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Transcripts: Press Conference (1/26)


Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. [I] appreciate everybody being here. [It was] a good practice [and] a beautiful day – a great day for football today and for a lot of other things. Some days are good for football and skiing or dancing in the rain, but today was good for a lot of stuff. We had a great practice. Guys were into it [and] locked in. [They] understand the challenge in front of us against a great football team. [They're] very well-coached, very talented [and] very tough. We're looking forward to it. We can't wait to get to it, but we still have some preparation to do up until that time. What questions do you have?"

What can you tell us about the reports that TE Mark Andrews is going to be activated from Injured Reserve?*(Jamison Hensley)* "[Mark Andrews] is going to be activated off Injured Reserve today, yes."

Is TE Mark Andrews' activation off Injured Reserve an indication that he will play on Sunday?*(Jamison Hensley)* "Yes. That's the idea, for sure."

Will there be any testing done in pre-game on Sunday to make sure TE Mark Andrews is ready to play?*(Kyle Goon)* "I don't think so. We'll see. Unless there's some kind of a problem, he should be playing."

Is it a priority to make sure TE Isaiah Likely is still involved in the gameplan even with TE Mark Andrews coming back?*(Kyle Phoenix)* "Our offense is what it is at this point in time. To add a player like Mark [Andrews] is a great add for us. It's a great advantage. We're excited about it. Mark's been looking good the last couple weeks. He's [been] merged into the gameplan as we built it this week. That's who we'll be running with on Sunday."

What is the feel of the team right now after having finished up the last practice before the game on Sunday?*(Cordell Woodland)*"They're excited. It takes a lot to get to this point. To still be playing in a game of this magnitude, it's a hard thing to do. They're excited to be playing the game. They want to put their best foot forward. They want to play their best. They want to play their hardest. They want to do well. That's how they're thinking."

What is your relationship like with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid? Do you guys talk throughout the year?* (Neal Jones)* "[Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and I] talk here and there. It's not like we're talking regularly throughout the year, but the relationship is great. He's a guy I look up to [and] always have. I admire him very much. We do a lot in the offseason friendship wise, but also [we] talk about our kids a lot – I can tell you that – but also with the [NFL] rule [changes]. We haven't had too many conversations lately."

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid mentioned a hospital visit you and your father, Jack, had with former BYU head coach LaVell Edwards. Do you remember that visit and what happened?*(Harold Kuntz)*"I wasn't there for the [hospital] visit. [Andy Reid and LaVell Edwards] were at an All-Star game, I think. They spent a couple days together visiting hospitals. I think Andy told me one time they were the only three coaches there. We thought that was pretty cool. They hit it off, and he told me that story the first time I met him. It was pretty meaningful for a kid to hear that about his dad. Andy's a great guy. I love Andy. I love [his wife] Tammy. I love all their kids. I was there [coaching with him with the Philadelphia Eagles] when the kids were all growing up and running around. It's just a coaching relationship that you have with your colleagues. It becomes like a family."

The Baltimore Orioles all wished you and the Ravens well for Sunday, and manager Brandon Hyde will be at the game. What has that synergy been like with the Orioles this year given both teams' successes?*(Todd Karpovich)* "I'm a big [Baltimore] Orioles fan, obviously. I loved watching what they did this year. They're amazing. I love those players. We have that golf tournament [between the two teams] – it's a highly competitive golf tournament. The Orioles usually win it. Baseball players are always great golfers. Football players squeeze the [golf] club too hard. It's like, 'Loosen up! It'll be fine! I have to hit it harder and farther.'" (laughter) "We love the Orioles. [Orioles manager] Brandon [Hyde's] a really good friend. I really have so much respect for him. It's good that he's going to be there [at the game on Sunday]."

Since you became the Ravens' head coach in 2008, what have you learned about getting ready for a big game like this?*(Pete Gilbert)* "It's a game. That's the bottom line. It's a football game. It's against a very good team. Yes, the opportunity [and] the reward to win one game is great. Everybody understands that. You put it into perspective. You have to play your best football against the best teams, but it's a football game. So, all the things that matter in a football game, matter in this game. Those are the things that we're going to try to do well."

