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Interview Transcripts: Thursday (10/09)

Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan

On whether he treats the week of preparation as if the Colts' offense could wake up at any time:"They woke up last week, [scoring] 21 points or something [to come back and win in the fourth quarter]. They're one of the, obviously, premier offenses in this league, and we haven't fared too well against them. Hopefully, we can turn that around this week."

On what he expects the Colts' mindset to be:"Don't really care. Just because, you know… Look at our mindset. We could be 4-0, but we're not. They've got an excellent football team, and whatever their mindset is – good, bad or indifferent – we're going to have to play on Sunday. It's a great challenge to us, and we know our guys. We think our guys are going to be up to it."

On if he can take anything from last year's game with the Colts:"Well, whatever happened, it never worked, obviously. We stunk up the joint, and they did a great job last year. That was one game where they probably could've made that score what they wanted it to be. But we've got a different group out there, and we're going to play a heck of a lot better than last year."

On what it's like preparing for the chess match with schemes:"I think, first of all, who do you have playing, who do you have up and all that kind of stuff? Where your matchups are favorable or not favorable, you've got to make sure that you're covered there. Last year, we thought Samari [Rolle] was going to play all the way up until the game, and then he couldn't play. That one kind of hurt us a little bit. With Peyton [Manning], if he knows what you're in, then he probably burns you more than any other quarterback in the league. So hopefully, he has a tough time seeing what we're going to be playing. We've got to do a great job with disguising our coverages and our fronts and make it a physical game, also, try to knock the line of scrimmage back and hopefully do a good job of stopping the run and harassing the receivers and harassing Peyton."

On whether the Colts' offensive line seemed to click better last week and is giving Manning more time:"They're getting there – the same guys that played against us last year – and we couldn't get to him. So hopefully, we can find a way to get there. I know their center was out for a while. He's back. I understand their left tackle, we think he'll be back. So their offensive line should be intact, their starting group."

On what the defense can do to slow a versatile player like Colts TE Dallas Clark:"We can cover him, but we might not cover the other guys. So that's the problem you have. They've got big-time weapons in [Marvin] Harrison and Reggie Wayne, you mentioned Clark, and then [Anthony] Gonzalez last year. I don't think we want to sleep [on] him after what he did to us. What did he have, two or three touchdowns? It only seemed like five, I think. So they've got a lot of weapons. Their running back [Joseph Addai] is a stud, too, so it's a great challenge for anybody."

On if the Colts still run their stretch play the same way:"Yeah, I think early in the season, they were running a lot of tosses. I'm not sure, but I don't think Peyton's knee was to where he could run that stretch. You're seeing it now that they're back to running that stretch the way they used to. But I think they tried to use tosses instead of running that wide stretch we're all used to seeing. But I think they're back to doing that now."

On the importance of S Jim Leonhard's play the past two weeks:"He's played well for us, there's no doubt. That's what a backup is supposed to do, step in if the starter goes down and play to that starter's capability and then some. We've always said that, and Jim is a very talented player. We know he doesn't look the part, but that's OK."

On whether he has seen Manning make any concessions for his knee other than the adjustment for the stretch play:"I think he's back. I think earlier in the season he was showing that, but now he's back and running it, so I really don't see any. No."

On if there is a difference between matching up against a physical or a finesse offense:"No, we're always going to be physical with anybody. We've got to attack the line of scrimmage and knock the line of scrimmage back in the running game. That's our mindset going into any game."

On whether he has to do anything different strategically to accomplish that against a finesse offense:"No, I never said they're a finesse offense. But again, they've got a ton of weapons, very talented on the outside, so that may affect what you do differently this week than you would, say, against a team that's just going to try to run it down your throat."

On his expectation of CB Fabian Washington's availability:"I'm not real sure. Last time when I wasn't really sure, he came out and he started, so hopefully that'll be the case again this week."

On what sets Manning apart:"Brains. He's smart. He reads your coverages and knows where to go with the football. He's poised and probably handles the pocket as well as any quarterback in the league. He's not going to win a 40-yard dash or something like that, but he's got a great feel. He knows where to step up. He buys himself more time that way. Where you saw [Ben] Roethlisberger buy more time by shaking guys off, Peyton will step up. He and Tom Brady are about as good as anybody, and they'll have that great pocket awareness. He knows his blocking scheme to where he can step up, where his escape routes are and things like that. He's tough, and he can make all the throws. Other than that, he's just a guy."

On whether the secondary's depth is enabling the front seven to do more this year than last year despite the injuries:"Going into the season, we definitely thought the strength of our team was going to be the depth of our secondary. Right now, we're having to use it, unfortunately. Without question, last year, I think, was a little tough. We had guys starting that aren't even playing in the league now, so we feel good about the guys that are out there now."

