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Transcripts: Press Conference (12/13)


Opening Statement:"It's good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. [It was a] good practice, and we're pointing towards Sunday night against an excellent Jacksonville team. We've played them quite a bit the past few years, and we know what's in store, and we're looking forward to the opportunity. [We had a] a couple of roster moves. We brought in Malik Cunningham. He had a chance to come over here and be a part of our team. We're very excited about that. I feel like he has a great future in the league, so he was at practice today. Then Devin Duvernay is on the short term [injured reserve]. We'll expect him to be back for the playoffs. But our first job is that we have to get there before we can talk about that. That's our goal. What questions do you have?"

Adding QB Malik Cunningham, you have four quarterbacks, how would you just describe what the plan is for him because not a lot of people have four quarterbacks on their roster?*_(Jamison Hensley)_* "It's definitely different [and] unique situation. From a quarterback perspective, it's a future type of a move, I think [General Manager] Eric [DeCosta] would describe it as that. So, he'll practice. He was out there practicing at quarterback today earlier in practice, but he'll also work at wide receiver and work on special teams, too, and things he was doing in New England already, that's what he's doing [here], as far as practicing as well. He's a very talented person, so he'll contribute every way he can. We'll stay with the four quarterbacks, that's the way we'll do it, and he'll contribute in a lot of different ways at this point in time."

We saw S Kyle Hamilton out there. How do you think he's moving around with that brace?*_(Todd Karpovich)_* "I thought he moved pretty good. I was pretty happy to see it. He wasn't a full participant. He was out there for most of the practice [and] did as much as he could. We'll see how he progresses as the week goes on."

Health is a big part of this game. How impressed are you with your team despite your own injury issues to still have all 53 guys on the field today in December?*_(Cordell Woodland)_* "That's a plus for us. We're happy about that. You guys have been around here the past few years, so that's a major plus for us. But we have to go out there with all our 53 [-man roster] and everybody else and play our best game on Sunday to have a chance to win this game."

You've had years where you've been very aggressive on fourth-and-short this year, but not as much in this last game, there were a couple situations of fourth-and-short, and you punted or went for the field goal. Is that matchup based in this last game? Is the unit at a place where you feel comfortable going for it on fourth-and-short, or is there growth to be made there?*_(Kyle Goon)_* "Yes. There's always growth to be made. So, I'll say all the above. There was no fourth-and-one or less than ones in this game. There were more two and threes if I remember right. I'd have to go back and look at that. So, you just take every situation as it goes in the game, how you feel about adding points and the risk in terms of making the field goal where you're at [and] as far as punting, a lot goes into it. I don't think there's any grand assessment compared to other years, really, just trying to do the best we can. We definitely have confidence in our ability to get it, so we'll what happens going forward."

What do you see from QB Trevor Lawrence on tape? (Ryan Mink)"I see a really good quarterback. It's a big broad question, you kind opened a lot of doors for me there. What do you think of Trevor Lawrence? He's really good. He's big; he can throw really good; he can run really good. What else can I say? The guys is one of the best guys in football – that's what I see on tape."

DT Justin Madubuike has this streak of a half sack in straight 10 games. How impressive is that especially for an interior defensive lineman?*_(Jamison Hensley)_* "Is there a record? There has to be some kind of record isn't there?"(Reporter: He'll tie a record with one more, it'll be 11 games.)"I'm for that. I' for tying the record, and I'm for beating the record, and I'm for extending the record. He's having a fantastic season. It's not surprising. You saw it all through the years, but you saw it in training camp – we all did. He works hard every day. He's humble, he's determined, he's confident, and he wants to be the best player he can be. He plays for his team. There's nothing about him that isn't an A-plus, and to see him have that kind of success, that's awesome."

QB Malik Cunninham is a guy that comes in, and you liked him previously. What do you like about him given his unique skill set in terms of, you mentioned receiver angle, part of that and in terms of what he can actually do?*_(Brian Wacker) _*"It's going to be really interesting to see how [Malik Cunningham] develops. He's a quarterback, there's no doubt about that. He's here to play quarterback and develop as a quarterback, and that was kind of the future move down the road. That's an opportunity. I think when you're a general manager, you have to look for all those opportunities, and Eric [DeCosta] is the best. He does that, and that's part of it, but in the meantime, [Malik] is talented enough and willing enough to help any way he can, so that's kind of how you see it."

