WEDNESDAY PODIUM AVAILABILITY: WEEK 12 VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "[It's] good seeing you guys. I appreciate you being here. [It's] a beautiful day for football, and we're looking forward to getting to work. We've started already [with] meetings and walk-throughs, and now we're looking forward to practice. What questions do you have?"
Does it feel good to actually play another AFC North game? This is just your second one of the season. (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, it's exciting. We're playing the Browns, one of our rival teams, for sure, [on] Sunday Night Football. It couldn't be more exciting than that."
How big is it to go into these five division games up a game or two and looking down the division instead of looking up? (Kyle Barber) "It's the middle of the season. No matter how you slice it, there's a lot of football to be played, and what's going to happen is going to be determined by how we play the rest of the way and how many games we win. So, that's what we're focused on."
DE Myles Garrett is a guy you know pretty well. I think he has 13 sacks this year. How do you slow him down? (Todd Karpovich) "You have to know where he's at, and it's not just him. They have two great edge players, and both of those guys are great players. They're proven guys. Aren't they both No. 1 picks in the Draft? We respect them both, both Myles Garrett and [Jadeveon] Clowney. [No.] 90 and [No.] 95 – we know their numbers, so we'll be looking for them. We'll have a gameplan for those guys, and we'll do our best."
Browns QB Baker Mayfield has had an eventful couple of days, criticizing his own fans. Would it be nice for the Ravens fans to be nice and loud on Sunday Night? Are you preparing for him and/or QB Case Keenum? (Jerry Coleman) "I'm sure the Ravens fans will show up. They'll be excited for the game, I'm quite sure. We'll prepare for their offense. Baker Mayfield is the starting quarterback, [and] that's who we'll prepare for. He's a guy that we're very familiar with. We play against him a lot. We have tremendous respect for him and what he's capable of doing and what he's done. We know what his abilities are. Of course, Case Keenum is another guy that we've played quite a bit, too. They both play the offense similarly, so there's not too much difference in terms of preparing for the two different quarterbacks. But we're preparing for Baker Mayfield."
As a follow up, is that kind of something you've gotten used to? The last two weeks, you've faced two different quarterbacks. (Jerry Coleman) "We've had some practice at that, yes."
Do you expect QB Lamar Jackson to be out there today? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes. He's at the walk-through, and he's in the meetings. He'll practice today."
A player like CB Chris Westry, or any player that gives up a big play and then might be inconsolable after a game, how does he get over it? Is that something the player has to get over on his own and pull up his big boy pants? Or do coaches and players help him through it? (Kirk McEwen) "It's both, right? It's both. He's a very confident player. He's a young guy. He's learning, and he understands that. He's a humble person. He's also a very determined person. You make the corrections, and you go play the next play. They say corners have to have a short memory. Well, there you go. That's the thing, but we like to remember the lesson learned, for sure, from a technique standpoint. So, as a coach, you try to talk to him about that and talk to him about that part of it, too, in terms of just moving onto the next opportunity."
I think I've asked you this question every day for the past week. How is QB Lamar Jackson feeling now? (Jamison Hensley) "You can ask him when you see him. I didn't ask him. He looked good to me. … I was feeling fine though but thank you for asking." (laughter)
What do you remember about the two meetings with the Browns last year? I believe one of them, QB Lamar Jackson had just come back from COVID. (Jerry Coleman) "I remember almost everything about them. Is there anything specific that you want to ask about?" (Reporter: "There's a lot.") "There was a lot." (Reporter: "Did you think that they were a team that was taking advantage of a COVID situation last year that you guys were having to go through and that maybe helped them out a little bit?") "I haven't thought of it like that. I haven't. I haven't thought much about those games other than the scheme part of it. Really honestly, the things that we've looked at from those two games are what they've done – how they lined up, how they played us, what plays they ran, what defenses they called. That's really what you look at. The other parts of those games are kind of in the memory banks. They're appreciated, because we won them both, but beyond that, we've kind of focused on the next one."
You can argue that two of the biggest catches this year have been made by WR Sammy Watkins – the one in Detroit, the fourth down one that set up the K Justin Tucker field goal, and then the 29-yard one [in Chicago] that set up another game-winning score. What do you think that says about him and how much of an impact he's made? (Jamison Hensley) "It says he's clutch. He's had two clutch catches. He's had two game-winning catches for us, for sure. And not just game-winning catches, right at the end at the very last … What? Right before the very last game-winning offensive play, right? That kind of goes down in history that way, so I think it's awesome. I appreciate him for that."
