Opening statement:"He everybody, good to see you. We had a couple of situations with the injuries. Haruki Nakamura will be put on IR [Injured Reserve], which is obviously disappointing to all of us. We worked some safeties out earlier here today. We just have to see what direction we're going to go on that. We've have Matt Lawrence with a little knee issue, that we've got to have to take about another week to figure out what's up with that. Of course, we let Steve [Hauschka] go yesterday. I think everybody's pretty much aware of that. Anything else? Billy Cundiff will be the kicker. We've been working kickers out for a couple of weeks here, and he did a nice job. So, he'll be our guy."
On juggling kickers in the middle of the season:"It's always tough. You look around the league… Until you have that established guy, a guy that you have over the years, under contract, is with you and you know he's going to be there, this is what teams go through. We were hoping it would work out with Steve. You'd love for the young guy you bring in to be the kicker for the next 10 years, that's always the goal. And I think we worked hard to try to make that happen. We took it as long as we could. This season and these next couple of games are really important, and he's not just there yet for us."
On what separated Cundiff from Mike Nugent:"They were very close. Probably the kickoff difference. They both have similar stats, they both look very similar in the workouts as far as making field goals. They were around 85 percent in the workouts, at least. Maybe closer to 90, really if you start combining the two workouts. Billy's probably a little further along in the kickoffs. But it was close. They're both good kickers."
On what prevented Hauschka from having success:"You look at kickers over the league, I think there have been some kickers here that have gone on to do well after they left here. So, [for] young guys it's a process. David Akers, we had him in Philly, we were his third team. So, for most of those guys it takes a few years for them to work through it. Some guys do it their first year, and that's what you hope you have when you have a talented young guy and you go with your best option, whoever it is at that time. But, he's just not ready yet to handle the pressure of those kicks at this time. He will. If he doesn't, he won't make it. But he's a great kid, he works really hard, and we'll see how it goes for him."
On how much Cundiff's accuracy played into the signing:"He's been up and down, but if you look back in his history – of course Cleveland's a big part of that – he had one kickoff nine yards deep. He looked good on field goals. We watched him hard in pregame, and he looked good in pregame. He had a really good career in Dallas. I think he got hurt a little bit at one point in Dallas, but he's been a talented guy through his whole career. So you kind of start with that foundation of talent, that kind of means a lot. He's had success. I think his career numbers are pretty good. We'll just see how it goes. There's just no way to accurately foresee exactly what's going to happen. But, he's a veteran kicker who has been in these situations before, and we think that will help us."
On if it will be strange to see K Matt Stover playing for the opposing team on Sunday:"Yeah, it will be strange. It will be tough. But it will be great, too. We're happy for him. I have so much respect for Matt. I know it's a hot-button topic, and it's fair to ask. Don't worry, you're not going to offend me or anything like that. I guarantee you one thing: It would be nice to have Matt Stover kicking for us right now. We're not afraid of that. Things just didn't work out throughout the offseason. It's like a lot of guys. We talked about it last night a little bit on the show, but Matt Birk left where he was at, Domonique Foxworth left where he was at. We were unable to hold onto a couple of guys – Jimmy Leonhard, Bart Scott – that we tried to. Matt Stover is right in that same category. We were just unable to hold onto him through that transition. We had a plan all along to bring him back if we needed him, and all of a sudden the Colts signed him. And there he sits, kicking for the Colts against the Ravens. It's pretty juicy, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens, as we all are. But he's a great guy, and it will be a big challenge for us to go up against him this week."
On if money or kickoffs were the reasons that Stover wasn't re-signed: "No, it wasn't… Well, the kickoffs, we carried two kickers last year, and I've said before we're not opposed to carrying two kickers this year. Any time that you have a chance to carry one kicker you'd rather do that, because you save a roster spot. And, that's been our position all along. You want to do that. But we're not opposed to carrying two kickers. We're not opposed to carrying two kickers now if that becomes the situation. We haven't been opposed to it all year. We were unable to get Matt re-signed the way we wanted to. All the contract stuff, the negotiation stuff, the business stuff – that's not something that we talk about here. But, that's just the situation and it is what it is. I think both sides did the best they could do, and it's open-ended right now."
