Head Coach John Harbaugh
*Opening statement: *"Thanks for being here. I just want to first say this is the first opportunity that I've had – personally – to comment on the amazing day that we had here on Wednesday. I would say [it was] probably the most special day that I've ever been associated with as a coach. Like all of us, we just felt blessed to have a chance to be a part of that experience. Ray [Lewis] talked to our team – first thing – and talked about what his plans were and talked about a lot more things than that – stuff that we are all going to cherish. Then just to be here and watch the press conference and watch you guys interact with him and interact with the players and make it the kind of moment that it really should be is just hard to explain. It's something that's going to be there forever. I'm just humbled and blessed to be a part of it. Congratulations to Ray, and we are going to do everything we can to be at our very best coming out of that tunnel with him."
**A bunch of the players said that they were surprised when he went up there and announced it. Did you know how he was going to do it? Were you aware what he was going to say? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"I was [aware]. That's something that we had been talking about for many weeks. I think when he had a chance to go home … It's funny how our path is laid out. Our plans are kind of laid in ways that we can't account for. He saw some things during that time after the injury that just spoke to him. When he came back from some of the rehab, we had that conversation. We had talked a lot, pretty regularly, almost every day about when he was going to come back and things like that. We were hoping to bring him back earlier. He was hoping to come back earlier, but it would have been not smart. Ray's an incredible rehab guy, and he probably could have played, but it would have been a big risk. We felt like we could get our positioning in the playoffs, and then bring Ray back when the injury had the best chance to be completely healed, which is 12 weeks after the injury. He's ready to go. He's going to play in this game. He should be full-speed."
Coach, can you speak to the fact that the Colts turned around a two-win [season] to an 11- [win season]. How difficult that is this day and age in the NFL? (Chris Widlic) "Yes, the turnaround … How often does it happen? I can't remember the last time this has happened. I'm sure you guys have maybe looked that up. It's just a tribute to the whole organization. Jim Irsay, obviously, he called us and talked about Chuck Pagano at one point and time. Ryan Grigson is a guy that we know from Philly who just does a tremendous job, always has. For them to hire Chuck Pagano, it was a brilliant hire. It really was; we knew it. We recognized it, but we were hoping they wouldn't and everyone else wouldn't. He's well-deserving of it, and of course, Bruce Arians has done a great job. Every coach there, every player there has just done a phenomenal job – Andrew Luck. But, it's not a one-man team. This team is talented. They play really, really hard. They play with a lot of energy. They are very formidable football team."
**What will it be like for you to see Chuck [Pagano] on the other side now that he's back, and what are you going to say to him? *(Chris Widlic) *"I'm going to tell him I love him and probably will do a little silent prayer for what he's been through and what he's accomplished with the doctors. I don't know. That's kind of a thing that's hard to predict, but it will be very meaningful."
Coach, can you talk about Bernard Pierce and what he's brought to the offense this year as a rookie and what you expect from him this Sunday?* (Al Thompson)* "Bernard Pierce, he's everything we expected him to be. He might have been under some radar being a third-round pick and things like that, but we thought he was a first-round talent as a running back coming out. He's a first-round personality. He's got first-round character. He's everything and more that we expected."
With the crowd and all the emotions going on with Ray [Lewis] and Chuck [Pagano] coming back … Ray coming out of that tunnel, it's going to be really exciting.* (Bill West) "It's going to be something. I thought about bringing my phone down there and doing this with the video. Is that allowed? *(laughing) I don't think that's allowed. Tweet something? I'm pretty sure there will be a few cameras on it. It will be historic. It will be one of those moments, those special occasions, just like Wednesday was a special occasion that we are never going to forget – any of us that love sports. We are never going to forget it."
What's the status of [Vonta] Leach? (Kimberly Jones) "Vonta is going to be listed as questionable. It might be probable though after today's practice. I'll have to let you know. Now that I think about it, he looked pretty good today, so he might be OK."