What kind of toughness did it take for TE Mark Andrews to get from recovering from his injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 to this point where he is being activated off Injured Reserve?*(Jamison Hensley)* "That's a great point. I would say it's an amazing amount of toughness – physical toughness in terms of the work [Mark Andrews] had to put in and the pain. The physical pain he went through – I saw him in the training room. [It was] a very painful injury [and] a very painful rehab. Then, just the mental toughness to ... With Mark, the crazy thing is you talk to him [he says], 'It's going great. It's amazing. I'm doing so well. Everybody's amazing with me. I love these guys. I love everything.' It's just how he stays A-plus positive every single day. I just love that about him."

What are your thoughts on so many sporting legends like Olympic gold medal swimmer and Baltimore native Michael Phelps that are going to be in attendance at the game on Sunday?*(David Andrade)* "Yes, it's cool. It's nice, but we'll be focusing on [the game]. I know the [Kansas City] Chiefs are going to be in the house." *(laughter) *"I think that's going to be our focus, for sure."

It has been so hard to get back to this point after you won Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. What does that say about the league you coach in and how difficult it is to get to this point?*(Chick Hernandez)* "We say it many times, 'It's tough to win a football game in the National Football League.' It's the most competitive thing that I can imagine. I'm in the middle of it, but I'm sure there are other things that are really competitive in life. I'm just not aware of them. This is the toughest thing in the world, to me, to win a football game. That's what we're going to try to do on Sunday."

Was the team's approach this week as normal as you tried to keep it knowing what is at stake? Did everything go how it usually goes this week?*(Jerry Coleman)* "Yes. It's the same routine. We're a routine group. It's a practice sport. It's a meeting sport. Our guys are doing what they always do. [They're] trying to do it the best we can. We did – we tried to have our best week this week, and that's what we try to do."

Did you do any preparation for the expected rain on Sunday, or did you not have to do anything because you have played in it so often?*(Jeff Zrebiec)*"We didn't really do anything different. We get the balls wet here and there, but we've been rained on a lot this year."

Being that it is the first time Baltimore has hosted a conference championship game since 1971, have you heard any stories from fans around town about what this game means to people?*(Kyle Goon)* "I have to be honest with you, I'm in a cocoon. I think people are probably excited is my guess, but we've been focusing on the game. I'm excited for the town. I think of someone like [the late Baltimore Colts RB] Tom Matte and his wife. They went to high school with my mom, [Jackie]. When we came to town here, they were the first ones to reach out – Tom and Judy Matte. We went to dinner with them. I think what this would've meant to him to have this game back here in Baltimore. Things like that – they're meaningful."

How did CB Marlon Humphrey look this week at practice? Will it be a game-time decision if he plays?*(Brian Wacker)*"[Marlon Humphrey] looked good. I'm confident [he'll play on Sunday], but I can't say for sure."

What was the reception like when you heard about your brother, Jim, making his return to the NFL as head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers and that you'll be coaching against him next year?*(Kyle Goon)* "[I'm] fired up. [I'm] not thinking about the game [against Jim next year]. That's a game way off in the future, but [I'm] very excited for Jim [Harbaugh]. [I'm] happy for his family. Like I told you guys before, he called that night back home, and the kids already had their bags packed. They thought they were going the next day to LA [Los Angeles]. They're actually coming here [for our game], so that's cool. They didn't waste the backpacking, I guess. Like I said, the [Los Angeles] Chargers just got themselves a great, great football coach. The players are going to love him. [The] city's going to love him, and they're going to be very formidable."


On how he's feeling:"I'm feeling good. I'm feeling good. I'm excited, I'm ready and ... Yes, it's just going to be a fun day on Sunday – to go out there and play with my teammates and have some fun playing football."

On the possibilities with two tight end sets:"It's dangerous. Obviously, adding [Isaiah Likely] and [me] to the tandem and doing our thing, it's going to be fun, and I'm excited to see how it turns out. I know that we're both going to be competing our butts off and are excited for this game. We've got a great tight end room, we've got a great team and that's what it's about – is playing together."

On what it's been like to watch for a while and work to get back to this point:"It's tough. It's the first time, really, in my career [that] I've had to deal with something like this, so [I was] just patiently waiting. When you have to watch on Sundays, it's not an easy thing, but I'm excited for this opportunity. I'm excited [with] where I'm at now."

