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Transcripts: Press Conference (1/24)


Opening statement:"Great seeing everybody. [I] appreciate everybody being here. [We're] starting on the week. [It's the] first practice day. [We've had] good meetings. We're off to a good start. We're excited about having a great day today. What questions do you have?"

When going up against Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, what stands out about trying to defend him?* (Jamison Hensley)*"It's pretty hard to pick the biggest challenge versus Patrick Mahomes. I think it's the whole package [in] everything he does. He's a playmaker. He runs that offense. He is the center of the offense in every way. He makes all the calls, organizes [the offense and] creates plays. He's a big challenge."

What is your relationship like with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid when you are going up against him versus when you are not?*(Jerry Coleman)*"Like all coaches, you're wrapped up in your own team. It's not like [Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and I are] talking every week or anything like that. It's no different in that sense. We're playing each other at this point in time."

Is facing your mentor in Chiefs head coach Andy Reid something you look forward to, especially with the AFC Championship on the line?*(Jerry Coleman)* "I think it's pretty cool. I look back to those years [coaching with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles]. You think about all the great coaches that were on that staff that Andy assembled and mentored and taught us all so much. We were a close group of guys [and] a staff that loved each other. I see a lot of that on this [Ravens] staff, too. I can give you all the names. [Chiefs defensive coordinator] Steve Spagnuolo is on their staff now. He was a big part of that. We became close friends. [Chiefs assistant head coach & special teams coordinator] Dave Toub and [Chiefs tight ends coach] Tom Melvin, but also all the other guys [like] Ron Rivera and Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier and Pat Shurmur. You can go down the line. [They're] so many amazing coaches."

Does the Chiefs' experience with six straight AFC Championship Game appearances mean anything in this game, or is it a new year?*(Todd Karpovich)* "I'm sure it's very valuable for [the Chiefs]. They've been in this situation many times. They've played in this game. I think they're a very experienced team. They're a hardened team. They've been through a lot. That experience always is helpful."

Has the success against other winning teams this season given you the experience you going into a game like the AFC Championship?*(Jamison Hensley)*"I think all those things forge you as a team. When you get to this point, teams are forged. They've been through a lot. Our story, [and] our journey's our journey, and it's unique. It's no different than human beings or individuals. Everybody's on their own, unique path, and our path is our path. We've had a lot of short weeks, a lot of quick turnarounds, a lot of tough teams we've played [and] a lot of physical ballgames [against] teams that were playing for a lot. That's been our journey this year. That's how we've been forged for this moment."

What led to the creation of the Ravens' coaching internship program in 2014 that helped bring defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to the team?*(Pete Gilbert)* "It's worked out. It's worked out with those guys, obviously, that are here on the staff now, but also a number of other guys and gals that are still here coaching or that have gone other places and coached. It was a hugely successful idea that we had way back when. We came up with it together, I would say. A lot of guys like Dan Parsons were involved in that. I think back to Matt Weiss [who] was involved in that [and] other coaches. Obviously, [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] and [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta] were a big part of that. [Director of football research] Scott Cohen's been a big part of that from the beginning for the opportunity to give young people an opportunity and go out and try to find the very best people [and] the most deserving candidates that you could find that we could that are working in football somewhere. We will try to keep it going. We have some great young people right now in that program."

What is the biggest thing this week to keep the mindset and mentality like it has been all season and not get too high with the Super Bowl being one game away?*(Shawn Stepner)* "The biggest thing is always the biggest thing. You want to go play well. It's one game. It's like the Hoosiers movie. Have you seen that movie? I have to say that to our team, because I bet our players haven't seen it if I gave them that reference." (laughter) "[References from the movie like] 'Ten feet high, the free throw line is [15] feet [to the hoop].' [A football field] is 100 yards long and 53 1/3 yards wide. The field doesn't change. The hashmarks are in the same spot. Really, our guys understand that. They've understood that all year. Your focus is always going to be on just playing your best football game and all the details that go into that one play at a time. That's what my mom always says, so I'll go with that advice."

Is ILB Roquan Smith's ability to raise the level of his teammates a quality that you saw in him before he was traded to the Ravens in 2022? Was that quality part of the reason you wanted him?*(Adam Kilgore)* "Our scouts do a great job. I think of [director of player personnel] Joe Hortiz going back and scouting Roquan [Smith] back at Georgia. Those are all in the reports. You knew what kind of a guy you were getting, for sure. Then, you saw him in Chicago [with the Bears] and how he conducted himself and how he played. You never know until a guy is here exactly how he's going to fit in your chemistry. It's definitely been right. It's definitely been a perfect fit [and] a perfect match. He's just been himself. He was always a Raven – he just didn't know until he got here, I guess, to quote the great Steve Smith [Sr.]. It's been a great fit. I think he does make everybody around him better, to your point. The greatest players tend to do that."

What were you expecting out of TE Isaiah Likely in terms of replacing what TE Mark Andrews does after he got injured? Has Likely met and exceeded those expectations?*(Kyle Goon)*"We said it then if you go back and look. You asked me this question back then, and it's the same answer I gave you then. We expect Isaiah [Likely] to step right in and play at a high level. We'd see him in practice. We knew what he was capable of doing, and then everybody else picks up more along the way. I don't believe anybody's surprised by how well Isaiah's played, but you're happy when you see it. You want to see it happen and actualize, so to see that happen has been great."

As QB Lamar Jackson's body and role in the offense has changed, what are the skills he has as a runner that makes him one of the best quarterbacks in the game?*(Jonas Shaffer)*"I think anybody could probably answer that question that's watched [Lamar Jackson] play. He's hard to tackle. To me, the greatest compliment would be being hard to tackle. I can think back to when I was a kid, I read the Woody Hayes book. Woody Hayes talked about, 'You could tell what a great running back looked like carrying the ball by how many tackles people miss trying to tackle him.' I think that's true for wide receivers [with] run after the catch. It's true for quarterbacks on scrambles. Patrick Mahomes is one of the best at making tacklers miss. Lamar's unique that way. He's one of the best I've ever seen, obviously, [that] anybody's ever seen. He's a tough tackle."

