Press Conference Transcript - Practice 11/24


Head Coach John Harbaugh

On being worried about the team overeating this Thanksgiving:"What is that stuff that makes you sleepy in turkey, tryptophan? We have to get off the tryptophan after Thursday.

"But, happy Thanksgiving to everybody here. We all have, obviously, so much to be thankful for. And, I'm thankful for this football team and this organization, among many other things. But, I'm also thankful for you guys. It's a pleasure to come to work every single day. So, thanks."

On Tampa Bay being a young team and if youthfulness can cause problems for opponents:"Well, they're 7-3. They are young – it's just age. In terms of age, they're young. They've got a bunch of rookies – they have six or seven rookie starters. [They have] a rookie quarterback. Both of their quarterbacks are second-year guys. And, you can just go right down the list. They play like a bunch of kids. They run around and get after it and are enthusiastic and all that. And, I'm sure it's got its plusses and its minuses. We'll try to negate the pluses that the youth brings to the table, and we'll try to take full advantage of what those minuses are."

On S Tom Zbikowski having a better chance of returning this week:"'Zibby' has got a good chance. Hopefully, he'll be there. We'll just have to see how he practices today. He went through the walk-through, so we've got our fingers crossed."

On if he would like the opportunity for the Ravens to play a Thanksgiving Day game:"How many of you guys would be able to make it? Mike [Preston, of The Baltimore Sun] said he's not going to be there, so in that case, I'm all for it. (laughing) I want to have a game on Thursday. I don't care. I wouldn't mind playing [on Thanksgiving]. It would be kind of cool. I'd like to have it at home. I'd love to have one here – have a Thursday night game for the Ravens fans. That would be cool. One of these days the Ravens are going to get a home, prime-time game that's not on Sunday night – Monday night or Thursday night – one of these days. If Mr. Goodell is listening, we'd like to get one of those someday."

On what he sees on tape from Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman that makes him so good:"He runs the whole offense. They have an offense that's tailored to what he does well. They've kind of set it up so he can sneak and do it. But, he sets up the protections and does some things like that. He runs the quicks, he runs the boots, he runs the drop-back stuff. It's a pretty limited drop-back passing game, and he runs play-action. He'll look for a receiver, [and] if he's not there, he'll go to his next guy. If he's not there, he'll run, and he's done that effectively. He's a big guy, and he's a very good athlete, and he throws pretty well."

On what has allowed Tampa Bay to get so many interceptions this season:"You could list them. It's a little bit of everything. Sometimes it's an overthrow, sometimes it's a tipped ball, sometimes it's coverage. Most of their blitzes are more run blitzes, actually, on early downs. When they pressure, it's more the nickel. Ronde Barber comes off the slot in a lot of different patterns. It's mostly fire zone with a 'three' coverage. So, sometimes you get some tipped balls, but it's probably a different thing."

On RB LeGarrette Blount having a very physical style that sets him apart from other running backs in the league:"Yeah, he's 250 pounds. He's a north-south runner. He's a physical, downhill kind of guy. He breaks a lot of tackles and all that stuff."

On Blount being a reminder that it is worth taking chances on some players despite a troubled history in college:"Sure. He's a reminder. There's so many things I could say right now. I'm just going to bite my tongue, as far as his situation."

On Blount being a lot like Browns RB Peyton Hillis:"He's a lot like Hillis. He's a real big, downhill-running guy – very similar. It will be a challenge for us. He's a physical back, and they've got a pretty physical offensive line."

On a team having a different mentality to finish strong heading down the stretch run of the season:"We want to do that, definitely. We want to get some momentum going. Everything in this league is about December and January. You want to get yourself to December and January and be relevant and make it matter. You want to make it important. We think we're built for December and January as a football team and a program. So, you've got to get yourself there, and it's got to matter. That's what September, October and November – and training camp – is for. So, we had to come out of the gate [strong]. That was important. We wanted to kick it into gear to open up the season. But, this win is very important to set us up for next week. And, you all know what's at stake next week."

