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Transcripts: Ravens-Steelers Media Availability 12/23

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "OK, good to see you guys – appreciate you being out. Just one announcement to make: We signed Chris Carter yesterday to the squad in Crockett's [Gillmore] spot. He is a guy that has been an outside linebacker, been a pass rusher, been a really good special teams player. There's a possibility that he could actually play in this game this week, so we'll see how it goes."

John, how happy were you to see P Sam Koch finally make the Pro Bowl in his 10th year? (Luke Jones) "Yes, well-deserved, and I'd say way overdue. I am happy for Sam. Sam was really happy. When you have the kind of career he has had, for it to be validated with a Pro Bowl selection is really meaningful, especially when it has eluded him the last few years, and I'd say unjustifiably so. Yes, it's perfectly deserved. And Marshal [Yanda] again – once again – to go again this year is well-deserved."

John, is it tougher for punters to make the Pro Bowl since there's only one [on the 53-man roster]? (Mike Preston) "Probably is. It brings up kind of an interesting story. I remember Sean Landeta was punting for us in Philadelphia. You guys all know Sean. So, he's doing his thing. He might have been sitting on his helmet or something during practice, and one of the guys walks by and said, 'Must be nice. It must be pretty easy being a punter.' And [Landeta] goes, 'If you're good.' (laughter) There's only one on a team! Enough said, right?"

**Staying on the Pro Bowl theme, DT Brandon Williams didn't even make it as an alternate. Can you speak to how much of an impact he has had on the defense this year? *(Turron Davenport) *"I'm very impressed with Brandon and how he has played, obviously. I would say he's very deserving of an opportunity. I was a little surprised. But, hey, you know what? That should serve as motivation. Obviously, the rest of the players and the coaches and the fans don't see it the way we see it. I'm quite sure it'll motivate Brandon to play even better. The thing I like about what Brandon Williams is doing is he has played better and harder every single week, especially the last four or five weeks when you watch the tape. He's chasing plays down 20 yards downfield and throwing his body around. That's a 340-pound body he's throwing around. He's Pro Bowl in my book."

You mentioned Monday in the passing game how difficult it is for the receivers and quarterbacks to get timing, and that's a product of the injuries and all the turnover you've had. Does that carry over to how you would evaluate how offensive coordinator Marc Trestman is doing? It doesn't seem like there has really been a good, consistent way for him to put in what he wants to do. How would you assess the job so far? (Jon Meoli)"I'm not going to do that right now. It's a fair question, but right now, all our focus is on Pittsburgh and trying to get the passing game, the running game, the defense – everything – as good as we can get it for this week. That's really all we're thinking about. Every other consideration goes to the end of the season. But I will say this: I'm pleased with everybody. I'm pleased with everybody's effort. We have great coaches. We have great players who are really working hard to be the best they can be every week. I'm proud of the way they've stuck together. Certainly, we're all disappointed in the result. Nobody is [happy about it]. It's painful, gut-wrenching. It's tough, but we're fighting, and we have to find a way to be the best we can be on Sunday, period. That's what we're trying to do, and all of our coaches are doing that."

Did it teach you something about offensive coordinator Marc Trestman that he has been so malleable [with] three quarterbacks in six weeks and all these moving pieces? (Jon Meoli) "I think that's probably fair. Marc is very experienced – knows a lot of football and is not going to get stumped on a scheme or an adjustment. He's doing all the things – and all the coaches are on offense – doing the things that they feel our guys can do and execute. Really, the bottom line is you have to do what you can execute out there. If we're out there not executing it, then either we didn't do what we needed to do to prepare and get ready to do it, or it shouldn't, probably, be in [the game plan]. That's easy to say after the fact, but you try to take what you learn from one game to the next – what you learn in practice – and go out there and do things that you can execute well, because if you can't execute them, the best idea is meaningless. That's what we're trying to do right now."

Looking at the Steelers now, the last time you played them, they didn't have WR Martavis Bryant. Having a guy like that, that can stretch the field, how much does that change how you have to play against him? (Turron Davenport) "They have a lot of guys that can stretch the field. Every one of their guys can stretch the field, and I think that's what makes them the offense that they are. They're a big-play offense – I would say the No. 1 big-play offense in the league. Martavis Bryant – No. 10 – No. 11 [Markus Wheaton] … What's the other guy's number? Oh, that's right, No. 84 [Antonio Brown]. (laughter) They're all, obviously, very dangerous receivers."

