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Press Conference Transcript - Practice 9/15


Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "OK. Obviously, you guys have already been having this conversation. We play the Bengals this week, and preparation starts today."

On his thoughts on the Bengals' cornerbacks:"Yeah, I think they're really good. They have [Leon] Hall and [Jonathan] Joseph and then [Adam] 'Pacman' Jones being in the mix there. They've just got a bunch of guys that can cover."

On whether he would appreciate if there were no Twitter or talk leading up to the games:"What are you talking about? I'd appreciate if there was no Twitter? I think it depends what gets said. To me, it depends how your players handle it, how they express themselves. If they do it in a classy way that is uplifting, then I appreciate it. I think our guys did that."

On how he feels about getting CB Prince Miller back on the team and what his chances are to contribute as a returner:"Yeah, there's a chance of that. Obviously, that's part of our idea with [signing him]. Whether he can do that this week or not, I don't know. Probably wouldn't give it to you anyway. But obviously, that's something that he does. I'm sure [the Bengals will] prepare for him being back there. He's a rookie; they'll feel like if he is back there, they can take the ball away from him. That's what I like about 'Zibby' [Tom Zbikowski]: He's going to be secure with the ball. But he's got to go north and south instead of going sideways. One of those two guys will be back there. The bottom line is we catch the ball first and run that way, and we'll be fine." (laughter)


On if having a short week hampers preparation for the next game:"It does throw you off a little bit. Sleep-wise, we haven't had a lot of that. But we knew that. It wasn't like it caught us by surprise, and all of a sudden they moved the game up a day. We knew we had a five-and-a-half-day window. We had a lot of time going into it. We know the Bengals, we've been preparing for them all along. We had to add one more [piece of] information that we had in the game into this preparation and then just tie everything together as quick as we could. A lot of that work had already been done."

On whether he was surprised at the way the Bengals played against New England on Sunday:"Very surprised – obviously, impressed with the Patriots. But the Bengals will get back to being the Bengals. They'll get back to what they did last year. They're the defending division champions. They earned it last year. They swept the division. They handed it to us twice in convincing fashion, and that's the team we expect to see on Sunday."

On TE Ed Dickson's decision to play in the game while his child was being born:"'Family always comes first' is a general rule. But also, you balance family with your career and your profession and the opportunity to do things for your family. This was also his first opportunity to play in the NFL. It was Monday night, and he had prepared for it. His players were… His teammates and coaches and really everybody, the fans, everybody was counting on him to play in the game. But only the person can make that decision. You can't tell him what to do. We all shared our advice – the ones of us who've had kids – but in the end, he had to make his own choice. But it became kind of irrelevant, because the baby came so fast. They baby was born a couple hours before the game, and he couldn't get back there fast enough anyway. What would he have done if it would've been more delayed? I don't know. I think he was going to play. I think he decided to go ahead and play. He was… It was tough for him."

On whether he has had to make a decision like that:"Just with practice. I missed a practice one time, but that was easy. But not with a game. I only had one."

On the impact of Bengals DE Antwan Odom playing in the game:"Is that the word? Is he going to be in this game? Darn. I still had my hopes up for that. *(laughter) *He had a bunch of sacks early last year, then he got hurt. He's a premiere pass rusher – got to account for him. [We've] got to know where he is at all times."

On whether the addition of WR Terrell Owens makes it easier for WR Chad Ochocinco to make plays because defenses have to plan to cover both of them:"Yeah, it's always a big part of it. I just think that you look at their front, they've got weapons all the way across. They've done a great job of putting that together. They've got [WR Jordan] Shipley in there now. They've got [WR Andre] Caldwell who really hurt us last year. Obviously, Jermaine Gresham is a very talented guy – high pick. We liked him a lot. We might have drafted him if he was still sitting there. Turned out pretty good for us later with the other two tight ends, but he's a great player. The other two tight ends are both good blockers and adequate receivers. They can catch the ball. You can't sleep on those guys. [Cedric] Benson coming out of the backfield is a good player. They got Shipley in the backfield. They put tight ends in the backfield. I just think you've got to be able to cover all those guys, and that's what makes them so dangerous. Then you've got Carson Palmer – premiere quarterback. [He] has proven it – has really proven it against the Ravens. How many times has he played well against the Ravens in the last eight years or so? We've got our hands full with that offense."