OLB Jarret Johnson

On what he is thankful for this Thanksgiving:"I am thankful for a lot of things. I've got a great family, great teammates, a great job – living the dream. I am thankful for a lot of things."

On Tampa Bay presenting challenges because the Ravens don't play them often:"We're not a team that plays each other a lot. So, we're not familiar with them like we are with the Steelers or Cleveland – something like that. But, you've got adequate time during the week to get familiar with them. It's not going to be a mystery once we get out there. They're a good team, but we don't play them a lot."

On what will be the key to be able to contain Blount:"He's a big, physical, one-cut guy. He's going to make his move, and then he's coming downhill. So, I think you've got to get to him before he makes that cut. You've got to disrupt him in the backfield and can't let him build his momentum, because you get him around guys that are smaller than him, [and] he's going to hurt them."

On practicing tackling hurdlers to prepare to play against Blount:"He's got a little bit of that, like that [Brian] Leonard kid from Cincinnati. He likes to jump people and stuff. So, you can't really prepare for that. If he jumps you, then just try to go high, I guess."

On Tampa Bay being the youngest team in the NFL and if it appears like a young team on film:"They've got a lot of young players, which is a positive for them. Obviously, they're going to be good for a while. Anytime you've got young players like that, you don't want to let their momentum get rolling, because once they build their momentum, they start getting excited and they're just going to keep it on you. So, you've just got to get on them early."

On imagining a time when LB Ray Lewis doesn't play every down:"No. I couldn't imagine that. The guy never comes out now. I don't know. I think if it comes to that he'd retire. But, I don't think the guy is ever going to retire, so I don't think you have to worry about it."

On if Lewis looks like a 35-year-old player:"No. The guy is unbelievable. He stays in incredible shape. Obviously, he's not like he was in 2000. But, his mental game, his mental preparation [is great]. He comes in this morning already telling us what they're doing. He's already watched a ton of film on Tuesday, on his day off. The guy is phenomenal. He amazes you every week. He's been doing it for this many years and he's still doing it strong."

On underestimating when he came to Baltimore how much he would learn from Lewis:"A lot of times you hear, 'He's a student of the game and he watches film.' But, a lot of times it's not really true. Ray is ridiculous about how much a student of the game he is. I come in and I feel good about myself [thinking] I watched an hour of film last night. Then, the guy watched six [hours]. It's ridiculous how much he loves it. He can't get enough of it."

On Lewis being like a coach with his knowledge and preparation:"Yeah, in a lot of ways he is."

On Freeman being similar to prepare for as Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger:"Yeah, he's a similar guy. He's real big, hard to get down – big arms, can run around and create plays on their feet. So, they are very similar. He doesn't have the experience that Ben has, but he's very, very similar."

On his Thanksgiving football memories from his childhood:"I watched it a little bit, but I was too busy eating turkey."

On his reaction to those who are criticizing the Ravens' defense this season:"I'm not really worried about it. Obviously, you'd like to hear people talk good about you. We've got a lot of pride about our defense. It's been good for a long time. So, when people start to bash us and run us down, I take it to heart a little bit. But, I try not to worry about it because they're not helping you. We've got a saying: "If you don't have a solution, shut up." If you're not trying to help us get better, I've got nothing for you. So, we're trying. We want to be as dominant as we've ever been. We've got a lot of pride in this group, and we want to be No. 1 in everything."

On points allowed being the one barometer the defense uses to judge true performance:"You could say that. You could say we're 7-3 and we've got some good wins under our belt. We've gone into some tough places and played well. You know, the scoring thing… But, no defense wants to have the ball run on them. No defense wants to have the ball thrown over their heads. So, you could say it doesn't matter, but deep down it does. It bothers you. You want to be that dominant defense."

