*RAVENS WEDNESDAY TRANSCRIPTS: Week 14 at STEELERS
*Head Coach John Harbaugh, CB Brandon Carr, QB Joe Flacco, OLB Terrell Suggs & WR Mike Wallace
(The transcripts of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and QB Ben Roethlisberger's calls with Baltimore media are also below.)
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody – sure appreciate everybody being here as we get ready to start Wednesday's practice here in a few minutes. Guys have been working hard. We're excited about the opportunity to go to Pittsburgh, and we started our preparation yesterday. One thing we did this morning, and I want to make note of, is [Steelers linebacker] Ryan Shazier. Our thoughts are with him; our prayers are with him. We actually had a team prayer this morning, to open up our team meeting, for his health and well-being. [We have] great respect for him, and for all the players that play in the league, and what goes with that. So to him and his family, our prayers are with them."
When we talked to QB Ben Roethlisberger earlier, he talked about feeling that the Ravens-Steelers rivalry has always been a tough, physical, painful rivalry, but always built on respect. Have you always felt that way about it in your time here? (Childs Walker)"I would agree with that. I really do [think that]. It's a great rivalry; we love playing in it. It's the most physical game that we play every single year. It's always tough coming out of the game, from a standpoint of you're going to have a lot of bumps and bruises and things like that, for sure, when you play the Steelers. I think they feel the same way. We have respect for them, and we're looking forward to playing."
What do you think makes a rivalry? I mean, you guys have played them 11-11 since you've arrived. I believe you're 11-11, including playoffs. Does that competitive nature define it for you? (Jerry Coleman) "It's just an exciting game. There's usually a lot on the line. Obviously, the two teams are built in similar ways, similar styles of football, for sure. Different players lend to different strategies and things like that. They have great players. Ben [Roethlisberger] has been there for many, many years, and Joe [Flacco] has been here for many years now. Just right down through it, you go back, and track it through the years with the players we've had – Ray [Lewis] and Ed [Reed] and Jarret Johnson and those guys – and then the players that they've had, with all of their great players. So yes, that's kind of what it's all about."
You have CB Brandon Carr and CB Marlon Humphrey now. Do you feel that you're better equipped than you were last year when you faced them and RB Antonio Brown?* (David Ginsburg)*"Our secondary is playing at a really high level, and it'll be tested. It'll be tested in this game against their players and their schemes. So, we're looking forward to that. How we fare – that remains to be determined. We'll have to prove that on the field. It's not something you can talk about. You have to go out and do it. We're looking forward to the opportunity to do that."
**I know in a lot of instances, if you put a rookie in on a Sunday night game against your biggest rival, that could be overwhelming. I get the sense from talking to you and other coaches that it won't be overwhelming for CB Marlon Humphrey. Why do you feel that Humphrey has had more maturity or played a little bit more than your average rookie in that way? *(Jamison Hensley) *"Marlon has a good mindset. He's going to be tested. He's going to have … There are going to be good moments, and there's always when you play that position – I don't care whether you're a rookie or a veteran – you're going to have moments where they'll make a play. I mean, the league is built that way; it's built for playmakers to make plays in the passing game, and that's just going to happen, and you're going to have to bounce back and make the next play and understand how that works. Marlon seems like he has a good understanding of that. He plays hard, he plays focused, he's developing his technique and things like that. He's a very talented guy. I'm looking forward to seeing how he does. I think he'll do well."
With the injury of LB Ryan Shazier, the [suspension] of WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and the physicality of what you saw on Monday night, does that change anything to what you guys are trying to do in terms of your approach? (Jerry Coleman) "From and Xs and Os standpoint, when you look at who's playing, and who's not in a game, you just look at it for what it is. Who's playing? And you look at the players who are going to be out there, and you look at the scheme and you prepare for the game. That's just part of it, and that's what we do from week to week."
Statistically, the Ravens are the best fourth-quarter team this year. How much do you think that's because there has been an emphasis on finishing, especially after last year? (Jamison Hensley) "That's something that … Again, we have four more games, plus … That's the plan to finish this season, as well. If we can play the fourth quarter of the season as well as we've played the fourth quarter of games – we'll be very happy with that outcome. That's what we're really striving to do. All the reasons for that – emphasis or how we build ourselves or the players we've been able to add – all go into that. In the end, we have to finish. So, that's what we're going to try to do the next four weeks."
