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Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 23

On if it is a little different playing a division game this week:"A division game is just critical. It counts for a game-plus, because that gives you a tiebreaker advantage in your division, puts a loss on a divisional opponent, and the first thing you play for is the divisional championship. And, [with] Cleveland we know what kind of talent they have, what kind of team they are, and we know what's at stake for them. They're going to be coming in here and doing everything possible to win this game."

On if he feels the Ravens need to prepare for Cleveland to come in throwing caution to the wind to try to get a win:"You do that every week. Most teams in this league are very aggressive, especially against us. And they're going to be really aggressive in the way they play."

On the trade of LB Prescott Burgess and the signing of TE Tony Curtis to the roster:"Tony will fit into the tight end mix. He'll compete for reps with L. J. [Smith] and Todd [Heap] and Edgar [Jones]. Tony has played special teams pretty well over the years, especially as a blocker but also in coverage. I have nothing but great things to say about Prescott. He'd really made himself into a player. It's tough when you develop a guy for two years and you have to let him go after two games. But, it's just the way the roster and the depth right now shakes out, and we felt it made our team stronger. Other guys are going to have to pick up the slack in special teams, for sure."

On whether adding Curtis gives any indication on the health and status of Smith:"It's not a conspiracy. We want L. J., we want them all, healthy. We'll probably have three tight ends up most of the time. But, you never know. We could go for four now. We've been with two the last couple of weeks, so we don't like that. We want to make sure we've got enough personnel in certain positions to make sure that we can get through the long haul and try to create a little competition between the two. Plus, Tony's a good player, and a good player makes us better."

On if he feels confident that Smith will play this week:"I don't know. I don't have any feeling about it. We'll see how it goes and if he's ready to go."

On the status of LB/DE Paul Kruger and when he will become active:"That would be a strategic decision, so I wouldn't probably comment on that."

On how cautious the team is with players who sustain concussions:"We aren't really cautious with it or not, as a coach. That's just up to the doctors. They do the tests and all that stuff – no matter what the injury is – but especially with the head because that's black and white with the test, and they just tell us if he can play or not. They said [Fabian Washington] couldn't, so he couldn't go."

On facing another great return man in Cleveland's Josh Cribbs this week:"Cribbs has been a bad site for the Ravens for more than just a few years. He's probably the best return guy in the league in a lot of ways. They probably have the four best specialists in the league. When you put the snapper, the kicker, the punter and the return guy together as a group of specialists, most people would say that they're the best combination in the league. He's a beast. He's really hard to tackle. We've got a lot of respect for him, and we've just got to tackle him. Bottom line."

On if he sees Cribbs as a threat at wide receiver as well:"Sure, that's why he's starting now. He's really worked his way up. He's a guy that after the first mini-camp, way back when, they wanted to get rid of him. They brought him in from Kent State and they didn't think he could play receiver, [but] Jerry Rosburg and Marwan Maalouf were there in Cleveland at the time and fought to keep him. And they decided to keep him, and the rest is history. Now he's starting at wide receiver. Good young players tend to show up on special teams early in their career. That's been a rule of thumb in this league for a long time."

On RB Willis McGahee's comment earlier in the week that he came into training camp with his head on straight and if he noticed a change in attitude this year when he arrived and if he thinks that has contributed to his improved play this season:"Willis had a great attitude coming in. He's worked hard. I told him this: I wanted him here for every offseason workout day. So, I was disappointed he wasn't here for every day in the offseason – though, he was here for most of them. And he obviously worked really hard to get himself in great shape, and he made really every practice in training camp, and it's showing up in how he's playing. But, we've got a long way to go, and he's got a lot of work to do. But he played really well against the Chargers. He played well against the Chiefs. He's had a really good camp. He's the guy that said that [he came in with a change in attitude], and I think it's made a difference in his play."

On O.J. Brigance's relationship with the team now and the inspiration the players draw from him:"It's O.J.'s birthday on Sunday, and I know there's a big event that's going to be at the stadium next Tuesday. And we'll be a part of that as well. O. J. continues [to inspire us]. He's in every meeting, as you guys know. We talk about the spirit of our football team, and O. J. is the core of that spirit right now. It's spiritual. And he's not afraid to enunciate that and talk about that. He's about relationships, even with the rookies who hadn't seen him at 245 pounds of twisted blue steel. But his spirit is 2,000 pounds of twisted blue steel, and our team sees that every single day and that's what makes us strong."

On his feelings about WR Kelley Washington:"He's exciting and he has a lot of fun out there. So, we love having him around, and he's definitely been a great receiver for us throughout the preseason and in the first two games."

