Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. We're hard at work preparing for the game on Sunday against a very worthy opponent, and we're getting ready for practice as we speak. What questions do you have?"
I'm going to apologize off the bat for maybe a bigger picture question given it's Wednesday, but this is your ninth trip to the postseason. In terms of preparation and game planning, what has evolved for your approach over the years with getting ready and maybe some of the things you've learned, because you've had so much experience and also had a lot of success with it? (Pete Gilbert) "I don't really have that answer for you right now. I would like to give it to you; there's plenty of things, many things that we've learned and many things that evolve. The circumstances are different. Every situation every year is a little bit different. You just try to take it as you find it, and then you just try to do the best thing for your team at that time. Your team is never in the same place, and the circumstances are never quite the same. So, there are always adjustments you make in-season and even in the playoffs. But that's really the best I can do for you right now."
When you played the Titans [for the] first [time this season], and a couple other teams with good running attacks, DE Calais Campbell was not available. Is he fully healthy now? We know he kind of ramped back up. What difference does he make as a run defender going against a team like the Titans? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I believe so. He looked really good in the game against the Bengals this past week. It looks like he's physically back. He's a very strong, very agile big man. He can move laterally. He can extend. He can get off blocks. Of course, he takes up a lot of space, but he's a very athletic guy for a man his size, and he knows how to play. He knows how to play the schemes. He plays very hard. He's definitely a factor in there – a big factor."
The last two times the Ravens won the Super Bowl, they were Wild Card teams. It seems this team likes to be disrespected. Last year, coming in as the No. 1 seed, it didn't suit you so well. Do you think coming in as the No. 5 seed suits this team a little bit, feeling a little disrespected? (Kirk McEwen) "I didn't know that we were being disrespected or whatever, in terms of pundits or anything like that. I really haven't looked at any of that. I think we're just trying to play the best football game we can play from one week to the next. We're trying to play our best football as best [as] we can. I do think the adversity and the challenges that we've faced, I've mentioned that … I do think that those things have helped to forge us quite a bit, and have gotten us to this point, and we'll just see where it takes us going from here."
Do you get the feeling that this is a very important game for QB Lamar Jackson? He's talked previously about being 0-2 in the playoffs, and now he's got a shot to rectify that situation. (David Ginsburg) "Every game is important. You get the chance to play in the National Football League; so, from an importance standpoint, they're all important for guys who play or coach – a playoff game, even more so. They're always going to be big. Playoff games are big. They're opportunities, and it takes a lot to get to the playoffs. It takes a lot; it takes a whole year worth of work to get back to this same spot. So, that's not lost on anybody. [It's] no different for Lamar [Jackson] than anybody else in that sense."
Two-part question; has the NFL handed down any different rules with protocols and any added emphasis? Second part of that, through this year, how have you learned to compartmentalize concerns about those peripheral COVID-19 things while trying to coach a football team? (Mark Viviano) "Right, those are great questions. They came out with a list of playoff protocols … I'm not sure how they termed it exactly, but it was pretty consistent with what we've been doing before. We had already been pretty advanced. We kept all of the high-level protocols in that we had during our situation back about a month ago, so we didn't back off of any of that stuff. So, we're doing as much as you could possibly do, really, beyond what we're required to do, in terms of that. We haven't been in the building; all of our meetings are virtual at this point, and other things. As far as that compartmentalizing part of it; you do. You do. You really just have to keep it simple and concern yourself with what matters – that's the thing; we're here for football. We're here to be the best football team we can be, treat each other as well as we can treat each other, work as hard as we can and play the best football that we can play. Everything else is really just an inconvenience. You can't get upset or mad because you have to wear the mask, or you can't do one thing or another, or it's not normal. I think it's an inconvenience, but what goes with that inconvenience is the opportunity to compete and play. That's well worth it for all of us."
