Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Alright, good to see everybody here. I appreciate you being here. We're getting ready to play the [Cleveland] Browns on Monday night. We're looking forward to it. What questions do you have?"
WR Dez Bryant tweeted out that he had some negative tests before you guys put him on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Is there any way you can kind of explain or clarify what's going on with the situation? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, there's testing every day. To explain exactly what test gets taken when, and what the doctors make of it would be kind of out of my realm, but he has had some negative tests. There's a protocol that goes with that – a certain number of days that you have to test negative after a certain number of positive tests; he's on schedule with that. That's where it stands right now. He's still on the COVID-19/Reserve list at this time."
QB Lamar Jackson said that he felt almost like returning off of the Reserve/COVID-19 list hit the reset button in some way, as if you were starting a season anew. This is a guy that's already ridiculously competitive. What does that do when he says, "We're starting again. We're starting anew?" (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "That would be a good question for [Lamar]. I think he's excited. He's had a good week of practice. He didn't have as much practice, obviously, before the Dallas game – just the one day. I thought he played well in the game. Now, he's had the week to practice, which has been really good to have, really, for all of us. We haven't had much practice, and to be able to get this good full week of practice in has been really positive for us. The guys have enjoyed it. Like we've said … We said that earlier in the week; when something gets taken away from us and we get a chance to get back to it, I think sometimes we realize even more how much it means to us. Maybe he's talking about that. Maybe all of our guys are a little bit."
We see the different game between Week One and how they're playing so far. Are you prepared to face the Browns' run game? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "The Browns' run game is one of the best in the league, without question. They have excellent running backs. They have a tremendous offensive line and a good scheme. So, they've been running the ball well all year. They do certain things, and they have changeups off of that. And of course, they scheme it up from one week to the next. So, that's going to be a big challenge for us. I think a very important aspect of the game is our ability to stop their run game – that's something that's going to be a priority for us."
Do the players seem kind of antsy when they have to wait around all day waiting for a night game? Is it sort of better for them to have this schedule after kind of dealing with changes for the second straight week? (Todd Karpovich) "Our schedule has been off anyway. It's hard to talk about schedules in the last three weeks. (laughter) It's kind of all out the window right now. I really, honestly, I'm not sure what day it is. That's OK – it's [football] Friday for us. That's what we're on right now, [football] Friday. So, night game [or] day game, you have to play them. Guys love playing in primetime, there's no doubt about that. I think all players love that. So, our guys are excited about it, to be in a game of this importance and magnitude. And they're going to have fans in the stands, from what I'm told. Monday Night Football, it's a division rival – all these things are things that we all get excited about."
You've been with the Ravens for a long time, but you've talked about this, you grew up a Browns fan. When you grew up watching the Browns, I don't know if they were the team they are now. But since they've moved to Cleveland, some are saying this is the biggest game they've had in Cleveland, actually, since they moved back there. As a former Browns fan, do you have any feelings about that? (Jerry Coleman) "No, I don't – in all honesty. (laughter) No, I really don't. I haven't given that one second of thought. I'm just getting ready to help coach in the game."
You had said earlier this week that there were no setbacks for DE Calais Campbell coming out of your last game. Is it just a matter of just giving him rest for him not practicing all week? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's a matter of a lot of things; it's never a matter of one thing. So, that's part of the process."
You have been a part of teams that are running away with the division and teams that have their back against the wall. What's the difference when you are in kind of a must-win situation every week? How do you coach differently and how are your players different? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "I don't think there's a lot of difference, really. The difference is, obviously, the circumstances that you face and where you stand. But honestly, when you're in the position that we were in say last year or other years, it feels like a must-win then, too, because there are other things that you're trying to achieve. You're trying to put yourself in position for whatever it might be, in terms of the playoffs and things like that. Really, no matter what circumstance you're in, you look at every game as a must-win. So, I always get kind of … People say, 'Is it a must-win?' You have to say, 'What do you mean by that?' Every week is a must-win in the National Football League. You only get to play 16 games, and they all really matter. Any one of those games … If we went back, that we hadn't won, or games that we didn't win that we would've won, would have pretty dramatically changed our circumstance at this point. So, we kind of look at every game like it's a must-win, and we try to approach it that way."
Some people have talked about how QB Lamar Jackson kind of got hit hard by the virus. Physically, did he have any weight loss? Do you know of anything … Coming back, did he have anything like that experience? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know. Why is it even important? It's not something … I don't think it's really something that, to me, is of very much value to talk about. If he wants to tell you about it, he can. (laughter) Talking about Lamar's [Jackson] weight is really not on the top of my priority list right now. But I love the question – I give you credit for asking it. I'm sure people are interested in it."
