Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good seeing everybody – appreciate you guys being here sticking with us. We definitely appreciate it. We won't forget. When things turn, we will remember you guys were out here every day. We appreciate that. One or two announcements: Like you have to do in the National Football League, you put the past behind you, you learn from it, and you go to the next week – I don't care if you've won or you've lost. We're going to do that, and we are on to a big challenge, which is the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football, and we're excited for it. We have an announcement, personnel-wise: Dennis Pitta will be practicing. He's eligible now coming off of the PUP [Physically Unable to Perform] designation. I think it's Dennis' decision. I know it's Dennis' decision along with his family. He's going to see how it feels out here and how he responds. He has been working really hard to get himself into position – along with our trainers and our strength and conditioning staff – to prepare for this, so we'll see how it goes. I wouldn't make too much of it, especially for this week. Don't get carried away. Probably the bigger thing is [not] how he feels today, but how he feels tomorrow, the next day, the day after that. After practicing, we'll see how all that goes. That's where we're at with that. The other thing I wanted to kind of bring up … I was thinking about the press conference on Monday and talking about all the different things that went on in the game. We talked about the end-of-the-game scenarios, and [there were] really good questions about that. We got talking about the timeouts and when to use timeouts and when to not use timeouts, and we lost track of the two-minute operation. I just wanted to go back to that a little bit and see if you guys had any questions about that. Because what we were trying to do there – and part of our two-minute operation – is to have quick plays built in that we can run to the line and run a quick play that gets off within a second or two as fast as a clock-it would. [It is] probably better to use that when you're closer in [and] when you need four downs. The reality of it is that situation – and I understand that – is the fact that if it takes you four downs to get a first down from the 50- [yard line], you're probably not going to score a touchdown. You need a touchdown. If you get the ball inside the 20 – and you need four downs – you want to run down there, and you don't want to waste a play by clocking-it. You want to run a quick play. And the two things that happened there were we should've been clocking-it. So, I agree with anybody that says [that], and a lot of people do. I totally agree. That should have been a clock-it. It would have been quicker. If it's not a clock-it in a situation where we have more time – like a minute [and] 40 [seconds], say, at mid-field, or we're at the 20-yard line or in with that period of time – we have one play [with] designated calls that need to be called, which wasn't called in that case. That's why it took so long to get the play operated, because it was a normal play call. That's on me. I'll take responsibility for that. That's what happened on that. The other one, where [CBS analyst] Rich Gannon said we were slow coming to the line … OK, we were, but Marshal [Yanda] was tangled up back there 25 yards behind the play, and I saw that. I was yelling at Marshal, 'Hey, let's go! Let's go!' But he was on the ground tangled up with the guy, and he came running up there, and the other lineman set right with him. Like I said – I think it was Jerry's [Coleman] question – we definitely want that to be faster, and it wasn't as fast as it needs to be, but things happen in football. Those guys get tangled up on the ground. Like I tried to say Monday, they do the best they can to get there. Those are the two scenarios, so any questions on that [are welcomed]."
You did make a comment about the timeout, and you said at one point it wasn't important, and I guess that may have been taken out of context. How much value do you place on timeouts? (Jerry Coleman) "I place a ton of value on timeouts. And I think anybody – including yourself – that would say I said that timeouts aren't important would be a complete misstatement. That's not what I said. You have to make a judgment in real time, whether to use a timeout or not in that situation, and you don't know what's going to happen. In the second half especially, you want to save as many timeouts as you can. We've gone [through] situations here where we haven't taken timeouts – we've taken delays, we've had bad plays happen – because we have gotten zero blitzes in the runs right at us and things like that, especially last year. We used a lot of timeouts in the third quarter last year with the offense we were running, because we didn't always have answers for those kinds of things that were built into the system. That's the reality of it. There are times when you have to use a timeout. When you're standing there on the sideline, you have to make a judgment [and ask], 'Am I willing in this situation to have a bad play or to be in first-and-15?' And you have to make it quickly, because we knew we had a bad play there. [Offensive coordinator] Marc [Trestman] told me, 'This is not going to be good. We have a problem,' so I decided to call a timeout. We ended up moving the ball. We got a first down. We didn't go three-and-out, which we have in the past early when we've had penalties to start drives, especially to start the half. We got the ball to the 41, but we threw the interception. I just felt like we needed points in that drive, and I didn't want to sacrifice that drive. In that situation, it was more important in that first drive, to me, to get a first down and get the drive started and risk losing the time out. That was the choice that I made, so that was it. I'll stand by that decision. The challenge, I'd love to have the challenge back. That was a risk. There's no doubt about that, because I didn't see anything on the screen. But I took a shot at that one. Sometimes you do that with challenges. The challenges that we've won over the years have been – I would like to point out – very many, just for the record. If you do the math on it, we've done pretty well with challenges, contrary to some opinions. The numbers have been pretty good. That's because we have guys upstairs that do a great job, just so you know. I have a guy up there [cornerbacks coach] Matt Weiss, who is phenomenal at understanding the challenge rules and seeing the tape and all that. He does a great job. If we win a challenge, it's his credit. On that one right there, none of us saw it. We thought we had a chance [in a] critical situation. I wanted to take a shot at it. That cost us the second timeout, and that's what happened. You make those choices in the heat of battle and do the best you can with them."