John, in February at the State of the Ravens address, Steve Bisciotti was talking about if he had one lament it was not winning the division enough years, enough times. He said, "We have to make things easier for us to win the division." With what the Bengals and Steelers have done this year – and their young, new faces – has that made the challenge even greater going forward for you guys? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I don't know. Compared to what?" (Reporter: "That it's…) "That if they didn't have a good, young nucleus, or we didn't have a good division? If we had a poor division, that'd be great. (laughter) We don't have a poor division. We have an excellent division, and that's our challenge. We're up for it. We're not scared. We're not backing down."

WR Kamar Aiken

On whether this is extra motivation to prevent Pittsburgh from clinching a playoff spot: "It's a rivalry game, so that speaks for itself. Records go out the window. It's a rivalry game, so we know it's going to be a gritty, nasty game. We're looking forward to it."

On whether it means something to be a "spoiler" to Pittsburgh's playoff chances: "It means something just to beat Pittsburgh, period. If we can sweep them for the year, that's big for us – just period – because of the rivalry in itself. That'll be an extra bonus if we can knock them out, too."

On wanting to finish the last two games strongly against division opponents: "We want to finish the season on a positive note. You never want to go into the offseason on a negative note. Right now, we're trying to finish on a positive note."

On his impressions of working with QB Ryan Mallett: "I was with Mallett in New England, so I know Mallett pretty well. I've been catching balls with him when I was in New England, so I'm pretty comfortable with him and everybody else. He's a really talented guy. He has to – I guess – get the offense. I guess whoever's out there is out there."

On whether he has helped QB Ryan Mallett learn the offense: "Actually, I let the coaches do that. I worry about playing. I'm pretty sure that they're doing a good job of getting everybody caught up in that [quarterback] room. I go out there and play."

On whether offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has had to change the game plan frequently this season with the available personnel: "It changes depending on who we're playing. It's a game plan, so it depends [who] we're going up against and what coverages we're going to see, or what kind of schemes they run. It changes week to week depending on what they're doing."



QB Jimmy Clausen

On how the quarterbacks are preparing this week without a starter being named: "Everyone is getting reps. Like I said the past few weeks, whether you're the third guy, the second guy, the first guy, everyone has to prepare like they're the starter. That's how all of us are going in – it's preparing to be the starter, and we leave that decision up to the coaches."

On working with QB Ryan Mallett and QB Matt Schaub: "It's good. I think all of us are learning. I think Matt is learning from myself and Ryan. I'm learning from those guys. Ryan is learning from Matt and myself. It's a good combination to have. Obviously, you don't want this to happen to your team throughout the season, but everyone is doing a great job working with each other. Everyone is trying to get ready to go, because no one knows who's going to be playing."

On how he feels about his first two starts as a Raven: "I feel good. Obviously, I wish we would have got two wins, but I feel good with my preparation, how I went about my business to get ready to go if my name was called. But after watching the tape the past two weeks, there were some things that I wish I could have back. That's just how football goes. No one is ever perfect. [I am] trying to get better every day."

On how offensive coordinator Marc Trestman adjusts the game plan each week and whether it compares to working with him in Chicago: "It's really similar. Every week is a different game plan depending on who you're playing, whether it's a man [coverage] team or a zone team or middle-field open team, middle-field closed team. It depends what the defense is doing, but a lot of the concepts and everything is similar to last year, but [has] different terminology."

On how much he is looking forward to his first Ravens-Steelers game: "Yes, I'm really looking forward to it. Obviously, it's a big rivalry. We're trying to come out here in practice and get ready to go. Intensity was up today in practice, and that's how it's going to be all week."


OLB Elvis Dumervil

On whether there is extra motivation to prevent Pittsburgh from clinching a playoff spot: "It's more about us. We want to come out … It has been a rough year – we all know that –but it's the last home game, so we want to make sure we go out strong for our fans."

On the importance of finishing strong against division opponents in the final two games: "I think we can try to focus on having a good week of preparation and try to finish things the way we want to finish it and let everything else take care of [itself]."

On OLB Za'Darius Smith's two-sack game against the Chiefs: "He could have had three sacks, too. The kid, he works hard. He works hard in practice. He works on his craft. It's good to see it come out and show in a game. We're looking forward to him having another big week."

On whether it has been difficult to keep a positive attitude this season: "I think, in life, you always have to work on something. Obviously, this is not a circumstance or a situation I would like to be in. I didn't come here for that. But in life, you have to be able to … It's how you respond to things. One thing we're going to do is we're going to try to finish this season as strong as we can and build on it."

