*RAVENS WEDNESDAY TRANSCRIPTS: Week 12 vs. Texans
Head Coach John Harbaugh, RB Alex Collins, QB Joe Flacco, OLB Matthew Judon & OLB Terrell Suggs
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "It is good to see everybody. I appreciate you guys being here. It is a great day for football."
What is special about playing on Monday night? (Shawn Stepner)"It is historic. You take it all the way back … Growing up, I think we all watched Monday Night Football. It was always exciting. It was a big part of the week. We are looking forward to it."
Growing up, did you watch Monday Night Football, and who did you root for? (Keith Mills)"I was a Browns fan. I have said that many times. We grew up Browns fans. We grew up with Art Modell's Browns. Leroy Kelly, Don Nelsen, that is who we grew up with."
Were you a halftime highlights fan? (Keith Mills)"Oh yeah – absolutely! That was the only time we got the highlights back then, right? Between that and Notre Dame football on Sunday morning – they would give you that one-hour show of the Notre Dame game – that is really all you ever got. Lindsey Nelson, I think it was."
Where have you seen OLB Matthew Judon progress, not only coming in here, but then over the course of the season?* (Childs Walker)*"He just continues to improve. He is a very talented guy, a very smart player. He does not make the same mistake twice. He understands the concept of the defense, and when you get out there and you know what is going on around you and what other people are supposed to do, you make good decisions. He has done that."
Are you surprised by OLB Matthew Judon's versatility? (Childs Walker)"No, not at all. Your question was, 'Have I been surprised by his versatility?' Not at all. He is a very smart player, and for a 270-pound-plus guy, he is a really good athlete. He is living up to our expectations right now."
How much did the weight loss [for OLB Matthew Judon] help? (Mike Preston)"It probably helped a little bit, more athletic. [He is] more of an outside 'backer than a defensive end. He was a little more of a down player in college at Grand Valley State, so I think just losing the weight makes him a little more … It makes him able to move a little better."
Over the last two weeks, you have improved drastically on getting penalties. Has that been a point of emphasis, and what do you think has led to that decrease in penalties? (Jamison Hensley)"We have been emphasizing it all along. The penalties this year all in all are pretty much low. I do not know if it has been just the two weeks. I think the guys have done a good job. Our offensive line – our blockers – have done a good job of not holding people, which goes back to technique and footwork. [Offensive line coach] 'Joe D' [D'Alessandris] has done a really good job with those guys; [senior offensive assistant/tight ends] coach [Greg] Roman, as well. Then, just the back end, I think our defensive backs … We have had very few interference penalties, very few defensive holding penalties. That is a remarkable feat. That just speaks to how well we are covering people. We are doing it the right way."
Are you impressed with how RB Alex Collins has taken advantage of his opportunity after starting on the practice squad? (David Ginsburg)"Alex has done a great job. I have been impressed. He is a great story. It is one of the great stories in the NFL this year. It is nice to see when a guy like Alex Collins – who is a great individual and hard worker – gets an opportunity, he is able to make the most of it and have that kind of success. It is something for people who love the National Football League and fans or parents with their kids, you can say, 'See, you can do it, too.' That is how I look at it, and he has done a great job."
He had the tough start where he fumbled a couple times in his first few games. He has not fumbled since. He obviously put his mind to it and has done what he wants to do. (David Ginsburg)"I agree with that. He has done a great job with every part of the game."
What kind of intel did you have on RB Alex Collins before he got here, and what did you know about him before he was signed? (Bo Smolka) "Well, obviously, the scouts have the lengthy reports on all the players. They keep tabs on everybody in the National Football League. I remember him from the  draft when he was at Arkansas. He and [Jonathan] Williams were the two backs coming out of there. You remember the report that you wrote on him; you remember what kind of player he was then. Then, when he becomes available, you go back to that memory bank a little bit and compare it to what the scouts have seen since he has been in the National Football League. It was a great opportunity for us to bring him in here, and we were really just very fortunate that it worked out the way it did."
What was your impression of C/G Luke Bowanko in his first start? (Ed Lee)"Luke did a good job. His assignments were very good. He moved his feet well, played hard. I thought he played a solid game."
Is T Ronnie Stanley in the concussion protocol still? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes."
How important is it in the NFL to adjust to injuries? You guys have had a multitude of them, and some other teams have not adjusted as well. (David Ginsburg)"It is very important to adjust to injuries in the National Football League, no doubt. Probably over the last four years, five years even, we have probably had more than our fair share of practice at it. I would like to have less work at adjusting to injuries in the future, and we are going to have to work really hard to try to find a way to do that one way or another. But our guys don't flinch, they don't bat an eye. The next guy, like Luke [Bowanko], comes in and does a good job and helps you win a game. That is what you hope for."