John, I didn't hear [the broadcast] – I was at the game – but Rich Gannon apparently singled out G/T Kelechi Osemele and, maybe, T Eugene Monroe. Those guys are two of your harder-working players. Is that something the group took personal that they were sort of dogging it to the line? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I didn't hear what [Rich Gannon] said. I heard about it, because [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] told me what was said. I didn't see it, but you'll have to ask them if they took it personal. I don't know. They are a very hard-working group, and they play extremely hard – all those guys. The issue on that was not those guys not hustling. The issue was Marshal [Yanda] got hung up back there. You can't set up without Marshal. Maybe they understood that. You can ask those guys. But I think the end of the story is we try to do that as fast as we can. We came out here and practiced it again yesterday. We practiced it again today. We always go through two-minute situations. [That] stuff is not easy. We plug in different receivers and different things like that, and we have to keep teaching the guys all the time how to operate those things under pressure, and it's something we need to become great at, and we can. We have a great offensive line – who's a veteran offensive line – and we have a veteran quarterback, and that's something that we can become great at."
John, can I ask a follow-up about TE Dennis Pitta? He still has decisions to make now, right? Has he gotten cleared physically by doctors? (Jeff Zrebiec) "As far as the details of all that, I guess, it's not for me to announce that, I don't think. I could be wrong about that. I'll let Dennis [Pitta] talk about that. But in the end, the only thing I can say is it's Dennis' call with his family, and he has to make that decision for himself. All the details, I guess, it's probably better for Dennis to answer for himself."
But for knowing how hard TE Dennis Pitta has worked to come back and all he has been through, it has to be a pretty big lift and sign just to see him out here, right? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, I'm happy for Dennis [Pitta]. I'm just happy that he can get out here and do what he loves to do. When you put the kind of work in he has put in – and you see what he has done every single day, and then you see him out here just in a walk-through – you can just tell how he was feeling about it. Wherever it goes, we'll see, but I was really uplifted for him being out here."
John, QB Joe Flacco throughout his career, he occasionally makes a bad throw, but obviously his record indicates he has just been a really smart quarterback. It seems this year almost every game there's one or two throws that are real head-scratchers. To what do you attribute that? (Pete Gilbert) "I don't want to sit here and speculate. It's tough to play this game, and Joe [Flacco] can explain it better than anybody – and Marc [Trestman]. But I give Joe the benefit of the doubt. Hey, when a play like that happens, I don't care what position it is, I'm going to be down the sideline … I know I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and you guys see it. I'm probably going to have some kind of a facial expression. I'm just going to be [like], 'I can't believe this happened!' Not because anybody is not trying to do the right thing, but we've been on a little bit of a roll here for crazy things happening to us, and it's going to turn, because we're going to make it turn. You get the breaks by creating the breaks. You get the calls by creating the calls. When they go against you, you can't curl up in a ball. You have to come out and find a way to get better to make the breaks happen. That's true for every position, every player, including Joe – probably Joe more than anybody, because he's our quarterback, and he's our leader. If I have confidence in anybody's ability to get that right, it's Joe Flacco."
When you're watching QB Joe Flacco, do you think he might be pressing to make plays and that sometimes leads to the mistakes? (Jamison Hensley) "Like I said, it could be any number of things like that. It's probably a combination of things that go on like that. Probably if you ask Joe [Flacco] … I don't Joe or any other player could actually say, 'This is the formula that it is.' You just try to work through it and improve on it."
The late-game problems have been well documented, whether there's urgency on offense, getting off the field on defense. But on opening drives [this season there have been] five punts and a fumble. What can be done to start games better? (Joe Platania) "We practice that. We have to start games better. I think it has to do with execution. It has to do with play-calling, getting some completions early, getting off with a good run on first down if you run it, hitting the play-action pass – those kinds of things – even a quick drop-back pass. You have to take some shots from game to game to keep them off you a little bit and keep them honest. But we practice 'start the game.' We started doing that last year here, where we go the first three to five plays of the game with crowd noise up right out of individual [drills] to kind of get our blood flowing and to be able to turn it on when the start of the game happens. It's something we need to work on, and you have to make plays, you have to get first downs. We always say, 'You have to get the first first down. The first first down starts a drive.' The first three-and-out is a very valuable thing for defense, and we need to do both of those two things."