On if he's thought about what an offense including himself on top of TE Isaiah Likely's success could look like:"I'm really just happy for [Isaiah Likely]. You're always happy for your guys and how they're playing, and him [and] Charlie [Kolar], they really got some big opportunities and played good ball. That's an awesome thing for our team, it's going to be awesome for this game, and, yes, I'm excited to showcase what we can do."

On being in this moment with QB Lamar Jackson:"Yes. We came in here, in the league, in 2018 – the same time – together, and we've always talked about unfinished business, and this is part of that business."

On if he saw the game any differently from being on the sidelines:"Yes, I got to focus on play calls and different things like that. [From the] TV, you can't really tell exactly what they're running, so [I was] just being locked in and tuned into how the game was operating, how Coach Monken [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] was calling the game and trying to put myself in their shoes, and it was good for me."

On the journey and hard work to getting back:"Like you said, it's been a lot of hard work. I'm thankful for a lot of people here that have helped me – just to come here and work every day, have a good plan and schedule laid out – and here we are now. [I'm] going into the AFC Championship game feeling healthy, feeling good, and I'm excited to help this team in this upcoming game."

On if he ever doubted that he could get back at this point:"No. I think that, mentally, you've got to stay on top of it. You've got to be able to get healthy in your head [and] get healthy with your body. It's all in one. So, for me, [I pushed] myself every day, believing that I was going to be able to come back. It's easy to do when you have great teammates [and] every day you come in, it's just, 'We're going to keep winning for you, and we're going to keep winning, and by the time you're back, it's going to be go time.'"

On how much time each day he devoted to rehab:"It just depends. I'd probably spend about four to six hours here every day – work out, rehab – and then, at home, there are different things, like the hyperbaric oxygen chamber and stuff like that. So, basically, the whole day was dedicated towards getting better."

On if he's thought about what the emotions on Sunday might be like:"I feel like, being out of the game for how ever many weeks it's been, I'm definitely internalizing everything, I'm thinking about it, and I'm excited. I can't tell you how excited [I am]. This is what I love to do. I love to play football. I love the Ravens. I love this city. I'm going to give them everything I've got."

On if he'll have to be cautious at all with how many snaps he'll play:"I'm feeling good. I'm going to help this team [in] any way I can, and whatever they're asking me to do, I'm going to do it. So, yes, I feel good."

On when he thought that he could make it back:"It's tough [to say]. In the early stages of rehab, it's little increments, and [when] you look back a week [after] that, it was a huge jump. And so, we start making these huge, huge jumps, and we got to a point about three weeks ago, [when] you start talking about it, you start wrapping your mind around what's going to happen, and that's kind of how it went."

On how much of himself he believes he can give this week:"I'm going to give it my all. I'm going to give it my all, and you'll see me."

On how he's seen this offense progress since he last played:"[The offense is] just efficient. They're playing really good ball, and, obviously, No. 8 [Lamar Jackson] is playing some of the best ball in the world. I've never seen him like this. So, he's doing everything incredibly well, and he's helping everybody else out, and everybody is helping him out, too. So, it's a team game. I'm just hoping to add in, help it when I can and just add that little bit of spark."

On how tough it was for him to not be able to play last week:"It's tough, but at the same time, I've trusting these guys every step of the way, and they've done it. So, you've just got to keep faith [and] keep a good mindset. There is a lot of respect for what these guys have done, and, again, I'm hoping to add to that."

On what he's seen from QB Lamar Jackson:"Great ball. It's great ball. [Lamar Jackson] is slinging it, he's running it, [and] he's making everybody's jobs easier and making the defense's job harder. That's the MVP right there, and he's playing at that level."

On if he and TE Isaiah Likely can stress a defense when playing on the field together:"Yes. You look at great players and how they can hurt a defense; it's two great players. If we're on the same side or if we're on different sides, it's something you've got to pay attention to. You've got to give [Isaiah Likely] his respect, [and] you've got to give me my respect. So, yes, it's tough for a defense." 

On how big it will be to play in this game:"It's big. It's big. Obviously, it's big for everybody in this organization. And it's not about me, [and] it's not about anything like that; it's just about coming in here, playing 11-man football – offense, defense, special teams – and getting a win against a good team [in] Kansas City. So, we're excited about that."


On if the excessive media attention is impactful in any way:"You guys want to know what's going on, how we think and how we're feeling, so it's cool. I'm cool with it."

