Ravens Wednesday Transcripts: Week 14 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (12/7)


Opening statement:"OK, good seeing everybody; I appreciate you guys being here. [It was a] good practice. Spirits are high, effort was high, and we're preparing for a great opportunity on Sunday to advance our season. What questions do you have?"

We saw that S Chuck Clark was named as the Ravens' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. We saw everything he does in the community, but in addition, how important has he been to this team on the field? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Chuck Clark as the Man of the Year award winner for the Ravens and nominee for the NFL … It couldn't be a better guy to be chosen. All the things he does on and off the field, the leadership he shows our team. Obviously, he's playing at a very high level too, which is part of it. So, [I'm] always very proud of Chuck and appreciate him greatly."

What have you been your impressions of Steelers QB Kenny Pickett as he has stacked some starts now? _(Luke Jones) _"Yes, he's doing well, looks good. [He's] a very talented guy, obviously befitting [of] the first-round pick that they took him with this year. That's our challenge along with that whole offense. [They have a] big, physical offensive line, obviously, downhill running back and other backs that do their thing. [They have a] great catching tight end, great blocking tight end and three really good receivers who do different things really well."

What kind of challenges does the Steelers' front with DT Cameron Heyward and OLB Alex Highsmith pose? _(Todd Karpovich) _"The pass rush, it's always been a staple for them; it's a trademark for the Steelers. Whether it's coming off the edge, coming inside, the guys you're talking about … You didn't mention T.J. Watt – he's pretty good, too. They bring their linebackers, their nickel is going to blitz off the edge, they're going to bring [Terrell] Edmunds off the edge, [Minkah] Fitzpatrick shows up. All those guys are a factor in the pass rush, for sure."

Has anything changed with QB Lamar Jackson's status, and – I don't think we asked you on Monday – is it a sprain? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, I just don't think I'm going to get into any detailed diagnoses on all that. We'll just kind of let it play out."

We didn't see four offensive linemen at practice today. There was an illness going around the group last week, is it still an illness issue? _(Jamison Hensley) _"It's just what it is. The one thing – [Trystan] Colon had a personal thing [that] he had to go home for with his fiancée. Everything is OK; he should be back tomorrow. The other guys are just dealing with little minor things here and there."

How beneficial was the experience QB Tyler Huntley had last year to prepare him for this year? _(Rocco DiSangro) _"I'm sure it's very beneficial. I'm glad he's been out there. He played quite a bit, but nobody's dwelling on that. He's not dwelling on that, just the task at hand is the task at hand. It's a big challenge, but it's also a great opportunity, so we'll be ready to play."

A lot of guys have talked about how much confidence they have in QB Tyler Huntley. What is it about him that has inspired that confidence? _(Chris Bumbaca) _"He's a good player. He's played well when he's been out there. They see him practice every day, they see how hard he works, and they know he's talented. So, he's the guy, and that's it. You guys are going to make a way bigger story about it than we are; I know that. We're going to play the game on Sunday, and Tyler [Huntley] is practicing today and had a good practice, and that's really where we're at."

How impressed have you been with the impact ILB Roquan Smith has been able to have immediately, holding three of your last four opponents to under 14 points? _(Noah Trister) _"That's a good stat. I'm very impressed with him. Roquan [Smith] has played at a very high level … All the guys have played at a high level on defense of late. He's obviously been a little bit of a spark for us too, I think you could say that for sure. I love him; I love the fact that he's here and love his attitude and everything, and [I] feel that way about all our guys on defense."

The defense has had some struggles in the final two minutes of both halves in terms of yards and points given up. Have you seen anything in particular on film or is there anything that could be tweaked schematically? _(Tim Barbalace) _"Yes, there can be tweaks schematically, which we do all the time. Yes, we've seen lots of things on film. No, I don't really want to get into the detailed list of all the different things, because we'd be here too long. We work on all those things all the time, and that's very critical in the National Football League. The last two minutes – obviously – a lot of these games are one-score games. Games are won all the time at the end, and once again, it happened this week again. When you look around the whole league, it's like that. So, that part of it for us, defensively and offensively, is just critical. So, just every week [we] get out there, try to prepare for it and try to be as prepared as we can to do the best we can in that situation, because often times it will come down to that."

You talked about ILB Patrick Queen's injury on Monday, but he looked like he was fine out there today from our perspective. Is he cool now? (Melissa Kim) _"Yes, he was out there. He looked good; he's cool. _(laughter)Good question. I would say yes; the answer to that question, yes."

There were a couple of roster moves that we didn't ask you about last week; do you expect either WR Tylan Wallace or CB Jalyn Armour-Davis to come off of IR before the end of the year? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Jalyn [Armour-Davis], no; Tylan [Wallace], yes."


On if it will be strange to face Pittsburgh without former QB Ben Roethlisberger: "In a way, yes, but I understand it's still the Steelers, and you've got to come with that mindset regardless of who's out there – that you've got to go out there and play your best ball. So, it would be nice to still have him [Ben Roethlisberger] there. He's a great player, [and] I definitely respect him, but I'm looking forward to this week."