ILB Patrick Queen said a few weeks ago that some teams want to play basketball on grass, we want to hit, the emphasis being on physical. S Kyle Hamilton has really developed as a physical player. When he was drafted, a lot of people would talk about his length and to some extent, his physicality. What has impressed you about the way he has played physically?*(Bo Smolka)*"I would say just what you're saying. [Kyle Hamilton's] a physical player. He's a very good tackler. That tackle on the screen [play] on the left side last week [against the Houston Texans] where he came up and fronted up the ball carrier [and] just squared him right up chest to chest and then drove him back probably epitomizes that. He's a hitter. He shows up where it's required to show up to make the play. He does it with a bad attitude, so to speak. That's how you want to see guys play. I think we were hoping to get that. You always hope to get that from all your players, and we have a lot of guys who play like that. Kyle's one of them."

Is it a challenge to not call quarterback-designed run plays for QB Lamar Jackson more often to keep him upright and allow him to be more balanced?*(Cordell Woodland)* "I think right now, everybody's focus is on just putting the best team out there we can, the most explosive offense we can and the best plays we can by whatever means necessary. That's what our thought is on that."

Why was WR Zay Flowers' size not an issue when drafting him?*(Jeff Zrebiec)* "Everything's an issue. You look at everything, for sure. But with Zay [Flowers], you just look at the tape. We always believe that tape is the king. If you want to evaluate a football player, start by watching him play football. You watch Zay play football, he played really [well]. He made catches. He made people miss. Then you want to say, 'Is this going to translate? How do you think this is going to translate to the NFL?' That's a little more of an educated guess that you have to make, so to speak. We just felt like he had all the other intangibles, in terms of mindset and attitude, and [he was] smart and competitive. [He's] a hard worker [and] loves football. [He had] all those kind of things that made you feel like that amazing skillset was going to transfer. That's really what did it for us."


On his thoughts going into the AFC Championship game:"It's the same as every week – just continuing to stay locked in and locked in on our details. [We'll] treat it like any other week, but obviously, there is more at stake in this game, so we just have to go out and play."

On how the mindset of beating a former champion drives the team this week: "We all know what they are capable of, but I think at this point, we know what we're capable of, as well. I feel like it's more so about what we do, not as much about what they do. If we just go out and play our game, hopefully, we'll see what the end result is after that."

On if the team's performance in the second half vs. Houston gives them confidence that it can carry over:"Yes. I think we started out slow, but I think we picked up our pace in the second half. That's what we're capable of. Lamar [Jackson] did a good job of leading us in the right direction at halftime, so we just have to come out and play fast, accelerate in the middle and finish strong."

On the challenges the Kansas City defense presents:"They have a good secondary. I think it's one of the best that we've faced all season. It's a real challenge. They play physical [with] tight coverage, so we have to go out and make plays."

On how critical is it for the Ravens to be on their A game and produce like they did in the second half against the Texans: "I think we can put up points as well. They're not the only powerful offense that's going to work Sunday, so I guess we'll see."

On what he expects from the fans on Sunday: "I don't know. This is my first time experiencing something like this. ... I know 'The Bank' will be rocking like it always is, so I'm excited to play in it."


On what he expects the atmosphere to be like at M&T Bank Stadium:"I have said it before, but at this level, you can take for granted sometimes the fans and the atmosphere. It is not the same around the league. Coming from the south, coming from the SEC atmosphere, you kind of get used to that. The Ravens atmosphere is no different from that, I would say. I feel like it has been turned up the whole season. It is going to be even louder, even more chaotic on Sunday, and I am excited to see it."

On a potential matchup against TE Travis Kelce:"He is a great player in our league. He has been a great player for as long as I can remember, as long as I have been watching him at this level. He has earned every ounce of respect that he has received until this point, and it will be a challenge. I am part of the plan to hopefully take him away, but it is a team effort at the same time. We have to have guys up front rushing the quarterback, make it unclear on [Patrick] Mahomes, and then in the backend, it isn't going to be man-to-man [coverage] the whole game. We have to have guys in the right spots, guys attached to [their assignments]."

On what makes TE Isaiah Likely a tough cover:"First, his hands are different than a lot of other guys. He catches everything that is thrown to him. He runs his routes so precisely. He is very fast, honestly, once he gets where he needs to go. He is deceptive, playing with your leverage. He is super smart. Obviously, we have great coaches. We have Mark [Andrews] in there, telling him certain nuances and stuff like that. I think he has only scratched the surface of what he can be in this league. It is kind of funny, he is technically a backup, but I feel like he is a top 'whatever you want to say' tight end in our league."

On how facing QB Lamar Jackson every day at practice prepares the defense for facing QB Patrick Mahomes in the AFC Championship:"In terms of those two [quarterbacks], it is just about creativity and keeping the play alive at the end of the day. There are guys upfront who are going to do their job and do it so well that they get to you, it is just about who you have back there to keep the play alive. We have [Lamar Jackson] who is the best at it in the world, and obviously [Patrick] Mahomes has been doing it for a long time – he has won [Super Bowl] rings off of it. Seeing that look in practice ... [For us to] plaster our DBs when the quarterback gets out of the pocket is really helpful for us, and we are going to be able to apply it this week."

On if he relishes playing a team that has been in this situation before:"Definitely. This is the position we wanted to be in. Everything we wanted up to date is all in our control. We are a game away from being where we want to be and two games away from completing the mission. At the same time, we have to be focused on Wednesday practice, going out there and having a good practice and following that up with a week of good practice. Going against a team like the Chiefs who have been a juggernaut in the league for a while, it is a privilege and added pressure, but pressure either makes diamonds, or pressure busts pipes, so we are hopefully going to make diamonds out of it."