Why did you decide to ask quarterbacks coach Tee Martin to interview for that position? He said he never expressed that he wanted to coach quarterbacks. Since then, when you see performances like the ones QB Lamar Jackson just had on Sunday, where do you see Tee's influence in that and the way he's playing?*_(Giana Han)_* "Tee [Martin] is a quarterback coach. He's been a quarterback coach in his career, [and] he's been an offensive coordinator. He played quarterback, obviously, pretty well at [University of] Tennessee and then in [the NFL]. My brother worked with him at the Raiders, so I've always seen Tee as a quarterbacks coach in that sense, he did a great job with the wide receivers. When we were looking to just kind of see what we were going to do in terms of taking the step that we've taken in the offseason, it just made a lot of sense to ask him to interview. I'll say this, when he did interview for it, he did a tremendous job – a really, really great job. [He] just kind of blew me away. Not that I was surprised by it, but I was kind of expecting it, but then you see it, you're like wow, Tee is the guy for the job, and he's just done a great job."

The team is in the number one spot in the AFC. I know you don't like to get ahead of yourself. Is there some excitement for the team and having that goal of the number one seed out there to chase so clearly?*_(Childs Walker)_* "There's no No. 1 seed. There's no such thing as that right now. Just because they put a bracket on the TV screen, it doesn't mean anything. It's what you do, so our guys understand that we have to go earn everything we get, and if we earn it, then we'll get it. If we don't earn it, we won't. So, we're going to try to win as many games as we can, climb as high as we can. But really just play one play at a time as well as we can, compete as hard as we can every single play, single series, every single quarter, every single game, and that's our focus, and that's all we're thinking about."

There are some special teams coordinators gaining head coaching buzz. What about special teams and being from that background do you feel is beneficial for you for transitioning into head coach that you think is important?*_ (Kyle Phoenix)_* "Everybody has a unique path, and to see guys that come up in different paths other than the traditional offensive coordinator/quarterback path is good. There's great coaches who do it that way, too, but one thing about that particular route that you're talking about is the opportunity to be really well-rounded in terms of the game management, dealing with the roster, the roster decisions [and] being able to kind of have a relationship with all different players on a team. Then also being involved … Most of special teams coaches have coached different positions over the course of their career – offense, defense as well – so, just being able to have an umbrella kind of understanding, I think is a big advantage that they have that's been kind of overlooked a little bit over the years. And more of the guys should get an opportunity, I hope somebody does soon again. I'd like to think it worked out pretty good the last time, so hopefully one of those guys will get a shot soon."

How well do you think Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken personality has fit in in terms of the fiery nature and his energy? Specifically, players seem to appreciate his loud and boisterous style.*_(Jeff Zrebiec_*) "Everybody has their own style, and [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken]'s style is Todd's style. It's his personality, and it's really good. He's a very good teacher. He expresses things really well. He's a great communicator. He makes it very clear on what he's looking for, and he does it in a real energetic kind of way. It's a fun way. I don't know. He's a great football coach doing a great job, and I agree, the players have latched on to it, and they appreciate it."

LB Josh Allen is having one of his better seasons rushing the passer. What have you seen from him and the challenge he might pose?*_(Carita Parks) _*"Josh Allen is usually coming off our left side, [and] we're going to account for him in everything we do. The whole front [really]. They have a really good guy on the right side, they have two guys back, and those two guys up that play all the time that are really good, too, on the edges. They have two great inside linebackers, and that front is pretty dominant, too. So, this is one of the best defenses in the league, and we're getting ready for them."