DE Derek Wolfe tweeted last night, 'I haven't seen my daughter or my wife in a month.' I know his situation is different with his family out in Denver, but this being the weird year that it is with the pandemic keeping guys from their families, especially during the holidays, do you talk to the guys about how to handle everything with them not maybe having the support system that they usually do? (Jonas Shaffer) "We don't have group sessions on it. I'll talk to guys all the time, individually, about different things. Derek [Wolfe] and I always have a lot of great conversations. I think it's a really good observation though, just because it's real life. People hopefully can relate to it; I think anybody can. Especially in this pandemic, everybody is facing something like this. Whether it's family members who get sick, or not being able to see family members, or not being able to travel, these are all the realities that people are facing right now, and it's no different for NFL football players. It's the same. It's just a tough time in the world right now for relationships. Our guys have handled it really well. I'm really proud of the way our guys have handled it. I don't think they let it affect the business part of it too much, but it's very important to be sensitive to that, to your point, and to understand that everybody is kind of going through a lot right now. I try to keep that in mind on a day-to-day basis. For me as a coach, it is important to keep that in mind."
You had a lot of guys who had never played before come into Pittsburgh and play their butts off. Do you think that that performance inspired the guys that were on the Reserve/COVID-19 list? Your regular starters, your QB Lamar Jackson's and DE Calais Campbell's and DT Brandon Williams'? Do you think seeing those guys who are getting their first opportunity, play so hard, did that do anything for the rest of the team? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "Yes, I'm sure to some degree. I think one of the things they felt was just great disappointment that they weren't playing. I think the guys really missed not being out there, and that was really painful for those guys to watch the game on TV. I feel like they were really behind the guys, and they were really excited for them to play and to get their chance. They couldn't wait to see them play, and then they were disappointed that we didn't win. Our plan was to go in there and win the game. You go in there and play a clean game, which we aim to play – we didn't. We had two turnovers that led to nine points, I think. If we hadn't done that, would there have been a different outcome? If the end of the half had been different, would it have been a different outcome, as far as making that call? So, those are the things that you just look back on … We wanted to win the game. So, [there are] a lot of mixed emotions in anything like that, but that's in the rearview mirror. Like we said earlier … You weren't here for this one, but we don't have a rearview mirror in our car. That got thrown away, because we never look back. So, we're looking ahead to the Browns and that's our focus."
ILB Chris Board
As you look at this game against the Browns – a Monday Night Football game – where do you think the team stands knowing you're in a really competitive AFC playoff race right now? (Garrett Downing) "It's definitely a big game for us, because it's the next game. It's definitely something that we're being prepared for all week, and we're ready to compete. So, it's definitely a game that we're excited to play."
Can you talk about the amount of pride you take in playing special teams – you're the Pro Bowl vote leader there? Is that something that has kind of grown within you? Can you just talk about how you've embraced that role? (Ryan Mink) "I definitely take pride in it. Especially being with the Ravens; we definitely take pride in it here. So, it's definitely something I'm proud of, and I'm just looking forward to making plays and helping my team win."
At the same time, your role defensively has also grown. How do you feel like you've grown as a player on that side of the ball, as well? (Ryan Mink) "I've just been developing and just making my plays when my name is called upon. [I] just do whatever role is asked of me, make plays and take it from there."
With the NFL being in the intensive protocol, just how different are things for you guys now compared to what it was earlier in the year on a day-to-day basis? (Jonas Shaffer) "As far as meeting and stuff, it's changed a little bit as far as our schedule, but at the end of the day it's football. We're doing a lot of things to stay safe and keep our families safe. So, there are small things here and there, but at the end of the day, we're doing pretty much the same stuff."
Are you prepared to face the Browns' running game? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Yes, we're prepared to play them and stop the run; that's definitely the plan. So, yes, we're definitely prepared."
What has it been like playing with ILB Patrick Queen? It's not too often that a rookie comes in and takes on the kind of role he did right away. What have been your impressions of him this year? (Aaron Kasinitz) "He's very fast and instinctive. He makes a lot of plays for us on the ball. You just love to play with guys like that. He's smart. So, he checks off every box. It's been fun just to learn and grow with him. So, it's definitely been a journey, and I've been enjoying it – for sure."
What have you noticed about facing the Browns this week compared to Week One? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Playing them in the beginning of the season, we kind of didn't really know what to expect. Now, we really know exactly what needs to be done. So, it's kind of just two different points in the season, but we're going to attack them and face them just like we did Week One."