When it comes to Monday Night Football, you have a lot of experience with it, especially on the road. This is the first of two. A lot of these guys have been through this with this extra day, and you have to come back after on a short week. Having to deal with Monday nights is kind of different than … Maybe, Thursday night is even worse, but at least with Monday you have an extra day. (Jerry Coleman) "You're right. All those situations are a little bit different, and over the years you gain an understanding of how you want to approach them. We have a lot of guys that haven't played on Monday night. It's going to be new for a lot of guys – a lot of other guys that are new to us as far as how we approach Monday Night Football – so the veterans take the lead on that and kind of show them the way in terms of how we approach it. Everybody is excited to play on Monday night. I don't care if it's home or away. We're going to be on the road here and on the road later in the year, and it'll be a big challenge for us. There's no better stage to play your best than Monday Night Football."
John, I know we asked you on Monday, but did you get an update on S Kendrick Lewis with the MRI? (Luke Jones) "[It is] nothing serious with Kendrick [Lewis]. [It is] a bone bruise, and that's a very good sign. We'll just see where it goes throughout the course of the week. He was feeling pretty good today, but those things are hard to predict."
**I don't think we asked you last week, S Kendrick Lewis' backup, I think, last time he went out would have been S Terrence Brooks, and we haven't seen him at all. Is there any information on him? *(Jon Meoli) *"[Terrence Brooks] is dealing with a hand injury. I don't have an update on him. I don't have an update."
What have you seen from DT Brandon Williams, specifically in his run defense? What's he doing so well this year? (Ryan Mink) "In general terms, he is clogging up the middle pretty well. He's not getting blocked. He's not getting knocked back, so he's moving the guard or the center into the backfield most of the time and just disrupting the run game, generally, from the inside-out. [He has] been a big contributor to our run defense, which has played well. He has been a dominant factor in the middle of our defense."
John, we've only seen him mostly on special teams over the years. How did you think S Brynden Trawick acclimated himself playing on the defensive snaps he did on Sunday? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Brynden [Trawick] played well on Sunday. Thanks for bringing that up. He was in the right spot, tackled well. He played well, did a good job. That is what you'd expect. He practiced well, also."
A lot of the talk recently has been about confidence and believing you can do it. You have a player – TE Crockett Gillmore – back this week who doesn't seem short on that at all. How do you feel like his approach and general belief in himself has helped this year taking on that big role? (Jon Meoli) "I've said many times – to your point – I love Crockett [Gillmore]. I think he's a heck of a player, and he has a great attitude. That's a great observation that you're making, and it probably does contribute to his success. He doesn't get fazed. It's never too big for him. He can learn from a mistake, but he can move on from a mistake, which would be, probably, a good lesson for all of us to take. He's going to be one of the best tight ends in the league in time. He has a ways to go. There are plenty of things he can work on, but he sure works hard on them every day."
John, I think Monday someone asked you about, maybe, guys trying too hard. You said – paraphrasing – "I'm not really sure what that means." But when you watch film, do you see any evidence of guys overrunning plays, or maybe, trying to do someone else's assignment or trying to force things or not? (Cliff Brown) "You see evidence of issues. In any game, there are going to be mistakes. It's football. You're going against your opponent, things are moving fast, it's a complicated game. There's a lot that goes on for these guys. There's a lot flying around them. But when you win or you have success, things turn out right for you, and those 12 or 15 major errors that happened in the game kind of get glossed over. And when you don't [win], maybe those 14 to 16 errors that you make in the game, they all take on huge scrutiny and then lead to those kind of questions, which are great questions. Whether you win or lose, there are probably the same issues. Sure, you overrun plays sometimes. Sure, you try to do somebody else's job sometimes. And then the opportunity, probably, is there as a coach to get their attention more to correct those things when you don't win. That's what you have to take advantage of – make a positive out of the fact that we're not having as much success. Guys, we are chasing perfection here. We need to be perfect. And you can see where that issue cost us that play, which could have cost us a chance to win the game. When you win, sometimes we all just kind of go, 'It's going to be OK.' We're trying to take advantage of that. We're trying to make the most of learning from our mistakes. But there are mistakes that … Teams that are 5-0, they're making a lot of mistakes as well, but we're not talking about those as much. Fair enough. They're winning. So, the answer is, 'Yes.' But that doesn't mean you're trying too hard and that's the problem. We want to try hard. We want to try as hard as we can to be that best that we can be."
