2014 SEASON WRAP-UP: LOCKER ROOM QUOTES
WR Kamar Aiken
On how big of a loss it would be if offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak left the Ravens:"That would be real big. Hopefully he doesn't leave. It'll be great to have him around and just to be able to have one year of his offense under our belt and being able to just expand on it next year."
On the job the Ravens' coaching staff has done this year overcoming adversity and making the playoffs:"It speaks a lot for them, just this organization as a whole. They did a good job of keeping us together and keeping all the distractions out. It speaks for ourselves what we did this year and accomplished throughout everything we had to deal with."
On how he can build off of this season for himself:"I could build on it real big – attack this offseason as much as I can, make the best of it and just use the experience I gained this year and make next year better."
On what clicked for him offensively this year:"To be honest, I haven't really even sat back and been able to gather it all and soak it all in yet. I'm still on 'Cloud Nine' just going with it."
DE Chris Canty
On whether he has thought about retiring: "I've thought about it. Obviously, a passion for playing on Sundays will never go away. I love this game. I love being a part of the National Football League, but obviously, there's another side to it. You have to think about your future. You have to think, 'Can your body take the pounding going through a regular reason and being able to stay healthy?' The last couple of years, I've been pretty banged up, so it's a situation where I'll take some time away from the game, spend some time with my family and make a decision when we have to make a decision."
On how the members of the 2014 Ravens won't meet again: "In the National Football League, there's so much turnover in the salary cap era. That collection of individuals will never be the same. We understand the nature of the business, and that's why we try to make the most of this season, make the most of the 2014 Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short of our goal, but I couldn't be more proud of a group of men, the character of the guys in this locker room, the way they fought, the way they overcame adversity and obstacle after obstacle. [The team] just kept showing up, just kept working, played their hearts out for each other, and that is the essence of a team. I'm just thankful to be a part of it."
On whether there is a feeling about the season ending abruptly for the Ravens after playing so well:"That's the tough part about it.* *You're playing, you're playing, and it never occurs to you that the outcome might not be what you want it to be. Just the faith that we have in one another even going down on that last drive, we just felt like Joe [Flacco] was going to make the plays that need to be made and we were going to come up with a game-winning drive and walk off that field and look forward to going to the AFC Championship. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. We came up short, and that's the end of the narrative for the 2014 Ravens."
On whether there was a message from head coach John Harbaugh in the final team meeting: "This team is moving forward. This team is moving forward. We're going to continue to build on the things that we improved on this year, strengthening the areas that we were weak [in] during the season and compete for championships in the future."
On what factors may contribute to his decision about retirement: "Ultimately, it's whether I can do it or not at a high level. I don't want to go out on the football field and not be able to play at a high level. When you turn on the tape and you don't recognize yourself, that's a problem, and I never want that to be the case. So, [if I am] healthy enough and I feel like I can do, then I'll do it. If not, then I'll move on."
On what it has been like to play for the Ravens: "Whether I continue playing or not, I think that it has been great being a part of this organization – top to bottom, standup guys. Everybody works hard here. Everybody believes in one another, has faith in one another, trusts one another, and it truly was a pleasure to come to work each and every day. I love coming in here to 'The Castle' [the Under Armour Performance Center], just looking forward to being around my teammates, being around the coaching staff, working together, competing together. It's a great place."
On the character of this team: "To be honest with you, I can't think of a team that has had to face the kind of adversity we faced this season. [The team] just continued to show up, just continued to fight and stay together. I hate to try to compare and contrast, but like I said, I couldn't be more proud to be a part of a group of men, a team, an organization. Just the way that we approached everything, the way that we've handled everything with class, taking things in stride and continued to push forward."
On whether the decision to retire weighs heavier on him this offseason than in the past: "Well, certainly, because obviously there's a physical component to it. I had surgery there during the course of the regular season and it kind of knocked me down a little bit. At some point, you just get tired of getting cut off. But I'm going to see how I feel during the course of the offseason. Obviously, it's a decision that my family and I will make together and see where it goes."