CB Brandon Carr
On facing Pittsburgh's offense and his confidence in CB Marlon Humphrey: "I'm excited. I'm excited to see him in action again. He's been balling throughout this season. Whenever we call his number, he goes out there and makes plays for us. Now, he's there for it for the long-haul. I'm excited to see him go out there, excel, make some plays. They'll make some plays against him as well, but at the same time, he has to battle [and] play a 60-minute ball game."
On if knowing CB Marlon Humphrey is going to be out there changes his thought process:"No, not at all. We're locked in for this week. We're ready; it's a big game for us. We're excited for the challenge, excited to go out to Pittsburgh to play. It's about to be some great weather – a lot of action. So, we're excited."
On if CB Marlon Humphrey is more mature than other rookies that he's played with:"He's about the same. (laughter) No, but he has good composure on the field. He has God-given speed. The ability he has, he can make up for a lot of things that he hasn't learned yet, as far as technique and the ins-and-outs of the receivers. But, he has a knack for just going out there and making plays. He loves competing, loves to play the game, he has fun. His energy is incredible on the field. Ever since the Green Bay game, when I got a chance to sit back and watch him go out there and play, I just see this is where I should be to get back to, to have fun playing this game."
On what makes Steelers WR Antonio Brown a tough matchup:"He's crafty. He's a savvy receiver. He gets a lot of targets, and he has incredible chemistry. There are certain times when he cuts his routes off, or makes up a different route, and Ben [Roethlisberger] knows exactly where he's supposed to be. So, you have to play him from whistle to whistle."
On if CB Maurice Canady and CB Jaylen Hill will also be key in making up for the loss of CB Jimmy Smith: "We have a special group. Ever since I've been here, since April, the guys work. Their work ethic is incredible. Their confidence is off the charts. The rookies that came in … Maurice is a second-year guy. I met him in April as well, and he's been grinding his tail off, waiting for this moment. Everybody is waiting for this time where their number gets called. Unfortunately, a good guy and playmaker like Jimmy went down. But at the same time, we have a lot of incredible guys in that back end that are chomping at the bit to get back there and make their play, as well."
On what he learned about the Ravens-Steelers rivalry when they faced off earlier this season:"It's an intense rivalry. I've been in enough rivalries to kind of know how it goes, but this one will be a hard-hitting affair. At this time of the season – December football – it's playoff football. So, it's going to be a war, 60-minute ballgame. Buckle your chinstrap, lace your shoes up, put your mouthpiece in … Let's rock and roll."
On how he would compare AFC North rivalries to rivalries he saw with the Cowboys:"I only played this one game against the Steelers, right now. We'll see how this game goes this week. But, any rivalry game, any game in general just in the National Football League, you have to strap up each and every play. No matter who you're playing, you have to bring your 'A' game. It's the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's a rivalry, it's a big game for us, but it's the next game for us. We have to go out there [and] compete and play to the best of our abilities."
On if he will use Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin's comments on looking forward to the Patriots game as bulletin board material: "They can do what they want to do. We're worried about this game, right here. This is playoff football for us. We're taking care of business. We owe them something. So, we'll see them soon."
QB Joe Flacco
On how the team feels heading into such a big game: "This game is always awesome. It is a ton of fun to go play up there. We have played up there a bunch now, and the more you go up there, the more you enjoy it and enjoy the atmosphere. It is just a fun football game. It is a good old-fashioned football game that you love to be a part of."
On if there is any stadium he enjoys going to more than Heinz Field: "No. I don't know if it was always like that, but like I said, as I have played up there over the years, it has definitely grown into a place that … Yeah, it is tough to beat, as far as places to play on the road."
On if he looks at it as a rivalry because of how competitive the games have been:"Yes, well, hey, we play them every year, obviously, because we are in the same division. We have both been fairly successful over the last bunch of years. That definitely all adds to the fact that it can be a rivalry game. Look, this game means something. They are pretty set up [for the playoffs], to be honest with you, with their record, but it still has a lot of implications for us and even for them at the top of the AFC at this point. It is a game that has meant a lot pretty much every time we played it since I can remember."
