Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. We made a couple of roster moves, adding guys and working the roster. With the new rules, obviously, there's more activity with that this year probably than any other year. So, if you have any questions about that … [We're] preparing [and] obviously, getting ready for a very big challenge with the Tennessee Titans coming in here to our stadium. [They are] a very good football team and well-rounded in every way. So, we're going to work to make sure we put our best foot forward on Sunday. So, what questions do you have?"
In going against a physical back like RB Derrick Henry, and you guys have had some dealings with him in the playoff game last year, what's kind of the overall message when you're talking to the players and trying to say, "This is how we stop Derrick Henry?" What's kind of the priority? (Jamison Hensley) "We have an overall message, and we have very specific messages based on the fronts that we play and the schemes that they run. [There are] a lot of technicalities to it, in terms of how we want to play these things, how we fit the gaps and the techniques that we use. That's the main thing that we work on. It's going to take a great effort. It's going to take all we've got. They're a very good run-blocking offensive line, of course. Obviously, he's a downhill runner, right at the top of the heap there. So, that's pretty much the direction of it, and we try to make sure that we're on point."
There's a lot of talk about RB Derrick Henry, but if you look at QB Ryan Tannehill, he has over 2,000 passing, 20 touchdowns and three interceptions. What do you see with their deep ball game and how they're able to balance it on offense? I think they've actually thrown the ball more than they've run. (Todd Karpovich) "Right, well, most teams do, but it's definitely … The pass is set up by the run. They use a lot of play-action pass off of that. They run numerous play-action-type of protections off of that with good ball fakes to try to draw the linebackers up. You don't really see from most teams all the different types of play-action combination routes – one-man route, two-man route, three-man route, even more – off of play-action like they do. They do them all. Some teams do this or that, or have a theme, but they do them all. It's all things that we've seen before that we'll just have to cover well within our schemes; eyes in the right place, leverage is right [and] take care of our business in the right way, so that we don't get caught out of position."
I don't know, I think it might be five or six different offensive line combinations this year. Has that made it difficult to build cohesion when that's such an important quality and you've talked about that at that position? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, you'd rather have your five guys locked in from the beginning. Certainly, you'd rather have that – there's no question about it. I don't think there are too many teams that have had that this year. I'm sure that the teams that have had that, or have had the least issues, probably [have had] the most success. I'd have to look and see who that is. I don't keep track of exactly who's had the most continuity on their offensive line across the league, other than the teams we play. That's something that would be valuable. We don't have that right now, but we have enough players to be successful, and guys that want to play and work hard and have been here. So, we'll just go to work."
What do you like about TE Luke Willson? I know he's on the practice squad, but is there a chance that he could be activated for Sunday so you could have two tight ends or one to go with FB/DL Patrick Ricard and TE Mark Andrews? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, there is. We have guys on the practice squad at tight end and other positions that certainly could come up. We'll just have to see how the week of practice goes. But we like Luke [Willson]. He's a guy that our personnel department knows really well. Of course, we've played against him before, so we know him a little bit. [He's a] good guy and an experienced player, so that helps us. It's good to have a guy that's been out there before and knows how to play. We'll just have to see how he fits into what we're doing."
What did you think of G/C Patrick Mekari at right tackle? It looked like he really held up well out there. Generally, with his physical stature, he's not what you would expect at a right tackle, but he did well in the pass and run game in the second half. (Pete Gilbert) "He did. Pat [Mekari] is a very good player. [He's] a very versatile player, that's one of his best strengths. Nobody works harder than Pat Mekari. He just really understands what we're doing. I think he could play any position on the offensive line, and he's played the extra O-lineman this year, which is kind of a tight end position. So, I'm very proud of what he did. He played tackle in college, too. So, that was a big benefit for us in the game."
QB Lamar Jackson
A lot of fans feel – going against the Titans again and what happened in that playoff game – that this is a revenge game? From a player who has played in that game and is going to play in this game, is there any sort of revenge, or does that game factor into this game at all? (Jamison Hensley) "It's not a revenge game. The game is over with; it was last year. We just fell short. We can't do anything about it. We're just going into this game trying to be 7-3 – that's all. We're not looking into it like a revenge game."
Going off of that, is there any big takeaway from that game that you carried with you through the offseason and still have with you for this season? (Morgan Adsit) "We just wanted to score points during the game. Our offense, we were driving the ball, but we weren't finishing. That would be one of the biggest takeaways I took from the game – that we just have to finish drives. And hopefully, that's what we're going to do this Sunday."
