On how intense the "cut" discussions were this weekend: "I don't know if there are any stories that would be entertaining, but it was intense. We have a process here where we do a lot of 'scrimmaging,' as Ozzie puts it. Ozzie and I 'scrimmage' things back and forth. Then, the coordinators and Al [Saunders] 'scrimmage' things back and forth. Each position coach 'scrimmages' things back and forth. Within the offensive and defensive rooms, they're discussing these things – but you do it every day. We've done it since February with our team, but we have formal meetings. We had two formal meetings – one last week and one this week right after the Atlanta game. One last week was after the Carolina game, where we went through each and every guy. Everybody had their say, and those can get a little heated. We encourage our guys to put it out there. There were some good back-and-forth conversations and there were difficult cuts, so to speak. We tried to find our best Ravens, but we want people to be honest. Nobody is afraid to say their opinion, and that's what we had."
On how much the morning-after-game practice went into the evaluation process:"It didn't go into the evaluation. We hadn't made our decisions yet, completely. We had a pretty good idea at that point, but we wanted to have a good practice. Everybody was still here. It's not like we were going to make decisions and let guys know seven or eight hours after we played the game. We haven't worked all that out yet completely. It was a good practice. Our guys game back and went right back to work. We got something done."
On his visit to Gilman High School's football game and how that changed his mentality after cuts:"The Gilman thing was amazing. I was real excited because Chuck Pagano is good friends with a coach from Bear Creek [high school in Colorado]. Of course, Stan White is a big part of what goes on around here, in the media side, and the Baltimore football tradition. He told me that this really good team from Colorado was coming in, and they were going to play over at Towson. I haven't been to the stadium yet. The stadium is off the charts, beautiful. The Gilman crowd was great. They had that section of Gilman students with their shirts off and their chests painted – that was good. I liked that part. They had some really clever stuff going. To watch that team play was pretty impressive because that's a young football team they've got. They are very well coached, but it was very fun to watch them grow, throughout the course of the game, as a team. They gave up a bunch of points in the first half, to a really good offense, but then gave up three points in the second half. That was the halftime speech. We took a little credit for that turnaround there. The halftime speech was the key. It was fun. As far as the part about ending the dreams [of waived players] – that's deep. I'm not sure if I can make that contrast. It's difficult because I don't think we're ending anybody's dreams. There were a couple guys that had made plans already. A couple of guys understood where they stand with their football careers and have got some jobs lined up already, which surprised me a little bit, but was neat to hear because it was a testament to the guys we had in training camp. Other guys got picked up. One guy got traded, and he was going to be on the team. So, everybody is in a different seat, as that goes."
On selecting players based on positional needs vs. talent: "That's a balancing act – positional breakdown versus the best 53. You've got to have a certain number of guys at each position. You've to play. We're not going to get locked into that at the expense of running good players out of here. I think that's a trend in the league if you look around. There were teams that kept four tight ends. There were teams that kept seven wide receivers. There were teams that kept 10 offensive linemen, 10 defensive linemen. Everybody's trying to keep their best players. As Ozzie says, 'The dust has not settled on all of that.' In the next couple weeks, that's going to shake itself out, because people do have to put their best team together, and everybody's still going to do that. We think we kept that 53 best guys, at this time, that we could, with an eye toward the future also. We were disappointed to lose some guys. Hopefully, people will get claimed, but we understand that they're good players and we lost them."
On if he senses the regular season is imminent after today's meetings: "We always have really good meetings. It's a subtle difference, but when you can take the shift, and our defense takes the bulls-eye off our offense and puts in on somebody else's offense, it's kind of fun. I'm sure all around the league everyone feels that same way. But to start honing in on somebody else, that's neat to be able to do."
On his level of confidence in K Steve Hauschka: "Obviously, we're confident in him or he wouldn't be our kicker. Let's understand this: He's going to miss some kicks. Now if he goes 100 percent and makes them all, we'll all look like geniuses. But that's not going to happen. He's going to miss a couple kicks, and the thing we're going to be looking for is how does he handle missing a kick, just like how does Joe [Flacco] handle missing a bad pass or Ray [Lewis] handle missing a tackle. We've got to give him that leeway just like any kicker over the years has that kind of leeway, even a veteran. He's really talented. He's got the best mechanics, right now, of any young kicker that I've seen in a long time. I've seen David Akers, or Jerry [Rosburg] has seen [Phil] Dawson. [Hauschka's] mechanics are really solid. He's a really good athlete, and he's got a good head. The odds are on his side. We'll see what happens."
