Ravens General Manager & Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome
Statement on the passing of Art Modell:
"Not being a veteran of this, I think John [Harbaugh] normally thanks you all for coming every time, for being here. But, as the coaches and players are preparing for our opener against a real good Cincinnati team, I want to just take a few minutes to acknowledge the passing of Mr. Modell. And yesterday [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne], [owner] Steve [Bisciotti], [former head certified athletic trainer] Bill Tessendorf, [and I] had the opportunity to spend some time with Art and his family at the hospital. And I know David [Modell] is really appreciative of John bringing four of the players there to visit him also. When you think back, as I have over the past 24 hours, of the impact of Art, I can't express it in words. But, based on all the texts, all the e-mails and all the phone calls I've gotten from people, the impact not only that he had in my life, he had a major impact in their life, too. I just want to end by saying he was a great, great man. Thank you."
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, great to see everybody. It's obviously been* *an eventful two days here, and as [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] said, we have a big football game coming up. We have life as well, and Art Modell has finished his quite well. Through providence and because of God's grace, we had a chance to get to know Art Modell over the course of the last four years; and there is no finer man. He's a great man, but he's a good person. That's what I know his legacy is – all the things that Kevin talks about. His sense of humor, he's a giant in football, but he was just a good, encouraging, wonderful soul who made you feel better about who you were every time you were around him. No more encouraging person than Art Modell, and I'm just grateful for having had the opportunity to know him, and he is in God's hands. He and [his wife] Pat are having a good laugh right now up there with God, and Jesus and the angels."
Do you consider it a valiant honor to be there yesterday just to see him pass from life to death? (Lamont Williams)"It's an honor, yes, and humbling. And it's a sense of reality. A man who lived his life so well, and you know that he's in good-stead with our Savior, and to be there and be a part of that was [and] is beyond description. I'm very grateful to the Modell family for allowing us to be there, for allowing me to be there, and Ray [Lewis] and Haloti [Ngata] and Terrell [Suggs] and Ed [Reed], and allowing us to share that moment with Art and his family. [It] means a lot."
Do you see it as fitting with the game on Monday night, being what he's meant to the city and how he pioneered Monday Night Football? (Jason Butt)"It's an amazing twist. I would say a providential irony, you know? Maybe they are laughing about that up there right now. But, Art Modell … Art Modell is a giant. He did pioneer Monday Night Football. He was the forerunner of football on T.V. That was his vision. Everything that's been done in the league, that's made this America's sport over the last 60 years or so, is because of Art Modell and what he's done. He's a huge part of that – others, of course, too. But Art's a forerunner of that. He's a forerunner of equity – gender and race – equity. Opportunity, a forerunner of that. He loved everybody. He loved players. He loved coaches. He modeled a leadership style that is kind of unheard of and still is. He was a servant leader. Yes, to all those questions you had."
Do you remember the first time you met him here after you had been hired, and in your mind, what do you think that legacy of him will be? (Garrett Downing) "The first time I met him, Kevin [Byrne and I], we were talking about the Browns and everything. All of my family is from Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Most of them are still Browns fans; I'm trying to get over it still. I was a Browns fan, my dad was a Browns fan. He took my mom to a Browns game for their honeymoon on free tickets from Art Modell, which he gave to all the high school coaches in Ohio at the time, and then they went to White Castle after the game. Yeah, 51 years later, they are still happily married, so what a great start. And obviously, he and Art and my mom laughed about that. Art loved my mom. They were in the press box … My mom goes crazy at games. You can't calm her down. Art loved seeing that. He loved my mom being in their box. What was your question? OK, right. Kevin [Byrne] said, 'Would you like to meet Art Modell.' I was pretty excited about being hired and getting the job, but I think I was more excited about meeting Art Modell. 'I get to meet Art Modell? Art Modell?' And then, he gave me a big hug and a kiss on my cheek. A kiss on the cheek from Art Modell. What could be better than that?"