The announcers were talking about how there were a couple opportunities they felt you passed up – potential running lanes. When you watched the tape of the Patriots game, did you see that at all? And were you happy with how that kind of played out – with how much you ran in the Patriots game? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I saw one run – it was a pass that I threw to Willie [Snead IV] – I wish I would have kept it and got some yards on that play. But that's about it. I feel like we played pretty good on offense. Like I said for the previous question, we just have to score points – finish drives, score points – then the game would be different. But no, I think it was pretty good other than that."
I went back and watched the film, and really, there was a lot of efficiency and effectiveness, but a few plays here and there that kept drives from scoring points. Does that give you the feeling that you're getting closer to putting it all together for this week, or does it feel like a step backwards? (Pete Gilbert) "Like I said, we just have to finish. We see little things on tape, like we could have probably put them away during the game, but we had a few penalties [and] a little miscommunication – stuff like that. We hit those, and I feel like the game would be – like I said before – different."
I understand the other team had to play in the same conditions, but is there any way to get ready to play in the conditions you had to face in Foxborough? (Kirk McEwen) "To be honest, no. I have seen different types of weather games. I've played in heavy snow, windy games. This game here was just a lot of rain. Every time we stepped on the field, it was like the rain started pouring down [like] crazy – dramatically. It happens. It's football, and we still had opportunities. We've got to live with it."
You've been operating behind a makeshift offensive line ever since T Ronnie Stanley went down, but it seems like they've been giving you good protection. How would you assess the way the line has played despite all the shuffling that's been going on? (David Ginsburg) "Our guys have been playing pretty good. I'm confident in our [offensive] line – 100% confident. We've got those NFL linemen for a reason. Those guys [work] their tail off. They want to win games – I know that for a fact. We just have to keep stamping stuff and keep it going. They're doing good so far."
I know you would like your numbers to be better when throwing to WR Marquise "Hollywood" Brown. What do you think needs to happen for that connection that you guys had last year to kind of come back this year? (Jamison Hensley) "Just keep going after it, keep shooting my shot, just keep giving him an opportunity – that's all. We're going to be good, for sure."
WR Willie Snead IV is someone that you've always expressed a lot of confidence in, but since the Bye Week, his targets and catches have been up. Is there anything you're seeing defensively to explain that, or is it you guys just developing a little more chemistry as the season has gone on? (Luke Jones) "Just better chemistry. We're getting a lot more comfortable as the season is going on – that's all. Nothing more, nothing less."
Earlier in the week, C Matt Skura had to put out a statement on social media saying, "Hey, leave my family alone." When you see that, as a teammate, how do you feel? And what do you say to fans that are inappropriately attacking like that? (Pete Gilbert) "It happened to everyone. Some of the fans are not out there – or none of them are out there – doing what we're doing. [Matt] Skura has a lot to do out there; he has to make checks – and stuff like that – for the line. So, there are a lot of things that go on, and people shouldn't be messing with his family at all. That's a human being at the end of the day. That's my teammate. That's my brother. So, yes, that's just 'B.S.'"
Earlier in your statements, you said you want to go to 7-3. These are two 6-3 teams, we're past the midway point of the season. I know you want to win them all, and they're all big games, but how much does it feel like this is – at this point of the season – a pretty big game given the amount of teams that have 6 wins and where you and Tennessee are? (Shawn Stepner) "Every game is a big game, and we want to win them all. Unfortunately, we didn't win three of them out of the nine we've played so far. So, we just have to go in here, focus up, and work hard. It starts today in practice. Keep our head on our shoulders, keep our head held high, and just go out there and play football."
People have told you guys that you made last season look easy. When that playoff game ended, and you guys got into the offseason, did you guys have a sense that this year would be even tougher just because of how fast teams are to adjust in the NFL – big picture? (Jonas Shaffer) "No, we didn't really think about stuff like that. We just wanted to focus on ourselves and getting better from last year. Our record might not be the same, but I feel our mind is growing a lot. We learned a lot about ourselves. We just have to keep it going."