On what CB Frank Walker showed to make this team: "Frank, contrary to what some people might think, is a heck of a football player. We watch Frank every single day. Frank competes. He's a solid cover corner, he's a good tackler, and he's got a chance to be a good special teams player – and he can run. Frank can run a little bit. If you go back to that championship game tape, you're going to see a guy starting in the AFC Championship game against a really good offense, and [he] play well. Like anybody else, he has his ups and downs. I think he's working out some of his weaknesses, both physically and emotionally, but we have a lot of confidence in Frank, and we're proud that he's a Raven."
On if it was a tough call to keep rookie free agent LB Dannell Ellerbe with his knee injury:"Right, with Ellerbe and the MCL. That was difficult, because we were really hoping to see him at least in the last game, and it just wasn't able to happen. That put him in jeopardy a little bit, and I know he was really disappointed that he couldn't play. We just decided to hold onto him a little bit longer and see how it goes. All those young guys understand that nothing's written in stone in this league. There's no scholarship. You don't sign a four-year scholarship in the NFL. You've got to prove yourself every single day. He understands that. I know he's really determined to do that."
On if the team is in talks to bring in another wide receiver:"We're always in talks to make our team better. You know that's the answer I'm going to give you. We can play with four, because with our offense, we can put any number of players out there that we want. It's a little more difficult on defense. The team puts four wide receivers out there, or five wide receivers, you've got to be able to match. On offense, we can put one wide receiver out there if we want, if we need to, and we've got some flexibility with our players and guys we can put on the field. But we're always looking to make our team better."
On if it can be assumed that guys currently on the roster can split out to wide receiver:"Sure. We can assume that. We've done it before. We put David Hale out there during the preseason, remember? If David Hale can line up as a wide receiver here, anybody can."
On WR Justin Harper not making the 53-man roster but being on the practice squad:"Cam [Cameron] has said it: Justin's going to be a great player in this league, and he shows flashes of it every single day. He's just not catching the ball consistently enough to make our team yet. He's in a developmental-type situation right now, and Eron Riley is another guy in that… You can go right down the line – Bryan Mattison, Joe Reitz, all those guys are in that same boat right now. He's going to have to work really hard every single day, but he's got talent, and we'll see how he does."
On if he worries at all about the players reading too much into the personnel news coming from the Kansas City Chiefs:"No. Not for one second. Our guys know that they face a huge challenge this weekend against a team that's going to come in here and prove themselves just like our team did last year in the opener. We've got a lot of respect for the Kansas City Chiefs. All you've got to do is turn on the tape and watch their players play, and you know what kind of coaches they have. We know what we're up against. It's going to be a huge challenge. We're looking forward to it."
On what new information he has figured out about the Chiefs since he last spoke to the media:"The thing is, it's a big advantage when you're a new staff. We had that advantage last year, if you remember. Your opponent isn't exactly sure what you're going to do. Maybe they had an idea with Rex [Ryan] last year, because there was carry-over at least on the defensive side, but we don't have that advantage either. We don't know what they're going to do. I think their coach has made that pretty clear, that that's something they're going to use to their full advantage, as well they should. It's going to be a guessing game as far as what they're going to run and who they're going to put on the field in what situations, and we're just going to have to do the best we can with it."
On if there's a difference between how he prepared to coach his first NFL game as head coach from a year ago to now:"Last year at this time, I had zero wins in your ledger, I guess. So, you're hoping that things go OK. I don't really have anything, no. It's funny, you take every situation as you find it, and then you move on from it. We're so immersed right now in this challenge, in this football team being the very best Ravens it can be, that you don't really have too much time to go back and consider [that] big picture kind of stuff. We'll save that for another time. We're wrapped up in what we have to do right now."
On whether G/T Marshal Yanda is ready to go for the opener:"Would that be a tactical question? I think Marshal's OK. It's going to be whether he can hold up for a whole game or be active in that situation. We're not sure in all honestly, and if we were, we wouldn't tell you. He did OK in the Atlanta game. He's coming off an ACL [injury], so that's a question mark."
On if the AFC Championship appearance is a reference point for the team going forward or if that even matters anymore:"I think as far as the AFC Championship game or whatever was accomplished last year, it's not just playing in a game. All the things that happened last year were a part of us becoming what we are right now, today. There are so many things we've learned from it and so many things that we have moved on from. That's part of our personality, but it has no bearing on what we're trying to accomplish. To say that, 'They've got to take one more step,' is absurd. This is a new season. If we're going to get to that point again, we've got to take 18 or 19 steps to get back to that same spot. We don't look at it like we were in a game last year. We've got a bunch of games in front of us – staring us right in the face – that are going to be exciting challenges, and we can't wait to go play them."