John, do you remember any advice that Art brought to you, whether it was football, life or just anything? (Aaron Wilson) "Art was a big believer in believing in yourself, and believing in your God-given talents and what you are capable of doing. And, he was a big believer in encouraging us to make sure that everybody around – that you encourage everybody else in the same way – that you let people know how valuable they were, and that you respected the value of people."
**How much do you think it helps the organization, having that avenue of focusing on football and just knowing how much football meant to Art? *(Luke Jones) *"Well, I guess it's good. I haven't thought about it like that. I know this: Yesterday, when – and Kevin [Byrne] was there for this – we were talking and I had a chance to talk to Art, Art was … You could tell he was involved in the conversations he was having. I told him that we're playing Monday night, and that he was going to be there watching the game, and that we were going to fight for him, and we were going to play our best football for Art Modell. And then he gave me his biggest response. I was right here, and he looked at me like … It wasn't like a 'Thank you.' It was kind of like, like those eyes, those blue eyes, man, were going right at me like, 'You better. That's what I expect.' I could only think to myself, 'Yes, sir. Yes, sir.'"
Coach, how formidable are the Bengals? (Stan Saunders)"The Bengals are a formidable [opponent]. They are talented in every area, from the quarterback, the weapons on offense – really at every position – and a tremendously physical offensive line. [Their] defense is [a] pressure defense; it gets after you from every angle. [They are a] very young, athletic team. I think they are one of the most talented teams in football."
Ravens Senior Vice President of Public & Community Relations Kevin Byrne
Statement on the passing of Art Modell:
"It was powerful yesterday to be at the hospital. David Modell called [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie Newsome and I both at our homes, about 7 yesterday morning, and said that the doctors said that Art [Modell] may not make it through the day, and asked if we wanted to come see Art. So, of course Ozzie and I did. Then while we were down there, I let [owner] Steve Bisciotti know, and then Steve came. Steve came and stayed, went to a doctor's appointment, then came back later in the day and told David he would stay until his brother John arrived from Los Angeles, which was about six o'clock, and then Steve didn't leave until that time. Ozzie and I had left earlier. Once I was down there and saw the situation, I called [head] coach [John] Harbaugh and I said, 'You might want to come.' He immediately, with his practice clothes, said, 'I am coming.' He went and grabbed Ray Lewis, and then as he was leaving, evidently, he saw Ed Reed and he said, 'Do you want to go see Art Modell?' And he said, 'Yes.' Then he saw Haloti [Ngata], and Haloti said, 'I would like to go.' As they were walking out of the building, coach saw Terrell Suggs and invited 'Sizzle' to come along. John can talk a little bit, but to see those people in that room* … *To see them salute Art, talk in his ear, it was powerful."
QB Joe Flacco
On how well he knew Art Modell:"The little bit that I was here, Art made a great effort to get out to practice and see what was going on, and just the way him and his wife treated me … I'll be forever grateful to have the time that I was able to spend with those guys, that I was able to do it. Art just seemed like a great guy. He's done so much for our organization, but not only that, just so much for the NFL in general. So, [he was] just a great guy."
On if the younger players, like himself, have an understanding of Mr. Modell's influence: "I'm not sure. I know that I got to hang around Art a little bit, and I made sure I went up to him and said hi to him every time I got. He made it a point to come over and say hi to me. I'm not sure if you're my age or younger if you quite know the impact he's had, but I think that I got to realize it a little bit just over the last couple of years."
On if he and his teammates know that Mr. Modell is the reason for Monday Night Football: "Yeah, I don't know how many of our teammates are [aware]. I know I am. I know he's been a big influence on just football and T.V. and all of that. I think he's a really big reason why our sport is so popular today. That's what I mean [by saying] beyond the impact that he's had on two franchises, just the impact he's had on the whole NFL and bringing it to T.V. All of that has been incredible."
