Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
He may not be as well known as other returners around the league, but is Cowboys WR/RS Lucky Whitehead as dangerous as anybody? (Joe Platania)"He is a very good returner. I think he is well known in the circles of special teams, because he is a very aggressive player, and he has a lot of skill. He is doing a good job for them. He is a guy we are definitely aware of in our circle."
Is CB/RS Asa Jackson in the mix as a returner? (Garrett Downing) "Asa is in the mix for whatever we can have him do. He is playing corner. He is practicing at gunner. He is practicing on the kickoff coverage teams. He is practicing at a lot of different things. Returner is one of them."
The Cleveland Browns had two punt returners. Are you expecting to see that a lot more with two returners with the same skill set? (Jeff Zrebiec)"We actually see it quite often. It is mixed in based on situation. It is not unusual. It depends on the team and their philosophy on punt return. Obviously, the other thing that dictates it is if they have another returner that has the same amount of skill to catch the ball as Cleveland did. They felt confident, so they put two guys back there. We have seen it before."
How much appreciation do you have for the two kickers in this game? Statistically, these are the two most accurate in the history of the NFL?* (Garrett Downing)*"Yes, we have two fine kickers. I have a particular appreciation for our guy, because he is on our team. Dan Bailey is a fine player. The numbers speak for themselves."
Is there anything that K Dan Bailey is doing mechanically that is similar to K Justin Tucker? (Joe Platania) "Everybody is a little different, but you see a lot of similarities in the two players. They are both very good athletes. They both have good heads on their shoulders. You can see that they handle situations in football very well. They are both very skilled fundamentally. There is a reason why there numbers are what they are."
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement: "A little recap of the last ball game: It seems like it was a month ago with the long week. It was a great team effort. Some of the units played awfully well, and we had some excellent individual efforts as well. Now, going into Dallas – what a great opportunity and quite a challenge. They [the Cowboys] are a good football team, a good defensive football team. [We are] on the road. We are right in the middle of the preparation, and I will tell you that the players are putting the hard work in. There is no substitute for the hard work. We will open it up to questions."
John Harbaugh was asked about carrying over from the momentum from the second half against Cleveland where things seemed to be clicking – especially with the no-huddle offense – into Dallas. Can you do that?* (Jerry Coleman)*"That is what we look to do. Momentum is a big part. I am a big believer in a little mojo. When things are clicking, you are typically playing a little bit better than when things were not clicking. It is details and precision."
Is the no-huddle something you expect to keep doing? (Jerry Coleman) "Every game is different. We will see."
QB Joe Flacco said yesterday that he thought he was getting more fluid. He was getting more comfortable with the brace and playing with a reconstructed knee. He said finally he was feeling more fluid and his footwork is getting better in the pocket and out of it. How much easier does that make your job? Do you see that and recognize that he has come along with it? (Pete Gilbert) "Well, Joe playing well … Typically, when a quarterback plays well, you have a chance to win the game. That is the biggest thing. It certainly appears that way. I did not hear him say that. But, yes, he had a little rhythm going down the stretch there in that ball game. His reads were just beautiful down the stretch there."
The team has had trouble converting in the red zone this season. Is TE Darren Waller the kind of target who could potentially be that threat in the red zone? (Brett Hollander)"Yes. We had that one pick, and then we kicked the one field goal [when] we had an opportunity there. My mind wandered. Darren Waller is your question? Yes, he is a good player – big, strong, fast, good player [and] certainly a red zone target, yes."
Were you encouraged by what you saw from RB Kenneth Dixon against Cleveland, and do you anticipate his role continuing to grow? (Luke Jones)"Yes, we talked about Kenneth I believe a week or two ago. He is coming on. He had a pretty good injury there. He is coming on, and it is good to see him doing well. He is getting better every day. Not every week, [he is getting better] every day at practice. Yes, that is a real positive for our football team."
Do you sense a different level of confidence from the offense right now? When you came in, a lot of guys talked about how confident you are, but things didn't take off offensively immediately. After the performance against the Browns, do you sense confidence from the players after that kind of showing? (Ryan Mink)"Well, confidence is quite a little bit of what we do. I would expect our players to always have great confidence. That thing never fails. I think as a dad that one of my responsibilities is to instill confidence in my kids. Also, that is one of our responsibilities as teachers. That is what we do; we are teachers first. There are a lot of other things that go into this thing. But teachers instill confidence in those young kids, and it pays off. Yes, confidence is a big part of this – of anything we do – but certainly in this game of football."
