Opening Statement:"Just to start with, we had a player development seminar here. It's a league mandated seminar that you have to do every year, and it's great. Joe Ehrmann, who is kind of the local former Colt, local high school coach around here, pastor and community leader, just did a great job with our team. A very similar message in terms of what the Ravens are all about. It was just really a positive hour and a half, hour and 45 minutes the guys had after practice. Before we get started, also, with injuries… Just to give you an idea with injuries, there's nothing new. And that's all you get. (laughter) No, you know the guys. Everybody practiced to some extent one way or another. They're all working to get ready for the game, and we'll see how it goes."
Do you know how many coaches and/or players stayed in town to work over the bye week? "I'm going to say 75-or-so-percent of the guys stayed in town and were in and out [of the facility] doing different things. All the coaches were here working, most of the time, in and out. Even through the weekend, after we kind of mandated some time off, I still saw guys in here. So, guys were working, but guys got away and got some time with their families and stuff. I don't know the exact numbers."
Is it an advantage for teams to have a week off and then come back and play again? "Well, it probably depends what the other team faces. So, if you're coming off a bye and the other team is playing, it could probably be perceived as an advantage from the standpoint that you get a little bit of rest. You recover from injuries, you get some guys healthy, you don't suffer injuries in the previous game that another team might suffer. That might be a plus. Maybe there is a plus in playing because you keep some momentum going or you're sharp. I don't know what the numbers are on that exactly, but I think you can perceive it a certain way."
Is there any change to CB Samari Rolle's status? "Well, he's not here and he's not practicing. I reached out to Samari. I haven't heard back yet. [I've been] talking to Bill [Tessendorf] a little bit. That's where the non-optimism comes from. I think I read some of his quotes in the paper. So, I think he's dealing with some stuff right now. The ball is in his court. I don't want to speak for Samari."
If T Jared Gaither comes back, do you potentially move him to RT because of the success T Michael Oher has had at LT? "Well, I wouldn't tell you if I thought that was possible, but all things are possible. We're going to play our guys in the position that we think gives us the best advantage against guys like [LB Elvis Dumervil] and the rest of the Broncos. It's a fast, aggressive defense, and they present a lot of challenges."
How rare is it for a new coach, like Mike Nolan, to come in and revamp the Broncos' defense? "I wouldn't know how rare it is for sure. I think something similar to that is going on in New Orleans right now. Obviously, Mike Nolan has done a great job. He's a tremendous coach. He had a great run here and is a proven defensive coordinator in the league. What they're doing is pretty special. They've added some key parts. I think the sum is greater than the parts right now when you look at them, the way they're utilizing the players. They've had great leadership from Brian Dawkins, who has a history of that. They've got a lot of talent up front. They're playing fast. They're playing hard. They've got a nice scheme. It's impressive what they're doing on defense."
Does it feel strange to look at S Brian Dawkins in a different uniform other than the Eagles'? "The only uniform that feels strange, looking at them, is that brown one with the striped socks. That looked very strange. (laughter) But it was still Brian Dawkins under that uniform, and you could tell in the way he played. He's played as well as ever. He's the emotional leader of that defense. He's blitzing. He's dropping back. He's covering. He's in run support and he's deep – all the things he's ever done when he played with the Eagles."
Explain what it takes for a QB to show toughness? "I never played that position, and it would be hard for me to describe it, per se. I think Joe [Flacco] could probably do a better job or the guys who played the position before. My brother, he was one of the tougher guys to play the position, and I've been pretty close to him over the years. I've always admired the toughness of the position around the league. The toughness of these guys… The physical pounding that they go through and inflict on one another every single week is pretty inspiring, really, if you're a fan of football. So, I look at it that way. I am so impressed with all of them, but Joe, no less, continues to prove it in his young career."
How did QB Joe Flacco look today after resting his ankle last week?"He looked good. He had a nice hair cut. He looked fresh and he looked good. He looked sharp. He's fine. You guys will see him in practice on Wednesday. He's Joe."