On if he would have signed Stover if he had it all to do over again:"If we could have Matt here, we would have Matt here. That's where it's at right now, hindsight being what [it is]. You look early in the season when it was realistic to have had him here, like say after the first game? Sure. If we could have signed him before he signed with the Colts – I'm not sure what week he signed with the Colts in there – that's when Steve was still kicking pretty well. Hindsight? Yeah, but that's hindsight."
On the opportunity for rookie LB/DE Paul Kruger and OLB Antwan Barnes now that LB Terrell Suggs is hurt:"Well, it's going to be an opportunity for those guys. Paul, obviously, moves right up, and Antwan will maybe have an opportunity. We've got to figure that out as the week goes on. And the other young linebackers will have to step up and take care of business."
On what he saw from Kruger on Monday evening in his first substantial amount of playing time in a game:"What we expected to see. The guy flew around, played hard, had a batted ball. [He] plays with a high motor. [He is] still learning some of the nuances of the defense, but is picking it up pretty quickly. The thing about Paul, he has a tendency to play better in games than he does in practice. But, he's been elevating his practice tremendously – especially the last four or five weeks. So, I think he's coming on."
On if there is a definite ruling on the amount of time Suggs will be out:"He's out this week. That's the ruling that we know. It's a sprained ligament, basically, I guess is how we're describing it. It's got to heal on its own. There's no procedure that's going to have to be done, and we'll just see how fast he heals."
On his thoughts about the block by QB Brady Quinn that took Suggs out:"We talked about that last night on the TV show a little bit. I was disappointed in the block. I don't think Brady Quinn is the type of guy who goes out there and tries to hurt anybody. He's a class kid, always has been. But, that's an illegal block. The reason it's illegal is because it causes injuries. That's on any return, kick return or interception return. There's no reason to do that. And, we're disappointed."
On if he would go for it against the Colts on a fourth-and-two on his own 28 with a lead:"Great question. I will say this: Obviously, I understand trying to win the game. What you try to do as a head coach is everything you can do to try to win the game and give yourself the best chance to win it. Sometimes you've got to look past the criticism that you're going to take. I'm not going to say that when you're standing there and you're trying to make a decision. You flash a lot of things through your mind, and one of them is, 'If this doesn't work, how bad is it going to be?' But, Bill Belichick has been around a long time. He's a proven coach, and probably, if you look at it, the odds were probably with him, the numbers were probably on his side. I look at it this way: He's got Tom Brady, he's got [Kevin] Faulk, he's got [Randy] Moss, he's got [Wes] Welker. He's got a bunch of players that he can throw the ball to there. He's got a pretty good chance of picking that up. I'm sure it's no disrespect to any defense, it's just the fact that he's got, 'These guys can win the game for me on this play,' and he took a shot at doing it – which is pretty gutsy."
On how much he evaluates coaching throughout the league:"That's a good point. We do that a lot. We do a tape every week of all the situations around the league that come up, coaching-wise, player-wise, and we show them to our guys on Saturday morning. We just try to walk through all the situations, and the ones that apply to coaching decisions, we do the same thing. Matt Weiss here does a great job of finding that stuff, so we talk through that a lot."
On how he adjusts to the short week:"We changed the [schedule]. Obviously, the schedule is different this week. We gave the players the morning to rest and lift. That will give the coaches a little more time to get the game plan organized. We'll have an afternoon schedule. We'll go until about 5:30 tonight. I'm sure the players will stay later and watch tape. Then we'll be back on track [with a regular schedule]."
On the challenges Colts DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis present for Ts Jared Gaither and Michael Oher:"Is there a better combination in the league rushing off the edge? They are tremendously relentless. The thing that's so interesting about those two guys is that at the end of the game – I don't know where they find it – but they raise their level on the last drive or two of the game and apply the most pressure and make plays that have made a difference for them in games."
On what he's seen from Colts QB Peyton Manning this year:"What haven't we seen from Peyton Manning this year? He's won three or four games for them, basically, at the end. Some people say he's playing better than any quarterback that's ever played in the history of the game. I don't know. But, he's our challenge this week, and we're looking forward to it."