On being concerned about Tampa Bay's trick/gadget plays:"A little bit. But, that's not their main [strength]. They are good around the run. They want to be a physical, downhill team that's going to establish the running game early, create third-and-short and just move the ball down the field. Gadget teams like that a lot of times will run some gadgets just to offset the power game they have. They offset it by running some gadgets. But that's not their main thing."

QB Joe Flacco

On what he is thankful for and the importance of family and team: "We'll come in here tomorrow, and we'll get together a little bit. But yeah, it's all about hanging out with your family and just enjoying it a little bit, having a nice meal. We're in a fortunate situation – most of us are – to come in here every day and have a lot of fun doing what we're doing. So, we've got to be thankful for that."

On whether he thinks about the less fortunate: "We've got a bunch of guys on our team that are out around town taking care of as many people as they can around the city. That's great to see, and you try to be as much of a part of that as you can."

On the Bucs wanting to get back to their roots with the Tampa 2 Defense: "Yeah, they play it a little bit, but they drop down and play a single safety a lot, too. It's not like they're dropping back and playing Tampa 2 all the time."

On whether the Bucs are looking for a signature victory: "I think they're just trying to win as many games as they can, whether it's a good team or a bad team. I don't know how many bad teams there are in this league. Anytime you get a win, you've got to be happy about getting it, and you've got to fight hard for it. I don't know if they're necessarily thinking about signature wins as much as they're just thinking about coming in here, going and playing well on the road, and coming out here and giving themselves the best chance of winning."

On how much tougher it is to prepare for a team that is rarely an opponent: "I don't think it's any tougher. Most of the games you play during the year – half of them, I guess, or more than half – are against teams you're only going to play once. I don't know. I think a couple of teams that we've played in the last couple of weeks have been pretty similar. The teams in the NFC have been pretty similar, so it's kind of the same type of preparation the last couple weeks."

On the differing accounts of his disagreement with WR Derrick Mason Sunday: "I don't know. I'll let it stay up to whatever the different accounts are. *(laughter) *It was Sunday. We were in a good battle, and things happen on the sideline sometimes, so whatever. I was laughing 10 seconds after it was over."

On the incident with Mason not being a big deal in his estimation: "Not really. I guess it can be, but not between me and Derrick."

On whether he has learned to deal with teammates complaining: "I think you learn to deal with that. I've known how to deal with that. I think you learn it through high school and college and your time in the NFL. I think you're always going to deal with those kind of situations, whether it's you that's pissed off or whether it's one of your teammates. Everybody is going to be a little heated at some point, and you've got to learn how to deal with it and get by it."

On the best way to handle a sideline disagreement: "It's different. Sometimes you let the guy go, and sometimes you speak your mind. It's all different and depends on who the guy is. It really just calls for whatever you're feeling in the moment, I think."

On his family making fun of him for showing too much emotion and whether that argument couldn't wait until after the game: "Sometimes it can [wait]. When I talk about my family making fun of me, it's not really getting on guys and guys getting on me. It's more of me just looking like an idiot after I throw a touchdown pass. (laughter) It's more when good things happen and I'm celebrating too much when a good thing happens. Yeah, there's things that can wait for after the game, [and] there's things that have to happen right now, and you see it all the time."

On whether a win this week is important to gain momentum for next week: "I think we're looking at a good Tampa Bay team. They're 7-3. They've been playing pretty good football. They're coming into our house, and we've been playing well and we've got to defend our territory. I think all we're worried about right now is getting a win against them."

On what part of his game has improved the most since the start of the season: "I don't think anything. I think I was the same player in the beginning of the season as I am now. We had one bad game against Cincinnati, and I think we've been playing pretty consistent football since then."

On whether Tampa's youth shows up on film with their speed: "They've got a guy [Ronde Barber] over at corner on the left side that has been playing forever, and playing good football. They've got a guy on the other side [Aqib Talib] that's pretty young and playing good football. [They've] got a couple young guys in the secondary. So, not really. I'm not paying attention to their speed and things like that. I'm trying to figure out what kind of scheme they're going to run against us and where I like my matchups. So, I think we feel pretty comfortable about it."

