FRIDAY PODIUM AVAILABILITY: WEEK 12 VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "[It's] good to see you guys. I'm sorry that we have to wear the masks in this big, huge, giant massive, indoor room that we're in right here. But I digress, what questions do you have?"
How was your Thanksgiving? (Jonas Shaffer) "Thanksgiving was great, thank you. Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you guys. What's this, Black Friday? Happy Black Friday. Did you guys get all of your shopping in this morning? Does anybody go out and shop anymore in stores?" (The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "I do. I'm kind of a negative person, and it puts me in the Christmas spirit to go out there.") (laughter) "It's kind of like a Hallmark movie, right? It makes you feel good about things." (Zrebiec: "Yes, you feel good. You see the stores lit up, it's good for morale.") "It is. I'm a Hallmark movie guy. Do you guys watch them? No?" (The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer: "You can deal with the acting?") "I think it's good. I just like the stories. It makes me feel good about the world. It's either that or the news. It's an easy choice. … I guess there's movies and things like that too, right? What are we talking about here?"
How has ILB Malik Harrison looked since coming back from the last month? In a bigger picture sense with him, with the shuffling you've done at linebacker, do you feel like he can be an option to play a little more SAM for you and play on the edge a little bit more? (Luke Jones) "He looked good in practice. He looked fine, so that was good to see. I think he worked … He did a nice job, in the three weeks he was away with his injury situation, of training. He's in good shape. Yes, he can play outside and inside. He's definitely an option on the edge at SAM, or defensive end in a nickel package. He can do those things, and he has been practicing at those things."
With DE Calais Campbell, we all know how unpredictable head injuries can be, but have you gotten good reports on his progress? Could he play, even though he hasn't practiced this week? (Childs Walker) "Yes, he's been playing all year. So, he probably could use the rest anyway. He knows what we're doing, and technique is not going to be a problem. It's been encouraging with Calais [Campbell]. Of course, you have to go through the process, and you never can predict that exactly. But I think it's been very encouraging that way."
How challenging is their running game? I think Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said a couple minutes ago that RB Kareem Hunt is going to play. How difficult is it to defend them with their ability to do a bunch of different things in their run game? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's difficult. The fact that Kareem Hunt is going to play certainly adds something. He hasn't been there for a while. They haven't been at full strength with Nick [Chubb], either, of late, and now they get both of their top guys back. They proved that they have depth, too. They have four really good [running] backs. They put [Demetric] Felton out there, and he's out there playing receiver and doing different things. They have the wildcat. They do a lot of different things that they're capable of. You have [Jarvis] Landry out there throwing double passes, not to mention all the receiving things that he does. They do a lot of jet sweep stuff. Of course, they have the misdirection passing game with Baker [Mayfield], and he scrambles. So, I think they're just very diverse in terms of building around the players that they have. The scheme is the scheme. It's a good scheme, because the offensive line blocks well – that's what makes it a good scheme. They have really good backs running the ball. So, we're just going to have to line up and play football and do the best we can."
We haven't asked you about this in a while. Is OLB Daelin Hayes a candidate to play again this year? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, he is. He had to go in and get a … It turned out he came off his high-ankle [sprain] and it wasn't feeling great, and his knee wasn't feeling great. They went in and took a look at it, and he had to do a little clean up procedure on his knee. So, that's a couple … It was from whenever they did it a couple weeks ago, a couple weeks, [or] three weeks or four weeks, but he'll be practicing pretty soon."
ILB Patrick Queen
On the key to combating the Browns' rushing attack:"'Phee' [Pernell McPhee] actually stopped me on the way over, earlier, and talked about that, and it's just whoever [is] the most physical team is going to win the game, so that's what it comes down to. He was like, 'We already know we're going to execute. We already know we're going to ball out. It just comes to the point of us being physical with them.'"
On if he feels like he's unlocked something in his game in recent weeks:"I feel like I'm just playing my ball, just being me, just going out there and making plays, flying around, doing what I do and doing what I love. So, Josh [Bynes] came in here, [and he's] been a voice, been a vocal leader, and I'm just in there doing my thing. So, we work together well."
On if he monitors the opponent's injury report and is aware of QB Baker Mayfield's injury:"Yes, I saw it on Twitter, following media and stuff, but it really doesn't matter, because at the end of the day, if you suit up, you're going to get everybody's best game. Sometimes, that injury doesn't even affect people – sometimes. So, you can't ever worry about injuries. You've just got to go [out] there and play football."