On if he agrees with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's comments that there is a respect aspect to the Ravens Steelers rivalry:"Yes, I think there always is between all of us, between every team that goes out there and plays. I think this division, just the way that we set our teams up and the weather that we play in and all that stuff, I think we tend to set ourselves up for very physical-type play. Obviously, when we come head-to-head with each other, it tends to lend itself to that kind of game. But anytime you take the field, there is always that respect for the teammates and for the opponent. It doesn't matter how physical the game is; we are playing football. There is no way around being physical and going out there and banging heads."
On if there is a different feeling from the offense after last week's performance: "Anytime you go out there and you have success and you put a couple weeks on top of each other, you are going to feel better and better. There is no doubt that playing well will help our minds and help our performance."
On if the defense is better equipped to stop the Steelers compared to last season: "We definitely feel like we are a better football team. Look at the way those guys [the defense] have been playing all year. There are going to be games where we are both backing each other up, and they have carried the load a lot of times this season, and they are definitely ready to go here deep late in the season."
On if this feels like a second chance in similar circumstances as last season: "It has been like this a lot. Every year it comes down to … We have set ourselves up a lot for these last four games to be meaningful and have a high impact on our postseason chances. We have gotten it done a lot of times, and obviously, there has been a year or two where we have not got it done. I think both of those years where we have not, we finished 8-8, and we had chances at it both years. We definitely feel like we are equipped to go out and finish these last four games off. This is the biggest one, because it is now [and] because it is Pittsburgh. This will do a lot for us."
On if the way the second Steelers game ended last season is something the team talks about: "Not really. It is so far in the past. Besides guys playing up there last year and getting a feel for what kind of atmosphere it is if they never have played in this game before … Besides that – maybe taking that memory into the game – there is not really much that talking about that game will do for us going into this one. It is a new year, we are new teams, new scenario. Yes, you can draw on just experience from playing there, but that game, besides seeing that one commercial on NFL Network where you see Antonio Brown reaching for the end zone over and over again … Besides that, we don't really think about it."
On if he can tell that OLB Terrell Suggs is more dialed in during Steelers Week:"Not really. I know a lot is to be made of those things and [people ask], 'What is the locker room made of during this type of week?' We are so dialed in. We are so focused on … Every part of our day is so scheduled out and really meant for us to have the best preparation possible that it is tough to be different week to week. It really is. Terrell is one of those guys [who] has been in the league for such a long time, and part of that is because he is so good at going through his routine and making sure he is prepared mentally and physically. It is tough to really change from that, just because we are playing the Steelers."
On what ran through his mind when he saw Steelers LB Ryan Shazier get injured:"It is scary. I feel for him and his family and his teammates. At the same time, that is why I always say it: 'This is a different sport.' Every time we go out there on the field, we take a lot of risk. You understand what the consequences are of playing this game, and that is what makes this a little bit different. That is also what makes it exciting and what makes people want to watch. It is unscripted, and you never know what is going to happen. But man, I feel for him and his teammates and his family. I can't imagine what they are going through."
On if he feels like he has had an "individual nemesis" on the Steelers:"Hey, anytime Troy [Polamalu] was over there, you knew that he had an ability to impact the game at any moment. Anytime James Harrison – same thing. Not that I was individually going against him, but he was getting after me every single play, and he has the ability to change a game at any second. They still have those players today, and that is what these games are for – to kind of make a name for yourselves and go out there and do those things. Yes, I don't know if you necessarily think about it as a player, but there definitely have been those matchups where you can point at and say they were individual matchups."
On if he took Mike Tomlin's comments about playing the Patriots twice as a shot: "It is not really … It is just talk at this point. Everybody is probably creating all different scenarios in their head. It is just one of those things you talk about as you are preparing for AFC playoff time. And who knows how it was meant, but it was not anything crazy, so we are not going to take offense to anything like that."
On his teammates' reaction to him imitating Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston by "eating a 'W'":"I think everybody thought it was pretty funny. I did. I had some people say, 'What the hell were you doing?' and some people saying, 'OK,' and laughing at it. It was just all in good fun."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On if this Steelers game still has a special feeling to it:"Yes, but before we get into that, we want to let everyone know that we all in this locker room are praying for Ryan Shazier. We are all brothers in this gridiron. I work out with the kid in Arizona. We are all praying for him. We definitely want to see him get up and walk again. We are staying encouraged for Ryan. But like you said, it is Steelers week, and it is Ravens-Steelers. We are all a little bit on the edge."