On what about defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald's scheme resonates with him and why he thinks he has been able to thrive in it:"It is a challenging scheme, for one, and it takes a little while to get all of the kinks out of it. Going through OTAs, going through [training] camp, there were going to be certain times where we may mess something up. Going into the season, I feel that we got all of that ironed out, and now we are kind of clicking on all cylinders. We have for the whole year. At the end of the day, I was just joking with one of the coaches the other day, I said, 'It is about Jimmys and Joes, not Xs and Os.' Obviously, the plan helps us a lot, but at the same time, we have a bunch of guys on our side of the ball who can go out there and make plays. But if the play breaks down, [they can go] out there and make a football play and not be a robot."

On what he likes about Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald's scheme:"I like the duality of it. First off, we have guys upfront who allow us to do a bunch of stuff on the backend, in terms of doing their job correctly. Moving around, everybody doing different things, it doesn't make us one-dimensional. We have a bunch of guys who can do a lot of different stuff, and it makes it hard on the offense not to know who is doing what on each snap. I feel like everybody has done a good job of buying into that."

On off if the excitement of playing in the AFC Championship is what he had in mind growing up:"Yes, definitely. In anything that you do, you want to do it at the highest level, and this is the highest level. There are only four teams left, so it is the best of the best. It is about what you are going to do when the popcorn is popping. I feel like I have grown up my whole life with that mantra. In the biggest moments, you have to be your best self. And, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, and this is an opportunity to do so."

On how the desire of the defense to play with physicality manifests itself day over day:"It is one thing to talk about it, and it is another thing to actually do it. You can't just turn that switch on and off. It has to be something that you have done throughout the whole year and throughout the whole organization. That starts up top, like you said, with Coach [John] Harbaugh. Everything he preaches, just physicality on both sides of the ball and special teams. It's just the way that we operate. Like I said, it is one thing to say it, but I feel like we go out and prove it every day in practice, where it starts, and then the transition to the game, when we are not going against each other, going against people who we don't see all the time and people who we can actually hit. I feel like they do a good job here of drafting people who have that mindset. Even if you may not [have had that mindset] coming in, you adapt it once you get here. You really you have no choice."

On QB Lamar Jackson's mindset and demeanor:"I feel like the year as a whole, I have only been here two years, but I feel like there is a little something different there. This year, [Lamar Jackson] is a big leader for us. Everybody on this team looks to him for energy and good vibes, and he brings that every single day. No matter what is going on in the building, no matter what is going on in the game, he is going to be the same Lamar. I feel like he has carried that even further into the playoffs. It is not necessarily about being a butthole while you are in the playoffs and just being more mean once you get to the playoffs. It is about being more consistent with what you have been doing. I feel like guys respect that a lot more. I feel like that is something that he has done."

On practicing against QB Lamar Jackson and adjusting to his speed when he first came into the league:"Without giving [Lamar Jackson] too much credit, I feel that he is different. You guys see it every single game. I see it every day in practice. That goes back to somebody else's question, just getting us prepared for the game. We are not going to see a lot of guys who are running at us as downhill or as shifty as him, so setting up our angles is helping us a lot going against Lamar. There is definitely a growing period there, coming into camp, OTAs, going against Lamar in the open field, but you get to learn his tendencies. It is easier for me to say since I get to see it every day. I see why it is hard for other guys to tackle him on other teams."

On how far he's come in his two years in the NFL and what it's done for his confidence:"I don't think it has really changed my confidence per se. I think it is just more reassurance. I always felt that I had the ability to succeed at a high level, no matter what level I am at. I try to stay the same person every single day, no matter what is going on around me. I feel like all these accolades are cool, and it will be cool to tell the grandkids one day, but at the same time, we have a bigger goal in mind. For me, like I said, it is just more reassurance. At the same time, it is just more respect from my peers, and I think that is very important as well. No offense, but I [couldn't] really care less what media has to say about me, what other people have to say about me, outside my family and the ones that are close to me in the building. I feel like all that stuff comes with a certain level of respect that the guys have for me, so I appreciate that."


On examples in practice where he has seen the goals of this team:"We're just not satisfied [and] no complacency. We're just going to keep working until the job is done. It's as simple as that."

On if playing the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs adds more meaning to the game on Sunday: "It's a big stage, but we're going to take it like any other game. [We're] just [going to] prepare the same and go out there and play the same way. It's been working for us all year, and we'll continue to do it."

On how much confidence the offense's second half performance in the Divisional Round against the Houston Texans give in his ability to dictate run game:"We had that goal all year, and we know as a team that we have that ability to turn it on when we need to. It just gives you ultimate confidence knowing that you can run it down somebody's throat when you need to. We're just going to continue to build on that and hopefully carry that on throughout the next week."

On his mindset going into a game where he could be the lead running back knowing what is on his shoulders:"Just know the game. [I'm] always ready for any opportunity that comes my way. My main goal is to help the team win. That's been my goal since I came here, so whatever they need me to do, I'm going to do."

On if his experience is a lesson to always be ready when an opportunity arises: "For sure, because if you're not ready when an opportunity arises, you're not going to be here for long. I've always taken advantage of all those opportunities. You have to prepare throughout the year, throughout the week, and if your number is called, just go out there and execute."

On how excited he is to see the matchup between Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson:"It's just another game in the way of our goals. We're trying to go win a Super Bowl, and if [Patrick] Mahomes is in the way of that, we're going to go take care of it."

On how much confidence he has going into the AFC Championship knowing the Ravens have beaten teams with winning records throughout the season: "I would say so. It just shows that you can play with the best of them. We've played NFC teams – the best on their side, and we've played the best in the AFC, too. It just builds your confidence. I think as a team, we know if we play our best ball, there's not many teams that can play with us. That's what we're going to go out there and do."


On if there is a different feeling to this AFC Championship week:"No, not really. [There is] no different feeling. It's another game – a higher-level atmosphere game. That's about it. The atmosphere is going to be different."