On if the passing of Mr. Modell is a motivation for Monday night's game: "Yeah. You know what? I think Ray [Lewis] and some of the guys that have been around him will get the message across to a lot of the players on this team. I just think that this whole organization had a lot of love for him, and I think that will definitely show."
On if he is excited knowing RB Ray Rice is fresh and ready to go: "Oh yeah, definitely. Running backs, preseason, you have to make sure that they get a couple of touches here and there, but that are really fresh come the season opener, because those guys take a lot of wear and tear on their bodies as the season goes on. It's nice to have him Game 1 ready to go, and hopefully, we can keep him healthy a full 16 [games] heading into the playoffs."
On if the high-tempo offense from the preseason will not carry into the regular season: "Not that I know of. I expect that's what we are going to be doing, and I think we do it well. We're just growing. We are going to get better and better at it."
On how comfortable he has gotten to with QBs coach Jim Caldwell: "Jim's been great. He's an easy guy to go into that meeting room with and just kind of talk about what we need to do to be good on offense for the given week. So, when you have a guy that you are able to communicate so well with, it just makes your life a lot easier, and it makes it a lot of fun to come in here every day and just get ready."
On Cam Cameron saying this is the best group of offensive leaders they've had since Flacco has been here and if he agrees with that: "I just feel, overall, we are growing as an offense. Our young guys have a lot of experience; they played last year. We just have a lot more experience on our side of the ball. We have a lot of guys that are feeling comfortable with their play and feeling comfortable heading into games and have a lot of confidence, and I think when you have a lot of guys playing with a lot of confidence, that's when you can see good offenses really start to emerge."
On how different the offense would be without TEs Ed Dickson or Dennis Pitta: "You have to get those guys back in the swing of things, and I think they look great so far, and it's just a matter of going out there. Those guys are going to put pressure on defenses, just because they have to decide how to play them. And we, obviously, weren't able to really utilize them all preseason, but I think the guys that stepped in did a great job, and we were able to see what they had. And now, we'll have that extra guy where something does happen down the road, we know what we can do."
On if he pays attention to the preseason predictions: "No, I don't. You hear about them, and you kind of would expect it after the years that we've been having around here the last few years that if you're going to make a prediction, then there's probably a couple of teams that you would have up there. They really mean nothing. When it comes to Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, whenever it may be, you have to go out there and play, and you have to play really well to win in this league. What you did in the previous years means nothing when it comes to that whistle being blown and strapping on the pads."
On what he thinks fans will see from WR Torrey Smith that maybe they didn't see last year: "Well, I think Torrey just … You know, I think he had confidence last year. I think that showed in the fact that he was able to come in as a rookie and play as well as he did, but I think he's going to … His route-running is better. He's catching the ball better. He's more confident. I think he's going to be able to get the ball underneath and do some damage with his legs after the catch, and I think that's going to be a big part of where he makes improvements."
On if he is excited to show the new offense on a national stage on Monday night: "I don't know. I think you are excited every time you get to go out there and play another game. I don't think because we're doing a few things different … I'm not necessarily excited about that. I'm just excited to go out there and play a division game, play a team that has played us really well and has been a great team in the league for the last couple of years. They are a young team. They are playing really well. They have a lot of confidence. So, it should be a lot of fun."
On if he sees this as the year where he puts all of his playoff experience together and maybe taking it up another level: "Yeah, I think every year you are looking to do that. And this year, I don't think we have any reason to not be confident that we are going to take that next step. And, it's going to take a lot of hard work, and we're going to have a lot of fun along the way. But, we need to go out there and play well, just like I said. But definitely, [we're] excited about it, and we should be."