C Bradley Bozeman is obviously a perfectionist, but is there anything with his snaps from the last couple of weeks that concerns you at all? Would you like them to be a little more consistent and precise with those? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Always. We chase … Really, the center has to chase perfection. As much as we're in the pistol and the gun, that's something that he has to chase, perfection. It's hard to be perfect, but he knows … He's doing well. He's snapped well all year, but there's a lot of snaps to go. He wants to keep putting those right there."
QB Trace McSorley gets claimed off the practice squad, what's the coach's mentality when you lose a player that way, specifically in this case, where your quarterback has been sick and QB Trace McSorley was called up this week, and now you're potentially shorthanded if your starter is still sick? (Bo Smolka) "First, just from the relationship part of it, it's bittersweet, because Trace [McSorley] has been tremendous. We've gotten to know him really well. He's a tremendous person. I just personally love being around him. He's a pro. He's a great guy, and he's good for our team. So, that's the bitter part of it. The sweet part of it is that it's a great opportunity for him. He's going to get an opportunity to go there and have a chance to possibly play and be on the 53-man roster for the rest of the season. That's a big deal in a lot of ways. For our situation, it's a little bit of a hole we'll have to fill. We'll have to figure out how to do that real soon."
Bringing back QB Kenji Bahar, was it an easy decision for you guys since he's already familiar with the playbook and he was out here at training camp as well? (David Andrade) "Yes, he's a great guy. [He's a] local guy, who actually, I think, was working in South Carolina at a warehouse that his uncle owns, and boom – he's back. He knows how we operate. He can run the scout team. Those kinds of things are the reason for that. [He's a] great guy. I always joke with him; he's a very good football player, and I think he's going to be a really good coach someday, too, if he wants to do that."
How about the Browns running attack with RB Nick Chubb? It looks RB Kareem Hunt is coming back as well. You guys are No. 2 in stopping the run, and obviously, it's going to be cold on Sunday night, and wrapping up is going to be key. (Jerry Coleman) "[That's] priority [No.] 1. Their run game is excellent. They know what they're doing. They have great running backs, and they've built the offensive line specifically for that purpose. It's a very highly-touted offensive line and highly-respected offensive line – very physical. That's what it is. Then they build the boots off of it and the play-action passes off of it. It's definitely a system that they run very well."
RB Devonta Freeman has really been a guy that you've been featuring lately. What are you seeing from him, specifically in the passing game, where he's been making an impact there as well? (Cordell Woodland) "I think that's a great point. It was great to see that. For him to step up in the passing game and make those plays out of the backfield and force the defense to honor the flats a little bit more, that just widens the field for us. So, it's good, and he's played well. He had some big plays. The touchdown run, too, let's not forget that. That was kind of important." (laughter)
QB Lamar Jackson
On how he's feeling:"I'm feeling good. I'm feeling great this time. Dang. (laughter) I'm feeling good." (Reporter: "Are you sure?") "Positive, certain. No relapses. We're good."
On what happened between Friday and Saturday:"I have no clue. I just got fatigued, caught some little chills. I was out of it. But I'm good now. I'm perfect. I'm feeling great."
On when his condition worsened on Saturday:"Sleep. I was trying to rest and recover, trying to get all the way better. I was just sweating in my sleep. I was out of it."
On QB Tyler Huntley's performance:"To be honest with you … I was inside, I was down, I was down. I had the big jacket over me, wrapped around me. I was watching the game, and then when he [Tyler Huntley] did that – that last drive – I felt like I wasn't sick anymore. (laughter) I was [like], 'Let's go!' They were [probably] like, 'He's probably faking it or something.' I was pumped up. I already knew what he was capable of, though. I played against him in high school twice, and he's always been the same guy – hungry, wants to win and wants to be a leader – and that's what he showed."
On how difficult it was to go through last week and not be able to play on Sunday:"[It was] very difficult – like you said – going through last week, Miami, and having to sit out a whole week, trying to practice, practicing one day, feeling good on Friday, then Saturday, just back down, and then my guys having a tough game. It was like … It [wasn't] looking good. I was boiling. I was sweating then, watching the game. But then 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley] just did what he did, and I was good again. I was good."
