**RAVENS WEDNESDAY quotes: WEEK 12 at CHARGERS
**Head Coach John Harbaugh
**Will it be a calmer this year [Thanksgiving] compared to last season [when the team played San Francisco on Thanksgiving Night]? *(Kris Jones) *"Yes, a little calmer. We had 35 people at our house last year on Friday – not Thursday – for Thanksgiving. Obviously, it was a good celebration last year. Happy Thanksgiving to everybody before tomorrow. We have much to be thankful for – not the least of which is the great media we have here in Baltimore. Thank you guys for the job you do. [I am] very grateful for you guys, seriously. What've you got?"
**Are you thankful to have Ed Reed back there? And, how about facing Philip Rivers – the combination of having Ed back there, and Rivers had a good game against you guys? *(David Ginsburg) *"[I am] thankful for another opportunity to go against Philip [Rivers] after he sliced us and diced us last year, sure. And, it will be a big challenge. He's a great player. Between the quarterback and their receivers, they're maybe the most talented passing group in the league. [Ryan] Matthews does a great job at running back. So offensively, they are very dangerous. And then for Ed Reed, [we're] definitely very appreciative of the league and the Players Association for the process. There is a process for that sort of thing. The process was carried out, I thought, very impressively, not because of the outcome so much – because with the outcome, nobody is going to be completely satisfied with the outcome – but for the fact that it was a very respectful process. The league and the Players Association respected Ed. Ed was very respectful of the league in the process. So, it worked out well."
**Has it become harder to coach the defensive guys on tackling on what they can and what can't do, especially when every week someone is getting called for these kinds of penalties? *(Nestor Aparicio) *"[Is it] harder than it used to be? Definitely, no question. It's another added element. It's for the right reasons. Player safety and protecting the head is critically important. The collisions are so much faster. There is so much more force than there used to be. The guys are just bigger and faster than they used to be. The helmet technology is getting a lot better. They've got a couple of new helmets out there that we encouraged some of our guys to wear, because they seem to be better and protect the head a little bit better. So, we're trying to do everything we can. But, the problem is that it is really hard for these guys at full speed sometimes to execute, and when you slow it down and look at it tight, there's no leeway there, which is understandable, but physically very difficult to be perfect at high speed."
Given that fact, do you think the league has to analyze these hits more than they are doing more now? (Kevin Cowherd)"I don't know if I should even weigh in on that. We all have opinions on it, but there's definitely no easy answer."
**How weird will it be to see Jarret Johnson on the other side not wearing Ravens gear? *(Ed Lee) *"It will be very strange. They've got a number of ex-Ravens there. A lot of guys – Chris Carr is there now, Jared Gaither, obviously, Antwan Barnes [and] Le'Ron McClain – all guys who have been integral parts of our program and we consider Ravens. It will be great for a while before the game, but after the game starts, they're Chargers."
Would it be fair to say the Ravens wanted Jarret Johnson to come back? Was it a case where the Chargers just gave him too much to manage? (Ed Lee)"It would be fair to say we wanted him back very much. We definitely wanted him back. He's not a guy [we wanted to lose]. We wanted Jarret … We wanted all those guys back, but we definitely wanted Jarret back. It was just a decision on his part, a family decision, a financial decision that he just couldn't pass up. And, we are happy for him in that sense."
Even without their star receiver Vincent Jackson, it just seems that there is no shortage now with big, talented playmakers on the outside for San Diego … (Matt Zenitz)"You're right. One after another, every one of their guys [is a threat]. I can start listing them, but we would probably run out of time. They have a lot of great players – not to mention their tight end who is pretty good, too. Every one of their guys is a threat downfield. I think Philip [Rivers] has a lot of confidence in them, where he'll throw to spots and let those guys try to go make plays."
**With the ups and downs that every season presents itself with, one more win and you will have five straight years of nine or more wins. What does that say about the operation as a whole? *(Joe Platania) *"It says we're guaranteed eight wins right now. So, that means we're guaranteed to be 8-8. That's all it really means."