On what the secret is to having so much success playing at home: "I don't know. I think we really play well in both areas. I mean when we lose games, it's not like we are getting blown out – maybe a rare occurrence here and there. We have great fans here, and I think when our defense gets out there and is playing with that much noise, it causes the other offense to really think about some of the things that they are doing just because of the noise they have to deal with. It can get us going a little bit. Our fans are incredible, and we pack that stadium each week, and I think it's the best place to play in the NFL. Obviously, I'm a little biased, but it's just a great place to play, and I think we definitely feel the energy of the crowd. We feel comfortable there."
On if he is excited to see WR Anquan Boldin healthy: "Anquan looks great, just like he always does. He's confident. He's moving well, catching the ball well, and we have some speedy guys on the outside. So, he should be able to do some of the things that he really wants to do underneath and be a big part of it for us."
LB Ray Lewis
On the passing of former Ravens owner Art Modell:"Anytime you lose a father, a leader the way he was, to not just his kids, but to many men, it's always hard, because the greatest thing that life offers is the opportunity to really help someone. He was one of those guys. He was one of those spirits. It's funny, because we are human, and we have real emotions. So, it's emotional. It's emotional to lose somebody that the only reason I am in Baltimore is because of him. The only reason the Ravens have a team is because of him. The only reason a lot of sacrifices that have happened throughout this league is because of him. Anytime that you can leave a legacy like that, we shouldn't mourn. We do, but, we should be celebrating him because he was one of the most awesome men I have ever met in my life. For me to know him, I knew the guy had a real plan. For me to even meet a man like that, with all the impact he had on this world … It's hard losing someone that powerful with that much influence. But one day, we all have to go. So, hopefully we send him out the right way with a great celebration."
On if he has a favorite moment with Mr. Modell:"I can go to many moments. I can go to a lot of things that he has always whispered in my ear. I think one of the greatest moments, of course, was actually bringing him the Lombardi Trophy, us on that stage. I told him that if we win it, then he is going to have to try to do my dance. We got on stage, and I did it and he did the dance. I think it capped off exactly the way it was supposed to end. Somebody had put in all of that work, and now we were able to bring him what his true dream was, [which] was the Lombardi Trophy. So, that was one of my greatest moments with Art."
On what it was like spending some time with Mr. Modell yesterday:"Wow. I will be brief, because the things that I shared with him in his ear, I will always keep that between me and him, because it is a son talking to a father. That's the way I looked at it from the moment I started whispering in his ear, because that's what he always used to do to me. He always used to lean me down and always used to talk. It's hard to keep talking about someone who loved you that much. It isn't as easy as you guys think it is. It's like you have to keep a man like that lifted up, because when you see that time closing, that you know physically that you will never see him again, that part of it, you let it take care of itself. Everything that I said in his ear, he knew came from my heart. I loved the man dearly."
On how the team will be motivated by Mr. Modell this season:"I just think, when you think about Art, what else kind of motivation do you need? If you know anything about him, you know anything about what he did to this league and what he meant to this organization, why wouldn't you go play for something that special? Because he is watching. He'll always be watching, and he'll definitely be missed. This season we will definitely dedicate to him and give it everything we've got. Hopefully, we can sit another Lombardi Trophy beside him."
On the first time he remembered meeting Mr. Modell:"Wow. You are talking about coming into a situation where everything was brandnew. Everything was, but the way he treated you was never new. Like I said, he respected you as a man, but me, he just grabbed me as a son, from Day One, and he never let me go. Everything, it didn't matter what it was, whenever he saw me, he would always tell me how much he loved me and always tell me how much I meant to him. For him to have that much impact, for me coming in that young, him not even knowing me, but to embrace me the way he did, like I said, only God creates moments like that."
On if he would like to see Mr. Modell elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame:"What a blessing to rejoice seeing him off, I think if it's not, then you make the argument. But I think right now, just to celebrate who he is, to celebrate him going home … When you talk about … When you think about Hall of Famers, hopefully most Hall of Famers that are in the Hall of Fame left a legacy of impact. If nothing else, Art left a legacy of pure impact, and that's, to me, what a true Hall of Famer is – someone who leaves their footprints on something."