On what he remembers most about his last meeting at Cleveland last season:"The cramps. (laughter) My whole body cramped. Scoring back and forth – both teams. It was just a competitive game. It was, like you said, one to remember. That's what I remember the most – just going back and forth, just scoring touchdowns. They [were] scoring, we [were] scoring – a lot of ping pong."
On QB Trace McSorley:"Man, that's a smart guy, very intelligent guy. He loves the game with a passion. I feel like he knows our playbook in and out. He's just a smart guy. [He's] a great guy to be around, [he's] humble, and I love Trace [McSorley]. We're definitely going to miss him a lot. I've been around him 2-3 years. I'm going to definitely miss him a lot."
On the Browns' defense and DEs Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney:"Like you said, Myles Garrett and Jadeveon [Clowney]. Those guys stick out the most, and those guys are flying off the ball, getting sacks, stirring up the offensive line. Those guys are making great impacts in the game. We're just going to have to do a good job of protecting and blocking those guys. Their secondary is looking pretty good, as well. They've got [Denzel] Ward. Ward is healthy. He's been playing tremendous this season. We've got to attack. We've got to play football."
On his sickness and if he'll be back to a normal workload:"I think I'm fully back to normal. I want to get out there and just go. I don't want to limit myself or have coach limit me or anything like that. I want to go out with my guys, because I haven't in a whole week. So, yes."
On if he believes he's playing on Sunday:"Yes, for sure." (Reporter: "100%?") "120%" (laughter)
On if he's used to the scrutiny about whether he will or won't play:"No, I don't really buy into it, to be honest with you. I don't buy into it at all – no."
On if he's frustrated and concerned about his previous illnesses:"It happened, but I'm not worried about it, because I've been healthy all my life. I've never had a problem being ill at all, until I [came] here. So, I don't really know what that is, but hopefully, that's done with – if anything."
On if he feels like the team is ready to go on a bit of a run:"Yes, because even with the past game, those guys were playing tremendous. There were little things, like, mishaps that happened, [that] stopped those guys from scoring, and it's the same thing. We've just got to keep building each and every day, keep getting better, and we should be where we want to be at."
On his ability to finish the run and avoid taking big hits:"I just have to protect myself, get positive yards, don't try to let guys fall on me or land on me, stuff like that. Those guys are huge out there. I just have to keep protecting myself. I'm trying to win at the end of the day, but I'm just trying to win in a great way."
On if he worries that because he's had COVID, that's left him more susceptible to other illnesses:"I don't know, probably. Probably, I don't know. That's a good question, though. I don't have an answer. You'll have to ask one of the trainers about that, I don't know." (laughter)
TE Nick Boyle
On finally getting back on the field after recovering from injury:"The whole day was awesome. Walking into the stadium, knowing you're going to play, pre-game, getting warmed up, getting everything ready to go – that's the stuff that I missed so much, and like I said, it was awesome being out there with my teammates. There are still things I've got to get better at and get to where I was, but it was really good just to start it like that."
On if he could have played at Miami in Week 10:"[For] Miami, I went up and I said, 'Listen, I think for my first game back, I need a full week of fast practice.' With that being a walk-through week, I wanted to feel the plays in real time and [with] a real feel in practice. I don't think I was going to get that with the walk-through."
On how close he is to his pre-injury self:"That's hard to say. I don't think I'm there yet, but I think I'm getting better every single day. It's just a huge process, and I think I have a lot more respect for people who go through injuries – serious injuries – now, with all the stuff you do every single day just to get where you are now. But you see the light at the end of the tunnel when you start getting better, you start getting back out there and things feel more natural. I'm not all the way there, but it's just … Like I said, every day is a step."
On how many surgical procedures he's had from his injury since the game at New England last season:"Yes, I had two [surgeries]. I had the initial one, and then I had one late summer. But those were both necessary for me to get back out there. And just like I said, it's a lot. Even when I first had surgery, that was the like the worst surgery of my life. That week after was miserable – staying there in Texas – but luckily, I had my family come with me and everything. And just my whole support system, and even with the Ravens, they've been really good to me and allowed me to take the time to come back, which is a blessing."
