Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. A couple things; at four o'clock it will be announced that we have two players who tested positive for COVID-19. It will be Mark Ingram [II] and J.K. Dobbins. The facility has been re-opened. So, we are in Zoom meetings right now [and] virtual meetings at this point in time, and we'll carry on with our schedule throughout the day. We got started [with] virtual meetings this afternoon, and that's where we're at with that. We're just carrying forward with our normal schedule at this point. [We're] working hard and getting ready for a big challenge Thursday night against the undefeated [Pittsburgh] Steelers. So, what questions do you have?"
Did you say your facility is re-opened? Or is it closed? I'm a little confused on the status of your facility and your practice schedule. (Gerry Sandusky) "Open; the facility is open. It was closed this morning. They went through the contact tracing – the normal procedure that they do – and we're working now. We were working virtually this morning while it was not open. They did their process; the NFL and the people worked really hard at that. They did a great job. They just followed all the trails of everything they had to do, and we're back. We're meeting and working today getting ready for the Steelers."
Do you know if all the contact tracing has been completed? Or do you know if any other players might get identified that might need to self-quarantine because of this? (Jamison Hensley) "It's all been done. It's all completed; there are no other players … To that point, it's a credit to our players and our coaches. No coaches were involved at all and no players … Well, there is one other player that is in the five-day deal – Brandon Williams. So, I think he'll probably be on that list, now that I think about it. But there's nobody else besides that and nobody else that has [COVID-19]. I think our players did a great job on the sideline with the masks. [They did] a great job in the locker room. They tried to follow the protocols throughout the game and then throughout the weekend at the hotel and in the meetings during the week. Our guys have done a good job of that, so I'm appreciative of them for that. That's probably the thing that gives us the chance to play this game on Thursday night, because the guys have been doing a great job of that here in the building and at the game."
Obviously, that puts a focus on RB Gus Edwards. Considering the success that he had at the end of last year in the regular season against Pittsburgh, and the way that he's played this year, I suspect that you still remain confident in your run game? (Pete Gilbert) "Of course. Absolutely. The run game is always a group effort; all 11 guys are involved in that, certainly. I'm sure we'll run the ball on Thursday night."
This is now the second week that you had to deal with a positive COVID-19 test. How frustrating has it been as a coach dealing with this uncertainty of every single week that there could be a positive COVID-19 test? (Darren Haynes) "I don't really have a frustration meter; that's not the way that we think. I don't think you can afford to think that way in football, and I don't think it's real productive in life. So, [we] just meet it as we find it and deal with it, and we make the best of it. That's what we're doing at the end of the day, and the guys are doing a good job of it."
I just want to confirm, the game is as scheduled for Thursday? There's no movement in there? (Kyle Barber) "No. [There's] no movement."
In terms of looking at the game yesterday, I know the thing you were talking about in terms of defense after the game was tackling. After taking a closer look, were there other systemic things that you saw that bothered you in terms of what happened in the last quarter and overtime? (Childs Walker) "What do you mean by systemic things?" (Reporter: "Just any overall problems. You pointed to the tackling. Did you see any other, sort of, trends in performance that stood out to you in terms of the defense?") "No, no trends. I thought our linebackers did a better job; Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison both grew a lot from the last game to this game in terms of run defense. They were playing downhill. I think Derek Wolfe played outstanding. He was really, really, really good. Justin Ellis played really well. [Justin] Madubuike played pretty good and Broderick [Washington]; they probably had their moments at times where they got blocked, but they're young guys. There was not any kind of a situation where we were getting regularly overpowered or anything like that. We didn't lose the edges with any consistency; we held the edges, mostly. They rolled a couple through there in the fourth quarter for a few yards into the C-gap, which is what they do. They might have caught us in the front when we were tucked inside the C-gap, which is just part of it, because you're mixing those fronts up and they check the runs. We stopped a lot of those, too. So, it wasn't like … I didn't see any major issues. I thought we played pretty well. I would've liked to have finished it in the fourth quarter better with the boots. I think they got about four boots out there for yards, where he [Ryan Tannehill] ran once or twice and threw a couple. That hurt us; it keeps the drives alive. Those are the things. Most of the things they got on us were well executed by them. I don't think there was anything too much in there that was not good by us except for the tackles."
