Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out. We had a practice, and it went well. We are deep into our preparation for the Steelers, and that's our focus right now."
Coach, to just piggy-back on something that WR Steve Smith, Sr. just said about the focus on domestic violence: Do you think that's something that can cast a light on an issue that is a serious one not just across the country, but the world?* (Reporter)* "Absolutely. As a person of faith, you like to believe that things that are hard and difficult can work together for good, and that good can come to us on a lot of different levels and a lot of different places. There are a lot of really difficult things in our society that we're all dealing with domestically – here, abroad, everywhere. If all of us can get together and try to put our heads together and be our best, do our best, and try to make it better for people, then that's something we should all be striving to do. If something good can come from all this, then that's good."
John, you guys are sort of known for being the model organization with how you do certain things. Are you concerned about how these incidents, and also the offseason stuff, affect that reputation? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I don't think of it that way. You do your best with the situations that are put before you and try to handle things the right way and do the right thing."
John, do you have a sense of the team's focus? You've prepared for a lot of games, and there's been a lot going on the last couple days.
What's your sense of their readiness? (Clifton Brown) "The sense is ... You observe in the meetings – and we're a part of that together – [and during] practices, and you see the results of what they're doing, and it's very good. The assignments are good, the techniques are very good, and the focus is where it needs to be. I said yesterday: 'This is professional football.' These are pros, and that's what they'll do."
Coach, do you think anything could've been done differently? A lot of the focus these past couple of days have been about how the situation was handled. Are there any thoughts on that part of the process?* (Reporter)* "There's going to be a time to look at all that stuff. I know those in our organization that have the responsibility will continue to do that. My focus has been on the football game, in all honesty, and trying to be the best we can be Thursday night."
When someone asked you about a starting running back, you kind of listed a few names. How have you seen RB Bernard Pierce sort of bounce back? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Bernard has been very good. He has a great attitude, good demeanor. You get into the game and ... You had asked me about that before, and I really – I guess I didn't have a lot of time to give it a whole lot of thought. There was no talk about sitting Bernard down during the game. It's just [that] Justin [Forsett] was rolling. He was making good decisions; he was picking up pass protection. We had confidence in him at that time more so than the other running backs. But Bernard ... You don't lose faith in a player because of a bad play. Bernard is still on his way to becoming, I would say, a very good player, and I've been saying that all along. I have the utmost confidence in him. He's going to fight and battle. He's not going to be perfect – none of us are – but Bernard Pierce is a big part of what we're doing, just as are Justin [and] Lorenzo [Taliaferro] as well."
So it could be, going forward, whoever is the hottest? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's always been that way. You go with guys that are making plays at those positions. Wide receivers – you go with the guys who are playing the best at the time, but probably more so at running back than any position, when you have a number of guys kind of in the same spot."
It looks like WR Kamar Aiken has really stepped up big time making some plays. (Aaron Wilson) "[That's a] very good point. That's a good segue. Kamar Aiken has played really well. If you play like that, you earn more playing time. He made some big catches for us down the stretch at the end there [against Cincinnati], and it was good to see. He's a good football player – very good player."
QB Joe Flacco
On the Ray Rice situation: "I think there's not really too much more you can say about it. I think everybody has addressed it and, obviously, it doesn't paint a good picture of who Ray [Rice] is as a person. But I've played with Ray – this would have been the seventh year – and sometimes good people make bad decisions and put themselves in a bad light. Really, my heart goes out to him and his family, and I hope they get through this as best as they can. As far as us, we have a big game this week, and Pittsburgh has always been a huge game for us and a really good game. We have to go in there with all the focus in the world, and I think we're doing a great job of doing that – coming out here and getting ready and going through our work."
On what kind of void there will be without Ray Rice: "Like I said, I don't think we thought about the football aspect of it too much. Like I said, for me, we came in [to the NFL in 2008] together. We were drafted together. So, I feel like I know Ray pretty well. And when you're that close to a person, obviously, it's a little different not having him here and realizing that you're not going to have him here. Having said that, we have to move on and we have to focus on Pittsburgh."
On whether he watched the video: "Yes."
On whether the video put things in a different perspective: "Like I said, I think everybody said all they can about the video, and I tried to address it the best I can. And that's really it."
On whether he feels like the Ravens organization is under siege following this Rice incident: "I don't know. It's tough for me to say, 'under siege.' It is what it is, and it's going to be reacted to how it is."
On what shape the running game is in: "I think it's good. We have some good guys back there. You saw what Justin [Forsett] is going to be able to do for us. You've seen what Bernard [Pierce] can do for us in the past. We have some young guys; we have Lorenzo [Taliaferro]. We're going to be great, and our line is playing physical and getting better and better. I think that we're really working on a great thing and working on being really good. I think last week, obviously, wasn't a great example of what we're necessarily going to be doing all year. It kind of got away from us a little bit, but we have total confidence in our running backs and in our line, pushing people around and opening up lanes for those guys."
