DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On whether there is any difference playing in a dome rather than outdoors: "Obviously, you don't have the weather. That's why we've practiced in here. The conditions are pretty much controlled. It's loud. A lot of the outdoor stadiums are loud, too. We play in some of the loudest stadiums in the league, but domes are a little louder it seems like for the most part. Obviously, it's going to be Thursday night. The crowd is going to be very fired up, so it's just the type of environment that we like."
On Falcons RB Michael Turner breaking tackles: "That's what he is. Michael Turner is a tackle-breaker, [a] north-south, hard-running guy. They call him the 'Burner' for a reason, too. He's fast, always has been. [He is] one of the premier backs in the league."
On whether QBs Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan are similar or different: "I have no idea. I haven't thought of it like that. I think they're both very good quarterbacks. They both have all the skills to lead their team to great heights. Obviously, they're both two of the younger quarterbacks in the league, and it'll be interesting to see how they develop over the next couple of years. But we have a lot of respect for Matt."
On how tough it has been adjusting the schedule to a short week: "We had a plan going in, but I think everybody kind of adjusts. We're all creatures of habit. We all have a routine. That's one of the great things about football. It's not like some of the other sports. We have this ritual, this process for getting ready, and it revolves from Sunday to Sunday. Now, here we are from Sunday to Thursday, and today is actually Thursday. For you all, it's Tuesday. For us, it's Thursday. So, tomorrow will be… Well, actually it's Friday. You see? That's how tough it is. (laughter) Today is Friday. Today is Thursday and Friday."
Ravens Senior Vice President of Public & Community Relations Kevin Byrne interjects: "What would tomorrow be?"
"Tomorrow is going to be actually Saturday, believe it or not. So today, we combined Thursday and Friday. That's how tough it is." (laughter)
On whether the short week increases risk of injury due to less recovery time and how that pertains to the helmet-to-helmet hits: "I don't think they'll change any of the interpretations for Thursday night. They've been pretty tight. Obviously, some calls have been missed, but they call the ones they see. They see all the ones they can find, so they've been fining the guys. I think they'll apply the same standards to Thursday as they do to Sunday."
On whether Thursday night games may be eliminated in the future: "I haven't even thought about that. I could care less. I just want to go play this Thursday night. Unless they're going to eliminate the one this Thursday night, I'm not thinking about that right now. I mean, down the road it's probably a good thing to discuss and think about. Based on that, I just haven' thought about it. But, it's probably a good point."
On how much time the organization spent looking at Falcons QB Matt Ryan before deciding he would get drafted higher than the Ravens' slot: "I don't think you ever take that for granted in the draft. We look at all the guys. We looked at all the guys in this draft that we thought we wouldn't have a shot at – at positions that we had any interest in – and we didn't look at quarterbacks very closely. But, when you have an interest in a position, you look at them all because you just never know who is going to slide. So, we looked at Matt very hard."
On the organization's evaluation of Ryan before he was drafted: "We thought he was everything that he has become. We thought the world of him."
On S Tom Zbikowski's status for Thursday: "Has hasn't practiced, so [he is] probably not going to make it."* *
QB Joe Flacco
On his time spent with Falcons QB Matt Ryan during the NFL Draft process and how much interaction they had:"Not too much. I've seen Matt probably more at other players' events and in the offseason, things like that. We know each other a little bit, but it hasn't been a ton of time. This summer we were at Kurt Warner's event out in Arizona and he was there, so we've gotten a chance to spend a little bit of time together, but not too, too much."
On whether there is anything about Ryan's game that he admires:"I don't really get a chance to watch Matt too often. You kind of just look at the statistics, see how their team is doing, and they've had a pretty good team the last three years. And that's kind of what you look at, what I look at and how I follow him."
On whether it's accurate to say that from a fan's perspective it looks like the game is slowing down for him:"I think each year it does, but I think it's felt pretty good to me for a little while now, and I think every year you get more and more comfortable at certain things. But I've felt pretty good for a while."
On whether he prefers not to have the comparisons to Ryan just because they were both drafted in the same class:"I don't really care. I don't see it anyway, so you can make whatever comparisons you want. I'm not really going to see it, so it doesn't really [matter]."
On whether he would prefer that his work stand on its own rather than being compared to others:"I really don't care. You guys are going to make the comparisons no matter what, and it doesn't matter. It doesn't really matter to me either way."