On what he tells the younger players about Mr. Modell and the impact he has had on the organization:"The thing I share the most is that a lot of times you should have just sat down and talked to him. That's the No. 1 thing about him – he will always have a joke for you. He will always make you smile, and no matter how bad things are going, he can always reverse it and make you think about something else. That's why I keep bringing up that word 'father,' because to me, I never looked at him any differently from a father. I don't care what it was or when it was, if a phone call came across his table, and I needed him, he was there. For young guys to not understand that, hopefully they do understand that. [Head coach] John [Harbaugh] mentioned it earlier today, that we really wish they go back and research that, research what this man was actually able to do, because me spending time with him, I had to learn it, because I was around him a lot."
On if he thinks things would be different without Modell:"How would I be here? Before you go into me being different, how would you be here if he wouldn't have made the stand to build a franchise in Cleveland and then to say, 'It's time to do something else.' He made that change, and for him to make that change to come to Baltimore, to pick up his franchise and come to Baltimore, then that's the only way Baltimore and Ray Lewis connected. That goes way back from God's plans. When God has something planned, no man can create or write down what he has to do for you, and Art was one of those guys that God directed his path, and he followed it."
On if he understands why Modell is vilified by some in Cleveland:"It doesn't matter. Most of your enemies, you pray for them anyway. You know what I am saying? No matter what people feel about you, you pray for them. I have always felt that was disrespectful for somebody to be gone, and then you worried about who didn't like him or who did like him. There were too many people that loved him to ever think about the people that don't like him. So be it."
On his impression of Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis:"He is a hardnosed runner. He is one of those one-step cut guys that get downhill. He plays the game the right way, the [way] the game should be played. They have a nice running back system between him and [No.] 40 [Brian Leonard]. They go back and forth. We have our hands full, because he is a complete back."
On how Green-Ellis complements Bengals QB Andy Dalton and A.J. Green:"That still has time to tell. That's up to them as to when they figure all that out. Hopefully, they don't complement each other too much this week. Hopefully, we can go in there and really get some folks rattled and play as well as we always play at home. That's kind of what our thought process is."
On if there is an offensive player that has made strides this offseason that he is excited to see:"I am biased, because I'll say the whole offense. I like Jacoby [Jones], and I like Torrey [Smith]. I like all my boys, and I just think that they have an opportunity to go out and really exploit some things and really be one of those high-powered offenses."
On what his impressions of Dalton were in his rookie season last year:"I think he had a great rookie season. I think he came in and did everything that [Bengals head coach] Marvin [Lewis] asked him to do. I think he played the game with a certain level of passion – you saw his energy. I think he understood the game way faster than a lot of other people thought he would understand the game. You see these quarterbacks, you are talking about a [Falcons QB] Matt Ryan, a Joe Flacco, [Colts QB] Andrew Luck, all of these guys that are coming in right now and stepping into these starting roles. I think he has that ability to do that. So, I think he is just growing into really mastering his craft now."
On how QB Joe Flacco has evolved as a leader in the offense:"[He is] more vocal. Joe is just more vocal, because he is more loose. I think bringing [QBs coach] Jim Caldwell in here, kind of working with [Broncos QB] Peyton [Manning], and I think he gives Joe a lot of flexibility to really just now take control of the offense, check out of this if you don't see that, do this if you don't see that. I think that's what, when you think about a quarterback like Joe, that's the type of quarterback that he has always been coming from his college days – pretty much like a run-and-shoot offense, where you are getting in, getting out and making the defenses think on the run. I think that's what Joe, right now, is really going into his own, because he is really getting comfortable with it."
On what kind of pressure the no-huddle offense puts on the defense:"Communication – that's the No. 1 thing. Anytime offenses start moving that fast, everything is communication, because you try to line up here, line up there, and they bring in this package, they bring in that package, [and] you are trying to sub. You see it all the time. You see the guys trying to run off the field, run on the field. Defensive coordinators have a hard time kind of matching personnel and things. Overall, I think communication is the No. 1 thing."
