**Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
Coach, just your thoughts on Jacoby Jones getting selected to go to the Pro Bowl? (Ed Lee)"The entire special teams corps really feels a lot of pride in Jacoby going to the Pro Bowl, because Jacoby feels a lot of pride in the efforts of his blockers. And he expressed that, I know, to our guys; I know he expressed that publicly, too. They understand that it's a team effort, and it takes all of those guys to get that one player to the Pro Bowl. So, the whole crew is very happy for Jacoby."
Did you think Justin [Tucker] had a pretty good chance of making the Pro Bowl? (Ryan Mink)"I really don't know how the whole voting goes. I don't see the tallies or anything like that, but I think Justin has had a tremendous year, and it's only his first year. I think the guy that made it [Cleveland's Phil Dawson] has long been deserving of a Pro Bowl berth. Phil Dawson has been a great kicker in the league for a long time, and the fact that this is his first time in the Pro Bowl, I think Justin understands that it is not an easy honor to get. And if he keeps performing like he has been performing, Justin will be in Pro Bowls down the road. The good news is Justin understands he's in the playoffs, and he's in the AFC [North] champion's locker room, and so that's always a good thing."
Is this what you envisioned for Jacoby Jones when you brought him to Baltimore? (Ed Lee)"Every player we bring in here, we aspire for great things. And we've seen Jacoby score a lot of touchdowns watching the tape of Houston. So, you look at that and you see how explosive he can be, and after he got here, I was really excited to work with him because I saw the explosive returns that he's put on tape over the years. When he arrived here, I was even more excited, because I learned what kind of person he was. He wants to get better, he wants to work hard, and he wants to have great relationships with his teammates, and he supports his teammates. That relationship that that group has with Jacoby is, I think, one of the reasons why they've had success together."
Jerry, can you talk about Courtney's [Upshaw] role with you a little bit, and how he's been doing sort of double duty by playing both defensively and on special teams? (Drew Forrester)"Courtney had a real fine game on kickoff coverage this last weekend, and he's also playing left guard for us on the punt team. The guard position on punt team is one that is largely overlooked, but it's really one of the tougher positions on special teams to play, and Courtney worked his way into that spot. Now, we've had other guys who have suffered some injuries that weren't able to play, that Courtney's opportunity came [from]. He's done a real good job, and I credit him for all of the practice work that he put in through training camp and through the season and scout team reps, to the point where we can trust him with that position, because there's a lot that goes with that. And on kickoff coverage, he went down there like a linebacker and played like a linebacker, and he had a couple of real good tackles. It was exciting to see. He's embraced it, too. That's what's really fun to work with. He's embraced the opportunity. He's not a guy that's looking forward to being removed from it when everyone else is back on the roster and healthy. He wants to continue doing it, and that's really a positive sign."
What did you think of Adrian Hamilton and his play on special teams? (Ryan Mink)"He got off to a good start – the first kickoff cover he went down there and made the tackle. I said, 'Well, you didn't have to do much for that. Off to a good start, we'll just keep doing that.' Then later on he made another tackle, so it was a good start for him. He knows he's got a lot to learn, there are other things that he needs to do to expand his role on special teams, and so that's what we're working on this week. But it was also a very good start for him. He ran hard, he was physical, and those were the first two things that we needed him to do and he provided that for us."
Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell
It's been two weeks since you have sort of taken over the offense. Do you feel like this offense has your imprint on it? (Ed Lee)"This is the Ravens' offense. This is not Jim Caldwell's offense. This is a team and a unit effort. I think often times people kind of get caught up in that, but that's certainly not my intent. My intent is to make sure that I'm a part of a very, very high-functioning group that loves to play, that is physical and makes very, very few mistakes and puts points on the board. That's really our goal."
It seems like you have made a few tweaks, a few changes here and there in the offense. Do you feel like you've had enough time to do that, and has it worked as effectively as you thought it would? (Ed Lee) "We really haven't changed that much, to be honest with you. We just made a couple of adjustments here and there. It's too far down the road to make any significant changes. There may be a thing or two here that we had in our system that we've utilized a hair more, but not much. We haven't changed that much. I think you all know how difficult it is to execute in this high-functioning league of great performers, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. If you go in and do something that you haven't been working on for quite some time and there's a little bit of hesitation in what you do, you have a problem. We try and stick with the things that we know, the things that we can execute and execute well."