What do you see from Andrew Luck? The past couple of weeks he has had no picks after having 18 in the first 13 games. What do you see changing about him? (David Calabro) "[It's] really not so much the numbers as the way he has played. I think he's been very steady all the way through the season. He, obviously, has cleaned up the interceptions a little bit. A lot of those ones earlier were just fluking things that happened. He's very smart. When you watch him, this is something even when talking with Jim [Caldwell], he's better than you even think. He's got a better arm than you want to think. He's stronger. He's faster. He's got more rotation on the ball. He's more accurate than you really want to think watching the tape. He's just a really talented guy. Plus, he's a first-class human being. They have their quarterback for a long time to come."
Are you worried at all about emotions maybe being too high? (Keith Mills) "We have talked about that. That's something that we have talked to our team about a lot. It's taking that energy and that emotion and focusing it and focusing it at the task at end and doing our job."
**Besides Chuck [Pagano], you are going to see some familiar faces like Cory Redding, Tom Zbikowski. Just your thoughts on playing against these guys. *(Aaron Wilson) *"We are going to have a lot of familiar faces in here – Cory Redding, Tom Zbikowski, [special teams coordinator] Marwan Maalouf, [safeties coach] Roy Anderson – all guys that were really a big part of what we have done here for the last four or five years. It's going to be very emotional in that sense. There are a lot of lines of emotion that will be intertwined here in this game."
*There are some Indianapolis media here, obviously. We also cover IU [Indiana University] basketball a lot. How often are you able to keep tabs on what Tom [Crean] is doing? *(Dave Furst) *"Quite often. Go Hoosiers – IU all the way. How do they do it, the cheerleaders? *(laughter) They go like that and then like that? I'm all for IU, and Tom Crean is a great coach. He's my brother-in-law. He's a brother. He's a football coach disguised as a basketball coach. Did you see him pick the gum off the floor, the dirty gum that fell on the floor? That's what a football coach does.* (laughing) *He's beautiful. He's a ball coach. They have a great team. I love their team. I had a chance to be with their players last year down in Atlanta for the Kentucky game. [I] talked to the team before the game. You talk about an honor. He has a bunch of men down there. Can't wait to see them play, but we aren't in too big of a hurry to do that, in all honesty. We could wait a few more weeks."
*He really adds to the family dynamic, does he not? *(Dave Furst) *"Yes, he's added to the dynamic. He's pretty dynamic. We have a crazy dynamic in our family and he's right in there with us. He mixes up pretty good in the three-on-three basketball games. He's not afraid to throw a couple of elbows. He's an inside guy. He can't shoot real good." *(laughter)
Who would win, Jim, Tom or you? (Dave Furst) "I would, of course. If you believe that … (laughing) Didn't Joe Flacco say that last year? It's a lot of fun. It's a great deal. They are going to be a great team. They are a great team."
S Ed Reed
On Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and what he has been through:"It's amazing. To see Chuck be on the field, and he's on the other side, it's going to be great. [I have] a lot of ties over there – with Reggie [Wayne] over there, Cory Redding, [Tom] Zbikowski. I know a bunch of guys that are on the team, with [Dwight] Freeney and those guys and Antoine Bethea. So, it's like playing against friends. I know once the ball snaps and the whistle blows, in between those lines is different. There's a lot of love out there between this organization. Even with [offensive coordinator] Jim Caldwell being over here, it's just a lot of emotions in this game."
On how he separates the emotions from the game:"They're already separated. We're Baltimore, and they're the Colts. Like I said, they have the same mentality as us. I know Chuck. He wants to win this game, and I'm sure he's telling that to his team, and I know Reggie – he is the ultimate competitor. It's already separated. We all talk before the game. Me and Reggie will get dinner tomorrow. So, the family part of it is there. We all know this is football, and this is a business. One has to win and one has to lose. Neither one of us want to be on that losing side. But, it's already a win-win for all people, all of us who are playing in this. Because of what Chuck has been through, we know life is much more than what we're doing, but at the same time, it's our job, and we enjoy it."
On emotions being high with LB Ray Lewis' retirement announcement:"Yeah, that, too. It's a lot of emotion going into this game. I've known that was kind of coming. Ray had already told me. It's just special for him, too, just going through this weekend and going forward in life in general."
On what Lewis has meant to this team and the game:"So much. So much. I don't know if the organization and everybody will really realize it until he's gone. His work ethic, to me, really sticks out. I always say he works out so much, but he applies that to his daily living and just the man he is, the father that he is, the brother and the friend. He's the ultimate worker, and he put forth that effort to helping anybody."
