Opening statement:"OK, good to see everybody. [I] appreciate you guys coming out. [We're] excited about the win, divisional win on the road, and preparing for another very tough divisional game on the road against another rival in the Browns. [They are] a very physical team. [It is] a great atmosphere again in Cleveland all the time; [it's] a tough place to play. So, we're getting to work right now. It's a short week, so we are not wasting any time, and our preparations have already begun. What questions do you have?"
Do you have any update on QB Tyler Huntley and where he is in concussion protocol? _(Jamison Hensley) _"He's in the concussion protocol; he was ruled out for the game [yesterday]. They're deep into the protocol right now. I really don't have any updates that I would be allowed to share on that. So, there's really no pronouncements on that, or Lamar [Jackson] in terms of who's going to be ready and not ready at this point in time. Until you know, you can't say anything, but we'll know later in the week where we're at. [We'll] see who's able to practice and what they're able to do."
What led to the decision to have C/G Trystan Colon start at right guard and have him rotate series' with G Ben Cleveland? _(Kyle Barber) _"That's a good question. Kevin [Zeitler] was a game-time decision. He went out before the game … It's not a major injury thing. It's just a flare up in his knee, and it was just sore. He tried like the best he could to get to the game; it just didn't feel good enough. Sometimes it just isn't right to actually perform the way you need to perform. So, the plan all along was for the next guys to go. The next guys are Trystan [Colon] and Ben [Cleveland]. Those guys are in the rotation. Pat [Mekari] would also be a guy who can play guard, but he's been playing tackle a lot lately – plus he had the toe situation – so we felt like those were the two best guys. As far as rotating them, they both deserved it. I think they both validated the decision, right? They both played well, and you give the opponent a little change up, maybe they can't get a beat on either guy, and it worked out well for us. I thought [offensive line coach] 'Joe D.' [Joe D'Alessandris] and the offensive line [staff], [assistant offensive line coach] Mike Devlin, all those guys did a great job. They really played well."
What impact does T Ronnie Stanley have on the offensive line? _(Todd Karpovich) _"What does he bring? He's one of the top tackles in the game. He's an elite left tackle, and when you put the tape on, you see why. He's just capable of doing so much. Ronnie [Stanley] is a tough guy; he's a physical player; he plays very hard; he's a very smart player. So, all those things add up. He's a versatile player; he can pass-block, you can put him out there on his own. He did a really good job against a really good pass rusher. Ronnie didn't get any help out there. He was on his own the whole game and did a really good. [In the] run game, the pulls, the gap-scheme double teams that we use, the backside where he's taking two guys off the backside pursuit. All those things, he just does really well."
C Tyler Linderbaum looked like he had a really good game in his first experience with the physicality of a Ravens-Steelers game, especially going against DT Cam Heyward a bunch. What does that say about Tyler? _(Ryan Mink) _"It's really a great point. He did; they put Cam [Heyward] over him quite a few times, which is not their norm all the time. I think they felt like they were going to test Tyler [Linderbaum], and Tyler came through. Sure, Cam had his plays, too. There was a lot of back and forth in the run game and the pass game. Cam Heyward's one of the best players in football. So, I thought Tyler did a heck of a job. [He] acquitted himself excellent, excellent. [He] had some really phenomenal blocks [and] just continues to improve all the time. So, [I'm] really happy we have him."
What was going through your mind when QB Anthony Brown came into the game, the ball is at the one-yard line and a pass play is called? _(Bo Smolka) _"They were playing their song, the crowd was going berserk, the towels were flying, right? You guys who were there. It was just one of those moments that I actually was talking to God for a minute there. I just said, 'Well, you couldn't have created anything more perfect than this.' We thought we had the ball at the 20 [-yard line], then all the sudden we have the ball at the one [-yard line] by some obscure rule that someone needs to check out to make sure it's real – all the sudden, the ball is at the one-yard line. It was a really good play call by [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman] because they were packed in there. We could have run it; we could have snuck it, but it wasn't going to go very far. Then, we would have been second-and-nine or -10 from the one or two [-yard line]. To have the courage to do that – and they played good coverage on it, we only gained five yards, I think – but to get us off the goal line … [It was] pretty gutsy. He had a guy in his face too; we didn't block it right. It needed to be blocked better, and he had a rusher in his face. Was it Cam Heyward, maybe? I think it might've been. So, all the credit in the world to both those guys, him and 'D. Robinson' [Demarcus Robinson]."
Aside from being six-foot-eight, what do you think makes DE Calais Campbell so effective on kick blocks? _(Noah Trister) _"That's a good question. He has a knack for penetrating the line. He can slip around one of those blocks, and get his feet in the ground, and get up and use all six-foot-eight-plus when he does it. Plus, he kind of can find the ball a little. I thought he and [special teams coordinator] Chris [Horton] did a great job of putting him in the A-gap there for that rush. You guys don't notice this either – it has a lot to do with his wingspan – he plays wing on our field goal protection. So, he's playing two special teams phases, and he plays them both like we said last night – he plays those at a Hall of Fame level. He's the Hall of Fame wing too on field goal protection. So, [he is a] pretty versatile player."