On what having TE Mark Andrews back means to him and the team:"It means a lot to all of us. What it means to me is I have another security blanket. I'm on the field [with] him, [Isaiah] Likely and the rest of the guys. [I'm] just ready to get after it right now."

On what's been the key to staying locked in the whole season:"[It's] just knowing what's at stake. [It's] just being around for some years now and seeing different teams we've had here. I feel like [going] back to 2019, we had a chance to be where we're at right now, and we fell short. Like I said, me just being around different teams, knowing we have a great defense, great offense [and] great special teams, our opportunity is just right in front of us, so I have to just stay locked in. All of us should be thinking the same way."

On what his nerves are like before the biggest game of his NFL career so far:"[It is] the same as it was last week."

On his respect level for Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, if he watched him in college and if he knew these battles were going to take place for years to come: "Oh, definitely, but I didn't really catch their games. I didn't really catch those guys' games, but definitely, when I did ... I actually watched Patrick [Mahomes] play when we got to the league and stuff like that. It was a no brainer. He's one of those guys. He's one of the GOATs in the making, but I'm definitely looking forward to it."

On how much sweeter it would be to win knowing Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has beat him three times and gone to six straight AFC Championships: "I'm not really worried about what [Patrick Mahomes] has done with his team. It didn't matter who we were playing; I was going to feel the same way. But it will definitely be great, because they've been going to the AFC [Championship] each and every year [or the] Super Bowl. It seems like it's been every year since I've been in the league at least. But yes, it would definitely be a good feeling just to win the last playoff game [before the Super Bowl]. It would definitely be great to win."

On how he goes about not making this game bigger than all of the other games he's played this year:"That's just my mindset. I've been in games where it's one of the games of the week or something like that, and I'm hyped, [and] everyone else [is] hyped, and when I get on the field, it's like I'm tired now. So, I pretty much just [stay] cool, calm and collected until the game [starts], the ball is snapped [and] the whistle is blown – stuff like that."

On if the team has treated this week like a normal week:"Yes, we pretty much treated it the same."

On if he has a relationship with DT Chris Jones: "Yes, I played against [Chris Jones] a few times, but I don't really have a relationship with him. I don't."

On what's been the toughest part of the journey and how he has managed it: "The toughest part of my journey? I really don't know. Because of my faith, just knowing God is with me through whatever I'm going through, I just put my trust in him and just pretty much go with the flow. So, I really don't have pressure or [am] overthinking anything."

On how TE Mark Andrews has looked at practice over the past few weeks: "[Mark Andrews] has been looking good. He's been looking sharp. He's been speeding up the process. He's been looking great. He's been looking great."

On if he's felt any of the excitement in Baltimore: "I mean, I'm excited. I see it on social media – all the fans. I'm getting tagged every day, all day, so I'm definitely seeing it. I know what's going on. I understand what's at stake for the city and how everyone feels about the team, so definitely."

On if he's aware of all the social media memes about him tweeting 'Johnny':"Yes, I've seen that." *(laughter) *"Yes. I did."

On what he remembers about watching QB Michael Vick and what it was like to have him as a mentor early on in his career: "I definitely watched Mike Vick. [I] definitely [watched his] highlights. I always caught [his] highlights. When I was a kid growing up when he was playing, I really didn't like football at the time – watching it at least. But, once he went to the Eagles and stuff like that, [and] I'm pretty much older ... I remember the game from when they played against the Giants – the comeback game. That was a crazy game. He was ... To me, he was still in his prime, but he wasn't running as much; he was just throwing the ball all over the field to DeSean [Jackson, and] he had those guys [like LeSean] McCoy, [and] they were just going crazy. But I remember a lot. I remember a lot – definitely."

On when QB Michael Vick used to call him early on in his career: "I mean, it's cool. It was cool, I guess."

On if it's still a priority to keep TE Isaiah Likely involved even with TE Mark Andrews coming back: "I believe we're just going to keep doing what we've been doing – just dishing out the ball to all [of] our guys, not just one person. Mark [Andrews] is definitely going to help us through this process. He's one of the ones, but we're going to keep dishing the ball out like we've been doing."

On if he plans to address the team on Sunday and what the message would be: "We should already know what's going on. Nothing needs to be said. Everyone knows what's at stake for us. [We'll] just stay locked in."

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