Do you take some consolation in the fact that you guys have had your quarterback for all 10 games? A lot of other teams have not had that. (David Ginsburg) "Absolutely. Joe [Flacco] started off in a rough way with the back [injury] and missed all of training camp but has held up very well. That has been good for us."
When you go forward with WR Breshad Perriman … I know you are not going to give us the inactive list, but how much of it with the game plan? How will that factor in and also, how he responds at practice? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Well, he responded well at practice last week. Someone wrote that [he was inactive] because he did not practice well, claiming that they had some kind of source information. It was not any of you guys here; you are all clear on that. But I do not know where guys get this information sometimes. It will be based on game plan, it will be based on, really, what I think gives us the best chance to win the game. That is just … It is a long career. In this league, things are not decided in one day. Look at Alex Collins – it is not decided in one week or two weeks or even a season or two. Breshad, I do believe in Breshad. I do believe he is going to play well, and he will be back up just as soon as it makes the most sense for us to win the game, and it could be this week. We have not decided that yet."
RB Terrance West was inactive for the game. Was that more of a numbers thing or health? (Ed Lee)"It was a numbers thing. He is healthy. He practiced very well last week, and I think he is ready to play. It was a numbers thing."
RB Alex Collins
On how it felt to score his first touchdown of the season:"It felt good. It felt long overdue. Just going in every game, that's the goal, you're looking forward to getting in that end zone. So, just straining so hard, and then to finally get in there, it just felt like all the strain was worth it."
On if he senses a growing trust from the coaching staff by getting more goal-line carries:"I also believe it's all scheme. Sometimes different running backs are just fit for different plays, depending on what we're looking forward to going into the red zone. Just to get those more carries, it's always a good thing for me, and it gives me encouragement working hard down there in the red zone to get in the end zone. But it's always wherever I can help, and if it's another running back getting there at that time, then that's OK. But when my number is called, I want to get in there as well."
On his comfort level picking up the pass protection scheme and getting more opportunities in the pass game:"I love all opportunities that I've been getting. It just shows that the trust is there with me learning the playbook and the schemes, being where I'm supposed to be at all times, and just being another opportunity for Joe [Flacco] just to drop it down to me, and it's been working out. I'm just trying to stay consistent and show them that I can be that dual threat out of the backfield."
On what his teammates thought about his Irish Dance in the end zone:"They've been on me pretty hard – they've been waiting for it as well, and that was another reason I wanted to get in there so bad, just to show those guys my moves. Now that I got in there, we're trying to come up with something else creative for next time."
On if he has a different celebration planned:"Oh yeah, it's a little surprise. I can't tell you guys now, but just look forward to it."
On if it's tough at times to decide between lowering your head and trying to pick up a few yards or running the ball outside:"It is, because the outside with that edge block, you can't really see what's outside. It's more about fate, just hoping it's clear and no one is outside around the edge. So, there are times when I stick my foot up and cut upside too early, and then I watch the film and thought if I gave the play another chance on the outside, it could have got around the edge. And then there are times when I try to get around the edge, and I should have just taken it up for a hard two [yards]. So, it just all depends on the situation at times, whether I take it outside or cut it up."
On what it meant to him to get a game ball after all he's gone through during his career:"It means a lot. That's not something that I strive for throughout the game. During the game, I'm just trying to do everything I can to help us win, and just to be credited with that after the game is just … It's an enlightening feeling. I've worked hard, and just the efforts, these guys look at me and feel like I deserve a game ball. It's just a good feeling to have their support behind me."
On being the No. 1 running back after starting the season on the practice squad:"It's a good feeling. I worked hard coming over from Seattle, and just being put in this position, it's something I've worked hard for and I don't take it for granted. I come out here, work hard every day, and the other running backs push me as well. It's a collective thing, a group thing, and we just take pride in trying to be the best running back group in the NFL."
On if he took heavy duty steps to correct his early season fumbling:"I definitely took heavy duty steps, but my coach did a great job – and still does to this day, every day. It's always the first thing he goes over with me, just making sure I'm taking care of the ball. It's a daily reminder out in the game. He's been hard on me, I've been hard on myself, and that's just something I told myself I would correct. I didn't want to put one on the ground, and I've been doing a good job of taking care of it."