On if it is ever stated that a championship is the goal or if he takes it one week at a time:"I think that's unspoken that the ultimate goal is to win a championship. There are a lot of championships – there's a division championship, there's a conference championship, and there's a world championship. Those are definitely objectives for us. But, I think what we want to do, and we talk to our guys all the time, is we want to become champions and all the things that entails. We want to become something. We're not trying to get somewhere. We want to be something, and that's a process that goes on no matter if we win a bunch of championships. We're going to try to become something even better. I think if our guys focus on that every single day, we'll have a chance to win a championship or two."
On his thoughts on the trade for G/T Tony Moll and the talks with retired T Willie Anderson:"As far as Willie, Willie's whole thing is physical. It was physical last spring. He has a tremendous desire to play. We still talk to Willie all the time, just like you talk to all the guys all the time. You have relationships in the league and stuff. He's not physically in a situation where he feels right to play right now, but we'll leave the door open to anybody that can make our team better. That goes back to [the earlier] question. Tony Moll makes us better. We needed a guy right now that we felt, in the offensive line, could make us better right now if we could find that guy. Derrick Martin played so well that he's going to go up to Green Bay and be their third safety. So that was kind of a win-win trade for both teams. I think it was really a win for Derrick. Derrick wanted to stay and be a Raven, but by the same token, his role is going to be so expanded there, that we're excited it was able to work out the way it did."
On whether the novelty of playing in Baltimore has worn off yet:"Absolutely. We're down to work now. It was a cool feeling at the time, but it's all business now. I think the intensity has changed for us in practice. Just today, it's been a really intense practice, and I think the mindset of everybody is kind of focused, including myself."
On whether it is more difficult to prepare for the Chiefs with their changes in offensive personnel: "I think one good thing about what we have here is we do what we do, and we're going to do what we do week in and week out, no matter what, who we're playing against or what's going on in their locker room or their team. So, I think we're one of the more stable teams defensively. It's going to be what it's going to be for the Ravens on Sunday, no matter what's going on. It does make it a little more difficult for us to prepare. I think that's one of the advantages that we normally have, is we're really smart and we prepare for the games well, defensively. And it's tough to try to watch film on a coordinator who is somewhere else, and a quarterback, you don't really know who's going to play. So, it's going to make it a little more difficult, but you're going to get the Ravens."
On his impressions of Chiefs QB Matt Cassel:"What he did last year with the Patriots was amazing. So, just to see that he has that ability, it garners a tremendous amount of respect. We respect him, and we're looking forward to the opportunity to match up against him."
On whether it's hard to not listen to the media surrounding Kansas City and the drama unfolding out there:"It definitely makes it a little more difficult to stay lasered in on what you're doing, but I think that's one of the great things about this organization. And we're fortunate to have – I heard Derrick [Mason] talking about having so much leadership, especially defensively – there's a flood of veterans with tremendous experience and leadership ability. I think we can go about seven or eight deep, guys who could be the single leader of a defense anywhere else in this league, and we have a bunch of them. So, I think it does make it a little more difficult, but there's no way you can't turn without having somebody that'll point you in the right direction."
On Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe:"He's a talented guy. He's a big, physical, fast receiver. I think he's one of the young, up-and-coming receivers in the league, and I'm looking forward to the chance to match up. It's a good cliché answer right? You like that? (laughing)"
On playing for his hometown team of the Ravens: "It's been great. It's been a dream come true. It's been a hassle, just with friends and family – or I guess not all friends, just people – just bothering me about nonsense. One of the funniest things that's been happening is – people just assume I guess, because our job is entertainment – and people just assume that they can do the job, so I have a bunch of ex-teammates who I played with in high school and friends of my brother, who call me and say, 'Can you give my tape to Coach Harbaugh?' *(laughter) *It annoys me, because they have little respect for what we do, and we work really hard. You don't just walk up to a computer programmer and say, 'Hey, I've been working on calculators my whole life, I could probably figure that out.' But, people for some reason think that they can just walk out here and do what we do. It's funny though."