On if he would agree with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's comments that it is a hostile rivalry built on respect:"I definitely agree with it. You don't cross paths without a few things in common. You can take a look around the league, and there may be one or two teams that kind of play the way we play. We take a tremendous amount of pride in that, and this game is definitely built on respect, but at the same time, they are who they are and we are who we are."
On if he has a good one-liner about Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger after Roethlisberger comments that he expected him to have one:"I did. But since he said it, I am not going to say it. (laughter)Rat bastard. (laughter) No, that was the one from the first week. We are just going to have some fun. We are going to go out there and we are going to play November … Excuse me, we are in December now. We are going to play some December football. It is going to be fun."
On his comment that he enjoys sacking Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger more than Patriots QB Tom Brady or retired QB Peyton Manning:"Well, I do not know who the other two are. It is just the rivalry. You have to understand that I was drafted … This was my first game ever [in 2003]. It is something you never forget – your first game. You never forget your greatest foe. What would [Michael] Jordan be without the Pistons and the Knicks? Ali and Frazier … Sports is built on great rivalries like this. It brings the best out of you, so that is why I love this game so much."
On if he will look back at his career and say QB Ben Roethlisberger was his greatest foe:"That would be a really good argument. I think you have to look at all the things, but I have to say there has never been so much … Just everything surrounds this game, especially when both teams have something, both teams are in the hunt and are trying to accomplish things. That is why these games are so meaningful, so definitely."
On if it is flattering that he is the face of the rivalry for the Ravens: "I don't want this to be the face of the rivalry. *(laughter) *I guess it kind of describes it – nasty. It is flattering. It is flattering. We still have to go out there and play the game. We still have to do what we have to do."
On if it is the defenses for both teams that denote the rivalry: "I think it is both [the offense and the defense]. I think it is both, especially when they have '7' [Ben Roethlisberger]. It was kind of a 'Bus' [Jerome Bettis] versus Ray Lewis thing, and then it evolved to Ray Lewis versus Hines Ward and then Hines Ward versus Ed Reed and their defense versus our defense. Now, it is … We even brought in a guy that used to be over there – Mike Wallace. It has definitely evolved and it grew, but it is still the tail of two cities."
On if he feels pressure to deliver big moments in this rivalry: "Not really so much pressure. The only pressure is to win the game. At the end of the day, if you won it, you pretty much are happy with it. If you lose, no matter how good you play, you are always going to feel like [crap]. If you win the game, then you can look at that other stuff."
On the difference in having DT Brandon Williams back: "You always want your … If you are going to run the Kentucky Derby, you want your biggest horse in the race. You don't want him in the stable. Brandon Williams, being one of the best interior linemen in the NFL, especially going against one of the premier backs and the premier rushing offenses in the league … You definitely want one of your best interior linemen, so we get him back this week, and we are going to see how it plays out."
WR Mike Wallace
On the challenge of playing the Steelers:"Yes, it is going to be an intense game. It is going to be a great matchup Sunday night. Tune in."
On how the secondary will be without CB Jimmy Smith:"Jimmy was playing pretty much at a first-team All-Pro level, so it is going to be tough regardless of who is back there. It is going to be hard to replace him, but if there is anyone equipped for it, I think it is us with the players we have and the depth that we have. Besides defensive line, cornerback might be our deepest position on the team. It is going to hurt, obviously; Jimmy is a great player. But I think we have some guys who are going to step in and play well."
On if he has given Pittsburgh advice to CB Marlon Humphrey: "No. If he asks me, I will tell him some stuff. But for the most part … Marlon, he is a baller. I don't think he will be going around like, 'Hey, what does Ben do on this? What does A.B. [Antonio Brown] do on that?' I don't think he is like that. I think he just wants to go out and play and prove that he belongs here and belongs in this league. I think that he is going to play well. Hopefully, he plays well. We need him to play well. He will be fine. He doesn't ask any questions, but if he needs to know something, I will tell him, definitely."