On how the short week is affecting the team: "Short weeks are always a tough challenge no matter what – same as always. We're trying to get our bodies back together. You forgot how quick these Thursday turnarounds are. This is a Tuesday; we normally wouldn't even really be doing too much, and we're 90 percent of the way through the game plan and getting ready to go. We're going to be playing really soon, so we have to get our minds right. But more importantly, we have to do everything we can to physically feel good by the time that whistle blows on Thursday night, and that's what we're doing."
On whether the Ray Rice incident has impacted the short practice week: "Like I said, it's tough no matter what. So, it's not really adding anything. We have a bunch of focused guys, and we have plenty to worry about with those guys."
On what the offense wants to show in the second game: "Improvement – being able to play consistent and do the little things consistently, so that we can play a full 60 minutes the way we really want to. I think that's what we see when we look back, the very little that we did last week, is that there were very fundamental things that we were not very in sync with each other on, and we need to see that improvement and see those things go away – see the things that we do every single day and come out here and do them perfect. We need to see those things be that same way in the game. Therefore, we can bring our consistency up and play a good, full game."
On whether playing four wide [receivers] with a single back was better than five-wide during the first game: "I think a lot of times, really, in a game we went five-wide to try to see how we can combat some of the double-mug blitzes they have and all that and try to give them some problems, because they're so used to giving us some problems and other teams problems.
I think we wanted to try to give them some problems lining up in some four-by-one stuff and emptying out the backfield and seeing how they reacted to it. I think we did a good job with it at times and, obviously, early on we probably stumbled a little bit."
On whether there is anything he can do about slow starts for the offense: "We have to come ready to play. We have to be confident and we have to believe that we're going to go out there and play from the very first whistle. I think we definitely looked rusty early on, and we have to make sure we correct that. Like I said, I think a lot of it has to do with being loose, playing confident. By the time you get into the second half, you're broken in, you've been hit, you've caught a pass, everything has happened and you go out there and react. And we need to get to the point that we all feel as a unit confident enough and loose enough to go out there and do that from the very first snap."
On whether he is still developing a trust with WR Torrey Smith on underneath catches: "I think most of what I said – what I said during training camp – was that in the past, a lot of those underneath things in the stop routes, on the sideline, things like that, they were the things that we probably struggled with a little bit. But so far this year, they have been incredible. What I believe – what I probably said or was referring to –is [that] Torrey is a 1,000-yard receiver and he's a 100-catch guy, and the thing that's going to get him to those 100 catches is going to be ... It's not going to be running by guys and catching home runs over the top and all the things that he does really, really well, because he has that talent. It's going to be those little things. It's going to be the 5-yard catches that he turns into 12-yard gains. It's going to be the 5-yard catches and [he] gets tackled. Those are the things that are going to take him from being however many catches he had last year to being a 100-reception guy. And I'm seeing all those things this year from him. He's really developing that, and I feel great about it."
On whether there is a void in team leadership without Ray Rice: "I don't think so. We have so many guys here that go out and compete every single day, and everybody else can see that example. And it's not just random guys. It is our top guys going out there competing every single day, and they have proven it on the field time and time again so guys can really believe that. It's tough to say there's a real void, because we have a good core group of guys that [are] able to come out and go about their business every day like they're having a ton of fun and love this game like they're little kids. So, I don't think we have any void in that area."
CB Jimmy Smith
On if it has been difficult to focus on this week's football game with the increased media presence in the building: "I feel like the media is always around. But it's been pretty simple: I go home and read my playbook like I always do."
On the status of his chest injury and if he feels that he has fully healed: "That was a couple of weeks ago. I am 100 percent fine. [My] lungs are moving, working fine. [My] body is moving fine."
On how he would describe the Ravens-Steelers rivalry: "Intense, physical – the best rivalry in football. I love it. It's always on primetime, and everybody in the world wants to watch that game."
On what it's like playing in the Ravens-Steelers games: "Playing in something you see on TV and to actually be in it ... To hear the fans, to know how much each side hates each other, it's fun. It's probably the best game every year that we get to play in."
On if the hatred is different in this game from that of other games: "I think the hate might be a [tiny] bit stronger for the Steelers than [others]. But, we hate the Bengals and we hate the Browns, too. (laughter) We hate anybody coming in trying to win."
On thoughts he has on what happened with the secondary in the Week 1 Ravens-Bengals game, specifically the long A.J. Green TD: "We've talked. We discussed it. It was a simple, technique error on [Chykie Brown's] part, but he fixed it, and we know what we've got to do going forward. That's pretty much all that is."
WR Steve Smith, Sr.