On his reaction to ILB Malik Harrison's incident and what it means for him to be nearing a return:"I was shocked. You just don't wake up and expect to see some stuff like that, so I definitely was shocked. I reached out to him – he reached out to us, really – and [he] just let us know and everything. It was just hoping that he was straight, and thankfully, it went where it did and didn't go higher or lower or anything, [where] it could have caused [more] damage. But that's my guy, and I love him. I just wish the best for him, and he's finally about to suit up, so I can't wait."
On if he feels like he's playing with a little bit of a weight off his shoulders in recent weeks:"Not really, because you're still on Baltimore's defense, so everybody is expecting your best game. But I just love balling out and playing under pressure, playing under fire, playing with the fire. So, all those things that've been going on, I take, and I just run with it. And like I said, I'm loving everything I'm doing right now."
On if he feels he sees the game better from the WILL position:"It's just going out there and playing football. That's what I think [is] probably the best thing I've done, just taking a step back and embracing the moment, embracing everything that comes with it, and just taking it one play at a time, one day at a time, and just playing the game I love."
On if he knew what play was going to happen when he tackled RB David Montgomery for a 6-yard loss:"Yes, we knew any time the tight end [was] motioned over, sometimes he would get ready to do some kind of run-out, sprint-out, or whatever. So, the tight end went to that side, and I already had the [running] back. So, I just added in on my work and made a play."
WR Sammy Watkins
On his catch late in the game against the Bears:"Honestly, it was crazy that I came open, but most teams … It's hard to communicate when we're in a bunch or stacked look. I popped open, and I saw 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley] scramble out, and I kind of just threw up my hand. I saw the ball floating, not even knowing that there was somebody bearing [down] on me, about to kill me, so when I caught it, I was thinking I was just about to walk in [for] a touchdown. The next thing you know, I got blasted. But [it was a] great catch and great throw by 'Snoop,' and hopefully, we can get some more of those."
On how much his experience helps him in crunch time:"It definitely has helped me, playing with good teams and making those big plays, but it's part of everybody. It's part of this culture, this team. Whenever we need to make a play, somebody is going to step up and make the play. On third-down-and- [against Chicago], we needed to seal the game, or the game that we had in Detroit that I made the big play ... I think every wide receiver on this team and the offense is just willing to do whatever to win."
On WR Rashod Bateman:"He's a great, great player. I think we haven't seen the best of him yet. He's still young and dealing with a lot as a rookie, but once he hones in and gets comfortable, he's going to be a great player. I think he's going to be somebody where everybody remembers him, and he makes big plays on Sundays."
On if he's excited for the wide receivers to show what they can do collectively:"Oh, for sure. I think we've been practicing well and putting everything together. The coaches have got a great gameplan, with putting us in different positions, and we're kind of honed in on switching around and moving around a lot now. I think it's time for us to put on a show, and hopefully, we go out there and maximize all our opportunities and play hard. Hopefully, the offense goes out there and has another game like we had against the Chiefs, Indianapolis and those big games."
On if WR Rashod Bateman's game reminds him of anyone:"Honestly, he's got everything. He's a big dude, not small. And usually, guys coming out of the draft, they can't do everything – there's something that they lack. Honestly, having [training] camp with him, he showed me [that] he can do it all, as far as being explosive running routes. [In] short routes, intermediate routes, [he's] very explosive. Honestly, I can't wait until he gets back right with his body physically, mentally, so he can go out there and ball and have fun, and I think he's definitely hitting strides now to where you kind of [go], 'Oh, I see Rashod Bateman now.' So, I can't wait until he gets it and puts it all together."
On making clutch catches:"I think that's kind of been my last four or five years. That's been my role on the team, and I honestly love it – to make those big plays in big moments – and that's kind of who I am. I just love to go out there and make those plays and have fun doing it."
On his shared desire with QB Lamar Jackson to start games sharper:"I'm with Lamar [Jackson]. Let's score 28 points early and not keep coming back and stop scaring ourselves. Let's go out there and score early touchdowns and have fun and throw the ball, run the ball, because those tight games get kind of tight [enough] to where it scares me sometimes – it scares all of us. But I'm with Lamar; let's try to execute early, make plays and go up and down the field and put some points on the scoreboard."
On QB Lamar Jackson's return to practice after his illness last week:"Honestly, when Lamar [Jackson] comes back off anything, he's come back on point. He's throwing the ball well, he's moving around. Honestly, I feel like we actually got better since he's been back, so I can't wait to go out there and play with him."