On if the momentum from last game carries into this game on offense: "I don't know. Every week is different. I don't even think we worry about last week or the momentum. I just think it is about what we are going to do Sunday night. I don't believe in none of that stuff. I believe in you lining up on Sunday and you make plays that day. Last week is not going to help us. Two or three weeks ago is not going to help us. I do not know about other guys, but myself, I don't believe in momentum or none of that. I believe in, 'Line up Sunday and be ready to play.'"
On if there is a comparison in the Steelers and Bengals rivalry versus the Steelers and Ravens rivalry: "This one [is better] – no doubt. I do not think it is close. I think this is more of a rivalry. I think that one is starting to get a little personal. But, I'm on this side."
On what makes a rivalry for him: "Just competing. It is going to be a great game every time. Just because two teams are in the same division, I don't think it makes it a real rivalry. You can beat someone 100 times in a row – that is not really a rivalry, just because you all are playing each other. I think it is the type of games being played and how close and how hard it is to decide each game. I think that is what makes it a rivalry."
On his reaction to Steelers LB Ryan Shazier's injury: "You just pray for a person like that. You never want to see that happen to anybody. It doesn't matter what team he is on. We are all one family – an NFL family at the end of the day. That is a person's son or dad or whatever he is to somebody that people love him and care about him. You never want to see anything like that happen to anybody. We said a prayer for him on our team, and he plays for the Steelers, so you know it is bigger than football. It is just about a person, his self and hoping he has his health and is able to walk and play again, ultimately. First and foremost, we just want him to be healthy."
On if he had hatred or "respectable hostility" towards the Ravens when with the Steelers: "Hate! Hate! It was hate. But it was respect, too! You just hate them because you know how hard it is to beat them, and vice versa. It is big-time respect. 'Sizz' will talk about Ben [Roethlisberger] all day, but at the end of the day, I know he respects him, and vice versa. It is a lot of hate, but I think just as much hate as they have, it is the same amount of respect on each side."
On his feelings about the Steelers now that he has had some separation from them:"I play for the Ravens. I'm a Raven." (Reporter: "I understand, but do you still remember those days you played for the Steelers?) *"How old do you think I am? That was like three or four years ago." *(laughter)
On if he hates the Steelers: "No, I don't hate them. It is all love. It is all love. Football is about making plays and who is on your team; you support your team. I am on this team. When I was there, I had a great time. It was a great organization to play for. I am where I am today because of the opportunity of playing there. It is never going to be any hate, but at the same time, I play for the Ravens. So, on Sunday night, I want to make plays for the Ravens."
On if he can tell how much the rivalry means to OLB Terrell Suggs and QB Ben Roethlisberger: "Yes, definitely, you can tell. They just bleed that. 'Sizz' bleeds purple, Ben bleeds gold and black, whatever color they wear. They are 'those guys.' For those teams, those guys are 'those players.' 'Sizz' is a Raven. Ben is a Steeler. It is so deep – the rivalry for those guys – they bleed those colors. It is bigger for them, obviously, than anyone else. A lot of young guys … Tim Williams doesn't know too much about the real Steelers rivalry against the Ravens or a guy over there [like Ryan] Shazier. He is a great player; he probably doesn't know too much about the real rivalry. Artie Burns … You just know that when this week comes, you play. You don't know the history … Even if you are a young player, you might not know the real history behind them, but you know that you don't like them. You know you can't go in this game tip-toeing around. You know you are going to get your head knocked off, so you have to come and play."
PITTSBURGH STEELERS CONFERENCE CALLS
(with Baltimore media)
Head Coach Mike Tomlin
I was wondering if we could get an update on LB Ryan Shazier's status? (Ed Lee)"I just [think it's best] to let us handle that in the form of a release. Like we told the team today, it's just appropriate to let the medical experts make statements regarding his status and what's going on with him. I'm not a doctor. I probably couldn't eloquently describe the status of the circumstances. So, we'll just do it in a more formal way in an effort to provide accurate information to people."
Could you then comment on just how difficult it is to prepare knowing what's going on with LB Ryan Shazier? (Ed Lee) "Preparation is part of the job. We all understand that on a personal level. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family for a speedy recovery. But, he would expect us to be singularly and professionally focused on the task at hand this week. That's what our intentions are."