On what it means to get to this point considering everything he went through with his contract in the offseason:"To be honest, it doesn't mean anything right now. We still have ... We're still locked in on the prize – what we're chasing right now. So, it really doesn't change anything until we complete the mission."

On if the noise he expects to hear coming out of the tunnel will be what he envisioned the night he was drafted by Baltimore and talked about bringing a Super Bowl to this city:"No, because the mission isn't complete. Once that mission is complete, then I'm going to have an answer for you."

On if he has to avoid putting too much pressure on himself in this situation:"No, not at all. Just for us to be in this situation, I wasn't putting pressure on myself. I'm going into every game the same way [with the] same mindset – one play at a time. You know the saying; one play at a time, one game at a time. That's pretty much been it. I don't put pressure on myself at all."

On what ILB Roquan Smith has brought to this team and this franchise since being traded here:"Man, [Roquan Smith] brought the Ray Lewis juice back for our generation. The grit, the everything ... The leadership, his poise, his aggression, we needed that from our linebacker – from both of them, him and Patrick [Queen]. They are doing a wonderful job. But 'Ro' [Roquan Smith], he's just unbelievable. We needed that, and I'm glad we got him. [Executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta] did a great job."

On what it is about competing against QB Patrick Mahomes that he really likes:"I don't like competing against [Patrick Mahomes] at all." *(laughter) *"But yes, he's a great quarterback. [He's] definitely a Hall of Famer. It's a no-brainer; he's definitely a Hall of Famer. But I believe [it's] just two greats – up-and-coming greats – just going toe to toe, like a heavyweight fight [and] heavyweight matchup. That's just what I see."

On if he feels added pressure to keep QB Patrick Mahomes from getting the ball back:"No. Like I told him, there is no pressure at all on my shoulders or on my mind. The defense just has to do what they've been doing all season, and we've got to do what we're supposed to do – put points on the board – and we will have nothing to worry about. Just everyone [has to] do their job. [The Chiefs are] a great team – no doubt about it – [in] all phases – special teams, offense, defense – but if you're scoring points, and you're stopping the opposing team, you'll have a fair chance to win. And that's just what we need to do."

On what makes the Ravens' defense so great:"I believe [that] each and every guy on our defense [is] just hungry. They've got their own chip on their shoulder from whatever they've been through; we don't know everyone's story. But I believe our defense is just ... We've got different guys with different mindsets but the same goal, and that's showing out there on the field – how they're just running over people and hitting people [and] creating turnovers and stuff like that. Man, our defense [is] just unique in their own way."

On when he first heard about fellow South Florida product WR Zay Flowers and why he thought he'd be such a good fit for this offense:"I heard about Zay Flowers in youth football growing up. They were always talking about, 'The little kid; No. 4,' [or] No. 7 or something like that. I always heard about Zay, [and] in high school, college, he was still that same guy. And when I was watching him on tape and stuff like that, I [was] like, 'Man, he ...' Even though his team [at Boston College] wasn't ... They weren't all that. I don't want to say it like that, but they weren't all that." (laughter) "But Zay made the most of it. [He] made the most of his opportunities, and he just showed it. He was the same guy from youth football all the way up until now. So, I just put a bug in [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta]'s ear; I was like, 'Man, we need to go get him,' and he just did the rest."

On what it would mean to him and this offense if TE Mark Andrews can play on Sunday:"It would mean a lot. That's my – like I said – bread and butter, big bro, and it would definitely mean a lot. We've already got guys who've stepped up, like [Isaiah] Likely, 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman], 'OB' [Odell Beckham Jr.], 'Nelly' [Nelson Agholor]. We've got Charlie [Kolar]. We've got all these guys that [have] stepped up. But with Mark [Andrews] and the type of guy he is, the type of caliber player he is, and what he brings to the table for us, it would definitely mean a lot for us."

On if he expects TE Mark Andrews to play this week:"That's up to Mark [Andrews] and Coach [John] Harbaugh. Hopefully, he will be up, though – hopefully." 

On what dimension a tandem of TE Mark Andrews and TE Isaiah Likely can bring to this offense:"I don't know what dimension it brings us – what it gives us – but with those guys on the field, we'll see. We'll see. With all the talent we have around those guys, as well, we'll definitely see."

On what he's been specifically focused on this season:"I'll just say, like, small details [and] things that I probably would overshadow years in the past. But now, I'm trying to think about all the small details [and] what will help us in every situation. That's pretty much what I mean by staying locked in and focused."

On if he's allowed himself to think about playing in a Super Bowl:"Yes, that's why I have to focus on the AFC Championship and not the Super Bowl, because I did think about it. But we can't overshadow what's in front of us right now – not at all. Those guys [from Kansas City] are the former Super Bowl champions, and to be a champion, you've got to go through a champion. So, that's pretty much the mindset."

On what it means to have the international support of Ravens fans:"That's crazy. That's crazy, man. That's great to see. Our game is just spreading across the world like that. [To] have fans from [the] U.K. [and elsewhere], that's tremendous. I would never think we'd have fans from [the] U.K. traveling to see this game. That's great."

On how he would describe what it's like playing for head coach John Harbaugh and why he thinks Coach Harbaugh has been successful for so long:"Just don't come here if you're not trying to win [and] if you don't want to work. That's the coach ... A military mindset ... He wants the best out of us, [and] he wants to win. I like to win, so I'm going to do whatever it takes to win. That's what you're getting out [of] your coach."

On why adding muscle several years ago was important and how that muscle has affected his game:"I just felt ... The years in the past, our guys – our offensive line – went down [and] stuff like that, so I felt like I was going to take more hits. I just felt like that at the time. So I just thought it was best for me to just put on some more weight. But, our [offensive] line is doing so good, I didn't need all of the weight."

On if he felt like he lost any speed when he put on more muscle: "No. I don't think I lost any speed. I would probably say I got tired a little faster. That's about it."