Are plans being made to how TE Nick Boyle is going to fit in once he comes off the suspension? (Joe Platania) "We will certainly put some thought into that. The past is so important, because you learn from it. The future planning is so important, because you want to get there, and that is really important, as well, so we have put in some thought. But the most important is right now, today – right here in this meeting that we are going into. Yes. That is a long answer for 'yes.'"
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
With the offense that Dallas has and the way they are producing, is this the greatest challenge so far this season?* (Joe Platania)*"Every week is a challenge. Every team poses a different challenge, whether it be the receivers, whether it be the running game or whatever it might be. I just think every week is a challenge. Whether a team is 8-1 or 0-9, or whatever the situation is, you're just playing the team. Everybody in this league … I can't emphasize it enough. You guys know it. Everybody can beat everybody. Everybody can. Every week is just a new challenge. It really doesn't have anything to do with the record. They are a daggone good football team. Everybody knows that. It's just a challenge every week."
Dean, you guys have played some good running teams this year, but what makes Dallas so unique and consistent?* (Luke Jones)* "It's a combination of all of the things. They have a really good offensive line. They have a very, very good system. They keep doing the same stuff over and over and just do it really, really well. They have a great running back. They have enough threats on the outside that you can't sit there and load the box all day on them or you're going to get burnt over the top. It's just a combination of all of those things. I think you can also see they're playing with a ton of confidence. When you get things rolling, they could easily be 9-0 if that guy goes out of bounds in the first game. They're just playing with a ton of confidence. It's a combination of all of those things combined."
Did you have an inclination that rookie DT Michael Pierce could be as impactful as he has been up front when he showed up as an undrafted guy? (Pete Gilbert) "In all honesty, when you take a guy that's a free agent, you've watched him on tape and watched him on college film, but it's really kind of almost like a draft pick. You watch them on college tape, too, and you don't really know if it's going to translate to the NFL or if it's not going to translate. Obviously, the fact that we took him, we knew there were traits there that we obviously liked and our scouts liked. I don't think anybody really knows until you get out there. Even when you're having OTAs, you're not really having contact. Especially with big guys like that, you don't know if they're going to be able to get knock back. Everybody looks good in OTAs, to be honest with you. Yes and no. Yes, we thought enough of him to actually take him, and no, I don't think we ever really feel that way about any rookie until he really gets on the field and starts playing."
What traits does he have that allow him to be as impactful as he has been? I see quick feet. (Pete Gilbert)"He has quick feet. He's got a good motor. He plays hard. He's obviously very strong. He has a lot of power, a lot of lower body power. He plays with really good leverage, good pad level. He's not a really tall guy, so he can get his pads down. The other thing about it is, when guys sometimes like that are not drafted or maybe even drafted low, they are so in tune to what you're doing that they really pay a lot of attention, because they feel like, 'OK, I have to do all of this stuff perfect to make the team. I think that carries over. Then, when they do make the team … He's a humble guy, he takes coaching, and he just does a great job that way."
**Is he similar to DT Brandon Williams in his style of play? *(Jamison Hensley) *"They're similar. They are. They both have little, different traits in different ways, but they're both every powerful guys. They both play with a low center of gravity, a good pad level, and they're both strong. Both have excellent feet and hands, so yes, they're very similar in some ways."
When you look at Dallas QB Dak Prescott, keeping in mind he is a rookie, do you feel like he is a guy that can be frazzled if you apply the right pressure? (Jerry Coleman) "I don't know after nine games if he is considered a rookie anymore. You can say he's a first-year player. I don't think he's a rookie anymore. This guy has seen a bunch of stuff now. They played three divisional teams that you know throw everything at them that they can throw at them, and nobody has rattled him. I don't think of him – don't even look at him – as a rookie. I look at him just as another quarterback that's an excellent, excellent talent. We don't think about that at all. If this was going to be his first game starting, I would say, 'OK, we have a rookie quarterback coming in.' But not when you're 8-1 and he's taken them all the way. And the way they have demolished some people, I don't look at him at all as a rookie."
**Prescott is their guy, but QB Tony Romo could be active and only one hit away. Do you prepare for Romo at all? *(Jerry Coleman) *"You prepare for the offense. It's their offense. They're going to run what they run. They're not all of a sudden going to … If something like that were to happen and he was out and broke a chinstrap or something, and Romo came in, it's not like the whole offense for the Dallas Cowboys is going to change. 21 [Ezekiel Elliot] is still back there. 88 [Dez Bryant] is still out there. 82 [Jason Witten] is still out there, and that offensive line is still there. It's not going to change."