On the impact of WR Anquan Boldin:"He's a… I guess that says it all right there – the fact that he's capable of making big plays. A lot was made of the downfield threat last week, and we understood that. Yeah, you'd love to have a burner, but those guys are playmakers. I put T.J. [Houshmandzadeh] in the same category, put [Derrick] Mason in the same category. I think… Put Todd Heap in the category. Todd Heap obviously is not a burner, yet he makes the play downfield in a seam route that really flips the field position and gives us a chance to win the game at the end. If you've got guys that can go out and catch the ball, I think they can make plays downfield. And Anquan, I'm hopeful, because I always felt like he's been – and same about T.J. and 'Mase' – these are guys that have really been great players, but have never gotten their due probably, these premiere guys. So maybe we'll change that this year."

On how much WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh was able to play on Monday night:"I think he had the full offense for what we were asking him to do as kind of that three-wide-receiver package. It'll be interesting to see how [offensive coordinator Cam Cameron] uses him in some of the other packages now and how he expands that role. Those guys become interchangeable, I think. They can all play pretty much all the spots, so I think there's a lot of creative opportunity there."

On how rookie NT Terrence Cody is progressing with his injury:"Seems to be getting better. Will he play? I don't know. I don't think he'll practice today, but he's close to practicing. It'll be day-by-day."

On how he would respond to a situation where a player left the field before the end of a half:"You know, I'm not going to get into that. Everybody handles their team… You just handle the situations as they come up. These guys are… These are professional football players, so there's a balance. Yeah, you have discipline, and they've obviously got that, but there are things that come up with guys and you just have to respect that, too. You just deal with it as it comes, and it kind of depends where the player's coming from and what he's all about."

On whether the decision to make CB Lardarius Webb inactive against the Jets was weather-related or because he wasn't ready to play:"Not weather-related at all. Physically, he's very well far along. Is he quite there yet? Was he quite there yet at the game? I don't know. I don't think he felt quite ready like he was. So we'll just have to see how it goes this week. It's a balancing act between where the knee is at structurally – which it's in really good shape – and where he's at mentally."

WR Anquan Boldin

On what he has seen from WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh and how much he can appreciate his confidence: "I mean, just from afar watching him… We played against him a couple times, him being in Seattle. I mean he's a good receiver. I think his numbers speak for themselves, the numbers that he put up in Cincinnati. [He] also had a good year last year in Seattle. I think he's a real good receiver, and I think he adds something to this offense."

On what makes LB Ray Lewis such a good leader: "Honestly, Ray is one of a kind. Out of all the people that I've seen in this league come and go, he's the one guy, the one constant that no matter who you talk to around the league, they would love to play alongside of him. He's a guy that you want to line up with, a guy that you watch from afar and you're just amazed at what he brings to the table, his intensity. For me, just being here this short period, just seeing how he prepares, how he goes about the game of football in general, it's just unbelievable."

On if playing with Lewis is exactly what he expected or even better: "Even better. Just being around the guy, it's contagious the way he works, the way he goes about it, the intensity that he brings and whatever he does. I think it's real contagious."

On how his first game as a Raven felt: "There was no better stage to open up than on Monday night at the Jets. I think it was everything that I expected. I think we would have, as an offense, liked to have a better performance, but wins are hard to come by in this league, so we'll definitely take it."

On if there were any instances Monday with QB Joe Flacco where something intuitively clicked from their summer work: "Yeah, I think so, but there were a lot of times where he threw the ball and it was just a trust factor. And I think that's something that's real important between receivers and quarterbacks. And I think that had a lot to do with us being here working this summer."

On whether he feels the Cincinnati defense can be exploited: "Well, the thing is, whenever you play a division opponent, the game is always going to be tough, because you know each other so well. You play each other twice a year. And for us, they're the division champs from a year ago, so we're looking at it as we want to dethrone them. We definitely don't want to go 0-2 against them this year. We have our goals set, and we want to win the division. The only way that we can do that is to beat them, and it would be a nice start for us to beat them at their place."

On how tough it is to convert on third downs the way they did Monday night: "That is tough to do, but in order to sustain drives, that's something that you have to do. It was a big emphasis for us, and it will be the entire season. We want to keep our defense off the field as much as possible, get them time to rest, and like you said, the only way we can do that is by converting third downs, no matter what the situation is."

On whether he has an opinion about Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco's antics: "I like it, actually. I know Chad personally. He just does it to have fun. That's who he is. That's his personality. I don't think he tries to show anybody up or anything like that. He just loves to entertain, so I don't have a problem with it."