**But the fact that you guys are 8-2 and you've had injuries to so many critical players, does that sort of underscore the whole "[next] man up" philosophy that you guys preach? *(Kevin Cowherd) *"It does. Our staff does a great job of developing every player on the roster. Whenever they are here, they get coached, and we develop them all; we coach them all like they are starters. And then, [there is] the fact that we get guys who really love ball. We don't have guys that wait for their opportunity. We have guys who try to make their opportunity every day by how hard they work. [They] put as much road behind them as they possibly can – using a weekend holiday traveling metaphor there – and try to gain as much ground and become the best player they can be so they are ready when the chance comes. And it has just so happened that when the chance has come for a lot of these guys, they have been ready, and they have done a good job."
**Are you surprised to see the Chargers with a record of 4-6? *(Pete Gilbert) *"Really, we don't look at the record. We don't really care, because it doesn't really mean anything for this game. If it had an impact on the game, then maybe we would look at it. But, the things that are going to play into factors for this game are going to be things that they can do well. So, you look at what they are capable of accomplishing. For the most part, it has been turnovers on offense for them. I'm sure they feel if they can clean that up they can play really well. So, we've got to take that into account."
**With the pressure nowadays on the coaches to win now, how much empathy or sympathy do you have when you see a coach perhaps on the sideline who is on the proverbial hot seat? *(Ed Lee) *"I don't think you have any time to think about that. We all understand what we signed up for and our responsibilities to our team."
**QB Joe Flacco
On if he has any thoughts after watching film from the San Diego game last year and things that went right and went wrong, especially from the offensive side that he can do differently: "Not really, it's a different year – a different week. We have to go in there and play our game. This is a talented football team, and we know that. They're going to be ready to play. They play well at home. We just have to be ready to go in there and play a tough game."
On his thoughts on former Ravens and current Chargers OLB Jarret Johnson lining up opposite of him:"It will be interesting. I've been on his side for the last four years. He's a pretty ferocious player – an intense guy. It should be fun, first of all. I'm sure he'll be up for this game. I don't think he really is one of those guys that gets up for one [game] more than any other. He will definitely be ready to go. Hopefully, our guys can keep him off of me as much as possible."
On if he thinks Johnson will take it lighter on him: "No. (laughing) Given our history and him being on this team, I think he will probably try to go as hard as he can."
**RB Ray Rice
On going back to San Diego after a tough trip out there last year:"You don't get acclimated to the three-hour difference, but it's our job to go out there as professionals to go out there and try to get the job done. But we started off last year – and last year was the past – but you obviously have to revisit it to know what you did wrong so we can correct it."
On the photo of him with a Terrible Towel on his head after the Pittsburgh game:"You know what? It was pretty interesting if you want to hear the whole gesture, how it happened … I actually asked a fan to trade – like I've been trading jerseys with guys at the end of the game. A fan traded me my gloves for the towel. So, I didn't stomp it or do anything wrong. I actually walked out with it and I think I'm going to save it and put it in my basement to cherish the rivalry. It's not like you get out there and do derogatory stuff and spit – no none of that stuff. If you think about it, where I'm at in my career, you cherish these rivalries, cherish the moments. I apologize to those who saw it as disrespectful. For me, I thought it was a pretty cool gesture, exchanging my gloves with a fan and walking out with it. But obviously, getting a victory there was cool, and I leave it in the past. I don't know, should I be worried about a bounty alert or something? *(jokingly/laughter) *No, I don't think they're going that far. Their fans are great, the organization is great, and the rivalry is always going to continue to be great. But to have something in your basement to know what the rivalry is all about is pretty cool. I've been exchanging jerseys with guys and everything is becoming … My basement is getting pretty colorful down there with others teams' stuff. [Having the towel was] not maliciously, just more out of respect."
