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John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference

Opening statement:"Players will be back tomorrow after playing two, obviously, very physical games – very physical games – in five days. They should be refreshed and ready to go in a lot of ways. Coaches have been preparing for Dallas as well. Coaches had a couple of days off over the weekend. [I have] just one long-term injury to report, which would be Alex Lewis, as you know, from the game. It's a high ankle sprain, so that's usually a six-week injury."

Speaking of offensive linemen, the Dallas offensive line gets a lot of credit for allegedly being the best. Is there any one guy who stands out, or is it just five guys executing on all cylinders? (Joe Platania)"They have three first-round picks. I think [they are] five really good players, very well coached. I think they know who they want to be in terms of the type of offense they want to be, and they're built, in a lot of ways, around that offensive line. It's an excellent group. They have the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL for a reason, and a lot of that reason is the offensive line. But, the running back [Ezekiel Elliott] is not too bad either."

In the time since you have started coaching, kickers have gotten more and more accurate, especially from longer distances. You were a special teams coach. Why do you think that is? (Childs Walker) "Probably like anything else, they just get better at teaching it. More kickers get better training probably at a younger age. There are probably more kicking coaches out there teaching guys. I think a lot of kids are better equipped early on, in terms of the proper techniques. They're not just going out there and kicking the ball and that's their technique. We see a lot of college kickers who are very advanced. Probably just like everything else, everything seems to get better with time."

John, you have talked about the goal for the team to get better. Have you seen that in the past couple of weeks?* (David Ginsburg)*"We have seen improvement. We've seen improvement. It doesn't always show up on gameday. Obviously, there have been stretches where it certainly didn't look like we were making any progress. More of that showed up in the past two weeks. We have a long way to go. We need to continue to improve in every single area. The offense, I think, is something that most people are looking at from a statistical standpoint of how we've done. That probably still has had the furthest way to go and can continue to get a lot better, but we have seen progress in little areas along the way. You just hope that a lot of getting better in a lot of different areas make us a lot better as a whole, and that's what we're looking for."

John, you mentioned G Alex Lewis' injury. Does that make him an IR candidate, or do you think you have the roster flexibility to wait and see on him?* (Jeff Zrebiec)* "There's nothing eminent along those lines. We're going to try to see where that goes in the next few weeks. Hopefully we get him back."

What about G Marshal Yanda? He has missed three of the last four. Is he on track to come back soon? (Jeff Zrebiec)"We'll let you know as we go. We'll see how he progresses."

QB Joe Flacco talked about interceptions after the game. When a QB is throwing more interceptions than he would like, is there a fine line between telling the player to be cautious without losing the aggressiveness? (Jamison Hensley)"I think that quarterbacks have to work that out for themselves. That's always the issue. You could start whipping the ball around there haphazardly, and some good things would happen, and some bad things would happen. It's definitely an art. It's definitely a science. It's a very difficult position to play. It happens fast. Good decision-making under fire is just something that you see when you see it. Joe is definitely his own harshest critic. He looks at those things very hard and studies them very hard. Nobody wants to play better quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens than Joe Flacco. We all want every guy to play really well, but when it's your spot … It's no different for me or for any player or any coach; you take it to heart. He really works really hard at it. I'm very confident that he'll do great. He has to clean some things up, but if you look back, that's looking back. You have to look forward and apply going forward two things: The fact that we need to move the ball; we need to make first downs, but we also need to do it in a way that we protect the football. As you said, that's always going to be the challenge for a quarterback."

*Speaking of quarterbacks, what do you think of Cowboys QB Dak Prescott as a first-year player? He seems pretty fearless and makes big plays for them. (Todd Karpovich) *"He's playing really well. Obviously, he's gotten a lot of attention. They have a great record, and their offense is ranked No. [3] in the league. He's a big part of that, certainly. He has made a lot of great decisions [with] very few interceptions, I think [two] for the season. They've supported him with protection and a great run game. They have some pretty good targets out there to throw to. He's the guy that's making it all go, because he's the quarterback. It's going to be a challenge for us, and we're going to do everything we can to try and slow him down a little bit."

