FRIDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: PANTHERS – WEEK 4
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "I want to thank everybody for being here, and we have a couple things: Special day, as we celebrated O.J. Brigance's birthday today, and that's a very emotional thing. It's a very amazing thing. O.J. Brigance, even though he doesn't stand on his two legs, he stands above all of us, really, in this building. He's a great leader, and we look to him every day for strength and encouragement. I've said many times [that] he's the strongest man in the building, and I think he's the heart and soul of what we're all about as the Ravens. The other thing I want to draw your attention to was Leah Still, [Cincinnati Bengals DT] Devon's [Still] daughter, who's having surgery this week in Cincinnati. We wanted to wish her all of our prayers and all of our thoughts as we pray for healing from this disease. And she's going to make it. It's in God's hands, God willing. God's will be done, and we pray for that. And then I want to draw your attention to a video that I saw this morning. It was sent to me, and it's called 'Truly Brave.' Sara Bareilles, she's good, man. I like her. She has great a great voice. And Cyndi Lauper, OK, coming up strong, right? The comeback. So, it's for kids' cancer, raising money for kids' cancer. So, there's no greater cause than that. So, pull it up. You're going to enjoy that. It's a great thing. I wanted to leave you with that and whatever questions you have."
John, I know on Monday you confirmed that TE Dennis [Pitta] would be out for the year. Any update on how the surgery went and how he's doing, I guess, an initial prognosis? (Luke Jones) "They told me it went well, and that's what they always say. So, I really don't know. I think it went well, but maybe our doctors could give some more information and some details than that. I really don't have any along those lines. But, I've heard Dennis is doing well. He hasn't texted me back, so, Dennis, I'm waiting to hear from you. (laughter) But I've heard great things, and it seems like he's OK."
*So you have nothing long term as far as any word on that? (Jamison Hensley) *"I have no information on that. I don't know."
Every opportunity to play a home game, is that something to savor with four of the next five games on the road? (Joe Platania) "We savor every home game. Home games are so powerful here, and we're going to need our fans in this game. This is a really good football team coming in here. [The Carolina Panthers are] wounded, they're stung a little bit by the Steelers, and they're going to be heated up and ready to go. And we need our fans to make it tough for them. We need our fans to be at their best in this game, and I know they will be. Our 12th Man is … I hear about this 12th Man in Seattle – and we've been out there, and they're great – but I'll take our 12th Man over any 12th Man in the league. We need the, 'Purple Wall.' We need them."
Game-time decisions? (Aaron Wilson)"There will be an injury report out later, and that will contain all that information."
John, what have been your early impressions – he has only been here a couple days – but DE Lawrence Guy is someone who played for San Diego, has played for Indianapolis, played in a lot of games. Early impressions of him? (Luke Jones) "We watched the tape, and we liked the way he played. [Lawrence Guy] fits our defense. They play a very similar style defense out there, so we see where he fits in to what we do. He's a physical player, really a play-hard guy. And then we got a final confirmation from 'Double J,' [Jarrett Johnson] when we texted him, and he gave us his stamp of approval. So, [Johnson] said [Guy] has, 'Raven-like qualities.' So, that was all we needed to hear in the end."
Almost every day for the past few weeks, I get a question about S Will Hill and his suspension and any chance of it being shortened. I'm guessing not at this point, but have you gotten any definitive word on Will Hill? (Jamison Hensley) "That'd be a good question for [Ravens general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome]. I don't know the ins and outs of it. As it stands right now, nothing has changed from a coaching standpoint. We haven't been told anything is any different. Of course, I'm hoping to get him back as soon as possible, but we're assuming it's going to be at the original time."
What kind of week has T James Hurt had in practice and the things that make you feel like he's up to the task Sunday? (Clifton Brown) "The first thing that makes you feel like he's up to the task is he has to be. In life, so many things happen when we're never sure. When you got married, were you sure you were ready for it? How about when you had your first kid?" (Brown: "You should probably ask her.") "She figured out you weren't ready for it, right? (laughter) So, you're ready or not. By that same token, he's really prepared himself well. I feel very confident that he's going to play really well, because I watch him, like you said, every day in practice. [He] had a really good week this week. He's just gotten better every single day, and he's going to go out there and he's going to play well."
John, in general, you're facing teams that use multiple running backs. Does that make it difficult to prepare, especially when you're not sure who is going to get the lion's share of carries?* (Jeff Zrebiec)* "It really doesn't. You see it so often now. Maybe there was a day where there's a one running back-type thing – I think back to when I was growing up as a fan, a kid. But most [of] everybody has multiple backs that they play, and you just have to know what each one does well. So, you prepare for each back, you have to know who's in the game and what style of runner they are and what plays they tend to run."
