Ravens Monday Transcripts: Week 12 vs. Chargers



Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming. A couple of things: First of all, I think you guys saw where Ed [Reed was suspended], the report on Ed. Have you seen that? Without really elaborating on that, because I don't have that in front of me, exactly what the details are or exactly how the rule reads, the most important thing from our perspective is that in the 2011-2012 season, there have only been two of those. Two of those happened back in 2010 in December. So, that stretches back over a two-year period. That's how they do it, over two calendar years. None of those hits were [intentional]. They were all inadvertent. None of those were with intent to injure or to harm in any way. When you look at the hits, that's pretty obvious. We all know Ed. Ed respects the game. He respects his fellow players. I saw after the New England one, where he and [Deion] Branch … They knew right away, and they were hugging each other. They knew right away what it was about. He's a good person, and he's got a good heart. He's got tremendous respect for the game, and we stand behind him in that respect and as a team and as an organization.

"From an injury standpoint yesterday, we had a number of little things happen. You noticed Terrence Cody didn't play. He had tweaked his elbow in practice. We did not think it was going to be an issue. We thought he was going to be fine. The swelling just never came out of it. We went out in pre-game, and we thought he was going to be there. Then I got the bad news, right before we turned in the numbers, from [defensive line coach] Clarence Brooks that just he could not lock out like he needed to hold off the run game. So, that's why he didn't go. James Ihedigbo had a neck strain, should be fine. [Dannell] Ellerbe has had a couple of things with his thumb and things like that; he's been playing through it. Chris Johnson had his hamstring early. That's what happened during the game. He tweaked his hamstring on the punt return. He actually went home today to get his stuff from Dallas, because he's been here without any clothes or anything. So, he should be fine. Haloti [Ngata] got through it well. Jacoby Jones got through it well with his ankle. Dennis Pitta had some concussion [symptoms]. We held him out [because] he had some symptoms. But, by the end of the game – during the game – he was fine. At the end of the game, he showed no symptoms. He is feeling really good today, so he should be fine. But he will have to go through the protocol that we put our guys through. It's a very strict protocol. Ed Dickson had a little bit of an ankle [injury]. So, that's where we are at with the injuries, unless you guys can think of anything more that I haven't mentioned here."

**When it comes to the defense, numerically, it's not what Ravens fans are used to seeing, but you are forever praising the effort of your defense. The way they came up big in that hostile environment, is this the first time all year that – at least numerically – it was living up to the Ravens' defenses of the past? *(Joe Platania) *"If you use that standard, then I don't know. I'm not sure how the numbers compare to the rest of the year, off the top of my head. But, it was a good numbers game, and we probably haven't had too many of those this year. Look at the points. I know we are in the top 10 in points now, and we're in the top 10 in offense in points scored. So, that's a pretty important stat. The rest of them are indicators of where you are at and what you're doing. We're right at the top in take-aways. We're right at the top of red zone [defense]. So, those are very important. Obviously, we did a better job against the run. You've talked about that and the passing numbers and those kinds of things. First downs were down – all those kinds of things are positive. But again, every week kind of stands on its own. The think I am most proud about is how hard they played, how physical they were and how they just kept stepping up in a tough game. It was a classic Pittsburgh game. It was a classic game where you had to go back and get another stop. And, any misstep by any team – be it a turnover or be it a big play or something like that – one score was going to make the difference in the game, and they just kept coming out and getting stops throughout the course of the game. Right to the very end, they did that. And, who's out there? We've got guys – now Cody is on the sideline. There are so many guys that weren't in the game playing, and yet, guys are stepping up. That is probably true for both sides of the ball and special teams. Guys like Corey Graham. Corey Graham stepping up and playing to the level he played at says so much. The young defensive linemen – Art Jones played extremely well. I said our young defensive linemen – 'Kemo' [Ma'ake Kemoeatu] played really well. I put him in the young category. I was just proud of the whole group. I thought they played really well."

*When you see guys like Ma'ake Kemoeatu or Dannell Ellerbe or Art Jones, does that kind of really take to heart the "next man up" kind of mentality? (Garrett Downing) *"That's what we are talking about. DeAngelo Tyson is another name. I won't mention names. Courtney Upshaw played well. Paul Kruger had a heck of a game. You can go right down the line and look at guys and how they played. Cary [Williams] played exceptionally well. Both of our safeties played great. Bernard Pollard was all over the field. Ed [Reed] was all over the field. It was a team effort. It was team defense."

**Do you anticipate Ed Reed to appeal the suspension? And if he does appeal, does that allow him to play against San Diego pending the appeal? *(Jason Butt) *"I don't know the details of that. But, Ed has told us that he's going to appeal the suspension right away. So, we should know something very soon."

**How shocking was it to hear about that? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"I was very surprised. I didn't see that one coming. So, it was surprising."

