Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate you coming over for this. [We had] a good week of practice. We're very excited to go up into a great environment against a great football team and play in a Divisional Round game. So, we're looking forward to it. Our guys are ready. We're just going to try to put our best foot forward and play the best game that we can. What questions do you have?"
You just happened to be going on the road to a couple stadiums where they're allowing fans this year. When all of a sudden, you're kind of getting used to playing in front of no fans, is there a difference? Is there almost kind of like a shock value when you go out there and all of a sudden you hear fans now? (Jamison Hensley) "It's definitely a difference, but I think it's [a] difference in a good way; it feels more normal. The shock value is still, I think, when it's nobody there and it's quiet. Yes, you have some of the crowd noise and some of the music, but this is more normal feeling than the other."
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman spoke yesterday, and he said this year's Ravens are more equipped to win in the playoffs this year because of the growth and maturation that's taken place. I guess he's sort of eluding to how you guys fell behind against Tennessee early and came back and dominated the game. Have you seen that maturation process from your players being in a third-straight playoff game? (Todd Karpovich) "Sure, just that and also, the time on task; I think he's talking about, also. The fact that we've had more time in the offense, we've seen more things in terms of how people attack us; we've had more practice against that stuff. We're just in a better place. You'd like to think you would be, and [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman] makes a good point that we are."
In typical fashion, the weather reports are all over the map about Saturday. I know the lake effect, or whatever that stuff is, makes things unpredictable as it is. How can you prepare for that? Have you guys done anything different to prepare for the potential of maybe snow and just wet weather in general? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, we do things with the balls and that kind of stuff [and] what you can do. We were outside [football] Wednesday and [football] Thursday, which was good. It doesn't really matter. Whatever we get, we're going to go play in. [For] both sides, the weather is not going to be a factor, I don't believe. It's going to be whoever plays the best football in the weather. I don't think they're expecting any kind of blizzard or anything crazy. So, it should be fine."
You talked the other day about QB Josh Allen who you really liked coming out of college. To pivot to another player who's obviously at the top of his game, WR Stefon Diggs, everyone in the NFL seemed like they missed out on him when he went in the fifth round [in the 2015 NFL Draft]. When he came in to work with you guys on the local prospect day, what stuck out to you about him as a prospect when this was five or six years ago at this point? (Jonas Shaffer) "Boy, he's done great. A long time ago … I remember him well, because he was here. We knew a lot about him and studied him. We just missed on him, too. Obviously, we could've drafted him up until that point, and we didn't. I don't remember the exact details of it, but unfortunately, that's one that got away. But he's a great player, great guy, local guy. [I have] all the respect in the world for him as a player. He's definitely a factor. He's … I don't want to say public enemy, but he's Ravens enemy No. 1 right now, or maybe No. 2, or maybe No. 3. (laughter) They have a few of them over there, but he's a guy that we have to keep a good eye on."
Back when you guys drafted a few of your players, but specifically ILB Patrick Queen, executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta talked about how impressive it was that he played his best late in the season when LSU was making a championship run. Do you see that kind of coming to fruition here in Baltimore, and if so, how? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I don't know about the analogy; I think it's more about [that] he's just been playing a lot of football now. He's a very diligent guy. He's very coachable. He works very hard, and he's smart. He learns from coaching. He learns from practice, and he learns from game experience. So, [with] all of those things, now he has a lot of football under his belt. He's continued to improve steadily throughout the year. He and I just had that conversation yesterday about 1% improvement every day. He brought it up; it's something that we talk about a lot. However many days we've been at it, I'd say he's at least that much better than he was when he first got here as a pro football player. So, he's done a very good job."
When I was looking at your box score from Tennessee, you had I believe  guys with a tackle and  guys with some sort of a defensive statistic. Have you ever had a team that had that many contributors? What's the statement on what your team is and what your defense is when you have that many guys contributing? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "That's a great observation. I don't know if the stats have ever been that way before, because I haven't really looked at it from that perspective. But that's who we've been as a defense; that's what we've grown into, that's what we've tried to build in the way that we structure the personnel groups [and] the way we structure the packages. They're built that way – to put guys on and off the field. Versatile players are very valuable to us, and we try to have guys do what they do best. So, yes; I think it's just a credit to what we do and how we do it, [and to] our coaches and players to put the time in to learn it. The more guys out there, I think the harder you can play. So, that's what we're trying to do."