On what about his relationship with TE Isaiah Likely has allowed it to build so quickly: "[It's] just from seeing [Isaiah Likely] work in practice. It started last year, but seeing him work in practice and seeing what he's doing versus our guys on defense. We've got great guys on defense all across the board. But when he's making plays against guys like Kyle [Hamilton], like competing against Kyle – iron sharpens iron. Kyle's a great safety. But iron sharpens iron, and I've been seeing [Likely] competing, going back and forth. He'll win one, then [Kyle'll] win one. He's been playing great football. And I'm like, "We've got a dog in Likely,' and it's showing up on film, and it's showing up on gameday."


On if he allows himself to enjoy the fact that this is a big game on a big stage:"Yes, I mean, it's going to be a great team [we're facing]. We're in the AFC Championship, so it's pretty special that we got to this moment. Both teams have worked really hard to get to this moment, and at the end of the day, it's going to be two teams colliding together for a good matchup, and I know both teams are going to be ready."

On if he has a sense of the significance of this game to the city and the organization:"Yes, absolutely. Shoot, this is ... There are only four teams left. It's hard to win an NFL game as it is, and especially to make it this far into a season, it's really hard. A lot of guys in this locker room have worked their tails off, and there are a lot of older guys that maybe haven't even been to this moment. So, we're going to play for guys like that and never take for granted the opportunity that we have in front of us."

On the confidence going through the offensive line after last week's performance:"Yes, it's certainly not easy. We've got to ... Everyone has to be working together in order for that run game to work. I think you even saw in the first half [that] we didn't get to do some things that we wanted to, [and we] weren't doing as well with it, and then [we] just stuck with it and did better in the second half. In this time of the year, you've got to be able to run the ball. I think we're continuing to get better. I don't even think we're where we want to be yet, but [we] continue to get better and open some more things up, as well."

On the challenge DT Chris Jones presents:"A big challenge. [Chris Jones] is one of the top interior guys [and] top D-linemen in the league, so I know [that] he's going to be ready for this. [The Chiefs] are in a familiar spot. They've been here – in the AFC Championship – six years straight, so we're kind of the underdogs coming in, and we've got to be ready to go against a great opponent."

On if going through the champions to win a championship is a mindset that drives the team this week:"Yes, [the Chiefs] have earned the right. They've played great football, and they've had success in the playoffs, so we're going to have to be ready to go. We're going to have to play our best football in order to beat them."

On how overcoming the adversity of last week's first half proved to be a galvanizing moment:"Going into [the] half, we all knew [that] we could play better football than what we put out there in the first half. Whether that's coming off a bye week [and] having a little rust ... Looking back on the tape, it wasn't as bad as it seemed, but [we] certainly needed to be better, and thank God our defense was playing well. And [we needed to] just [stay] with it; that's what's going to happen in this time of the year. You're going to face good defenses, [and] you've got to stay with it, keep moving forward, and I thought we did a better job of that."

On if he's able to carry the confidence built from earning individual accolades out there with him:"Yes, I mean, all I'm really worried about is just winning. As long as we're winning, the accolades are going to come for some guys. And at the end of the day, I'm worried about this next game and trying to get to the Super Bowl, because stuff like this ... [When] you look back in 20 years, not many people are going to remember who made the Pro Bowl or whatnot and who made this and that list, but a lot of people are going to remember making it to the Super Bowl. So, that's just our goal right now, and we've got one step, one game in front of us right now that we're worried about."

On if it feels like his success has happened fast:"Yes. [I'm] grateful to be here in my second year, in this spot, and what an opportunity we have to go out there [at] M&T Bank Stadium against the Chiefs – who have played really great football this year. I think all the guys in the locker room are excited."

On balancing not taking the opportunity for granted and not adding extra pressure:"I think a lot of us in the locker room have been in big games. You've just got to do your job [and] focus on your job – what your job is. Us, as O-linemen, we've got to block for Lamar [Jackson], we've got to block for the running backs and just keep the game simple. And that's our job to go out there and do on Sunday."


On TE Mark Andrews: "Whether he plays or not, I'm just excited to see him come out there and get back out there and be able to run around. Injuries are always tough. He's a hell of a player. You can't replace a Mark Andrews – what he brings, [his] mentality, physically and just the nature of the game that he's learned over the years. The experience is what you need in the playoffs. Just seeing that guy run around there ... I've had my fair share of injuries throughout my career, so being able to see that guy turn it around so quickly, it tells you the professionalism he brings to himself every day [and] the mentality he brings to work on getting better every day. I think he's put himself in a great opportunity and a great place to be able to be here right now."

On what he sees from TE Isaiah Likely:"That's collectively as a group, just everybody on this team. We're preaching next man up mentality. I think that's what the guys do. When you prepare like you're the starter, you don't have to prepare when something else happens. You just move into that role, because you prepare like the No. 1 guy. I think that's what you see in the professionalism of these young guys, the young vets, and the veterans preaching to the younger guys, because you never know what the opportunities are going to bring. You look at a guy like Kyle Van Noy and Jadeveon Clowney who come off the couch in the middle of training camp, and you see the production they bring. That's because they stayed ready throughout their offseason, taking an approach that they were going to be signed to a team. It's no surprise to see those guys are playing at a high level."

On how tough it is to not think ahead and about the Super Bowl: "It's a little bit easier when you've never been this close." (laughter) "It's always [about] what's in front of you right now, be where your feet are, and like I said, we have a great group of veteran guys that have been there. We have guys that know what it takes to get there like Kyle Van Noy. We have guys that are still hungry like Kevin Zeitler and myself and Jadeveon Clowney, who are veteran guys that have put in the work and deserve the opportunity to be here right now. It's our job to relish this opportunity and take care of the things we have in front of us, and right now, that's Kansas City."