QB Carson Palmer is 14 years in now and has almost resurrected. He leads the NFL in touchdowns. What do you see on him? Is it confidence, the skill set, the system? What has been so effective for him? (Pete Gilbert) "He is a really good quarterback. Put it all together into one, he has always been really good. You guys remember when he played for the Bengals. The guy makes throws to really good receivers. He always has big targets, and he throws it up and away from defenders a lot of times, and he's really good at that. He's just the same, excellent quarterback he has always been, and he's doing a great job."
John, is DE Brent Urban close? Can he practice this week? (Jeff Zrebiec) "[Brent] Urban is not practicing this week. I don't know if I could characterize it – close or not close – but he's not practicing, yet. I think the timeframe on him is a few more weeks. Is it eight weeks [total since being put on Injured Reserve – Designated for Return]? So, probably in two weeks it'll be a good question. (laughter) I'll be expecting to get that question in two weeks. Now I've set myself up for it." (laughter)
OLB Elvis Dumervil & WR Steve Smith Sr. (Joint Podium Session)
On how this season has gone so far for him personally:
(STEVE SMITH SR.) "Personally, we're 1-5, so that's really what matters. At the end of the day, statistics are statistics. But at the end of the day, the record is what you really are more encouraged and proud of. Right now, we're in the deep hole, and we have to dig ourselves out of it."
On how they came out of last Sunday's game physically:
(ELVIS DUMERVIL) "Everybody is hurting, so there's no excuse. It's football. There's a difference between being injured and being hurt. As long as I'm not injured, I'm going to play."
(SMITH SR.) "I'm all right."
On only missing one game after suffering from micro fractures in his back:
(SMITH SR.) "I have a great nutritionist I'm sleeping with, which is my wife. (laughter) She does a good job of doing her research and all that stuff. [She] has me on a lot of things – vitamins and stuff – that I probably should be taking at my age anyway. So, that's helping, and our coaching staff is tremendous. I mean, our training staff is doing a good job. [Head certified athletic trainer] 'Smitty' [Mark Smith] is doing an excellent job of monitoring me, telling me stuff I need to do, where should I go, how should I do things. It's really easy, and that's really just doing what they tell me to do. [I am] just trying to be a good listener."
On whether taking vitamins helped heal his micro fractures:
(SMITH SR.) "You're supposed to be taking [vitamins]. According to my nutritionist, I should be taking them. (laughter) I should be taking vitamin D and B-12 all the time. You know how it is, man. When you get in a situation, you start to be very resourceful, your ears are more wide open. [My wife] is like: ['Take your vitamins,'] so I'm over here eating gummies like my kids are eating. I'm over here like, 'Hey, I need mine.' It's just one of those things. Injuries are a part of the game. Some injuries [with] guys we have on IR [Injured Reserve] are a lot more serious and [make them] unable to play, and mine has [allowed the] ability to sit out a week. Being out here playing, I'm fortunate, and I just take the opportunity and try to make the best of it and try to … What I try to be is a guy that can help us and not hurt us. If I'm injured, and I can't play, I can't play. I'm not going to try to be a liability out there [where] all of a sudden we're playing with 10 guys instead of 11 guys."
On whether he has thought about the end of the season:
(SMITH SR.) "I'm taking it one game at a time – not really focusing on that other stuff. I'm on schedule for what I discussed earlier in the year, and I'm enjoying it with the wins and losses. A long time ago, a guy told me – he said – 'You have to assess your play just like if you make a great catch. You examine and watch a great catch, and you use that same procedure and process if you make a bad catch, if you drop a pass.' I'm always self-evaluating myself – watching the film – despite the outcome. I can't allow the outcome to dictate how I prepare each week."
On third downs being an issue for the defense:
(DUMERVIL) "We know pass rushing and coverage goes hand-in-hand, so, I guess we have to do more. We have to do a better job pass rushing, myself included. And the times we do pass rush, the coverage has to do better. We just have to be on the same page, and I think we'll fix that issue."
On QB Carson Palmer:
(DUMERVIL) "He is a good quarterback, really good. It's a well-coached team. [They have] a lot of good weapons. They have an offense that can get things done. We have to make sure we go down there and make sure we put our best foot forward."
On WR Larry Fitzgerald:
(SMITH SR.) "He has done an exceptional job. He's still rocking and rolling at his age. He's doing a great job."