On if the Colts' big plays work because of surprise or if they run they same things and execute better sometimes:"Well, it looked like they surprised us a few times last year on the double moves and all that kind of stuff. Then, they just ran by us a couple times, ran a wheel for a touchdown that I can remember. You try to block those things out of your memory, but we've got to do a better job, obviously, with the game-planning as well. We can't leave our guys as vulnerable as we did last year."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

On if playing in the Colts' new stadium affects the plan:"I don't think so. I mean, I think we're all excited to go see [it]. We've heard great things about it. You've heard all the, 'The field's the same size,' all those things that I'm sure you've heard over the years. But, I think our guys are just excited to get back at it, especially to get this thing going the way we want it to go. And this is the opportunity in front of us."

On the Ravens' running game facing an injured Colts' defensive line:"They've been in this situation before, and they've always made some adjustments. I think what we're preparing for is the different adjustments they have made. We want to run the football, and we're doing everything we can to protect the quarterback. This is going to be one of those games where you're not going to just go in and run the football. You need to protect the quarterback, keep them off-balance, all those things, and just manage the situation, manage the noise. All those things you have to do on the road."

On the health of RB Willis McGahee:"You know, he's healthy. And he was healthy last week. He's not 100 percent, but probably there aren't many backs at this stage who are. But he's healthier this week than he was last week, and he's getting ready to play. I think he'll have a heck of a ball game."

On what went into the decision to name QB Joe Flacco the starter for the season:"Well, you know John [Harbaugh] has been on top of this thing since Day One. Obviously, we have all our quarterbacks back and just want to make sure Joe's doing a nice job. He's just got to keep rolling along. Joe will be our quarterback, and like we've always told the guys, whether it's Todd [Bouman] or whether it's Troy [Smith], every guy – one guy's one play away, one guy's two plays away, and they've all three got to be ready. So the bottom line is we've got to have three guys ready. Joe is going to continue to grow and get better, and I think it's pretty simple. He's the starter. What all went into it, I'm sure he [Harbaugh] explained."

On if he expects to have T Adam Terry back by Sunday:"We'll find out. Boy, he looks a lot better today than he did yesterday. He wants to play, and we'll see how much work he gets done. We got a little walk-through work in. We'll see what tomorrow holds, Saturday, and it'll probably go right up to the game. I'm sure someone will need to know prior to that, they'll know. But he's getting ready to play."

On what opponents have done in the running game to cause the Colts' problems:"They've been banged up. Bob Sanders, as we all know, is one of the great defensive players in this league. Anytime you lose a great player, that's going to affect you to some degree. But no one's done anything earth-shattering. People have probably been a little patient with the run."

On if it's really the loss of S Bob Sanders that's causing the Colts' defense to give up 200 rushing yards:"I think if you look at it statistically, when he's in there and when he isn't, it's… I don't have… I've watched him for a long time. [He's] one of the best defensive college players I've ever seen, obviously one of the best defensive players [in the NFL]. I think if you take that away from any defense, it's going to affect it. And they've been in this position before. They'll make some adjustments, we'll have to make some adjustments, anticipate some of it. But at the same time, we'll make some adjustments along the way. I think, really, it's just people have been more patient with the run and how that relates in trying to keep their offense off the field and all those things. You'd have to talk to the other people, but that's what I've seen. It's just being more patient."

On if he also thinks it could be that the Colts haven't jumped out on everybody like they have in the past:"Could be. That could be. Obviously, it allows you to play a different game than if they get on top of you. They thrive, and we've all seen it for years, on getting out in front of people, and especially at home. So I think people are trying to keep that from happening."

On if the Colts' 2-2 record is due to their injuries:"I really don't know. Just looking at their defense, they've made some adjustments to the scheme. They've had some injuries, and they've got some young guys in there. But to speak overall, I can't really speak to that."

On the challenge T Jared Gaither will have facing DE Dwight Freeney:"Just like you can imagine. Very similar to the one – similar, not exactly like the one – we had this past week. But Freeney, he's a special guy and plays extremely hard. He's a heck of a challenge, and we'll have to be smart about when we leave him one-on-one, when we help him, when we don't. But he's really elevated his game, talking about Freeney. He's not just an end rusher anymore. He's defending the run better. He's got his inside move that's as good as there is. The good news, as I've always told you guys, the good news for us is the looks we get in practice, whether it's an Antwan Barnes or a [Terrell] Suggs, or whoever it might be, gives us a chance to at least practice some of the game speed you're going to get. That's where in the past I know we've had some issues. It's hard to simulate that speed in practice. We have a turf field here we can get on, and we've got guys who can rush just like him. That's the key, is just our preparation during the week, and then Jared just trusting his technique."

