*FRIDAY PODIUM TRANSCRIPT: Week 14 at STEELERS
Head Coach John Harbaugh & TE Benjamin Watson
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Congratulations to Ben Watson – just an incredible representative for the Ravens and for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Nobody could represent us that we could be more proud of. He just says it all. Ben is right – it's not just one guy, it's a whole team full of people. So many times in our league, the headlines are the not so positive things, and that's a reflection of life. It's the world we live in; maybe it's always been that way. But, positive things are going on in the world and in football and with these guys in these locker rooms. That's something to be very proud of. I know it affects a lot of people every single day in this community and elsewhere. Ben Watson is just an amazing representative. How eloquent is he? He's just so well-spoken; he has such an amazing message. They're such an amazing family, and it has just been a real privilege to know the Watsons since they've been here in Baltimore. He's going to be playing for quite a while, I'm sure, but when his playing career is all over – this guy is going to have quite an impact with whatever he decides to do. If he runs for office, I'll be voting for him. I'll be on the campaign trail, I promise you, because he can make a difference in the world. We're really proud of Ben Watson."
A couple weeks back, you talked about getting the pass rushers more involved. We've seen that from OLB Tim Williams and OLB Tyus Bowser a little bit. Say OLB Za'Darius Smith doesn't play. How have they come along for you to have confidence in a big spot on Sunday? (Jeff Zrebiec)"We have confidence in all those guys – every one of those guys. We have five really good outside linebackers. I think they're all top-level guys. It's a deep position for us. Whoever is out there, we expect them to play at a really high level – and they're going to have to. Holding the edge on this run game and getting to Ben [Roethlisberger] is going to be really important. Those guys drop, too; they're not one-dimensional on our defense. Whoever is out there is just going to do a job of playing our defense really well, play hard, get to the football, tackle well, and that's what we expect from all those guys. We expect them to play really well – whoever plays."
**WR Jeremy Maclin came back to practice today. Does that give you confidence that he'll be available, or do you prefer not to say? *(Jamison Hensley) *"I prefer not to say. But, in Jeremy's case, I'm not worried about it. We give guys rest all the time this time of year. I know a lot gets made out of it. You know if guys are injured. If guys are getting rest, they're getting rest. It's pretty normal this time of year."
It's no secret that this Pittsburgh front can come at you from a lot of different ways. Do you feel good about the progression your offensive line has made over the course of the season? (Luke Jones)"I do. It's good that we've had some continuity with guys out there – that has been important. We have good players – good, young players. [Offensive line coach] Joe 'D' [D'Alessandris] has done a good job with those guys. Those guys are smart – they really are. When you have smart offensive linemen, they understand why you do techniques the way you do it, and they work at it and they get better. The cohesion has come together. This is going to be a big test. This is a really good defensive line, and obviously, one of the best defenses in football. '91' [Stephon Tuitt] and '97' [Cameron Heyward] are as good as they get. We're looking forward to the challenge."
*From Pittsburgh's pass rush standpoint, I think they're second in the league in sacks, and it seems like it's from a bunch of different guys. Are the Steelers the kind of team that is tough to prepare for, in terms of where their rush is coming from? *(Jeff Zrebiec) "That's their package. They're very multiple. They've always been like that. They're going to bring everybody, pretty much. Who's not going to blitz at one time or another? That's how they do it. So, that's what we prepare for. It's evolved over the years. But, I think the different influences from [defensive coordinator Keith] Butler and coach [Mike] Tomlin – and even coach [Dick] LeBeau – there's still elements of that package in the defense. We've probably watched it closer than anybody, as far as the way they've grown X- and O-wise. Hopefully, we understand them. But they're good at what they do, and we have to block them."
Could having DT Brandon Williams this time around be a huge difference with a guy like RB Le'Veon Bell back there? (Jerry Coleman)"Oh, sure. We didn't do a good job of stopping the run last time. I think they had four, what we would consider, long runs against us in that game. That's just not something we're OK with around here. That's really what they're all about; they're about big plays. That's what they do in both the run and the pass. We just have to get the job done."
Director of Community Relations/Executive Director of the Ravens Foundation Heather Darney
Statement on TE Benjamin Watson receiving the Ravens' Walter Payton Man of the Year award: "Good afternoon, good to see you guys. On behalf of the Ravens, I am excited to be here today and to present an award to somebody I think everyone in our organization looks up to. It is somebody we are proud to call a Raven. It is somebody we know and admire for all the work he does in the community – not only here in Baltimore, but all around the world, which is just really a testament to his priorities and the dedication he has to bettering the world. We are proud of him. We appreciate the dedication he has to his family, because we know that type of leadership extends into our locker room as well. I think the Payton family would completely agree with our nomination for this year's Walter Payton Man of the Year. He is a man who has incredible integrity, he values kindness and goodwill, and I think he embodies everything that this award entails. On behalf of the Ravens, we are excited to name our Walter Payton Man of the Year, Benjamin Watson.
TE Benjamin Watson
On receiving the Ravens' Walter Payton Man of the Year award:"Thank you, Heather [Darney]. Thank you for coming all the way out after just having a baby – she looks great, doesn't she? And she decided to come out. Thank you to the Ravens, [president] Mr. [Dick] Cass, the organization – it is an honor. The Payton family and what Walter Payton stands for … I was a Payton fan growing up – watching him – and this award means a lot, because we have a lot of deserving people on the team. One thing about this organization is that coming here … Every organization is dedicated to their community, but the Ravens have been one that for years has been dedicated and get players involved. It starts at the top. It starts with the ownership; it starts with the coaching staff. It goes down to the community relations and to the media relations. They all push us to be involved in our local communities, but also communities at home, and they provide opportunities for guys who have ideas. It is one thing when it is driven by players, which is great, but in this organization it is driven by ownership, it is driven by the people in the organization. Thank you to the organization. Thank you to my teammates – to the Ravens players. Again, we have a lot of guys … Just alone with Christmas time, with Thanksgiving, there are so many guys that are doing so many things. There are so many deserving players. One thing that my family and I … We have been to a lot of different places on this journey, and you never know where you are going to end up. But you do know that God opens certain doors at certain times for you to go to certain places, and you don't know why. We moved here a couple years ago, and I tore my Achilles. We are sitting there at home – my family, me, my wife and my five kids – and we are thinking, 'Lord, what? Why are we here? Why did you move us all the way across the country?' The answer is to meet certain people. The answer is to be a blessing to people around you. We want to be a family that is known for being dedicated to kindness, to justice and to righteousness and to leaving places better than where we found them. That is our mission; that is our goal. Whether that is locally here in the community here in Baltimore, whether it is back home, whether it is an opportunity to go around the world, whether it is writing something, whether it is speaking, a word of encouragement to someone that I run across that I don't even know – I think that is something that we all can do. Our motto is, 'One more.' What 'one more' means is that you bless someone in some way, and then that person blesses somebody else in another way. By that happening, you exponentially change and affect people around you. It kind of grows and grows. We may call it passing it forward, but really, what are we are doing is we are affecting positive change for one person, and that person does it to somebody else. That is what we want to be about – it is about leaving a legacy. We all, on this team, love the game of football, and we want to be known as guys who played great football, who won championships, who did great things on the field. But that is going to end at some point. Some of the strongest comments that people can make about you are, 'What was that guy like off the field?' I think that every man in that locker room wants to leave some sort of legacy outside of the game of football. They want to be known as people who cared about others, people who did things for others, people who sacrificed for other people. It is an honor to be the Walter Payton Man of the Year representative for the Ravens, for our fans, for the City of Baltimore and the surrounding regions. Thank you."