On how many ticket requests he has gotten now that he's back home:"I've gotten probably over a couple of hundred ticket requests. Would you like to know how many tickets I'm getting this game? Ten. *(laughter) *That's it. I've talked about it before. I've found several ways to tell people 'no.' I try to be nice and tell them whichever way I can, but I'm not going to be stressing myself out on Wednesday and Thursday trying to call, and make sure, see who's coming, see who's going. I pretty much have my tickets set for the entire season. Anyone who calls me from here on out, I'm telling them that the Ravens are sold out. I can't do anything about that."
On what it means for him, growing up a fan of this team, to take the field with the Ravens:"It's tough to put into words, because this team is in my blood. It's not like they were drafted – and kind of a running joke that I've had before the draft – I mean, I'm a fan of whoever is paying me, but now it's genuine. I was a fan of the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl. I've been a fan. I'm playing for this city. It's my city. It's the city I grew up in. It's genuine no matter where I play for the rest of my career, if I don't finish my career here. Before when I was in Denver and I was in Atlanta, the [Ravens] were the only team [where] I checked the scores. I was pulling for them, except for when my team played them. We played them twice when I was in Denver, and we won both times, so sorry about that." **
On how the defense is helping defensive coordinator Greg Mattison adjust to his new role: "He has a ton of experience. I don't think he needs much help to adjust. I think mostly, he leans on [secondary coach] Chuck Pagano more than anything. I think that's one of the guys that he really trusts and he knows could be a coordinator in his own right. So, I think just being on the sideline during games, in the preseason, just able to hang around, those guys kind of seem like they bounce things off each other the entire game."
On what it means to grow up watching the Ravens' defense and to now be a part of it:"It's tremendous. I feel like I fit in. I'm fast and smart and aggressive, and that's what I think the Ravens' defense is built on. I've had a great time just running around, and [it's] kind of given me a little bit more confidence in my abilities. I've always felt like I was a great player, and I always thought Ozzie [Newsome] was the best talent evaluator in the league. For him to think I'm good enough to start on this defense and to be out there with the talent that you have out there – it covers up for mistakes that you may make. So, it allows you to really loosen up and have a good time and cut loose, try to hit people, which is a little out of character for me. But I've been doing it lately. I think it's infectious. I might have caught it from hanging around Ray [Lewis]. (laughter)
On if it is hard to game-plan for the Chiefs with all of the unknowns of their coaching staff: "No, it's not unknown. Their defensive coordinator is from Arizona. So, you look at some Arizona tape. The GM is from New England, so you know the success they've had down there in New England. They're going to try and implement some of that, maybe not all of it, but some of it. You take a little bit of both and combine them together with the tape that you've seen in preseason. You just try to put together your offense from there. Of course, they're going to throw some things at you that you haven't seen. We are a good enough offense that we can make adjustments on the run. So, you take a little bit from Arizona, watch some tape from them and then watch some tape of New England. It's a new coaching staff, but these guys have been around, just like the players."
On if the offense is clicking better this year than last year:"I think the offense is light years ahead of where we were last year. Obviously, it's supposed to be that way. Either you're getting worse or you're getting better as a team, as a person. We're not staying the same. I believe that we're getting better as an offense. Everyone has been under this system for a year now, with the exception of a few guys on offense – Kelley [Washington] and Matt [Birk], and some of the rookies. But everyone else, mainly the quarterback, has been under this system for more than one year. We expect the second year to be a lot better than the first year. We are light years ahead of where we were last year, but we've still got a lot of ground to cover. That's why we play 16 games in the regular season. As the weeks go on, we just tend to get better."
On if his role has changed in this offense:"I hope not. I believe we have guys that are going to be much better this year than they were last year in this offense. I'm talking about skill guys. Whatever they need me to do – whatever role they want me to take – that's the role I'm going to have to take and play it. I've got Mark Clayton on the side of me, who is going to be great this year. You add Kelley [Washington] and Demetrius [Williams] – maybe I don't have 80 to 90 balls – but the production is going to be there, I figure. Those other guys are going to pick up the slack for me, whereas teams can't double-team me because they have to pay attention to the two or three guys."
On what the status is about his shoulder injury: "It's football. It's where it needs to be right now. I'm 100 percent. I haven't taken any steps backwards on the shoulder. Right now the shoulder's fine. I'm expecting it to be fine up until February."
On if he feels as prepared for this opener with the brief retirement factored in: "I'm always prepared. If I would have stayed retired, I'd still be prepared… to watch television. (laughter) But no, I stay prepared all the time. The brief retirement didn't stop me from going out there and continuing to work out. I didn't have so much stress on my shoulders. I was just working out freely and concentrating on making sure that my shoulder was healthy. I knew if I did decide to come back, which I did, that I would be ready, physically and mentally, to play this game."