On Arizona's secondary:
(SMITH SR.) "[They have] lots of playmakers [who] produce a lot of problems for you. There are guys making plays. It's going to be a tough task. I know I have a big task at hand with Patrick Peterson. If I accept that jersey, I have to line up and make plays."
On whether there are things about this season that have gone the way he has expected:
(SMITH SR.) "Yes, I'm playing. So, I expect to be playing. Every season, you create good and bad habits that you have to overcome. Throughout the season you'll either improve or continuously downslide. That's kind of how I look at it."
On whether he sees himself on the upswing:
(SMITH SR.) "I don't know. I guess you guys will let me know if I'm on the decline."
On whether knowing that this is his final season made him want to get back on the field quickly:
(SMITH SR.) "No. You have to be healthy, and you have to make smart decisions. What's at the end of the tunnel doesn't dictate doing, maybe, stupid things through your journey. So no, that has no [bearing]. If I can play, I'm going to play. If I can't, I can't. I couldn't play when we played against Cleveland. I knew I couldn't. I felt like I couldn't. There was nothing I could do to change that. So, there's no sense over there being upset. I just bide my time and being able to … Even though I'm not physically on the field, we still have discussions and dialogue on the sideline with the receivers, like I was playing. Obviously, if I'm lined up on the far right, and Kamar [Aiken] is on the far left, we can't stop in the middle of the game and go have a conversation, so we still have dialogue on the sideline."
On whether anyone from the Ravens has convinced him not to retire after this season:
(SMITH SR.) "Man, we're 1-5. You think they would be talking about persuading [me]? We're trying to fix all the damn holes in this boat right now. That's what we're focusing on. Our focus is on Arizona. People keep saying that I avoid the question. It's not about avoiding. This is a week-to-week season. It's a week-to-week game. Every game presents its own issues, so I can't keep following with, 'This is how I feel.' I'm prepared to play the Arizona Cardinals and whoever else we play after that. That's what I'm prepared for, and after that and after that. That's my focus. Each week, I have a different opponent that creates a different issue and game plan and all those things I have to deal with, so that's my focus. It's not on the other stuff."
On whether they have favorite Monday Night Football memories:
(SMITH SR.) "Man, you know what team I used to play for. Monday night..."
(DUMERVIL) "Monday night will always be Monday night. Obviously, when I was younger, John Madden was there. It's still a special thing. Like Steve hit on early, we have to … Each week is something different, and this week is Arizona. We have to try to worry about getting our record better more than anything."
QB Joe Flacco
On how exciting it is to have TE Dennis Pitta back on field: "It's exciting. I was just talking to him and seeing how he felt, and he said that everything is still going a million miles an hour. I got to throw some routes versus air to him, and it felt good, and he looks good. It's exciting to see him back in a uniform – exciting for him."
On how comfortable he is compared to a year ago: "I think the biggest thing is, probably, I wish I was a little more comfortable than I probably am, but we're dealing with getting different guys in there and different guys the ball and shuffling this guy in, this guy out. We've had to deal with some things, and that's just the nature of it. I have to hone in a little bit more just to make up for some of that stuff."
On what he means by honing in:"Just make sure I'm on top of it every single little second. I have to rise up and make sure I can just be that much better each day, so that we're still working towards improvement and going out there and being a little bit more consistent and crisp and detailing all the little things. When you have a lot of guys out there that you've played with for a while, the details you tend to be on top of. But when you're playing with some different guys – and you're shuffling this guy in, this guy out – you have to make sure that you're on top of those details. We have to continue to work at that and get better."
On how impressed he has been with the way WR Steve Smith Sr. has played: "Steve [Smith Sr.], obviously, has a lot of talent. You guys know what Steve is all about, and he's going to make plays for us, and we have to continue to put him in positions to do those things. He's going to do his thing. He can beat man coverage, and he's going to catch the football. We just have to continue to put him in positions to do that."
On whether he feels more pressure to elevate the team as a whole: "I don't feel any more pressure. It's all about coming out here on a daily basis and just making sure that we're working those details so that come Sunday – come Monday night – that all comes naturally. Because when you're out there in a game, you're not necessarily worried about all those things. You're just reacting at that point, and the preparation that you've put in all week – and the weeks building up to that – are kind of what leads to those details being the right way. That's the biggest thing is just coming out here and making sure on a daily basis we're working as hard as we can, and I'm driving that, so that come game day it's as good as it can be."
On whether he has at times pressed too hard in order to make a play:"No. I think you're always trying to make plays here and there, and obviously, take what the defense gives you. But there's going to be opportunities for you to go out there and make plays, and that's what you have to do as an NFL player. Everybody goes out there on Sunday and makes some kind of play. I don't necessarily think you look to do that. The opportunities present themselves and it happens. No, I don't think I'm pressing in any way to do those things. It's just part of it."