On what he expects the intensity to be like against the Steelers: "It's still a rivalry. I'm sure they acknowledge that. I don't think they're going to come in here and think we're just going to let down. I would hope they're not. [They are a] well-coached team. [They have] great coaches over there, explosive players on the outside. We all know what Ben [Roethlisberger] can do, and I'm sure they're going to try to help their offensive line with chips and stuff like that. I doubt they try to do any one-on-one-type of protections. I'm sure we get a lot of Heath Miller and chips and stuff like that."

* *

On how veterans can build on this season for next year: "It's really [about] trying to learn from what we've gone through this year. As a veteran player, you really don't like hearing those kinds of things, but it is more [for] the young guys to get how hard and difficult it is to win in this league. We have to build on that as a team collectively."



OLB Za'Darius Smith

On what it means to have OLB Elvis Dumervil telling him to stack games through the course of a season: "Just to work harder every day at practice, stay consistent. That was my main goal – to stay consistent and keep working. A two-sack game … Like you said, 'Doom' [Elvis Dumervil] said, 'Don't get the big head. Focus on the next week.' From last week, that's what I'm doing now – focusing on the Steelers."

On whether he needed to hear head coach John Harbaugh say he will be an impactful player in the league and how he has seen himself grow since his two-sack game against Pittsburgh earlier in the year and: "It really doesn't matter. I know what my job is – to come here and replace a guy like Pernell McPhee. Coach [Dean Pees] really does give me a lot of options of playing inside, outside and dropping in coverage. I'm the man for the job, so I'm going to keep doing work."

On the Ravens-Steelers rivalry: "It's big just to know that rivalry is so big in the NFL. [And] having an ex-teammate [Bud Dupree from Kentucky] that plays for the Steelers, that's even crazier. It's great to have that energy and intense [emotions] throughout the game. Preparing for this week is going to be even more intense."

On what he wants to see from himself in the final two weeks of the season: "Get after the quarterback more and make more sacks. Even [more than] that, setting the edge more."

On a spin move he tried against the Chiefs: "We were actually in a play call where we had a four-man rush, and I called the game with Timmy Jernigan. I was supposed to go inside – sell it upfield and then go inside – but I kind of got stuck on my back foot. I hesitated, and I tried to turn back around. I know when I got to the sideline, coach [John Harbaugh] had a couple words with me, but it won't happen again, I know that."

On whether he has to put natural instinct aside when pass rushing: "Yes, I just have to execute the play. It's my job to get after the quarterback. My main focus is to get after the quarterback. I know another thing coach Dean Pees was telling us [is], 'Be more consistent in your rush lanes. Don't get past the level of the quarterback.'"

On the difficulty of tackling QB Ben Roethlisberger: "That's a big thing we're doing this week – staying after the quarterback and making sure we get hands on him and actually get him to the ground."

On what he has learned this season: "Like I said, being more consistent in my rush lanes. Having guys like 'Doom' [Elvis Dumervil] and Courtney Upshaw – learning from those guys – that's big. I had a couple times when I do get past the quarterback, and he steps up into the pocket and gains like 10 yards. Like you said, for my rookie year, that's something I need to improve on and work more at throughout this practice."



DT Brandon Williams


On the intensity of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry:"Whether we're 0-14 or 14-0, the Steelers game is the Steelers game, no matter what. We're going to take it the same way every single time. It's going to be a high-intensity game. We're going to give everything we've got, and I'm pretty sure they're going to do the same."

On the opportunity to prove the Ravens can contend in the future with two games against division opponents to finish the season:"Yes, definitely, and they know it, too. We've just had some things that didn't go our way. So, we're going to come out here and fight no matter what. That's just how we are. That's just how we're made up. We're going to continue to fight, no matter what. Just because it's the last two games of the season, doesn't mean we're going to turn over and play dead. We're going to fight, and they're going to know they're going to be in a fight."

On not receiving a Pro Bowl invite:"I can't control any of that. So, I'm just going to control what I can control, and that's helping my team right now."

On if not receiving a Pro Bowl invite motivates him:"Yes, sure. Obviously, you want to prove that you're one of the best, and you want to go. But as of right now, I'm worried about the Steelers."

G Marshal Yanda


On his fifth-consecutive Pro Bowl bid:"Every time is definitely a new time, and you're always happy and feel fortunate that everything works out. You play your tail off, and then you get the recognition for it. Obviously, it's just a ... It comes at a tough time; we're having a tough season and stuff like that, but it's definitely something special that I work hard for every day. I want to be great every day, and I work at it, for sure."

