Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 17

On if the Bears' return game is tougher than dealing with Cleveland' Joshua Cribbs because of all the speed: "It's as tough, but it's different than playing Josh Cribbs. It's different because the guys we're playing this weekend – and there is a number of them – they all possess the breakaway speed factor. It's something that, if you practice it pretty much the same, you can't give them openings. But if you make a mistake against this team, then you're going to be looking at them from behind. These guys can all crack a seam and go the distance. We have to be very good in our coverages this week."

On how pleased he has been with both coverage teams: "I think we've grown during the course of the season. The players deserve the bulk of the credit. I think now that we've got to this point of the season, they understand each other better, they know the guy playing next to them better, and it's no different, in my view, than defensive players. Certain guys fit in certain ways. They've grown in that regard. I also have to credit our kicker [Billy Cundiff] and our punter [Sam Koch], because those things are really important to us – where we place the ball, how much hang time is one the ball. It all fits together, so it's been very much of a team effort."

On if Bears' RS/WR Devin Hester is above the elite returners in the NFL: "I don't know if you could compare one to the other or rank them. I think they're all exceptional returners. The one thing I have learned about this league is there are not any bad ones. Some are better than others, and the guys we play this weekend are very talented."

On if it seems that he's faced some of the more dominant returners in the NFL this season thus far: "I honestly don't know. [When] you go through the season, you kind of deal with it week to week – you really do. This week, we have a very special challenge. There is no question. These guys, as I mentioned, these guys are all threats."

On whether he has a set number of touches in mind that he wants RB Ray Rice to have going into the game:"It's not an exact number. Obviously, the defense dictates that a little bit, but you'd like to see him get at least 20. I think that'd be a good number. Obviously, I know you're going to write that and start charting it. [laughter]* *Believe me, I went through the same thing with a couple other backs. It's kind of like the common sense rule. Let the common sense… Early on in the game, you want to see what they're doing through that person, which might open up something else. So, you're not going to be silly, but at the same time, you try to get your best players involved."

On what he has seen from WR Demetrius Williams: "The guy has just stayed ready, and when his opportunity came, he made the most of it. And this week will be another great opportunity for him. He's practiced well all year long, he's stayed healthy, and I think he's got a good feel for what we're trying to do. You keep telling guys, 'We're going to need you, and we're counting on you,' and he's bought into what we're doing. I think it's reflected in the way he's playing."

On whether they anticipate Williams starting this week with some of the injuries at WR: "You never know how we're going to start a game. We may start with one receiver, two, three. He will play significantly, there's no question."

On whether he is concerned about the depth at WR: "I'm confident with the guys that we've got, but you know, you want Mark Clayton [out there], and he looks good to me. One thing about Mark is, he's tough and he's going to do everything to be ready to play, and my guess is he will be. One thing about our receivers – it's a tough-minded group, and we like our guys."

On what he has seen from DE Adewale Ogunleye and the Chicago Bears' defense: "They've overcome some injuries. I thought they played really well against Green Bay, and I think the games where they struggled on defense were right when they had the injuries to [LB Brian] Urlacher, and they've had some guys banged up. They're the Chicago Bears. They're built around defense, and we expect a great effort out of them. That division is a tough division, and we're expecting another tough defense. And Adewale, he's one of the finest human beings you'll ever meet. One of the great pros in this league, and we've got our hands full, just like everybody else has with him. He's leading their team in sacks, and we know we're going to get a great effort out of him."

On how tough it is for a receiver to make a catch, take a big hit, and then continue the play, just as WR Derrick Mason did against Detroit last week: "I think for some guys it's really tough. And I think for other guys, it's not tough at all. And I think that's just the way it is. Some guys are cut out to make that catch and then not be surprised when their feet are still underneath them, and they're running down the field for a touchdown. You see a lot of guys where they're thinking about just the catch, and going to the ground. I think it's the guy. And it could be a tight end, it could be a running back, it could be anybody. It could be a [defensive back] making an interception. I think those kind of plays tell you a lot about the heart of a guy."

On Mason approaching reception 850 and what that says about his career and whether he gets the recognition he deserves: "He does within the league. I mean, I know how we feel about him. I think that's important to him. I would think it's important to him how his teammates feel about him. I would think [that] if you talk to anybody who has ever played with him, they have tremendous respect for him. And most players, that's what's important, is how guys feel about them in the locker room and how guys they play with [feel]. Because really, you don't control the public opinion, and public opinion is – as we all know – is not always right. So, I think all of us, you've got to be careful when you get too worried about public opinion. But I think, for the most part, people think he's a great player. I think he's a great player, and he's one, if not the greatest, receivers I've been around. And I'm fortunate; I get to watch him every day in practice. Everything he does in the game, he does at least that in practice, every day. And we need another great game out of him this week."

On what it says about RB Ray Rice that he could become one of only three players with both 1,000 yards rushing and 800 receiving in the same season: "Well, we just think he's a good football player. Somebody said it on TV the other day. I was watching a game and a guy who I thought had a really good statement: There are stat guys, and then there are guys that impact the game. I've never been a real stat guy, and I don't think Ray Rice is a stat guy. But I'll tell you what, Ray Rice impacts the game. I think that's the important thing from our perspective. We're looking for guys that… I mean, compiling stats is not as difficult as everybody thinks on offense. It really isn't. Though I'm not taking anything away from his stats, that's not the point. But we're looking for guys that impact the game, and stats don't always tell the story. I think maybe in this case though, it does. The stats reflect the guy who's impacting the game."

