Ravens Wednesday Transcripts: Week 17 vs. Los Angeles Rams

WEDNESDAY PODIUM AVAILABILITY: WEEK 17 VS. LOS ANGELES RAMS

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "OK, [it's] good to see everybody on here. I appreciate you joining us. What questions do you have?"

Do you have any updates with QB Lamar Jackson? Do you anticipate him practicing today? (Jamison Hensley) "I do anticipate Lamar [Jackson] practicing. It'll probably be on a limited basis, and we'll see how he does."

How does the recent change in the COVID-19 protocols change the dynamic for you guys? I know you put out an announcement earlier today about the players who have been activated. Is it possible that you could get everybody back, currently on the COVID list by Sunday? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I'm going to say I think it is, but I haven't really fine-toothed any scenarios that could keep some guys out. There may be a scenario along those lines, certainly any new tests or anybody coming down with COVID would be an issue in the future. But we're applying the new protocols. [It's] not much different as far as around the building activity than what we've been in, because we've been in the enhanced protocols anyway for the last couple of weeks. So, it's kind of business as usual for us right now."

Along those lines, have you appreciated the flexibility of the League and the NFLPA reacting quickly to the new CDC guidelines and sort of the changes on the ground that we're seeing in general? (Childs Walker) "I haven't really given it too much thought. We're just reacting to it. I'm happy to get our guys back. I know those guys felt good. They wanted to be back, [and] they wanted play. They weren't feeling any ill-effects, so it makes perfect sense."

Could you expand a little bit on your statement yesterday on Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster John Madden and what it was like to work on the NFL Coaches Committee with him? (Bobby Trosset) "Yes, it was just a blessing. This is … Some might argue the greatest coach, if you think of it a little more globally in terms of what? Maybe a 40-, 50-, 60-year impact on generations of football fans as a coach, a highly successful coach, and then an announcer reaching fans through the medium of football. Nobody ever did it like he did it, in terms of his ability to teach the fans the game on kind of a layman's style that was entertaining, and then through the Madden game. To circle back the way he did … I know he was always involved with the League, but to circle back the way he did the last few years with the Madden committee and to be involved with all of the kinds of issues, especially the football issues. That's what he was interested in, the football issues relating to the rules of the game and the way the guys played. Then the mentorship kind of part where you get on the phone with him, or you get a voicemail from him … I saw Bill O'Brien saved his voicemails [from John Madden], I just read that. I did the same; I still have all of his voicemails. You don't erase a John Madden voicemail. That's just … You don't do it, and I never will. I have his text messages, [and] I'm probably going to get them framed. It was kind of a mentor-type deal. A lot of the things that we've done, in terms of the way we approach the players, I've learned from him. In terms of what's important, what you pursue and what really doesn't matter – I kind of try to put that stuff in perspective. He had just a great feel and a great way of expressing that. A great man [and] a beloved guy. Condolences to the Madden family. We all feel like we're part of the Madden family today. So, great man."

What are your thoughts on the change of the schedule this Sunday? Is this something you think might benefit the Ravens having a West Coast team come and play a little earlier? I know when you played the Chargers, their head coach Brandon Staley said after the game that it was a little uncomfortable being too early. In this case, Rams head coach Sean McVay said he might like to just go in the morning and play. (David Andrade) "Right, well that's a great question for Coach McVay [Rams head coach Sean McVay], and I think he answered it for you. I've never been on the West Coast, and I've never coached a West Coast team coming East. We've done it the other way here. They're 3-0 in that situation, so they've done well with that."

The Rams, they have possibly the best defensive player in the league in DL Aaron Donald, but how difficult is it to prepare for a guy like him when they have DB Jalen Ramsey, who probably is one of the best corners in the league, sitting on the outside as well? (Cordell Woodland) "There's no question. You have two of the top players on the field. You have one on the first level, and you have one on the second level who are considered right at the top or the best at their position in the game. Then you have two [more] on the second level – Von Miller and [Leonard] Floyd. Those two guys are pretty darn good, too, and they're considered top players on the edges. So, they have four really great players and a lot of other good players that a lot of people may not want to talk about. But they're playing good defense for a reason – good scheme, well-coached. [They're a] well-coached football team. [Rams head coach Sean McVay] Coach McVay does a great job; all their coaches do a great job. They play very well."