S DeShon Elliott
As you look back to Sunday, obviously they ran the ball a lot better than you would have liked to have seen. Can you do things other than just blitz on the end to try and stop the run right now given the guys that you're missing? (Pete Gilbert) "We've got to play our brand of football. It honestly just comes down to doing your job and playing physical, because the more physical team is going to win up front. And wherever we can, as a defensive backfield, we'll try to help out our front seven. So, honestly, it just comes down to knowing your gaps and playing as physical as you possibly can and outworking the other team. That's all the run comes down to – is who wants it more? And once you show who wants it more, then obviously, that shows. In the first half, we came out there, and maybe they were more physical than us. In the second half, we tried to slow it down, but by the time we tried to slow it down, it was too late. But we're going to work on it. We have some young guys out here who are going to step up and do what they need to do for us to be great. We have great leaders on the defensive side of the ball, so I'm sure the young guys will step up the right way and the way they need to."
Facing RB Derrick Henry in particular, what principles do you guys have to focus on when you're playing him? (Childs Walker) "He's the best running back in the NFL. So, you know what they're going to do. They know everybody knows what they're going to do. They're going to give it to him 30-40 times a game. He's going to run it down your throat whether you like it or not. We just have to figure out a way to slow him down. We've got to get to him before he can get going – that's all you've got to do. If you can try to get to him before he gets going, before he gets that train going, then, hey, maybe you have a chance. But he's going to get the ball regardless, so you better have your helmet strapped up and get ready for this ride. You better be coming downhill and hit him every time."
There's no denying that it will be tougher to stop RB Derrick Henry or try to stop him without your guys DT Brandon Williams and DE Calais Campbell in there. I know you said it comes down to doing your job, but just how much tougher is it without those vets in there? (Shawn Stepner) "Of course it's going to be a challenge, because those guys are All-Pro players. Calais [Campbell] and 'Big Baby' [Brandon Williams], they're All-Pro players, and all I know is that in their room, Calais and 'Big Baby' are making sure they lead the young guys the right way and give them pointers on what they need to do. And we have young, tough guys who are ready for the challenge [and] who are going to step up. So, I feel like with them going into this week, being able to prepare the way they need to prepare, they'll be OK. They'll be ready to go. All I can tell them is to just go in there and play their game. You know what I'm saying? Just play loose, play free, have fun and be physical up front – that's all they can do. That what they're here for. That's what coach was saying today. Shoot, they got drafted here for a reason, so it's time to prove it – show them."
I know you weren't on the field for that game against the Titans in the playoffs, but you were around the team. So, when you and teammates talk about that loss, what's kind of the tone? What kind of things do you guys say about that game? (Aaron Kasinitz) "At this point in time, this is Week  of the season, so what happened last year, happened last year. This is a different team. They're a different team with the same running back, so we know what they're going to do. We've just got to go out there and do our job and try to prevent it. Last year has nothing to do with this year. Right now, this is another week. They're the next team who's in front of us to play. We've got to get this win and get past them. They're our opponent for this week. So, it is what it is. I'm not really worried about what happened last year, [and] none of my teammates are worried about what happened last year. So, I'm trying to move forward, honestly."
You mentioned the word "physical" about five or six times. The Patriots said if they could out-physical the Ravens, then they could win the game. You're not used to hearing the Ravens being on the other side of being out-physicaled. How do you fix that by Sunday? (Kirk McEwen) "We're going to strap these pads on today, so the fight starts today. We've got to set a tone today and just go into the game with a mindset of just knowing, 'Look, we aren't going to be outworked. You're not going to out-hit us.' And if we can have that mindset going into the game and just go out there and play like the 'dogs' we know we can be and just bring that 'dog' up out [of us], then how could someone out-physical you if you're out there bringing that 'dog' out? So, we're going to see who's going to bring that 'dog' out on Sunday."
You've talked a lot about the running game, but as a safety, how do you also account for the play-action pass, because the Titans are very effective there, as well? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I've just got to be disciplined. I've got to be disciplined in my technique, in my alignment, in my assignments. Technique – make sure you have great eyes; that's what you have to do. You've got to know '22' [Derrick Henry] is going to get the ball 30-40 times, but you have to understand, at the same time, they have a great offensive scheme and great offensive coaches who know when it's the right time to throw a play-action in there and throw the defense off. As long as I'm playing at free safety, I have to make sure I'm the deepest of the defense, and when it's time for me to come down in run support, I come down in run support. For my teammates, defensive back-wise, we all know it's all about eyes and having great eyes and communicating and having great discipline. And we hone-[in] on having great discipline and great eyes. So, we're just going [to go] out there and compete. They have a really good group of receivers with A.J. Brown and [Corey] Davis, so we're just going to go out there and compete with them. So, we'll be fine. We just have to go out there and be disciplined."