QB Joe Flacco

On his thoughts of the Bengals' stable of cornerbacks:"Yeah, they're going to do a good job. They played well against us last year, but we're going to have confidence in our guys to go in there and make some plays and get after them a little bit. But, we're going to respect them and attack them accordingly."

On how tough it is having a short week to prepare, especially coming off the mentally and physically challenging game with the Jets:"I don't know. You can't really think about it. You've just got to keep your head down and go after it. It definitely makes it a little bit tougher, but like I said, we don't really think about that. It's our job to go out there and play the game, and do our best to win it."

On how much progress WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh has made and how in sync he was Monday night:"I thought he did a great job [on Monday]. Obviously, he made a few big plays for us. But like I said, the biggest thing for us was to get him lined up, get him running the right routes, and I think everything else from there was going to take care of itself. And I think he did a great job for us."

On whether Houshmandzadeh will be even better this week with another week of work and playing against a familiar team in the Bengals:"Yeah, I'm sure he is. We're going to do nothing but improve on offense week to week. And yeah, he's going to be a big part of that. So, he's going to improve this week. I'm sure he's going to become more comfortable, and we're going to become a little more fluent with each other, and it should help us."

On how much the opposing team's defense dictates what they can do offensively:"It depends what kind of coverages they're going to run. Are they going to run a lot of man? Are they going to sit in a zone? Sometimes, when teams sit in a deep zone, it can take away some of the downfield stuff. We'll see. Our job is to attack the defense enough that we've got to put them in some situations that they want to attack us, and maybe we can hit them over the top. But, that all [remains to be seen]. You've got to play it out on Sunday, and we'll be ready for everything."

On how he's feeling physically after the Jets game:"It was a lot of fun. It was a great game. It was a good, old-fashioned, physical football game. And I think we're all probably a little bit sore, but that's the name of the game when you play pro football. We're just trying to get ourselves healthy and back in shape for Sunday."

On how he feels after the hit he sustained on the first offensive play from scrimmage:"I feel good. We're all a little sore, like I said. I'm a little sore in my upper body and my neck, but I feel good. My legs feel good and my arm feels great. So, I'm ready to go."

On whether it hurts to watch that first play again on film:"No, it happened. It hurts to see that I fumbled the ball. I don't really care too much about the hit, but it hurts to see me fumbling and them recovering. But other than that, I think we did a great job moving on and getting after them the rest of the game."

On whether it's a point of pride to be able to take a hit like that, especially after seeing some other starting quarterbacks go down to injury this past weekend:"A lot of it is just freak [injury]. It depends a lot on how you land. Those [other quarterbacks] can't prevent getting their head driven in, their shoulder driven in. The turf can be a pretty big enemy sometimes, and it all depends on how awkwardly you land, and I think I was pretty fortunate to get driven in pretty flat and not have any of my limbs underneath me when it happened. But, you're going to get hit, and you've got to get up and keep standing in there. And I think that's what we needed to do as an offense on Monday night."

On whether there is a feeling of respect for the Bengals after being swept by them last season:"We definitely have respect for everybody in our division, and we know what they're capable of. They have a good offense, they have a good defense, and we're going to be ready for a lot when we go in and play them. And they're going to be ready for us, so we're going to have to bring our 'A' game. But like I said, we're going to feel confident about what we're doing. I've said that from the very beginning. And we're going to try to just stay focused on what we're doing and not let anybody get in the way of us."

On how important these division games are this early in the season:"Yeah, they're huge, especially going on the road. If we can go on the road here and get some wins against division opponents, it's going to be huge for us later in the season. These are good teams, and we're going to have to play good, tough games and come out on the other side pretty good. If we can do that, I think we're going to set ourselves up for a pretty good season."

On whether the Bengals played the same defense in both games last season or whether they changed things up:"I'm not sure. I think they came after us probably a little bit in the second game. And I think the first game was a game that we felt like we should have come out of there with [the win], and the second game, when I look back on it, I feel like they beat us up a little bit and they deserved to win that game. So, we've got to go in there, we've got to come with our 'A' game, and we're going to have something to show."

On what he makes of all the chatter going back and forth on Twitter, and whether it matters when the game starts:"No, not at all. Once the game gets going, you're just thinking about each play and completing the pass [or] running the ball. It's all fun. These guys are all… If we see each other out, besides on the football field, we're going to have fun and have a laugh at each other. I think it's all fun and it hypes up the game and it makes it fun for all the fans. But other than that, we're going to go out there and play our game on Sunday and so are they."