On if he ever endured little setbacks that made him question if he would be able to return this season:"Oh, yes, yes. When you get injured like this, you fight daily battles with yourself when you're not feeling good yet, maybe because you're not fully warm. There is a whole process, like I said, and you've got to get fully warm, you've got to get fully into it. And from a mental aspect, coming off of injuries, you always think to yourself, 'Am I going to be the player I was before?' That goes through your head daily, and you've got to really erase that, and just go to work and work every single day, erase it and go and attack the next day like that. I have full belief that I will go out there, and I will be how I was, and I will be even better. But that stuff just takes time."
On the full extent of his injuries:"I had a hamstring, meniscus, PCL, MCL, a little fracture, and then I had a clean-up late."
On if his hamstring injury was completely off the bone:"Yes, the inside part of it was. Usually, people have them on the outside, but it was different. It was on the inside, because the way it got hit, it kind of came through, and my whole inside of the knee blew-out."
On his teammate's excitement for his return and FB Patrick Ricard's tweet expressing his excitement:"I didn't see that [tweet] until I got home – and I was hanging out with him [Patrick Ricard] on the plane and bus – and I was like, 'Man, I'm a bad teammate. I didn't say thank you.' (laughter) But that stuff is so much appreciated, and guys who are like Pat [Ricard], and the whole tight end room, even the whole Ravens [organization], when you just go out there to practice, people are yelling your name, people are encouraging you, that's just an awesome feeling. And that is the stuff you miss when you're here working every single day, but you're not out there on the practice field, doing what you're here to do. You're in here trying to get back to that, and so, you're behind the scenes, just in the training room and the weight room, doing everything you can every single day, but you're not out there. So, when you eventually get to that point, and then you have all your teammates encouraging you, you're just so happy when you go out there."
On his assessment of his team's pass protection thus far, and how he can help in pass protection:"I think it's everything. No one can pinpoint one thing. Football is a whole-team sport, and there is a lot of moving parts. Maybe on one play, some guy didn't get this, or one play, this guy did this. So, it's hard to pinpoint that at one point. But for me to come back, I think my team is doing a tremendous job. I think the tight ends, specifically, have been doing a really, really good job in this offense, and I'm just coming back, trying to add on to that [and] trying to help that."
On how he felt on Monday, the day after his season debut:"It was good. It was a little sore. I lifted my leg, so I tried to get that out of the way in the beginning of the week. But it was good. It wasn't really like a, 'Oh, my knee is super …' It doesn't really hurt. What I really need to do, I think, [is] I just need to continue building strength through my leg. Functionally and everything, it's there. I just need to keep getting it stronger and stronger."
On if he thought about the fact that the Ravens' first-two plays of offense on Sunday were rushes behind him, and if it was kind a "Welcome Back" for him:"When I blocked my guy, and I saw the running back get through, that made me feel a little better. (laughter) Like I said, coming back from an injury, you have doubts, and those are the doubts you've got to push away. And when you go out there to play, it's like, man … You do everything in your power to get those plays right and do them [to] the best of your ability, but sometimes, realistically, it doesn't always happen like that. So, I was thankful those first-two plays went like that, and I just tried to build on that. That was a good feeling."
S Chuck Clark
On if he feels the defense is too complicated, resulting in coverage breakdowns: "No, I don't think they put more on our plate than we can handle. Before we go out there, we always make sure that everyone is comfortable with it and what we have going on before we attack the day, or whatever is going on. So, I don't think they give us more than we can handle."
On DB Brandon Stephens: "He's doing good. [He's] learning. [He's] learning by the day. With every game, he's getting more experience and more reps and getting more comfortable. I think that's what comes with it, having time and getting that experience that settles him in."
On what to expect from AFC North games: "First, it's going to be a tough and physical game. But to us, we know it's like a championship game, for sure. We're trying to win our division. This is the way you win your division – you have to beat the teams that are in your division."
On if the frantic pregame in Chicago determining who could play affected the team's mentality: "In the moment, coming into it, I was looking at who had jerseys on their shoulder pads in the locker. But at the end of the day, you just have to control what you can control and be able to go out there, produce and do what you have to do for your team."
On how the defense handles giving up big plays: "That's where it comes back to us being real with ourselves in the meetings, fixing what we can do and what we have to do to get better. As it's going on in the moment, it's just like, 'Alright, I have to move on to the next one and keep going so it doesn't turn into something worse.'"