Thursday Practice Transcript - 12/01


 Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

Josh Cribbs, you brought him along in the League… How tough is it to prepare for this guy? He seems like he's completely fearless the way that he runs up and catches those kickoffs? (Aaron Wilson) "Well, the preparation part is not nearly as difficult as the execution part. The preparation part is… I know them [the Browns] really well, and we all know them really well because we've played against them so many times. But talking about it is different than actually executing it. The thing that we have really focused on this week is we have to be really fundamentally good football players with this player. He's strong. He's elusive. He's got speed. So, we know going into the game that he's a big weapon for them, and it's our job to make sure that he doesn't get away from us."

How has Emanuel Cook looked over these last couple practices? (Jason Butt) "He's doing well. We're excited to have him. He's still in the learning mode, obviously. He's got some catching up to do with how we call things and how we do things, but he's eager, he's spending extra time, [and] he understands special teams. So, it's not like we have to teach him how to play. We just have to teach him how we call things and how we work together and how we do things. He's had two good days."

Does the wind coming off the lake [Lake Erie] make it more difficult to kick there than any other stadium? (Ed Lee) "Sometimes it's coming off the lake and sometimes it's not. But the wind, generally speaking, is always a challenge in that stadium. It's not just the direction, it's also the velocity and the fact that it swirls inside that stadium. Yes, the wind is always a factor there, and it will be this week."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

Do you feel like, this year, you guys are able to be more flexible in what you are able to do, especially with Lee [Evans] coming back and having playmakers on all sides? (Garrett Downing) "Getting Lee [Evans] back, no question, is nice. We'd like to get him more involved this week. Obviously, he is a captain this week going back home to Cleveland. But, more importantly, it's a division game and a big game. We've got young guys continuing to grow. Our tight ends [are doing] a lot of good things, I think everybody can see. We just have to keep improving. We've done some good things the last couple of weeks. We have to build on what we have all seen glimpses of the whole year. That's the most important thing. We've had a good week in practice and have put ourselves in a position to play well."

As a coach, how do you prepare rookies for the length of the season now in December where a lot of people may say that they hit that "rookie wall?" (Evan Washburn) "Every guy is different. It's a great question. Some guys do, they flatten out. You just grind through, try to get them to understand to get off your feet, rest. There is a lot of football left. I think every guy is different. I do like our young guys and their approach. I haven't seen a lot of guys, their play start to flatten out. That's a plus for us."

Cam, the last three games, Joe [Flacco] has only been sacked two times, zero sacks against the 49ers. What have you seen from the offensive line and the way they are building chemistry together? (Ed Lee) "Getting Ben [Grubbs] back is nice. But, it's [about] a group of guys – receivers getting separation, good decision-making by Joe [Flacco]. I think Joe has only had a handful of progression issues the last two weeks. It really all works together. The ball is coming out fast, good protection, guys helping each other. Now, people haven't chosen to pressure us as much lately. I am sure that will work its way back – it kind of works in cycles throughout the year. We need to stay on top of our game – just be sharp. It's really all 11 guys that make that happen. People tend to point blame at the offensive line when things aren't going well, but our guys up front are doing an outstanding job. You give those guys credit, but we're going to have to continue to get better."

A lot of guys were complimentary of the commitment to the running game against the 49ers. Can you talk about how difficult it is to be patient, even if you just gain two or three yards per attempt? (Ed Lee) "It's not difficult to be patient, because you trust your guys. We've got a ton of new guys. Throughout the course of the year, we kind of figure out what our identity is, how guys are improving. I think now, in the last couple of weeks, we know what we are capable of doing running the football. Obviously, third-down conversions have helped a lot. We always want to run the football. It's part of our DNA, if you will. It's what we want to do, but sometimes good defenses don't allow you to do that, and you can't be stupid either. We've got a ton of trust in Joe. We have Anquan Boldin. We've got tight ends. We've got people we can throw the football [to]. The [touchdown] drive the other night that everyone is talking about, I think you have to realize that, I think, it was like 13 passes and four runs. So, it all fits together. There are times where you are going to run a lot, but we also know, in this league, that teams that are scoring points consistently have to be able to execute the passing game as well."

The drive you talked about, I think Joe hit six or seven different guys. How efficient has he been at hitting guys wherever they are in the progression? (Garrett Downing) "Really good. But you have to continue that. The old saying holds true: You are only as good as your next performance – coaches, players, offenses and our next performance. The thing that is probably the most pleasing thing for me was coming off the field, and [in] what was really a nice win for us, guys were already talking about the fact that we should have scored when we had an opportunity to and things we already knew we wanted to get corrected. Secondly, guys were already talking about playing Cleveland in the locker room as we were enjoying a nice Thanksgiving. I like our mental approach – it's about us being sharp going into this game and just improving on all those things you guys are talking about."