On if he agrees with CB/RS Lardarius Webb that it is irrelevant that the team went undefeated at home and swept the division last year:"The only thing it means is that we can continue the streak starting with the Cincinnati Bengals and going 1-0 at home. Everything of 2011 is done. It's done. That chapter is closed. Now we have a whole new chapter ahead of us. We would really enjoy coming out of the gate 1-0 at home and definitely in the division. It would be huge for us."
S Ed Reed
On his thoughts on Art Modell:"Oh man, great man. I think Torrey [Smith] said it best; we wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for Mr. Modell. Prayers go out to his family. I know it's tough for them, and Art was just a great man. Every time I talked to him and every time he saw me, he called me over to talk to him or something. Just to see how it was going, see how things were going with me and my family, and just talk football and make sure I was good with everything that just was happening. Because he reads your articles also, and so he knows. ... So, he asked me what was going on, to make sure I was happy with being here in Baltimore so I mean it's just ... I will say, I would say it's a sad day, because Mr. Modell's a great man and he's in a better place now. You know he lived a full life. I'm sure his family would tell you that, because we're right here."
On him going to the hospital to pay respects to Art Modell yesterday:"Yes, yes for us – a couple guys – to go out and represent the players, and be there for Mr. Modell and the family at the time, it was good because, I mean, we were a part of him. We were a part of the family. That was the reason he lived; it was for football. So, for us being there I'm sure he knew, and knows – his eyes were open and looking up at us – and all of us were around him and before we left just talking to him and prayed with him, and Ray [Lewis] just talked to him while we were right there. Man, it was great just being there to see him off, so-to-say."
On if he anticipates the secondary blitzing more this year:"I'm not sure if we're going to do more blitzing. You know, we haven't played a game yet; we haven't gotten into the flow of a game. It's always different when you get into a flow of a game, when you're playing against teams, certain teams, and whatnot. So, you've got to be careful to say you're going to blitz more [or] not going to blitz more, because you just never know how the game is going and what's working that day."
On the things that Bengals QB Andy Dalton does well:"He picks up on pretty much all your movements, and he knows where he wants to go with the ball. There [are] only certain coverages that you're going to get, for the most part, being that [Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis] was here, and we're kind of running a similar defense. He throws every ball and he's a scrambler, so he presents some problems to us too. You've got to be careful about doing too much."
On if he is excited and confident to see the younger guys play bigger roles on Monday:"Oh man, very excited. We knew in the offseason that we were going to be missing some guys, and some guys are still not as healthy, but that's part of the game. That's part of the business. Those guys have been through when I was down, we've been through when Ray [Lewis] was down, and now we're going through with Sizzle [Terrell Suggs] down. I mean, he's just, Terrell is a big part of our team, a big part of what we do, and guys are going to have to step up. Not just one player, every guy that's on offense, defense and special teams. We've all got to pick up that slack, because we know what Terrell brings to the table. Watching film on the Cincinnati game and watching him play last year, doing those dominating things he does, he's definitely going to be missed until we get him back."
On how special Monday night is going to be for him with it being the day before his birthday:"Monday night is always special, and to get back playing, through all the stuff that we go through in life, in the offseason, and just what we've been through as a team these last few years, and really just this training camp … You know we know our goals, and this is the first step, playing against Cincinnati. We'll deal with whatever happens after the game, but we are excited about playing. And yeah, the day before my birthday is always good. Its fall; I'm a fall baby."