We saw late last week that QB Trace McSorley was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Do you expect him to be reactivated? In that same vein, WR Dez Bryant took his spot on the active roster. Just looking back at the film, what did you see from him? (Daniel Oyefusi) "Who did you mention on the COVID-19 list?" (Reporter: "Trace McSorley.") "That wasn't the change. Dez [Bryant] was brought up … Oh, you mean as a COVID [replacement] on the 53 [-man roster]. OK, right. I'm not sure what the relevance of that is, but what I see from Dez going forward … Just keep building on it. We'll keep building on it and see where it goes. I thought he made some good plays, especially one towards the end; that was a very valuable play for us, the catch-and-run on the last drive. [He] had a couple of look passes that he caught out there and got a few yards on. So, it's positive. There are a lot of things he can do better. He and I texted back and forth about those things this morning. So, he's very determined to be the best player that he can be at this stage, and we appreciate that about him."
G/C Patrick Mekari, I think, looked pretty good out there snapping the ball yesterday. Did he play well enough to earn another start there? Or is that going to be a fluid situation moving forward? (Todd Karpovich) "We'll just see. We'll just see; we'll establish it as we go. I don't really feel like announcing our starting lineup going forward until it's more established."
We saw you claim CB Davontae Harris off waivers last week. Is he possibly able to join the team this week based on the testing and stuff? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, I think so. He's possibly able to join us based on the testing. And of course, he's an experienced player. Corner is a position where we've been hit with injuries. So, how much he can do for us remains to be seen. We'll see. It's hard for me to say, right now, exactly what he'd be ready to do, but in three days, you can get guys ready to do certain things, for sure, and we'll see about that."
We saw DE Calais Campbell out there stretching during pre-game yesterday. Do you have any update on his availability? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, we're going to have to see about that. I'm sure hopeful; I can tell you that. I'm sure hopeful."
On the offensive line, G Ben Powers started at right guard. We saw him play a little bit last week, but he got his first NFL start. I know he's someone that you guys had high hopes for last year, so I wanted to see how you thought he did? (Luke Jones) "I thought he did pretty well. He's a fighter, he moved his feet well, he's a good athlete, he had a lot of good blocks, and [he's] a tenacious guy. He was going against two good [defensive] tackles. Those guys are very physical players, and I thought he held his own quite well. I'm sure there are plays he can do better in, too, but it was a good start for Ben [Powers]."
Following the game yesterday, a couple players made note of the need for greater effort and suggested that maybe the Titans wanted the game more. When you hear that, do you have any reaction? Do you concur at all? (Mark Viviano) "No, I don't think it had anything to do about effort. I watched the tape, and the effort was outstanding. Our guys were playing very, very hard. All you've got to do is watch the tape or watch the game – you can see that. It was a very hard-fought game. They played very hard, too. It was two teams that were going at it. And they made the plays at the end to win the game, [and] they finished the game better than we did. They were able to finish drives – we weren't. They were able to get stops at the end and we weren't. That's the bottom line of the whole thing. So, a throwaway line like, 'They wanted it more' – a cliché like that – I don't agree with that. You're talking about QB Lamar [Jackson's] quote, right? Is that what you're saying?" (Reporter: "Yes.") "Yes, I think if you'd ask Lamar, he'd kind of just shrug his shoulders and say, 'Hey, after the game, we just try to find something to say.' It's not trying to be indicative of anything. He's out there competing his heart out. And then, guys are supposed to go into press conferences and parse their words like Bill Clinton. That's not what these guys do. These guys are athletes. They're trying to compete and play, and then, everything they say gets minced. So, I don't take it too seriously. That's kind of meaningless."
How do you guys go forward in improving your tackling with only a limited number of practices where the team can tackle? (Kevin Richardson) "Yes, it's not the issue. Our guys know how to tackle, and we tackled, for most of the game, very, very well. I think toward the end, we weren't able to finish it for whatever reason. It was a tough, hard-fought game. There's a lot of ways to do that. If it's our offense, our offense could stay on the field and keep the lead and extend the lead. On defense, we can get off the field on third down, and most of those plays aren't going to come up at all. The basic thing to do is to put yourself in position where you don't have to defend a bunch of plays at the end. So, yes, we can tackle better in those situations, but it's not from a lack of knowing how to tackle or anything like that. It's not something that we need to be in pads every day to get ready to [tackle] in a game. So, we just need to do better in a game situation. These are professional players. They certainly know how to tackle. They wouldn't be on our team if they weren't good tacklers."
Were you able to do anything as a team this afternoon when the facility re-opened? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, guys are in offensive and defensive meetings right now. And we had a team meeting that I orchestrated, and after that, we'll have a walk-through that we'll be doing. The meetings have been virtual, and the walk-through will be masked, and that's what we're doing."