On whether he can put his finger on why the offense struggled in the red zone last Sunday:"I think you saw we hurt ourselves with penalties, and I think that was the main reason. We kind of got ourselves out of sync a little bit. Luckily, we had enough chances and scored enough points – and our defense held them up pretty good – that we won the game. But that can't happen if we're going to continue to beat good teams. But yeah, I think the main thing is that we just killed ourselves with penalties and things like that."
On whether he takes any pride in that he and Ryan have accomplished a lot together as representation of the quality of their draft class:"Maybe someday. I'm sure someday we'll look at that, and hopefully we'll both have a couple of Super Bowls – or I'll have them all and he won't have any. (laughter) I think maybe one day we'll look at it like that, but we're still young. I mean, this is our third year, the third year for each of us, and we're just out there each week trying to play well. I know I'm not really thinking too much about that."
On what the phrase "franchise quarterback" means to him:"You're a good enough quarterback to be wanted for a while by your team. I don't know. Yeah, I think that's all it means. You know, you're a guy that's hopefully going to be around for a while, and the organization can say, 'We're going to invest a lot of time in this guy, and he's our quarterback for a while – as long as he wants to be.' I think that's what I would say it means."
On whether he had any sense of where he would be taken in the draft before he was actually selected:"Not really. You know, there was me, Matt, Chad Henne, Brian Brohm. There was a handful of guys, and I had no idea where I fit in – if I fit in with those guys at all – in terms of where I was going to be drafted. So, draft day was definitely a surprise for me just no matter what happened. I felt like I could be picked as early as I was, and I felt like I could have went back to the fourth, fifth, sixth [rounds]. You never know. Coming from a small school and not really getting a good read on how people do think of you, you don't know. And you hear all kinds of stories from people about how teams told them they were going to pick them here, and they didn't pick him until three rounds later. So, you really don't know, and you can't anticipate anything or you'll end up being disappointed."
On whether he goes into the game with the fact that the Falcons have 13 interceptions with 10 different players this year in the back of his mind:"No, I haven't paid attention. I didn't know that until now, [when] you just told me. I didn't look at the stats or anything like that. I'm just going to go in there and continue to try to play consistent football, and I think as long as we do that then we'll be all right and we won't have to worry about that."
On what jumps out at him from Atlanta's defensive tape:"I think they play a pretty base defense. They play something that the guys are good at, and they play it fast. They've got some good athletes. They've got a couple guys that can get after the quarterback. They've got good athletes on the corner. And like I said, I think they play a defense that the guys are good at playing, they're confident in playing. So, they can go out there and they can play real fast and get after it."
DT Haloti Ngata
On what he has seen from Falcons RB Michael Turner: "He's a great running back. He creates his own holes, and he makes his own blocks, and still runs the ball well. So, he's a really good running back, and hopefully we can start faster than we did against Miami and stop him early."
On whether the Falcons may shut down the run if the Ravens get a few stops early: "I don't know. With a running back like Michael Turner, it's tough. Hopefully, we can convince them to stop early and make them be a one-dimensional team."
On why the Ravens are allowing more rushing yards than in previous years: "It's some guys just trying to do more than they should. I'm one of those guys. Sometimes, I'll hit a gap where I should be in another. It's just guys need to tighten up on some things. We're getting to where we're not doing that, and we'll be a lot better."
On QB Matt Ryan looking poised in the pocket: "He definitely is. He's also more mobile than I thought he was. When I watched him on film, he moves around pretty well in the pocket and can run it a little bit. He has a strong arm. One of the reasons why Atlanta is winning a bunch of games is because he is doing really well. Hopefully, we can put pressure on him."
On what the difference in more turnovers is the last couple weeks: "Ed Reed. (laughter) Just knowing he is back there, and his leadership with those [defensive backs] back there, he does a great job. He's just one of those playmakers."
On how much the turnovers invigorate the defense: "It's great. [We] get that little bit more energy just to hopefully help make blocks to score a touchdown. It's just great, because then we can get off the field and rest, so that's real big for our defense."