RB Justin Forsett
On the Ravens' season and how it ended:"It's tough. You're watching other teams playing right now, trying to fight to keep moving on, and unfortunately our season came to an end, and we wanted to keep fighting. But they won last night, so we've got to pack it up, and it's just unfortunate."
On the message from head coach John Harbaugh in today's meeting:"Just he's proud of us [and] all that we accomplished. We think that the sky is the limit for this group, and hopefully we make it work going forward."
On if he would like to be a part of next year's team:"I would love to be a part of it. This is an organization that first gave me my shot, my first real opportunity, and I would love to stay."
On how much he will weigh that while acknowledging that this is a business decision, too:"You've got to take everything into account. These guys are familiar with me and they gave me my first real shot, but there's also a business side of it, where unfortunately, I've been in the 'friend zone' for most of my career. Hopefully we can get into a deeper commitment somewhere down the road and get some stability. But it is what it is, it's in God's hands, and I'm at peace with it."
On feeling like things were clicking and getting so close to where they wanted to be:"Like I said, it's really unfortunate, because I know for us, on the offensive side of the ball, we were really in a groove and doing some great things. Hopefully that momentum that we built can move on to next season, but it's a special group all around, in all three phases here, and it's a great organization."
T James Hurst
On the importance of getting to start in playoff games:"It was huge just for the atmosphere and the experience of playoff games, of rivalry games, and the Browns game was a make-the-playoffs-type game. It was huge for the experience and the confidence moving forward understanding that you can get the job done. And now that it's on film, you know what you have to work on."
On his overview on the way he played this season:"It was a crazy ride, like you said, going undrafted and just trying to make the team and ending up starting at left tackle. It was crazy. But those experiences I'm going to carry with me and use them to my advantage just to make myself a better football player. It's a huge offseason after your rookie year. You know really what you need to work on to be a better pro."
On the job offensive line coach Juan Castillo did with his position group this year:"He's a hard worker in everything he does. And his job, coaching and everything he has to do, he's going to outwork everyone. So, he takes that mentality to us. Just making sure we get plenty of reps, whether it's staying after practice or stealing reps during practice. He's going to give us everything we need to be able to be successful on Sunday."
On how he looks at his rookie campaign:"It was awesome. There was a lot of improvement; there were a lot of great experiences, a lot of great atmospheres. It was an awesome experience. It's on film [and] I see what I need to work on. I'm excited about the offseason and improving on those things."
On whether starting in a playoff game will give him confidence going forward: "Definitely. I think that it removes that surface level of doubt of, 'Hey, can I play in this league? Am I made to be able to play here?' And the answer is, 'Yes.' Just seeing it on film once you know that you have things to work on, but at the same time you've had the success and you've seen that you can do the job. So, that just gives you confidence moving forward."
On how impressed he was with the Ravens' rookie class: "It's awesome to say that I'm a part of it. A lot of guys had to step up, whether it was [because of an] injury or what not, but a lot of guys did step up and got the job done, and it's cool being a part of those guys that did. So, I'm excited to say our rookie class is really good, and we have to improve this offseason to be on the team and help the team again next year."
LB C.J. Mosley
On how he thinks his rookie season went:"For a rookie, I think I did pretty well, but I'm a rookie, so I've got a lot to work on and I can only go up from here. So, I'm going to take my time off and get my body right for these first few weeks and then just get right back at it so I can be a better player come next April."
On his plans for the offseason:"After the Pro Bowl, I don't really have anything set in stone; spend some time with my family, go home and rest, then after I take my little break, just get right back to football."
On the job head coach John Harbaugh and his staff did to prepare the team:"We had a lot of adversity, a lot off the field and a lot of things that we couldn't control as a team. So, his main thing and his focus on the team was just to make sure that we stayed positive. We had to learn from our mistakes and learn from other people's mistakes that [were] on this past team. And he just made sure that the team stayed collected together and we had each other's back no matter what we went through."