On feedback he has received from Steelers fans about the Terrible Towel:"Oh, the other side, they don't really like it, which I understand why – like, 'Nobody plays with the Terrible Towel' – and I understand that. I respect this rivalry, I respect their organization, I respect everything about it, but like I said, it's not like you're going to catch me on YouTube burning a Terrible Towel. Like I said, I'll keep it in my basement, and when I get to grow up and my time is done, you get to look back on these moments [and say,] 'You know, I got to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz [Field] and the history that's there; I got to do different things.' So, this has actually been the first year I've started to collect other teams' stuff; I got a couple jerseys from guys, and it's quite the rivalry."
On facing former Ravens OLB Antwan Barnes this weekend:"To face the many [former] Ravens faces out there is going to be great – Jarret Johnson, Antwan Barnes, all the guys. I get to see my old fullback, Le'Ron McClain, and Jared Gaither. It's going to be quite the challenge. But Barnes really got after us last year; he's an elite pass rusher in this league, and you've got to know where those guys are at. You know, they're Ravens, so obviously – they're Chargers – but you know they came from the Ravens. We didn't just let them go because those guys didn't fit here. Obviously, you know what the business side of the league is like. So, we'll keep an eye out on them."
On how tough OLB Jarret Johnson will be to face:"Jarret Johnson is a hard-hitting guy in this league – a very hard-hitting guy. Jarret Johnson is one of my good buddies, and it was tough to see him go because he epitomized what it was to be a Raven. And one of my good buddies – went out to his radio show a few times out here … He always just had a good time, but we know … I actually got a funny text from him. He said, 'Guys, you better bring your game faces.' But that's 'Double J.' He was a no nonsense kind of guy here. So, I'm sure between the lines everything will be physical, but after the game it will be great to shake hands, take a picture with him and let him know that we still love him."
On if he responded to the text:"No, no response. I was going to put a little 'laugh out loud,' but no response. We know what kind of guy 'Double J' is. He's the ultimate pro, and we've got tremendous respect for him."
On how everyone talks about San Diego's offense and what he thinks of its defense:"I'm not worried about their offense; that's for our defense to worry about. But, you look at the veteran leadership they have on their defense – it really sticks out to me. And the younger guys they have in there, it sort of reminds me of ourselves. When you look at a guy in the middle like Takeo Spikes, who's been doing it for 15 years, he's the ultimate pro [and] he's got a young linebacker next to him that sort of reminds me of our situation here with a Ray Lewis and a Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe. So, they're tough up front. They get after it, and just like any other defense that we're facing, there are some good days and there's bad days. But for the most part, they have a challenging schedule as well, so I'm sure they'll be ready to get after us."
On trying to get the running game going this week after a tough week in Pittsburgh:"We've got to reinvent ourselves a week later. But obviously, Pittsburgh's front, it's always been tough-sledding against them. I can't remember the few games that I've had really breakout ones besides the one last year, and then I had a run called back, so you've got to pick and … You can't just run at the Pittsburgh Steelers. And with this week, it's the same kind of deal. Those are big, heavy guys up front; you've got to get them moving, and we've got to try to execute in the run game. But people look at the run game [production, and] that's not from a lack of blocking or a lack of execution; it's more a numbers game up there. So, you get those big guys moving, and hopefully you get a crease."
On how motivated he is by the loss in San Diego last year:"You know what? Everything caught you by surprise – the weather, the [time] change. You come in and it's cold, you get out there and it's a little warm, you get excited, you get relaxed, and that's what we're trying to prevent this year. We're coming from East to West, and this change of climate, everything else, we've got to get used to. So, I always appreciate the Friday trips, but you've got to get out there and understand it's a business trip. It's not out there for leisure. You get used to Fridays. And how would you treat your Friday in Baltimore? You've got to try to do that out there with a different time change. But we do a pretty good job of adjusting. Now we've got to go ahead and take it to the field and just adjust a little faster."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On what it will be like to face Chargers QB Philip Rivers again:"Last year it wasn't that pleasant. Before I could look up, it was 31-7. It was like raining touchdowns out there. He's a good quarterback. We definitely can't make it a seven-on-seven contest. We definitely have to play some better defense. We can't let him get real comfortable back there."
