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Interview Transcripts: Thursday (9/11)



Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan

On Texans QB Matt Schaub:"Smart quarterback, gets rid of the ball fairly quickly, even though he gave up a few sacks last week against Pittsburgh. I think when you get behind like that, you try to make plays down the field, and that's when you get all the sacks. Smart guy, knows their offense well, I think. He's a good quarterback."

On the Texans' offensive line:"What'd they give up, 22 sacks last year? You know, for the whole season I think… It's a combination of the quarterback getting rid of the ball quickly, and they do a decent job back there."

On what he can do against Texans rookie LT Duane Brown:"If the ball's coming out quick, don't expect the sack totals. It's just like last week: I think we pressured [Carson] Palmer quite a bit, but we only had two sacks."

On if he thinks they're back to playing "Ravens defense":"Yeah, I think we've tried to play our style of defense, Raven football, the whole season, even last year. But we are able to get after the quarterback a little more than we did last year."

On if S Ed Reed can get by without much practice:"Ed's practicing now. But if Ed, quite honestly, had said, 'I'm ready to play,' I would have said, 'Harbs [John Harbaugh], he never had practice, but I know he can play.' But because, like I said, there's only one Ed Reed in this whole league. Once he can play, we definitely want him out there."

On if Reed's shoulder will prevent him from tackling:"Well, hopefully he doesn't have to do that because he primarily is our high safety and things. So, his tackle total isn't going to be where fantasy owners want him to be, but hopefully he'll make some picks and all that to make up for it."

On the defensive helmet radios:"Fantastic. It was great, because during the preseason we definitely had our doubts. But, our first game it was right on, so it was fantastic."

On if the Texans' uncertainty about their running back causes scouting problems:"I would think it would be Steve Slaton, judging by the tape. I think, no disrespect to Ahman Green and things, but that kid, he looks pretty good back there. He hits the hole fast. He's a little undersized and things, but he gets after it pretty good. We'll see though. We'll see how he is. I'm sure they'll have to use both of them, all of them."

On the return of CBs Fabian Washington and Derrick Martin:"If they're back, that'd be great. I mean, you know, Fabian was coming off a hamstring, and Derrick was coming off a little bit of a shoulder, so hopefully we'll have them back. And again, if we've got guys, and they're up for a game, then we try, like anybody else, like any good coach or whatever would, try to take advantage of his roster and use every man if he can."

On NT Kelly Gregg's health:"I thought he looked great to me. His technique is probably better than everybody else's, like it normally is. He looked good to me."

On if the uncertainty of where or when the game will be played, due to Hurricane Ike, affects the players:"No, not at all. I have a feeling we're going to play, and not to sound funny, but the field is going to be 100 yards long, so it doesn't matter where it is. It might be a distraction as far as our travel and all that, but our guys will be wired in. And we've got to dial up this team. We don't get to play them very often, so it's kind of a new offense, and our guys are getting it down."

On the possibility of playing Monday rather than Sunday:"I think it really would affect more the coaches than it would even the players. The players, once it's game time, regardless of the day, they'll be excited to play. I think from a coach's standpoint, you'd rather stay on track so you don't lose any preparation time for Cleveland."

On the team effort against the Bengals:"It was great. That first fumble wasn't real good. But it was, the field position was great. And, the fact that – there are some times you'll be – some offensive coordinators try to throw it up all the time, and all that… But, we felt good with our running game, Cam [Cameron] felt good with our running game, and that's great to see. If you can sit back on the sideline for seven minutes going, 'Well, I guess we're not going to play anymore,' that's a great feeling for a coordinator, no doubt. And that's what it's all about. It's a team effort. We've talked about it, John [Harbaugh] has talked about it from Day One, how the offense is going to pick up the defense, the defense is going to pick up the offense, and special teams is going to pick us both up. I think you saw that this past Sunday."

