried about that at all out there:"No, I'm not worried about that. I don't think they should [be], either."
On whether he's lobbying to play on offense:"I like to hit people. I don't like to get hit, so I'm just going to stay out of there. Don't be fooled. I don't think my hands are that good yet. I've still got to do a few more ball drills, so we'll see."
CLEVELAND BROWNS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Romeo Crennel
On what he sees as the key in turning around the season after an 0-3 start:"We've been talking to the team about trying to do the little things better and coming on, and I think one area that we've improved on is the penalty area. Early on we were averaging about 10 penalties a game, and the last couple of weeks we've cut that down considerably. Basically, I tell them that [with] penalties that's free yardage that you're giving away, and we're not good enough to give yards away. So we've been concentrating on that, and I think that's helped. You have to focus to eliminate penalties. You have to make the right choices and your focus has to be where it needs to be. And if you can focus on penalties, then you can focus on the other parts of your game as it relates to your position and giving your team a chance to win."
On whether he feels things are coming together better for the offense now:"When you win it always seems like things are going better and it is going a little better. The thing that we need to do is we need to see if we can develop some consistency because this team has kind of been up and down offensively – streaky you might say. If we can develop some consistency where we know that we can hang our hat on consistent performance, then that will be a plus for us."
On how an opposing team can limit the Ravens' time of possession where they lead the league:"The way to do that is you keep the ball; your offense keeps the ball and moves the football. That's tough against one of the top defenses in the NFL. We know that it's going to be a challenge for us, so now what we have to do is every part and every portion of our team has to play their part. So, our specialists, they're going to have to do a good job so that we can maybe help change field position. And then our defense has to do a good job of being able to stop the run, and hopefully, keep your offense off the field."
On if he feels the Browns will have to make the Ravens' offense one-dimensional by forcing the pass:"I think that's what all defenses try to do a little bit is to stop the run so that you can put your opponent into the throwing situation, and now you can pin your ears back and go after them. We're no different than everybody else. That's what we want to do. Now, getting it done, sometimes it's a problem for us."
On what the Browns need to do to get the ball to RB Jamal Lewis more to give him 15-20 carries and a 100 yards:"I believe we have to give it to him more. That last time we played you he got it 12 times, and Jamal is a player that really doesn't get warmed up until he has it in his hands about 20 times. So we've got to make a conscientious effort to give it to him, the ball, more."
On if he notices a change in how defenses are playing the Browns since the return of Donte' Stallworth:"I don't know that they have changed how they are playing. What it does, it gives us another option and the quarterback has another guy now that he can go to. When Braylon [Edwards] is there, a lot of the balls go toward Braylon or Kellen [Winslow]. And now having Donte' there, if they are going to push the coverage to those guys, now the quarterback has a viable option on the back side, and so, I think that's helped more than anything else."
On the status of Winslow and his return to play this week after his staph infection:"He's good, he's good. He's excited to be back. He's looking forward to playing this week."
On if he believes there is a problem in Cleveland with staph infections:"No, there's no problem. We've had some infections, we've done several things to combat them, and we've done everything that we can to protect our players."
On what he has told the players regarding preventing staph infections:"I've told him what has been done by the organization as far as sports coding, personalized towels, personalized laundry, the cleaning schedule for our hot tubs, our sauna, our cold tubs, how we clean the training room, how we clean the weight room on a daily basis, bacterial soap being put into the showers and all of those things that help combat infection – even to the point of putting hand cleanser in the meeting room so that the guys can keep their hands clean."
On his impression of Ravens DT Haloti Ngata: "I'm really impressed with how Ngata has done. I liked him coming out [of Oregon], and ever since he has been with you I've seen him make progress as a player. He is a tremendous force in your defense. I know that big guys like that who play well help keep the linebackers clean. That's why Ray [Lewis] wanted a guy like that in front of him, because now that frees him up so that he can run to the ball and make the tackles. And when Ray gets there, he gets there with an attitude. And so, that helps that defense be the tops in the league."
On the matchup between Ravens LB Terrell Suggs and Browns T Joe Thomas:"I think it will be a good battle. Terrell is one of the better pass-rushers in the league. He's got speed, he's got quickness and he's got a knack for getting to the quarterback. Joe is a good athlete and he has some talent, so I think that will be a good matchup."
T Joe Thomas
On what he feels is the key to the Browns' turnaround after their 0-3 start:"I don't think it was any one thing. We're playing better, obviously. We got some guys back from injury and, offensively, we started to click. We kind of figured out what kind of offense we are this year versus where we were last year."
On if he can compare the Ravens' defense to any other that he has seen:"The Ravens have always been one of the best defenses in the NFL. Obviously, right now they are probably the best run defense in the NFL, and all around on defense they're in the top two or three. So, it's a tremendous challenge every time we play them, and being in the AFC North we get the pleasure of playing them more than once a year."
On his impression of Ravens DT Haloti Ngata:"He's a great player. He's one of the best defensive tackles in the league. He brings a great combination of speed, strength and power, and he's a guy you have to game-plan around."
On his memories of getting into it with Ngata last year:"I think that was actually in Baltimore, if I'm not mistaken. The two teams, the Browns and Ravens, have a great rivalry, and a lot of times it gets real heated on the field and it gets a little chippy out there some times. But it's all in fun. No grudges are still going on."
On whether he's still upset about what happened last year and if he plans a special welcome for Ngata this Sunday:"No. We reconciled after the game last year. So there's no love lost, and I think we both respect each other, and I don't think there's going to be anything of that sort."
On what he thinks of Ravens LB Terrell Suggs:"He's a great pass-rusher. He's playing probably the best, actually, in these two years of playing against him. And he's another guy you've got to game-plan because he's such a great pass-rusher, but he's also such a force in the run game. And you've got to be prepared for a fist fight because he's an extremely physical player."
On how he feels the Browns will need to move the football against the Ravens:"It's going to be a big key for us to try to run the ball. Nobody's really been able to run the ball against the Ravens this year. In the NFL, if you want to win games consistently you've got to be able to run the ball. For us offensive lineman, we really want to try and establish the run and work off that with the pass."
On if he worries about staph infections as a player in light of the TE Kellen Winslow situation:"I don't think so. Worrying about the Ravens is a big enough challenge for us, and I think everybody on the team understands that they can't worry about things that are out of our control."
On if he feels the Browns are taking steps to clean up the locker room and prevent infection:"The team has done a whole lot in the last three or four years to try to keep staph as much as they can out of the locker room and out of the facilities. But it's a growing problem all across the country, and it's not just isolated to the Browns. So everybody's got to be vigilant with the way they take care of cuts and wounds and things like that. But I don't think it's anything you need to be worried out on a day-to-day basis. I don't think anybody is a germaphobe or anything like that."