On how the Colts are undefeated with their injuries and poor running game:"Well, their running game is not to be taken lightly. Their running game is much more dangerous, because they know when to use it. And their running game hurts people. So, you start spreading out coverages too much, the next thing you know [Manning] gets them in the right run against the right front and gashes people. They have really good running backs. The rookie from U-Conn [Donald Brown] is really good and, of course, [Joseph] Addai is a hard-running guy. They use it in the red zone most effectively. They'll get you on the 12-, 15-, 10-yard line and spread you out in the coverage a little bit trying to cover all of those weapons and then hand off a trap or an inside belly play, and the next thing you know the ball is on the 2-yard line or it's a score. So, it's a big challenge."
On if there's anything Ravens fans can do to disrupt Manning:"The home crowd can do some things to disrupt him, yes. They can be very loud. Our fans know when to do it. It's going to be as he comes to the line of scrimmage, it's going to be with about 20 seconds on the play clock, and it's got to be just completely eardrum-shattering loud and make him at least make the hand signals and make it tough to communicate and get him off kilter a little bit. Our guys on defense will be able to handle it. We'll be OK. Those four purple walls on the side, we expect them to be in full throng."
On how much he's been able to share in his brother's accomplishments at Stanford:"I just talked to him, just a minute ago. I couldn't be more proud or more thrilled of what Jim's done. He's building a powerhouse out there. For him to take the program from what it had been, maybe, and to change the whole personality of that football team to the type of team they are right now and the way they're playing, both sides of the ball – special teams, too – I couldn't be more proud of him. It's amazing."
On if he would go for two against USC:"That depends who you're coaching against, I guess. They asked Woody Hayes one time why he didn't go for two, and he said, 'Because I couldn't go for three.'" (laughter)
On what he has been doing before becoming the Ravens' kicker: "I spent the last six weeks in Cleveland, and then before that I was in Detroit. So, it's been a while since I've been in the regular season, and obviously I had two regular seasons when I was out. So, I went back to school at Arizona State and got my M.B.A. and got a job with a venture capital firm in Phoenix. Since then, it's been the real world. I stayed in shape working out in the mornings, lifting at night and helping out my wife with our daughter. I've been hoping my chance would eventually come."
On how the tryout process went: "That's exactly what it is. Every team is a little bit different. I came in and kicked some field goals and kickoffs. You lay it all out there, and hopefully you kick well enough. Obviously, I did."
On if he watched Monday Night Football and thought he would get a phone call: "A little bit, to be honest. I caught about six minutes of the game putting my daughter to bed. We had some people over to watch the game. I had been out of town for a while, and my daughter was crying, so I went to soothe her, which my wife isn't too happy about now because she has to stay up all night while I'm here. By the time I got back, they said, 'Hey, the kicker missed a field goal.' And then the extra point got blocked about an hour later. When everybody left, I just went to bed."
On when he got a phone call from the Ravens: "That would be yesterday. I got a phone call around 2 my time. I was doing some work on the computer and doing a bunch of things. I came up with the idea that I would be in Phoenix for another week. Finally the phone rang, and within two hours, my bag was packed and I was on my way to the airport."
On if there is added pressure on the new kicker when the old kicker was cut: "I really don't think so. In the NFL, it's a replacement business. You just understand that no matter where you go, the guy either did really well before you or the guy struggled a little bit, but your job doesn't change. You're brought in here to make field goals. If you don't, you're shown the door. I know that my objective is to come out, provide the team with some stability, make kicks and hopefully help the team win. That's not going to change, regardless of the circumstances that came before me."
On if he is aware of the situation with Colts K Matt Stover: "Yeah, I've had some people explain to me a little bit about what Matt Stover was when he was here. When I was in Cleveland, I was playing with Dave Zastudil, so he was able to tell me a little bit about what Matt was able to accomplish here, and he did a lot of really good things. To be quite honest with you, there are a lot of guys around the league that have done very similar things, and the guy that comes in after them, they always have the same thing to deal with. So, I think it's good because if you have the bar set really high, then you obviously have got to raise your game to make sure you meet that bar. If you're not willing to accept that challenge, then you're in the wrong business because this is a very pressure-filled business, and you've got to enjoy it."
On whether things are out of sync a little bit in the passing game compared to previous weeks:"I don't know. I don't think we did too bad this week; we just didn't throw for a great amount of yards or anything like that. But, we just need to continue to grow as an offense and continue to get better each week. And I think there are going to be some weeks where you have a couple of yards, and there are going to be some weeks where you have big games, and we just need to go out there and do whatever we can to win. We won the game on Monday, so that's all that counts."