With RB J.K. Dobbins and RB Mark Ingram II, I know they have to quarantine for 10 days, and it looks like they could be available next Wednesday by my math. Do you know if they would be available for the Cowboys game or not? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know. I haven't really thought that far down the road, to be honest with you. I think if you do your 10 days, it sounds to me like you're right about that. I could leave that for the organization maybe to answer, or I'll answer it next time we do a press conference after I ask [someone]. But I think you're probably right about that."
QB Lamar Jackson has said that he likes to lead by example more than vocally, but we saw him give a speech in the pre-game huddle before the game for the first time. Have you noticed him, maybe, trying to take on a little bit more of a vocal role these past couple weeks? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I'm not out there for the pre-game speech on the field, so I didn't know that until I read about it. But that's great. He's a lot more of a vocal leader than he probably wants to give himself credit for. He's always talking to the guys, and he's got his ways of doing it, which I really appreciate and respect – very one-on-one type of a thing. Also, in group settings, he's really animated and involved with guys. So, that's how he does it. I would say, for Lamar [Jackson], he'll continue to be who he is, be true to his own personality, and he'll be a leader that way."
When we ask QB Lamar Jackson about WR Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and his production, he says that it goes back to practice, because the foundation is established there. From what you've been seeing the past couple weeks, does it surprise you that it's not translating over to the games? I know he still has an effect on defenses, like on that TE Mark Andrews catch, but have you seen what you've needed to? (Jonas Shaffer) "We want him [Marquise Brown] to be a huge part of the offense. We've got to find ways to get that done. He's practicing, he's playing very hard, and we just have to get that done. Mark [Andrews], Lamar [Jackson] and 'Hollywood' [Marquise Brown] have to get that done, and we as coaches have to get that done – create those situations to put him in position to make those plays. We understand that. That's just too important for us. [There are] big plays to be had, and 'Hollywood' is very talented, as is Lamar and all our guys, so, I really want to see him involved. And it's not like we're not trying to get it done. They [defenses] do take him out of it sometimes; sometimes other things happen. But that's important for us. We've got a lot of football left to play, and we want him to be a big part of it."
TE Mark Andrews
Obviously, the news of today, with RB Mark Ingram II and RB J.K. Dobbins testing positive [for COVID-19], how much does not having those two running backs effect the offense going forward? (Jamison Hensley) "Obviously, sad news to hear about that, and it's a crazy kind of time that we're living in. But it kind of goes with this year; there are things that are going to be thrown at you, and you have to be able to adapt. We've got a lot of great players on this team. You look at Gus [Edwards] and Justice [Hill], those two guys are incredible athletes, incredible players, and they're going to do their job just fine and hold that torch and do their thing. So, there's no worries there."
Just in general, though, how much does it complicate an already difficult preparation for a really good team on a really short week – the anxiety about tests, who you're going to have and not knowing when you can and can't be in the building? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's just a different time. It's a time where you've got to be able to adapt, like I said before, and that's the time we're living in – being able to be on Zoom meetings and take your notes the right way, and be diligent about learning the gameplan, especially on a short week like this with a big game against a division rival. So, we've all got to be locked in, prepared and ready to go. Going into this week, it's exciting. You look at these last couple games, and obviously, they haven't gone the way we wanted them to go, but we've just got to continue to work and get better and find ways to win at the end of the game. There are a lot of positives that we saw from this last game, so we're going to be able to build off those, and we're going to be in good shape."
You guys don't have a big margin for error going forward, as far as making a playoff run. Do you guys feel that sense of urgency that you have to win five games down the stretch here? (Todd Karpovich) "Yes, there's definitely an urgency. We've got to start winning games, and we've got the players to do it, [and] we've got the guys to do it. This is still a very talented football team. People are starting to count us out, and that's fine. Our back is up against the wall, and we've got a lot of good-character guys on this team that are going to fight their way through this. So, I don't lack any confidence in our ability and what we can do in this last stretch of the season. I'm excited to go show the world what we can do. And we'll see; we'll see how this all plays out. But I'm confident."
First of all, do you know how RB Mark Ingram II and RB J.K. Dobbins are feeling? And just more generally – I know you've got some family members in the medical field – has your view on the virus sort of changed at all as the season has progressed? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I haven't yet gotten to talk to J.K. [Dobbins] or Mark [Ingram II]. I'll probably reach out here soon. But, yes, it's definitely … Everybody reacts differently, just from seeing what people are getting and seeing the guys right in here who have had it. I don't know, still, too much about it. Obviously, it's contagious. You want to keep your mask up at all times and prevent the spread. We do a good job of keeping our distance and keeping our mask up. And there's a lot of people who are doing a lot of good things, especially those nurses and doctors that have helped out, especially these last 10 months."
