**RAVENS FRIDAY quotes: WEEK 1 VS. CINCINNATI
Former Ravens President David Modell
Statement on the passing of his father, Art Modell:
"Hi, everybody. Hopefully everyone is doing well today. Thanks for taking time. John [Modell] and I, on behalf of our family, wanted to be sure to thank this incredible community for the outrageous and wonderful and warm response and tribute to the passing of my father. It is extremely warm for us, and we appreciate that in a time of need. We would be remiss if we did not thank the Baltimore Ravens for everything that they are doing to support us in this moment. We had a moment with my father at the hospital with four players, the head coach [and] the owner, that I think easily rivaled my father receiving the Super Bowl trophy in 2000. It was the most – one of the most – special moments of my life that I will never forget. It is no surprise this organization is in a position to succeed, because it is filled, filled with wonderful, warm and kind people, and we are very, very grateful for that. In addition, we know that 'Poppy' had this incredible love affair with Baltimore, and that Baltimore had this incredible love affair with my father. So, we felt it would be a tragedy if we didn't give the community a chance to express themselves directly to him. So, we just want to underscore our invitation, and the Ravens' invitation, to a memorial service at M&T Bank Stadium, Saturday, tomorrow, from 11 [a.m.] to 1 [p.m.]. We will be there and it will be down on the field on the 50-yard line, appropriately. We will be very proud to be with 'Poppy' there, and we look forward to welcoming as many Ravens fans, and 'Poppy' fans, and Art Modell fans there for as long as it takes. I think that some of his friends, former players will be with us as well. I know Jonathan Ogden is intending to be there. So, we look forward to welcoming Poppy's Baltimore community tomorrow. So, thank you guys for your time. Any questions? A couple of questions if you have them?
"Guys, thank you very much. God bless you all. Art Modell was a wonderful guy and, incidentally, he loved all you guys, too. The repartee, the fun that he had with you, his feelings towards you, were genuine. There was no put-up job. He really loved you guys. So, thank you for your caring for him in the way that you have as well. See you guys. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you."
Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
What have you seen from K Justin Tucker in practice, and do you think things have slowed down a little for him? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I honestly don't think that it's slowed down. I think he's probably working on the same things that he [was] working on before, because the real games are real, and he knows that he still has to improve as we go on through the season. He does not have experience in a regular season NFL game. He knows that, we know that, and it's going to have a different texture to it, and he's excited about playing. He's had a really good week of practice. Nothing has really changed in his performance; he's kicking well, and we're anxious and excited to watch him play on Monday Night Football."
Have you pumped up some music for Tucker to convince him how loud M&T Bank Stadium is? (Bill West)"Well, the good news is, this is a home game, so it's not going to be quite as loud. I think our fans are savvy enough to know that's not the time to raise the roof. If it were an away game, we would have cranked up the music a lot louder than we would have this normal [home] week."
John Harbaugh was talking about Deonte Thompson and Bobby Rainey and how their ability on special teams is going to determine whether they're active or not. Have you seen them make improvements in that area? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Yeah, sure. Bobby and Deonte and Christian [Thompson] – and I could rattle off all the young players that we have on our roster – throughout the course of training camp and preseason, we tried to give as many opportunities as we possibly could for them to not only show what they could do, but also improve and learn. And those are guys that we think we've learned a lot about them and they've learned a lot about what their jobs are here. And then this week of practice is the same way; we're going to have competitive practices, and we give them chances to do that in practice also."
You guys brought in some veterans with the thought to boosting special teams from last year. How good do you feel overall about your coverage units and what are you really going to be looking for to see if you've made that improvement, starting Monday night? (Luke Jones)"Right, as you've been aware, we kicked off during the preseason games from a five-yard depth with our kicker, with the expressed purpose of exposing our coverage to returns. We want to see how we're doing, and we think we've got a lot more repetitions, a lot more opportunities, to do that this year than we did a year ago. We just let it rip last year and kicked way too many touchbacks for our kickoff coverage to really improve and grow. And so, I think we've made some progress in that regard, and I certainly am encouraged by the guys that we have out there. Guys that I'm sure you're referring to as Corey Graham and Sean Considine, the veterans that joined us. And we have other younger players that are now a year older and a year wiser and a year better, and we look for great things from our coverage teams."
