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Ravens Wednesday Transcripts: Week 17 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (12/28)


*Opening statement: *"OK, good to see everybody. [I] really appreciate you all coming out today. What questions do you have?"

You ran for over 200 yards the last time you played the Steelers against a pretty good run defense. What do you think was the key to running it against them? _(Jamison Hensley) _"It's just one of those games. They've played really good run defense the past couple weeks [and] throughout the course of the season. [They have] a very physical front, downhill linebackers [and] a lot of really good schemes to stop the run. So, we definitely have our work cut out for us."

We saw WR Tylan Wallace come back to practice today. Is he a potential consideration to be a returner in the absence of WR Devin Duvernay? _(David Andrade) _"Tylan's [Wallace] back to practice for the first time in four weeks, so [we're] going to kind of evaluate him here and see how he's doing with the hamstring and what his health status is right now. He's not on the active roster at this point."

It was reported that QB Lamar Jackson has a PCL injury. Do you know if that was a sprain or strain? _(Cordell Woodland) _"I'm not really ... [It's] not for me to say. We're just coaching the guys out here right now."

RBs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards have both said they're not at 100 percent strength right now. When you're dealing with running backs dealing with those kinds of things, do you have to put them on a snap or carry count at all? _(Jamison Hensley) _"We don't have them on a snap or carry count right now; we're kind of doing it just [by] the situation of the game, because you have two guys like that. Also, Justice [Hill] is a very good back. I don't think there's going to be too many reps for those guys. They're probably all going to want more reps than they're getting anyways, so it hasn't been so much of an issue for us."

What was your reaction to seeing Ed Reed become the new head coach at Bethune-Cookman? _(Luke Jones) _"Bethune-Cookman got a great coach, got a great football man. I was very excited for Ed [Reed] for one thing, because I know that he's been working on that. He's been at the University of Miami as an assistant coach and doing a great job down there. Then, to get the opportunity to run his own program, I know he'll do a great job. Of course, we'll support him every way we can. Bethune-Cookman made a great hire."

In the same vein, what was your reaction to seeing former Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg named the Denver Broncos interim head coach? _(Ryan Mink) _"I would echo the same thing, exactly what I said about Ed [Reed]. Jerry [Rosburg] is a good man. I know he's been contributing there and helping out, so I'm sure the team is comfortable with him [and] he with them. I always believed Jerry Rosburg would've been, could've been, can be a great head coach; no doubt about it. I've always felt that. He and I, we were shoulder-to-shoulder really in everything we did here all those years. [He is] just a great football man, great leader. [He] has every quality, every trait for it, so it'll be a great week for them, I'm sure."

Whether it's Ed Reed or another player you've coached who has moved on into the coaching ranks, is it noticeable to you when they're players that they would make good coaches? _(Mark Viviano) _"There are guys, for sure, that you would say, 'They have a football acumen,' or they kind of have the principles, the foundation that you think, 'Wow, I think that'd be a good coach.' Or they teach the other guys really well, things like that. Ed [Reed] had such a good football acumen. He was [so] understanding of his position and the defensive part of the game. It was really incredible and remarkable how well he understood the game."

There's been so much about you and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and how long you've both coached your respective organizations. How much are you in touch with him during the offseason, and how do you characterize him overall as a person? _(Bo Smolka) _"We see each other. There's a lot of NFL functions and things like that, so you see all the coaches. Mike [Tomlin] and I have a really good relationship. [We've] known each other for quite a while. When I left the University of Cincinnati, he came in. He kind of replaced my spot there, which is crazy to think about. He was younger, but I don't know. He's a heck of a coach, and [I] have so much respect for him and what they do."

We've seen players say that they kind of get up to go play against premier talent on the other side of the ball. Do you kind of get up when you go up against a guy like Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin? (Cordell Woodland) _"We respect the program; we respect everything they do. Mike [Tomlin] was a receiver; I was a defensive back. I don't know what kind of a receiver he was back in the day. I might not have been the best defensive back ever, but as I look at him right now, I feel like I'd have a chance to stay with him, I really do. So, I don't know what that means, but is that something that you think anybody would pay to see? _(Reporters: "Yes.") _You think people would pay to see that? _(Reporter: "I have five dollars on it.") (laughter) _You have five dollars on it? OK, that's probably about what it'd be worth." _(laughter)

Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith was just named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. What kind of a game-wrecker is he? _(Todd Karpovich) _"What a year he's had. He's become one of the premier pass rushers. He has a high number of sacks. They have a lot of great players, but those three pass rushers – they have the two edge players and they've got the defensive end – everyone knows who I'm talking about here. So, those three guys are just elite players in the National Football League. I think for [Alex] Highsmith to put himself in the category with a T.J. Watt and a Cam Heyward, that's high praise – and he has done that."