Are these the type of matchups that excite you? With their offense and your defense, is this something you look forward to?* (Jerry Coleman)* "I think it excites anybody to compete. Certainly, that particular part of the game – that matchup – is going to be huge in the game. It's going to be very important. It might be the most important part of the game. We're excited about it, but we get excited about every one of these games. We were pretty excited about Thursday night. We were pretty darn excited about the Sunday afternoon before that against our archrival. This is another one, going down and playing the team with … Do they have the best record in football, right? [They are] the team with the best record in football, with the best offense in football. Sure, we're looking forward to that."

Coach, at the beginning of the year, you said that the potential of this team was limitless and you were waiting for players to step up and be playmakers. Are you starting to see players do that? (Rich Sayers)"We are starting to see some plays being made. The guys making the plays … I'm excited that Breshad [Perriman] made that catch, and I'm excited it wasn't overturned. I thought he had control of it, and that's what they're looking at. Do you have control? That's going to be the thing that's going to be grey. The thing that they probably tried to do is not overturn when they don't have clear, compelling evidence, as far as overturning. I was just happy to see him make the adjustment and make the play. It was a great play. A couple of crossing routes … Breshad had one; Mike Wallace had another one … I thought the running backs ran well. To see those things start to happen, to your point about playmakers, is really important. We have guys … I've told you this before: I believe in our guys. I really believe our guys have the potential to do a lot of great things, but as Mike Wallace pointed out, potential doesn't mean anything until you do it. You have to do something with it. That's the way our guys are thinking. They want to make the plays, and that's what's important."

Can you talk a little about DT Michael Pierce, as far as him making plays? Do you see the three guys in there, him, DT Timmy Jernigan and DT Brandon Williams, lifting each other up and feeding off of each other? (Cliff Brown) "They probably are. They work great together. Brandon Williams is relatively young in the league. What is it, his third year or his fourth year? He's pretty young, yet he's kind of the leader of that group inside. Timmy Jernigan is just playing at a high level – high-intensity level, big motor. Then for Michael Pierce to be able to get in there with those two guys, and as you said, be able to learn from those guys, but also see how it's done up close and personal from two young guys, to me, that's pretty awesome. Those guys, all three of them, have played really well."

Ever since you have been here and even historically, the Ravens have always been so strong against the run. What do you think is the specific key to that? I know there a lot of things that are involved, but is there a specific key where you have to start at to be very good against the run?   (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, we have our beliefs and our philosophy. Certainly, the Ravens, since 1996, have chased that. I think that is something that Ozzie [Newsome] certainly believes in, too. Ozzie and I have had many conversations about how we want to play and who we want to be and how to get there. That is something that has been here for quite a while. I think Ozzie has always drafted toward big, physical guys up front. We have always had them, and we have them now. We have had our lulls at times, where we have not defended the run, but we have always wanted to get back and defend the run well. We do not want to have that problem. But you know what? I'm telling you what – that article – I'm really not interested in being quoted in the article about how good the run defense is, because we have a game to play next week, and we are playing against a really good run offense. After that game, it will be another one. Until the season is over and until you can look at the stats looking back on the season, to me, you just have to keep on improving. Believe me, we can get better at our run defense. As well as they are playing, it can be even better, and that is what we are chasing."

You guys went up-tempo, no-huddle in the second half last week. Is that something you would like to do even more of, or is it kind of game by game? (Garrett Downing)"I think it is all game plan. You try to have as many tools as you can at your disposal, and that is something – no-huddle offense. There are different versions of no-huddle offenses that teams run around the league. That is one of our versions; it is a little bit faster-paced-type of a deal. [There is] not a lot of motion and calling plays and running them quickly. I like that; I have always been a fan of it. I think Joe [Flacco] likes it. It is certainly something that we are going to do from time to time and maybe more often than we have in the past."

After four losses in a row, you win two games in five days. What did that do for the tone in this building? (Bruce Cunningham)"I don't know about the tone in the building; I don't see too many people. Sometimes I say 'hi,' and they say 'hi,' and we just keep walking. I did see … It is funny, because when you lose a couple, you either get … Either people kind of look down and don't say much to you; they don't know what to say, or they say, 'Are you doing OK?' (laughter) *I hate that, 'Are you doing OK?' [I say], 'Yeah, I'm doing fine. We are working, we are fighting, we are trying! How are you doing? Are you doing OK?' *(laughter) But everybody is good. We have a great building. The thing I love about our building is whether we win a couple games in five days or we lose four games in a row – which was really tough; there is nothing tougher, really, that we have had here in the nine years than that stretch – our building doesn't crack. We do not have people in our building grumbling. We do not have any of that. We just have a bunch of great people that want to do whatever they can do to help. That is what I love about the Ravens. That is what I love about the organization that [owner] Steve Bisciotti has put together. To me, that is how you weather tough times as a group or an organization or as a family."