Does that mean you have confidence that Justin Tucker can just boot it when he's coming from the normal kickoff spot? (Garrett Downing)"He's certainly going to try. That is the way we kick off; we try to kick it as far as we can, and we'll give him that opportunity. You may have seen in the St. Louis game, I believe he did it twice if I'm not mistaken, and one they brought out [of the end zone] and the other one was [kicked] out of the end zone. So, we're not going to kick from five yards deep in the regular season." (laughter)
Do you anticipate WR/RS Jacoby Jones being the punt returner, or are you going to put CB/RS Lardarius Webb back there at all? (Bo Smolka)"We have both of those guys ready. Just like it's been in the preseason, they both got reps, and we anticipate that Jacoby is going to be out there, and when we need 'Webby' … It just depends on how the flow of the game is going. We have a lot of confidence in both guys."
Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron
You said before that you feel like this is the best group of offensive leaders that you've had since you've been here. Now that you've had more time to work with them, how do you feel that is showing itself, and why do you feel that way? (Garrett Downing)"The guys are a year older. Matt Birk, his leadership speaks for itself. All of our young guys, Ray Rice, he just continues to get better as a leader. Joe [Flacco] has, I think, always in his own way been a very, very good leader. Now, he is developing into a great leader, which is normal. You look at Michael Oher, now Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, Anquan [Boldin]. Torrey Smith, in his second year, is a great leader. So, it's just, I think, a natural growth that you would see, that you're looking for. Collectively, it's a group that I think enjoys playing with each other. Guys are maturing."
What are your expectations with the offense, especially with Joe Flacco going into Year Five now? (Pete Gilbert)"I don't know that we would share all those, but I think we definitely want to get off to a fast start. That's one of the expectations, not only in the season, but you want to get off to a fast start in the game. But, I think in the back of everybody's mind, we want to be a great team that can finish. Those are the two expectations, and there are a lot of things in between that – I understand that. The statistics show that if you start fast, you win a lot more than you lose. But if you don't, then obviously you better be able to do what? You better be able to finish; finish games, finish drives, finish in the red zone. You're going to hear us talking about that. You've heard it throughout the last few years, but I think this year, those two things stand out in my mind. We have expectations for each guy. When it's all said and done, when this season [is over], however it plays out from start to finish, we want to be the best offense we could have possibly been, because we have control over that. You really can't control other people's expectations, but we have high expectations. We want to be a great offense. We want to be as good of an offense as we can be."
Cam, we've talked about it so much in the preseason – the no-huddle offense. You guys have run it in past years, but we saw it far more often in the preseason. For you, is there a little extra added excitement for this first game seeing how that comes to fruition? (Luke Jones)"It's going to be an exciting game, period, whether we were no-huddling or not. There will be times that, obviously, we're going to huddle. I think everybody knows that – it's nothing new. But, yeah, I am excited. I am excited for everything we're doing. I am excited for what our coaching staff is getting done. I think the expectation-thing keeps coming up. Obviously, we thrive on that, but from my perspective too, you think about the team and the group of guys we have and the coaching staff that I've got with me in this whole process. To me, that's the thing that allows us to work towards expectations, but also implement this no-huddle the way we want to run it. Then, we'll just see. I don't think how we run it this first game is going to make or break us. It's the first of at least 16 [games], and I think we want to play this game as well as we can, and we want to be better and get better and better and better, and then see where it takes us."
You just talked about the coaching staff, and quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell has come in to help out. How has that focused Joe Flacco on doing different things and helping you out? (Bill West)"I think just collectively, first of all, the one thing that I think Jim has just done a marvelous job of is just blending in with [WRs coach] Jim Hostler, [RBs coach] Wilbert Montgomery, [TEs coach] Wade Harman and [offensive line coach] Andy Moeller, and just connecting with every guy on the staff, because we've got a great staff. I think that's been the key. At the same time, now in that quarterbacks room, it's just his experience, the knowledge that he brings to the position. He was a defensive player in college, coached on defense, and he really brings a defensive perspective to the offensive side of the ball – which that was one of the first things he had said in the quarterbacks meetings, which I really appreciated. He has some keen insight into defenses, and obviously has been around. I think if you check the track record of every guy on offense, every guy, no matter where they have been, teams have won, won championships and played at a high level. So, we have a great group, and I really like the way our players are responding to our staff as well. We've got a special group. When I say special group, it's coaches and players."