From the first meeting with the Titans [this season], RB Derrick Henry got a lot of his yards in the second half. You guys did well containing him in the first half. How key now, going into the playoffs, [is it to have] that nice rotational defensive line where the rookies are making an impact and you can keep some fresh bodies there in the second half? (Todd Karpovich) "I'm very hopeful that that does have an impact. We did really well there for most of the game, and at the end of the game, we didn't do well at all. That's credit to him [Derrick Henry] and them. So, that's something that we're hoping we do better with."
When you go into a matchup, do you find that recent success, or lack of success against that opponent, has much effect at all on the way the players sort of look at the challenge at hand? (Childs Walker) "I think every situation is different, so I wouldn't say it's the same. Whether you've beaten teams, or lost to teams, or haven't played teams, or play them all the time, all of those are factors that are involved. So, yes – I would say there is something to that. Whether it's worth really defining or not, I haven't spent any time really thinking about that part. We've just kind of been focusing on preparation and trying to put our best foot forward on Sunday."
When people talk about the Titans, they talk about RB Derrick Henry for obvious reasons, but they seem to have a knack for making big plays with the passing game; sometimes, even when people should be expecting them to. What about their passing game allows them to do that? How much of a challenge will that be for your secondary and passing defense overall? (Cliff Brown) "A big challenge – that's really it. It's not just the run game; it's the fact that the pass game is built off the run game, and Ryan Tannehill runs it exceptionally well. He throws it on time. He throws it very accurately. He can make all of the throws. He can make throws on the inside, outside, short [or] deep. He'll throw it on the move. He'll keep it and run and get first downs that way. So, I think he's a big part of it. Sometimes … I hate some of the terms that get used. I think he's much better than a lot of people have given him credit for over the years. He's a very big part of that offense, and so are the wide receivers. They have catch-and-run wide receivers; they're strong to the ball players. [Their] tight ends, as well. [They have] pass-catching tight ends, [No.] '81' [Jonnu Smith] and [No.] '86' [Anthony Firkser] do a great job catching the ball and running after the catch. Those are all big factors. Their offense has plenty of weapons."
They say familiarity breeds contempt. This is the third time in basically a year that you'll play the Titans. There's been a few incidents in those games, specifically the one at midfield in November. It's an emotional game, obviously. Everyone knows the stakes, but do you have to talk to the players at all about making sure they kind of hold things in check, don't cross the line and make sure they keep their composure and don't make too much of it heading into the game? (Jeff Zrebiec) "We're focused on the game, and playing the game between the lines, between the whistles and between our ears – that's what we're focused on. Anything else, we're not going to … It's the same thing we say every week; we're not going to get baited into things. We're going to play the game to win the game. That's going to be our focus no matter who we're playing, or how the game goes, or whatever. However the game goes, we'll just deal with it as we find it when we get there."
QB Lamar Jackson
I'm sure you'll be asked a dozen times about this, so let's get it out of the way; are you hoping to erase this whole narrative about not winning a playoff game? You've won a lot of games in your NFL career; you've won a lot of games in your career in college. Are you just hoping to get rid of this narrative that everyone has been talking about, Sunday? (Jerry Coleman) "Oh, for sure. It's win or go home, right now. I want to win regardless; I don't really care about what people have got to say. I've only been in the playoffs twice in my young career. Other people who've been in the league forever haven't been in the playoffs at all. It is what it is, but I'm definitely trying to erase that narrative, right there. That's the No. 1 right now in my mind, for sure."
Kind of going off that, what are your takeaways from your last two years in the playoffs, and what can you bring with you going into your third playoff game? (Gabby DiPaula) "Just focus. Focus on the task at hand. When you get in there, just take your time, because things are going to happen the way it should. Don't try to make things happen right away; just take your time. And I feel like that's what I did a little bit sometimes throughout the [playoff] game [last year] – just trying to do too much, instead of just taking my time like I'm doing, driving the ball down the field, and we've been having a lot of success. That's about it."