How encouraged were you to see that balance the last couple of weeks, knowing, now entering December, the elements, whether it is in Cleveland or Baltimore, turn for the worst? (Luke Jones) "Traditional thinking says all that matters, and then you watch Green Bay and New England. You look at teams that are winning championships and you say, 'Really, it doesn't hold true.' Maybe it holds true for us. Bottom line is we want to run the football. We like to be physical. Everybody knows how we like to play, but at the same time, we all know it doesn't matter what the weather is. You look around the league, guys like Joe Flacco and the quarterbacks in this business, they can throw the football in any weather and execute it. I love our receivers, the way they approach throwing in inclement weather. I have great confidence no matter what the weather is. Bottom line is we can run it, we can throw it. We have to execute no matter which direction we decide to go and do whatever it takes to win every individual game. I think a little traditionally. But also, look around. It's not about running the football to win championships. That's not a slam dunk anymore. Though, we do want to run the football."

Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano

Can you talk about Terrell Suggs? Have you noticed… Are a lot of opposing offenses shifting their protection toward "Sizzle?" If so, how do you get him free? (Ed Lee) "Well yeah, they've got to take care of him. I think on the last game, on Thursday night, the very first pressure we called, he lined up with two other guys to the right. They turned the protection, and we had a blitz coming from the other way. He'll be the first one to tell you that a couple games ago he was sitting there, and every time he came off [the edge]… We designed a bunch of things as a staff to try and get him loose, just because of the protection issues. Everyone is making sure they take care of him. They double him, chip him or put a tight end over there. But our guys do a great job of trying to come up with some different things. We had him lined up behind the center one time, blitzed him up the A-gap and got him on a back. So, we're trying to manage the thing so we're getting him some singles – at least some singles – and they can't double him."

Is that frustrating when opposing offenses do that or is it viewed as a sign of respect? (Ed Lee) "It's both. I mean, it's frustrating; he'll be the first one to tell you. He was like, 'Coach, you think they're going to cut me?' I said, 'I don't think so.' (laughter) He went for a long stretch there without anything. So he's sitting there, 'Am I a bad player? Are they going to cut me?' I said, 'I don't think so, "Siz."' It's respect, but it does get frustrating. So it was good to see him have a breakout game and get those three sacks."

Can you talk about the influence of outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino? How instrumental has he been in terms of his work with Sizzle? (Ed Lee) "I think since Teddy has been back… I don't' know if my number is right, but [Suggs has] been AFC Defensive Player of the Week, I think, [two] times [and AFC Defensive Player of the Month once]. So, I think it's been pretty good."

What kind of challenge does Peyton Hillis present now that it looks like he's healthy for the first time in a while? (Luke Jones) "It's a huge challenge. He had a big day our first meeting, last year, against us here at home. He got loose on a couple runs. He's a big guy. He's a strong guy. He's a downhill guy. So, it's a huge challenge. I think our guys fully understand and they know what they're up against. They've got a good offensive line, and they're blocking well. So, we've got respect for them. We understand what style of game he plays. So, it's a huge challenge, but they'll be ready for him."

What have you seen from Colt McCoy this week on tape and how do you think he's playing? (Garrett Downing) "I think he's playing well. Obviously, the run game, anytime you can run the ball and have success running it… They get into a bunch of third-and-shorts, so he's not having to deal with a bunch of third-and-long situations. You look at the breakdown [and] there's a bunch of third-and-2, -3, -4 and -5. So, he's doing a great job managing the game. They're making it simple for him. He's getting the ball out, simple reads, and then he's athletic and he's scrambling. Last week he ran on the third-and-18 play and picked up a first down. So, he can beat you outside the pocket either looking downfield – he keeps his eyes downfield – [and] if he sees something open, he'll hit it. If not, he can surely with his legs beat you athletically."

How tough is Joe Thomas to scheme against to get pressure on that side? (Jason Butt) "It's always been hard, because he's a Pro Bowler. The center [Alex Mack] is a Pro Bowler. He's a Pro Bowler, [and] they've got a good offensive line, so we've got our hands full over there."

In your eyes, give me some words about how well the defense has adjusted to being without Ray [Lewis]. It has to be tough to lose your leader for a couple games. (Jeff Seidel) "They've done great. Everybody has stepped up their game, and I think that's the way it's always been around here. When the man goes down, it's the 'next man up,' and that's kind of how our room is built, and it's always been built that way. It was that way long before I got here, and it'll probably be that way long after I'm gone. So, they all prepare as starters, and so when you lose a guy like Ray or anybody else, it's 'next man up' and everybody understands that their level of play has to rise up. So, they've done a great job with it."

How have Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed complemented each other on the back end of the defense? (Ed Lee) "They're doing a great job. Bernard, his domain is he loves being down near the action and in the box and in the run game, and they do… The amount of time that he's getting on defense and becoming more comfortable with the scheme, they're able to do some changing up and moving around and trying to confuse the quarterbacks some. So, I think him playing deep some and then down in the box, and Ed changing with him… And then we bring in a three-safety scheme. So, it's been really good and it's only getting better, too."

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