Was it a calculated gamble with the appeal if they let him play in San Diego and then maybe the suspension being against Pittsburgh? Is there any gamble there? (Mark Zinno)"My understanding was that it's going to be heard very quickly just for that reason. So, we should have a decision by Wednesday when we start to prepare. That's what we were told. The league is aware of that."

**Corey Graham was fantastic last night and really embodied that "next man up" philosophy. Talk about his performance. *(Mark Zinno) *"Corey came up with so many big plays. You talk about the interception and the broken-up passes, the knocking the ball loose in the last drive [and] the play in the corner of the end zone. But, there were also a number of tackles. He made some tackles in the run game stepping up from his nickel position and making plays. He played really well. He's a great guy. He wanted an opportunity to prove himself as a defensive back, and he got it, and he did it, and he's continuing to do it."

Didn't James Ihedigbo have a similar game, including on Jacoby Jones' punt return where he had a key block to spring him? (J. Michael)"Yes. James played really well. He was a physical force out there the whole game – on defense when he played and especially on special teams, every phase of special teams. He was a physical presence out there. We said something to him after the game, and his comment was, 'That's what you brought me here for.' He's got a lot of pride, and he fits right in."

Between the Sunday night game, Thanksgiving and the West coast trip and leaving Friday, can you talk about the challenges that this week presents in terms of scheduling and a short amount of preparation time? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Thanksgiving is in there. We have much to be thankful for, all of us. We'll have to work around all of that, and we've put a schedule together to account for that. We're treating this, in some ways, as a short week because of the time [change]. There will be a little bit of a time crunch there, because we're leaving early, because we'll have a shortened day on Thursday with Thanksgiving to give the guys a chance to be with their families. So, we're going to have to pack a little more work into a little less time, and then we're going to have to adjust for the time change. We've actually studied it throughout the offseason. Our doctors here have looked very heavily into the different studies on body clocks and things like that. So, we're going to move some of our practices back later on Wednesday and Friday and try to get our guys adjusted to West Coast time."

Paul Kruger with another sack last night. I think that's three in the last two games now. What have you seen from him in that span? (Matt Zenitz)"He's played great. Last night was the epitome of that. The pressure he got on the quarterback, the quarterback hits … He's mad at himself that he didn't get a couple of more sacks. He could have gotten there a split-second sooner and probably had a couple of more sacks. We did a good job of pressuring Byron and getting to him and hitting him and things like that and throwing him off rhythm a little bit. That's what you have to do with any quarterback. He's a great quarterback. He is very capable – as we saw on the first drive – of hurting a defense. But, I thought the pressure was a big factor in that game."

Regardless of his individual production, how much have you seen of Terrell Suggs opening opportunities for other players the last couple of games?* (Matt Zenitz)*"That's probably true. They have to account for Terrell Suggs at all times. He's getting better. You can start seeing some of his explosiveness coming back, some of his burst coming back as a pass rusher, so that's only going to be more of a factor as we go forward."

I know you would never call a play if you didn't believe it was going to work. When you go back to that third-and-2 after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, it just seems from the outside perspective that there are so many more things that can go wrong on a pass than with a run. There's so much more risk involved. It's almost just too easy to say, "Run the ball, kill the clock, punt it, and let's move on." (Mark Zinno)"To me, that's good. We had talked about that, and at one point in time that was the plan. That was exactly what we were going to do. They put a defense out there that made our guys think that we really weren't going to have a chance, any chance, to get the first down if we ran the ball there. So, the decision was made to put it in Joe's [Flacco] hands and basically say, 'If he is wide open, throw it to him. If he's not wide open, take the sack.' So, that'd be your point. There is nothing wrong with running the ball right there, taking your chance, try to block those guys. If you get the first down, you get the first down. [If not], you punt it because it was all about the clock. The first down would seal the game, so we wouldn't have put our defense back out there, but the more important thing was – because they had no timeouts – was to use the 40 seconds. That was the main issue. Running the ball secures that for you. Joe made a good decision and all that, but putting him in that kind of position with a pass rush coming at him was a little more risky, maybe, than we needed to do."

From a football standpoint, if you don't have Ed Reed, one of the more natural centerfielders, on Sunday at San Diego, what does that do in terms of the effect on the defense, even if it's just for one game? (Aaron Wilson)"It's like losing other guys. It's going to be a factor. If we don't have Ed, that's a blow. That'll be something that will hurt us on defense. Once again, someone else is going to have to step up and play really well."

