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Transcripts: Head Coach John Harbaugh Press Conference (12/4)

Opening Statement: "I appreciate you guys all coming out. Welcome back. It's good to have you back, and it's been good. [We] had a pretty productive week. A lot of work went into the week in terms of the coaching staff and trying to turn over every stone and figure out every avenue that we can do to create opportunities and advantages for our team and for our players going forward. We know we have a big challenge in front of us, but we also have a great opportunity, and we're looking forward to it. We just can't wait. The guys were great today; they were locked in. We had a really good practice, great meetings, [and] I felt great about that. [The players] will be off from preparing tomorrow trying to just kind of get themselves right for Wednesday, and then we'll be off on the week. So, with that, what questions do you have?" 

Coming off the bye, you have a two-game lead in the division. If you win all of your remaining five games, you basically control your fate for the No. 1 Seed. How do you feel about the state of the team right now, heading into those final five games?*_(Jamison Hensley)_* "I'm excited just like all the players are – I hope the fans are – with the opportunity that we have and that our guys have created for themselves. You do that by just taking it one day at a time and trying to be the best football team you can be and try to play the best you can. So, I feel like our guys have done a good job of that, but [we're] always looking forward. Challenges are in front of us, and we need to be ready for them."

From resting kind of helping the recouperation standpoint, did you feel like this week off was good for the guys?*_(Cordell Woodland)_* "Yes. They're good. I'm sure it is. It seems like they feel good, [and] they're full of energy, but it's a long season. It's a big challenge, and every one of these games is a really physical type of a game. So, our guys can use it. I know other teams had it this week, so we're the last bye [week], I think. So, everybody will be full on the rest of the way."

Did you watch the games yesterday? Do you root against the Steelers and the Browns?*_(Bo Smolka)_* "Of course. Absolutely." (laughter) "I watched most of them. I can't say I was glued to the TV for every single play, and I don't have a package or anything, so I have to watch the [NFL Network] Redzone a lot of the time. Why would I – I'm at games; I'm not watching games. I'm not going to pay for that, no way. But then on the bye week, I will say, and on the Thursday game [week], I was kind of mad at myself for not having it. But absolutely, you root against all the teams that are in your way. So, that's what we did. We had a good day."

What was it like watching QB Joe Flacco in orange and playing for the Browns and playing against a team you're playing next?*_(Mark Viviano)_* "I was rooting against Joe [Flacco] and the Browns; that's what we did. I think Joe's cool. It's cool what he did, [and] he looked really good, but I couldn't root for him yesterday."

The Rams played well in yesterday's game. QB Matthew Stafford game looked. What did you see from them?*_(Noah Trister)_* "The Rams, we've been studying those guys really pretty much last week as well and they won three in a row – They're coming on. [Rams head coach] Sean [McVay] has done a really good job with their team. Their coaches have done a good job. They're young [and] built around two superstar players, one on offense [and] one on defense, you know who they are. Then a number of young guys, rookies, [who] are playing well for them. [They have] playmakers [and are a] very physical team [that] play super hard on defense. It's just very impressive what they've done. So, we recognize the challenge that's in front of us. We understand what they're bringing. They're fighting for a playoff spot, but we're fighting for things, too. We have a lot to play for, so I'm confident our guys are going to be out there playing well and playing their best."

How beneficial was it to have the bye week at this point in the season? Is there any sort of mental reset that the players hone in on approaching the final five games of the regular season?*_(Brian Wacker)_* "I think the guys have a chance to focus in on what's in front of them. Then, you get that [bye] week to think about it and put it in perspective. Our guys have a good perspective on it. They understand where we're at, what's required and what's possible – the opportunities that are created. They understand that, and I think they're focused in and locked in and ready to go."

There are 11 players remaining on the current roster from the 2019 team. What are the challenges and ways you have retained culture as the turnover rate of the team is so high?*_(Kyle Phoenix)_* "That's what the National Football League is. That's what you try to do every single day, every week [and] every year. That's what we do. All of our guys … We have the right kind of guys who understand what we're about [and] what we stand for from a football standpoint. Our guys have done a great job. I love our culture, so to speak, the environment [and] the values that people have here. They love football; they want to work hard; they want to be at practice; they want to be in meetings; they love to go play games. That's where we start. We're football. That's what we're here for. We're here for football. We have a bunch of guys who love football. So, I love working with guys who love football."

When you look at the big picture, do you find yourself more curious looking at why you have done the things that you have done well as opposed to the things that you could be doing better? Is there one that you are more drawn to?*_(Jonas Shaffer)_* "No, [I look at] everything. I appreciate the … You have such great, analytical questions. You make me think, 'Oh, OK. …' What do I think about that? I don't really think about that. You look at everything all the time. These coaches over here … We have some of the best high school coaches in the area [and] the most successful guys here are, all nominated for Coach of the Year – high school coaches in the area. [They're] just fantastic football coaches. It's the same for you guys as it is for us; I don't think it's any different. You look at your team. You have the eye test [and] what you see on tape. You have the analytic test [for] what the numbers tell you. You look at all that stuff, and you say, 'OK. What are we doing well? What are we not doing well, and where are our opportunities? What can we leverage to give our guys an advantage going forward to make plays and be the best players they can?' That's really what we're trying to do. Some things, you say, 'Hey, we need to do more of, some things less, some things not at all. It's not good for us anymore. We can take advantage of this. We don't need to take advantage of that.' You just do the best you can figuring all that stuff out, and you go forward and go fight."

Are DT Justin Madubuike and CB Marlon Humphrey's injuries looking good right now?*_(Childs Walker)_* "They are looking pretty good right now. I think on Wednesday, we'll probably have a more definitive type of an answer, but I'd say right now there's a lot of optimism."

How much interest do the Ravens have in acquiring TE Zach Ertz, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals last week?*_(Jamison Hensley)_* "Any time a great player is out there, you sure look at it. But I would say this about that right now: We like our tight ends. We really like our guys. Like I said, I'm not ruling out Mark Andrews for the down-the-road future at all. Mark is so darn tough. Mark is one of those guys that really and truly … You say a guy eats, sleeps and breathes football; that's Mark Andrews. So, he's going to do everything he can to get back down the road. But the guys that we have right now – our young guys – they're real guys, they're real players, and I think, right now, we'll just roll with those guys."

John Harbaugh Announces the Ravens High School Coach of the Year

"The Ravens High School Coach of the Year, from Oakdale High School, is Kurt Stein. Before we bring Kurt up here, I want to say this about high school coaches, because obviously, Kurt does a great job. The fact that he has one of his players going to Michigan, I want you to know, has nothing to do with the fact that he got this award, to be clear. High school football coaches are the backbone, I'm going to say, of our society and educational system. People are going to go, 'Oh, that's crazy,' but I'll tell you, the high school football coach is at the cutting edge and the forefront of making a difference in our society for young people, especially for young guys. Football is the one place where anybody can play it if you're determined enough, and if you're tough enough and you want to have a spot and be a part of something special and bigger than yourselves. These guys walk up and down the halls of their high school [asking], 'Do you want to play? Do you want to play? Do you want to play? Do you want to be a part of something?' So many young men, especially – and there's also young women now playing football and playing flag football and things like that –so really, everybody at that age now is starting to play football. You're part of something that's very demanding, very hard, very tough [and] very challenging, but you find out something about yourself, something that you learn [and] that you carry with you for the rest of your life. Those values matter, football matters, and these guys matter. What they do makes a difference, so I'm just proud to be associated with them. I'm proud to be called a football coach with them, and with that, we'll introduce Kurt. Congratulations!"

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