On how much things speed up against the Colts with their speed along the edges: "They do a good job of getting to the quarterback on the edge. But I have confidence in my two guys outside, and I'm going to stand in there just like any other game and hold onto the ball as long as I need to in order for our guys to get open. Usually, I can get rid of the ball pretty quickly with our guys on the outside."
On whether his foot is still bothering him at all: "It feels pretty good. There is a little bit of movement that's not normal in there. I probably don't have all of the movement, but it doesn't affect me on game day."
On whether he thinks about this game at all as Flacco vs. Manning: "I just think about it as being fun to play against Peyton and the Colts. You know, you grew up watching him. He's just another guy that I'm going to play this year that I grew up watching, and it's going to be a lot of fun to be able to stand across from him on the sideline and go out there and give it our all to beat him. You have to give the Colts' defense a lot of credit this year. They've been playing really well, and it's going to be our job to go in there and make sure that we do the things we have to do to win this game."
On what the mentality is like going in to face an undefeated team: "I think it feels good. I think we wouldn't want it any other way. We're a 5-4 football team that needs to win a handful of football games in order to put ourselves in a position to make the playoffs. And why play anybody else but the Colts right now? They're playing really well, and they're coming off a big win against New England, and they'll be excited to come in here. And our fans and us, we'll be excited for them to come in here and play them. So, we're all looking forward to it, and we can't wait for the game on Sunday."
On whether he views the next three-game stretch as the crucial point in the season: "Like you said, we're going to take it one game at a time. We understand that the rest of our games are going to be crucial for us in order to put ourselves in a spot that we want to be, and it starts with Indianapolis."
On what challenges are presented to the offense in a short work week: "Well, I think we just need to make sure we understand how important it is to get in there and still prepare like we would on any other week – rest your bodies, just make sure we come out there healthy and ready to go and playing full speed, because we've prepared ourselves well enough."
On whether the Colts' defense is similar to what it was a year ago: "Yeah, it wasn't a great game for me last year. It wasn't a great game for our team, and we understand that. That's why we know they're going to come in here ready to go. We played them last year, and they were coming off of a couple of losses themselves, and they really came out with a really fast tempo. We're going to be ready for that. They're going to be an up-tempo team that really wants to try to put it on you and get you out of rhythm, and we're going to do all we can to combat that and do well."
On if Colts week is different with their team being undefeated: "I don't think so. I think it's all the same. It's a great opportunity for us where we are. You're seeing probably the best team in football, outside the Saints. They're still undefeated. Peyton Manning is playing out of his mind right now, which is always expected with him. I just think a lot of guys around him are making a lot of plays as well. They're a young defense, but they're still gelling enough to hold it together. Those two defensive ends are playing hardnosed football. You've probably got the best team in football coming in here undefeated. So, of course, we've got our hands full. But again, I look at it as a great opportunity for us as a team."
On what makes Colts QB Peyton Manning so different:"I truly believe it's because of his knowledge of the game. He reeds coverages probably better than any quarterback in the history of this game. That's why disguising is most important – not letting him know what you're in because he has the ability to check from run to pass and pass to run, things like that. He knows where the weaknesses are in defenses. So, you've got to give all the credit to him. That's why you've got to prepare totally, totally different when you prepare for a guy like this."
On if he is still feels strongly about the hit that Browns QB Brady Quinn put on OLB Terrell Suggs: "You have to, even when you go back and look at it 15 times the way I have. You say you respect the game the way the game is played. I understand what Brady Quinn is saying after the fact, but you go dive at a man's knee that doesn't even have the football. You get penalized so much as a defensive player for going in and just doing your job, and then you see a person not doing his job and goes and spears a man in his knee. Now the man is out. It's not good football. It's not good when people do things like that and then apologize as if, 'Oh, OK, I didn't mean to do it.' That's whatever."
On if the amount of the fine will make up for the hit: "It doesn't, man. People don't realize that's life-changing for people's careers. This is a young man who just signed a big deal and is, of course, a key part in what we do – a very key part in what we do. Now we have to find someone to back that up. But to lose a person like that, there is no dollar amount on that. There is no dollar amount on losing a 'T-Sizzle' because he's somebody, when I need him, I can look to and say, 'I need you right now.' He's that type that go gets it. To lose a man in a play that's not within the rules of the game, that hurts."