How much do you think Prescott's confidence as a rookie is due to the offensive line and how well they are protecting him? (Mike Garafolo) "I think it's not only that confidence, he has confidence in his ability to also get away from the pass rush. They do a good job of putting him on the move on their boot passes. Because they are such a good running team, all of their play-action stuff sets up a lot of their passes. It's hard to get pressure when you're sitting there playing the run as a front all the time. I think it is a combination of just all of those things."
Going back to Williams and Pierce, you have been very blunt about your stance on players from small colleges. You said an athlete is an athlete no matter where he comes from, but the fact that they come from a small school, do you think that puts a chip on their shoulder?* (Joe Platania)*"It's possible. That really is a question you'd have to ask them, if it motivates them to be more. I don't know. Recruiting in college is not an exact science. There are just so many guys that come in and do well in college that maybe didn't get a Division-I scholarship and went to another school. Just like there are guys that come into the pros and ended up … Undrafted guys end up being great, great players in this league. You'd really have to ask them if there's a chip on their shoulder. I just think they come in and try to work really, really hard to make a team, because nobody has ever given them anything. I think because of that hard work, it makes them that kind of a player."
You guys are one of the highest-ranked defenses in the NFL. This was the case in the second half of last year, and this year you started off that way. How have you guys taken the step to where you are consistently good (Jeff Zrebiec) "Like I said before, I think we're faster on defense. We've obviously – this question was asked earlier in the year – I think we created more turnovers, and I think that's really because we're faster. We've gotten some more hits. We've gotten some more picks. We weren't very good last year when it came to turnovers. I just think our team speed [has improved]. I think the other thing is we're playing with a lot of confidence. When you give up big plays early on, it's hard to have a lot of confidence when you're giving up yardage and you're giving up plays. It's just like Dallas having confidence on offense, because they just run the ball so well on everybody, you just feel good about yourself. You feel good about yourself, too, when you aren't giving up a bunch of big plays and you're hanging in there. I don't know if there's any one thing. I just think, overall, we're feeling better about ourselves."
OLB Elvis Dumervil
On if he feels 100-percent healthy:"The last two days have been great. I feel really good; I feel confident. That is really good. I am happy to be a part of the No. 1 defense, so hopefully I can be an extra arsenal."
On if his injury is different than it was after playing two games and then being held out again: "No doubt." *(Reporter: "How so?") *"Just the strength. I think last time as a competitor, as a winner, you just want to go out [and play]. Sometimes it is good to listen, and I learned that."
On OLB Terrell Suggs' comments about Dumervil "teasing" him: "Oh, man. *(laughter) *It has been a while since we have both been healthy playing with each other. That is going to be fun."
On becoming healthy at a good time with the Ravens first in the division and playing in a big game:"I know. It is a blessing. I think it is great for the Ravens. I'm feeling really close to what I am normally at, and like you said, the defense is playing at a top level. It is exciting."
On if he can clarify if he wants to play, but the decision being up to head coach John Harbaugh:"What I'm saying is that you have to ask the coach, and you have to ask the doctors." (Reporter: "He always tells us to ask you.") *"Well, I'm telling you to ask him." *(laughter)
On how to prepare against a mobile quarterback like QB Dak Prescott:"[I prepare] like any other quarterback. He is a young guy, and he has been really great this year. [He has] a good offensive line, a well-coached team and a lot of explosive players around him. The good thing is that we have good players, too. It is going to be good. It is going to be a good challenge."
On the defense having a chip on its shoulder going into a game against the top rushing offense: "I think the way we play defense here, there is always an attitude. We don't really worry about what people say. All you can do is control what you can control and go out and play the Ravens' way. That is going out and being physical, being smart and being tough."
On what he has seen from the sidelines that has made the defense so great: "I think [defensive coordinator] Dean Pees is doing a tremendous job with the scheme, and I think we have really good players. I think the addition of Eric Weddle has been huge, a healthy Terrell Suggs, and I think Michael Pierce … We have a lot of guys over the past couple years who have developed, and from what I have seen, I think we have a lot more mature defense. We have guys that dominate at what they do – guys like Zach [Orr], the speed we have on the field. Guys like Jimmy Smith, a big corner, Tavon Young, a guy who is a smaller but a quicker corner. I think we have a lot of different dimensions to our defense, which makes us very flexible."
On what it is like to watch a guy like DT Michael Pierce, who came in as an undrafted free agent: "I am so happy for him. Ever since camp, the kid has been working really hard. [Defensive line] coach Joe [Cullen] has been doing a tremendous job with those guys, coaching them up. Obviously, when we have a guy like Brandon Williams around to show him the route, it is a good example. Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, the list goes on."
On if it is a good test for him going against a great offensive line: "For me personally? I think as a collective group, it is going to be rubber meets the road. They are a good offensive line, but we have a pretty good front seven as well."