On how his injury last year affects his play this year:"Yeah, that's football. You know what, when I make a tackle or make a play and I have a slight pain or something, you're going to react the way you react to it. I never came out of the game unless I was truly hurt. Me being on the ground, that's on me and my mother; that's not on anybody [else], no fan, whatever. That criticism comes, but my mom is at home watching that, and she's more worried than anybody. My biggest critic, I should say, because she doesn't want me laying on the ground either. So, I care less what other people think about so long as I get up, I have my health, and I finish the game and I still get the respect that I've earned throughout the league. That's fine by me, and I'm sure it's fine by my teammates. So, the injuries are what they are. When you've been playing a game for so long, and sports for so long, it tends to take a toll on your body, and that's what we're putting on the line. And that's what our argument is as players when we're doing negotiations and stuff like that, and it's not time for that so … It is what it is."
On knowing that Bengals WR A.J. Green has confidence going through the middle of the field:"A.J. Green [does] what A.J. Green [does]. He's a great player, and I'm sure as you continue to play, like I tell guys around here – the young guys – as you continue to play and study tape, get more reps under your belt, you're going to gain that confidence. So, it's not anything that I didn't expect from him. He was a great player last year, when he didn't play against us, I watched him and I'm excited to play against guys like that. When we play the football we play, you want to play against the best. You don't want to go against somebody who's taking plays off or does stuff like that. You want to play against the best."
On his impression of Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and if he was previously overlooked because of Tom Brady:"He's a good runner. He did great things in New England, so we definitely have to have our eyes on him, too. No, no if anybody knows anything about football, they know that New England is a team-oriented organization. It is not about one individual, it is not just about [Tom] Brady; even [Tom] Brady will tell you that. So did he get overlooked? No, it's about that organization."
RB Ray Rice
On how well he knew Art Modell:"Being here, going on my fifth year, the greatest things you get to have is to have lunch with somebody who brought your team here. You know, shake hands with him, told a few stories with him, and you obviously cherish the great times with somebody who is a legend around here. [He] had the courage enough to bring this organization to Baltimore, and it takes a man of courage to do the things that he did in his life. It's great that he'll be remembered for the great things he's done, in my eyes."
On what his reaction was when he heard of Modell's passing:"Yesterday when we found out [he was in the hospital], it was one of those situations where you hear about it, and the guys that went over there to see him in the hospital, obviously coach [John] Harbaugh told us what was going on and they said he was going in-and-out. But he lived a full life. Think about the age he is; that's a full life. The one thing you think about, when I think about life and death, is how you end up going; and he went peacefully. That's one thing you can say, is [that] he passed while he was going to sleep. He'll take all the good memories with him, and obviously we'll keep the family in our prayers. And needless to say, it's no added motivation for this week, but we'll go out there and play our hearts out for Mr. Modell and his family."
On how energized he is heading into the season opener compared to previous years:"It's a refreshing feeling. Everything on my end is behind me – the contract situation, training camp. One thing I wanted to get back in camp – and I was so eager to get back with my teammates – was timing. And I got that back from my guys. Being in shape was nothing I ever questioned, but obviously with this up-tempo offense and everything that's going along, you always want to have your cardio and stuff up to level because of the pace we're trying to play at. It's sort of like that refreshing feeling, like the first day of school when you want to wear your news clothes. *(laughter) *That's what Monday night is. You put on your best outfit and you're ready to go, but it's obviously a great feeling, because you know what Monday night is. A lot of great players are made on Monday night. Those are the ones that are remembered."
On whether his reference to "new clothes" is a reference to the new-look offense:"Well, the new clothes can be anything; it can be your new car, it can be your new clothes, it can be how you're dressed to the stadium. But for us, it will be a little bit of our tempo. Obviously, we want to go out there and put on a great show on Monday night and come away with a victory; that's the number one. That can be the new feeling as well, because obviously everybody now is 0-0. And after Sunday some things will change, but we get 16 guaranteed opportunities in the season, and Monday night just happens to be our first one."