Obviously, you've had so many moving parts in the secondary here down the stretch. With that in mind, how do you think DB Brandon Stephens has handled a starting role as a guy that wasn't that experienced? I guess I just ask because his snap count was a reduced a little bit on Sunday with everything going on. (Luke Jones)"He's been playing well. Sunday was a tough game for everybody – we got it handed to us. We acknowledged that, we recognized it, and it's our job to bounce back from it. So, that's what it was. You learn. You learn from those things – you better. But he's done a great job. I'm really pleased with Brandon [Stephens]. He'll be ready to go on Sunday. He'll be playing. He'll be out there doing his thing, and I expect him to play very well."

The last time we talked to WR Rashod Bateman, he said something like it doesn't matter if he gets 2 yards or 100 yards, he just wants to contribute. To see a guy like that get his first NFL touchdown, how gratifying is that? How important is it to have that kind of attitude? (Melissa Kim)"It's great. It's great, but I want him to have 100 yards. (laughter) And I know he does, too. You want receivers to be involved and be productive. Like you said, it can't happen every game, because the ball is going to move around, defenses are going to play accordingly, and it's football. But what goes with that and what I think is being said there is the contribution by whatever means necessary. So, sometimes, the necessary means is to block. Sometimes, the necessary means is to push through the coverage and pull the top off the coverage and create space behind you for room to be thrown. Same thing on wide routes to pull coverage out. Sometimes you get the ball, and sometimes you don't. Once you catch the ball, catch it and get up field, and make yards after the catch. We're handing the ball off, go block. Get in there and block, get after people. Make sure you help the [running] backs. The [running] back and everybody else helps you – help them. If you're not a ball carrier, you're a blocker. It goes for the quarterback, too. The quarterback, if he's handing the ball off even, now he carries out a fake, whether it's a pass-fake or a run-fake, to draw the attention to the defense to some degree to help create some room for his other players. You have each other's backs. You play for each other. You support each other in the way you play, and I know that's what Rashod [Bateman] is talking about. That's very important."

Just following up with QB Lamar Jackson, is it a little too early to say that the anticipation is for him to start on Sunday? A second question, the Eagles are going to extreme measures as far as their quarterbacks. I'm not sure if you've heard, but they're actually separating their quarterbacks to try to protect them with COVID. Have you planned or do you anticipate doing anything like that with your quarterbacks? (Jamison Hensley)"We pretty much have already done it. We're already in the massive … What is it called? The enhanced protocol. We're doing everything virtually right now, so we're not in any meetings together. The quarterbacks are not in meetings together. We pretty much separated the whole team to that degree. As far as the rest of it, we'll go through the week and see how we progress. I'm really hopeful. I told you, like I said last week, I'm hopeful for all of our quarterbacks, of course, starting with Lamar [Jackson]. He's our starting quarterback. He's our guy, and I really want to see him out there on Sunday. I know the fans do, and I know that most of all, Lamar does. So, he's going to do everything he can to be out there. You can't make a promise, because we don't know. We don't know what tomorrow is going to bring; it's not for us to know. So, I'm hopeful. Tyler [Huntley] will be ready to go; he'll be back here. He should be back in here tomorrow, and of course, Josh [Johnson] is also practicing today as well, and Chris Streveler is practicing since he's back from COVID. So, we have some guys back, and that's a benefit to us."

I think this is the week a decision has to be made on T Ja'Wuan James. Has that ship kind of sailed? Or is there a chance for him? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I haven't talked to [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] about that at all, so I think that ship has sailed, apparently. But that's not really … That hasn't been a topic. My position on it was he'll do the best he can and really make the determination for himself. You're talking about an Achilles, that's something that the player has to decide, really, if he feels like he's ready to go. There hasn't been any talk along those lines. So, as a coach, we're not preparing for him to be back. Of course, you could always be pleasantly surprised, but that's not where we're going right now, I don't think."

TE Mark Andrews

On his mentality with the ball in his hands, surrounded by smaller defenders: "That's something [that] throughout these years I've been trying to work on – is YAC [yards after the catch]. Just knowing that I'm a big-body guy, [I can] catch the ball, get vertical, [and] you're always thinking end zone. So, when you think things like that, usually you're able to get a couple extra yards."