On learning from LB Daryl Smith this season:"He's been through a lot – I think his 10th or 11th year – and for him to let me and Zach Orr come in and come into the room with open arms, it shows a lot of gratitude to what type of player and what type of person he is, along with [inside linebackers] coach 'Wink' [Don Martindale]. They took us both in and we did a great job on special teams and on defense, so a lot of things go out to him. I don't know for all linebackers, but it's not that easy when you can just let a rookie come in and take the play-calling job. He's taught me some ropes, he's showed me a few things here and there, and I've learned a lot from him."
On how he views his rookie season as a whole:"I think I had a pretty good season. I'm not the one to brag or talk about accomplishments, but for me, I just know I can get better. There [are] a lot of things I can work on, and it's my first year, so there's a lot to improve on. Like I said, I'm just going to take a little time off, then after that, get right back to it and try to be a better player come the second year."
G Kelechi Osemele
On the offensive line as a group this season: "I always feel like we have a hard-working group in that room, and I feel like that's because the coaches do a good job of making sure we have good character guys in our room that are willing to focus on improving and being consistent. I feel like I'll say the same thing next year."
On what steps he took to improve this year: "Definitely coming back off of that injury I proved that they had nothing to worry about as far as me being able to stay healthy and perform at a high level."
On whether he improved from a technical standpoint: "Definitely technically, I improved this year from last year and definitely my physicality obviously stepped up. I actually got stronger as a player as well. So, I feel like that was the definite improvement."
On whether he views this as a successful season: "Obviously, we didn't end up the way we wanted it to. We lost the game fighting. I feel like everybody fought, so I think that everybody should be proud of the way that our team played. I feel like we should be holding our heads high, because everybody went out there and they gave it their best shot and best effort, and that's all you can ask."
On how proud he is of the offensive line's improvement this season: "I'm really proud of the offensive line. I really feel like when guys got injured and went down, we had guys that stepped up and continued to produce at the level we expected them to. They understood the expectations that we have as an offensive line. That's just something that comes with being a part of this organization in general. I feel like everybody has high standards for their performances."
On carrying over the success of the O-line to next season: "Once you start playing at a certain level and your coaches develop an expectation, you have to be able to maintain that and be consistent. I feel like that was not only for me, but as far as the guys playing to my right and to my left, I think we all expect each other to play at a high level and do what you need to do to be healthy week to week. We just fight for each other. If one of us is having a bad game and we're not playing as well as we should be playing, I feel like we have the type of men that aren't afraid to hold each other accountable, and that's what you need to be successful."
On what it was like to play under offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak: "I liked playing for him. I knew the guy, met him in Houston as I was taking my visits before the draft, and I liked his mentality. I liked his overall view of the run game, zone blocking and stuff. I saw the success that he had in Houston, so I appreciate him bringing it here, because I feel like we do have the type of linemen that are athletic and aggressive and like to run the ball. So, it was good playing under his tutelage."
On how his back has held up after having surgery last season: "That was something that was my primary concern – to come back healthy, and I was able to do that. I was able to come back healthy. I really wanted to kind of make a statement that, 'I'm here. I'm back again. I'm ready to play.' I think I did that."
On the futures of T James Hurst and G/C John Urschel: "I think the sky is the limit for them. Hurst came in and he played left tackle – which is a hard position to play as a rookie – and made history. So, I really think that he did a great job. And I feel like Urschel … Honestly, I really feel like Urschel in a few years is going to be a Pro Bowler himself if he gets the opportunity, if he gets in there and plays. I think they're just both really hard-working guys. They're really talented."
On how important it will be retain the depth of the offensive line next season: "That's crucial, because I feel like that's the foundation of an offense is the offensive line. So, having everybody come back and knowing that it's going to be competitive, guys are going to have to stay in shape to be able to stay on this team. To be able to make the team as an offensive lineman, that's always going to be a good thing. I think that's really important and I definitely think that's going to be a strength for next year knowing that we're going to have that much depth and that much competitiveness."
