Transcript - John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference


Opening statement: "OK, we play on Thursday, and we're getting ready to go. It'll be here before we know it. But we had a good practice today for what we were doing. Guys are focused, and we're excited to play on Thursday night."

On whether the reality of this week's fast pace was evident today: "Yes. We had done a lot of work, obviously, going into this week so we were prepared. As coaches, [we] had an idea of what we wanted to present. [We] went to work last night and this morning and got practice ready and kind of finalized the game plan. I'm sure we'll be working on it for the next 24 hours or so to kind of finish up the game plan. But, we had a good practice. We have a good idea of what we want to do, and we're playing a really good football team."

On whether practice will be less physical this week to allow for recovery: "Well, yeah, it will be modified. It won't be the usual physical aspect of it. The tempo will be a little bit different. We'll try to get our reps in. It's going to be more mental. It's going to be a focus on assignment, alignment, technique and just learning the game plan and go play."

On S Ed Reed leading the team in interceptions after only two games: "I didn't realize that, but I'm always impressed with Ed Reed. Obviously, he's a great football player. He's worked really hard, I think, to get himself prepared for the time he was going to come back. And you guys saw how hard he was working. I think it's just a tribute to him, the kind of person he is, how important it is to him, and the caliber of player he is. I've always said it many times: I think he's going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and that's the way he's playing."

On the challenges of traveling on a short week: "I don't know how to categorize how much of a challenge it is. It's the reality. I mean, that's what we're facing. We're going to have to play on Thursday night, and the game's going to be in Atlanta. We're going to take a plane down there, so it's not going to be that big of deal I don't think, and we'll be ready to go."

On whether he noticed anything on film with the red-zone offense from Sunday: "I think it's just execution. We can do a better job. You know, don't have penalties down there. We want to complete passes. We had a couple opportunities to complete some balls that would have been scores. We could have run the ball better. Miami did a nice job."

On what Atlanta brings to the table offensively: "We've studied them pretty well. We have a good feel for them already. Obviously, they've got a big, physical offensive line. They want to run the ball. Michael Turner is a downhill back. It's interesting: He's a downhill back, but he gets the ball outside. For a guy with his size and power, he's really fast. I think they've got one of the better receiving corps again. Roddy White is leading the league in just about every category. He's a threat every time he lines up out there, and he's not the only guy. [They have a] pretty good tight end. He's been around for a while, Hall of Fame-type tight end, Pro Bowl guy, 12 Pro Bowls – Tony Gonzalez. I just think Michael Jenkins is a heck of a player. He's a vertical threat. Brian Finneran was with us in Philadelphia. [We] know all about him – 6-5, great hands. And of course the quarterback [Matt Ryan] is a great player, so it's a very talented offense."

On Miami LB Channing Crowder accusing FB Le'Ron McClain of spitting on him: "Obviously, we've heard a lot of things from Channing over the years. We've talked to Le'Ron. We've seen the videotape of it. It didn't happen. Here's a guy… He's a captain at Alabama. He's a Pro Bowler. He's been nothing but a model guy here for us. You guys all know him. I don't believe for one second that it happened. [Crowder] might have thought it happened, but it wasn't the way it was described, so we're past that. That game is history. We're moving on."

On whether WR David Reed could be the solution returning kickoffs: "He didn't do anything to make us think he couldn't. He did a nice job, and we'll probably continue to give him opportunities back there. I thought he looked good."

On what he has seen from QB Joe Flacco as he's grown this season: "The thing that we're hoping for with all our players is that they just get better. I think Joe has done a good job of taking it upon himself to improve as a football player. Fundamentally, he's better. Maybe he's seeing things a little more clearly. It's a lot of things, and the results are that he's playing a little better. But, he can play better than he's playing, and he'd be the first to tell you that. So, we're not really looking back and saying, 'OK, what's the key to the last five weeks?' What we're doing is we're looking forward to say, 'Hey, how can we get to the next game and be better than we were the last game and play the way we need to play to win this next football game?' That kind of becomes the focus."

On what he saw from WR Donte' Stallworth in his return: "Donte' looked good, and he's a guy that's going to be a real threat, I think, vertically for some people. And when I say that, it's down that way, but it's also across the field. He stretches the field both ways, vertically and horizontally. He's just a guy that we want to continue to expand his role as much as we can. It's good to have good players. And like we talked about before, it's going to be tough to determine the 45-man roster. That's a good problem to have, so there's going to be competition for playing time and for opportunities."