On what makes WR Cooper Kupp so good: "I think he's a student of the game. I think he's someone that does a great job each and every week of knowing what he's going to get, what he's going to see, and then he's just super elusive. You see some of the things he does, and it's like, 'How does he come up with that? What's going on in his head to make him make that type of move – three different moves – to get himself open?' So, they do a great job of allowing him to be himself, have that freedom, and he's just a beast, man. It's been fun to be able to watch him."

On statistically being up there with the great tight ends, like Travis Kelce, Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski, and if he's able to appreciate that: "Yes. This year … Like you said, it's a cool thing. It's a cool thing to be able to put up big numbers and make big plays and try to help this team out and win games, but at the end of the day, like you said, I'm a team guy. All I really want to do is win games, and that's all I'm trying to do. It's cool to be able to have these numbers and do these types of things, but if we're not winning games, nothing else matters to me."

On what's allowed him to have so much success, especially of late: "I think just settling down my role. Just going out there, playing hard. Obviously, it's not all me. Every quarterback I've played with, they've all had great games – Lamar [Jackson], 'Snoop,' [Tyler Huntley], Josh [Johnson]. All these guys, they're throwing great balls. So, it's not like I'm doing anything different or special. Those guys are throwing me the great balls, the O-line's protecting, and [I'm] just trying to make plays. [I'm] making some YAC [yards after the catch] and getting up [the] field, and I've been fortunate. So, every game is different. Like I said, you're not always going to have a 100-yard game. But the last three games, it's been fun, [and] I'm looking to continue to work on that."

On if there's anything he did in the offseason to prepare for his elevated snap count and carrying a bigger load: "I think it all starts with … I do everything in the offseason by myself – I don't go anywhere – but I have my family. [We] go out to the fields and throw the ball, we have a JUGGS machine; we do that all the time. So, I've got a great routine, [and] I take a lot of pride in being disciplined. But there's nothing else I did differently. I think I've always prepared in a great way, and here, in Baltimore, with the Ravens, they do a great job of getting me ready for a season like this, in terms of training camp and all those different types of things. So, I think just being disciplined and being here has been awesome."

On if he's aware of the franchise records within reach and if those records mean anything to him: "Yes, I'm definitely aware. I think I'm like 15 yards away, which is … Like I said, it's pretty cool. Someone said it's been around for like 26 years, and that's a big thing. That's something where your name is stapled into an organization and a franchise, and not many people get that opportunity. So, that's going to be, obviously, a huge honor, if I'm able to do that and get that, and it's something I'm looking forward to, for sure – to be able to have that."

On how much of his game is "feel-oriented" and just having a good sense of leverage, and if that's something that he's developed more of throughout his career: "Yes, I think they give me a ton of freedom here, and the more I learn the offense, the more I understand what certain routes I have more freedom on, what certain routes I really need to be rigid about and run the right way. And I think 'G-Ro' [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] does a great job of letting me know when's the time to do it, when's not. So, I've kind of just evolved in finding spots, finding spaces, and then when I get man [coverage], trying to beat them the best I can."

On the challenge of facing CB Jalen Ramsey: "Yes, obviously … First off, you're talking about Jalen [Ramsey], and he's a different type of corner than most out there. He's very versatile, extremely strong, but fast, physical – all those different things that makes him an elite guy. So, that's going to be a tough, obviously, matchup for anybody that he goes against, so we're going to have to be ready for that."

On the team's fight and what getting players back does for the team's internal energy: "You talk about getting guys back and just kind of the locker room and how we're feeling … Like I said before, we're fighters here. We're always going to fight. There's never going to be a quit in us. No matter what the game is, no matter what the score is, we're going to keep on coming, we're going to keep on going, and that's just who we are. And obviously, getting No. 8 [Lamar Jackson] back is special, because he's a special player, and I think we're all excited about that."

On if he's owned a heightened energy since signing his contract extension with Baltimore in September: "I don't think that money or having a longer-term deal makes a difference in my head. I've always loved Baltimore, I love playing for the Ravens, and I'm going to give it all no matter what. And so, in terms of playing harder, playing different, I don't think I have. I'm always going to be that type of guy that goes out there, especially for this organization that I care deeply about. So, it didn't matter if they didn't pay me or anything like that, but I'm glad they did. (laughter) So, I'm fortunate. But I'm just going out there, playing hard, trying to win games and trying to make this team better."