On if there was concern that the Ravens' season may have eliminated him from Pro Bowl consideration:"No, you don't worry about that stuff. I'm just worried about playing at a high level week-in and week-out, and I'm not worried about the Pro Bowl as far as, 'Am I going to make it? Am I not going to make it?' That's not what's important. What's important is playing hard for the team and winning games and stuff like that. So, that's not your focus."

On if it is humbling to become the sixth player in team history to earn five-or-more Pro Bowl invites:"Yes, it's awesome. It's a great honor, obviously, to be mentioned with those guys [Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata]. Those guys are Hall of Famers, and it's just awesome, and I feel fortunate to be able to stay healthy at the right time and be able to play on a good team, good organization. I understand a lot of that stuff sometimes has to help, too. Obviously, you see that [when] other teams are having a really good year, more guys get voted in. When you're having a tough year, less guys get voted in. So, it's not just playing, too, sometimes. It's about your team, too. And it is about the team. I'm very fortunate to be with that group."

On added motivation from Pittsburgh's opportunity to clinch a playoff bid with a win in Baltimore:"Obviously, it's always a great rivalry, and we're having a tough year. But that doesn't change things, as far as us wanting to go in and win the football game at all costs. We're going to give them our best and try to beat them just because we want to beat them. Obviously, it will hurt their playoff changes, but we're trying to go in and win one football game; and the Steelers are in our way. Like you said, it's always been a great rivalry, and obviously, this year has been tough on us. We're not in the playoffs. It's a different scenario, but it's still going to be a battle out there; and we're still going to be fighting our tails off."

On what make the Ravens-Steelers rivalry different:"I feel like the physicality of it – two good organizations, two hardnosed football teams that usually take care of the football and have good defenses. [It is] usually a low-scoring affair. All the old guys set the example for us when I came in here: Ray Lewis, Ed Reeds [and] 'Double J' [Jarret Johnson]. It was Hines Ward and Ben [Roethlisberger] and all those guys who paved that way for that great rivalry. And it's just something that you love playing in. It's a bunch of hardnosed guys, competitive guys going after it."

On the Ravens' unique quarterback situation:"It's a challenge, for sure. Obviously, [with] a new guy under center, you don't have a ton of reps with him, and he doesn't have a ton of time. So, it's learning on the fly, and trying to make your mistakes and correct them fast and move fast, because you don't have the time. You don't have all of training camp to get snap count and the cadence and all that stuff down. So, you've just got to roll with it, and you've got to understand that things happen fast, real fast. You've got to get it fast. If you mess it up in practice, we need to have it ready to go by tomorrow, because we've got a game on Sunday."

On C John Urschel's recent play:"He's doing a good job. Obviously, he's a young guy, but he's a smart guy, intelligent guy. He can read the front. He's making the calls well. He keeps getting more comfortable each week, and we expect that out of him. He's doing a good job."

On proving that the Ravens' down season in a one-year occurrence with two division games left on the schedule:"It's two division rivalries [Cincinnati and Pittsburgh] – and obviously, we're out of the playoffs – but it's still two division games and two good football teams. When we play good football teams, we want to play our best football, and there's nothing more that needs to be said. Obviously, they're in our division, and we look forward to playing them every year and beating them."


Head Coach Mike Tomlin


On the current state of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry:"I've got an insider's perspective, and so my perspective is probably a little bit more consistent than those on the outside, in that we've got respect for those guys – players and coaches. We've got respect for how they do their business and their intensions, and I really think the intensity of the rivalry is based on that respect. Because we know, regardless of circumstance, we should anticipate their best, and they should anticipate ours."

On potentially clinching a playoff bid in Baltimore:"No, that's irrelevant to us. We're just focused on meeting this week's challenge, and that's to play well enough to win, not to worry about what goes on outside our stadium or any of that type of things that are side notes, or footnotes if you will, relative to the central challenge." (Reporter: "So, you're saying it wouldn't feel any better to do it here in Baltimore?") *"It'd be tough. It'd be difficult for me to care less about the location." *(laughter)

On if it is different preparing for three Ravens quarterbacks:"No, not really, because regardless of who they've had at quarterback, essentially, their schematic personality has been the same. Obviously, each quarterback brings a little something different to the table, in terms of individual skill sets, and we have to deal with acknowledgement and reaction to that. But largely, their schematics are their schematics, and they have a playing style that has been displayed throughout the 14 games that they've played. So, [we are] not overly concerned about it from that standpoint."