Cam, against the Bengals last year, Ray Rice had three runs of over 50 yards. What worked on those plays? Is there something in common? (Bo Smolka)"I'd like to say it was a great scheme, it was a great game plan. [But] It really was discipline. If you go back and look at those plays, it was discipline on Ray's part of running his track and his course, reading his key and then every guy getting their guy blocked. Every now and then, you'll see that [former Detroit Lions RB] Barry Sanders-type run, or even Ray has those where he is making two or three people miss. By design, you are not having a back make two or three people miss. If you look, we have people covered up, we got a hat on a hat, we've got him to the point of attack where he could be aggressive, [and] then he did the rest once he broke free. So, it was a collective effort, and that's what the running game is. You've got to get your guy blocked. When we do that, we are going to run the ball pretty well."
The Bengals have added some new faces in their secondary. What is your impression of their defensive backfield? (Ed Lee)"They added [Terence] Newman, and they've had a couple of different combinations they've used in the preseason. So, really we're going to have to see what combination shows up out there, not only in base, but then in sub, because they have done two or three different things. They are no different than any other defense. They want to get better. They've got a little more experience there, but at the same time, they've gotten, I think, more physical in the secondary. I think something that we were just talking earlier about to [Comcast SportsNet's] Brent [Harris]. He used the word 'solid' defense. This is a talented defense that, I think, has an outstanding scheme. I think they are well-coached. I think they are a typical defense in this division. It's a good, talented defense."
You guys showed some good things in the preseason, especially that third game. Is there any kind of carryover from the preseason, or do you almost start fresh again when you get into game-preparation mode? (Garrett Downing)"It's a little of both, because a lot of the preseason is about evaluating players. You are trying to get to a 53 [-man roster] from 90. So, you are really running some things to get people evaluated more than scheme the defense. Actually, we try to make it as hard as we can on our players in the preseason, so you can really find out what the guy is. If you protect a guy, say in pass protection, if you are always chipping the defensive end, you never find out if your guy can block one-on-one. If you're always working double teams in the running game, you never find out if a guy can block one-on-one. If you are always running stack routes or crossing routes, you never really can find out if a guy can line up and win one-on-ones. So, our preseason is really about seeing if guys can win one-on-one matchups. If you can win one-on-one matchups, then you can really do whatever you want with your schemes. So, it's that No. 1. No. 2, stay healthy. No. 3, then there is a little bit of blend with the scheme, because obviously you want your quarterback familiar with the things you feel like you're going to do. It's kind of a roundabout answer, but a truthful one because that's really what we're trying to get done. Now, it's strictly attacking the team you're playing."
Cam, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta weren't on the injury report yesterday. How are they progressing as far as just getting acclimated after a lengthy time on the sidelines? (Luke Jones)"Both guys, and it's a tribute to both of them, even though at times they miss practice, they are not missing meetings. They are not missing any walk-throughs, they are not missing any rehab or strength and conditioning. It's almost, from my view, like they weren't gone. I think Joe has developed such a great rapport with those two. Not only are they together on the field, they are together and around each other all the time off the field. So, I am thrilled to have them back. I think they'll pick up right where they left off. No concerns at all about either one of those two guys."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Dean, how huge of a position is Paul Kruger in this year? How critical of a position for the defense? (Ryan Mink) "He is very critical; he's a starting outside 'backer. He's really 1 of 11. His position is no more critical than anybody else's or any less critical than anybody else's. I wouldn't put too much stock in the actual position; it's just the fact that he's a starting 11 that makes it critical."
*But, do you feel like you're kind of looking for him, with 'Sizzle' [Terrell Suggs] being out, that Kruger will have to kind of be relied on? (Ryan Mink) *"I think you take that so far out of context. It has nothing to do with 'Sizzle.' It has to do with playing outside linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. You guys keep comparing. You can never compare two people. It has nothing to do with another guy. There is no comparison. I never compare them. It's playing outside linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, period. Whether it's the Sam, the Rush, the Mike, the Will … When Ray [Lewis] was out, it has nothing to do with a guy having to take another guy's position. It has to do with that guy playing his position. I don't want to come across stirred up about it, because I'm not. When you compare players, you take everything so far out of context. It's not about that. It's about how he fits in the defense. How does he do his part? He's one-eleventh of this defense, and so is 'Sizzle' when he's in there. He's one-eleventh. Whether you game-plan certain ways or whatever, that's what they are. They all have one-eleventh stock in this defense."