On how comfortable the offensive line makes him feel out there: "It definitely makes me feel super comfortable. I trust in those guys, and I know that they're playing for me, and I play for them. So, it just makes us that much better. They've been doing an outstanding job, and I appreciate the work that they've been doing. I wouldn't have any of those numbers without them."

On if he feels like this team could win multiple playoff games with this run game: "Yes, definitely. I think our O-line is really good, I think we run the ball really well and us running backs run the ball pretty well. So, I think it could definitely take control of a game. I know there are some high-powered offenses out there. We can maybe neutralize them a little bit with the run game, so we'll see when we get to the playoffs. That's coming up in about two weeks. It should be a good one."

On what allowed the run game to put up big numbers against the Steelers two weeks ago: "First of all, the O-line definitely; they are the most important reason. It was my first game back from my [knee] scope, so I think that kind of gave us a little bit of energy to go out there and do what we did. We have much respect for them; we know they have some great players on their defense, like really good guys, Hall of Famers. So, we just take pride in going against those guys and trying to compete. I know I'm going to compete, the offensive linemen are going to compete and we're all going to compete. Hopefully, we can lock in again this week against them, and do the same thing."

On RB Gus Edwards saying seeing him go out there and do what he does motivates him to step his game up: "I'm always motivated, always motivated. It's great to see Gus [Edwards] doing what he's doing, because he had a rough injury as well, but I'm motivated by other things, too. I'm not going to get into that, but Gus definitely, he's a motivator for sure."

On if he feels like the flexion is coming back to his knee: "Yes, it's slowly coming back. I was talking to someone, 'If football was a game of 30 yards, 40 yards, I would be 100%.' Legit 100%, because in quick areas, in quickness, in power and things like that, I feel 100%. I feel like the knee [injury] never happened. The time I start feeling the flexion and things like that is whenever I have to open up; long speed and things like that, [and] that's from the knee, but it's not. It's my hamstring and things like that; the ranges that I couldn't touch because I didn't have the flexion. I'm now getting to touch them again, and they're just not as strong as the other leg. The other leg was pretty dang good, so it's just trying to get back to that, the same as the other leg."

On if he can describe how his knee feels when he tries to open up long runs: "It's a mix between tightness in my muscle, like my groin area, hip area and my hamstring. And, it feels weaker than the other side. Before I got hurt, I was a 4.3-4.4 [40-yard dash] guy. So, this leg is still super-fast. This leg, the hamstrings weren't reaching that speed for over a year, over 365 days. So, it's just tough. This leg is doing good too though; it's coming along. I heard that I ran like 20 miles per hour I want to say on the one run I had against the Steelers, and I was like, 'Dang.' It's just that extra one or two miles [per hour] that are the difference. It's the last little bit of me; that's what makes me, me. I'm not all the way there, but I'm getting there."

On if "El Toro" is a nickname for just his Spanish fans: "No, we're going to make that a nickname for good. That's J.K. 'El Toro' Dobbins. That's it; that's the one. That's the one. Me gustó mucho (I really like it)."

On why he likes the 'El Toro' nickname: "[I like it] because being from Texas, it's like people think Texas is like bulls running around in the streets, horses are carrying people to work and things like that. So, I guess it fits me; it fits me well. So, we're going to ride with that one. I'm still working on my Spanish. My Spanish is getting better each and every day. Que bueno verte (It's good to see you).(laughter)Que onda (what's up), boss? So, it's good. Tu eres chistosa. (You are funny). Tu no sabes?(You don't know?)" (laughter)

On how he has been able to maintain his positive attitude throughout his injury and recovery: "I'm just a man of God. I'm always going to keep faith, and I'm always going to … Just the things that I've been through in life; I've been through a lot. Losing a father is harder than any injury or anything that happens in football. So, those are just the things that keep me going, and keep me positive and keep me happy. I know, even though I got hurt, I'm still in the NFL. A lot of people don't get to say that. A lot of people don't get to say that they stepped on an NFL field, or got to start for the Baltimore Ravens and things like that. A lot of people can't even see, or talk or things like that, or even walk. There are veterans walking around – I know it's a sensitive subject – but I have much respect for veterans and guys that are in the military because they do lose legs and things like that. I kind of lost my leg in a sense, but God blessed me with the ability to walk again. I know many people don't get to walk again, so I stay positive because I know there are things much bigger than this. It definitely gets hard for me because I wish I didn't get hurt in a preseason game. It still weighs on my mind, like, 'A preseason game.' If you think about it, I really never talk about it because I'm always positive and I don't want anyone to think I'm pointing fingers at anyone, but I got hurt in a preseason game. I played every single preseason game that year, and didn't make it to the season. Just imagine if I didn't get hurt in that preseason game; I would've played the whole year last year, and then I would have been probably better right now then I am this year. So, I think about that sometimes, but I'm also grateful for those hard times as well because they made me a better man."