On how he prepares to dial back the human element:"It's a big stage. Obviously, it's win or go home, but at the end of the day, it's a game. You have to play between the lines. Nobody really cares about the stats of who's the underdog or whatever the case is. The game has to be played in between the lines, and if you've played football or anybody that's watched football, they know that. That's how it goes. That's how it's always been and hats off to Kansas City. They are a great football team. They have accomplished a lot in their past, and they've accomplished a lot this season, but at the end of the day, we have to go out there and do what we need to do as a team and focus on the things that we need to do so we can control our destiny."


On being an undrafted player with th Ravens and if physicality was stressed when he first arrived: "Oh certainly, I got to play with Terrell Suggs and great vets like Eric Weddle, C.J. Mosley, the list can go on. Albert McClellan was one of my favorites – an unsung hero type of guy. When you come here, that is stressed. By now, most people know the brand that is synonymous with the Ravens. Anytime you have that decal on your helmet, you know what's expected of you. It's a force not only on Sundays, but throughout the offseason when you can't really hit people. We got fined for that before."* (laughter)* "It's the fun in joking, if you know what I am talking about. That's just what is expected, literally from the offseason on."

On Lamar talking about being a champion you have to beat a champion and the mindset that comes with that: "As much as we know that, like I said, the Patrick Mahomes era, that was his first road game [last week]. So, we have been back and forth with this team since 2018. If you want to make it to the NFL championship if you will, you have to take it from him. I mean, that is just what it is. So, it is pretty self-explanatory. We know what we have to do. We know who he is. We know who all their big-time players are. We know who Andy Reid is. It is just about executing and playing our brand of defense, our brand of football on both sides, special teams included, executing and let the chips fall where they may."

On it being fitting that it comes down to QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs for this defense for the right to play in the Super Bowl: "Yes, I guess it could have been the same for the Bills. Like I said, it has run through him for what - the last four, five, six years, I don't know the exact number – but like I said, if we want to be the best in the world and have an opportunity to win it all, we have to go through those guys. It has always gone through those guys, and I am glad we got this shot at home. We know what we are in for, and we are practicing to make sure we are ready." 

On NFL teams being weary of talking boastfully during the week and this team consistently saying they match up and can beat anybody and the mentality that comes with that: "I am not the one to do a lot of talking. But like I said, when you put on our decal, that brand is synonymous with being physical. That brand is synonymous with giving all your effort, making sure you play with your brothers' back in mind. It doesn't matter who talks or whatever the case may be. At the end of the day, we have a standard to live up to whether somebody pokes their chest out or not. Ravens football needs to be Ravens football each and every Sunday. I don't mind when they talk because at the end of the day, I have to play, and we have to play the way we know how to play. We handle the business where business is being done."

On what makes QB Patrick Mahomes so different than a lot of other quarterbacks: "I happened to be on the field when [Patrick Mahomes] threw that no-look pass [a few years ago in a game against us], and that ball went right by my face, so I get reminded of it every time they show a commercial." (laughter) "But no, man, he's obviously a special guy, won [two] Super Bowl[s]. He can just, literally, throw the ball from any angle. We've seen him just make a whole bunch of just unbelievable plays. So, when plays break down, he can extend those plays, find guys deep, find guys low, and they've got guys that can run. [Rashee] Rice ... I can go on for days. I think [Mecole] Hardman [Jr.] caught like a quick pass and took it to the crib one time in 2018. So, long story short, man, this guy is everything that the media says he is, and, obviously, we vote for him [for] Top 100 [and] all that kind of stuff, so respect is due. But at the end of the day – like I said – we've got a Ravens decal; we expect to play one way, and that's what it has to be to be able to beat him."

On how practicing against QB Lamar Jackson prepared the team to face QB Patrick Mahomes:"It certainly helps a lot because those plays get extended in practice. When guys tend to come open, that is when your secondary has to plaster. D-Line has to make sure we are on our keys, make sure as much as we can to keep him in the pocket. You always have to be aware of Lamar [Jackson] running out of the B-gap, as well as [Patrick] Mahomes. They do a good job in Kansas City of setting the pocket, and he finds those spaces. That is something we have [practiced] with 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley] and Josh Johnson as well. You have to be mindful of those things. Rushing him, playing defense in general, DBs plastering against receivers. We definitely have our work cut out for us every day [in practice], but it definitely helps in this case." 

On what this defense ranks among all defenses he has played on:"I think we were No. 1 in 2018, so right up there with that [group]. But we went further [in the season] now, and that's awesome, but at the end of the day, if we can close it, we will definitely be No. 1. This has been a special year, certainly, just like 2018. But it has been a fun one for sure."


On why he feels this team has played their best football against the best teams:"I think that we just do what we're signed up to do, and that's play for each other, at the end of the day, give everything that we've got and try to send a message, play in and play out. [There is] no bigger stage to do that than the game coming up this week."

On what makes Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes so good and so difficult to beat: "We all know [Patrick Mahomes] is an elite quarterback [and] does everything well. Personally, just his ability to be able to read coverages, as well as extend plays, extend plays with his legs, and then if you're not plastering [him], being able to throw it down the field, [he] can hurt you that way. He's a great quarterback, we all know that, but so are we on defense, so we'll see."

On how difficult it makes his job to defend a player like Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes who can extend plays and throw from different angles: "It just goes back to doing your job, and I have the utmost respect for each and every guy I go to war with on the field. I know, play in and play out, we want to dictate the game our way, at the end of the day. So, hats off to [Patrick Mahomes] for everything that he does, but at the end of the day, it's about us, always and forever."

On what makes this defense so great: "It just goes back to guys not being complacent [and] guys being consistent day in and day out, and it starts with the preparation throughout the week. Each and every guy looks [at] themselves in the mirror – like I try to tell each and every guy every day – and if you give everything that you've got, there are not many people that can do what we do. I know this defense is really good, and we're going to do everything in our power to make sure we show that to the world."

On if the defense takes pride in being dominant in an NFL that tends to favor offense:"Yes. You definitely hear a lot of things about the offense, and [that] defense wins championships. Each and every guy, we know it's a team game, at the end of the day, but if we dictate things on our terms and keep giving the ball back to Lamar [Jackson], hey, it's going to be a long day for whichever other defense is out there on the field. I have the utmost faith in every single guy, and we're going to do everything it takes to make sure we get the job done, by any means necessary."