On what you say to some of the young guys who have to step up: "Well, I think we've prepared in practice for a long time. It's always the next man up. It's unfortunate every time you lose someone, but when you do lose someone… Now Paul Kruger has to step up. He has to understand that we've lost a big key of our defense, along with a committee of guys – Antwan Barnes – things like that. Now these guys have to step up. Now they have to come to the forefront and say, 'I'm not a second-team guy.' That's what coach always preaches: 'There are no second-team guys. There are first-team guys waiting for the opportunity to go in and play.' So, now these guys have the opportunity to do it, and this week will be a good week for us."
On why it is much different when he talks to players than when coach talks to players: "Oh, yeah because it's a totally different thought process when a coach tells you how to run a defense and from me telling you what you've got to go get done. That goes back to the brother of commitment, that when you step on this field you've got to be under one mind. You've got to understand what you're doing and why you're doing it, and when the ball is snapped, make sure you find it. So that principle won't change, how I educate whoever is in there playing the football game. But the bottom line, they know that they've got to come in and produce."
On his thoughts about K Matt Stover being on the Colts' sideline: "Weird. You're talking about 13 years of a guy that I would still say to this day, is one of the better men that I've ever been around in my life. Just to brain-wrestle the way we did, storming with him, being the man of God that he is, and just listening to him at times – even when he was in the crunch times of those big kicks – I would just walk by and say, 'Just do you,' and he would still be doing him. It's a credit to him because he has always carried himself one way, and I think it's a valuable thing. So, to see him on the other side will definitely be awkward."
On his thoughts about the idea that Stover might have to attempt a game-winning kick:"No, not really. I haven't went that far into the game yet. I think I've got enough problems trying to stop Peyton. So, I'm going to leave that part over there for a minute and we'll get back to it. But once again, I'm talking about giving credit to Stover. He's just a class guy. You know that, in clutch times, Stover is going to always be there."
On what the chess match is like with QB Peyton Manning: "Some of it is a bunch of baloney, from him and me, but then some of it means a lot. That's kind of the chess match – what's real and what's not. It comes down to… If we bait him into thinking we're in something that we're not, we win that down. If he baits us into finding a weakness, then he wins that down, things like that. It's going to be a 60-minute chess match, it always has. Every time we play each other there's always classic games out of us because of the way they understand our defense and we understand their offense. It comes down to playmakers making plays."
On if it is harder to stop him now with the new offenses rather than five years ago: "I just think that he has a little more liberty. Of course, you throw the ball up… If you don't touch him, if you do touch him a little bit, flag, whatever – that by itself has its own issue. We have enough issues to worry about already with him coming in, so we'll deal with that. But understanding the structure, the way it is, they have a lot of liberty. So we have to be careful the way we play, but still play aggressive."
On if Manning can bait guys in to making mistakes that result in big plays: "I don't think it's baiting. I just think it's getting you to trust something that's not there. Whether it's baiting or not, if he can get you to move a half of a step to one way, he can find his windows, and those are the things that he creates. That's why you see him throw that perfect ball here, that perfect ball there. It's because he gets that safety to lean just a little bit this way with a pump, things like that. The bottom line is there is one football. Find the man with the football, and then find another man he's trying to go to with the football. Then the game settles and becomes very easy, but when you get caught up in all that stuff he does, you'll confuse yourself."
On if Colts TE Dallas Clark gets talked about enough: "No. You look outside of Reggie Wayne, and to me, Dallas Clark is probably the most important piece that they have on the offensive side of the ball. He's just one of those class guys. He's always 'Mr. Reliable.' Even in the [AFC] Championship game couple years ago, he made one of the most incredible catches I've seen, with perfect defense. So, that's a guy… You talk about Peyton, Peyton, Peyton, but Dallas Clark is probably one of his key weapons, as many great quarterbacks have always had that great tight end."
On how much of a difference it is if RB Joseph Addai or RB Donald Brown is in the game: "I haven't got that much into Donald Brown. I know exactly what Joseph Addai brings though. He's a first-class guy. He's very good with the football in his hands. I think Brown is a good changeup for them. He is a little lighter, has little more speed and things like that. Durability-wise, I think Joseph Addai is still their guy. Brown just gives him a nice changeup."