You guys seemed to have used the middle of the field very effectively in the passing game. Was that something that you saw specifically in the Giants' defense or a point of emphasis to maybe look to that area of the field a little bit more? (Luke Jones) "Every team is a little bit different. You have to attack in different ways, and sometimes they present opportunities to attack certain areas of the field. We try to look across the board and see – and obviously, compare it to what we do – to see what best suites us in terms of attacking a particular group of guys. The guys functioned well, and we just so happened to hit a few here and there in terms of the passing game and in the running game as well. It worked out well. Like anything else, that was last week. This week we have a great challenge ahead of us as well."
**Jim, perhaps having the possibility of facing the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs, do you not want to show much because you don't want to give them the look? *(Ryan Mink) *"I think John [Harbaugh] has expressed that we are going there to win, so [we'll do] whatever it takes to win. If it takes doing something that perhaps we would love to do at some other point in time and juncture, our goal is to go in there and win this ballgame. We are going to use everything that we have to get that done."
What's your impression of Geno Atkins, and how do you sort of limit him from doing what he usually does against an offense? (Ed Lee) "That's difficult to do, obviously. Pro Bowler, extraordinary quickness, great power and strength, he's very difficult where he lines up to double-team him consistently. They move him around just enough in there to give you different looks, but the guy is maybe one of the most powerful interior linemen that you'll ever see. Obviously, it's tough to get sacks from the interior, and when you get the number of sacks that he's had from his position, you know he's something special. Obviously, you better pay attention to him and know where he is, and you better try to do a few things to kind of help control him, because he can disrupt the entire ballgame."
Is one of the things maybe having either Vonta [Leach] or Ed Dickson lined up on the same side where Geno [Atkins] is lined up? (Ed Lee) "You have to do a number of different things to him. You cannot just go in there and do exactly the same thing all the time. He's been around the block. That defensive staff is extraordinary. It's not your typical staff. [Defensive coordinator Mike] Zimmer does a fine, fine job of adjusting. He's one of the best in the business. They have something to attack everything you do, and they do the same thing with protecting their good players as well. He's not the only threat. He's a great player, but I'm telling you, [Michael] Johnson is a good pass rusher. [Carlos] Dunlap is outstanding. They have a linebacker corps that's out of this world and a secondary that is playing very, very well together. They create a lot of problems for you."
*How critical was it to have Marshal Yanda back last week and the impact that it had. The offensive line seemed to turn in one of the best performances of their season. (Luke Jones) *"Obviously, he's a big part of what we do. Up front in particular, I think all of you realize that it's a collective unit and those guys play side by side. They work together. It's a cohesive group, and he's certainly a core to that group. He and Matt Birk in the middle – they are guys that we depend on. They do a tremendous job of rallying the guys and keeping everyone focused and calming the young guys down when needed. Very, very effective, obviously, it's demonstrated by the fact that he's made his second Pro Bowl – a talented guy that we are certainly glad he's back."
How satisfying is it when you come out of the gate like you did last week and things were clicking and the plays that you are calling are working? The guys are executing. Personnel groups are jiving. Is that the epitome of coaching at this level when it does manifest itself like it did? (Keith Mills) "I think the guys executed extremely well. That's really the bottom line. It really doesn't matter when guys are executing and executing well what plays are called, because of the fact that they are blocking. They are doing the basics right. What we are trying to do is focus on the lowest common denominator, and that's the fundamentals – blocking, making certain that we are winning on the pass sets, making certain that we are throwing and catching accurately, running our routes the best we possibly can. All of those things – tied into our backs running hard and also protecting when need be. When you do those things right, everything else kind of falls in line. You know the old adage: Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves. That's kind of what we believe."