On if playing against Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes feels like a graduate course in what the team has done all year:"No. I don't think it's a graduate-level course. I think it's a course that has to be done, and we're going to get it done. That's the message. It's not about, 'Oh, this.' He puts his pants on just like any other quarterback. Yes, he's an elite quarterback, but at the end of the day, we're an elite defense, and that's our job – to stop the opposing offense. That's our job, play in and play out, and that's what we've got to do."

On what he took away from working with former Ravens LB Ray Lewis:"[I have the] utmost respect for Ray [Lewis] and everything he's done for this organization and for the linebacker [position] in general in this game. I think [he's] the greatest to ever do it and just being able to pick his mind [and] mindset ... I just remember, even as a kid, well before I knew I was going to ever play for the Ravens, being able to just watch his hype videos, watch his speeches and things like that, and it always inspired me, since [I was] a little one. To be able to just have those personal conversations, it takes me back, in a sense. But we all have a job, and all the knowledge he's given me, [I] definitely try to share it amongst the guys."

On if improving the game of the guys around him is something he is conscious of:"Honestly, I just go out and give everything that I've got, lead – first and foremost – by example, knowing that each and every guy wants to be great at the end of the day. It's a resume that you have at the end of the day, and I constantly remind guys [that] whatever you put out there on film, it's going to live forever, so if you want your kids to see you doing something years from now, hey, hats off to you. But I know one day when I have kids, I want them to know that I was that guy that [would] knock your face off and do everything that it takes, play in and play out, and make sure [that] my guys are in the best place, as well as I'm in the best place. I feel like if you do that, everything else will work out for itself."

On if there is a special feeling he gets when he plays in big playoff games like this: "Yes. There is definitely a lot of history here for the short years that the Ravens have been a part of the league since '96. [There is] a lot of history. But just being able to bring a Championship game back to Baltimore, that's definitely huge. [I] don't take that lightly, [and] definitely with the fans ... The fans come in, [they're] live, especially last week, so it's going to be definitely huge for those guys this week. At the end of the day, it just goes back to each and every guy doing what we do, and that's just playing our style of ball, punishing every cat and letting everyone know after they get hit by us that you got hit by the Ravens and send a message [that], 'Hey, I don't want to play that team again.' That's how we are, and we just want to impose our will, play in and play out."

On how he would describe Chiefs RB Isiah Pacheco's running style:"I'm excited for the matchup. Hats off to [Isiah Pacheco]. I tip my hat off to anybody that runs the ball hard, and who's bringing it every single game [and] every single play. I love that, because at the end of the day, one is going to have to break, and I don't plan to be on that breaking end."

On how he would characterize QB Lamar Jackson's demeanor and attitude since the playoffs began: "Talking with 'Jack' [Lamar Jackson] day in and day out, I just know his mindset [and] how excited he is [to] show the world exact who he is play in and play out, and just the way he's leading the offense and the things he's able to do with the football. Like I've always said since I've been here, I'm just grateful that I'm playing with him and not against him, because it's definitely a handful, and he can beat you in so many different ways. I'm just happy to be a part of it and happy that he's on my team."

On if there is a different edge when playing against the defending Super Bowl champion:"No, I don't think there is a different edge. I think it's an edge of defending your turf. Any man that has a chance ... Someone is trying to come in and take something from you that you worked your entire life for, and if you need any more added substance to that, then what are you playing the game for, in my opinion? So, it's about mono e mono, this man across from me, what are you going to do to make sure we advance? That's what I think it boils down to at the end of the day. And if you need any more hype or anything like that, like I said, you're playing for the wrong reason. Hey, I know I'm playing it for the right reason. I'm trying to punish a cat every chance I get.'

On what defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald allows the defense to do:"I think [defensive coordinator] Mike Macdonald allows us to just be ourselves at the end of the day. He gives us such a unique plan [to] dissect offenses like it's no other, like he's a mad scientist in a sense, and then [he] gives it to us in a way that we understand it. That's hats off to the entire defensive staff; from top to bottom, everybody that's on the defensive side of the ball. I love it and being able to just hit you from any different angle. When you have it like that, it's hard to complain. Everybody gets their one on ones, so it's about winning your one on one once you get it. That's what I think it is in a nutshell."

On how different this week has been knowing he is one step away from a goal he has worked his whole life to achieve: "I think it just goes back to something is in your way trying to stop you from getting where you want to go, and what are you going to do about it? As a human being, if something is in your way and you've been dreaming for something your entire life, busting your tail day in and day out for something, are you going to allow something to stop you? You're going to give everything in your human power to make sure that that's not the case. That's how we look at it, and I know we're going to play that way every given play. So, tune in Sunday. Get your popcorn ready."

On if he plans his animated pre-game speeches ahead of time and what his message will be this Sunday: "Honestly, I've gotten that question a couple of times. I never really plan any speeches. I just go from what's on the heart, what's on the mind and what I feel like – going out through pregame, coming to the stadium and whatever I'm feeling – mentally, and I just express that. I don't try to make things up to make guys feel this way or feel that way, because at the end of the day, it's fake. I'm myself. All I know is to be myself and deliver what's on my heart, instead of trying to create things that are nonsense in a sense. So, I think that's where a lot of people go wrong in this world – trying to be something they're not. I just express what's on my heart, at the end of the day."


On what it feels like to be one step away from the team's biggest goal:"It feels good, man. A lot of teams wish they could be in this position right now, so we definitely aren't taking it for granted. But yes, we're just focused on this game, focused on one day at a time and preparing for this game."

On how challenging it is to stay in the present and avoid looking ahead to the Super Bowl:"Obviously, it's hard not to look ahead and see what we're striving for, but you've just got to bring it back to reality and understand that this is the most important game right now. [We're] just preparing for this game and taking it – like I said – one day at a time [and] focusing up in meetings [and] practice. But yes, just coming back to reality."