On how QB Joe Flacco has evolved:"In pecking order, this is Joe's offense, then everybody else. And he's proven that this preseason with how he's played, his tempo, how vocal he is, and the quiet Joe phase I think is pretty much over. He's been outspoken – and I guess you guys get to see it more going into Year Five – but for me and him, we came in together, and I think he's going to prove to everybody why he's a top quarterback in the league. And going into this game, I'm confident, he's confident – I just can't wait to get out there with the guys so we can go out there and show guys what he's really capable of doing."
On what fans can expect from the running game this season in what seems to be a more pass-friendly offense:"Well, see that's the thing with running backs… I always felt that as a running back, you'll evolve with the change. And being that I've caught the ball really well, and I think I fit well with this offense, whatever it is – whether it's running the ball [or] passing. A catch to me is a long handoff. Eventually you've got to make hay with that, and whether it's 15 rushes, 10 catches, I just think as long as I'm fitting the game plan a certain way I'll be fine."
On what worked against Cincinnati last year that allowed him to break off a few long runs:"Well, you don't just run at a group like that; you scheme-up runs like that. You try to find out how they're fitting the play. And the big runs that we had you'll see – they play the run really well – but the big runs we had, it's usually one guy out of place or it's a missed tackle, maybe something that we schemed-up. But against a great defense like that, you pick and choose when you run the ball. You can't just say, 'Every play we're going to pound at them.' That's not smart. But I think we have a great plan, to where we will run the ball, but obviously it'll all start with just executing what we have at hand."
On whether he expects a lot of carries this week:"I go into every game expecting a lot of carries. That's just me, the feeling as a running back. You always feel like you're effective when you've got the best fullback in the league [Vonta Leach] in front of you, and then with the offensive line that we've got. But everything's all about the game plan. Usually, throughout the week tells it all; if it looks good in practice, we're going to run it in the game. And then you have situational football; where sometimes [with] some carries, you might have said, 'Maybe we should have [run] it here, or thrown it here.' We've got to play the situations. You've got to be smart when you run the football."
On whether he's eager to play four full quarters after having just 10 carries in the preseason:"Well 10 carries in the preseason didn't [account] for the many reps I had in practice. So, I got the reps I needed. But we played the game in practice – you've been at our training camp practices – they were pretty intense. We played the game in practice. So, yes I am eager to get out there and play four quarters though, because you're not just playing in a practice situation anymore. You're playing for the game, and you're playing in a real game. So, four quarters will tell it all."
On how he's handling the role of being the veteran running back:"As far as being a halfback, I'm the oldest one in the room. So, it feels different. Vonta [Leach] is obviously the oldest running back that we have, but taking that role on, it feels good. Now I can officially… I'm part of this mentoring program that we have, and no surprise who I have, I've got my counterpart Bobby Rainey – who I am taller than by the way, I don't want you all to ever get that out of line. *(laughter) *But I have Bobby Rainey, and it feels good to give him some of the tools that I've been given. Vonta has Bernard [Pierce], so we all consider ourselves a family and it's great to give what we've been given in the league to give it back to them."
On his confidence level with helping along rookie RB Bernard Pierce:"I'm very confident in him. The biggest thing now is I'm teaching him how to take care of his body. When you go through the whole season – four preseason games and then 16 regular season games, and if you're fortunate enough to make the playoffs – for him that would be two college seasons, in one season. So, now it's about the transition of taking care of your body, which I didn't learn until Year Two, when Ray Lewis finally took me and said, 'This is what you've got to do.' I'm trying to give him that now, early, because like I said, no one back takes it all anymore in the league. It's running back by committee. I might have a role that's different than his, but the better he can take care of his body, the more successful we'll be as a whole group going into the year. There's no such thing as staying fresh when you're in the regular season, but there is [such] thing as taking care of your body week-in and week-out."
On how to become a better player than last year:"Me? I always come in the season working on one thing, and that's my trust for my offensive linemen and Vonta [Leach]. There were some runs last year – I've watched every one – where I may have cut back too early, because of something I felt. This year, you're probably going to see a bit more patient Ray Rice."