You said after Sunday's game you remarked how much time QB Lamar Jackson had to throw and to not scramble. There was a clip of RG Kevin Zeitler shifting over sides to catch DT Aaron Donald in a block that freed up Lamar for one of the scrambles. What has that unit been asked to do in terms of pass blocking, and why do you think they've been successful in games like Sunday?*_(Kyle Goon) _*"We've talked about the challenge this week, and I told the guys in a meeting this morning, but we've also seen the best in the league, and that's been week after week here in the last month or so or more. The offensive line has done a phenomenal job, and I put running backs in that category, too, as far as pass blocking. You talk about passing off a game in a twist which is what Jacksonville does a ton of. They're really good at it. We're going to have to be great at that, but that's what offensive line play is. I think our guys are the best in the business. I'm proud of those guys. [Offensive line coach] Joe [D'Alessandris] and [assistant offensive line coach] Mike [Devlin] do a great job. I think we have really great players that really just work hard every single day at all the details, kind of that blue collar work to make it pay off like that on Sunday."


On how he's feeling: "I'm good, good. [I'm] feeling good [and] getting better day by day."

On the chances he plays this weekend: "Uh, [I'm] still unsure. [It's] up in the air. I went out there today [and] felt pretty good, so we'll go from there."

On if he was concerned about the injury on Sunday, and if there is now a sense of relief, knowing that it could have been much worse: "Yes. Whenever you have a knee injury, that is a little weird. I tried to stay as positive as possible, and [it was] lucky for me that it wasn't as bad as it could have been. So, that's a plus."

On if it was about his about his mobility or managing pain during the period where he went back on the field to play last Sunday: "The injury actually happened when I hit Puka [Nacua] on the under route. My knee kind of bent a weird way, and then I got up [and] came back in the next possession. I wasn't even really involved in the play, [and] my knee just kind of felt weird. So, I went down, went into the locker room, taped it up, came back in, tweaked it again, and [the] trainers were giving me advice to just sit it out [and] let the guys go win the game, which they did."

On if he was itching to get back in the game after being told to sit it out: "Yes, I was. I was wrapping it up to go back in again after the second time coming out. Medically, I feel like the team trainers were doing a good job of monitoring it and letting me know the risk of going back in wasn't very … [It] wouldn't have been a smart decision if I did so, so they just sat me down, and I think it was the best decision."

On the biggest hurdles to feeling good enough to play:"I think it's just [about getting] reps, honestly. It's tough to simulate getting practice reps. You can do as many mental reps as you want, but being out there [and] actually seeing live plays, it's different when getting prepared for a game. So, [I'll] hopefully be out there tomorrow getting some reps and preparing for the game."

On if he's referring to getting reps on the knee and feeling it out: "I would say, just reps, [and] mentally, being able to be out there and make checks and calls against [an] offense that is very good and just preparing my mind for the game."

On how much more comfortable he's felt this season: "I think I've been doing pretty well. I feel like everybody has kind of come into their own this year, as a defense, and stats are going to be what they're going to be, but I feel like, if you play within our defense, you'll be able to get those stats. I feel like there is a ton of stuff I can improve on [and] a ton of stuff that I haven't done as well [on] as I wanted to, and [we've] still got a long way to go."

On the challenge of slowing down QB Trevor Lawrence and this Jaguars offense: "Obviously, like you said, Trevor [Lawrence] is a super-talented guy. [He] can make every throw. He's mobile. He's tough, obviously – coming back from that ankle [injury] so quickly. They also have a bunch of guys all over the field. They've got Calvin Ridley, [and] they've got [Zay] Jones at receiver; they've got [Travis] Etienne [Jr.] at running back; [they've] got a solid line [and] good tight ends. It's a challenge for us, but I feel like it's something we can handle."

On the mental scare of an injury with an unknown outcome: "It's a blessing that I am OK; it's not [too serious] or anything like that. But I mean, we play a collision sport. It's not a matter of 'if' – it's 'when' – with injuries with us, so you've got to go out there and play every game like it may be your last. I feel a lot of guys on the team have that mentality. When you do play that way, I feel like you're less at risk for injuries, because you're hammering down the nail."


On QB Malik Cunningham being a familiar face at practice today and the potential he has on this team:"[That's] my [little] brother right there. [Malik Cunningham] has all type of potential. [He's a] great quarterback. I've seen it first-hand when he was a freshman at Louisville. Obviously, I had to watch some of his high school highlights, because that's just what we do; we love watching each other play football. He's, like I said, a great quarterback. [He's] explosive, can throw the ball anywhere on the field [and] can make guys miss. He can do it all."