On a lighter topic, did you get any feedback from TE Nick Boyle on the touchdown dance, and what was his reaction to it? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Before the game, I actually said something to him, and he just said, it would be cool. I just wanted to kind of give the credit to my brother. It was sad not having him out there yesterday, but to be able to score, and kind of play for him, that's what I'm doing. I love him. I miss him. And I'm going to do everything I can to kind of represent him and what this tight end room and what this offense is supposed to be. And there's a high standard, and he expects that, so that's what I'm trying to do. We got to play 'Call of Duty' after the game and got to talk a little bit, so that was fun."
Just kind of piggybacking off of that, how did you feel like the offense responded without TE Nick Boyle? What duties kind of changed? (Ryan Mink) "Obviously, when you miss a guy like that … There's a ton of physicality that he brings, but I think we did a good job. I think a lot of guys stepped up. It wasn't just one person stepping up and trying to fill that void. There were a lot of guys; receivers blocking [and] tight ends blocking. Pat Ricard did a great job at being physical. When you look at his film from yesterday, there's a lot of positives. So, as much as we want to win these games, there are a lot of players who are playing good football. We just need to put it together and win these games late in the game."
After the game yesterday, QB Lamar Jackson referenced your guys' rookie season where, basically, you were kind of at a crossroads and then rattled off a bunch of wins and had to come together to kind of overcome being in a tough spot midway through the season. What would it take to get on a roll like that in the final six games of this regular season? (Garrett Downing) "Man, just coming together; chemistry, playing [and] having fun. Just trusting the process. People say that all the time, 'You have to trust the process.' We've been working for so long; it feels like forever now. I feel like we've been working harder, we've been more efficient than anybody else in the league. So, it's going to happen. I'm telling you all; it's about to happen. I'm confident in this team. We just have to keep on going, keep on trusting; trust in our teammates and our coaches and everybody in this organization. This is a top-notch place to be, and it's time to go show the world what we can do."
You were able to put some yards up against the Steelers last time, but a couple times, when you've played them with QB Lamar Jackson, they've created a lot of turnovers. What's the biggest challenge that the Steelers' defense presents for you guys? (Jamison Hensley) "They're a physical defense; they're going to fly around. Obviously, this is a rivalry game, so these games are never going to be easy – it's going to be a bloodbath until the end. It's going to be a dogfight. Just going in there with the mindset that it's going to be a full 60 minutes, and everybody on this team knows that. They know it. We know it. It's just about who's going to go out there and execute, run their plays better and want it more. So, I'm excited about this game. It's going to be fun."
Having fans in the stands and no fans in the stands, is there any difference? How do you feel when you're down there playing without fans or with fans? (Donna Jean Rumbley) "Personally, I'm definitely more of a, 'fans in the stadium,' kind of guy. I love feeding off that energy; I think that's a part of what makes football special. But at the end of the day, you have to find ways to overcome that, adapt to that and bring your own energy. It's been kind of interesting this season to go through this season and find ways to bring out your own energy. For me, it's been just maybe catching a ball and screaming, or getting a good block and just getting yourself into it. Obviously, I love fans. I love our fans. I love playing at away games; I love getting booed. That stuff is a part of what makes football amazing. It's been sad not to have them, but obviously, with the circumstances, we can't really do that."
What do you say to WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown when he's kind of going through a stretch like he is? Being a former Oklahoma teammate of his, how do you kind of encourage him and try to help him pull out of it? (Ryan Mink) "Just keep on going, man. [Marquise] 'Hollywood' [Brown] is a special player. I see him time and time again destroy defenses. So, I just tell him to keep on going, [and] trust himself – which he does. There's never going to be a lack of confidence for him or for anybody in this organization about him. We know the type of player he is. We know what he means to our team. So, 'Just keep on going. Be you, be yourself and be great.'"
How have you helped TE Luke Willson get up to speed? (Ximena Lugo Latorre) "Luke [Willson] has been incredible, to be honest with you. He learned dang near our whole playbook in a week. So, I'm just trying to do anything I can. If he ever has any questions, which he does, because he's a pro, I help him any way I can. But he's been great. He's been an awesome addition for us, and he's done a really good job. So, he's a complete pro. It's been fun to have him around. He's a great dude, and it's definitely a plus having him in our tight end room."