Bills RB Devin Singletary had 89 rushing yards against the Ravens last year. What do you need to do to stop him? Or do you stick to the same plan that stopped Titans RB Derrick Henry? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "It's the same and it's different, OK? It's the same in the sense that you have to play good run defense. You have to set edges. You have to do a good job staying square and tearing off up front. You have to be sound and react to all the different schemes properly. It's different in the sense that it's a very different offense. It's a pass to set up the run offense. It's not as much of a quarterback under center home wide zone; they have that play, but it's not the main thing they do. A lot of it is quarterback read. A lot of it is gun, draws [and] sweeps. They have very good pullers. The quarterback gets involved as far as a scramble player and a draw player. All of the things in their run game – the screens. The wide receiver screens are like runs for them. So, same idea, but different task."
I was wondering if you saw that [Houston rapper] Mike Jones reached out with a song recommendation to pump up the team? The song is called, 'Stay On The Grind.' (Ryan Mink) "I didn't know that, but I'm guessing we had it in practice, because the guys were telling me there was some Mike Jones in practice yesterday and today. So, you'll have to find out what the playlist was. I didn't recognize it, sadly – I have to admit. But I'm looking forward to hearing the songs. Are they good? Have you heard it?" (Reporter: "It's interesting. I'm not sure, we'll have to see if you like it.") "OK. Does it sound like Tom Petty at all?" (Reporter: "No.") "No. OK." (laughter)
Practice was indoors today. Did OLB Matthew Judon and CB Marcus Peters practice? What's your sense on their availability? (Jeff Zrebiec) "They did. They were out there [for] most, if not all of the practice. They should be … I anticipate them being available for the game. We'll see."
Kind of a specific question about the weather, but you've had a couple games the past couple of years where QB Lamar Jackson has had to change his cleats. I'm just curious, how involved are you and the coaching staff in that? What's the process of the equipment staff being prepared to deal with whatever the conditions are? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Right, they're very prepared for it. Our equipment guys, led by [equipment manager] William Sheridan, do a great job. [Assistant equipment manager] Kenico [Hines] … They do a great job of educating the guys. The guys go out before the game [and] they work on it. I think sometimes, the field is in a little bit different shape before the game than it is during the game, or especially toward the end of the game. So, they have to change [their cleats] sometimes, but they're on it. The extent of my involvement probably is to say to Kenico or William, 'The guys are slipping – take care of it.' You know? (laughter) And they do a great job of taking care of it."
RB Gus Edwards
In the last game, QB Lamar Jackson looked like he had a little bit more of an edge to him. You saw him walking off the field, not wanting to shake hands. Was that a different side of Lamar, or have you seen that in the past? (Jamison Hensley) "He [Lamar Jackson] is a competitor. [We're] a team full of competitors. Guys, game to game, kind of felt a little personal. So, I guess he took it that way – a lot of people took it that way – and it kind of motivated us to play how we played."
It seems like we're all asking weather questions, because there might be snow in Buffalo, [NY] on Saturday night. Have you ever played in the snow before, and do you have any thoughts about how that might affect your game? (Childs Walker) "I played [in the snow] a couple times in high school – I'm from New York. Whatever it is, whatever the circumstances are, we've got to pull through – for real. It's just what's given to us. We've got to just make it happen."
Along those lines, are there any misconceptions about what it takes to play in the snow? Are there any misconceptions about what works well in the snow? (Jonas Shaffer) "Our offense, we're built for whatever it is – a run-first offense. I think we'll do good. We'll just make sure out footing is right. We'll probably get an opportunity to go out there pregame and just check everything out and make sure we're ready."
In 2019, you played against Buffalo. What did you learn from that game? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "They play hard. They play hard. It was a good game. It's a lot of the same guys – a bunch of guys who play hard. They run to the football, and they're talented."
When you win a game like that, is there a sense that you guys can play "free" at all? Obviously, there was a lot of talk, motivation and pressure going into that game. After you get the win, how do you think that will impact this team moving forward? (Garrett Downing) "For a while now, we've been playing in a lot of games that've been must-win situations. That really prepared us for what we're in right now – for the playoffs. Guys have been playing with a 'chip on their shoulder,' and we're going to continue doing that."
You mentioned that you feel like you guys are built well for snow games or adverse weather. Is that because you feel like you can run the ball no matter what's going on with the weather? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, because I feel like we have a lot of mentally tough guys, a physical offense and physical defense. And with that mindset, regardless of what the weather is, we can't let that bother us – for real."
You mentioned QB Lamar Jackson being competitive. Even at this level, in the NFL, do guys on offense look to the quarterback to be a leader? And then, in what ways is Lamar such an outstanding leader, in your mind? (Cliff Brown) "He's a great leader. We definitely look to him. He's a guy who makes things happen for us in crucial situations with the ball in his hand. We're relying on him, and he makes the plays that we need him to make. So, he leads by his play."