On if he expects to see a lot of CB Jalen Ramsey on him on Sunday: "I don't know exactly who's going to get matched up. The first time we played against them, it was a few times that I went against him [Jalen Ramsey]. Obviously, [he's] a great player, [and it's a] huge matchup. But whoever he goes against … There are a lot of guys on our team. Our receivers are balling out, so we'll see what happens with that."

On how much he was fueled by the draft skepticism and the questions about him coming out of college: "Not getting drafted where I thought I deserved to get drafted, that's something that definitely fuels me; it fuels me to this day. I've been doubted a lot in my life – at almost everything – and so, it's going out there and proving people wrong. But at the end of the day, I go out there and prove myself right. I know what I am, I know what I'm capable of, and I know what I bring to a team, and I've known that for a long time. So, all this is great, but I'm going to continue to be me and just play the way I play."

C Bradley Bozeman

On what QB Lamar Jackson's return to practice will bring to the team: "We'll be excited to see him out there, for sure. That's our guy. Lamar [Jackson] brings a great, great energy to practice, to the games and to everything he's involved with. So, if he's out there, that's going to be great. If not, we're going to work with what we have and try to get better today."

On Rams DL Aaron Donald being named the best defensive tackle in the game: "I definitely think he deserves that right and that honor. He's a great player, great competitor. He really gets after it and does the right things. He makes the plays when they need to be made; I have nothing but good things to say about him. It's going to be a test, for sure. We're excited for the challenge. We're just going to get out there, work today and try to prepare for those guys. They have a great defensive front, and we'll see where we end up at the end of the day."

On what makes DL Aaron Donald so difficult to go up against: "The guy never quits. He's a finisher. He continues to finish. He continues to play the play out; he doesn't stop. He doesn't stop until the whistle is blown, so I think that's one of the biggest things. I know he busts his butt in the offseason. He does what he needs to do. He's a pro in every sense of the word. I definitely think that's what makes him one of the best."

On the energy of the team heading into this week: "Everybody is ready to try to come out and win this game. We're excited to get to work today. We're excited to get to work the rest of this week. We're just going to continue to prepare and continue to do the things that we need to do to be able to put ourselves in a good situation at the end of the game, when the clock strikes zero, because these guys are nothing but a bunch of fighters. Guys fight until the end; they don't give up. No matter what the score is, no matter how much time is left on the clock, guys continue to fight. That's what we're going to continue to do until the end of this season. So, we're just going to continue to compete and do the things we need to do to try to win these football games."

On how QB Lamar Jackson's potential return affects the team's energy: "It's great. It's great for the team. It's great for the atmosphere of the game. It's great for everything. Lamar [Jackson] is a great competitor. He's a great playmaker. He does the things that he needs to do to be the best at what he does. But at the end of the day, if Lamar is not ready to play, he's not ready to play. That's on them – that's up to the training staff, and that's up to the coaching. That's not up to me. That's not my job. My job is to snap the football and make sure to protect whoever is back there at quarterback. So, that's what I plan to do and try to keep him as safe as possible."

On how much TE Mark Andrews' effort during practice stands out as motivation for his teammates: "You guys would ask that question when he's literally sitting right behind the camera. (laughter) Mark [Andrews] is a great competitor. The guy does everything he needs to do. He's a Pro Bowl player. He's an All-Pro. He's going to be one of the best to ever do it, to be honest, and I'm not just saying that because he's sitting in the room. He really goes out and competes and does the things he needs to do every single day in practice and in the games. You all have seen him this season; he's actually turned 'beast mode' this year. He's really just turned it up and turned it on. The guy deserves everything he's getting, every accolade. [He] just continues to strive for greatness and work harder and harder every single week. So, I can't say enough great things." (Mark Andrews appears from off-camera and hugs Bradley Bozeman) (laughter)

On how challenging it's been to work with three different quarterbacks the last few weeks: "Like I said, my job is just to snap the football and make sure that they're as comfortable as they can be back there. That's what we have to do. That's all it is. The guys have come in prepared and done the things they need to do just to be ready to play these football games. Josh [Johnson] did a great job. 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley] did a great job. Lamar [Jackson] has always done a great job. So, no matter who is back there, we're going to try to protect them as best [we can], because I know they're going to be ready to play the football game, be ready to go and try to compete at a very high level."