Can you just touch on how critical this game is? I know you guys want to win every one, and every game is a big game, but judging by the standings, you guys are both 6-3 – and we're into the second half of the season here – it feels like a big game. Do you agree? (Shawn Stepner) "We're just trying to stay plus-four, and right now, we're not plus-four; we're plus-three. Right now, like I said earlier, this team is another team in our way. So, if this is the team we have to beat to be plus-four, then let's strap it up; let's get going. It doesn't matter where it's at; we just have to get the 'dub' no matter how we get it. No matter what happens, we have to get this win. That's every week, but right now, this is our most important week right here. So, we're going to get this 'dub' and try to keep it moving from here."
DT Justin Madubuike
An injury slowed you down earlier this season in your rookie year. How much have veteran DE Calais Campbell and NT Brandon Williams helped you along the way? (Mike Preston) "Brandon [Williams], and Calais [Campbell], and 'Wolfy' [Derek Wolfe], 'Jelly' [Justin Ellis], all of those vets, they've helped my throughout the process of being a rookie and showing me the ropes. Everything they tell me, and these little 'Ps' and 'Qs' that they keep me on, I always have an ear to listen and I always try to apply it to my game."
How much did the injury hinder your development earlier in the year? (Mike Preston) "I'm back; I feel great. I'm out there. Anything that the team needs me to do, I'm there to do it to win games. I'm here to soak it all in."
I know you weren't here last year, but obviously, there's been a lot of talk about that Titans game in the playoffs. How much have you heard about it from teammates? How much do you think that's a motivating factor for you guys this week? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I wasn't here last year, but I have very high respect for the Titans. We obviously know what [No.] '22' [Derek Henry] can do, and it all comes down to us playing as a brotherhood, as a unit, and stopping that run, and keeping them one-dimensional."
Along those lines, have any of the players who played in that game last year – have they brought up the Titans game from last year at all this week? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, we watched film from last year and just watched film on what [No.] '22' [Derek Henry] can do, and the way the O-line blocks and all that stuff. It's going to come down to a very physical football game. We have respect for what [No.] '22' can do, but at the end of the day, it's about us."
You were out the first month of the season, and then you get back in there. How much did you expect to play this season given the veteran line? Probably not as much as you're playing now. (Kirk McEwen) "I didn't really think of it that way. I thought of it as me just being myself, contributing to this defense as much as I can when my [number] is called, and then making the most of it. It happened to be a lot of plays – I guess, in your eyes. But, for me, it's whatever I have to do to help this defense and help this team win."
What did you take away from Sunday night's game? Obviously, the Patriots had some significant success running the ball. [Your] biggest takeaway from that that you can apply then to this week against the Titans? (Pete Gilbert) "Just better execution on defense – stopping the run. We felt as a defense that we could've done better at that this past game. Those are the things we're going to work on in practice and staying square and knocking that run out."
You have been playing more in recent weeks. Where do you think you've made the most improvement since the summer? And what area of your game are you still trying to work on to improve the most? (Luke Jones) "I'd say just improving every day as a rookie. Coming from college to the pros, it's different. You're just really getting a gist of how the schemes work, and the O-line, and the way they block things. So, you have to stay square, play [with] violent hands and feet – all of those things I feel like I'm getting better every week. But I still have a lot of work to do, and we still have a lot of work to do in practice."
Are you ready to play against RB Derrick Henry? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Yes, we have to put in the work this week and lock in to Coach 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] and all the plays that he has for us, and trust it and knock that run out this week."
As you guys really broke down the Patriots' film afterward, what were you most disappointed in, specifically when you broke down what you guys did along the defensive line? (Childs Walker) "The disappointing part is the loss. We expect, every game, to go out there with our 'heads on fire' and knock the run out and play Ravens defense. We pride ourselves on defense, and we didn't get it done. So, it's back to the drawing board, back to work, back to practice and getting better every day."
Understanding that you may be without DE Calais Campbell and DT Brandon Williams, is that just a next-man-up situation, or do you think there has to be some adjustment, defensively, to make up for the loss of those two guys? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, Brandon [Williams] and Calais [Campbell], they're great vets, great parts of our defense, and [there's] a standard here [with] the Ravens, and it's a brotherhood – it's next man up. But we're all equipped to handle any situation on defense when a guy goes down. It's a standard here with the Ravens, like I said. So, we just have to get back on the field and get to work and knock this run out against the Titans."