On what makes CB Ronde Barber stand out: "He's got good quickness. He's a good player. He's got good instincts. He's probably played on a handful of good defenses in his career. I think anytime you've played for – I think this is his 14th year or something like that – there's obviously a lot of things you can do well. I don't think you can pinpoint one thing."

LB Ray Lewis

On how it feels to hand out turkeys to families in Baltimore and why he does it:"I just think… I was once in that line. I was once in that line before. And me and my mom, we grew up hard, and she's always instilled that in me. That was the one part that she made sure that when we got older, we knew that giving back was one of the most important things that she's always instilled in all of her kids. So, every year I just try to, really, it's just the hands-on things for me. It's a really hands-on thing for me, and so that's why yesterday was a very long day, but the impact of what came out of it was remarkable – just hearing the comments and hearing how grateful people really are. Just for you to stand up there for almost six hours yesterday – six or seven hours yesterday… But, I understand that I'm giving them something, but in return I get a whole lot that they will never understand. Like when I went home last night, you find yourself very emotional listening to some of the conversations that were spoken to you at that time. It's just something that's really just instilled in me."

On whether it is his favorite day of the year:"One of [them]. Probably the only other one is any one of my kids' birthdays or anything like that. But that's definitely one of the favorite days to really just make people smile that way."

On yesterday being a full day, as LB Jarret Johnson said that Lewis watched about six hours of film as well:"Yeah, usually if I don't get it in early. I just got it in late yesterday. He's just messing with me because I was kind of calling out the plays in the meeting today. As soon as I got done with the Thanksgiving, it kind of hit me and was kind of telling me to think of some things when I'm watching film. So, when I got home I turned on the computer and fell asleep watching it. That's the normal routine."

On whether younger players in the league are doing most of the trash-talking, and how Tampa Bay's youth could provide a challenge to this week's game:"You hear young guys, man, you hear them a lot. A lot of the times, you hear them, 'Yap, yap, yap.' But, I remember this one line, this one guy saying, 'Yeah, you're an old man.' I looked at him and said, 'You'd better pray you play as long as me.' That's what young guys don't understand. They think they run fast and they jump high, and they think that's all there is to the game, but there's so much more to the game of football. And hopefully, they understand that sooner than later. When you watch this Tampa team, you do see a lot of young guys running around, really just trying to figure everything out on the run. You watch the games that they've won and you watch the games that they've lost, and you saw where the inexperience did kick in with the games they did lose, things like that. For us, it's just come play our style of football. I don't care what age you are. Being hit is being hit. The game of football will never change from that aspect."

On whether CB Ronde Barber plays a similar role for Tampa Bay:"I think around the league, every person does who's been in the league for that many years, and Ronde is one of those guys who's been around for a good little while. He plays the game at a very high level, a very, very smart player. You see him a lot of times on film. You know, when we were watching them prepare for other people, you saw him really trying to keep them going and really trying to talk to them. So they have one or two pieces over there that they do have some sort of wisdom that can lead them."

On whether another player really called him an "old man":"I think it was like two years ago. It's funny when you hear kids talk. I think he was just saying, 'You can't cover me, you're too old.' And I'm like, 'Hmm, interesting.' But you hear them, and you wish that they worked harder than they talked. That's what you don't get anymore. You don't get that anymore. If these young kids ever figured it out, to work more than what their talent offers, then you'd see a much more productive class that's coming in and keep injuries down and things like that. So, whatever. I was trying to educate him more than compete with him at that time."

On that being a wake-up call, and whether things aren't like they were when he came into the league:"The things that I do talk to young guys about is that window for them nowadays is closing so fast. You don't see the careers that are going nine, 10, 11, 12 years anymore. These guys are getting hurt with injuries that [are] ending their careers very early. So, that's the kind of things I've been talking to a lot of young guys about – how you eat right, how many hours you should be sleeping at night, things like that. What should you be focusing on? And things like that. I just think when you package it all up, the thing is to try to get them a longer career instead of thinking that they can just ride off talent to survive."