Dean, you are going to have things, of course, that you are going to say, 'This is what our Baltimore Ravens defense is going to be.' But when you line up against Cincinnati, are there things that you look at for them and say, 'We need to take that away for us to be able to succeed?' Is something specific about Cincinnati? (Pete Gilbert) "Absolutely. There is every week, to answer that question. That is a very good question. That is true of every team. You have to look at the things that they do well, the people that do them well, and take those guys away. Now, what that may be might be all the way to the offensive line, to a wide receiver, to a running back, to a quarterback; it could be a lot of different things. Sometimes it is based on an offensive lineman. When we played Cincinnati, when Bobbie Williams was there, there was a certain way we played Bobbie Williams because he is an offensive lineman that we had a lot of respect for. Same thing if you have a wide receiver; we didn't do a lot of that stuff in preseason for reasons, but there are certain receivers that you say, 'Hey, I have to take this guy out of the game at least in certain situations.' Same way with a quarterback. Same way with a running back. I'm not going to tell you what they are for Cincinnati, but that's true for every week, for every team you play. You have to stop what they do best and make them beat you with something else."
Dean, what are you impressions of Cincinnati's running game? (Garrett Downing) "Excellent. It's always been good. I look back at last year and I think they had a 100-yard rusher on us in both games, and then in one game it was a little more than 100. *(laughing) *They have a good running game. They've always … Paul Alexander, the offensive line coach, has been there forever, even though they changed coordinators a year ago. The offensive line thing has really kind of always stayed the same. A lot of their schemes stay the same. They are very sound in what they do. I know they have a couple of different moving parts in there a little bit, [but] so do we. But, they aren't going to change drastically from what they've been, and they've always been a good running team."
Are there new wrinkles or something that we're going to see Monday night that we've never seen on the defense? (Bill West) "What time's the game? Seven o'clock? You can tell me after the game if you saw any new wrinkles."
The Bengals kept seven receivers, which is fairly unusual. What have you seen on film from that group overall?* (Bo Smolka)* "Well, 18 [A.J. Green] is special. Green is a special guy. He is an elite pass-receiver in this league. The thing about it is, 16 [Andrew Hawkins] – I'm more with numbers than I am with names – 16's a quick little guy on the slot that makes a lot of plays. [Jermaine] Gresham, the tight end, has really had a good preseason, had a great year last year. 85 [Armon Binns], the new guy over there at the 'X' is … They have a very talented group. A lot of times teams will keep a lot of receivers, because a lot of those guys might be special teams players, too. We haven't necessarily seen them in preseason come out with a lot of different wide receiver groups, like four-wides or five-wides. Not saying that they couldn't do it … The other part will be, even though they kept them, you have to see how many are up on game day. They might have kept seven, and only have four active. So, you kind of have to wait and see who is active on game day."
Dean, because of the presence of WR A.J. Green, as you mentioned, is there risk that some defenses might sort of focus too much attention on A.J. and forget about some of the other guys you mentioned like WR Brandon Tate and those guys? (Ed Lee) "Well, I don't think … Yeah, I forget Tate. I was with him in New England. I know that guy can run. Yeah, there's always that chance that a team could do that. I hope that's certainly not our case. What I said was that there [are] certain situations that you find yourself in, and I think that's when you have to decide, 'OK. When am I going to take someone away, and how can I hold up on the other guys? Is it going to be sound?' Sometimes that's hard, based on the formation that they might give you. If you spend all the time doubling 18, 84's [Jermaine Gresham] pretty good at tight end, too. You just have to take … You have to keep it moving, I think. You have to make it so Cincinnati doesn't know when you're doing it, when he's not."
A.J. only had two catches in the one game against the Ravens last year. How do you go about duplicating those numbers again on Monday night? (Ed Lee) "Well, I hope we're playing with tight coverage. I think it's, again, I don't know if that will be a duplication. The key thing is that we don't give him any big ones."