On if that's one of the reasons he's starting as opposed to sitting on the bench:"For sure. No running back wants to fumble anyways, so it's just something that I just felt, personally, that I wanted to correct. And my running backs coach [Thomas Hammock] does a great job of hounding me about it every chance we're watching film. Even if it shows a little bit, he'll hound me about it. So, just in my mind, half the time I'm out there on the field, I'm running down the sideline, and I can peek over and see him standing there, and it automatically makes me want to put the ball up a little higher."
On if he can give up a yard or two to make sure the ball is secure:"Oh, for sure. There are a bunch of times – because I always like to finish my runs hard and fall forward for some yards – but there are times when it's just me versus four or five [guys], and the outcome won't be so good. So, I just make the smart decision of getting what I can and getting down."
On his thoughts on playing on Monday Night Football:"It's special, just because you've got all the lights on you and everybody is watching. You really want to put on a show for everybody. We've got the Texans coming in, and we're [trying] to get ready and get on our game plan and just get ready to get rolling on those guys and get a good game."
On who he liked watching on Monday Night Football growing up:"Being from South Florida, I liked watching the Dolphins on Monday Night Football. Growing up, that was my family's favorite team and just who I was raised to like. So, that's who I used to watch on Monday nights."
On what he expects to eat on Thanksgiving:"I try to stay away from the pie. That's my weakness right there. *(laughter) *The pies. I love some pumpkin pie."
QB Joe Flacco
On the difference between playing on Monday night compared to other nights: "Obviously, we all grew up viewing Monday Night [Football], just like anybody does, [and] how cool it is to just sit back after work, after school, and watch your teams go at it. I think, when you think back to that, and how you were a little kid, as the high school player looking to play in those Monday Night games, for us, that's what adds to the game a little bit – just because you know how excited your fans and the world can be to watch those games. But, the reality of it is, once you take the field, and things start going, bullets start flying – it is a football game. But yes, it's Monday Night, and I think because of that, because of how we all view Monday Night, as we all have, we've been engrained to see it a little bit differently. That's how we see it, too."
On if he could stay up to watch Monday Night Football, or if he was like OLB Matthew Judon and had a bedtime:"I'm sure I had to go to sleep, too, when I was at some age. Who knows when I stopped having bedtimes, and stuff like that? (laughter) *I know my kids aren't staying up for Monday Night Football." *(laughter) (Reporter: "Not even to watch you play?") "No, they don't care to watch me anyway. They're not old enough."
On if he liked when the Eagles played on Monday Night Football:"The town went crazy for it – just like they do for every Eagles game. I mean, those guys are tailgating as soon as they can, and I'm sure they were going crazy the other night [when they] played Dallas. I'm sure there was a big party back at home. I feel like, as most players, I liked a lot of different players growing up. So, I liked to watch everybody."
On if he takes it upon himself to talk to WR Breshad Perriman and ensure that his spirits are up:"That's a struggle throughout the year that you deal with on both sides of the ball, and with multiple players – not just him. Everybody deals with that. I think the more that I, and his teammates, can rally around him and remind of him of those things – then, yes, it's definitely going to pay benefits in the future, and it definitely starts with me."
On if it has been frustrating trying to get on the same page with WR Breshad Perriman to make him a more vital part of the offense:"I think this offense, as a whole, we've been a little frustrated this year. So, I think that goes for everybody. We haven't played as well as we wanted to, and that leads to a little bit of frustration. But, we're working through that as quickly as possible."
On what makes the Houston defense so challenging:"It's a different team, but these guys are very good against the run. They put a lot of pressure on their DBs, but they're good athletes back there, and they know how to play football – they're really good. Their safeties are playing really well on the run, and obviously, they can get to the passer a little bit."
On missing T Ronnie Stanley on the offense: "Anytime you have a guy like Ronnie, and a guy like his talents, out on the field there … And you have to switch guys around. The first thing, obviously, is to switch guys around. You have to take guys out of their position and ask them to do a little bit more, just because they're in a different spot on the field. Then you take that, coupled with the fact that you're a first-round draft pick- type talent isn't out there – it definitely all adds up."
On what RB Alex Collins brings to the offense and if he enjoys the way Collins has embraced his role: "I hope he would embrace his role. I mean, shoot – he's getting carries! He's a really talented runner. He hits the hole with speed; he always has the ability to break [a tackle]. We're definitely looking for that down the stretch here – for a couple of these short-to-mid gains going for some pretty long ones, and maybe some touchdowns to break the game open for us. So, it'll be exciting to watch those, for sure."