On TE Dennis Pitta returning to practice and whether that has been a lift the team needed: "It's definitely good to see him out there. I think everybody appreciates seeing him in a uniform, and they're happy for him to be able to get back out there and strap back up."
On his impressions of WR Jeremy Ross and WR Chris Givens:"I'm starting to really get comfortable with Chris [Givens] – throwing the ball out there for him and letting him go get it. I think he did a great job coming into the game on Sunday and making some catches for us and being a big part of what he had to be late in the game there. I think Jeremy [Ross] has come in and done a great job of being consistent, being where he's supposed to be. That's the most important thing when you get a guy right off the bench that is that level. That's why I have been talking about the details. I think he does a really, really good job, for the most part, in doing those things. It has been a somewhat smooth transition throwing the ball to him, because he knows what he's doing, and he has a good feel about him."
On if he is encouraging TE Dennis Pitta to play in a game: "No, I don't [encourage him]. That's up to him. I don't think I have to say anything to him for him to know how I feel. He knows what kind of player I believe he is, and it's all up to him."
On whether the Cardinals' secondary is as good as they will face all year: "It's tough to tell. You can watch the film all you want. They have some good guys, but you still have to go out there on Sunday, or Monday, and get a feel for it. We have to have confidence in ourselves that we're going to be able to go out there and do the things that we want to do. You can't read into that stuff too much. You have to go out there, and you have to attack and stay in the attack mode. That's really the only chance you're giving yourself. You can't go out there and exhaust yourself with the fact that they're a good secondary and intimidate yourself, because that's all you're going to do if you think about it."
TE Dennis Pitta
On whether his first practice feels better physically or emotionally: "A little bit of both. Obviously, it's good for me to be back out there – emotionally, mentally – and I felt pretty good physically. Obviously, you know it's just a start, and it's Day One. But I haven't been playing much football over the past year, so hopefully I can get more comfortable over the next few practices and try to get back where I want to be."
On head coach John Harbaugh saying not to read too much into his first practice back: "I think [John Harbaugh is] right. It's a start. Obviously, this is an assessment period for us – for me, for the trainers, for the coaches – to really see where we're at. This was just Day One of our journey. I think it felt pretty good, and I'm encouraged by that. [It is] certainly great to be back out there with my teammates, but we'll see where we go from here."
On if he will be able to play if he doesn't experience any pain in the next three weeks: "That's not really something I think I'm even ready to answer. This is obviously a period where we're just trying to kind of get a feel for where I'm at and where I can potentially help the team if it comes to that. I'm encouraged by how I felt today and all that, but obviously, I have to shake a little bit of the rust off. I still dropped a pass today, which in my mind is unacceptable. *(laughter) *The game is a little bit fast for me still right now. That's certainly expected, but it's nice to just get my feet wet again."
On whether the odds were a long shot for him to play again: "Yes, the odds have been stacked against me pretty good twice now. And I didn't anticipate feeling this good at this point and being where I'm at, so I'm certainly pleased by that and happy to be out here playing football again. To be honest, it felt really good."
On how hard it has been to watch the team experience a 1-5 start: "It hasn't been easy for anybody. I've been in every meeting and been in every practice and standing there on the sideline. It's tough to watch. It's tough to watch our team go through it. It's tough to watch my teammates and our coaches battle through that. It's a lot of adversity we're facing right now, but certainly we're up for the task. We've dug ourselves a nice little hole, and it's time to start getting out of it."
On whether there is a single factor in the way of him returning to the playing field: "I don't really know. I think it's an accumulation of kind of everything. There will be a physical aspect of it, a mental aspect. And also, it's not entirely in my hands how the team feels about me playing and if I can potentially add any value to this team. There are a lot of factors that will go into it, and certainly, a lot of decisions to be made by not just me, but other individuals."
On his wife's thoughts about the situation: "She's not really excited about me being out here. She was nervous last night and just didn't want to get a call that something went wrong today. Like I said, she supports me in everything that I'm doing, and I'm lucky to have her."
On whether people have tried to discourage him from returning: "Yes, certainly. I've had people on both ends of the spectrum, certainly – people that have discouraged me [and been] against it and people that have encouraged me to get back out there. I weigh both opinions heavily. Really, I feel good physically and am just excited to kind of continue this process and see where I can get to."
On whether he will need medical clearance prior to playing in a game: "Yes, that will be part of the assessment process. I'll be working closely with our doctors and telling them how I feel, if any issues arise. It'll be a joint decision, certainly, moving forward."