Also, the offensive linemen … Kelechi Osemele said he felt pretty good about how he did against the outside linebackers, and what did you guys think of Jah Reid, including the Brett Keisel play where he didn't get the guy blocked?* (Aaron Wilson)*"The Keisel play was probably the low point of the game for Jah, and it was the first play, so it got better after that. It was a little bit of an eye-opener for him. Brett Keisel is a really good player. [Reid] played much better after that. I thought both the tackles played really well. 'K.O.' [Osemele] and Michael [Oher] both played really well. You are talking [about] two of the premier pass rushers in football, and they did a good job of keeping those guys at bay. The ball was out quick for the most part the whole game. That was part of the plan. I thought our offensive line, all in all, played pretty well. We would have liked to have gotten more out of our running game, but I give [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] credit. We stuck with it, even though we weren't putting up a lot of yards and the yards were really tough to come by. Cam really stuck with it and kept their pass rush honest a little bit. The fact that we didn't have any turnovers, that was probably the key to the whole game. We weren't real flashy on offense. We didn't put the numbers up that we'd all probably like to see, but that's a really good defense. I can tell you this: As good as they look on film, standing there on the sideline and watching them, they are even better. That's a great defense. They've got their ranking for a reason right now. So, I thought our offense did a good job of doing what they needed to do to win the game."

John, you mentioned the play of Corey [Graham] and James [Ihedigbo], but the depth of the secondary as a whole – how would you describe that as it's been tested throughout the season and maybe will be tested against San Diego?  (Evan Washburn)"It's going to be tested against San Diego for sure. I would say it's being tested – exactly right. So far, I expect them to continue to hold up their end of it. They have done probably a better than expected job – better than you could probably expect any secondary to do under those circumstances. We have gone deep at corner more than anything. To go as deep as we've done at corner and to keep the level of play up that high is a good thing."

With that being said, Chris Johnson before he got hurt came up with a big play. At what point last week after you signed him did it become evident that he could play right away just after being here a few days? (Garrett Downing) "To me, it became evident the second we signed him, because I knew that he was going to have to play. But, it was the fact that he was in the kind of shape and the workout that we felt he was going to be able to do that. Then he practiced well, and he picked things up really quickly. We'll just have to see how the hamstring is Wednesday, Thursday, and see if he is ready to go this week."

John, you mentioned Terrance Cody had some issues in practice, but Pernell McPhee practiced the first couple of days last week, and then he sat out Friday. Did he have a setback or was it a case that it's just not right physically yet?*  (Luke Jones)*"I never made any comment about Pernell McPhee, so anything that you hear otherwise, I certainly wouldn't take that very seriously. Basically, your question – which it's a fair question – is presupposing some things that were said by someone other than me. I really wouldn't have to answer that question.  In my mind, he's been on the same course all the way through."

I believe he [Pernell McPhee] said he was 100 percent? (Aaron Wilson) "Right, but I didn't say he was 100 percent, so you're going to have to ask him about that."

Little gamesmanship from Pernell [McPhee]? (Aaron Wilson) "Perhaps. That would be a good question for him. I did ask him that question last week, but I'm not going to share the answer with you. He's a good guy, and he's working hard. There was no setback and he's on schedule – very soon. This week is a possibility. Last week – in all fairness – was not a possibility. [I] just want to make it clear who made the 100 percent statement and who didn't."

Last night a couple of times you guys seemed to struggle a little bit in third-and-short and short-yardage situations, and it kind of brought back some memories of the Philadelphia games and the struggles there. You ended up pulling this one out, but is Vonta Leach not in that discussion as far as a big guy like that on a third-and-short where you just give him a dive and letting him power his way through? (Mark Zinno) "He's done that at times this year; he's had that belly play and that dive play at times this year. Sure, he's in that discussion. [You] can't give him the ball every time, I guess."

Does it alarm you that sometimes … I understand that the other team is playing defense, but those short-yardage situations seem like chances to extend drives … (Mark Zinno) "We aren't as good on third-and-short as we should be, without question. That's a concern. Third down is a concern. If you look at the stats, we aren't as good on third down as we need to be. That's something that we really have to get better at. We've known that. That's something that we've been working really hard on. To get into the play calls and that kind of thing … A dive play wouldn't have worked against the defense they ran. They were bringing everybody inside. They're pretty good, and they stopped the lead play. The dive play – in all likelihood – would have gotten stopped there, too. Something running outside would have had a chance, but they were bringing safeties off the edges, too. You probably would have had to have thrown it there to have the kind of chance you really want to have to make a go. And probably, in that game, we probably weren't going to do that at that point. We need to get better at third down – no doubt – and third-and-short, absolutely."

The Steelers paid a lot of attention to Torrey Smith, and he ended up getting one catch on the day. Was that something that surprised you that they doubled him as much as they did? And, it looked like at times that Joe [Flacco] tried to force a couple passes his way. What kind of adjustments did you really have to make at that point? (Kris Jones)"They were doubling him in the sense that they were doubling both outside guys. So, they were playing a two-deep, man-under type of a scheme where they were doubling the outside receiver on both sides, which was Torrey [Smith] and Anquan [Boldin] usually. In three-wides it was Torrey and Jacoby [Jones]. They did a good job with that; it's a good coverage. Their corners played really well. There were also times when they were open, and maybe Joe felt a little something pushing out underneath it, and he threw it away or a little high and wide where he thought the only guy who would have a chance for it would be the receiver, and it just kind of ended up sailing a little bit too far out there. Other than that, there was no big coverage adjustment. They played that, and they played three-deep zone. Those were the two coverages they played."

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