On if his new teammates have shared anything about the Ravens-Steelers rivalry over the years: "That was one of the big things that were explained to me. Every team has its rival; every team has a team that makes things very interesting – a little chippy. [It's a] big game Thursday. All that stuff going on throughout the city and just here, I'm looking forward to it."
On if he embraces the physical style of the AFC North: "I try to do the best I can."
On what he's expecting from this rivalry matchup: "It's going to be a physical game, but at the end of the day, it's about football. It's going to be the guys who make the most plays. The way the receivers started off as a group – we pretty much screwed up every which way you can. We have to minimize that and just continue to keep improving and just play better. If we start faster and end the way we played [against Cincinnati], we'll have a great outcome."
On what role he played amidst the turmoil this week: "Every year you deal with something big or small. [With] what's transpired here [during] my few months here as a Baltimore Raven, it's been a trying time, but at the same time, you can't really dive into somebody's personal life too much. You have to compartmentalize to some part, because if you don't, this is a game that is physical, and you can get hurt if your mind is not clear and focused on what you have to do."
On how previous NFL experiences have helped him adjust to the current situation: "What's happened over the last several days is happening all across the country. Yes, my foundation, we deal with domestic violence, and my mom is a survivor of domestic violence, and so I'll say this, and this will be my only statement about it: I don't condone what someone has done, but also, I'm not going to be the judge and the jury. That's not my role; that's not my place. God is the only person that is going to deal with that, and I'm not going to do that. Unfortunately, we live in a glass bowl, and that's where it is and that's what ... At times it's unfair, and it puts us in an awkward situation and allows things to go where they went. I don't condone it, but I'm not going to condemn, because that's not my place. I don't think it's anybody's place, but yet, people want to do it. I'm going to take my [opinion] out of it, because it's not up to me and it's not my place to say. I don't care what stance you're on – there's no justification. At some point, we've all done things that we hope do not [get] played out in front of cameras. So, you better be careful. That's my personal opinion."
On the football-related implications of Ray Rice's release from the team: "Football is a part of who we are, and personally, things are going to unravel and things are going to happen, and when you have success, you can't allow that to be who you are. You can't allow tragedy to be who you are [either]. You have to be able to deal with it, and this is a great opportunity where it is."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On if the video released yesterday changed his opinions of the Ray Rice incident: "I'm not going to comment on Ray Rice and Janay. They have decided to move forward with their lives, and I want to respect their privacy and their wishes and let them do so. I understand you've got a job to do, but with me, it's family. He's my brother, and I love him and I'm going to miss him. But, I've got to be a professional and I've got to focus on the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, if you all want to ask Steelers questions, we can do so, but I'm not going to comment on Janay and Ray. We do wish them all the best, and their family is in our prayers."
On his favorite thing about the Ravens-Steelers rivalry: "What's my favorite thing about the Steelers rivalry? Just everything that goes into it, as you can clearly see. (Motions to t-shirt he's wearing.) I love this rivalry. I think it's the best rivalry in football. Thursday can't get here fast enough. I think they're going to be excited, and we're definitely going to be excited and motivated and ready to play."
On where he got his t-shirt: "I actually, in the offseason, took a pilgrimage to Ball So Hard University and Hogwarts. I just dug deep within myself, and this is the image that came up with this whole Steelers rivalry. We just wanted to let their head coach [Mike Tomlin] know, we will never forget what transpired here in this game last year."
On how he would describe the way the two teams feel about one another: "Hatred is a very strong word, but it seems fitting. There's a lot of respect going there, because the two teams are so similar. We plan on displaying our thoughts of each other, come Thursday."
On how he feels Thursday night's game will play out: "Hopefully, legally, there won't be too many fines in this game. But some usually do occur during this game. I think both teams kind of take it as it lies and we have fun doing so."
On how he feels NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is handling the Ray Rice situation: "Once again, I'm not answering any questions that have anything not to do with Ravens-Steelers come Thursday. I'll let the outside world kind of deal with that."
On if it is more special for him to get to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger than other quarterbacks: "We both like to compete against each other. Like I said, there is a respect thing there. The guy has played in the Super Bowl three times and won two of them. We like to compete against each other. I like that, the competitive [nature]. But, I have to say their coach and their offensive line coach are doing a great job of tending to me, whether they're chipping guys, sliding guys. They never really do the old Ravens-Steelers [way] where they just smash-mouth our 11 versus your 11, but that's fine. They want to go with the spread, and everybody wants to see touchdowns and screens and the circus, I like to call it. We're going to prepare for all of that and approach it so."
On how important it is to him to not go 0-2 in the division to start off the season: "It's everything. It's everything. You don't want to come out of an 0-2 hole, especially giving up two at home. Wins in the NFL are hard to come by, so that's why you've got to win your home games. We unfortunately dropped one; [the Bengals] cashed in and they won one, a division game. We've definitely got to cover up some ground, but it all starts with this one come Thursday."