FRIDAY ZOOM AVAILABILITY: WEEK 18 VS. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Alright, I appreciate you guys coming. Thanks for being here. I don't really have any injury updates today, per se, but I do have an announcement: Tyler [Huntley] will be the starting quarterback in the game against the Steelers on Sunday. That's the way we'll go. What questions do you have?"
The Steelers have 52 sacks and are No. 1 in the NFL. Of course, LB T.J. Watt has 21.5 [sacks]. How big of a challenge is it to try to slow those guys down? And how key will it be for QB Tyler Huntley to try to get rid of the ball quickly? (Todd Karpovich) "Both of those two things are really what it boils down to, you're exactly right about that. You have to get the ball out on time when that's called for, in terms of the protection, and if you're going to hold the ball a little bit longer, you better have some extra protection in different spots. Certainly, T.J. [Watt] is where it starts. He's the best pass rusher in football. He might be the best defensive player in football. He's having a phenomenal season. He's had, what, two, or three, or four phenomenal seasons? So, as long as he's been in the league, he just keeps getting better and better. They've led the league in sacks for the last three years in a row. So, this is a great pass rush team, and we're going to have our hands full with that. We're going to do our best. I'm confident in our guys and our scheme, and we'll see what happens on Sunday."
Earlier this week, the media voted TE Mark Andrews as Team MVP for this season. Given the challenges that you've had at quarterback with the different guys playing over the last month, how impressive has it been for him to put up the numbers that he has but also just make life easier for QB Tyler Huntley and for QB Josh Johnson for that matter? (Luke Jones) "Sure, I mean, great players make … If you're on offense, and you're a great player, you're going to make life better for the quarterback – it doesn't really matter, whoever it is. Those guys all work hard together, every single … Whether it's Lamar [Jackson] when he's out there, Tyler [Huntley] or Josh [Johnson], whatever quarterback it is, they work hard together. Obviously, from a timing standpoint and a feel standpoint, those are things that you're talking about. I just think it's a great, great accomplishment, the season he's had. He's been tremendous this year, and I'm excited for the rest of his career here in Baltimore."
As we get to the end of the year here, even as fans came back after COVID, home and road teams are still about even on the season across the league. I wondered from your perspective, why do you think we've sort of seen home field advantage be diminished over the years? Why has that sort of gone away across the league? Is it a matter of teams doing better traveling? Is there something about the fans that have changed in your mind? What might be going on there? (Adam Kilgore) "If I had a thought on it, I'd share it with you. I really don't have an idea on that right now that would be anything credible. I wish I could help you, but I just haven't thought about that at all, and I don't know."
You've made it clear all year that you've been proud of your team's consistent focus and their determination. Have you seen that again throughout this week, despite whatever outside context there might be with playoff odds and what have you? Has the work been kind of what you've come to expect from this group? (Childs Walker) "Yes, we've had a great week of practice. It's one of our best weeks of practice. The guys have been tremendous. They've been fast [and] been on point. The timing has been excellent – both sides of the ball and special teams. They've been great to work with all week, just like all year. [It's been] as good or better than we have been all year. So yes, I feel great about the week."
As far as QB Tyler Huntley, what has impressed you the most in what you've seen from him over the past few weeks? (Jamison Hensley) "Tyler [Huntley] has done a good job of coming in and playing quarterback. So, all of the things that are entailed with that, if it was one thing that you could say the most, then I guess it would be that. There's a lot that goes into the position, so you can't single any one thing out. He's played well. He can play better. That's what he's aiming to do this week, is to improve and build on his past performances. [He's aiming to] get a little bit better every time he's out there – practice, game, weight session, conditioning, throwing session, whatever it might be, to improve every single time. I'm looking forward to seeing that happen."
These guys have already been ruled out, so I hope you don't mind me asking. With OLB Daelin Hayes and FB/DL Patrick Ricard being on IR [injured reserve], were they just guys who you didn't see them being ready to play this week or next week with them being on IR? (Jonas Shaffer) "Why were they put on IR?" (Reporter: "We saw Daelin [Hayes] work his way back, and Patrick [Ricard] obviously had some ups and downs…") "I don't really have any comment on the details of that. There's really nothing to talk about there as far as I'm concerned."
Is there enough time to get TE Nick Boyle back [off the Reserve/COVID list]? Or is that one too late in the week? (Jeff Zrebiec)"That's a COVID protocol. It just depends on the COVID protocol thing. It just depends if … There's really nothing you can say about that. It's hard; you can't anticipate that."
TE Mark Andrews
On being 141 yards away from setting the NFL's single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end:"Well, to be honest with you, I'm not really thinking too much about that. Obviously, I want to go out there, play as well as I can and try to help this team win. Like you said, I know it's 140 [to tie], but I'm just going to go out there, be me, play ball and try to help in any way I can."
On if he has a memory – just like CB Jimmy Smith shared on Monday – from early on in his career that reassured him that this Ravens-Steelers rivalry is for real:"Yes. I think that one of the games that stands out for me … It was two years ago, at their place. I think we went to overtime that game and ended up winning or something; it was a really, really close game. I made a few big plays. I remember I had a pretty big hurdle in that game. That was kind of one of the big games to me that stood out. But this game is always physical, it's always a fight. [Jimmy Smith's] right when he said that. Both these teams, obviously, have been playing each other for a long time, and it's real."