On whether he was a trash-talker when he was one of the younger guys:"No. I think I was doing the talking in high school, so that kind of got me in trouble a long time ago. *(laughter) *I've always been that person to talk, because I've always been the person to work before I talked. So, when I came into whatever battle it was, I knew that I had prepared mentally and physically to talk about whatever I was going to talk about. So that was kind of – and it's still been – my thing throughout my whole career."

On whether he has taken any pride in some of the big defensive plays that he has made at the end of a few wins this season:"I always look at my ball club and just tell them, 'It's something that in every year you're going to be defined by something.' And for me, being the leader of this defense, we have to make those plays. Whether you end it or you don't, either they're going to make it or we're going to make it. And for me, I think it was just the defense and me being in the right position, kind of studying the plays and playing out my film study and me just going and making plays."

On whether he didn't know what to do with his end zone dance after several years between trips there:"No, not really. The statement was made. (laughter) You dance if you're excited; I was pissed off. It was that moment in the game. Sometimes at the end of a sentence you put a period, but then that was an exclamation point."

On whether he envisions the day that he might become a "platoon player":"What's a platoon player? Explain that? (A time where he may need to come out of the game during a defensive play) If I do that, I'd cheat a whole lot of people. To ever think about that... To give you an example last week, when the game was almost over right after I had that pick, coach [John Harbaugh] came and said come out. And then 'Sizzle' [Terrell Suggs] looked at me and said, 'You can't come out.' Your know, your athletic ability only goes so far. In this business, it's based off true servitude and leadership. And that's what men look for. And that's what, if you go around the league, you don't see much of anymore. You don't see many leaders that'll go and fight with their men no matter what. Don't worry about all this, 'Oh, if I'm on the field or if I'm not.' My time of being off the field… When I retire, I will be off the field a lot. But right now I've got too much work to do, and for me to be out there, there's no way I can leave them out there fighting that battle and say, 'Oh, I can't be out there with them.' No, because ability-wise – I mean I don't talk about my business – but there's no 'backer in the game better at doing what I do. So, I don't worry about that stuff."

On whether Titans QB Vince Young has reached out to him, much like other players around the league do:"No, I haven't talked to Vince at all."

On whether he feels the need to say anything or step in if two of his teammates get into a spat or argument:"No. If you heard about a husband and wife fight, would you say anything to them?* (laughter)* Sometimes whatever happens, man, it happens. Move on and keep going, because it doesn't define anything. It's just emotions. People go through things, and whatever it is, it's just the heat of battle. And that's one thing about this game that you will see on game day, that there's a different level of intensity. And so, frustrations, we're all going to go through them."

On whether things sometimes look differently on the sidelines from what is reality: "Yeah, I tell you… I told the guys this: 'If you worry about what everybody else on the outside is thinking about us, it doesn't matter.' The bottom line is we came here to do something, and we've done that. That's it. That's all that matters. If we can keep that motto the rest of this year, then we've got a great chance of doing something great."

On Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman: "A young kid. A big, young kid who loves to scramble with the ball. He makes more plays with his legs than people think he does. At the same time, because of their youth, the offense is kind of centered around him. He takes pride in checking the ball down to his running backs and not really getting into trouble. They try to stay out of second- and third-and-longs. He does a good job in really trying to manage games. And like I said earlier, the games that he did get in trouble in were the games that people really got to him, really go to their line and things. We have to bottle him up and make sure on big third downs that he doesn't get out of the pocket."