On OLB Matthew Judon:"Matt's great. I've been impressed with him as soon as he's gotten here. I think he plays a position on our defense where you don't necessarily get a ton of love and fanfare for everything that he does. Even though he is that kind of [eccentric] player, he's really embraced his role – going out there playing hard, dirty football. He's been down in the trenches, and has been doing his thing all year. I think you have to give him a lot of respect."
On how WR Mike Wallace has handled this season and what it means to see him fired up:"Mike's been great. Like I said, I think we've all been frustrated at times, and I think we're all doing a good job of handling it – that's Mike included. He's been great all year. We were able to get him involved early on in the game on Sunday, and I think the more we can do that with him, then definitely the better our team is. He gets energized, and he plays better the rest of the game when we can get him involved early. But, that goes for everybody; it really does. The more you can get everybody into the game, really into the flow of everything … If we can do that for everybody right away, that'd be a huge goal accomplished, because we'd play that much better throughout the course of the next 60 minutes."
On how he would describe OLB Terrell Suggs as a leader: "It's been interesting. Terrell came into this league as a very young guy. Even when I got here, he was still one of the young guys on the team, even though he had a few years in the league. So, to watch him the last 10 years go from that guy, to now one of the older guys on the team – and really one of the mature voices in the locker room – has just been pretty cool to watch."
On where WR Mike Wallace's Green Bay TD catch ranks: "It was great. It was awesome to see him … You have to give those guys chances to make plays like that. It was great to see him go up and make that play. Obviously, he only had one arm to use, and he was able to get it done. I knew it was a good catch on the field, but I didn't have the vantage point to see exactly what happened, but it was impressive."
On his reaction to QB Ryan Mallett's penalty for verbally abusing a referee: "Exactly what I'm doing now – I just laughed. I don't really know how that happens. I kind of would be in defense of Ryan to say, 'Really? Why was that a penalty?' But, it is what it is."
On if he has ever been close to verbally abusing an official:"Yes, I mean, you yell at the guys. (laughter) What are you going to do? It's an emotional game – things happen."
On what his family will be having for dessert on Thanksgiving: "We're going over some friends' house. So, we'll see. I'm sure we'll have some pies and the typical things."
OLB Matthew Judon
On what the pass rushers have done to contribute to the amount of interceptions the defense has recorded:"I don't know, we haven't caught one yet – I don't think so. We're just applying pressure to quarterbacks, making them think twice, getting the ball out of their hands faster. But, we haven't caught one. We might get one, so we can contribute if we get a pick."
On if the pass rush and the interceptions go hand-in-hand:"The defense goes hand-in-hand. We're all out there trying to help one another, and we all have the same goal. When we get turnovers, fumbles, sacks, anything like that, just to get the ball back to the offense helps.
On his reaction to winning AFC Defensive Player of the Week: "I was excited. I don't really know what I get, but everybody's talking about it. (laughter) I'm just going to go out there and continue to perform."
On how he would explain his progress this season: "I'm going to throw the credit to the coaches. [Defensive coordinator] Dean Pees, [defensive line coach] Joe Cullen, and especially [linebackers] coach 'Wink' [Don] Martindale. I felt like I believed in myself, and then I came in here and showed it, and then everybody started to believe in me, as well. Now, I'm just reaping the benefits."
On if he knew he could be an all-around player: "Do you think you could be a good reporter? Did you? Like, come on.* (laughter) *I mean, this is what I do. I love playing football; I love being here playing football. It doesn't matter if it's cold, raining, sleet, hot – I'm going to go out there and play. Everybody keeps asking me, 'Do I think I can?' Yes. I believe in myself. I don't think y'all believe in me, but I believe in myself."
On if he was upset that DT Willie Henry got credited with a sack in the Green Bay game, that could have been credited to him: "No. We call [Willie Henry] 'Earl,' and 'Earl' is my guy. I'm glad he got a sack. I like rushing on [Henry's] side, just because of what he does. He hits the gas, and he penetrates, and you get that one-on-one on [Henry's] side. [I'm] not saying that other guys don't do that, but I like being out there with 'Earl.' He's my guy." *(Reporter: "Why do you call him 'Earl'?") *"That's his middle name."
On if he feels that the defense is back to the strength it was at the beginning of the season: "We hit a couple roadblocks there. We were getting gassed on the run, and stuff like that, but never got down on ourselves. Once again, that was [the media] that got down on us. So, we just continue to fight, and we want to prove that we're one of the best defenses in the league every week – week-in, and week-out. You can't run, and you can't pass – just get the ball back to our offense."