On what he feels the Ravens need to do to get off to a faster start:"Penalties, point blank. We can't [have so many penalties]. I guess it's an old cliché, you shoot yourself in the foot, but we done shot ourselves in the foot a bunch of times. I'm surprised we still have got one. Those are things that are correctible, and we've got to make up our mind to correct them. We can't continue to say, 'They're correctible, they're correctible,' and not correct them. That's like saying when a child grows up, as he's growing up and he's always getting in trouble and you figure, 'I'll straighten him out, I'll straighten him out.' Well, when he gets 15 to 16, you can't straighten it out because he's set in his ways. We've got to get this stuff corrected and make sure – and it is especially critical in our first drive – that we score some points. We've got a good record when we score on our first drive. So, we've got to make sure we buckle down and pay attention to the little things and make sure we get off on a good start, especially this week."
On the importance of third-down conversions in the team establishing a rhythm early:"It's big. If you convert at least two or three third downs on your first drive, you put yourself in a position to score points, whether it be a field goal or a touchdown. So, for us, we pride ourselves on converting third downs, and that's what we stress in the offseason, two-a-days, and all that other stuff. We know what we have to do on first and second down, but the critical down is third down to keep the drive going – and to keep our defense off the field. If you look at the stats and whatnot throughout the NFL, if you convert at least two or three third downs, you put your team in the position to score points. So, that's what we have to do. We've got to get back to getting it to third-and-manageable and converting on third down. We're a lot better when it's third-and-three as opposed to third-and-15 or third-and-16. It's hard for Hue [Jackson] to look up there and call a play or Cam [Cameron] to call a play when it's third-and-15. As a team, we've just got to go out there and make sure on first and second down we get positive yards."
On what it is about the matchup with the Colts that has led to their being able to beat the Ravens over the last several years:"It's a new season. You learn from your past, and you move forward. We've played them tough – with the exception of probably one game here or there. But, we've played them tough. They've got a very good offense, a damn good offense. Their defense is very good. So, is it the matchups? I don't know. It could be at times, and at other times it's just two teams fighting hard and coming up with a break or turnover here and there. And that's what pretty much sways the game either way – with the exception of the last game. But, I don't think there are any matchup problems. They've got some very good players on both sides of the ball, but we do also."
On what it will be like to see K Matt Stover playing for the other team:"He's a kicker. (laughing) No, Matt's a good guy. It's not like he's going to go out there [a lot]. Matt's been known to hit people when he has to; he's one of the few that will stick his helmet in there. But I think it will be a special experience for him being that he spent two careers here and now he's in Indy. It will be good for him to come back. I've been through it, a couple of other players have been through it, where they played for one team [for a long time] and then came back and played them. To see Matt on the other side, it will be weird. But hey, it's been long enough where you kind of put it to the back of your mind and do the job that you have to do. I know for Matt it will be special. Hopefully he won't kick a game-winning field goal. I might have to go out there and trip him or something."* (laughing)*
On what effect a team member being cut during the season has on a team and when you welcome a new player in."I enjoyed having Steve [Hauschka] here. I always encouraged him, regardless of what the situation was. One player doesn't win or lose games. There's one game in particular I know he wants back, but we can't solely put the blame on Steve. But in this business, it's a performance-based business, and if you're not performing to standard then you've got to find a way to change it. And, I guess they changed it. Hopefully Steve will, from this point on, [do well]. He understands what this business is about. It's weird with kickers because it's kind of like free throws and in golf. When you get into a bad rhythm, it's hard to get out of it. I just think he was in a bad rhythm and it was hard for him to kind of get out of it. But, does that make him less of a player or a kicker? No. Everyone reaches a stretch in their career where it's not going the way they want it to go, and they've just got to fight themselves out of it. But, unfortunately for Steve, he just kind of ran out of time. Hopefully, the next kicker who comes in here will be able to just kick extra points as opposed to three points."
On whether RB Ray Rice reminds him of any of the playmakers he's known in the past:"Wow. I've got to think. Thirteen years, I've been around a lot of them, played against a lot of them. He reminds me of [Brian] Westbrook because of what he's able to do. I would say Marshall Faulk, but Faulk was in another league. That guy was just phenomenal when I got the opportunity to see him play and play against him. To kind of put him there, maybe in a couple more years. But, Westbrook, what Ray is able to do out the backfield, lining up in the slot, lining up outside and still be effective running the football, it says a lot about his ability to play the game of football, his athleticism and his attention to detail. He's only going to get better if he continues to work – and I know he will because he has a great attitude. But Ray is developing that, whatever it is, that 'it' that you have to have to not only play this game as a running back but to be an all-around player. He has it, and I know he'll continue to develop it."
