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Transcripts: Press Conference (1/3)


Opening Statement:"It's great to see everybody. I appreciate everybody coming out. [It was a] good practice, great work [and] great spirits. [We're] excited about the challenge in front of us which is playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at our stadium [which is] always a great challenge. [I] have a couple of announcements – the quarterback for the game will be Tyler [Huntley], [and] the backup will be Josh [Johnson]. That's the way we'll be going with it. Beyond that, there's really not too much to talk about. The only real injury announcement that I know of for sure is Daryl Worley will be out of the game with his injuries. After that, it's going to be day to day with guys. Closer to the game, we'll know who can play. [I'm] really not ruling anyone else out of the game until we see what our injury situation is. What questions do you have?"

Will QB Lamar Jackson be inactive for Saturday's game?*_(Jonas Shaffer)_* "He will be."

QB Mason Rudolph has given the Steelers' offense a jolt recently. It's been a couple of years since you've seen him, what do you see from him now?*_(Todd Karpovich)_* "I would say that. [Mason Rudolph] has given them a jolt. He's playing really well; he's standing in there, [and] he's making throws. He's delivering the ball down the field outside, inside [and] moving around the pocket well. Obviously, their numbers are way up in the games since he's been in there, so yes, he's made a difference for them."

You waited until today to make the final announcement on QB Lamar Jackson. What sort of nailed it down for you?*_(Childs Walker)_* "You just kind of consider all things. There's not really any one thing that goes into it. Just all things considered, it seemed to be the right thing to do. You have conversations with Lamar [Jackson] and others, and you make the decision."

Do you feel as if QB Lamar Jackson improved in one area this year now that his regular season is over. What stands out about the way he performed this year?*_(Adam Kilgore) _*"That's a question we get asked a lot – to try and pick one thing out, and it's really hard to do that because I just feel like there wasn't any one thing that kind of needed to be better. Really most players at that level, you're talking about the best of the best. It's really the ability to improve across the board, and the collective difference it makes from one year to the next. To me with Lamar [Jackson], it's just kind of a natural progression. He's always been a great player since he got here. But his ability to improve across the board, his ability over the course of the season to assimilate the offense that we're in now. A lot of the things are very similar to what we've done in the past, but a lot of things aren't. Operating at the line of scrimmage and making certain decisions – it showed up even in this last game – are a big part of it, too. He's throwing the ball well. He's moving in the pocket. He's seeing the field, he's protecting the ball, [and] all the run game checks that he makes. It's a lot of things."

QB Lamar Jackson has made it clear that his focus is to win the Super Bowl. What has it been like to see him work towards that and have a single-minded focus?*_(Giana Han) _*"Well, that's probably one thing I would say is probably ... [Lamar Jackson]'s always had a single-minded focus, but I don't think I've ever seen it quite like this. He's been that way since the offseason when we talked, since he came to OTAs [organized team activities], since training camp, [he's been] one day at a time, locked in. That's kind of how he's approached it. It's been reflected in how he's practiced and how he's played."

What did you think of the Rose Bowl? How exciting has it been for your family with the success of your team and the success of Jim Harbaugh's team?*_ (Noah Trister)_* "It's been amazing. I just couldn't be happier. It was a nailbiter, obviously, playing [University of] Alabama and Nick Saban and the players that they have – it was really amazing when that stop was made at the end of the 5-yard line. So, I was just thrilled for Michigan team, thrilled for Jim [Harbaugh], thrilled for Jesse [Minter], thrilled for Sherrone [Moore]; I was thrilled for everybody there – J.J. [McCarthy], Blake Corum, a St. Frances guy ... A St. Frances guy made the play at the end there to stop the quarterback from scoring, so we have a lot of St. Frances Academy guys there. I just couldn't have been more pleased. I was really happy for my mom and dad. That interview that they had; they were talking about switching seats. That is so classic of them. Actually, thinking [about it], it probably did make the difference. And my mom, the guy doing the announcing – you guys will appreciate this – but my dad is fun, but he's a little bit polished, he's been interviewed before. My mom – you put a microphone in front of her face, or you hang out with her for a couple of minutes, you don't even have to ask her what she thinks, she's going to tell you what she thinks – I think he figured that out pretty quick, so it was fun to watch."