On recent history showing the Ravens' running success in December and it correlating to wins:"Well, that's what you try – it doesn't always work – to build a weatherproof offense. Obviously, we're not a dome team, so we've got to have a running game that we can rely on. And our running game is still developing, believe it or not. I mean, we've got a right tackle that's now playing left tackle, we've got a new right tackle, we've got a guy that was a right tackle playing right guard, and our guys are doing a masterful job of developing some pretty quick continuity in the offensive line with all of the changes we've had. So, we're still developing that running game and our protection unit, and we just hope we just keep getting better and better and better. And what better time to be getting better than in December?"

On having three healthy running backs: "Well, you can never have too many good running backs, and we like the running backs we have. And you got a snapshot of another one that I think Wilbert [Montgomery] has done a masterful job with, in Jalen Parmele. And Matt Lawrence was doing some great things before he went down. So, we just need to keep plowing forward, and that's what we'll do."

On how important it is for QB Joe Flacco to have RB Ray Rice as a checkdown option in the offense: "Well, it's not like crucial, critical; it's all of the above. And here is where I think it comes from – obviously two talented guys, No. 1 – but the offseason. These two guys worked together Day One of the offseason program, through the entire offseason, all through the summer, all through training camp, and that's how you develop a passing game. You may be OK in the passing game if guys don't work together, but it's hard to be great in the passing game if you're not throwing with each other year-round, all the time, because eventually it comes down to stuff like that. It's almost a backyard mentality – just a feel and a trust, and we'll continue to grow in that area over time as we just work the passing game with the same guys year-round. And I think that's what we're seeing – a lot of hard work in the offseason really is what's made that happen. At least that's in my view."

On if it seems the secondary has progressively gotten better: "I mentioned that earlier: You don't work as hard as they've worked, and do the things they're trying to do, and not improve. That game is over with. They know that. They understand they had a job to do that game, and they did it very well. Now, the thing about this is, the next game is the only thing that really matters. They understand that we're going to be facing some NFL, fast wide receivers again. So, they've got to do it again. That position… That's why I respect that position so much. Everybody in America can see when they make a mistake, or they don't play their technique perfectly, whereas there are other positions on the field where maybe they don't see it. They're under the microscope all the time, and that's why… Their resiliency, the way they have come out every day and worked, your hat has to come off for them, and that's why I'm so proud of them."

On how S Tom Zbikowski has played and if he is hopeful that S Ed Reed can play on Sunday: "Well, the second part of your question, yeah. I'm always hopeful Ed Reed will play. There's no question about that. Again, Tom Zbikowski is like we expect anybody on our 45-man roster [to be]. If you have an opportunity, when you're needed, go in and perform. And Tom's done that. When a guy hasn't played much, you'll see great improvement form Game One to Game Two, and I think that's what you saw in that last game. He started to feel a lot more comfortable. All of the sudden now he sees the obligation to the team, whereas before, it's like, 'OK, if I get my chance, I've got to go in and do it.' Well, Tom now knows that, 'Hey, you're the starter and everybody's counting on you,' and that's what he did. He went out and played like a Raven."

On the kind of football player Bengals WR Chris Henry was: "Tremendous, a tremendous player. Again, you've heard me say it each week: The NFL has some tremendous wide receivers, and he was one of them. He's one of those guys that you could not slip up on or he's going to beat you. It's a really, really sad note. We all addressed that this morning. We feel very, very sad for his family. That's just a bad deal."

On if penalties were something he addressed this week: "Well, we've always addressed it. It's not like we've ever said to them, 'Go ahead. Go out there this time and do that.' It's something, I think, that as it happened more, everybody in that locker room on defense talked about it: 'Guys, we can't do that anymore. We've got to try to fight against that.' Did they do anything differently? I don't know. I think they continued to play as hard as they could. I mentioned before, you're out there one-on-one and you're trying your hardest to cover that guy, or rush the pass, whatever it is, and sometimes you're hands get out of control. Sometimes you just go to try to [make a play], and if the officials see it as a penalty, then that's what it is. Coach [John] Harbaugh has done a tremendous job of mentioning to the guys, 'That's all we've got to do is not have those, and things will go better.' I don't think they tried any harder not to. Maybe that's what happens."

On how can they make Bears QB Jay Cutler throw more interceptions like he has all season: "Well, we've got to play our style of defense, and that style of defense is pressure when pressure is there, and play regular defense when it's not. He has tremendous talent. He can make every throw that has to be made. Sometimes, what happens to guys is they're just unfortunate, where maybe a receiver was supposed to be there. Who knows? I know one thing: We respect him. We respect his arm and we know that he can throw the football."

On if there is a wide receiver duo in the NFL that has the speed that WR Devin Hester and WR Johnny Knox have:"I know they're very, very fast, but I think everybody we play has some really, really fast receivers. That's just what you face each week, but those receivers really can go, and I think the other ones can, too."

On how much film study goes into making interceptions: "A great amount. Chuck Pagano and Mark Carrier spend more time with their secondary guys than anybody, or as much as the top guys. They are constantly down there giving them hints on splits and giving them hints on stances. They are so thorough on the way they coach that secondary that it does help. You play faster because you anticipate where that route is going. That's a lot of coaching, and it's a credit to the secondary too because they take the coaching. I'll give you an example: Saturday night before we met with the defense, Coach Pagano was down there with Lardarius Webb, one-on-one, just going through every little thing. He was like a sponge. He was sitting there and taking notes. That's a real credit to both of them. Lardarius wants to be a great player, and Chuck will coach anybody he has to, to make him a great player."

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