On whether he has even considered how long he can continue to play football:"I've got a heck of a group of guys right now that, if I wanted to [retire], they won't let me. And I haven't even thought about it. So, saying that… Football, the game is too good. The game is too good, and anytime that you can be as healthy as I am in your 15th year, all you can just say is, 'Thank you Father for another opportunity.' And every time I step on the field is just another opportunity. That's it. I don't look past tomorrow. That's kind of what my message has been, not just to football players, but to people in general. We rush to tomorrow so quick [that] we forget about living in today. Right now, it's about today. And right now we're 7-3 and we're sitting in a heck of a position, and I've got a heck of a team on my shoulders that I'd go to battle with any day of the week. And that's my job as a leader is to get us ready to go to 8-3."

On whether home games are different for him depending upon whether or not he gets to do his pre-game dance:"It's different, because I get looser when I dance now." (laughter)

RB Ray Rice

On what he is thankful for: "First of all, I'm thankful for a home-cooked meal tomorrow. My mom is in town, and she's already shut the kitchen down. I can't even go in there right now. I'll probably stick to my oatmeal cream pies tonight, but the kitchen is already on reserve."

Ravens senior vice president of public/community relations Kevin Byrne interjects: "Did you have to shop? You've shopped in the past, I know."

"I did a little bit of shopping. What I did have to do was get a few air mattresses, because I've got a lot of family coming in town, and I don't need anybody crowding the bedroom. Mom already took over my bedroom as well. But I won't be sleeping on an air mattress. I will have one of my other rooms in the house that I will get some proper rest on."

On whether it is funny to hear people talking about his numbers being down when he is still producing at a high level: "I'm just playing my role. One thing I told you all I wasn't going to do was force the issue of trying to make the big play. I say the plays are going to happen. I've been just doing what I have to do. I've been there for Joe [Flacco] in the passing game, and in the run game we're taking as much as we can right now. I'm just trying to continue to be consistent. Everybody looked at my numbers last year because I was basically new on the scenery. With me having the extra target on my back, things have been more difficult, especially in the run game. As far as getting out in space, Cam [Cameron] has been doing a great job of getting me out in space in the pass game, and Joe has been finding me on my check-downs. There's only one ball to go around. At the beginning of the year – I knew with the guys that we brought in, with the help that we brought in – I said I'll take lesser stats than wins over anything."

On whether he'd like to see more carries Sunday since the Bucs have struggled against the run: "Well, you look at every team, and every team you say different things. When you look at what they did against Frank Gore last week, you can't look at their stats and say, 'We're going to run the ball on them.' So, what I like to say is we'll come into the game with a complete game plan, a mix between run and pass. Cam is doing a great job of finding out where we can attack these guys at. They do a great job of running to the football. You've got a leader over there like Ronde Barber and a great middle linebacker [Barrett Ruud] over there, who is kind of like circling their defense. He's the captain of the defense. They run to the ball really well. We've got to pick and choose our spots where we choose to run, but I'm sure our game plan will be a mixture of both."

On whether it seems like the season is going by fast: "It felt like we were just in training camp. The season – as long as you're enjoying it – it doesn't pass you by fast. It's going by fast, but the enjoyment of our ups and downs – of where we're at right now at 7-3, with the games that we've lost and we've learned from them, and what we took from them – we're sitting at a position right now where we can make a great late season push as long as we continue to do our job."

On whether they have to polish what they have as an offensive unit right now: "You've got to polish what you've got right now. For the main part, we've been pretty healthy this year. We've been blessed with health. So, for each week to have every guy up and healthy and ready to go, that's why you just polish up the little things we need to work on. You go out there and try to give it your best every Sunday."

On whether he looks forward to running longer pass routes: "Yeah, I never see myself as a decoy out there, whether I'm doing my job or pulling the linebacker out. Joe does a great job. I ran a wheel route, they doubled… I forgot who the inside guy was. They doubled Anquan [Boldin] – usually that's going to happen when you've got Anquan out there – and left me wide open. One thing I know Joe did that helped me out was he saved me a huge hit from the safety. I had to thank him for that. I got up, shook it off a little bit. He saw me, threw it right in enough time where Anquan could take two, and when they see me, I've just got to catch the ball, and big plays can happen."

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