On if he could remember a game where the offense took so much control in the fourth quarter:"I really couldn't. I know we did – we played Atlanta a couple ago and it was like that. We never had Ray [Rice] and things, and our offense went down the field and drove it down like that. You're right, that's a great feeling. Because you know the game, that was only a one-touchdown game, so anything can happen in those situations. And even though we had played great for the most part of the game, you let up one bit and they can score. Especially with a team like that, who's as high-powered as Cincinnati is. So yeah, it was great, and like I said, we've got a pretty darn good defense. But our offense is a huge contributor to that, and if we don't have to get out there, that's fine with us."

On if practicing against Cameron's offense helped the defense in the game:"It was great – the no-huddle in particular. We practice it every day, so you know our guys are like, 'This is a normal situation for us.' I think that's good, because it's hard to simulate that during the week and things. We have our ways of doing it, but I think that's been what's really beneficial to us on defense, and I think the different looks and the blitzes and different things that we present at our offense has helped them. I know they feel confident that they can pick up blitzes. We feel confident about no-huddles and tackle-overs and everything else. That was the first time Cam's really put that in; he never did in the preseason games, but trust me, he was doing all that tackle-over stuff against us in the mini-camps and training camp. So, we were prepared for it, that's for sure."

On if he had a defense prepared for QB Joe Flacco's touchdown run:"You know what, that was interesting. I thought he was going to get the first and then head out of bounds, and then it's like, you look up and it's like, 'Man, he's still got that thing.' But it was great. And it was really just smart playing on his part. I was really excited about the poise that he showed. Making his first NFL start, a rookie quarterback, everybody likes to point out, from a I-AA program and things, but football is football and it looked that way to him. I think that's a great credit to Cam Cameron, Hue Jackson and that offensive staff that, hey – they've got the game plan how they have it and you can throw a rookie in there. All you see with Flacco, he's better every single day."

On if WR Andre Johnson can expect to be lining up against ILB Bart Scott:"He can anticipate anything he wants. I know one thing: He is one heck of a receiver. It just seems like each week, you know, hell – last week we have Chad [Johnson] and we have [T.J.] Houshmandzadeh, and now you get another Pro Bowler in Andre Johnson. So, hopefully one of these days we'll have some average receivers over there and we can really come after them. But with him, he's physical, tough, strong, makes all the catches, the underneath catches, the vertical routes and things. So, he's probably as complete a guy as there is."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

On Houston's defense:"It's a heck of a front seven. I think most of that defensive line has played extremely well. If you haven't seen the tape of the Pittsburgh game, they gave up some big plays. But, look at our game with Cincinnati. The score maybe wasn't indicative of how the game played out and how it was played. I think the same thing [happened] in the Pittsburgh-Houston game. That score [was] really not indicative. Pittsburgh got a lot of big plays on them. I'm sure they're going to try to get that taken care of on the back end. Pittsburgh did have a tough time running the ball inside, but they did hit a couple of runs on the perimeter. This will be a different challenge for us this week with all the guys they have up front, and then the mindset they're going to be coming to the game with. I'm sure they're disappointed. We've got to make sure that we put the Cincinnati game behind us and we've moved on. This is a good, young defense, one that's going to get better and one that's going to be jacked up and ready to play. Obviously, [Houston DE] Mario Williams, you guys have all read about what he did last year, and he's taken that to another level this year. They play him on both sides and move him around. We need to know where he is. We need to account for him on every play. With that being said, now the focus really goes down to us. How much have we improved? How much can we get better this week? If we do, then we expect to play well."

On his plan for FB Le'Ron McClain headed into last Sunday's game:"We told him we'd like him to get between 15 and 20 carries and like to get Ray [Rice] between 15 and 20. I said, 'I don't know how many snaps you're going to get. I can't guarantee that, but the effort will be made for that to happen.' You never know when it's going to work out and when it isn't, but that was the plan going in. I would tell you, an old coach of mine used to remind me that there's nothing older than yesterday's success. Offensively, we've moved on from that game. Our focus is on Houston."