On whether the Twitter chatter is a good thing:"Oh, it's definitely a good thing. Like I said, I'm not a part of it, but it's a great thing. I love to see it. If I was a fan, then I would want to see some of this stuff going on during the week just to kind of pump up the game and get yourself ready for it."

On what happened on the interception he threw at New York on Monday:"[Antonio] Cromartie made a good play. He fell off, and picked me off."

On whether everybody was where they were supposed to be on that play:"Yeah, I think so. There was a little bit of a crowd, and like I said, they did a good job of making a play, and our job from there was just to tackle him and get him out of bounds. And our defense did a great job of getting the ball back."

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh

On what it means personally and professionally to go back to Cincinnati: "I don't know what it means yet. I'm sure it'll be fun. They're a good team. Obviously, it will be fun playing against guys I used to practice with. The corners were young when I was there, and they were getting better every day. Now, in my opinion, those two are two of the top 10 corners in the league, period. I don't know if they both will be able to stay there, as good as they play, as much money as they're going to command. As of now, they're really good in my book."

On whether he thought he would finish his career in Cincinnati: "I don't know if I thought that, but I always thought I'd play on two or three teams my whole career. Now I don't know what's going to happen. It's been a shock somewhat the last few weeks. I don't know if I thought I would finish my career in Cincy because I saw guys like Willie [Anderson] come here, and that's when it kind of opened my eyes like, 'Wow.' I thought Willie would finish his career in Cincinnati because he was so good and never got any credit, and then we started to win and it was towards the end of his career. So, when he left and came here, I didn't really think that I would finish my career there, no."

On whether he considered returning to Cincinnati after being released by Seattle: "No, no, [I] never really talked to anybody. Marvin [Lewis] texted me just basically the standard 'keep your head up,' which it was already up. No, not really. You know, they had T.O. [Terrell Owens] and Chad [Ochocinco]. I didn't think all three of us would be a good fit."

On how it will feel being on the opposite side of things at Paul Brown Stadium: "It'll be different. [I'm] kind of eager to see how the locker room looks, see if it's nice or whatever. It'll be different for sure. It'll be different. I don't know how I'm going to feel. Emotions just kind of come to you however they may. You know you can't really control them. It'll be very different, to say the least."

On his memories of playing in Cincinnati: "The memories were… For me personally, not playing initially, being hurt a lot, Marvin coming there and giving me a chance to play, really, that was basically it. I think had I been on another team I probably would have been released and I'd be at home right now doing lord knows what because of my injury situation. Marvin stuck by me when I was hurt. The next year, I got a chance to play and I played fairly well. So, that personally, is what I remember. And then team-wise, the reputation of the Bengals, the stigma around them nationally that basically when I was there we sucked, and we got better and we were a good team, good offensively. We were going to make it fun. We were going to make it TV-friendly, regardless if we won or lost. It was always TV-friendly because we were putting up points."

On whether his departure was amicable: "I would say… I don't know, maybe not because I wanted to stay. Initially, I did and people were always telling me like, 'Wow, you want to stay? You need to get up out of here.' But I don't really like change a lot, and I wanted to stay just because I felt comfortable there. I would say it wasn't because I wanted to stay and I didn't like the way they approached things, but thinking back on it and having been through the situation, they were just doing what any other team would do. And I didn't approach it like that, so there you go."

On whether it bothered him when Cincy won the division last year and he was on another team: "No, no, no. It didn't really bother me because it was over with. At the time, I didn't really sit there initially and say, 'Wow, I made a bad decision.' I think it was over time. When they were winning, I didn't… Once Carson [Palmer] came [back] – my last year Carson didn't play – so I knew when Carson came back the next year they were going to do well, because [Mike] Zimmer had the defense playing well. We just didn't do much offensively my last year. It was just… I think it was gradually over time. I told my wife and different people that I wanted to stay, and different people told me I needed to go. It wasn't that. I was happy they won. I wanted to see the guys do well. I might have had certain feelings about certain people, but nothing with the guys on the team."