Does it all come down to converting on third down? You guys had nearly 40 minutes of possession and you are able to get into the offense. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce get touches. How critical is that third-down success? (Luke Jones) "Very, but obviously, that doesn't tell the whole story, because often times what you do on first and second down sort of lends itself to what happens on third down. If you can keep it third-and-manageable, your chances of converting are much, much better. It's difficult, but it's still much better. What we try to do is focus in on those first portions as well. If we can average four yards a carry on first and second down, if we can complete passes at a rate of about 70 percent on first and second down – those things kind of lead to being able to manage the third-down situation. That's where, in this league, you make your money – converting on third downs. It's a difference maker."
Ray Rice had 30 combined touches this past Sunday. How pleased were you to get him involved as frequently as you did? (Ed Lee)"We certainly understand how important he is to what we do. The fact that he is just a guy that once he gets the ball in his hands, he's going to do something special with it. We try and make certain that he gets it enough times, but like I said, that kind of all falls in line hand-in-hand, because if you're converting on third downs, you're doing all the little things right. That means that you're extending drives. If you are extending drives, everybody gets more touches. We can spread it around a little bit. Bernard [Pierce] carried the ball a significant number of times and carried it well. When you're moving the ball and you're converting and you're extending drives and you have a 12-play drive, a 13-play drive, a 14-play drive, a 16- or 17-play drive, those lend itself to being able to spread the ball a bit and get Ray [Rice] the ball as much as he needs it."
You had so much success. Is there any one area that you looked that you wanted to specifically be better? (Luke Jones) "Everything, all across the board. We have a long way to go. It's a difficult task in this league, but you just have to keep getting better. We are a long way from where we would like to be, but our guys are incrementally moving in the right direction. Too many penalties – there are a lot of things that we could look at. We didn't block perfectly on every single play. We didn't run every route perfectly. That's what we are chasing; we are chasing perfection. We have our work cut out for us."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
What is the challenge of A.J. Green? (Ed Lee)"[He is] the best receiver in the league. He's got all the tools. He can go up and get the ball. [He is] really, really dangerous in the red [zone] area, where he can go up and get a fade. He has all the routes, so he is just a dynamic player."
Is he similar to guys like Andre Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, guys you've faced in the past? (Ed Lee)"[He's] another big receiver. There's a few of them: Johnson … A couple of Johnsons, A.J. Green. Those guys are all of the same mold. They are just dynamic players. They have good speed. Whether or not they are blazers or not doesn't really matter, because they are so long that once they build speed, they are as fast as they need to be. Then they are big. Besides being big, they just have such great body control and great hands. They just make phenomenal catches. Even when they're covered, there are times you just say, 'The guy had as about as good of coverage as you could have, and if the ball is in the right spot, the guy is going to make the play.' He's just a dynamic player."
Because of Green, is there a temptation to focus too much on him and forget about some of the other receivers they have? (Ed Lee)"I don't think so. I think it's like anything: You always focus on the best players, and he is one of the best players. They have other guys. [Andrew] Hawkins is a good little player. [Jermaine] Gresham is a good tight end. They have just good players all around. That's why they are in the playoffs. Again, you can't necessarily focus a little bit more attention on him."
You guys have the possibility of facing them in the first round of the playoffs. Is this a game where you don't really want to show too much because you might face them in another week? (Ryan Mink)"You can take two different approaches. You can either not show them a whole lot thinking you might play them again, or you can show them a whole and give them more to work on during that time, too. So, you can take two different approaches."
How did you think Dannell Ellerbe fared in his first game back in a few weeks? How has he grown over the course of this year, getting his first extended chance to play as a starter? (Luke Jones)"I thought he played well for coming back, because he is still a little banged up. He played well. I think he's had a good season. I think the way he was progressing and going could've really been a really, really good season had he not gotten hurt. I thought he was really coming along, so I think the injury set him back a little bit. He is a really good player. He's always been a very good athlete. Now, he is becoming a good linebacker."
What has been the biggest difference, making that transition from athlete to linebacker, for him? (Luke Jones)"I think, No. 1, is sometimes the off-the-field stuff, in the classroom, studying your position, getting to understand your position, knowing it, knowing the blocking schemes, knowing how people attack you. Secondly, I think the other part is experience. The more you see things, the better you become at them. I wasn't here when he was first here, and I really didn't watch all that much film [on him], to be honest with you. But, I know he had a good year, but I think he also was in a situation where he kind of fell into one a little bit. Now, he has had to kind of earn it back, and I give him a lot of credit that he's done that."