On the motivation to win a Super Bowl at this point in his career as opposed to when he was younger: "The only time I felt different about winning a Super Bowl was my first two years in the NFL. As a young player you just want to make the team – that's basically it. After that, my motivation was to win the Super Bowl, and it's continued. The hunger is even more now. I think I'm starving after not being able to get an opportunity to go back to the Super Bowl. We went in 1999, so, 1999 until now – that's a long time to without even eating. I'm hungry right now. I think I'm hungrier than I've ever been considering this possibly being my last year. For me to win a Super Bowl – it's a must. The team feels the same way. This is the year that we have all of the pieces – everyone's healthy, our quarterback has another year under his belt, and the defense is always phenomenal. This is the year that we feel we have a great opportunity to not just make it, but win."
On if there is a feeling in practices and meetings of the team switching gear to the regular season: "Of course. You always, once the season starts, put a lot of that foolish stuff aside. You start to concentrate and hone in on one opponent – even though during the preseason you want to try to get better as a team, but you're not really game-planning for anything. You're just running a bunch of plays to see if they work – not really scheming against a defense. But now, we're scheming against a defense. We know who our opponent is. The feeling is a lot different now than it was a month ago. We know these games mean something now. When you know a game means something, you really hone in on it and make sure you have all your basics covered when you step out there on Sunday."
On if it means anything to have a perfect preseason: "It means a little. You can't read too much into it. The preseason, for us – what we wanted to do – is make sure we went out there each and every game and got better, progressed as a team. I think we did that. That allowed us to go 4-0 in the preseason. The Detroit Lions went 4-0 last year, or the year before, and where did it end up for them. You can't hold much stock in the preseason. What you want to try to do is get better each and every preseason game, try not to have any major injuries, and once the regular season starts, you put all stuff behind you. You try your best to go out there to get the ball rolling."
On what it is like not having K Matt Stover in the locker room: "You miss a veteran. You miss the veteran leadership, even though he was a kicker. [You miss] his wisdom and his knowledge of the game – what goes on inside and outside the game with the standpoint of the players and their safety, well being. You miss that more than anything because he was a guy you can always go to and ask a question. For me, it was more so from a [NFL]PA stand point. Where I can go ask Matt a question of, 'What's going on?' and he would be able to tell me. Just to have his leadership and his knowledge of what's going on, was great for this locker room. It's going to be missed, but then again, you've got to find other guys that are able to fill his role and get that veteran leadership that a locker room needs. I know we've got a lot of guys in that locker who are able to do that."
On his relationship with head coach John Harbaugh entering their second season:"As a head coach, I believe you have to come in, and you have to put your foot down whether guys like it or not. You've got to come in and establish yourself as a head coach, and that's what he did. A lot of people probably didn't like it, but he's the head coach. You move forward, but you understand that he has the team, the best for the team, at heart. Whatever he's doing, he's trying to get the best out of you, and he's trying to make this team better. And I think everyone bought into it. It got us to the AFC Championship game. This year, everyone knows what to expect from him, he knows what to expect from us, and the relationship, I think, between coach and the players has blossomed. It's not like it was last year where there was an unknown. You didn't know what to expect. Now everyone knows what to expect from Coach [Harbaugh] and the coaching staff. Like I said, this relationship between the coaches and players has blossomed, and it has made for something special. Hopefully, it will continue throughout the season."
On what FB Lorenzo Neal meant to the team last year, and if he would like to have him back in 2009:"To have Lorenzo back would be a plus. I played with Lorenzo for a long time in Tennessee, and I know what his veteran leadership means, and what he brings to the table. He brought that same type of veteran leadership to the locker room last year, that fiery attitude. Lorenzo, he's been on enough teams, and he's played in enough playoff games, and he played in a Super Bowl game. So, that veteran leadership that he brings is always a plus to a team. If you look at it, this is a young team. With the veterans that we have here, I think we have great leadership, and to add another veteran will only help this ball club. If he was to come back, I think everyone in this building would welcome him with open arms, because he was a guy that always enjoyed being out there playing and enjoyed practice. But, when it was time for him to lead and go out there and play, he played. To have him back [would be] good. At least I have one more Tennessee guy in the locker room with me besides Samari [Rolle]. So, that will always be a plus."