Are you going to watch the CFP National Championship here, or are you going to that game on Monday?*_(Jonas Shaffer)_* "I'm going to go to the game. I'm going to go to the game [and] take [my wife] Ingrid [Harbaugh], and we're going to enjoy that." 

Did your parents have a reaction like that to one of your games in the past?*_(Valerie Preactor) _*"Yes. They're pretty excited. My dad, he's either here ... He always says, 'Who has it better than us?' That's a given. We say that to the team a lot. Our guys know the answer – we even have a t-shirt. My dad always says every time we win, he basically says, 'That's your best win yet.' So, they keep coming."

We saw QB Malik Cunningham warming up with the wide receivers. I know he's a quarterback here, but what are some of those skills that he brings in that sort of role?*_(Brian Wacker)_* "He'll be up for the game. He'll be active, and he'll be a quarterback in the rotation. He'll be our third quarterback, but he'll also be able to play some other positions for us. He'll be able to play a little bit on special teams, whatever we decide he can do. He's a little new to that. He'll be playing wide receiver, which he's been practicing here and there. So, he'll be a factor." 

I know there's a lot of things you guys want to do as a team, but just thinking back to the offseason, all of the uncertainty surrounding QB Lamar Jackson and his future with the team. You think back to that moment to where you are now in the regular season that he's been able to have, what comes to your mind and how happy you are from the transition from March to now?*_(Coredell Woodland)_* "Yes. [I'm] happy, very happy. I couldn't be any happier. This is the outcome that I honestly hoped for and prayed for, and to see it come about this way ... [It's] not surprising. You never know, but I think our thought and my thought was that it was going to happen – that he was going to be a Raven just because I felt like he wanted to be a Raven. But also, because I was on the outside of it, kind of watching a little bit, not being directly involved. I just felt, my feeling was Lamar [Jackson] wanted to be here, and [general manager and executive vice president] Eric [DeCosta] and [owner] Steve [Bisciotti] wanted Lamar here. And that being the case, it was going to work out one way or another, somehow, and so I was just patient in my mind that when we start practicing, Lamar will be out there. But beyond that, what I'm really excited about, through all of that, is just Lamar's character, his competitiveness, his desire to be great [and] to be the best. That has never been in question, but I think it's shown really true throughout the whole process." 

You talked on Monday about how it's a two-stage process where you're preparing for the Steelers, and you're preparing for the playoffs, too. Do you have it all mapped out at this point? Do you sort of know every day between now and the playoffs?*_ (Childs Walker)_* "The only question is what day we're going to play. I was a little bit – I have to be honest with you – I was a little surprised that we will be playing on Saturday in this one. But it's fine, you just adapt. So, it's mapped out, and then we'll see what day we play, so there's a couple maps."

From an opponent's perspective, in this finale, Pittsburgh obviously needs to win. Do you like it, and obviously you guys are the No. 1 seed. They're playing for something, and you guys can keep them out of the playoffs. Do you like that scenario in this final game?*_(Shawn Stepner)_* "I don't think we have to be ... There's no lack of motivation for sure. Just because, first of all, it's an NFL game, and the guys playing in the game are going to be giving it all they have. You have to. And the guys playing the game want to win each play, and they want to win the game. They're going to play their very best. They're going to play as hard as they possibly can. The other part of it is, we're playing a division rival, so you know what goes with that. They know us, we know them. We know what it's going to take to win a game like this. Then it's Pittsburgh, all those things factor in."

This is more General Manager Eric DeCosta's department, but for you guys, you almost have to get Saturday and make sure you have coverage of certain spots, make sure you can get the guys off that you don't want really to see. Is that kind of been something that you're going to have to juggle until inactives are due 90 minutes before the game?*_(Jeff Zrebiec) _*"It's like a puzzle except the puzzle pieces are constantly morphing into different shapes day by day. So, by Saturday, I'm sure it will all fit together."