On what is special about playing on Monday Night Football:"It* *is Monday night. It is just another game, but we are the only game on that night. It is just another game, but we are the only game on that night. I think it is the latest game ever, but we are going to go out there and play it."
On who he remembers watching Monday Night Football growing up: "It is the only game on, so whoever [was playing]. But, I usually had to go to bed. My mom used to turn off the TV and take the controllers, so I usually had to go to bed."* (laughter)*
On what desert is going to be on the table for him for Thanksgiving tomorrow:"Desert? I think some apple pie. That is about it. My mom … They are all back in Michigan getting ready. There is nothing like a home cooked momma's [meal]. I am a momma's boy, so there is nothing like her cooking. I wish I was back home. Actually, my dad makes all the deserts – my step dad makes all the deserts, so shout out to Earl Harrison Jr."
On if it bothers him that they are playing against Texans QB Tom Savage instead of injured QB Deshaun Watson: "I am not going to comment on how their roster is looking. I don't wish injury on anybody. If that was their QB1 and he did not get injured, we would play him. But Tom Savage, we have to prepare for him, because he is going to be their QB1."
On if he has always been the type of player who dances and celebrates or if he is just having a great time right now:"I have always been like this. I feel like when I first came in to the Ravens organization, I was loud, and I was new and I was edgy and people were like, 'We kind of don't like that,' because I am supposed to be a rookie. Now that a lot more people in the locker room understand me and they understand where I'm coming from, it is all out of fun and it is all out of love. They understand me now, and I think I am being more myself now. It is not [me being] new; I am more comfortable and people and my teammates in the locker room understand me."
On if G Marshal Yanda ever gave him advice: "[Marshal] Yanda actually helped me more than any offensive player last year. He would talk to me after some games and after I made some mistakes, and he would talk to me. Yanda does not say a lot to a lot of people, but he will whisper a couple things in your ear."
On who is coming up with the celebrations the defense has:"I can't give away trade secrets. *(laughter) *We are working on those in the locker room when nobody is around."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On the importance of the pass rush in contributing to interceptions:"I think all of that goes into being a good defense. Being a good defense, you have to have a good combination of both. Excuse me, of all three things – pass defense, pass rush and run stopping – to be a successful defense, we need a great combination of all three."
On what has impressed him the most about the way OLB Matthew Judon has come along: "Nothing. Not much, really, because we expected it. That is why he is starting. We saw the work he put in the offseason. Ozzie [Newsome] was very good at drafting him, but don't tell him I gave him his props, though, because … whatever. *(laughter) *We expected Matt to play the way he has been playing."
On if OLB Matthew Judon reminds him of himself with the way he has fun playing:"I don't know. I guess you will have to go back and look at some tape. That similarity is definitely there – we both like to have fun playing football."
On how he is playing at such a high level at his age: "It is kind of like the no-hitter. You don't really talk about it. You just try to continue to progress and play well every week. You can have some success when you are healthy – if your body holds up. We have been doing a lot of things on and off the field to make sure I don't tear any biceps or any Achilles or anything like that. You just want to continue to work, continue to progress. I like to say I have not hit my cruising altitude yet; I'm still trying to ascend."
On if the Monday night stage is bigger than the Sunday stage: "Growing up, traditionally, Monday night was the biggest stage in the world. Any primetime game is pretty big, especially with satellite [TV] – how anyone can tune into your games anyway. Every time you line up, it's pretty much a big stage. The fact that we're at home, and it's on Monday night, the only game playing – yes, the stage is significantly bigger."
On how the Ravens feel that they control their own destiny the rest of the season as the current sixth seed in the AFC:"That would be feeling really good if it was Week 17. It does not really mean too much right now. We have a chance, like you said, despite everything that's happened. We have a chance to get into the second season to be playing football in January. It's definitely a good starting point, but it's one thing to talk about it; we have to be about it. We're just looking forward to playing football come Monday."
On if the defense reflects on the amount of shutouts this season:"It is like the no-hitter. It is like the no-hitter. No. This is the NFL. You want to play well every week, especially on defense. We aren't thinking about that. Seriously. We'll take the win, 35-34 is good for us."
On if it means anything to him to be in the Top 15 in all-time sacks: "Now that you said something – yes. It's all in how you finish. I said it before on Sunday: If you don't get in, it means nothing. Let us get in first, then we can talk about everything you want to. Let us get in."