On his impressions of Steelers QB Kenny Pickett: "He [Kenny Pickett] looks great. [He's] definitely a talent. I watched him when he was at [University of] Pittsburgh, so just to see him now kind of flourish and play his game now, it's good to see. So, I'm looking forward to this week and playing against him. Hopefully, we can hold him to as much as we can, but he's a great player, and we're going to respect him."

On if he feels like the defense is healthier and stronger at this point now than at this point last season: "Yes, just the few additions that we came across during the season … We're very confident with our team and with our defense, and we're coming together. We're developing that chemistry, and we're very confident in our defense and what we can do. So, just to see how we are now compared to then [last season], we're definitely making strides."

On if Baltimore's recent losses to Pittsburgh adds any extra juice to this week: "Yes, of course. Nobody likes to lose, especially to the Steelers, so there's definitely going to be tension there. But we've just got to take it one day at a time until we get to that moment and go out there and play our best ball and let the chips fall where they may."

On how he's feeling now after having a few games under his belt: "Yes, I'm feeling good. I had great sessions of rehab during this entire season and just now coming about trying to get my feet under me and just trying to play my best ball for this team. I'm just trying to fill in where I may and try to just give my best effort out there."

On if registering sacks can be contagious for a defense: "Yes, definitely. Any time you can get a sack, that definitely brings energy to the defense; that puts us in a better position on the field and helps us get off the field and give our offense back the ball. So, any time we're able to get sacks, that's definitely momentum – not only for the defense, [but] for the team, as well."

On if he believes the pass rush can be one of the team's strengths down the stretch: "Absolutely. We're definitely confident in each other that we can go out there and make an impact, whether that's interceptions, sacks, strips-sacks – whatever the case may be. [We're] just trying to make a play on the ball, get the ball, help our defense get off the field and get our offense back on the field. So, I'm very confident in our group – our defense – to go out there and make plays and help this team win."

On if he feels like his edge-setting abilities get overlooked: "No, I just kind of go out there and do my job and just help the team. If that's just me setting the edge, that helps the interior guys see the ball better, because they know it's not going to get outside of me. But I just go out there and do my job – that's it."

On if playing with a light box puts pressure on the players up front to be sound in their assignments: "We just go out there and do our job. There's always pressure – any time you snap the ball – to go out there and do your job and do it in a way [that] helps the defense out. So, any little slip up, teams can definitely catch onto that and make the most out of it. So, there is always pressure, if you want to say, when it comes to certain things like that. But we just take it a day at a time, snap at a time and just go out there and do our job."

On if he still thinks of Ravens-Steelers matchups as a defensive slugfest: "Absolutely. Well, in general, defense wins championships; defense wins games. I forgot who it was, but one of the sayings was, 'If you can run the ball and your defense can stop the run, you have a high chance of winning the game.' So, I feel like that's just how it's going to be this upcoming Sunday; it's just a straight slugfest on who can control the run game and who can go out there and stop them."

On the biggest difference between QB Tyler Huntley today and a year ago: "Just his [Tyler Huntley's] confidence, his poise, just, I guess, the fun spirit of him just going out there and playing his game and not having to worry about spectators or what people think of him. He just goes out there and plays, and he knows that we have his back. That's anybody's thing – is to have somebody there to know that [he's] got your back regardless of what you do out there. So, he can just go out there and play and just go with the flow of things and go out there and do his thing that we know that he can do."


On what it means to him to be the Ravens' nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year:"It meant a lot to me. I was very thankful for that. Just to see the guys who have come before me in my six years being in the league who have gotten that award, and that nomination, and the guys who have won it … It meant a lot to me, honestly."

On what keeping two out of their last three opponents out of the end zone means to the defense:"It feels good as a unit when you keep another offensive unit [out of the end zone]. You know, those guys get paid over there too to score, so when you keep them from scoring – which is the objective of the game – it feels good for us. We feel like we did something, but at the end of the day, we know we have to keep stacking those, too."

On his impressions of Steelers QB Kenny Pickett from looking at him on film:"They're trying to get him going in the system, and they have the parts around him to get him going. We just have to go out there any play our game at the end of the day."

On what makes Ravens-Steelers games always so close:"I think it's just two teams that really know each other, that have played a lot of ball against each other over the last 15-plus years. So, [we] play each other twice a year, and then I feel like both teams go out and get tough players, gritty players. When those two teams clash on the field, that's what the result is; that you see a tough, hard-fought game all the time."

On being 8-4 like last season and what the team has to do to avoid another late-year slip:"We have to go win. Ultimately, that's the goal. Last year at the end of the year, we didn't win the games that we needed to to keep pushing us where we needed to go to the playoffs ultimately. Right now, we just have to win, and do it one game at a time. Defensively, [we have to] get people off the field, turn the ball over. Offensively, [we have to] score the ball. Special teams [has to] put both units in good field position."