For the past few weeks, WR Zay Flowers hasn't practiced, but then has had great in-game performances. What has it kind of been like to manage a rookie who hasn't had an NFL season before and just like making sure he keeps getting experience?*_(Giana Han) _*"Right, [it's] a big challenge, a big challenge. Zay [Flowers] has been dealing with that issue and hasn't been able to practice, but still played well. But that's not something you want to have to have happen too much. He needs practice, so hopefully, he'll be able to get out there and practice tomorrow and Friday, that's our hope."

You talked a little bit about 2019, but when you're planning out these next couple of weeks, is there anything that you plan to do differently to hedge against the rust factor?*_(Jeff Zrebiec)_* "Yes, I don't know. We put up 500 yards up in that game; we just didn't score touchdowns. That's really the bottom line, and by the end of the game, our defense was a little worn out against a really good running team. So, it's a narrative, we didn't win the game, [and] we didn't score enough points, but it's wasn't like we weren't moving the ball. We just didn't execute in the red zone very well. So, that was just a football game. We had really good practices and went back and kind of looked through that and notes and things like that. We practiced great, guys had good spirits. I think we had a good gameplan; we just didn't get the job done in certain plays. So, that's how football goes. So, not really, I guess the long-winded point here is that you just look at where you're at with your team at this time and make the decisions that are best as you see it." 


On his reaction to head coach John Harbaugh's announcement that he will not play against the Pittsburgh Steelers:"I'm cool with it. Me and Coach [John Harbaugh] talked about it. I felt like it was best for the both of us to sit me for this run."

On if it is harder to take not playing in the Steelers game since it is against a division rival with a chance to knock them out of playoff contention: "I believe 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley] can get the job done. We have guys who can go out there and ball out. I have all the faith in my team."

On how he will approach these next few weeks getting ready for the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs:"Just keep my body moving around [and] just keep being locked in like we've been all season and just treat it as a bye week. That's all."

On how the stretch of playing two playoff teams in the San Francisco 49ers and the Miami Dolphins helped prepare him for the postseason: "Just getting ready for a physical game, knowing how physical the playoffs are and how every play counts, and every drive counts. That's pretty much just helped me out and [has] gotten me prepared for it."

On how much fun the evolution of the Ravens' offense has been: "I just believe we've been gelling together and getting better each and every day. Starting in practice, I feel like, towards the end of this season, our practices have been a lot crisper, a lot sharper, and it's showing on Sundays."

On if it feels like a long time since he has played in a playoff game since his last appearance in the postseason was in 2020: "It does, now that you say that." (laughter) "Yes, it does, but I'm ready. I'm locked in, and I'm prepared."

On if he will handle these next two weeks differently than in 2019 and how:"[The] 2019 [season] is over with. We're always talking about it. I always find myself talking about it, but it's different. That was just my first full season [starting] in the NFL and my second year in the league, at that, but it's a different mindset. [It's] a different group of guys. I just feel like all around, we're different."

On why the 2019 postseason comes up so much with him and the media:"Just because of how [great] we were. We were 14-2. It looked like we were going to be unbeaten. I felt like all phases were just playing at the top of our game at the time. I don't know where it was when we just hit a hump. We just couldn't get it done that January, but I strongly feel like this year it'll be different."

On if this 2023 Ravens team was so close to being unbeaten:"No, that's not in my mind this season. Like I said, my mindset was a lot different [in 2019]. Just knowing how the NFL is – we said this a few weeks ago – 'It's any given Sunday. It's any whatever day you have to play on.' Hopefully, we just try to be on the right side of any given day."

On if he has ever gone back and watched the 2019 AFC Divisional playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans and if it took him a while to get over the defeat: "No. I got over it the next year. We got our revenge [with a 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans in the 2020 AFC Wild Card playoffs]. We didn't go far. We went to the same [Divisional] round, so if anything, just getting out of that [Divisional] round [and going to] the AFC Championship and getting to the Super Bowl, that'll be the best outcome for us, but I pretty much just let that go when it happened. [I] just dwelled on it for the time being in 2019. We just let that junk go. We have to let that go. [We have] different guys, like I said, [and this is] a different team. All around, [it's] just a different atmosphere. I feel like we're just on a whole other level from then, because all we talk about is just the next team – not what the future may hold in a few weeks."