On FB Patrick Ricard:"Yes, Pat [Ricard]'s a very unique player. Obviously, not having him is a loss for our team, because he's so versatile and dynamic. But he's an incredible football player, and he's a great person."
On winning Team MVP and Media Good Guy, as voted by local media:"First off, I think the Team MVP was, obviously, a huge honor. I've mentioned it before, but I don't get that without my teammates, all those guys surrounding me – they make me a better player each and every day – and without my coaches and this organization. They've helped me flourish and be the person I am, be the player I am, and I'm just so excited to be able to continue to grow and mature and become a better person, better man and a better player here with the Baltimore Ravens.
"And then also with the Media Good Guy; that's such an honor – for you guys to vote me into that. I remember Orlando Brown [Jr.] had won in his second year, and obviously, he's known about the organization for so long, and he just mentioned how big of a deal it really was. So, when I heard that news, I was extremely happy. I appreciate each and every one of you guys. Here in Baltimore, our media are top-notch. You guys do a great job. And I understand, with COVID- and everything like that, you guys aren't able to be in the locker rooms and do all the normal things you're able to do, but you guys are still – again, like I said – top-notch, doing it the best way that you can, and I believe we have the best media in the NFL. So, I want to say, I appreciate you guys, and it's an incredible honor."
On if he believes he'll be able to look back at some point and process how odd this season has been:"Yes. It's one of those things where we've been … It's one thing after another, and you've just got to keep on dealing with it, keep on rolling, keep on going. And I'm sure there's going to be a time where we look back and we're like, 'Wow, this was a really crazy year,' but at this point, we've just got to live in the now, live in the moment and try to be the best versions of ourselves for this game; and that's what matters – playing our brand of football. We're all meant to be here, we're all meant to be Ravens, and we're going to go out there and be who we are."
On if he ever goes to offensive coordinator Greg Roman with ideas about how to best utilize his skill set:"Yes. 'G-Ro' [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] and I have a special relationship, because [when] it was my first year of being with the Ravens, he was the tight ends coach, and I learned a bunch from him. He's so knowledgeable about everything. I think he's helped kind of put me into the place where I am today, make me the player that I am today. I credit [him] a lot, I've learned a lot from him. But I'm able to go to him, talk about things, and I think when he's watching games, when he's watching plays, I think he has me in mind with a lot of different things, and that's special. I appreciate Coach 'G-Ro,' he's doing a great job and just being able to see him grow, as well – he's grown a lot. And so, I think it's been an awesome relationship, and again, I've learned a lot from him."
QB Tyler Huntley
On what it feels like to know on a Friday that he'll be the starter on Sunday:"It just gives you just an ensuring sense of urgency. It's still the same, though – I'm not going to lie. I'm still preparing, and it's going to be a good game Sunday."
On how he plans to avoid OLB T.J. Watt on Sunday:"We've just got to just execute on our end. Our [offensive] line is going to do a good job of blocking him, and [when] it comes down to it, we've just got to eliminate him from doing what he does."
On how much he feels all this experience is benefiting him as he moves forward in his career:"I feel like it's helping me a lot. It's like a little kid learning how to draw. The first time you draw, it looks crazy, then you get a little better, you get an actual, kind of picture, and then, as they keep going, they add some color to it, and it starts looking like a real-deal picture. So, it's just, the more reps, the more experience [you get] and the better you play."
On if he's aware of the fans' positive reaction to his play and what it means to him:"It means a lot. But I feel more grateful that my teammates and my coaches [have] trust in me, and the trust is growing as we continue to play more games. That's what I feel."
On if he's gotten a sense of QB Lamar Jackson's frustration for not being able to help the team down the stretch as much as he would have liked:"Yes, he wants to be out there every time, and just being in the locker room, it's so hard not seeing him going out there and being great – how he usually is. He's a great [asset] to this league, to this team, and I can't wait for 'L' [Lamar Jackson] to feel better. And happy birthday, man. I miss you out there, man." (laughter)
On what his teammates have told him about OLB T.J. Watt: "Shoot, I don't think my teammates told me. Everybody else has told me about him. (laughter)I've seen him a lot on NFL Network and stuff, and I've seen him live in person when we played them a couple times. He's a great player. We played against a great D-line last week [with] Aaron Donald and Von Miller. So, shoot – a few weeks before that, we played against [Jadeveon] Clowney and Myles Garrett. There are great players in this league – that's why it's the NFL. We just have to go out and execute on our part."
On what it means to play against QB Ben Roethlisberger in what may be his final game, and what it means to start in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry:"Yes, I feel like it's a great opportunity, and it's a great accomplishment just to be considered in the game of Ravens versus the Steelers. You just grow up seeing that on TV, just the legendary games that went on. It's so crazy and a blessing that I get to meet such great quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. It's just a blessing that you can't ever pray [for]. I think a prayer doesn't do it any justice; God has just continued to bless me with an opportunity to just meet such people."
On if coming off the Reserve/COVID list affected him against the Rams and if he's feeling better now:"Yes, I think anybody that has had COVID can vouch for me. Days after, I was still feeling it in my chest. Just getting that sickness up and out of me, [I had] a couple days without eating, I finally got some food in me. (laughter) So, I feel way better. I got some fluids in me, and I'm feeling way better this week."