On what he believes makes Washington so effective:"I think he's just a big, physical guy who goes up and catches the ball. He's got great hands, and anytime you've got a receiver that can catch the ball, you know you can put it anywhere for him. It makes it a lot easier on me."

On the respect the Ravens are getting nationally being ranked this week at No. 1 in the SI and polls:"It doesn't really mean anything. I couldn't believe it. Normally, they don't do those kinds of things to us, and I think we were pretty far behind before this week. But it doesn't mean anything unless you're there at the end of the season, and that's what we're shooting for. We don't really pay attention to that. Everybody sees it, but it's up to us to go out there and make sure that come playoff time we're there and we're there throughout the playoffs and we win the Super Bowl."

On if he expects the Browns will be dangerous coming in with a 0-2 record:"It is a division game. Any time you play a division opponent it's going to be a tough game, and they're going to come in here ready to play. We are going to have to make sure that we come out ready early on in the game and really give them our game. We're going to come out ready to play and we're going to give them all we've got, and it's going to take all we've got. So, we're ready for that."

On how much he feels he has elevated his own game this year:"I don't know. We're doing things a little bit differently, but the bottom line is we're still going out there and winning, and we won last year. We've got to keep this up. I think I feel more confident and more comfortable. That just comes with the natural evolution of becoming a second-year quarterback and becoming more comfortable within the offense and everything like that."

On the strong stats of the offense not being a surprise because it is building on what the Ravens did last year:"We're not surprised. We've been working hard all offseason and up to this point so that we can have the offense that we've had the first two games. It doesn't mean anything if we don't keep it up over the next 14 [games] and into the playoffs. We're going to do our best to make sure that we come out there ready to play each week, and it starts today working toward the Cleveland Browns."

On the Ravens' success in the red zone:"I think it credits our receivers, it credits our offensive line, it credits our running backs. We have a couple of ways that we can beat you. Our offensive line is doing a great job right now pass-protecting and run-blocking for the backs. Anytime your offensive line is playing the way they are, it allows you to free up some time back there for me to find receivers, and it allows the backs to run through some open holes and maybe bust a couple for touchdowns rather than a couple of yards."

On if he sees any similarities in the Cleveland defense to the Ravens' defense last year under Rex Ryan now that his brother Rob is coaching there:"I think so. I think they're trying to get a little bit of that into their defense. We'll definitely make sure we're ready for it. We know they're going to try to mix things up on third down a little bit and see if you can recognize things and adapt to it. So, we'll definitely be ready."

On if there is a different feel to playing a divisional game:"I think it definitely stands out to us and people around here. We know what it means and the history we have, especially between the Ravens and this team coming in this week. Obviously, there's not a lot of people in Cleveland that like us, and I think it's vice versa. Over the years it's been a rivalry. As of late, Cleveland hasn't always been the playoff team, but they always play us tough. So, we have to expect that every week. We have to expect that every time we play them, that they're coming in here. They know us just as well as we know them. We know what type of game it's going to be."

On what it says about the Ravens that they are on the top of the power rankings:"Not much, especially at this point in the season. I think we put up a stat this morning, something like we were ranked 20th last year at this time. I don't think it proves a whole lot at this point in the season. You still have to go out and play games, win games. If we can say that later on in the season, maybe the 12th or 13th game, that means we're in the playoffs. Then it will mean something. Right now, it doesn't mean a whole lot."

On if the high ranking is something the team has talked about:"Well yeah, we notice it because [coaches] say this is what Cleveland's ranked. We weren't looking at us. We were looking at what they say they're ranked. We don't believe they're that type of team. We believe they're better than that, and we know that we have to prepare for them. That's where we got that from. We weren't worried about ourselves. We were worried about the team we're playing and what we have in front of us."

On his thoughts on the Ravens' red-zone success:"It's been improved. I think we can even get better. There are a lot of plays out there to be made. Once we've gotten down into the red zone, we put an emphasis on getting into the end zone. I think that's the biggest thing. We're not satisfied with three points, we never have been. But, I think the attitude we took coming into training camp this year, coming into the preseason and into the season, a lot of guys, the way we practice, you can tell it's showing up on game day."

On what stands out to him about the Browns' defense:"They've got a little bit of everything. They've got some big players up front. Look at [Shaun] Rogers in the middle. He's as athletic as any big guy there is in the middle. Then, they've got some strong linebackers. They're just talented all around. They've got some guys that can cover on the outside, some really good safeties, really good linebackers, a couple of guys that can rush really well. I think they're pretty solid all the way around."