On if his mindset of not looking past the next play, much less the next opponent, is still there now as in not thinking about the AFC Divisional round today: "Yes, that's still the same mindset. That's been our mindset every week since the first game in September [against the Houston Texans]. Now, we're here in January where we wanted to get [and] where we wanted to be. Now, our guys have the [Pittsburgh] Steelers, even though I'm not playing. Our guys have the Steelers, so we're going to focus on the Steelers, and then we're going to focus on the following week."

On if he agrees with head coach John Harbaugh's comments saying he has been more locked in this season and where it comes from:"I believe your preparation for the season starts during the offseason. You can't just chill and expect to be playing however you did ... If you had a good year the following year, you'd be still on that same level or just flying around. You have to have your body in shape. You have to have your mind in shape [and] have your mind sharp, because each and every year, I feel like the game gets better and a lot more physical."

On if he has had more attention to detail and focus this season with a golden opportunity for the taking: "Yes, I've seen it. Our season started in camp just seeing the type of guys we have on defense [and] seeing the type of guys we have on offense and special teams, just knowing we can't get complacent or just thinking ahead. [We want to focus on] what we have right in front of us each and every game and every day in practice. Any time I have to speak, when Coach [John Harbaugh] has us speak, has the captains speak, I let them know, 'Just focus on the guys ahead of us. Focus on the team we have in front of us, because if you overlook a team in front of you, you're going to get run over.' You get run over by those type of guys, so we don't take it light on any opponent. We're trying to win regardless – rain, sleet or snow."

On how the play that he threw a 75-yard touchdown to WR Zay Flowers against the Miami Dolphins came about:"In practice earlier last week, Coach [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] had the play drawn up, and I was like, 'I'm going to roll to my left. Instead of me just doing a play action and a regular drop back, I'm going to act like I'm going to roll to my left like a play-action pass.' I know the defense is always going to have their eyes on me, because they're scared if I'm going to run the ball. I just did that, and Zay [Flowers] kept running and did what he was supposed to do. I just had to deliver a strike, and he just did the rest."

On if he saw Miami Dolphins S Jevon Holland talking about his 75-yard touchdown to WR Zay Flowers and how confused he was as a defender on the play: "[Jevon Holland] was to my left, so I don't know. I didn't see that video, though. I believe Jevon was to my left and DeShon [Elliott] was in single-high man [coverage]. It was man coverage, but I guess they just dropped it."


On how the team approaches the final week of the regular season: "It's just like any other week. We just plan for the opponent, go out there and practice. It's just like any other game. We lost to this team before, so we're definitely looking forward to getting a 'dub' and just finishing the season strong."

On if he feels like there are guys on defense who will campaign to play on Saturday: "I'm not really sure [about] that. Whoever Coach [John Harbaugh] feels like should play is going to play. Whatever the case is, everybody will be ready to go, and that's just where it is with that."

On if he would like to play his normal workload to stay sharp:"At the end of the day, I'm here to play football, so depending on what Coach [John Harbaugh] wants to do ... If he wants me to play, then I'll play, for sure. I'll be ready to go. If he doesn't, then I'll be out. That's just basically how I see it."

On if reaching 15 sacks is still his goal for this last game of the regular season:"Yes, I said it, so for sure, but I don't put my whole focus on it. I just go out there and just play ball, try and get to the quarterback, do my job, and the rest will take care of itself. That's how I see it." 

On if it ever enters his mind that this team is set up to make a deep playoff run and go all the way:"For sure. At the end of the day, we have one goal; it's to win that big one. I don't really get too far into it, but I just take it one day at a time and one opponent at a time. That's the ultimate goal, but obviously, we can't just jump into that. We have to take it step by step."

On how the team approaches this game but also making sure they're mentally and physically at their best for the playoffs:"I just see it as any other game, to be honest. Some guys are going to be up; some guys are going to be down, but at the end of the day, the guys that are up are going to be ready to go, take care of [their] bodies, keep [their] routine going and just do [their] 1-11 to win the game."

On what he anticipates the two weeks leading up the playoff game will be like: "[I'd] just say [we'll] just get rest, maybe take some more time with your family, but obviously keep football your No. 1 [focus]. Get rest, take care of your body and get ready to go, because it's coming fast. The games are coming fast, so you just have to take care of your body and make sure you're available."