On if playing against a player like Rams DL Aaron Donald is something he gets excited about: "Yes, you do. I think every competitor is that way. It's a real opportunity to be able to showcase the things you can do on the field as well. Playing such a great competitor like Aaron [Donald], it's just a great opportunity to go out there and see what you can do, see how you stand up. I think it was my second year that we played them, and I had that opportunity. I looked forward to it [then], and it's the same now. I look forward to it, and we'll see where we end up. We're going to go prepare this week and try to do our best to limit him as best as possible."

S Chuck Clark

On what makes WR Cooper Kupp and the Rams' passing attack so challenging: "I think they just find ways to get him open, and sometimes a lot of people kind of lose their eyes on him, and he just slivers up, popping up out [of] the ground, wide open. But I think they do a good job of getting him the ball in multiple ways, honestly, and not just, 'Hey we need you to run this route.' They find different, creative ways to get him the ball with space to make plays."

On what he's seen from WR Odell Beckham Jr. and how he's been integrated into their offense: "He's giving them another little spark. I think they lost their other wide receiver [Robert Woods], and then I think he [Odell Beckham Jr.] filled in, and he's been doing a good job. So, he's been giving them an extra little spark down late at the end of the season so far."

On what he's seen from the young players filling in, especially in the secondary, the past few weeks: "I think everybody wants to be good. Everybody wants to be great when they go out there. We definitely have played with some different guys that have been filling in, but I think it's on us as the week goes – whoever is out there, the next person up – to kind of fill them in and get them going. So, I think everybody that's out there wants to be great, honestly. That's the main thing."

On QB Matthew Stafford and what he's seen from him on film: "What I see is [a] veteran quarterback in a good offense. They're finding ways for him to get the ball out to his different guys, to know where to go with the ball and make plays, and I think they're doing a good job right now. They've got a good balance with their defense right now. So, I think he's leading that offense pretty good right now."

On how the energy of the team is affected by QB Lamar Jackson being back on the field: "I think he brings good energy. I think we had good energy last week, even without him here. I'm not saying that in a bad way, but I'm just saying, it definitely boosts the team a little bit. But regardless [of] if he's here or not, we've all got to be good. You've got to bring your own individual energy and be good and bring positive energy to the team. So, with him, as well, back, we're all going to be up, and we're going to be ready to go."

On what John Madden meant to him: "It's just, from a little kid, playing that [Madden] game growing up, always playing his … We still get it every year, now, when it comes out. And it's going to be interesting to see how they uphold his legacy, for sure."

On being a bigger defensive back and seeing smaller defenders try to tackle bigger guys, like TE Mark Andrews: "Just from a size standpoint, you can't even think about that when you go out there on the field. When I'm out there, sometimes, I know I can get off the field, and [when] there's a guy that's 6-6, 6-7, a lineman or something, when I'm on the field, he's the same size as me; that's how I feel in my head. It is what it is. We play football."

On how tough communication and consistency has been with all the injuries on defense this season: "I think it's just adversity. Things that go on … This game helps us with life outside of football. Things happen in the regular world outside of ball, and I don't know if you've ever played, but I'm just saying, if you've never played football, this game helps you – with the things that happen in football – for the things that happen in real life. So, losing somebody this week, they're down this week, they're not around; things like that happen in life, and you've got to step up and be the next person ready to go, fill the void. And so, I think just the challenges that this game presents itself help us off the field, as well. So, I think we've just got to … This season, we're dealing well with handling the punches and keep moving forward."

On how encouraging it is to get guys back this week: "It's going to feel good to have more guys out there compared to the previous two weeks. It's going to feel good, for sure, to have our 'dogs'. I was just walking from the locker room coming down here now and hearing guys yelling, and that's a little bit of the energy that we've been missing these past two weeks, with different personalities, different energy and different spirits. So, just hearing that, I feel like we're going to be fired up, ready to go this week."

On what people might not know that makes it so hard to cover TE Mark Andrews: "I would say just that he can do whatever he wants to, for real. Sometimes, just playing football, you're expecting a route you're about to get or what the route is building in to, just with where he's lined up at, the concept that's coming, and he [Mark Andrews] just might put his own little artsy, creative twist to it, for real. So, I think he just has the freedom to do what he wants to do."

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