ILBs Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen have talked about how productive their partnership has been for both of them. Now that you've seen them play together for five or six games, is there something about their particular skillsets that they enhance each other, or are they just two really good players on the field at the same time? _(Childs Walker) _"That's a good question. I would probably say all of the above. I think all those things are kind of open to interpretation as we go here; we're kind of learning it, too. They do seem to fit well together, kind of their styles. Patrick [Queen] can really run around and explode and make some plays, and Roquan [Smith] can do the same thing. He kind of has a real good instinct and knack, and Patrick's instinct is really growing tremendously. So, probably by the end of the year we can kind of look at that and kind of define it exactly, but I agree with what you're saying. It's there."
With the injuries at quarterback that you've had – and it seems like it's all around the league, too – have you thought of possibly going with three quarterbacks for at least this game? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Absolutely. [It's] absolutely a consideration."
Did you receive clarification on S Marcus Williams' interception and what led to it being spotted at the one-yard line? _(Kyle Barber) _"The rule is when your second foot comes down on the catch, wherever the ball is at that point in time, that's where the ball is spotted if momentum carries you into the end zone. So, honestly, it's a rule I didn't know, and I know most all the rules. I would have thought of it like a punt or a kick play, where the momentum of the play takes you into the end zone and you're able to down it in the end zone. Honestly, it might be one that we put in for a rule change, because I don't know that it's really very fair to the player to expect him to stop on a dime like that and change direction and go the other way. I don't know how you do that. So, yes, that was a surprising one."
In that same vein, have you ever seen a simultaneous fumble recovery, and did you know that it automatically went to the offense? (Ryan Mink) _"Tie goes to the runner, so I figured that. _(laughter) But I will say, watching the tape, Ben [Cleveland] had that ball. Ben Cleveland … And kudos to Ben Cleveland, because he played a good game, and that was a game-winning play, right there. He got on that ball right away; he had the ball. One of their guys worked their way into the pile. Ben had that. And I think if it would have gone to any kind of replay, it would have been our ball."
When you were looking over the defense and just talking about how you wanted this team to defend the run with defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald … The thing that sticks out to me is that you're using more light boxes in run defense than you have in the previous couple of years. Was that something that from the beginning was a focus, or has it been kind of organic, because you guys are still doing a great job of limiting yardage on those carries? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"No, probably going in, we felt we'd play more base this year, and we've played quite a bit of base. It just depends on the game, really, in all honesty. So, it's not a part of any grand plan; it's just a week-to-week kind of thing."
You mentioned QB Lamar Jackson. Is he a consideration for this week? Is there a chance that he could play? _(Jamison Hensley) _"I just don't know. I don't know. You make some kind of a statement and it turns out to be … You just don't have enough information to make it yet; that's how these injuries work."
What has made WR Demarcus Robinson so effective at converting first downs? He's had like 15 in the last six games _(Melissa Kim) _"Wow, I didn't know that. That's a great stat. Thank you. And I'm very grateful for every one of them. I don't know. He [Demarcus Robinson] is a very … He's got a knack. He's kind of a guy that understands the game, he runs good routes, and I also think he has a feel for kind of getting open. In the nature of our offense, he gets a lot of opportunities – the way it's built right now. So, other than that, I don't know. He's just making plays for us, so I don't know that there's any kind of a get-the-first-down trait that I can think of other than the fact that I think he's executing the plays that are called, and they're good plays. He's a good receiver – probably an underrated guy, I would say, coming here – and he's had a chance to prove himself a little bit."
Yesterday, QB Anthony Brown mentioned he took one of the official 30 visits here, and he was on the radar here. What do you remember of that time with him, and how much are you involved in these guys and a guy like Brown, specifically, coming here? _(Bo Smolka) _"Yes, I meet with all the guys, so I met with him [Anthony Brown] in my office. I remember the same thing I see now; he's kind of a stoic guy. It's not like we had some real witty back-and-forth conversation – not that he's not a fun guy to be around, because he is – but he's a real serious dude, and that's how he approaches his business. I think he said something and made a quote that his dad gave him; 'If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready,' right? What an awesome lesson to learn from your dad."
Does QB Anthony Brown's skillset fit fairly naturally into the designed quarterback run stuff that you do? Do you even have a full feel for his comfort level in that yet? _(Childs Walker) _"Yes, he [Anthony Brown] runs all the plays that we have. So, if he's out there, the team has to defend the full array of whatever the offense is, just like they do with Tyler [Huntley] or with Lamar [Jackson]."
How happy are you to see RB J.K. Dobbins produce like that coming back? And then with Dobbins and RB Gus Edwards back together, what kind of advantage does that give you? _(Shawn Stepner) _"Yes, it's good to see those guys [J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards] back together, and I also feel great about Justice [Hill] and feel great about Kenyan [Drake]. But those guys are guys that we kind of built the team around, right? So, to see those guys coming back and possibly becoming what we envisioned originally – after the really tough, gruesome injuries – is really encouraging, and I don't think either one of them would tell you that they're fully there yet. So, let's just keep heading in this direction, is what our goal would be."