On if there was a moment where you first realized how different QB Lamar Jackson was:"Yes. I think it was like the first day in practice. [Lamar Jackson]'s just quick [and] can throw on a dime. He just does it all, so seeing him in real life is ... He's one of the best, not only players, but people, as well. That's my guy, so yes. It was like that. It's crazy to say that."


On his opinion on sitting versus resting: "I could use the rest, but at the same time, I do want to play; it's Pittsburgh. Those guys come out fierce [and] try to do their thing. [They] try to come out [and] punch you in the mouth and stuff, so that's my type of game. It isn't going to be no treat or anything. They're just coming out, they're lined up, and they say, 'Can you stop us?' So that's something that you respect [about] a team, and that's why I am kind of excited to play."

On if he worries about both preparing for the Pittsburgh game this week and the two-week break as a player: "I take it one day at a time. If you look too much into the future, you can kind of get overwhelmed by stuff. You start focusing on the wrong things and not the right things. For me, it's just ... I'm in the moment right now."

On if the fact that Pittsburgh beat them earlier this year also motivates them this Saturday: "It definitely does. Anytime you're playing a rival, you want to get a sweep in the season, except they already got one [win]. It's our time to get one [win]. However, we have to do that, that's what we're going to have to do."

On if the possibility of keeping Pittsburgh out of the playoffs also motivates him: "Anytime you can send somebody home, that's one reason why you play the game. Like I said, at the end of the day, it's a rivalry game, so you have to treat that game like you would treat any other rivalry game. With those guys, like I said, they come out [and] try to punch you in the mouth. That's just the type of game I like, so when you have a team like that, it's a fun football game. It's a great football game against two teams who have a ton of respect for each other, but still want to get down and ground them."

On how he would describe the mindset of the team knowing the Ravens have already wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the AFC:"[We] just have an opportunity to go out there and showcase your talents. It's what you're about. Go play a physical football team and show them that you're a physical football team as well. [It's a chance to] build a resume for yourself. Go out there, whoever's playing [and] whatever they're doing, just go out there and have fun. Do what you do, do what you've been coached to do, do what you do best at, and everything will take care of itself."

On if there is any concern about possible rust for starters who won't play this week:"The way we practice, there [isn't] going to be any rust. I know there are stories about [the] '19 [team] and what happened then and stuff, but at the end of the day, I think we have guys in this locker room right now that care and really want to prepare and try to go on this [playoff] run. The rust thing – I think that's totally just a mindset, honestly."

On what he thinks his teammates mean when they say the 2019 season sticks with them: "When they were so close to achieving something so great that only a select few people in this world get to do, it kind of eats at you knowing it was right there, and [you] had it. I think they don't want to repeat that, and honestly, me being in my position, not being here [in 2019], I don't want them to repeat that, and I don't want to be in that situation myself. We're going to do everything that we possibly can do just [to] be ready for when the time comes."

On if his time off at LSU before the National Championship helps him now:"Like I said, it's a mindset, honestly. If you truly want something, you'll go get it, and you won't let anything stop you. Everybody in here is going to stay tuned up on what they need to, work out – whatever it may be – work out, run [and] practice. Whatever it may be, that's what we're going to do. I don't think anybody is taking what we have here lightly at all. I think everybody is well [aware] on the fact of what happened in [2019], and we don't want that to happen."

On how much winning at LSU helped you in 2019: "It's just a mindset, honestly. We had time off and everything, but we still practiced a little bit [and had] a little time off. So, like I said, it's just a mindset. Some people will come out there a little slow, but like I said, for me, it's a mindset."

On where his body feels after 16 games:"The body is hurting, but the mind [doesn't] care. Mind over matter. As long as I can breathe, as long as I can walk [and] as long as I can move my arms, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to be on the field playing with my brothers."

On if that's hard:"It is hard. It is hard, especially when you hit whatever is hurting. It's terrible, but at the end of the day – think about it – you have a whole bunch of guys sitting around you [and] looking at you to get up, so you don't want to let those guys down. At the end of the day, like I said, as long as I can breathe, I'm going to keep fighting."

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