On whether there was a moment where he thought it would be best for him to leave: "I don't know. I don't know. I mean I wanted to stay, but I think the way they went about it initially put it in my mind that I don't need to stay. You know you want to do something, but you know it's not the best thing for you. That's what I thought at the time, that, 'Yeah, I want to stay, but it's not the best thing for you.' [It was] kind of like [if] you have a woman and you really like her, but she doesn't really like you, and you don't know when to leave her alone. (laughter) *You know? Something like that."*

On whether he was pleased with the amount of playing time he received Monday and if he expects more going forward: "I don't know. I wouldn't say I expect more. I want more, so however that plays out. Monday was fun. It was fun. It was kind of a whirlwind. When I was studying the playbook, I was like, 'It's no way I'm going to play,' because it was like Spanish, like Rosetta Stone. I was just learning. It was tough, and as the week progressed on I started to kind of get a grasp of it. Even in the game though, I was kind of stuck in the middle like, 'OK, where do I [go]? OK, I go over here.' So things weren't really clicking naturally, but I hope to play more. I wouldn't say I think I would. I hope to play more, but we'll see what happens."

On whether he has gotten the playbook down yet: "No, no, no. It's so many words and so much verbiage that goes into one play, and I'm the type of guy that I like to know what each word means instead of just worrying about what I need to worry about. I like to know what the protection is and certain calls, which I don't know why I'm like that. Maybe it would make it easier if I wasn't, but I like to know what each word means, and so, that probably makes it a little harder for me to understand the offense."

On how he looks back on his time in Cincinnati: "I look back at it as a positive experience, because that's where I got started. That's basically where the foundation started for me in the NFL, and had it not been for Cincinnati, I wouldn't be here. Like I said, I think a lot of teams would have given up on me considering how my career went early on, and they didn't. So you have to look at it as a positive."

On his relationship with Bengals president Mike Brown: "I thought me and Mike were cool, to be honest with you. You know, I don't know what it is now. Mike is really quiet, and from the time I got to Cincinnati, me and Mr. Brown, we always talked. And guys on the team that had been there for years were like, 'Bro, I've never talked to Mike Brown.' But he talked to me, and I actually would go out with his wife to lunch sometimes, so I thought we were real cool, to be honest with you. Yeah."

On the difference between the guys in the Cincinnati and Baltimore locker rooms: "I would say it's somewhat similar. Guys just like to have fun. They're loud. Things are how I like it. It's just fun. Guys have fun, you talk trash about people, you joke with people, but when it's time to get to work, you get to work. I would say it's very similar, because you have guys who are very passionate about the game, but when it's time to work, it's time to work."

On how he feels the Cincinnati crowd will react to him: "Man, I don't know. I don't know, man. [I] expect the worst, hope for the best. I don't know either way if it will bother me. I don't know. I started at the bottom, so maybe they have a little more apathy towards me because I was a guy that started at the bottom. Maybe they can relate towards me because I was always supposed to… Every year I'd read the newspaper – I'm one of the guys that does read the newspaper and the Internet. I was always supposed to get cut every year, so maybe they feel like I was a guy that always had to earn his keep."

On whether there is any part of him that wants to say "I told you so":"I think they did want me back as much as they would like. I just… I think I would say my mind was kind of clouded. You know, it wasn't where it should have been, taking the situation in for what it was. I had fun in Cincinnati, I really did. People talk about the Bengals, but I had fun. I had a lot of fun there. I'm still cool with a lot of the dudes. And the city… I liked the city because of the way the people were. I enjoyed the people in Cincinnati, I really did. I had fun there."

On how he would rate his new receivers group on Monday night: "I think we did well. I thought 'Q' [Anquan Boldin] played really well. It's tough when you're going against a defense like the Jets. They're really good. We got a lot of pass interference calls, but I think a lot of it had to do with it being the first game and Monday night, and you're going against a rookie, who was a first-round pick, you're going against [Antonio] Cromartie, who was in his first game there. It was tough for both sides. I think both side pressed a little bit. When you're going against a defense like that, considering Rex's [Ryan] history here, you knew it would be that type of game."

On how well the Cincinnati corners know him and how he expects that to affect Sunday's game: "I don't know how well they know me. I would like to think I played a role in getting those guys better. If they'll be honest, they'll admit that. It'll be fun. It doesn't matter how well they know me or I know them. They've still got to cover me, and I've still got to beat them, period. If the play is called, I expect to get open, and I'm sure they expect me not to, so it'll be fun. They know the attitude and energy that I'm going to play with, and I know some of their temperaments as well. So, I expect it to be fun."

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