On the decision-making process when it comes to game-day inactives:"It's not going to be random. It's going to be based on the 45 [players] that we think give us the best chance to win the game. Like I said, there is a competitive element to that – how guys practice, who can do more in certain areas. Special teams is obviously a big part of that, and then how many players in each position that we want to put up based on who we're playing. So, all of those things will go into it, and we'll just do the best that we can, but there will be guys – as long as we stay healthy – there will be guys who are good players that aren't playing, and that's just the reality of it."

On guys like DT Brandon McKinney and LB Dannell Ellerbe who were inactive yesterday for the first time this season, and whether it was just their time to sit one out:"Yeah, we just felt that they weren't in the 45 [players] for that game. So, we'll just have to see how it goes this week. They could be [active this week]. I mean, they're good enough to be. It's not that they weren't practicing well enough. But, you look at the guys that were up, and I think you can understand it."

On whether he feels like the team came out pretty healthy from the Miami game:"It looks like we came out well. There's nothing serious. There are usual bumps and bruises. We're going to have to work hard to get ready for Thursday night, but nothing serious."

On whether CB Fabian Washington not playing in parts of the second half was injury related:"No, that was to give Josh [Wilson] a chance."

On whether he would say the "three-headed-monster" is back in the running game:"I don't think it ever went anywhere. People talk about it a lot; I think we've always had those guys. It's good to have that kind of talent, and we'll keep playing all three of those guys."

On whether he would trade playing on primetime this week for a regularly-scheduled Sunday game:"No, I think it's good. It's exciting to play. Our guys will be thrilled to be the only game [on Thursday]. It'll be a great environment; it's going to be loud, it's going to be at their place. You know our guys are very comfortable with that. We've done that a lot in the last three years. I think we've done it 10 times. It'll be 10 times at the end of this season that we've been in that kind of an environment on the road. So, we'll be looking forward to it. It's great for our guys."

On what the scheduled plan is for the team after Thursday's game:"We'll talk about that after. We're going to focus on Thursday night."

On whether the schedule is something he can dangle in front of the players as incentive:"No, we don't dangle anything. We've got Thursday night, and that's what we're looking at."

LB Ray Lewis

On how his body feels after the Miami game and if he thinks it'll be ready for Thursday at Atlanta:"I think we feel great. You know, looking at the guys bounce around, you saw a lot of guys in earlier today and just getting a little treatment on whatever they needed to get treatment on. But I think overall, we came out pretty healthy as a team."

On how much of a detriment it is to players to not get a full week of rest between games:"I think you don't want to make too big of an issue about it, because both teams do have to go through it. But, I think if you question both sides of both teams, you're going to find way more players that say they don't like [Thursday] games than like it. It's just a very, very, very fast turnaround. And as you see, our style of practice and what coach [Harbaugh] thinks is best for us this week… And we'll really just make it a great mental week for us and really just heal up as much as you can and then be ready to play on Thursday night."

On whether he looks at some of the back-and-forth talking between teams leading up to a game and sits back and laughs at it and even tries to teach younger guys the lessons learned from that:"Yeah, and I think that's all I really do. I just go to them personally, which in this case was [Le'Ron McClain], and just went to him and asked him if he did it or not, bottom line. And from there, just move on. Just move on. And I think the biggest thing is – I kind of told him when the pushing and shoving was started – that anytime you're going through the course of a game like that, something is going to jump off like that. So, we need to be the ones with the cool heads and not get the 15-yard [penalties] and things like that, and not push us back and make us fall out of position to score. We've been through a lot of that before, and that's kind of my job, just to make sure the guys don't fall back into that."

On whether he takes a little pride in the fact that the Ravens are among the best in the AFC and the Falcons are among the best in the NFC:"Well, you hear everything. It's not as if we don't know what's going on [around the league]. We know Atlanta is playing at a very, very high level in the NFC right now, and we're playing at a high level in the AFC. So, we know what's coming. And this is that side and our side, but they've got a lot of talent; they have a lot of talent on offense over there and they're just playing sound football. They run the ball very well. Tony Gonzalez is playing at as high a level as he's playing. Roddy White is playing [well]. So, it's kind of different, because you never really play these teams but once every four years, or whatever it is. And now you kind of see, playing against this talented offense, matching up against our defense, vice versa, and things that don't usually happen. So, you really have to study a little bit more. So, with the short week, that still becomes harder. And that's kind of what coach was talking about earlier – making sure your mental notes are way much more than what you would put in, in a regular week, because you have [just three] days instead of [five]."