On if not playing this season rules out the possibility of a return at all: "I'm not sure. I would like to think that if I can't make it back this year, then what's going to change next year? For me, in my mind, it's kind of [like] I'm working to get back this year, and if I can't, then that might be it. But that's certainly undecided. I don't really know how to answer."
On how concerned he is about re-injuring his hip: "There's definitely concern of getting injured, but I think that's the nature of football. I could go out and blow out my ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] just as easily. That's part of the risk – the inherent risk – in playing football. That's something that I understand, and I've talked extensively with our doctors and understand those risks quite well. So, that's part of it."
On whether he is cleared for contact practices right now: "Yes, I was out there. I'm kind of working my way in a little bit, but I have shoulder pads on. I was out there doing as much as I felt good doing and wanted to do."
On how this process compares to injuring his hip the first time in 2013: "Déjà vu a little bit. I've been through it before and kind of know what it takes to get back out there. This time, I've been out of football a lot longer than the first time. I was only out four months after my first injury and was able to get back out there. This time it has been almost a year, so it's a big difference."
CB Jimmy Smith
Opening statement:"What do we expect from the Arizona Cardinals? They've got a very good offensive attack. They've got some very good skill players; [Larry] Fitzgerald is still doing it. Their running backs – they're getting a lot of yards, and Carson Palmer is looking really good. He's getting the ball, he's dropping dimes and he's looking pretty good. As far as our defensive plan, we've got to contain that. We can't let big plays happen. They've been happening. Obviously, they can't happen again. Going into this game on Monday night, primetime television, our job is to stop that. We will."
On if there is more stock in a Monday Night Football game, given the Ravens' 1-5 record and the "noise" surrounding the team:"No. To say that would mean we don't prepare for every other game, and that's not the case at all. We prepare the same way. Monday night just bright lights – big show. Everybody is going to be watching, so you definitely want to put your best foot forward. But no, we prepare the same. We attack every game the same; we want to win every single game."
On if TE Dennis Pitta's return to practice lifted the team:"Absolutely. You get that little tingly feeling, because you know he's a big playmaker; he has been since I've been here. He has been out for a little while, but we know what type of player he is and what he can do for our offense. To see him back out there just running around a little bit, you're like, 'Is he all right?' But at the same time, you know it's a great thing, because it's an added playmaker."
On the first time he watched WR Larry Fitzgerald play and how excited he is to compete with the wide receiver:"My first time we watched him was up here. We played them [in 2011], and we beat them. So, that wasn't the greatest showing for him, but he's a tremendous player, obviously. [He's] been doing it for a long time. [He has] great hands, a great route runner. So yes, it's very exciting to go against him."
On if the secondary is the hardest position for college players to transition into the NFL:"Obviously, I'm going to say yes; I'm a corner. It's extremely hard. I can't really put my thumb on it to tell you, but when you get to the NFL – as far as cornerback – it's a lot different. Everybody is a 4.3 [40-yard dash] guy; everybody can catch. The scheme goes into it. Offensive coordinators scheme you up a lot more when you're a younger player. You see a lot more routes and concepts that you don't see in college."
ARIZONA CARDINALS CONFERENCE CALL L
Head Coach Bruce Arians
On the Cardinals' secondary and how quality play from defensive backs creates options on defense:"When you have corners who can play man-to-man, it allows you to get some folks up in the box to try to stop the run and help stop the run. We feel very confident in our secondary that we can pressure the quarterback after we stop the run."
On the biggest challenge and key to building a top NFL secondary:"I think for us, it's obviously man-to-man skills, but we want guys with ball skills. We don't really look for guys who can't catch. When they're thrown to us, we need to catch them. But they also have to be man-to-man players, very smart players, and we want guys who are extremely intelligent – especially at our safety positions, because we ask them to do a lot."
On the high level of play from WR Steve Smith Sr. and WR Larry Fitzgerald, and any similarities between the two:"[Their recent success] tells me [they have] a great passion, great passion for the game. I love the way both guys play. They're the ultimate pros and the ultimate warriors."
On the challenges of facing a team, like Baltimore, in need of a win:"Yes, it's amazing to me, because they've been in every single game, and having a history against them, they have won most of those games in the last few years. And, like ourselves, we've come up short on a couple that we thought we should have won. I'm sure they felt like they should have won every game, and when you have Joe [Flacco] back there at quarterback, you're never out of it."
On competing against the AFC North this season, his thoughts on the division and the physicality of the games:"It has never changed. Having been in it for 10 years myself, at Cleveland and Pittsburgh, it never changes. It's a great division built on defenses and good quarterbacks."