On if he likes playing three division leaders the next three weeks and having a "mini playoff" before the actual playoff:"I like playing football, so it really [doesn't] matter. I'm just going to have fun."

On WR Nelson Agholor's advice to WR Zay Flowers before the touchdown and what Agholor's veteran leadership has brought to the team:"[That's] a prime example. Just that situation, that's vet knowledge. [Nelson Agholor is] just bringing knowledge to the game and knowing what guys will do. That's how to take ownership of, within a play, not being selfish and stuff like that, because that was very unselfish of him to [say], 'I'm just going to run this guy out of the way, and Zay [Flowers] will be open.' Some guys would probably be like, 'If I'm [not] getting the ball, I'm just going to do whatever I do.' So, small stuff like that just separates him from other guys."

On if it means anything to him to be in the MVP conversation again this year:"It's an honor, just like you said, just for me being acknowledged [and] just to be in that MVP conversation with great guys who [are] all up [there] being nominated for [it]. But I'm just staying locked in. I'm trying to win, because I want another championship if anything [and] another trophy, if that means anything."

On if they've picked up on the ways the Browns have played against the Rams and Jaguars, or if that's not really how it works:"No. That's not really how it works. We pretty much just try to do our thing, but try to find the ins and outs of their defense to put us in a better situation [for] when we face them, because teams play differently. We can't go off how they played [against] the Browns, because our guys are different."

On if he took notice of TE Isaiah Likely's touchdown celebration with WR Zay Flowers.: (laughter) "It was funny. They already told me they [were] going to do it. If either one of them scored, they were going to do that celebration. I'm like, 'I'm not worried about it,' but they really did it, so it was pretty funny. I was definitely laughing about it. It was cool. I liked it. I liked it. I'd give it a 10. I'd give it a 10." (laughter)

On his thumbs up and thumbs down reactions to his teammates' TD celebrations:(laughter)"OK. So, about that – the thumbs down: The only reason I gave [Zay Flowers] a thumbs down [is] because I feel like we [weren't] in sync with it. The whole team wasn't joining in on the celebration. It was like him and 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman] only, and everyone else was clueless. We were like, 'What's going on?' So, that's alright, but that was horrible. Next time, let us know; give us a heads up. But it was good. When I caught on [to] what was going on [with] the bouquet and flowers, I was like, 'OK. That was nice. It was a nice thought.'"

On if there has been more coordination with how the team celebrates TDs this year: "Yes, because after I told them about that horrible celebration that [Zay Flowers] did – the first one – the second one was pretty good; he and Odell [Beckham Jr.], when they did the little whatever it was, it was pretty dope. I liked that one. Then, this past Sunday, the one with him and [Isaiah] Likely, I liked that one. That was pretty good, as well. But they've been stepping it up. They've been stepping it up."

On what he's makes of WR Zay Flowers' comfortability, and if he sees him maturing:"I've [known] what [Zay Flowers] was capable of just from us being in South Florida, just training, just building chemistry. His [training] camp … Just his first day at camp … He's just elusive. And he's just trying to get better each and every play. If he makes a mistake, he's trying to redo it and get better at it. I've been seeing the maturity. He just has to keep getting better [and] keep being him."

On what stands out to him about QB Malik Cunningham and his game: "[Malik Cunningham] is unique. He's one of one. Only he can do what he [does] when he's on the field. When he gets his chance to show the world, I believe people are going to see it – just not from college [but since] he entered the league – because we saw in preseason, when he was with the Patriots, little glimpses of it. But I just think the world of him. The sky is the limit for him."

On what stands out about RB Justice Hill and his pass protection on film: "People might look at [Justice Hill], like, 'Oh. He's an undersized back or something, and he might not be able to pick up a linebacker blitz.' He shows you on film. He steps up, takes on the block just like he's 200-some pounds. He's just a great all-around back. He can do it all – run out [of] the backfield, catch out [of] the backfield, explosive runs, bring power and blocking. He can do it all."

