JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Good to see you guys. I appreciate you being here. We had a little time [off] through the weekend. Obviously, we played Thursday night, so we've been back through that game and then started studying the Browns on Friday. [We had] some time doing that over the weekend, and also some good family time for the coaches and players. The players have been away. They'll be back in tomorrow. We'll be on our normal week schedule starting tomorrow afternoon, and that's where we're at."
I hate to start with injuries, but two guys that had concussions, T Ronnie Stanley and LB Chris Board, are they better now or still under protocol? (Dave Ginsburg) "They're under protocol still, so we'll see where they're at."
You guys could have gotten the top seed had a couple of things happened a certain way yesterday. Is there any positive to actually going out there and doing it yourselves out on the field? (Dave Ginsburg) "I haven't thought about that, really. We expect to have to do it ourselves. That's what you expect to do. You're not sitting there counting on anybody to do anything for you. That's the way it needs to be done. We plan on winning both of the next two games, so that's how we're going to be working and approaching it. That's really our job, to go out there and earn whatever we get."
OLB Terrell Suggs is on waivers. Is he a guy you would be interested in reacquiring? (Aaron Kasinitz)"Like you said, he's on waivers. So, why don't we just wait and see what happens with that. There's really nothing to comment on."
In watching back the tape of the Week 4 game against the Browns, is it sort of an unpleasant experience looking at it? What jumps out from what went wrong in that game? (Childs Walker) "You look at it from a football standpoint – just what they did, what we did or didn't do – and try to apply it to this game, what we might get or might not get schematically and how we match up, things like that. You look at it that way, practically."
They scored 40 [points] on you in that game. You guys have since changed the defense dramatically. Obviously, you look at the scheme, but do you feel that you're a better defense since that game back in September? (Dave Ginsburg) "Yes, we're clearly a better defense. How we do against them this time remains to be seen. That will be up to us. We'll have to play a lot better than we did in that game, obviously, to hold them down."
On the kickoff coverage, outsiders will say, "Why don't they just kick it through the back of the end zone every time?" How much more difficult is that this time of year when it's cold, the weather is in, and you get field conditions that may not be as good as they were in September?_ (Jeff Zrebiec)_"Yes, just look at the numbers. It's hard to kick it out. The ball is colder. It doesn't carry the same. Like you said, the field isn't quite as firm. So, if it was that easy, we would have done it."
This team needed some of the rest, and obviously, when you left us, you said that they could get healthy, rested. Was this a good period, maybe a good time, to come off a Thursday night game? (Dave Ginsburg)"Everybody gets a Thursday night game. The Buffalo Bills had one coming into our game. It's good to get those extra days of rest and all of that, so we get it this week. The Browns probably had it. I don't know when they had it, but it's definitely a positive for us, for any team. It's a plus to get a little bit of time to get healed up and get rested up a little bit. We'll have to come back and get sharp and make sure we practice really well, and just get ready to play the game on Sunday. But I would say all in all, it's a benefit, yes."
When you looked at the tape, the stuff that you didn't like on the defensive side and on special teams, when you looked at it, was that something you feel confident can get cleaned up moving forward? (Ken Weinman)"Yes, absolutely. Definitely."
There was an NFL Network report during one of the last games saying that if your seeding is set, you can't improve in the last game, that you're going to sit QB Lamar Jackson. Have you decided on any plans? If you win on Sunday, you clinch the No. 1 seed. Have there been any plans looking at possibilities? (Jamison Hensley)"No. Of course, I think about it, but no plans have been made. I'll just decide that when the time comes. Like I said, we're not there. When we get there, we'll be there, and we'll go from there."
RB Nick Chubb leads the NFL in rushing. Can you just talk about the problem he poses as a power guy and also as a guy who can take it to the house? Of course, you're trying to hold him down in this game. (Cliff Brown) "Yes, he's one of the best. He's the leading rusher in the National Football League. He has a pretty good sidekick [RB Kareem Hunt]. They're both in the backfield together quite a bit. They block for one another. They run routes and flare passes and screen passes out of the backfield quite a bit. They'll line up at wide receiver. They'll run perimeter screens with them. They'll run them up-field on routes, both of them. Nick [Chubb], to your question, is a big, strong back. He's exceptionally fast. I mean he's a 4.3 guy, right? He's very quick-footed. He's 227-230 pounds, one of my favorite backs coming out in the draft that year. I think he was my top back. Just saying, I really liked him. He's a legit player for sure, and so is [Kareem] Hunt. They both are. It's a very talented offense, to your point. Baker Mayfield is very talented, can make all the throws, is very elusive in the pocket. He can run the RPO system really well, also. They have excellent receivers. They have some really good pass-catching tight ends and a big, strong offensive line. So, that's a talented group."
Speaking of running backs, RB Mark Ingram II [has] 14 touchdowns and really an influence in the locker room. Has he really been even more than you might have expected having added him to the team? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, I would say everything we hoped for, for sure. I didn't know his personality as much. I didn't really know how boisterous he was and how outgoing he was, so to see all that has been fun. It's really been fun to be around. He really gets it. He knows how to treat people, knows how to practice. He has a lot of energy at practice and bolsters everything we're trying to do that way. Weight room ... Obviously, he plays with great passion – great passion and great energy. [He's] very physical. You've seen him. You know what I'm talking about there. So, yes, I would say all those things are as good as you could hope for."
A guy that kind of goes under the radar when they talk about defense and how you've improved and added some players, DE Jihad Ward doesn't ... A lot of people don't bring [him] up. How important has he been to the defensive upswing here? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, he's been really important. He's a good fit for us, and for whatever reason maybe he wasn't as good a fit in some of those other places. But he's another guy that we really liked coming out [of college], and one of the things was he fit us, our structure. And he plays so hard. He plays really, really hard, and he runs to the ball. He's tough. He's physical. His motor just doesn't quit, so that's the kind of guy we like. He's been a great addition."
It seems like G/T James Hurst had a pretty solid game there Thursday. What was your take on how he performed? And with him having those midseason injuries last year and having the offseason to get right, how much has that helped him improve from where he was? (Jonas Shaffer)"It probably tremendously helped. Obviously, he works so hard. James [Hurst] is a 100-percent worker. And having the back spasms and all that kind of stuff last year, it really takes that away. It's kind of a position where you have to have your back. You have to be strong. You have to have your legs. And it seemed like he went into the game and just didn't miss a beat. He played really well, protected Lamar [Jackson], was a good run blocker. Our offense really didn't lose anything with him out there, which is what you hope for. There really aren't … To me, there are no backups in the National Football League. There's no such thing as a backup, because when you get out there, you're expected to play winning football. You have to play starter-level football. There are not that many players. So, he did that. That's what we were hoping for, and he did a great job."