On whether he considers this a successful season: "I really consider this a successful season based off of the performances and the work ethic of my teammates. I feel like they all put on spectacular performances to get us even to that point. I would call it a successful season because everybody fought hard. I was never out there feeling like nobody gave an exceptional effort, and that is rare in the game of professional football. I really am proud of my teammates, and I am proud of the season that we had."
On head coach John Harbaugh and the coaching staff keeping the team focused throughout the season: "I would say that [John] Harbaugh had a lot to do with that. I really feel like this year he allowed our leaders to really take control of the team and allowed the players to be, basically, the voice of the leadership. And he did the things that he had to do to be a head coach as far as when he had to step up and say something, but for the most part he let the players guide the team and set the expectations and the bar. I feel like that was a good strategy, and I feel like he did a good job."
On the emotions the team felt after losing to the Patriots: "Like I said, just the way it ended it could have gone any other way – the ball bounces one way or another, you recover a ball. It really could have went any other way, so it's really not a feeling of heartbreak really other than the initial onset of shock. But after you get over that and you think about the season and you think about the way that the guys played and everything like that, you just feel hopeful for the future. If we can keep these same guys, we can always be able to compete at that level and have the type of team that's going to continue to go to championships."
ILB Daryl Smith
On if he has given thought to continuing playing next year:"Oh, most definitely. My body feels good and I still love the game, so I definitely want to be back next year."
On what his impact was mentoring rookie LB C.J. Mosley:"Playing with a guy like that makes it easy, and having the front that we have makes it easier on both of us. He's a good player and he's just scratching the surface. He's only going to get so much better, and I look forward to having fun next year."
On if the Ravens, with improved health, could go a lot farther next season:"Most definitely. We did have some injuries and everything, but we didn't make any excuses about it. We just kept playing and guys stepped in and did a good job for us. And next year, hopefully, we can keep more people healthy and go deeper [in the playoffs]. The ultimate goal is to the win a championship, and that's what we're in it for."
On if he considers 2014 a successful season for the Ravens:"I guess you could say that. Like I said, we wish we could still be playing, but it is what it is. We'll just take whatever we can take from it and be better next year."
On what his final outlook would be for LB C.J. Mosley's rookie season:"Awesome first year – just scratching the surface – and he's a special player. Look for more big things from him."
On if he feels like there's a lot of football left in him:"I definitely want to come back next year. Body feels pretty good, still love the game, and I want to win here. We're so close. I look forward to next year."
WR Torrey Smith
On what head coach John Harbaugh's message to the team was today:"Just how proud he was of everybody, just positive – wasn't disappointed at all. Obviously, it wasn't what we wanted, but he's real confident about next year."
On why he wants to continue his Baltimore career:"For me, it's more like home now. It's kind of tough to leave home at times. But also, it's a great organization. I genuinely love the people here, from the owner [Steve Bisciotti], from Manny [of the kitchen staff] to [facilities assistant] Marlon [McLean] – everyone who makes this building go. I really love being here."
On if he's interested to see what free agency will be like for him:"If I had my way, obviously, I'd like to get something done beforehand so I can stay here, but I understand it's a business and nothing is guaranteed. Just let everything play out."
On what goes through his mind knowing he could possibly leave the Ravens:"For me, stay distracted. I'm going to school in the offseason. I'm getting my Master's, so that'll be something to keep my mind off it for a little bit. That'll help."
On if the possibility of leaving is something he's thought of more as time has gone on:"I honestly went the whole year without worrying about it, but when things kind of get tight, it's like, 'Man!' You start looking around saying, 'This could be it.' But I'm not really going about it that way. I understand it's a business. I'm just going to worry about things I can control and see what happens."
On if he feels like he did his part this year:"I've been saying all year I didn't play the way I wanted to play this year. Was it the worst? No. Was it what I wanted? No. But everything will take care of itself. I feel like I've done some pretty good things since I've been here, and there's still so much more left to do."