On how the offensive line has adapted to what offensive coordinator Todd Monken wants to do and how they've adjusted to him as a quarterback: "I believe our guys are adjusting just fine. Anything we need our line to do, I believe they are capable of doing it. Practice makes perfect. I feel like the more we practice, the better they get. The more we're out there passing the ball, the better they're getting, and I'm protected. Like you guys just said, they're just blocking their tail off."

On the importance of his relationship with C Tyler Linderbaum, and if he's sensed that he has become more talkative this year:"Tyler [Linderbaum] has been the same since his rookie year. The only thing [that's] changed is he's been in the league another year, an extra year, but Tyler has been the same. The knowledge is there. [He's] vocal. He's speaking [and] being a leader. Even though he's young, he's been a leader, [and he's] just stepping up. He's smart – very smart. [He's a] talented center [and a] great center."

On how he is different from the 2019 version of himself other than just being a few years old:"That, obviously. [I'm] four years older. But I don't know, man. I don't know. I don't know. I can't say – not right now at least."


On his streak of a half-sack in 10 straight games and if that is something he thinks about:"No. It's just something that some of my teammates mentioned on the sideline. I'm like, 'Oh yes,' but that's not really in the forefront of my mind. I'm really just trying to play my game and just focus on the next opponent and just try to keep it simple."

On if he has any superstitions about the streak: "No. I have a thing where I like to wear white socks during a game." (laughter) "If we're obviously wearing all back, I'll wear my black socks. I don't [have] any superstitions. I just want to get the same meal before every game and just come in with the right mindset." 

On if there are any go-to pass rush moves in his arsenal:"All of them, really. I just feel like the ones that I really like to go to are the two-hand swipes, but I like to do all of them. It's just a matter of what I practice."

On the feeling of watching the film and seeing the level he has been playing at:"It's a good feeling. We've put in a lot of hard work and dedication in the off season. I'm just trying to focus on being a better player than I was the year before, and that's what's happening. I take pride in working hard and being happy and being a good teammate. So, yes. It's a good feeling, but I'm just not satisfied. I want to keep being better and keep growing as a player, as a pro and as a person."

On if he has noticed how teams have been game-planning for him: "Yes, I'm starting to notice it. [I'm getting] a lot of double teams, a lot of gangs, a lot of duo blocks. It's coming, but that's just what comes with it when you're doing your job at a high level."

On if he noticed more double-teams once his sack totals started to increase and how much he is excited about it: "This last game, I noticed it more. ... It's on my mind, but I don't worry about it. I don't even think about it too much. I just think about putting my feet in front of the other and keep on rolling in terms of what's in front of me, what's the next play [and] what's the next game. I don't have to make it the forefront of my mind. I feel like it'll be a distraction."

On if he thinks about his half-sack streak: "I really don't. Somebody just asked me about it. I really don't at all. I just go out there and jus want to get a sack. I want to make an impact for my team, and that's just what happens."


On the keys to preventing another loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars like last year: "Just knowing what we do best, keep the ball in front of us [and] be able to make tackles in [the] open field. [The] kid [Trevor Lawrence] has a great arm. He can see coverages, and the players do a good job, once they get the ball in their hands, [of] making plays for them. Travis [Etienne] is a great back. He can do everything on the field. He can receive. He can run the ball behind the [offensive] line. He can run behind his passing stuff. It's a full-on challenge that we just have to be ready for."

On how badly he wants the No. 1 seed in the AFC: "We want it bad. If we don't get it, we make the playoffs. We're still in there. We still can dance, and I think that's the biggest thing. As long as we have our spot in there, then everything else will take care of itself."

On the run defense not being where they want it to be, how much they take that to heart and how close it is to being fixed:"We're looking at it every way to improve that. Honestly, it just comes down to every man owning their gap and doing the best they can. Sometimes, they have numbers on you, and somebody just has to go make a play. You have to take two gaps. We're looking at ways to improve that. Internally – player-wise – we all want to improve on that as well. We're all talking about it ourselves that one of us might have to go the extra mile to make a play, so if that's what we have to do, we'll go do it."