On what Lewis plans to do in retirement and what Reed's plans are for next season:"I don't know what Ray is going to do after this. I could see him doing analysis. As far as me, I'm going to go to the next question, because I am not in that mindset."
On what his emotions will be running out of the tunnel on Sunday with Lewis for the last time:"The emotions are going to be flying. They are already going this week. Once I come out of the tunnel, it's a totally different ball game, and [I am] a monster after that. It'll be exciting to see Ray walk out of that tunnel. Hopefully, that's not the last time we see him coming out of the tunnel. It's going to be exciting."
On why the defense is so strong in the red zone:"The fire. That fire is lit when you get in that red zone. Guys tend to concentrate a lot more when you get in the red zone. I don't know what it is. It could be a lot of things. We do a lot of communication down there. We understand situations, and everything happens so quick. We just have to continue that success if the Colts get down there in red zone, and I'm sure they're conscious of it too – everybody is. We are always trying to come out of that situation with just giving up a field goal, hopefully a turnover."
On what Colts QB Andrew Luck has done this season:"He's led the team the way a quarterback is supposed to lead the team. Getting into the playoffs your first year, making every throw and being patient in the pocket – those things right there are essential for a quarterback to be patient in the pocket. And, he understands it. He works it. I know he goes to the Peyton Manning quarterback camp. So, I wouldn't be surprised if they talked a little bit this week. But, just his understanding of the game … You could see that Andrew understands the game. Just from clips, I know he is a smart guy from watching him and having coach [Jim] Harbaugh the year before last year at Stanford with him, I know that helped a lot as a quarterback to quarterback learning the scheme of things."
On the difficulty of playing a rookie quarterback in a playoff game:"Yeah, but it's a team sport. This is the ultimate team sport. We've been in this situation before. It's new to them, but at the same time, we just need to stay focused and execute our plan and understand that they're trying to execute theirs."
On how he hopes his career is remembered:"As a football player. As a football player. He's a football player. A safety at that."
On what he said to Lewis when Lewis told him of his retirement:"I don't know, because it was in the offseason. I probably just told him, 'Here we go. Let's go at it and try to finish it on a great note and get to New Orleans.'"
On if finishing Lewis' career on a great note is at the forefront of his mind:"Yeah, New Orleans is the ultimate goal."
On what it will be like to get that far:"I'll let you know when we get there, because I could lie to you right now. It doesn't matter right now. Right now, we are trying to build to that moment."
On how family affects his decision to continue playing football:"Family is No. 1. Family is No. 1. My son is young, but like I said, I am not thinking about that right now. That's not my question. That question is not for me in my career right now. Maybe later in the offseason, sometime, I'll start thinking about that stuff. I'm not thinking about it right now."
On if he relishes the opportunities to go up against Colts WR Reggie Wayne:"I hate playing him. I think he feels the same way, because we text each other like, 'Here we go again.' It brings you back to those [Miami] Hurricanes days. Reggie is like brother who taught me how to cover. Me and him used to run a lot of one-on-ones. When guys were gone, me and Reggie used to go against each other, sometimes without a ball. Catching the ball also, he was always harping on me like, 'How are you my roommate and can't catch.' It's brother going against brother. It's a great moment."
On if he and Wayne help each other out:"Definitely. We went to school together. We were roommates our whole time there. We helped each other out throughout college tremendously. Without each other, there's no telling what would have happened. We washed our cars on Saturdays together, everything. It was great."
On how special Lewis' retirement is for him:"Like 'Sizzle' [Terrell Suggs] said, 'bittersweet' all at the same time. You want to see the guy play. You want to see him play the thing that he loves because we all love it. But, he put things in perspective. I told him, 'You really put things perspective because all of us have that moment.' All of us are going to have that moment where it's all over. To be part of Ray Lewis' career in my 11 years here with him, it's been amazing. I'm nothing without the D-line and the linebackers. Without Ray, my career probably is not the same."
On if he knew as early as this offseason that Lewis was retiring at the end of the year:"Yeah, we've been talking about it. We've been talking about it."