On QB Patrick Mahomes:"[Patrick Mahomes] is a great quarterback – regardless [of] if he's under center or in the gun. But like I said, we just [are going to] stick to the gameplan, continue to watch film, prepare for these guys and just go out there on Sunday and play our defense."

On what makes QB Patrick Mahomes so different than other quarterbacks:"Yes, shoot, [Patrick Mahomes] has seen it all. He's seen every disguise there is, every coverage there is, and I think he's just ... The guys around him, they know what to do to get open. And yes, I think they just play on one accord."

On what about defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald's defense resonates with him:"Yes, Coach Mike [defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald], he puts us in a great position every week. His gameplan is second to none, and yes, we trust him. He's gotten us this far. [He] puts all his trust in us, and we put our trust in him, and [it] allows us to go play on Sunday."

On the challenge and opportunity to go up against this Chiefs offense:"Like I said, they are a great offense. They've got guys that can make plays on their offense. But at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what they do; it's all on what we do. We just have to stick to our gameplan, stick to what we have to do going into the game and really just play Ravens defense."

On what it means to get CB Marlon Humphrey back on the practice field: "Anytime you get a star player [back], it's always a plus. It just adds more depth. He's been working really hard to get back from his injury, and hopefully he can go out there and help us on Sunday."

On how practicing with a mobile quarterback like QB Lamar Jackson helps you prepare for Chiefs' QB Patrick Mahomes:"[Patrick] Mahomes, he makes his hay off of making a play out of no play. So, just going against Lamar [Jackson] or 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley], it's just [about] plastering receivers [and] not giving up the quarterback an easy throw with a guy just wide open. So, going against our quarterbacks in practice, throughout training camp [and] minicamp, we're really just used to it."

On if it's a confidence booster that their losses have been because of self-inflicted wounds:"Honestly, those losses don't mean anything right now. We're not even thinking about that, but we know where we've given up big plays or whatnot. The key to every week [or] every victory is [to] eliminate the explosive and big plays, so yes, if we eliminate that, we'll be in good shape."

On what confidence last week's defensive performance gives the team: "Honestly, we're a confident group. No matter what we did the previous week ... It was good to get back from an off week, a bye week, and just to see we're still on the same page – we're still playing the ball that we know how to play. We just need to carry that into this week. Nothing changes. We just have to do what we do."


On the significance of having the AFC Championship on home turf: "It is really special. I think it's special for this team [and] this organization. It's something that we've worked for, [and] we've earned. This is a town full of people that love their birds. They love ball. They know ball, and to reward them with a championship experience and an opportunity for us to go to the Super Bowl here in Baltimore, it's very, very special."

On his expectations for the environment he will be walking into on Sunday:"This last weekend in the Divisional Round – I don't think I'd ever experienced 'The Bank' quite as electric as that. That was awesome. The place was rocking. I know our fans are going to kick it up another notch this weekend coming up. As far as what we're expecting, we're expecting our fans to be absolutely lit up and ready to go. We will be doing the exact same thing. We'll be preparing this week. This game is, for all intents and purposes, this is the opportunity that we've all worked for our whole lives. That's how we're approaching it ourselves."

On what Chiefs K Harrison Butker said about how he admires and studies him and what it means to him: "It does mean a lot. The brotherhood of kickers around the league – it's real. The guys that have been there and done that, it's for a reason. It's because they're talented. It's because they work hard. Harrison [Butker] is certainly one of those guys. The guy works his tail off. You can tell he's incredibly talented. He's a great athlete. I'm excited to see him this weekend and have another good battle as we're all expecting. To see Harrison doing so well, it does make me really happy for him – I'm not necessarily happy for the Kansas City Chiefs, but I am very happy for Harrison to see him do well."

On the emotions when he sees Buffalo Bills K Tyler Bass and Green Bay Packers K Anders Carlson miss potential game-winning kicks in the Divisional Round and what it says about this time of year: "My heart really just goes out to those guys. If you play long enough, you will undoubtedly have one of them that gets away from you and you would do anything in the world to get it back. The fact of the matter is that you just can't, and [Buffalo Bills kicker] Tyler [Bass], for what it's worth, he's a great kicker. I know without a doubt in my mind he's going to make a lot more big kicks than he's ever going to miss. He and I texted back and forth. He seems to be in a good place, and that's exactly what I would expect from a guy like him with his level of talent [and] his work ethic just knowing a little bit about him. I know it stings incredibly in the moment, but you have no other choice but to just pick up the pieces and move on. That's part of the nature of playing this position, especially at this time of the year where the conditions are going to be tougher unless you're playing inside. A place like Buffalo or Baltimore or Kansas City, [and] the weather didn't look great in the Bay Area last weekend either. That's something that you just have to deal with as a specialist. It's something that we work on day in and day out. Whenever we have the opportunity, we get out in the elements, and we do our best to just attack each kick for what it's worth in that moment."

On if he has input on anything the Ravens' M&T Bank Stadium grounds crew does:"I don't know if I'm changing anything with whatever input ... It's usually not complaints. It's usually a matter of offering my preferences every so often. It does seem to be heated in a positive way. Our surface has been really, really good, all things considered. When you're playing at this time of the year, especially after you had a couple games or a couple of weeks where you have had a good amount of rain. We had a good hard freeze a couple of times over these last couple of weeks. Anytime you have that to deal with, and the surface still holds up throughout the course of a game, it's not going to be perfect, but it's manageable. It's much more manageable than a lot of other places that we have played. Even in the middle of the football season, or in a place where you would expect a team to be able to grow Bermuda grass, for whatever reason, they just can't figure it out. Our guys have certainly done that, and they have figured it out. They've done a great job with the surface. I'm looking forward to getting back out there and testing it out in pre-game and hopefully having a great game on it again."

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