**You have three backs all running pretty well. Does that make for some difficult decisions, especially in-game? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"No, not really. We [are] confident that they can all play. Whenever anyone is out there, we have a plan. We have certain rotations and things like that, and ideas and things that we'd like each of them to do situationally. But they're going to run out there and they're going to be prepared to do whatever they need to do, and they're all good players. If you a run a 'not good' player out there, you have concerns. But when you run a good player out there, you feel good about that."
**Do you notice any difference in WR Steve Smith Sr. this week as opposed to the first three weeks of the season? *(Peter Schrager) *"No, actually. No. He's been exactly the same. Good question, though. But he's worked hard; he's been in great spirits. Obviously, the game means something to him – it means a lot to him. It would [for] anybody. We've had a number of times over the years where guys play a former team or they go back to their hometown, and we usually put them out there at the coin toss as a captain and things like that, and this will be no different. Like anybody in life, that stuff matters and it's important, but he's in a positive state and he has good feelings about those guys over there, and he wants to do well."
WR Torrey Smith
On celebrating Ravens Sr. Advisor to Play Development O.J. Brigance's birthday: "O.J. [Brigance] means a lot to this team. He's a source of strength for us, and everything he stands for as a man is something that we all admire. And to see him each and every day, and have a personal relationship with him is something that has helped all of us individually, especially myself. I talk to him all the time, and he sends me emails, and you look forward to hearing from him."
On whether WR Steve Smith, Sr. has been different leading up to the Panthers game: "He's the same as he always is. He has been preparing for the game. I'm sure [on] game day it will probably be a little different, but he has been the same. It's not like he's out there being any more angry than he already is. (laughter) So, it's same old Steve."
On what he thinks Sunday will be like for WR Steve Smith, Sr.: "Steve [Smith, Sr.] is a guy … You have to keep it fun on the sidelines. It's stressful all the time playing, so when you have the opportunity to get a laugh in you have to take it. And Steve, as angry as he is on the field, he definitely enjoys having fun, and I think he's having just as much fun as he ever has at any time period of his career. So, I'm looking forward to watching him play on Sunday, and who knows what he'll be like? I'm sure it's going to be entertaining."
On whether WR Steve Smith, Sr. circled the Panthers game on his calendar: "It's something he said when he first came here, that it was a date he had marked. So, I hope he goes out there and dominates the game, because it'll be great for him personally, but it'll also be great for us as a team. Steve will be fine. It'll be interesting to see it all play out. But he'll hold his emotions in check, and he'll be focused on helping us win."
On whether he is getting closer to connecting with the ball during games: "You can't get any closer than we already have been. I have folks tweeting me how terrible I am, and I could very easily have had three touchdowns, and 300 yards the past couple weeks. But that's how the ball rolls. I'm not used to it, but we'll get over it soon. We were as close as you can get to touchdowns, we just have to be on the same page, and get it done. So, it'll happen. It has no choice, but to happen. The way we've been practicing, it has no choice but to happen. I can't say when. I hope it's Sunday, but it'll happen soon."
On negative Twitter reactions concerning his game performances this season: "That's like that all the time, though. You have stretches, or we start losing or something, [and] people will kill you [on Twitter]. But it doesn't bother me, because I know it comes with the territory. The only thing that I do dislike is when people question how much you care about what you're doing. [I] take this as seriously as anything else, and it's an opportunity not a lot of people have. So, that's one thing that does get under my skin, when people question whether I care about this game, or if I'm trying, or even being here. This is the place I love. I say it all the time, and that's the only thing that gets under my skin. But otherwise, I'm good."
On his outlook for the Panthers game outside of WR Steve Smith, Sr. facing his former team: "That's our outlook anyways, everything outside of that. That's something for people to talk about, and for us to laugh at watching the game afterward. I'm sure [Steve Smith, Sr.] is going to have some crazy things to say on that microphone. I'm looking forward to hearing it myself. But we're focused on trying to get the next win, and [the Panthers] are a great team. Obviously, they had a tough loss this past week, but they've been consistent. [The Panthers have] one of the top defenses in the league, and that's something that we're going to have to deal with."
On the matchups he is expecting from Carolina this weekend: "It's not the norm – the way they've been playing right now, and I'm sure that they've been back to work this week and ready to go. They have a bunch of playmakers over there. I like watching Luke [Kuechly] play. I've been watching [him] since Boston College and I used to think they padded his stats, [but if] you watch the film, this kid is amazing. He's definitely a game-wrecker, at linebacker, which you don't really hear people say all that often. I'm looking forward to the matchups outside as well. They have some experienced guys and they're very physical, so it's going to be fun. Steve [Smith Sr.] has some inside things he can tell us, but at the end of the day, we know we're going to have to go out there and play well. That's what it's all about."