JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement:"OK, good to see everybody – appreciate you being here. We're fresh off the last game and put that one away by noon this morning. We're on to the next opponent, which is the Steelers. So, we're hard at work preparing for them – a team we know well, and a team that we're looking forward to playing in their place on Sunday night. So, that's where we're at. What do you have?"
Can you address the report that CB Jimmy Smith got a suspension for PEDs and will be serving it during IR? (David Ginsburg) "Well, I haven't had an update, per se, on when he'll be serving it. But, we did get informed of that very recently, that there was a suspension. That's really all we know. So, I assume that if that's the report, then he's probably going to serve it over the next four weeks."
So, the plan going forward is he'll just be on IR and serve the suspension? (Jerry Coleman) "I don't really know the details of it. It is what it is. He'll be on IR; I know that. However the rules work with that, that's the way it'll play out."
Is it something you had the chance to address with him before the injury or after the injury? (Jerry Coleman)"I knew about it before the injury. Ozzie [Newsome] had told me about it a day or two ago. So, we knew about it."
*I know you can't be with these players all the time, obviously, but CB Jimmy Smith is the third player this year to be suspended for performance enhancement or substance abuse. Is this something you address regularly, or is this something that at the beginning of the season you address and try to get the guys aware of the consequences? *(Jamison Hensley) *"It's addressed by the league, mostly. I think the league, the trainers, they bring people in that talk to them about what the rules are and educate the guys. The agents are very involved in that – what supplements they can and can't use. The guys are very vigilant, for the most part, on that, and sometimes they make mistakes. There's a broad array of different things that guys can get involved with, different supplements and things like that. I'm really not well-versed on it. It's not something that I spend a lot of time studying. I was not very good at chemistry in high school. I didn't like it, and I was happy to sneak by with my 'C.' (laughter)* To me, it's the player's responsibility to do it. If they want to play, they're going to be very vigilant about that and do a good job with it. That's the way most coaches are, and that's really all you can do. It's pro football."
**Going back to yesterday's game, QB Joe Flacco was upright most of the game, didn't get sacked. What did you see from the offensive line? What did they do well yesterday? *(Todd Karpovich) *"They blocked better. The offensive line blocked better. That's the simple answer to a much more complicated proposition – which is handling all of the blitzes and pressures and the one-on-one matchups that you have. A week ago, we dealt with a great pass rusher [Jadeveon Clowney] and how to figure [him] out during the game, how they had changed up their scheme a little bit to free him up. This week, I thought right from the get-go our guys did a really good job with technique. We handled the actual rushers really well. I thought our guys just blocked really well. One of the things we did a lot better is we handled twists in games a lot better. I thought our guys did a great job of passing off some of the pressures. We stopped the penetrator, passed off the looper really well, and it really made a big difference for us. Whenever [Detroit] blitzed us, we did a really good job of getting a head on a hat. One time that comes to mind right away … They were bringing a [defensive] end on Ronnie [Stanley], and the end tried to get Ronnie's attention. They brought the corner off the edge, and then the end dropped. Ronnie was able to make the adjustment from the dropping in and get out on the corner and get him blocked. Those are just little things that happen and different kinds of scenarios that come up for those guys that they handled really well."
What have you seen from CB Maurice Canady? It seems like his role has increased, despite not a whole lot of experience. Do you envision him getting more practice reps on the outside as that third guy behind CB Brandon Carr and CB Marlon Humphrey? (Luke Jones) "Well, yes we could. Maurice Canady, he'll be in the rotation. He plays inside and outside. He also plays safety. Maurice is a versatile guy. He has played really well. He is a guy that we've always really had a lot of hope for, because he came in and did really well. He's been injured a little bit on and off. You see him out there healthy, playing fast. He plays with a high, high motor. He's a very instinctive player. I see him playing a lot in the upcoming games, and it will probably be inside and outside as we go by package and by need."
We know how you feel about OLB Terrell Suggs as a player, but can you talk about him calling the defense over in the fourth quarter? (Ed Lee) "It's great he did that. He's a leader, and they listen to him. At some point in time, you have to find a way to corral things up a little bit. There are going to be streaks in our league. Quarterbacks are going to get a hot hand sometimes. Defenses get a hot hand sometimes, and sometimes you have to find a way to break through and get control of the situation. There's nobody better on our team to do it than Terrell Suggs – that's why he's such a good leader."
A couple players talked about playing their best football in December and that being the goal of every team. Have you seen a steady building process to where you are now? You're coming off a couple of your better games all season. (Jeff Zrebiec)"Sure, that's something we talk about a lot around here. It's the way we organize the whole program – to play our best in December and January. Our guys take that very seriously, and that's the goal. We're just starting in December. So, we've had one game out of five, and we'll see what we're able to do with this. But, that's definitely our aspiration."
Was QB Joe Flacco wearing a knee brace yesterday? Or, has he shed the brace? (Jerry Coleman) "I don't know. I didn't notice. Was he?"* (Reporter: "Yes.")* "I only notice the knee brace when he slides. Other than that, I don't notice it." (Reporter: "Did you notice his post-game meal?") *"No." *(Reporter: "He was eating his hand, like Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. Have you seen the video of that yet?") *"No. He ate his hand?" *(Reporter: "Well, he was sucking his fingers.") "Oh, I'm not going to repeat that." (Reporter: "He ate a 'W.'") "I have no comment on that."