On any areas where he's seen significant improvement from QB Joe Flacco:"Joe's getting more opportunities to throw the ball down the field, and we're getting a chance to see what he's capable of. I don't think we've seen it all yet, but you can see his confidence out there. We feel it in the huddle as well. We know if there's a chance the ball's coming to you, it's going to be put where it needs to be put. Joe in the huddle, his persona, he has that confidence about him that he knows he's going to get the job done. It's not a one-play thing. It's an every-play thing. I don't think he gets fazed by all the little things that happen. If we do have a bad play, those things wash right off his back."

On whether it's too late now to talk about what everyone is calling the greatest play of his career:"Oh, I don't know. You know it's over, that emotion, of course. You know we have the Cleveland Browns now, anytime you get to Wednesday. I don't watch so much film on Cleveland now; I kind of put it on the back burner. But, I just think it was a big play for our team, and I think it really just woke our team up to realize that you can win or lose on any given play."

On how much is left in Cleveland RB Jamal Lewis' tank:"I don't know. I do know that he is going to come here and run hard this week. I know Cleveland is going to be definitely a desperate team. You know, going down 0-3 in our division is not a good thing. That's why I know they're going to come out and give us their best game. I know he's going to be fired up to come in and try to get 100 yards and all that good stuff. So, the bottom line is for us to just come in and play our type of defense, play our type of football and hopefully get another win and go to 3-0."

On whether he is amazed at the number of people who have come through the Ravens organization and have gone on to become head coaches and front office people elsewhere: "If you go back over the years, it's been a lot. It has been an awful lot. I sit back and watch TV an awful lot and there is always some coach saying, 'Oh, I coached for him, or whatever.' So, I just think it's a lot of great, great people who have come through this organization and now are head coaches or defensive coordinators somewhere in this league."

On the state of the defense and what they have to do better in pass coverage after San Diego: "Nothing, outside of make the plays. That's it. Some things you can sit there and say, 'We need to fix this, we need to fix that.' And a lot of those simple passes are just knocking the ball down or letting the ball be caught, bottom line. But that's our job as a front seven, to make sure the ball isn't just able to get through back there like that. And the bottom line, like we always do, you take three or four of those big plays out, then it becomes our type of game. We got in the red zone and shut those guys down four or five times, and that's what the game ultimately comes down to. You know, all the passing yards are cute, but if you don't win it at the end of the game, that's basically what it boils down to."

On getting a lot of national media attention and moving up to No. 1 in some power rankings: "That's totally on the outside, totally. We understand the only thing that's been the best is we're getting ready to deal with Cleveland this week. That's the only best we can be. Whatever the power rankings are, let them be whatever they're going to be. We sat there and watched the same power rankings last year when they had us way down at 20. So, it doesn't matter where you are. Bottom line, just come out and play hard-nosed football and just try to keep getting W's."

On what they're going to be able to do to Cleveland QB Brady Quinn, who is young and sort of struggling: "Well, we're not going to make it comfortable for him, hopefully. (laughing) But I think, still when you look at Cleveland's team, they have a lot of capable players – Braylon Edwards definitely on the outside, and like I said, I spoke about Jamal [Lewis] earlier, [who is] really still trying to get the ball rolling and things like that. The bottom line, I just think we need to come out and play our type of football game and not let this young quarterback sit back there and be able to pick and choose – which is always going to be hard in our stadium, because our stadium is just hard to play in, period. I just think we really need to make him very, very uncomfortable sitting back there."

On whether guys on the Ravens' defense are going to run into each other sometimes with "friendly fire" just because of the way they play so aggressively: "You can't do it any differently. It's what we all preach when we're in the meetings. Take your shot. First guy, second guy, take your shot and whatever comes after that, comes after that. You watched 'Sizzle' [Terrell Suggs] and Ed [Reed] collide the first week, and now Ed and Dawan [Landry], so it's just crazy. But when you go in there, you laugh about it. You hope nobody is hurt seriously, but you really pat each other on the back because you see how many people are flying to the ball."

On how much of his game-ending tackle on RB Darren Sproles goes back to film study: "I think it's all film study – it was all film study. You can take those gambles a lot of times and it can just be instinct, but when you see something, go. And you know, me just being in this league for so long and understanding what was on the line at the time, why not? Why not if I know that play was going to come again and I saw the formation, saw everything line up perfectly? So why not take that play? I tell my youngsters all the time: 'Don't ever play this game scared. Play this game reckless and full speed, and whatever comes out of it, comes out of it.'"