**How about in the locker room? How did that tone change? *(Bruce Cunningham) *"Same thing. Yes, everybody was happier. We certainly had a much more fun [locker room]. As you know, the post-game locker room was a lot more fun the past two weeks. Yes, it is a lot more fun to win, and guys enjoy that. But from work ethic, the thing I know about our guys is that our guys are not going to all of a sudden say, 'Hey, we have arrived,' by any stretch. Our guys are going to go to work and know that the last win does not mean much if you do not win the next one. You have to stack wins to be successful, and that is what we are aiming to accomplish."

It has been a while since we have asked about OLB Elvis Dumervil, but how is he progressing, and have you gotten a sense that he is close to getting back on the practice field? (Luke Jones) "I do have a sense of that. Yes, I do have a sense that he is getting close. The best guy to ask is him. So when you get a chance ... He will probably say, 'Coach [Harbaugh] takes care of all that.' We have a good system worked out. *(laughter) *There is an old book called 'Catch-22.' Do you remember that one? He is getting closer. I am hoping it is very close. We will just have to see. When he starts practicing, you will know. It should be right there."

Will you use the emphasis this week in practice with the guys that the Dallas Cowboys are the only team that has never beat the Ravens? (Bill West) "No, probably not. Is that true? How many games have there been?" (Reporter: "Four. You are 4-0 against Dallas.") "That is great. Does that count in this year's standings? Does that help us in any way? No. So, we need to be 1-0 against them this year. That is the goal: 1-0 against them this year."

Since you do play them once every four years and you have probably been asked this before, but I don't remember the last time you answered it … Do you recall Jason Garrett interviewed here before you? Do you ever think back if the roles were reversed or if you were not here, how would life would have been for John Harbaugh or what it would have been like if Jason Garrett elected to go with the Ravens? (Jerry Coleman) "No, I do not give that much thought."

You do not give that much thought, even when sitting on the beach alone? (Jerry Coleman)"What are you, my psychologist?" *(laughter) (Reporter: "I'm trying to dig deep and see if there is a moment of reflection.") *I would like to think if it had not worked out for this … To me, it is really kind of a moot point, because it worked out exactly the way it was supposed to work out. I am a person of faith, so I would say [it worked out] exactly the way God had it all planned out. But if it had not been, it would have been planned out another way, and it would have been even more spectacular. That is how I look at it. But God does it just the way he is supposed to do it. He makes it perfect. It can't be any better than the way it goes."

It has been sort of a crazy year thus far, but here you stand at 5-4 and in first place of the division. Do you tell the guys, or think about the fact, that you control your own destiny? And albeit a tough schedule down the stretch, the AFC North is yours to take. (David Ginsburg)"We do. That is something that is really important to us. We look at it that way. Whether it is in the game or whether it is in the season, you want to get the lead. When you get the lead, you want to keep the lead. When you keep the lead, you want to extend the lead. That is what we aim to do in every game – not always successfully, but that is our goal. Certainly, that is going to be the objective during the course of the season. That bit of wisdom came from Jack Harbaugh, sitting right there in the back of the room. We have heard that many times since we were kids. That is what we are trying to do."

You have used T James Hurst as an extra blocker. How challenging has it been not having that third guy to use as a blocking tight end in the tight end group? I know TE Nick Boyle is eligible in one more game. Has it been tough to overcome that, not having that third tight end to be a blocker? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Sure, you would rather have the blocking tight end available or a couple of those guys available. I think Dennis [Pitta] and Darren [Waller] have been thrown up in there. Darren, surprisingly, does a pretty darn good job for a guy who has played wide receiver his whole life. If you watch the tape, you will see that he does pretty darn well. He is only going to improve, and Dennis the same. Dennis fights like crazy in there. But Dennis is more of a receiver, obviously. We are looking forward to getting Crockett [Gillmore] back, and hopefully it will work out with Nick [Boyle]. In the meantime, you figure out another way to do it. That is where James [Hurst] has come in, and James has done well."

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