How about the celebrations? Were you amused by them? (Jerry Coleman)"I did [enjoy them]! I saw the one last night – the tug-of-war. I appreciate the tug-of-war – that was my favorite." (*Reporter: "What about the Eric Weddle salute to Kobe Bryant?") *"I didn't see that one. They always have the NBA arguments, and I don't pay too much attention. I don't start watching the NBA until the playoffs. I have no idea what's going on with that. *(laughter) *Is Kobe still playing?" *(laughter) (Reporter: "No, he retired a few years ago. When you're watching the game film, you're not looking at the celebrations.") *"They don't have them on the game film. The game film cuts off."
Right now, you trail the Steelers by 2.5 games, and you're 1.5 [games] ahead of the Bengals. (Jamison Hensley)"I knew this question was coming. Who are you rooting for? That's a tough question. If they both could lose, that's what I'd be rooting for. But, one of them has to lose, so that's good."
Three weeks ago, you were under .500, and now you have a little momentum. What has really been the difference? Particularly yesterday, it certainly seemed like it was the most complete game of the year. What has been the difference in these weeks? (David Ginsburg)"We have played better. We have found a way to win. It is just week-to-week. Again, those … You ask me those questions pretty much every week – those big-picture, very thought-inspiring and provoking questions – and I rarely have an answer for you, do I? Because it is just kind of week-to-week; we are just trying to find a way to win a game. A little bit of improvement goes a long way this time of year, and that is really all we are trying to do along with figuring out how to neutralize whatever our opponent does well and maximize what we think our guys can do. And really, win the game – that is all we are doing. What goes into it or what the big-picture stuff is, it is just week-to-week. It is all different; every game is different. We didn't play Matthew Stafford a week ago, and we won't be playing him next week and what they do – what this team does. They [the Lions] are behind us. They are in the rearview mirror, and we have to get ready for the next one, and that is the team we know – that is Ben [Roethlisberger] and that whole company of guys. After that, it will be the Browns, and they will present very serious challenges. You guys [media] won't take them seriously, but we will, because we know how good they are and the danger that they present. That is next week, so that is not even in our mind right now. We focus on the task at hand, and that is really all we [do]. You only have so much energy, and that is kind of what we try to focus on."
Just to play off of that question, the offense had to produce in the second half to fend off the Lions, and it did. Do you see that the offense is getting where it wants to be and QB Joe Flacco, if he does not have to protect the lead, he has the ability to build on it. (David Ginsburg)"That is fine. That is your article that you guys [media] write, and we do not care about that. What we care about is what we need to do to win that game and the fact that we knew we could do it. It is the fact of getting there and doing it. The good news is we did it when we had to, which was in this game. Because you are right – the Lions were making a run, and our offense needed to step up, and they did. I'm really proud of them for that. It was not like we were sitting there going, 'Well, we hope we can do that.' We are working every single day to do it. We try to do it every game in every area. What we are focused on is this week getting that much better in every area that we can and put the best team we can out there on Sunday to try to win a game."
How much did you like seeing DL/FB Patrick Ricard getting an opportunity to catch a touchdown, and what have you seen from him and his development? Obviously, playing offense is still pretty new to him relative to his past. (Luke Jones)"It was great. It was a touchdown; that is what I was happy about. But Patrick has good hands. It was really no doubt in our minds that he would catch it if we threw it to him. That play has been in [the playbook] the whole season. We have other plays for him that are in, too, so stay tuned. He has good hands. He is really a pretty darn good athlete. He is a weapon – a newfound weapon."
Do you think there has been any change? Was there a turn for this team after the bye week? (Jerry Coleman)"As I said – I'll just keep saying it – it is week-to-week. It is week-to-week. All the big turnaround, 'When did the turnaround happen?' questions – I don't know, and I don't care. It does not matter to us. That is for you guys to look at. You look at that and see what you think. That is cool; I like that. If I have time, I'll read it. That is it. That stuff does not matter to us. We do not think about it that way."
Do you believe in momentum? (Jerry Coleman)"I believe in winning the next game. That is what I believe in. Is momentum a philosophy? Is it a belief system? Is it a religion? What is it? Is it ideology? What is it? Is it natural phenomena?" (laughter) (Reporter: "That is a very deep question.") "You just posed the question! I am supposed to sit up here and figure out what momentum is now. Do I believe in it? I believe in God. I believe in America. I believe in family, and I believe in football. Momentum? OK. I believe it exists. Yes, OK, it exists."
Does the presence of CB Jaylen Hill and CB Maurice Canady make you better equipped to overcome an injury at cornerback because you have more depth there than the past? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Yes, compared to previous years, certainly. We are much better able to handle the injury to Jimmy. We are much better able to handle that than we have been in the past. We will bring up Stanley [Jean-Baptiste], and he will be up off of the practice squad, and we will roll."
After the game, RB Alex Collins … We were told that he was dealing with migraines. Is that something he has been battling a lot this year, and does that affect his availability, whether that is practice or games?* (Jamison Hensley)*"I do not want to get into all of that. If he wants to answer that, he can. I can tell you this: Migraines are very real, and they are tough. But that would be a better question for him, probably."
What did you see of S Chuck Clark? It was the first time we saw him play extensively on defense. What did you like out of what he did?* (Jeff Zrebiec)*"Yes, Chuck played well. That is a really good observation. He flies around, he is a really smart player – a real physical player. He can run. Chuck is an up-and-comer, and he has been doing it on special teams all year, and he played well on defense. I could see his role expanding."
OLB Matthew Judon, for the first five games, didn't have a sack. He now has four sacks in the last four games. Can you just talk about his progress? (Ed Lee)"Matt continues to improve. He has played well all year. Whenever he got the sacks, I didn't even know when it was. He has been playing very well all year. I do think he continues to improve every single day. I have said it before: I think he is a star in the making because of how hard he works, how smart he is and how talented he is. We will just have to see how it plays out. I sure hope it works out that way for the Ravens and for Matt."