On whether film study goes hand-in-hand with being in the best shape of his career:"I just give that credit first definitely to God, that I'm totally healthy. But outside of that, it's just everything. It's just everything I'm doing. Eating right, it's just everything. I've taken everything to a whole other level, and you kind of appreciate it. You go in and out, you fluctuate with this or that, but bottom line is when you can find yourself kind of how I feel right now – definitely even playing and the structure of the team – it's a good vibe going on that our team has right now. So, for me being the leader, I've got to be the one to set the example in a lot of different ways."

On who would win the in the boxing match that WR Chad Johnson challenged LB Shawne Merriman to: "Chad Johnson? Challenged who? (laughter) It's like a Rottweiler fighting a Poodle, right? I don't even know. Come on, man. Just stick with what you do. Stick with what you do. Catch footballs and let Shawne keep rushing the passer. You don't want to get into that ring. That boxing ring is a whole other animal. I've done that training myself, and that's a whole other animal. That's why I respect people like Floyd Mayweather and people like that, who really get after it. So whatever they do, they do."

On Herschel Walker going to fight in the MMA: "What do you mean? That [Mixed] Martial Arts stuff? Oh, that's when you get hit for real. Oh no. No, tell Herschel to let it go."

On if it is amusing to him that everyone is jumping all over the Ravens' bandwagon: "That's the NFL. One week you're winning and everyone loves you. The next week you're losing and everyone hates you. One week Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to ever live. Now they're questioning whether he can lead the Patriots to victory. Peoples' opinion changes like the wind. So, you can't take any stake in it. What you have to do as a player is just keep on playing, regardless of if they have you ranked high or low. You just have to go out there and play football."

On if he thinks success in the red zone matters the most: "That and third down. We realize and understand as a team that in order for us to score points and get into the red zone, we've got to convert on third downs. Once we're in the red zone, we've got to make the most of our opportunities. In the last two games, we've done a good job, not a great job, because there are still some opportunities we had in the first game that we didn't capitalize on and some opportunities we could have had in the last game that we didn't capitalize on. Right now we're doing a good job. As a team and as an offense, we know we can get better once we get inside that scoring area."

On if the success early on this year has carried over from the success late last year: "I think it has. Then again, it's Cam [Cameron] feeling more comfortable with us as a unit, and Joe [Flacco] feeling more comfortable with the weapons he has out there. He's not just going to look at one guy. He knows that he has two, three or four guys he could potentially hit that could make a play. Once you have a bunch of guys out there making plays for you, the red zone gets a little bit easier, because now Cam can call a bunch of plays for a bunch of guys and not just for one specific person."

On if he thinks it took some time for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and the offense to get used to each other: "It's typical of an offense, especially when you have a new coordinator. The whole terminology and everything is new. Then add in there – you have a rookie quarterback. It takes time for things to start to gel. We did fairly well the first half [of the 2008 season], but I thought we started to come on the second half. Now, we're just taking from what we did the last half of the season, OTA's [Organized Team Activities] and two-a-days – making this thing go as an offense now. Hopefully it will continue to go. Our main thing is we haven't had any turnovers in the red zone, or we haven't had any pre-snap penalties that push us out of the scoring zone. If we continue to do that, we'll be fine."

On if it is hard to keep focused when you are expected to win by such a large margin: "No, because you realize… If you look at Cleveland, they're a very, very good team – very talented team on defense. Their offense is very good as well, but they're a very talented team on defense. For some strange reason, the last couple of games, they've let things get out of hand late in the game. But that defense is playing tremendous right now. We don't take them lightly. They're a team in our division. I guarantee you they're getting up for us because this is a divisional game, which means it means more than just one game. We're not going to take Cleveland lightly, just like we don't take any other team lightly. It just so happens they're the next team on our schedule and the next team we've got to prepare for. We'll hopefully go out there and do what we need to do."

On his thoughts about WR Kelley Washington's dance: "No, I like it though. I liked especially when he turned around and told everybody to wait, so we didn't have any penalties. That was very nice of him – very smart of him. It's Kelley man. He's out there – he's enjoying football and he's having fun. He's found himself a niche on this team where he can go out there, not only on special teams, but he's coming out there and being a big contributor for us on offense, [especially] when he comes out there on third down and he's making those huge catches for us."

On if he has seen some of Rex Ryan's defense in Rob Ryan's defense at Cleveland: "They're playing in an NFL defense. Basically, that's it. We, as an offense, try to prepare for everything. We've been fortunate enough to have Rex as a coach and saw a lot of the things he did. His brother – he brings some other things to the table that Rex probably didn't bring. We go at it as if it's just another NFL defense. We try to find places where we can find some mismatches here and there but, like I said, that defense is very talented. They are very talented. Whatever they give us or whatever opportunity we have to make a play, we have to make it because those guys are not giving up many."

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