When you take a look at this Baltimore run defense … They've been playing much better in the past five games. Is there anything you've noticed they're doing differently? (Ed Lee) "They play the way that they play. I don't imagine they've done anything dramatically different. '98' [Brandon Williams] being available on a consistent basis probably has something to do with that. I have a lot of respect for him. He's a special guy, particularly against the run."
Even when you play a defense that has a good run defense, I imagine you're still committed to RB Le'Veon Bell. Can you just talk about how special he is and how often you want to get him touches? (Ed Lee) "He's an integral part of our offense. We're a type of group that strives for balance, and by balance, I mean, we have no ego in this. We're willing to take whatever our defense gives us. If people are committed to minimizing his impact on the game via run, then we feel we're flexible enough to throw it – and vice versa. If people want to work hard to minimize the elements of our passing game, we can run it, I think. Those are kind of our intentions. In order to get those things done, obviously, you need special components – guys like Le'Veon and Antonio [Brown]."
On the flip side, the Ravens' pass defense lost CB Jimmy Smith for the rest of the season. How does that impact their defense, do you think? (Ed Lee)"I'd imagine very little. [Marlon] Humphrey is a talented, young guy who has been playing, and playing increasingly so, for them. They play a lot of people back there anyway. A lot of people have made plays for them. What's going on with [Eric] Weddle back there is really impressive; he's making plays all over the field for them. I'd imagine they're not going to change schematically much at all."
Because CB Marlon Humphrey is a rookie, do you anticipate that the Ravens might change their safeties over to him? And if so, how does that expose them, do you think? (Ed Lee)"I can't anticipate what their intentions are. I'd imagine that they'd do what they deem is appropriate for them. We just better be ready to respond or react to it."
Can you talk about the physicality of the AFC North? You're just coming off a very physical game on Monday against Cincinnati, and now you have Baltimore coming in for Sunday. How difficult is it getting the guys' bodies prepared? (Ed Lee)"It's a challenge on a short week, you know, playing on Monday Night and having another big division game coming up. But such is life in the AFC North. We embrace the challenges of playing in this division – how tough it is and the intentions of those we compete against. We'll be energized by game time on Sunday. We'll be excited about defending our turf against a very good football team."
A couple hours ago, QB Ben Roethlisberger said that the rivalry between the Steelers and Ravens have been more respectful lately. Would you agree with that? (Ed Lee)"I haven't thought a lot about it. It's always been respectful, from my standpoint."
Can you also comment on OLB Terrell Suggs? Do you view him as the sparkplug for Baltimore's defense? (Ed Lee)"He needs no endorsement from me. What does he have, 10.5 sacks or so? This guy has done it at a high level for a long time. He's always been an integral part for those guys – at least since I've been at Pittsburgh."
A couple weeks ago, you said about looking down the road against the Patriots. Do you have any concerns that the Ravens might try to use it as bulletin board material? (Ed Lee)"I don't care, to be honest with you. I'd imagine they're going to be duly motivated, and they don't need artificial stimuli, such as a thing like that. I know how that group operates. This is a big-time game for them. They're riding a three-game win streak. This is AFC North football. That's side stuff that you guys talk about. Both teams will be ready to play – I'm sure of it."
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster won't play in this game. How do you compensate for his absence? (Ed Lee)"We're just going to focus on the guys that we have, not necessarily guys that we don't have. That's just the nature of this thing. In December ball, you'll lose guys from time-to-time for a variety of reasons. We have capable guys at the position. I'll be excited about watching them show those capabilities."
QB Ben Roethlisberger
On if the Steelers might not run the ball as much as they did in their first matchup against the Ravens now that DT Brandon Williams is healthy and his overall thoughts on Williams:"Well, [Williams is a] run-stopper. Obviously, with him not being there [in the first matchup], that was kind of our gameplan coming in. With him coming back, we still have not developed a total gameplan. We like to be a balanced offense, so that means running the ball as well. We will do what we can, but we know that he is a phenomenal football player who is very powerful with good quickness and can really make a lot of plays and be very disruptive."