On what it is like to have the opportunity to beat the Colts who are undefeated this season:"It means nothing to us. We've just got to win a football game. I don't care if it is the Colts or whoever. [Whether it is] an 0-8 team, or a 7-0 team or an 8-0 team, we've just got to win a football game. It just so happened that the Colts are our next opponent. So, we've got to figure out a way to stay on the field as long as possible, convert third downs, and we've got to figure out a way to stop their offense. The crowd will help. I'm just kind of putting it out there for the crowd: Please make a lot of noise when Peyton's up there because we're going to need it. Hopefully, we can be that team that gives them their first loss. I've got a lot of faith in our guys that we'll go out there and do what we need to do to put ourselves in a position to win the football game."
On whether a short week is tough on his body:"No, I think you just need to adapt. Everything in the NFL is about adapting to new environments, new circumstances, and coaches are smart with our bodies. But, the tape, we just get on the tape and watch those guys. We know what we have ahead of us. They're a great team, and we just need to go out there with the short week and execute what we can, and go out there on Sunday and put out our best performance."
On whether he watched the Sunday night game between New England and Indianapolis and what his impressions were: "I did. I did watch it. It's never over until it's over. It's a proven point. I don't know what the [Patriots] were thinking with that call, but it's never over until it's over. Peyton Manning is a proven guy in this league. You can give that guy 30 seconds, he'll get the ball down the field. So, it's going to be one of those counter-punch matches. It's never over until it's over though."
On whether there is any talk in the locker room about trying to beat an undefeated team: "No, we haven't even thought of that. We take it as a one-game season, one at a time. They just happen to be our next opponent. But obviously, you need to respect what they've done, respect who they have as their leader and just respect the things that they do. But obviously, we're going to take it as they're the only team we have. We know we can't look ahead at the games we have ahead. They're the team in front of us, and we have to go out there and play our best football next week. As long as we take it one game at a time and not look ahead to anything else, then I think our team is in a good state of mind. You know, obviously the win against Cleveland helps, it's a divisional win, but you've got to take it as a one-game season from here on out. Every game matters, so you need to take it one game at a time, and they just happen to be our next opponent. Not to downplay them or anything – they're a great team – but this is a great opportunity for us to take advantage of it."
On where he thinks the offense is right now: "I think our offense is still pretty good. I think teams have done things that we can make adjustments on. Like I said, the Cleveland Browns played a great defensive first half. We could have done some things different. Their record doesn't show how good they really were on defense. But, as far as getting out fast and starting fast, everybody's emotions are running high in the beginning of the game. We just need to adapt and adjust to it, but I'm sure we have to start fast against this next team. [Indianapolis] is fast, and they're a quick-hitting team. It's going to be one of those matches, a fight. They're going to make a few plays; we know that. But, we're going to make plays as well, and at the end of the game we'll just see who ends up making the most plays."
On whether there is less room for error in a game where Peyton Manning is on the other side: "Oh, most definitely. Most definitely. You've got to take what they're going to give us. We know what kind of defense they are, we know what kind of offense they are. They're a point-a-minute offense. They're trying to score every time they get the ball. I'm sure our defense has some things to try to get in Peyton's head a little bit, but he's been around. He's a proven guy in this league. But as far as our offense, we need to do a great job of putting up points to help our defense out, and that offsets each other. And obviously, special teams matters. Special teams could be a big difference in this game as well."
On what has been the difference this year for him finding his way into the end zone and how it feels: "It's like touching a fire. Your hand gets close, and you get it the first time, but now it's just a knack for getting in there. Obviously, it starts up front with the offensive line. I made a few plays earlier in the year getting in, but now when you get that close, it's like it's right there. [Last] time, I actually got my hand down, and I had to dive in backwards. So, anything you do, you need to get in the zone. It's just a feeling you never can take back. Your whole life you dream of playing in the NFL, and obviously, you scoring a touchdown is something that feels good. But obviously I'm a guy that always – my offensive line – I bring everybody along with me. That's why I'm just… Everybody just gets a piece of it."