On how the offensive line has bounced back from allowing the Steelers five sacks:[Cameron interjects] "You know, can I add one thing? It really wasn't the offensive line. Again, I want to continue, that's really a reoccurring theme. Everyone's involved in our pass protection – our tight ends, our backs. It's really our protection unit. Because that was mentioned last week, 'The offensive line gave up five sacks.' And we're not taking them off the hook, we're not doing that, but I just want everyone to know, our tight ends, our backs, our quarterback, our receivers, everyone plays a role in this protection. So as we go down this thing, let's remind ourselves. Then, you were saying? Because these linemen, they are working so hard and doing such a great job."

[Question rephrased] On how the offensive unit was able to come back with better protection against the Titans, who were just as good as the Steelers:"We didn't really learn anything. We mix our protection to where sometimes it is only five offensive linemen. But we just try to, every game you almost start with a clean canvas and with a new brush every week, especially with your protection. You look at it and you say, 'OK, who are their guys? How?' And you just have to carve this thing out every week so that you can keep your quarterback on his feet the best you can. So we made some adjustments, but they really weren't based on anything that happened at the Pittsburgh game. It was really more specific to what are the problems that Tennessee creates. Now you're sitting here staring at another great pass-rush team in Indianapolis, so you start with a clean canvas again, and you just try to come up with some things and keep people guessing. But this team [Indianapolis] can really rush the passer."

Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

On playing at a new stadium:"Well, the fact that it's a domed stadium helps because you don't really have to deal with the wind for the kicker. But I think it's exciting to play in a new stadium, especially guys like Matt [Stover] who have been in the league a long time and want to make sure they check off every stadium that's in America and say they've played in it."

On whether special teams could play a bigger role in this game:"I guess I go into every game thinking special teams will play a significant role. I don't think that this one has any shortage of that, I would say, because you're looking at these two teams. You're looking at Peyton Manning on one side, and we've got to do a great job of making sure that he has a long way to go with our punt team and our kickoff cover team. Knowing how they rush the passer and what they do with their defensive team, I think it's an advantage for us if we can set up our offense. That's kind of the way we look at every game. Playing teams of the quality of Indianapolis, you certainly look for the special teams to make a significant impact."

On the importance of S Jim Leonhard's versatility in returning kicks and punts:"I think it's huge. You go into a game with Jim Leonhard, whether he's the starting strong safety or whether he's a nickel player, and you always know that you can insert him in any spot, and he'll be able to finish the game for you, at least to get to the next week. As you saw, when he did become the returner himself, he can make plays. He's a highly-versatile athlete. He's a very valuable member of the team. There's an expression that we use quite frequently in special teams. The expression is, 'The more you can do.' And the more you can do, the more valuable you are to your team and the better your team is if everybody has multiple roles. When you get into this part of the season when you've got guys nicked up, you end up during the course of the game, somebody gets nicked, and you've got to insert a guy in another spot. Guys like Jim Leonhard – and there are a number of them on our team – guys like Jim Leonhard become very valuable playing other positions."

On what was happening with Tennessee's return game, a breakdown on the Ravens' part or execution by the Titans:"I think it's a combination of both. You have to give Tennessee credit. They did a nice job of attacking us. We made some mistakes along the way, not the least of which were mine. I didn't do a real good job adjusting after the first kickoff return. I saw what they did. They ran somewhat of a trick play. It's really not a trick play, but it's an unusual play. Corey Ivy did a great job of getting the guy on the ground. They saw how we played it, and they came back with another similar play and got the ball back out to the field. We didn't make a very good sideline adjustment, and that's on me."

On what he makes of Stover's struggles on field goals:"I had a similar question recently, and I think my response would be exactly the same. I've watched Matt now since I've been here, and Matt knows how to kick the football. I've watched his practices. Matt is kicking the ball very well in practice. Then, in the pre-game warm-ups, he hit the ball cleanly and solidly and straight. We have a lot of confidence in Matt, not only because of his past, but because of his present performance. Yesterday was another example of that. He hit the ball very well, and we want to make every field goal. Unfortunately, we missed a couple here that he takes very seriously. A lot of you people know Matt and how much he studies his craft. He's been grinding every one of those kicks out, analyzing every particular of it and working to correct it. I have great confidence that Matt is going to perform well this weekend."

On how the injuries in the secondary affect his usage of defensive backs on special teams:"You adjust. Other people's roles expand. That's one of the ways things change. The other thing that happens is other guys are active, guys that weren't active the previous week, like Evan Oglesby had a chance this past weekend to be active. Derrick Martin, the week before, had a chance to be active. So guys that are on the 53 [-man roster] that we tell them all the time that you have to be ready to go, they need to be ready to go. That's what's happened, generally speaking, with our secondary. The defense is doing the same thing. The guys that are playing special teams roles and are suddenly thrust into starting offensive roles have to do the same thing. That's why practice is so important for us because guys practice at different positions, and they rotate the 'ones' and the 'twos.' Then Sunday, you never know what's going to happen."

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