On facing good Baltimore defenses in the past, and how it differs this year:"I think some of the big names are gone, but they train these guys on how to do it. There weren't any better than Ray [Lewis] and Ed Reed, as far as film preparation and teaching guys how to bond together and play defense. It's just a play or two here or there that have cost them, and I think they're an outstanding defensive football team. Their secondary has given up a couple of chunk plays, but they've also got 18 or 19 sacks; they get after you like they always have."
On QB Carson Palmer's performance this season and progression with the Cardinals:"The last three years I've been with him, he's the ultimate gym rat – prepares like crazy, and you love to have him because he's a great leader. When he steps in the huddle, all eyes are on him. It's what you want in your quarterback, as far as a head coach, leading the football team with a quarterback, because they go hand in hand. He's the ultimate professional."
On if QB Carson Palmer's performance has exceeded his expectations or if it's been what he's anticipated:"Not quite as high. We've had a couple games where we [entered the] red zone and didn't finish – the last drive to win the St. Louis game that we're accustomed to winning. I thought the rest of the stuff, where he is statistically, I anticipated that. But for us not to finish two balls games with the ball in our hands is unusual."
QB Carson Palmer
On his past success against the Ravens and how it relates to the upcoming game:"I don't put any stock in what I've done in the past against them. It's a completely different team and different coaches and different players all over the place and just different circumstances. So, I really don't go back and think much about past and previous games against that defense. It's a completely different team, and I'm on a completely different team in a new system and all that. I really don't put too much stock in the success of the past."
On if it feels different preparing for a struggling Ravens defense, given his experience against Baltimore:"No, because regardless of who's over there, it's always a very physical game. Anytime you play against a team in the AFC North, they're always physical. They heavily emphasis stopping the run, they heavily emphasis red zone defense. Whatever struggles they may have had in the past or this season, you've got to be ready to play your best football to beat them. Because there are big, physical, fast guys, playmakers on the back end and just [have] that tough mentality that they're going to come in with, especially playing in a nationally-televised game and having a chance to play on Monday Night Football. [To] get back on the winning track is of the utmost importance to them right now, and we know that."
On DT Brandon Williams' performance this season and what he has seen from the defensive lineman on film:"[He's] really good. There are a number of players on that team that fly around the ball, that make plays. You've got a handful of guys that can rush the passer. You've got big, stout guys up front that are built to stop the run. They have a very experienced linebacker in 51 [Daryl Smith] and then a young, high-draft pick in 57 [C.J. Mosley] that runs around and makes plays. So, we're not focused on one player. I know in the past, you used to really have to focus on Ed Reed and where he was and all those things, but there are a handful of guys that you've got to know where they are on the field and just be ready for this unit to come in and bring a very physical, great game against us."
On building a game plan against DT Brandon Williams and the run-stopping Ravens' front seven:"For the run game stuff, we don't specifically scheme one player. It's more about the entire defense and what they're doing and the shifts and the adjustments the defense may make with a motion or adjustment we may make. So, Brandon [Williams] is a phenomenal player, and we need to know where he is at all times. But, for the most part, we're not really keying on one guy in the run game. [We're focusing] on a number of players."
On his past injuries and experiences in Oakland and Cincinnati shaping him to be the quarterback he is today:"Well, definitely. I think the longer you play and the more experience you have … The highs and the lows and the adversity and the success – all those things – shape you as a person, as a leader, as a player. And there's no doubt I've been through some highs; I've been through some lows. I am who I am as a player and as a man from all those."
On if he is performing at his highest level this season:"I really don't look at it that way. I really want to be able to say that at the end of the year, because you can have great stretches. But I want to consistently do it all year long in each game and every game. But I expect, at the end of the year, I'll be able to look back and say this is the best year of my career."
On if there are unique challenges when preparing for a team, like Baltimore, that needs a win:"No doubt, because it's a much better team than their record says. You go back – and I had a chance to watch all their games over the last two days – and they've just had some heartbreakers. They had what seemed a big lead on Cleveland, and Cleveland just scratched their way back in and got them to overtime and then found a way to win. They were playing from behind, and you just kept feeling like they were going to win last week in San Francisco. The Cincinnati game ended up being a three- or four-point game. Oakland was just a weird game. You could tell it was just one of those odd games because it was so early in the year, and they kept fighting and kept fighting. They just haven't found a way [to win] at the end of the game, but this is a very capable team. This is a much better team than what their record says, and we're all very aware of that. It has been preached to us, we all believe it [and] we watched it on film; this is a good group, a good unit. It's a very capable offense that we have to stop defensively. So, there's no doubt, this is a tough game to prepare for, and you know you're going to get their best shot because it's Monday night."