On the relationship between WR Antonio Brown and QB Ben Roethlisberger:"It's not something that has developed here in 2015. It's something that has been a natural maturation process, individually and collectively, between the two [Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger] since 2010. 'A.B.' is a tremendous worker, and his success is born out of that labor. I think that's why he's so highly respected by his teammates, and guys [have] an appreciation for what he does, because it's really just steeped in labor."

On RB DeAngelo Williams filling in for RB Le'Veon Bell:"His play is his play, and that's been really good. He doesn't need any endorsement from me in that regard. I think we've all been equally impressed and happy with his approach to business. He's a 10-year veteran, but boy, he has the enthusiasm of a young guy. He loves ball. He brings a positive energy to our workplace daily. He has been as critical to our run in that regard as he has as a player."

On the Ravens' injury situation and difficult season:"I really don't have [anything] of any significance. I hadn't followed it from that perspective."

On the Steelers' success despite injuries:"It's very necessary, if we have a desire to meet the goals that we set out when this thing started. We know that injuries are a part of the game. As a matter of fact, we anticipate it. Our ability to deal with it, ultimately, is going to kind of define us. So, we don't try to focus on the injuries themselves, but focus our energy on the guys that we have available to us and their preparation and their play, because ultimately, that's all that matters."

On WR Jacoby Jones returning to Baltimore:"He's coming." *(laughter) (Reporter: "Has he given you a hard time about the sideline incident ever?") *"No, no. Jacoby is a football lover. We don't have any history in that regard. I think over the course of time, he has gotten to know me, and I think that may have eliminated any questions he may have had about that incident."

On WR Martavis Bryant creating opportunities for WR Markus Wheaton in the middle of the field through is work on the outside:"I really think the strength of the pack is the pack, and I think at different times, they all benefit from the presence of others. Obviously, they all benefit from the presence of Antonio [Brown] and the things that he does, but at different times during the season, I've seen guys get an opportunity because of the contribution of others. And I think that type of balance has allowed us to be the type of team, offensively, that we need to be – whether it's Martavis Bryant, whether it's Heath Miller, [who] caught 10 balls the other week, or Markus Wheaton. Ben [Roethlisberger] does a nice job of including everyone in the passing game and making opposing defenses defend everyone, and when you do that, everybody feels engaged, everybody feels like they have an opportunity to be a significant component of the offense."

On the Steelers and Ravens meeting in a game that does not hold significance in the standings for both teams:"Speak for yourself." *(laughter) (Reporter: "For both teams. Are you at all surprised by the way the Ravens' season has gone?") *"Like I said, that's not my job to evaluate or even watch their season. I watch two weeks a year or maybe three weeks a year, depending on how often we play."


QB Ben Roethlisberger


On his trust factor with WR Antonio Brown:"I just think it comes from the time we put in – both on and off the field – talking, communicating. Then, obviously, at practice just making sure we're on the same page."

On WR Antonio Brown making plays despite the attention he receives from opposing defenses:"Well, like I said, just the work we put in, the trust we have in each other, the belief we have in each other, and he's just that good, I guess."

On if Baltimore's down year is an isolated incident due to injury or if the Ravens have fallen behind in the division:"No, I think they've had the injury bug pretty bad, and it's one of those seasons for them that you've got to deal with a lot of injuries to a lot of key positions and players. This is still a big game; it's the AFC North. It's big for us. They beat us here at our place. So, we're not looking at this as ... You've got to throw records out the window when you play AFC North football."

On balancing a rivalry and a playoff push entering Week 16:"[We've] got to win. We've been playing every game as a playoff game for the last few weeks now. So, we're going to continue to do that, because this is a big game for us."

On the dynamic of the rivalry without QB Joe Flacco:"You always want to play each team at full strength. But it's the NFL, and there are always going to be injuries. So, it just can't happen that way, but it's still a big game. It's still the Steelers vs. the Ravens regardless of who's out there."

On Ravens' 2015 Pro Bowlers G Marshal Yanda and P Sam Koch:"[They are] great football players; that's what Baltimore is and those guys especially. [They are] just consummate [pros] who have been doing it for a long time."

On the Ravens' defense and the addition of younger players to the secondary:"I think they're doing good things. I think they are learning on the fly and making plays and being physical, and that's what you expect from a Ravens' defense, especially a Ravens' secondary, is physicality."

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