On the possibility of RB Willis McGahee being able to play against the Texans:"It's a huge plus. He's taken more reps this week. Again, we're working to increase his stamina, his conditioning. He and I talked. He wants to play. He feels like he's getting ready to play, and he'll have a role in this game. As of today, he's got a role in this game. We're not going to know until he's practiced through the end of the week, but you can't have enough depth in the backfield, as you guys can see across the league. These kinds of backs that play the way our guys are playing, it's a credit to their coach, Wilbert [Montgomery]. Where these guys have grown has been outstanding. We need all of them. There's a lot of football left to play."

On having several quality running backs:"If you just look at the careers of running backs, they aren't the longest careers in this business with the shots that they take. To really appreciate that, when you see those guys after a 25- or 30-carry game on a Monday and a Tuesday, it takes them a true 48 hours to get their body back in a position where they can practice full-speed on Wednesday. You can't have enough good backs, and we're fortunate that we're hopefully able to stay healthy and get Willis back."

On what FB Lorenzo Neal brings to the team:"It's hard to say. I think anything you would say about Lorenzo, you would probably underestimate what he really does. He's a great leader, but he's kind of an under-the-radar type leader in the locker room. You saw a little piece of his leadership come out in the game after he caught the little screen pass, and then you see the other guys react to him doing some good things out there. That tells you how the players feel about him. But I don't think you should ever underestimate what a guy like Lorenzo Neal can do. Not only does he give your running back room, gives your offense room, really your entire team. He's a great player, a great veteran player. It'll be interesting so see at the end of the season who the best fullback in this league is."

On rookie QB Joe Flacco playing in front of a hostile crowd:"We've been doing crowd noise since training camp. Our mindset every day is, 'We are on the road in the division.' We train our quarterbacks as though every practice is an on-the-road, in-division practice. Playing at home, you should be able to handle things at home pretty efficiently. You're always trying to create the worst scenario you can. This one is indoors. We have weather elements at the site of the game, but it's going to be dry in there. The noise, it's loud in every stadium in this league, for the most part. We'll see, but we're going to practice and get him as prepared as we can."

On whether outside factors like weather concerns could be a distraction to a team:"Sometimes, it probably depends on the team. A younger team is probably a little more distracted than a veteran team. Veterans, you don't last in this league being distracted. Really, these guys are warriors. They are, as John [Harbaugh] would call them, mighty men. We've got a lot of those kinds of guys here. I can't imagine anything that's distracting to this coaching staff or this football team. I think we all have an understanding, too, [that] it's a blessing to coach and play in National Football League games. Just tell us when the game is, where to play it, and we'll be there and we'll be a part of it."

On his assessment of Flacco's play against the Bengals:"I think Joe knows he could have played better. There were some things and some guys that, collectively, could have played better on offense. I don't think anybody here offensively was all that thrilled about the way we played. That's the truth of it. Look at the tape. We could have done a lot of things better. He could have done a lot of things better. We could have done some things to help him play better, and we've got to continue to focus. I'm not overly enamored with the way he played, and I'm not disappointed in any of the negative things he did. This is a process, and now we'll just switch gears to the Houston Texans. We try to keep it as simple as we can, from that standpoint, and just approach it as another game."

On if he's concerned that T Willie Anderson's presence could disrupt continuity on the offensive line:"If anything, I would say Willie brought some continuity with him. It's funny in this business, there are unique individuals that can come into a situation and blend right in. They walk right in and have the respect of the guys in the room, and he's one of those guys. He's going to be active for this game, and we anticipate him playing."

On competition for playing time:"If you're a guy who's all worried about competition, you're probably in the wrong line of work. It's competitive for us as coaches. It's competitive for players. You look back over the years, and the good players responded to whatever competition, whether it was competition with themselves or competition against somebody else. We're going to play the guys that give us the best chance to win. If we have a group of guys that we know can help us win, we'll play them all. It's like we did [in San Diego]. You have a [LaDainian] Tomlinson, and all of a sudden here comes a Michael Turner. Well, you don't sit and wait until LaDainian gets hurt before you start playing Michael. You play them both. It's like I told them today, if we get to the point where three or four are [playing well], we're going to put them all in the game at the same time. If you're active and you're healthy and you can help us win, we're going to play you because the team comes first. Our goal is to be the winningest offense in the league. We have some other goals, but the offense as a unit comes before any individual. If Willis is healthy and he's ready to go, we'll find a way to get them all in there."