On if the Chargers are still dangerous on offense:"Very dangerous. Wins in the NFL are very hard to come by. You don't want to overlook anybody. You all recall, we lost to a team [Miami Dolphins] that hadn't won a game in 2007, and we were the first game they won. So, you definitely can't overlook anybody. This team is dangerous. This team is very dangerous. They have a lot of weapons, and they have a very good offense."
On if he is ready for some trash talk from former Ravens FB Le'Ron McClain:"Most definitely. There is no clean stuff Le'Ron will say. *(laughter) *You remember he started here, and you all know the kind of vocabulary we use when we're out there. But, we're looking forward. He's definitely going to be jawing, and we're going to give him a little jaw back."
On going up against former Ravens T Jared Gaither:"You're going to always look forward to going up against a former teammate. Last year, they had a couple of Ravens, and they end up getting the best of us. They've got a few more this year, one in particular [OLB Jarret Johnson] that was very close and dear to us. Now, he's the enemy. We do look forward to seeing him on Sunday."
On the possibility that Gaither's good performance against the Ravens last season led to his contract this past offseason:"Wow, we're going to have to go back and check the tape and see what all was going on, if you know what I mean. They did a good job holding down. Like I said, it wasn't just the tackles – it was the offense in general. That got flowing, they had a lot of chemistry going, and it was their defense and special teams. They won the football game. We just have to play football."
On if it is good to see the appeals process work out in the favor of S Ed Reed:"It's good to know that it's not carved in stone, that they can treat every case differently. We all know what type of player Ed Reed is, and there's not one player in the NFL that would call Ed Reed a dirty player, except for maybe the guys he hits. Everybody knows that Ed Reed is not a dirty player, and it was not intentional. It was a football play. They looked at it and saw it, and that's why he was able to win the appeal so fast. He was able to get the verdict, so I am just happy for him. It's very unfortunate he has to come out of his pocket a little bit. I guess we're all going to have to do it someday." *(laughing)
On playing better defensively on the road as of late:"I always say, 'Change is permanent.' You say, 'Oh, we have to change.' Well, we have to see at the end of the 16 [-game schedule] where we fare. We are just going to keep trying to play very good football all around, good defense, and keep trying to compile wins. We're going to continue to try to get better each week. We just have to wait and see where we end up at."
On if San Diego's turnover struggles excites the Ravens' defense:"Not really, because like I said, every team plays every team different. Like I said, just because they did that before doesn't mean it's going to happen this week. You still have to play the game. No football game in history is ever won on paper. Yeah, we definitely are going to play football, but we're expecting a fight, pretty much the same way they gave it to us last year."
On what he will say to former Ravens OLB Jarret Johnson and how tough it was to lose him this past offseason:"You are talking about my brother, Jarret Johnson. I don't know, I might not say anything to him. I might take a cheap shot. *(laughing) *No, I'm definitely going to give him a hug. Me and Jarret, we came in the same class together [in 2003], and it was nine years, me and him. It's definitely going to be a little emotional to see him wearing a different color and playing for a different team. So, he'll be my opponent, but that moment would only last a minute. He's my opponent, and when the game is over, we're going to hug, and we're going to continue our relationship the way we had it."
On if he plans on watching football tomorrow:"Who's playing? *(Reporter answers: "Houston is playing Detroit, and the Patriots are playing the Jets.") *We're definitely going to be watching some football, hoping for some upsets – most definitely. I sit home. I'm going to do a little eating, a little PlayStation."
On what he is most thankful for:"My family and my kids. I am definitely most thankful for them."