On where he sees Falcons QB Matt Ryan in his development and how he compares to QB Joe Flacco:"I don't ever want to speak down on Matt Ryan, but I haven't watched him that much to even rate or judge what his progress is. You would have to be inside [the organization to do that]. I can definitely speak about Joe, because I've been here from Day One. But I think Matt Ryan is a totally different person than Joe. I think they play the game totally different. You see Joe – Matt does get out of the pocket, as well – but I think Joe moves around a little more than Matt does. And outside of that, I don't know too much more about Matt outside of what I see on film right now."

On what he remembers most about Falcons head coach Mike Smith, his former linebackers coach:"Mike was just one of those true player coaches. And I think most players, even when you hear them talk about Mike now, they really respect the man that he is. The coach part always comes secondary to him. Every day he comes out to work, he's always going to challenge you to be a better man. And that's what I remember about coach Smith. We just had a great, great time together every day, just coming out and learning something new."

On whether he thinks it's tougher for offenses to score in the red zone because the field is shorter:"I think everything is shorter once you get inside the 20-yard line. The goal line is only so far, and there's a lot of people down there in between the 20 and whatever the back of the end zone is. And it's just hard. It's just hard. And most of the time you see a touchdown come, somebody's just wide open because the play just went longer than it should, the quarterback scrambled out, a man broke away and just made a great play. And even yesterday, a lot of times we shot ourselves in the foot. A lot of times the other team didn't have to do anything. We got penalties, we threw the ball out of bounds and things like that. So, I just think bottom line, when you get in the red zone, defensively your mindset changes. And offensively, I think you really try to set up the right play to get a mismatch in the red zone."

On where the Georgia Dome is ranked on tough places to play:"Where does the Georgia Dome rank? I don't know. I don't know. I think one of the reasons I don't know is because we don't play there as much. I may have played there probably three times, two or three times in my whole career. I played in a lot of other places. But of course, it's going to be loud. There's going to be a lot of energy. They're playing at a very, very high level, and I know their crowd is going to be really psyched. So, it should be a really great environment to play in."

On whether the Falcons will be committed to the run throughout the game:"Yeah, if you watch their games, you see that they do stick to the run. They have a good running back in [Michael] Turner that really likes to get downhill. He's a physical back, and he just loves to run between the tackles. And I believe it really sets up their play-action. It really sets up Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White down the field. So they do stick to it. They do a great, great job sticking to it. We do a pretty good job of sticking to it as well, trying to stop people from running the ball. So, it should be a good test for both sides."

On whether offensive players have gotten bigger, faster and stronger over his career:"Offensively? I think, yeah. Definitely. Even if you go from era to era, whatever it is, I think the whole game has just gotten faster. Everything is just bigger; everything moves faster. Every transition, every year always changes even when you look at the players nowadays. You look at some of the linemen who played linemen back in the day, [and] they were linebacker sizes. And now, you look at linemen who play in today's times – much bigger, much faster. So, I think the game is transitioning without just being one-sided."

On whether it is more difficult as he gets older and offenses are getting bigger and faster:"No. You can't let them put their hands on you. If they put their hands on you, then that's your fault, because the [thing] about them being bigger and faster, just being honest, there's no offensive lineman that's just going to flat-out outrun me, whatever – hopefully not outrun linebackers. So, hopefully that isn't the issue. But they are very athletic nowadays. You've got centers pulling from their center position, hiking the ball and pulling. You've got guards pulling. So like I said, a lot of things are speeding up in the game, and all you've got to do is speed up with it."

On whether the Falcons and Ravens won't be at their best on Thursday because of the short week:"I don't know. I don't know about them. I know we're going to be at our best. I don't care how short the week is. If it's on your schedule, it's on your schedule. Deal with it. We already bought in. We already bought in. Coach [Harbaugh] talked to us about these two games before we played the first game [against Miami]. So we knew what to expect coming into this game, and that's why the win was so good yesterday, getting that at home. We will definitely be ready to play."

On his thoughts on the list of top NFL players of all time, in which he was ranked 18th:"You have to always say congrats to them – anybody that's rated there. Like I said, I kind of spoke about this last week: I think it's just totally different eras. It's just so hard to compare all of these different players because everybody was great in their time. Everybody that's on that list was great during their time. If you compare it during times, 10 years or whatever it was, then I think that's a little easier. But, when you go 40 or 50 years back and try to compare people to guys that are now playing, I don't know how it's fair. I don't know how you actually did it. I don't know how the numbers came out, but whatever, whatever. Data came up with it."

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