OLB Matthew Judon
On Sunday, for three quarters, it looked like the defense did a really good job containing RB Derrick Henry. What happened with the tackling in the fourth quarter and overtime? What do you feel changed there? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't really know, honestly. I think we just have to do a good job finishing up and making sure that nothing slips through. We have to do a better job getting them down on the ground."
There were two running backs, RB Mark Ingram II and RB J.K. Dobbins, who were placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. I know you play on defense, but as a leader on this team, what kind of impact does losing those two guys for a big game like this have? (Jamison Hensley) "Shoot, we have Gus [Edwards]. We have other running backs on the roster. They just have to go in there and do what they have to do. I'm pretty sure that last year, the last game of the season, Gus had a pretty good game against this same defense, almost. So, it's never about who's not playing; it's always about who is playing."
In terms of the off the field and human element of it, how do you guys approach the virus when it comes to your teammates? Have you talked to RB J.K. Dobbins and RB Mark Ingram II? Are you feeling any differently than you did a couple months ago about the pandemic? (Aaron Kasinitz) "No, we all knew that us playing football would put us at a bigger risk. We knew we [could] obviously get the virus, and we all knew that this wasn't something to be played around with. People have lost their lives. We don't know the long-term effects that this virus has, even though we have doctors, scientists and other medical staff working day-in and day-out to learn the long-term risks that this has on your body. As it comes to our team and our teammates, you just hit them up and say, 'I hope you feel better. I hope you're doing well.' You hope that they're asymptomatic. You also think about their families, and you just keep those people in your prayers. With that being said, you all and everybody that's here in this, pray for the families that have been affected by COVID-19 and continue to be affected by COVID-19. We just hope that they are able to return back to the field, to the team and to themselves and their families as quick as possible."
With the team having lost three out of four games, and a short week going against the undefeated Steelers, what is kind of the feeling amongst the team in the locker room right now? (Jamison Hensley) "To win the next game. That's something we always have, the next game mentality. Let's say we won four out of four, or three out of four, that wouldn't mean anything if you lost the next game. Once you lose the next game, you're on a losing streak. Right now, we want to be on a winning streak, and we have to win some games. We have to put some quarters together and some whole games together. [We have to] finish these things out and let the chips fall where they may. But we want to put ourselves in a great position to get into the playoffs and the postseason."
QB Lamar Jackson says often that he's more of a lead-by-example guy than vocal guy, but we saw him give the speech in the pre-game huddle. As a more experienced player, how have you seen Lamar change as a leader this year, especially going through what you guys are going through? (Aaron Kasinitz) "He just comes in every day with a positive mindset. It's always the next play, or, 'We're going to get them back,' or 'Give me the ball back.' He wants it. He wants the ball in his hands, he wants the game in his hands. And you like that, seeing him come into the league and adapt and evolve into that guy. He honestly doesn't talk a lot in front of the team, but he's becoming more of that person for us, and we all know, we go as he goes. So, I love that – seeing that from that guy."
I don't think you've played an NFL game on Thanksgiving. Do you have any idea of what this is going to be like? I imagine you'd rather be having a meal with your family, but what do you expect? (Jonas Shaffer) "I expect a Ravens-Steelers game. It doesn't matter when we play them or how we play them or when it happens, I expect a Ravens-Steelers game. I would enjoy a meal with my family, but I'm also going to enjoy a meal with my family tonight, and then the next night after Thanksgiving. So, I'm always going to get those meals in."
When you guys played the Steelers in Week Eight, your defense held them to one of their lower yardage totals of the year. How do you feel about how well you guys played that game and whether you can replicate that and get a win on Thursday? (Mark Viviano) "I don't think you can ever replicate a game, but we've got to go out there and stop them every play. It's not that we're trying to [replicate] it, because we lost that game, so we're trying to play better. We want to keep them out of the end zone. We want to hold them to zero points. And that's what we want to do. So, we're going to go out there and see."
Is there a sense that if you go out there and beat the Steelers, you can get this thing turned around really quickly? (Garrett Downing) "If we go out there and beat whoever we face, we can get this thing turned around quickly. We are 6-4. Let's just continue to keep the wins a lot more than the losses, and then see how that works out for us. But 'turned around?' That doesn't really mean anything. We've got to play in one game at a time. Every game that we play, we have to win. You might call that 'turned around,' but in a short mindset, it's just one win every week, and then see what happens."