On T Jared Gaither facing Williams:"I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Jared. He's just scratching the surface. He's getting better every day. He's got a lot to learn, but this'll be a tough matchup. We're not going to put him over there by himself on a guy like that. We don't philosophically believe in that. But I'm sure there will be times he will be in a one-on-one matchup, and he'll give us the best effort he can."

On using an unbalanced line:"It depends on who you have, if you've got tackles that play tight end. All our tackles were tight ends at one time, and that's not uncommon anymore. Here's the other added thing. If you only have seven linemen active, one of your tight ends is your emergency tackle. So, he's got to know that position anyway. There's carryover, from a teaching perspective. If two tight ends go down in this game, then the next tackle goes to tight end anyway. It's not what everybody thinks it is, to a degree, because we're trying to get guys that can play multiple positions. When you've only got 18, 19 guys active, you've got to have guys that can do multiple things."

On what the Texans defense likes to do:"They want to bounce the ball to the perimeter and let their linebackers make tackles, but they're very stout inside. That'll be a heck of a challenge from us. All three of their linebackers can run. They're trying to bounce the ball, fill up to the outside. It's completely different than last week where we were able to find some creases and run downhill. This team is committed to keeping teams from running downhill. They want you to go east and west and then let their athletic ability and their pursuit catch them. We're going to have to do a good job of maintaining the point of attack and getting our backs downhill. We're not an east-and-west running team. We may throw the ball a little east and west, but we're not an east-and-west running team. We want our backs downhill. These guys are going to try to take that away, and it'll be a heck of a challenge."

Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

On the Texans' special teams' reputation:"Their reputation is outstanding. They were a top-five team in the special teams rankings a year ago. They scored four touchdowns. They're explosive. They're really well-coached. [Texans special teams coordinator] Joe [Marciano] does a fantastic job using his personnel. They switched returners during the year, and they didn't miss a beat. André Davis scored on successive kick returns in the last year or so. We have a great deal of respect for them. Joe knows how to coach. It's going to be, really, a great challenge for our guys this week."

On LB Brendon Ayanbadejo's status:"You'll have to talk to the trainer. I have no idea what that's going to be. I'll coach the guys that are in jerseys. Same thing at practice today."

On whether Ayanbadejo participated in the walk-through today:"You'll have to check with the trainers. I think the injury report tells you that."

On Texans WR André Davis' kick return ability:"I think what it does when you face a guy like André – and the same thing is true for Jacoby Jones, their punt returner – when you face a guy like that, you know if he gets any space he can run away from you. More than anything else, I think it gets the players' attention. They watch him on tape, and they see the crack that's created and then he explodes through the hole. As far as our principles of coverage, our principles of coverage are pretty much our principles of coverage. While we use different things for different games, this will be no exception. I think the base fundamentals of football will prevail."

On K Matt Stover's missed field goal against Cincinnati:"Matt and I have been spending a lot of time on it. Matt, as you know, is a veteran, a professional. He's been diagnosing that one kick to a very small degree. I think he saw something that perhaps he can improve on and he'll adjust to. I think you'll see Matt back in his regular form this week."

On whether kickoffs were satisfactory:"I don't think we covered kickoffs particularly well last week. I think the numbers show that. I think our kickoffs were good enough to cover, and I just don't think we did a real good job of covering them. We've been looking through that, and we're analyzing that. We need to be a lot better this week against this returner."

On who will be kicking off this week:"As of right now, Matt is taking all the kickoffs."

On if P Sam Koch might handle kickoffs:"No, we don't have any plans of Sam being the kickoff guy."

On the health of WR/RS Yamon Figurs:"I coach the special teams. I don't have anything to do with the training room, so I can't really tell you about them."

On him coaching Figurs:"I do, but I don't have any training room reports."

On how Figurs looked in the walk-through:"I didn't have him in practice. I coached him at the beginning of practice, and whatever happened to him happened after I had him. So, I have no idea how he is."

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