On what it takes to be successful against the Steelers' defensive front: "It's a physical front. Out of all the teams we've gone against this year, it's one of the more physical fronts. The things they throw at you, the style they play, and the guys they have makes it a difficult front to go against. But at the end of the day, you've got to focus on the Ravens, focus on what we can control, and I think we did a good job of that the first game; we've just got to carry it over to this next game."

On if he believes the running game can carry the offense in the playoffs and if he relishes that possibility: "Yes, especially this time of year. Being able to run the football, being capable of running the football is important. I think we're starting to gel together and improve on some things, but the good thing is there is a lot of stuff that we can still get better at, and there are still more yards out there for us to get. So, when the time comes, and they need us to run the ball, I think we have the guys to do it, but it's just all about going out there and actually working together and doing it."

On what it takes to be able to run the ball successfully when teams know you're trying to run: "Yes, it's just a credit to the guys that we have – the O-line, the running backs, the wide receivers working hard; quarterbacks getting us in the play and the position. At the end of the day, it just comes down to who wants it more. But it's certainly not easy. There have been a couple times [in] third-and-shorts, fourth-and-shorts that we haven't gotten it, so it's just about putting that together and being more consistent when it comes down to converting."

On his mentality in terms of finishing blocks: "The biggest thing is you never know where the ball is going to hit. For me, I don't want it to be my guy to make the play. That's what the whistle is for, [and] that's what the referees are for; play to the whistle. At the end of the day, I've just got to play hard. That's how football is supposed to be played, so that's something that I've always tried to do. I certainly don't always do it, but I try to do it."

On lining up against DT Cameron Heyward and what it's like to line up against him twice in a four-week period: "He [Cameron Heyward] is a very good player. He's Pro Bowl, All-Pro for a reason. I definitely noticed that when I was going against him. But at the end of the day, I need to focus on my technique – being in the right position, trusting my teammates – and at the end of the day, just play as hard as I can. He'll certainly give you a heck of a challenge, so that's what makes it fun playing the Steelers. They've got guys like him over there and a leader like him over there, so that's why we're going to have to come ready to play on Sunday."

On how RB J.K. Dobbins makes his job easier: "The running backs have done a tremendous job. [They're] making us look a little bit better than what we are. Just the holes they see, their ability to get through holes and pick up those extra yards breaking tackles and stuff like that. So, having a running back and a group of running backs like that is important to a successful run game. I think that's why these past couple of weeks have been successful – because they've been running the ball really well."

On the proverbial rookie wall, the playoffs and how he's feeling, given that he's only missed a snap or two all season: "This is awesome. This is what I signed up for. I love the game of football, and there's no other place I'd rather be. So, obviously, it's been long from going to training to getting drafted to coming here, but there's no other place I'd rather be."

On if it ever feels like he's out there with seven offensive linemen, given the team's heavy looks:(laughter)"Sometimes, but the more, the better. Any time … I think that's what's helping us in setting up those big runs – is we've got the guys to block people. But like I said, there's more out there. Being more consistent is definitely a key for us."


On playing the Steelers in primetime at M&T Bank Stadium: "Yes, it will just be another awesome opportunity. It's this week's challenge. We'll welcome those guys here, and we have to do what it takes to get the job done."

On what makes the Ravens' defense so tough to score against: "I think it's just guys playing for one another, bending but not breaking, and just trusting that at the end of the day, we're going to make something happen. We believe that, and we believe in each other – that somebody is going to make a play when it comes down to it."

On if he has a preference as to what type of offense he'd rather face late in the season and in cold weather: "Honestly, I really don't care. You can roll the ball out … See man – whatever. I'm here, and I think most of the guys have that same mindset. We're ready regardless of the offense. It could be a spread, it could be a power-I; I think we can do it all, and we've got the pieces to handle any offense throughout the league."

On the differences between facing college versus pro offense's: "I think, honestly, it just goes back to each and every team's personnel. It goes back to their personnel and what they have and how they're going to utilize their personnel, and what they think is the best way to defeat us in a sense, and I think guys are just going to do that. So, I don't think it's one special thing here or there."

On the physicality of his first Ravens-Steelers experience in Week 14: "Oh, it's definitely a physical game, playing those guys. I even remember being a kid [and] watching the games – the Ravens-Pittsburgh game – and seeing [it] then. And I always knew it was a very physical game, and just being out there … I think it's just like any other game, but you definitely feel like there are some slobber-knockers, [and] guys want to run right at you [to] test your manhood in a sense. But I love that. I live for that."

On how Steelers QB Kenny Pickett has matured since the first time he studied him earlier this season: "If I'm not mistaken, I think he [Kenny Pickett] has only played one – last game – since the last time we played him. So, it will be nice to get out there and really get to see him for a full game. I'm excited about the challenge, and what he'll bring to the table. I know he likes to pull it down a little bit. So, we'll see."

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