On if the defense is in better shape talent- and health-wise than at this point last season:"Yes, definitely. Last year, we had a lot of guys down and just injuries. That's part of the game, but this year guys are healthy, and we have a lot of bodies out there. We can rotate guys in and out, and there's almost no lapse out there."

On how much they are looking forward to getting S Marcus Williams back in the secondary:"We're definitely looking forward to him [being back]. Seeing him ramp up in practice, the more people we can have out there, the better, honestly."

On the Steelers winning four games in a row against the Ravens and if that has been a talking point this week:"It definitely has been brought up, for sure. That's the truth; you can't hide from the truth and what the record has been. We have to go out there and change that."

On how much QB Tyler Huntley's reps last year made him a different quarterback this season:"For anybody, that's good. You get those real, live game reps. So, for him as a quarterback, especially, that's good for him. We know what he can do, and we believe in him, and we trust him to come out there and do the job. Just kind of like I said a second ago, we have so many parts on defense and there's almost no lapse. It's the same thing with him; we believe in him. When he comes out there, [there is] no lapse; we all expect the same standard on this team."


On his impressions of what QB Tyler Huntley was able to do last week: "It's impressive any time you can get your backup quarterback to come in and lead in a game-winning drive like that. I think we started from like the 15-yard line and executed. The biggest thing is that as a backup quarterback, you don't get those opportunities in practice, because the starting quarterback is always taking all the main reps and stuff like that. So, for him [Tyler Huntley] to come in there and be confident and lead that offense down for that drive, man, it was big time."

On what he's heard about the Ravens-Steelers rivalry: "It's big time. I've been in a couple of rivalries myself throughout the course of my career, but this one sticks out way more. Obviously, it's in the division. Any time you can win in the division and separate yourself from the rest of the group to get a win, it's that much bigger. It's like a playoff game. Any time you're in the division; it's worth two."

On if he believes the late touchdown and passionate victory last week could build a little bit of momentum: "I'm guessing you're talking about Tyler's [Linderbaum] celebration? (laughter)Just to see the excitement on the guys' faces after you get that [touchdown] in … Obviously, that's something we've struggled with for the last couple of weeks. But to be able to – like I said – go in there and execute with 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley] at quarterback and get that win, it's something … We've been in the red zone [in] so many opportunities. You look back at the Jacksonville game … I don't want to beat a dead horse, but you look back to the Jacksonville game, there were many times where in the red zone, in that fringe area ready to score, we came out with field goals. And we talked about that all week – about operating faster, getting out of [the] huddle, getting the plays called and getting the ball out and just marching down the field. It's not perfect, obviously – we had some hiccups in that drive, as well, [with] a couple of penalties – but to overcome, it's big for us."

On if things change when the team goes from QB Lamar Jackson to QB Tyler Huntley: "I don't think so at all. I think a lot of us got to see what Tyler [Huntley] brings to the table in OTAs [organized team activities] and training camp earlier on. He has a good command of the offense, [and] the guys trust him. That's the biggest thing – is trust. Trust that he's going to do the right thing to lead us, and I know he's preparing hard. He's been around; he's played a lot of football. Like you said, this is not the first time he's gotten a start, and I think that's the biggest thing. He's going into a territory that's familiar, and so I'm excited for him and [to] see what he does."

On if there is any sense of worry in the locker room that last year's late-season woes could happen again: "Man, last year was last year. I think we're a whole different team. I can't speak on last year's team, but I just think about the men and the coaches that we have in this building today. I think we're prepared for this. I know every day we've talked about – [since] OTAs [organized team activities] – it's just getting to it, getting to work and getting into the grind. December football is playoff football. Like I said, you win in the division, it counts for two. So, I think the guys are just looking at what's in front of us right now and not looking behind us."

On when he started trusting QB Tyler Huntley: "I started trusting him [Tyler Huntley] as soon as I got here in OTAs [organized team activities]. I didn't know what the heck I was doing [while] learning the offense, and he brought me along. I just think you see him in the huddle, you see him on the sidelines, during practice, talking to guys. Guys respect him. They respect his craft, they respect what he brings to the table, and they respect how he approaches the game. And I think when you have that set of tools, it goes a long way."

On how much he relishes competing in December for a chance to make the playoffs:"Definitely. In my career, I've only been to the playoffs twice; I've only been in meaningful games twice in my career going into December. So, it means a lot. It's playoff football. You can feel it; the atmosphere changes a little bit, players are going a little bit harder, and you're going to get the full gamut from the opposing team. So, it's really for us to just lock in on the things we need to do, worry about ourselves, execute, go out there and play and have fun."

On what he thinks the run game is doing well and what can be done better:"Even when we're doing well, there are things to fix. I think when you have that space of mindset that everything can get better no matter what the circumstance – if we ran for 300 yards, there are still things that we can execute better. I think when you have that mindset as an offense, you're allowing yourself to flourish. That's the thing; you want to be able to flourish in playoff football. Being that it's December football, the run game is very important to our offense. I'm excited to get after it every week. You just learn from your mistakes and go out there and correct them."

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