RB Ray Rice
Opening statement:"Before we start, I just want to address something I'm sure you guys are going to ask. Yesterday I was pulling into a parking lot, [and] I did get pulled over by a police officer for my tints. I didn't realize they were illegal until he pulled me over. He gave me a warning and said to get it fixed. I didn't have anything outstanding or nothing wrong with my plates or anything. I was just going in to buy the new Call of Duty. I'm walking into the store, and the cop said his son is a big fan. So I took it upon myself to offer him an autograph to his son. That was after the warning. Bad decision by me wording it [the way I did] on Twitter. I wasn't trying to get any [special] justice or anything. I did get a warning, and I must get my tints fixed because they are pretty dark, they said. I just want to put that out there. I don't want to make it seem like I'm getting any [special] treatment by the officer. He was doing his job, and I definitely won't make that decision of putting it on Twitter again. On to Atlanta."
On whether he feels free and loose after playing well against Miami:"I definitely felt after the bye week [that] I had a great time to rest. Obviously, you all can tell when I'm fresh I'm a different kind of player; I'm more elusive, more explosive. In the past few weeks, I was healthy enough to play. But coming off that bye week, I can definitely say I had a step in practice. And I definitely felt that step in the game, especially winning one-on-ones. And going into Atlanta, coach Harbaugh is doing a great job of taking care of us right now on a short week. So we should be feeling pretty good going into that Thursday night game."
On how much he appreciates head coach John Harbaugh taking care of him in the first half of the season knowing the team will need him later on:"We're in the hunt, and one thing we like to say here [is] we try to stay healthy. And the fresher you are going into the later season games, that's big for us. You appreciate coach definitely when he takes it upon himself to say, 'Let me take care of my team,' because obviously, the ultimate goal is to go out there and win on Sunday and play to your max potential. And he's doing a great job of that right now."
On whether he thinks the game against the Falcons has playoff connotations:"I think Thursday night is going to be a great atmosphere. I know our guys are excited. We've played on Monday night, and this is the first Thursday night opener. I don't want to say it feels like Week 1, but it definitely feels good to know that we're on a short week, and we have a challenge ahead of us. Our team, we relish challenges. And it's definitely going to be a great game between us and Atlanta."
On how much the running game will be pivotal for both teams on Thursday:"A lot of respect for that team. They run the ball really well. You're going to look at both teams and what they do. We run the ball, they run the ball. If you look at both of the quarterbacks, they were both [drafted] in the same year. And obviously, I'm going with my guy Joe Flacco any day. But, it's definitely going to be one of [those] games where you look at both sides of the game, and it's just a matchup. It's a matchup thing. I know it's not going to be one of [those] games where it's going to be won in the first quarter. It's going to be one of the fourth quarter games. We're just looking forward to hopefully coming out of this game 7-2."
On how he characterizes Atlanta's defense:"I think they're very fast and instinctive. They play the 4-3 front. Watching them on film, they are very fast. They will hit you, and that's a challenge for us. They do a great job of… Whenever you're running straight at them, they do a great job of stopping the run. So, we've just got to do a great job of giving them different looks and going out there and trying to mix up things with them."
On why the run game has been struggling on the goal line:"That's something that we've got to get corrected. The goal line is something that in the past, we've been physical down there. And this year, we've just got to do a better job of doing the little things execution-wise – not letting run-throughs go through. Our offensive line, Cam [Cameron], everybody else is putting it together. We're just trying to go down there and relish our opportunities down there, and I think we're going to do a better job of that. [We will] definitely try to get it started this week, but as the season goes on, we definitely have to do a better job at that."
On how difficult it is to run routes in the red zone:"It's sort of like playing arena football down there because of how condensed the field is. You've got to be precise down there. One thing about the red zone that I've learned is that a yard is a yard is a yard. You've got to take everything you get down there. And one thing you want to leave in the red zone is points, whether it's a field goal or anything else. But obviously, we want to score a touchdown down there. That's a big thing we've got to emphasize is scoring touchdowns in the red zone and saving the field goals for a later time in the year."
On whether he is itching for a long run:"I think it's coming. I've been chipping away. I've been getting my yards different ways. But one thing I'm not going to do as a runner is force the issue. When the big run presents itself, I'll definitely make the best of that opportunity right there. But I can't force the issue. Every running back knows that big runs come with patience. Last year, later in the year, that's when my big runs came – later in the year when guys are tired, when guys are a little worn down. The offensive line is doing a great job. We're doing better running the ball. We're passing it. We're doing many things right now that are… And our defense is playing well. So, we're doing things well right now. When the big run comes, I'll definitely be ready to hit the home run."