On why the team is such a good fit for the newer players on the team and how the team integrates them so quickly: "What we do allows everybody to just be free and just do what they do at the best they do it. Everything that you see that we do, everybody has a certain role [and] certain job, but at the same time, I can do everything else [and] can also do the other person's job. When you have interchangeable pieces like that, where everybody can do everything, it keeps stuff moving [and] keeps offenses guessing. That's why everybody is performing the way they're performing."

On if there is a sense of being yourself within the culture and not changing what players have been doing in the past:"Definitely. [The] coaches aren't asking us to change anything. They want you to be who you are. Now, certain stuff like setting the edge – obviously, you have to do that stuff. That's football. That's [how] we're going to stop the run. That's always preached, but as far as how you [pass] rush or how you want to set a block or set the edge, you have free will at that."

On how important it is for the defense to deliver a strong showing against a talented Jacksonville Jaguars team:"I just think that goes back to last year with the sour taste that we left in our mouth from that game [against the Jaguars] last year. We're looking to improve in every aspect of our defense. We just have to go in there and play our game – play bully football [and] play Ravens football. Just everybody [has] do their job to the best of their ability. Go in there confident. Go in there swinging. We just have to be us, honestly. That's all it's going to take – us being us, us being bullies [and] us going out there and dominating."

On how he would describe WR Odell Beckham Jr. as a leader: "[Odell Beckham Jr.'s] a great guy. I know the media has their own perception of how Odell is, but to me, Odell is like the big brother that I never had. He's just [a] great guy, does everything for you, always making sure you're straight, always joking, always clowning [and] always making sure you have a smile on your face. That's the kind of guy we needed in the locker room, to be honest with you."

On what keeps him and the team pushing during the regular season after virtually being guaranteed a spot in the playoffs: "For one, this is a job, and everything gets looked at. Everything is graded. I think at the end of the day, you just want to be great. You don't want to be lax. You don't want to go out there [and] put anything bad on film. You don't want anybody to be able to say, 'Yes, we got one on you.' You just want to be yourself. You want to be dominant. You want to be fierce. You want to be feared. You want to go into the playoffs knowing everybody has the mindset of, 'Man, we have to play Baltimore.' So, I think when we go into these last four games, we're looking to just dominate everybody. Everybody's on our list."


On looking back at his game-winning PR-TD this past week: "Just having that moment happen, that's stuff that I was … Me and my brother would always talk about [how] that's moments you dream of. So, it was really a blessing to be in that moment and to have that happen."

On if his mindset shifts at all going into this Sunday, knowing that he's going to be the main punt returner:"So, obviously, it's just [about] going back there, knowing [and] just doing what I've always been doing – what I've been doing at practice and everything. So, [it's] kind of the same mindset; nothing really changed. So, [it's] just going back there [and] doing what I know I can do."

On how many messages he had on his phone after the game: "Oh, too many to count. It was crazy. It was great hearing from family and friends and everybody showing love on social media, so that was really great to see."

On if there was a particular message that was the most surprising or meaningful: "Just all the messages from my mom, brother and just family members telling [me] how proud they are of me and them calling me. [I'm] happy that they actually got to watch it happen live, so it was great."

On if his brother streamed the game from the Oklahoma State football facility: "Yes, he was up there watching it on his phone. So, yes."

On if he saw head coach John Harbaugh's reaction to his game-winning PR-TD: "I did. I saw that. That was great. That was awesome. It's awesome to be able to do that and see everybody's reaction on the sideline. It was a moment that I definitely won't forget."

On if he knows what his special teams role will be going forward: "I think [it will be] pretty similar, but obviously, I'll be back there returning now. But, I think it's a pretty similar role [to] that I've been doing."

On if the attention he's received has been overwhelming, and how it feels to see himself make big plays: "For sure. It's definitely … It's all coming in at once. But, it's a great feeling – just being able to go out there and show everybody not only what I knew I could do, but what others believed in me that I could do. So, it was great to be able to go out there and showcase that."

On if it feels different to go into a game knowing that he's part of the plan: "For sure, just in the sense that you have a responsibility to do – not that that's really been any different from any other week. But, like I said, I feel like I've prepared myself for this moment, and I just need to go out there like I've been doing and just take advantage of it."

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