Is there anything that Chykie Brown and Corey Graham have done fundamentally that you have stressed to them and they've followed through on it? (Drew Forrester)"Corey, to me, first of all, is just a true pro. This guy studies, like I said, in a classroom, all the stuff off the field that you ask a guy to do and to come in and prepare himself to do. I think when you play in the slot, especially in sub [package], one of the key things that you need to be able to do is really study the guy that you're going to line up against. Not that you don't have to do that on the outside, but there are a lot of times on the outside somebody may be helping you over the top maybe more than in the slot. Down there low, there is not a whole lot they can do for you, and you have a lot of space. I think he has done a great job of studying the receivers and the people that he has played against and how to attack it and how to play them. I don't think there is any particular thing that we've done other than just fundamental stuff. Same thing with Chykie. He has just gotten better and better because, again, the more he plays, the more he sees, the more experience that he gets. I don't think there is any one thing that we did that, 'Oh boy, they really followed through on that.' I think it's the same stuff they work on every day. I think, fundamentally, both are getting better all the time."
How difficult has it been for you to tinker with some of the injuries you've had at corner and had to go to guys like Corey Graham, Chykie Brown and Chris Johnson? (Ed Lee)"Every week, it's like I take attendance in our room to see who shows up. You see what you have or figure out what you think you're going to have for that Sunday, and then you just try to put them in the right spot. You try to take your call sheet and say, 'OK, can we do this? Are we asking a guy to do something he can't do? Can we do something else to maybe confuse them a little bit, but it won't be confusing to us?' You look at all that kind of stuff. The thing, to their credit, they study that once we give them the plan and say, 'Here's what we want to do with you this week,' they really study it and take it to heart."
Feeding off that, is it a confidence factor that you can plug guys in, go through injuries and make guys fit? (Morgan Adsit)"Sometimes it fits, sometimes it doesn't fit quite as well as I'd like it to fit. That's a hard question to answer. We've been through a lot of it. You still don't want to get away from the structure of what you are and what you put in during OTAs [organized team activities] and training camp. You don't want to deviate too far from that. You can change some things. Sometimes what you are actually doing is you're running the same defense, you're just changing the people and where they are. So, to somebody else, it may look like it's a lot different or to the offense it's a lot difference [because] No. 90 [Pernell McPhee] is lined up here instead of out there, but really it's the same defense; we just changed some people sometimes. So, it's not so much inventing new schemes as kind of inventing new ways to run the same old scheme."
Haloti Ngata hasn't been out there for practice the last couple of days, but hadn't been on the injury report for a few weeks. Is it just a matter of rest for him, and what have you seen from him the last few weeks? I know John Harbaugh said a couple of weeks ago he looks like he is healthier. (Luke Jones)"I think he's getting there. He's been banged up, seems like kind of all year here and there. He's getting some well-deserved rest."
So, you don't have any concern about his availability for Sunday? (Ed Lee)"No."
BenJarvus Green-Ellis hadn't fumbled in a regular season game until this year. Are you stressing to your guys to make sure to tackle him and don't worry about trying to cause a fumble or strip him? (Ed Lee)"The thing about BenJarvus is I spent time with him in New England, so I know BenJarvus pretty well. This is a back that knows the worth of a four-yard gain, and that's kind of what I was stressing to the defense. This is not a guy [who says], 'OK, I have a chance to jump-cut it out here, maybe make a big play or get tackled for a loss, or I can stick it up in there and gain two more extra yards, but that's probably what I'll get.' That's what he's going to do. He's a valuable, valuable back that way. He's just a steady guy, doesn't fumble, is a decent receiver out of the backfield, but he is a downhill, one-cut, get-you-everything-he-can-get-you, run-over-you, not-going-to-run-out-of-bounds [runner] – all that kind of stuff. He is a tough, tough kid. He doesn't say anything. He is a business man. He goes to work. I have a ton of respect for the guy."
Do you anticipate resting players for the playoffs? (Morgan Adsit)"That's [head coach] John [Harbaugh]'s decision. That is not my decision. The only thing we have to do with that depth is who starts and who plays backup. Who plays is totally up to John and the trainers."