On how difficult it is to prepare for a physical team like the Ravens when there is a lot going on with the Steelers and on short rest:"It is tough. It has been a tough week. Like you said, short week – the game [against Cincinnati] was physical – and your body still hurts. You throw on top of that it is Baltimore coming to our place, a division rival, things like that, and then everything going on with Ryan [Shazier]. It has been a tough couple of days so far, but we are going to have to get ourselves ready to go, because that is what Ryan wants us to do."
On if he is surprised at what OLB Terrell Suggs is doing this season:*"In terms of how well he is playing?" *(Reporter: "Yes, with his production at his age.") "No. He is a freak. He is one of the best I have ever played against. I have a lot of respect for him. I'm sure if he has not already talked to the media he will throw some good one-liners at me. (laughter) It is a lot of respect, and he is playing at a really high level. He does not show any signs of slowing down. I wish he would, though." (laughter)
On if OLB Terrell Suggs says anything to him on the field:"No. One of the reasons I have so much respect for him – and I assume it is mutual – on the field, when we do talk, it is usually respectful things. I do not hear trash talk from him. There may be some stuff where [he says], 'I almost had you' or, 'I got you.' Things like that, but never in a negative way. There is a lot of mutual respect there."
On what he has to account for when playing against S Eric Weddle, with whom he is friendly: "I'm not that friendly with Weddle. Don't let him fool you. He's not that good either. No, I'm just joking. *(laughter) *He is a guy that has really come along in the second half of the season, if you will. He is really making more and more plays. I like to make fun of him, because obviously, he makes all the interceptions and stuff, but now he is starting to get sacks and stuff, too. You really have to know where he is all the time. I have played against another safety there in Baltimore for many years in Ed Reed that was a lot the same way, all over the football field. If the ball touched his [Ed Reed's] hands, it was going to be intercepted, and every once in a while, he is going to blitz and try and get you down."
On how he will value the matchup with the Ravens after he retires:"It's a special spot in my heart. I know it's always a physical game; my body doesn't always like it. But, I mentioned this week the difference between this game and Cincinnati's game is [with] these two teams, us and Baltimore, we've battled it out, and as long as I have been here, there is always respect involved with it. You're going to get hit really hard or you're going to hit somebody really hard, but you're going to help them up and say, 'Man, nice job.' You're going to battle it out all game, and at the end, you're going to shake hands, give the other guy a hug and say, 'Man, that was a lot of fun. I can't wait to do it next year.' Your body isn't saying that, though. It's a fun rivalry in a sense that there's a lot of respect and it's two good football teams."
On how the Ravens' rivalry differs from the Bengals' rivalry:"I don't know. In that one it feels almost like you're out there just to hit people and there's not the same respect. We don't feel the same respect from them, that Baltimore and we have. I'm not really sure why."
On if he wished head coach Mike Tomlin had not mentioned looking ahead to the upcoming game against the Patriots:"You know what? He's the head coach. He's allowed to look at whatever game he wants to. It's on us players to never look ahead, and we're not doing that. We didn't look past the Bengals; we're not looking past the Ravens. I think with football, we need to focus in on these teams, and to me, this is the biggest game of the year for us."
On if he was concerned that the Ravens might use Mike Tomlin's comments on the Patriots as bulletin board material:"They can do whatever they want. They're professionals. They can use whatever material they want. I don't think they really need bulletin board material to get up for this game."
On what adjustments WR JuJu Smith-Schuster's absence force on the offense:"He's a young guy that's physical in the run game, makes some good plays in the pass game. But, Eli Rogers is a veteran guy that's been around here for a couple years now and knows the offense. We'll move some guys around and do some different things. Obviously, we'll miss him, but we'll have the 'next man up' mentality."
On if the respect between the Ravens and Steelers has always been there or has evolved over time:"For me, it's always been there. Whether it was Ray [Lewis], Ed [Reed], [Terrell] Suggs, [Haloti] Ngata, whoever you were going against, it just felt like there was always a respect. I think there was a hatred, but it was a hatred on the football field. Like I said, whether it was Jerome [Bettis] and Joey [Porter], it was always just a kind of hatred for the Ravens, and I know they kind of hated us, but it was a respectful hatred. You battled it out on the football field, and when the whistle blew and the game was over, it was like, 'Man, that was physical, that was nasty, but a lot of respect. See you next year.'"