Do you sense that guys were re-energized after the break? "It's a good question, but I don't think we were not energized. I think we've been energized all year. So to me, it was the same energy we always show. They're excited to practice. They don't seem to mind. They're in here in meetings, they're out in practice, and they've done a nice job. So that's what they're all about."
Is it unrealistic for people to expect many changes to be made during the bye week?"Initially, you can be pretty multiple pretty easily. We're built to be multiple. From one week to the next, I think if you look at really all three phases, we're built to game-plan whatever we need to do to be as successful as we need to be in that game. So, we can pretty much change any amount we want from one week to the next, whatever we need to do. That's part of the game-planning process."
Even after three losses, this team seems to have a very positive outlook. They're still in good spirits in the locker room. Have you been around a team that's gone through a losing streak like this and stayed this positive?"Let me think… Oh, last year. (laughter) That's part of football to me. It's a great point, it's a positive point, it's a good observation. That's kind of how we've been. And that doesn't guarantee anything. Just because this team – and every team's different – just because this team went through it last year doesn't mean that this team is going to carry them this year into any great heights. That's something you've got to make happen. We've got a 6-0 team coming in here that's basically leading the league in every statistical category across the board in all three phases. The challenge is for the next number of weeks. We're playing a schedule that's pretty impressive with what people have been able to accomplish. But, the point of the whole thing is that's what you want. You control, we control as a football team, our destiny. We control what we're going to be this year. That's always been the case. Because we haven't finished three games the way we wanted to finish three games doesn't mean that that's changed. That's our responsibility, and that's our challenge. I think guys are excited about that."
When you hear about a Josh McDaniels or a Raheem Morris getting hired as a head coach so young, does it boggle your mind or do you just roll with it? How do you react to that?"I didn't really react to it age-wise. You're happy for guys who get an opportunity. You look at Jon Gruden. That's a pretty good coach, and he was young when he got his opportunity. There are guys that have had an opportunity over the years because they start in this league so early. And they have, maybe, an exposure to a guy like Bill Belichick – [in] Jon Gruden's case, Ray Rhodes and some different guys – that helped them become something from a knowledge standpoint and understanding and dealing with players in this league at a pretty early age. Guys are ready when they're ready. Obviously, it's paid off pretty well for Denver."
Do you see a similarity in the coaching styles of Belichick and McDaniels?"You do, you really do. Josh is wearing a sweatshirt, right, with the cutoff sleeves like Bill. So that's a similarity. Their teams are very similar. The defensive structure is very different, and that's a reflection of Mike Nolan. They're not running a Bill Belichick style of defense. Now the fact that they're very physical and they're very sound, that obviously would be Josh's philosophy there, and I think that's why they hired Mike. Offensively, they're very similar to what they've been in New England the last few years. But Josh was the offensive coordinator there. So he was a huge part of what's been accomplished over the last few years and he's applied that really well to the personnel that they have in Denver, and we see a lot of carryover there."
Do you ever wince on the sideline when you see some of the hits Flacco takes, and are you amazed that he can get back up at times?"I'm happy that he gets up – always. No, you don't have time really to think that way. You guys have covered the NFL, so you know. When you stand on that sideline in an NFL game, it's just a whole new experience. It's different than the stands and it's different than what you see on TV, by far. So, it's just so impressive what these guys do. You can't help but respect what they do. When Joe stands in there and makes a throw and gets hit, yeah, it's impressive. But it's the same thing for all the guys in this league. The guys on defense who are taking on iso blocks and all those kinds of things and the athleticism – it's all just pretty neat. It's one of the things that makes the NFL great."
Does Denver's WR/RS Eddie Royal remind you of some of the great returners you've seen over the years?"What I see right now is a guy that's extremely quick and extremely fast, and he's north/south. He doesn't mess around. He's had some returnable balls that he's made the most of, and they've blocked well. I hadn't really thought in terms of comparing him to a particular guy off the top of my head. I just know we've got our hands full covering him, and he's a big-play guy. On offense, too, look at the year he had last year. He's a talent."
What did you do yesterday?"Yesterday I was in here until about noon, and then I went over to my daughter's soccer game. And then we had some family time after that."