On how difficult the season's end is considering how the offense played in the playoffs:"We played pretty well all year. I think it's a lot of credit to, obviously, the players out there getting it done, but [offensive coordinator] coach 'Kubs' [Gary Kubiak] did a great job. He was a blessing for us this season. It was awesome playing for him, and we're glad he was here."
On how tough it would be to lose offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak if he takes a head coaching position elsewhere:"It's always tough when you get comfortable with a guy like that, and he's a players' coach; I will tell you that much. He's a guy that you want to play for, so if he gets another head coaching job, you're not surprised at it. And if he does get one – which I guess it'd be a good thing if he does – you want him to stay, but it'd be a good thing if he does. He can do a heck of a job, and I'm sure he'll get the guys to rally around him if he happens to get another job."
On how much he WR Steve Smith Sr. has helped the Ravens' organization:"He had a heck of a year. He made some big plays all year and brought a little bit of fire to the offense, and he's just a veteran presence. And to have him around … Our team overall is pretty young, so the more older guys you have, it helps out in certain situations. I love him like a brother. Him being around here, for me, his biggest impact on me wasn't on the field – it was off the field. And the way he is with his family, the things he's been through, we have kind of a similar background, so you relate to a bunch of different things. He's been like a real big brother for me, and I'll see him in the offseason, so it's all good."
K Justin Tucker
On his contractual status with the Ravens:"I'm just going to focus on the next thing for me right now off the field, [which] is getting married. So, I'm pretty pumped about that. But we'll let that process unfold on its own and take care of itself, and we'll revisit it when the time is right."
On if he would want to be back in Baltimore:"Part of me, no matter what happens, will always be a Raven. This team … We just got out of a meeting and [head coach John] 'Harbs' [Harbaugh] said, 'This 2014 Ravens team will walk together forever in some way, just like the 2013 team will and the 2012 Super Bowl team will.' So, I'll always be thinking about that. But like I said, we just let the process unfold and kind of take care of itself, and we'll revisit it at a later time."
On how much the Ravens accomplished this season despite the obstacles they had to overcome:"Absolutely. I think the success that we had as a team speaks to our resiliency and our ability to overcome adverse situations, and that's something that's very important in this league, not just on the field, but off the field as well. There was all sorts of stuff going on early in the season and really throughout that shouldn't affect the way you play in any way whatsoever, but sometimes it can. And this is a team that was able to block stuff out, block out distractions and focus on winning games, executing, and that's something that I know I'm proud of my teammates for being able to do that."
G/C John Urschel
On his thoughts reflecting on his rookie year:"It was a good rookie campaign for me personally. I just wanted to come out, make the team and just try to help in any way I could. The biggest thing going forward is just trying to improve in the offseason, try to come back the best football player I possibly can."
On what it would take to come back the best player he can be next season:"Lots of hard work, dedication. It's different. This is my first real offseason. In college, you have eyes on you – you have people telling you what to do. This is the first time I've had, I guess, about three months to myself since high school. It's on me to motivate myself."
On how much the experience he got this year will help out next season:"I think it should be big just to give me confidence that I know what I'm doing and I know that I can play in this league. I know what I need to do to get better and work to improve."
On what it was like blocking Patriots NT Vince Wilfork in a playoff game:"It was crazy. I used to watch Wilfork when I was in high school." (laughter)
On how he feels his performance was in the AFC Divisional game:"Anytime you lose and you lose in that type of fashion, you have to look at yourself first and just ask yourself, 'What could I have done better? What more could I have done?' So, that's really what I started looking at when I thought about the game."
On where he feels like he improved on the most over his rookie season:"I'd say my technique, just becoming more consistent in my technique, and then becoming more confident."
On how much of his success is a credit to Ravens offensive line coach Juan Castillo:"I'm blessed to have him as a coach, and he's been a big part of why my rookie campaign has been so successful. I'm very thankful to have him."