We've seen in all these press conferences – we haven't been in a room with you in a long time – you refer to everyone as "Mr." and "Mrs." Can you just give us a little bit of the history of that, because there's a little rumbling on social media when you do [address the media in that way], about the respect of that, because not everyone is like that? (Nestor Aparicio) "Yes, that's just a respect thing. I really don't like to be disrespectful towards people, especially people who are in a great position. What you guys do, I really just like to respect you guys, because I know I would want to be respected if I was doing your guys' job – that's all."
I appreciate the respect. Last year's team came in with 12-straight wins. In Week 17 you didn't play, then you had the Bye Week. This year, this team had to win five in a row to get here. How different does it feel for you, going into a playoff game now, versus last year, if you can recall that? (Bo Smolka) "Yes, I feel good. I don't know if it felt like we were … I'm not going to say we … Myself … Last year, we had that long break; I was kind of 'sliced.' Like, I wasn't really quick off my twitches and stuff like that – I wasn't quick at all. So, me and my teammates just having games back-to-back, it feels pretty good. No Bye Week for us; we're going straight into it [with our] heads up high, but our eyes focused, knowing the task at hand. Like I always say, we've just got to finish – that's all. That's the biggest thing. That's the key for us – just finishing. We've been saying that for the last few weeks, and that's what we've been doing, and we've been having a lot of success. So, just go into the game with the same mindset; everyone [does] their part and finish. I feel we'll be fine."
This is off the track of football, but what played into your decision to ask President Trump to commute the sentence of your friend "Kodak Black?" (Kevin Richardson) "That's my 'dog.' That's my 'homeboy,' so I'm behind him 100%, 1,000%. That's what it was – nothing more to it."
What is different about facing this Titans team than the last two times that you played them and lost to them? What do you think is different? (Shawn Stepner) "Our mindset. Our mindset is different. I feel like we did a great job in the first half of the game [in Week 11] – everyone was clicking. It was just in the second half, we didn't finish. We just didn't focus to keep it going. We went to overtime, but we should've finished the game before overtime, I feel. But it is what it is, and we've got another opportunity right now. So, this time, let's just finish, and I feel we'll be fine. We played a pretty good game – all phases did – but we've just got to score points when we need to. When we get in the red zone, score points, and I feel we'll be fine. Just finish."
You've been asked several times today about those last two games against the Titans. Do those games serve as any motivation at all, as you guys are getting ready to play them again this week? (Garrett Downing) "Every loss is definitely motivation. But we've played this team twice – playoffs and one time in the regular season – so we've just got to focus this time, just like the last five games or however many games it was. We've just got to focus, and we should be fine."
I want to ask about RB J.K. Dobbins, and the poise and maturity with which he runs. He's so patient, and he runs like a 10-year vet, but of course, has the body of a rookie. What do you see in watching him, and do you feel that he really is just a more mature player than you would expect from a rookie? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, he actually, this season … In the beginning of the season, he was doing great for a rookie. And I don't know what happened, [but] when I got back from my COVID [bout], he just excelled. He's just been running the ball even tougher. He's been [very] focused throughout the game. He's explosive [and] elusive. He's just been making things happen – what we look for in our running backs, just like Gus [Edwards] and Mark [Ingram II]. He's the youngest one out of camp, but he's doing a pretty good job. I can't forget about Justice Hill, as well, because he's been doing his thing, too. But man, he's just doing what he should be doing. He did it in college. He's just got to keep it going."
You talked about what might be different with the Titans, in particular. But more generally, do you feel like your team is different than it was 12 months ago or even in November? (Childs Walker) "Yes, I feel my team is a lot hungrier, and we're a lot [more] motivated from what went on, [and] the adversity with the COVID-19 outbreak – some guys missing games because of it. Our team is just hungry right now, and that's just what we need. We need to be hungry; we need to be doubted. I feel like we play better like that. We've just got to stay focused, though – we need to. But we're good."
In the Chargers playoff game [in 2018], you guys fell behind 12-0, and then last year against the Titans, you fell behind 14-0. Do you think there was a sense of panic when you guys got behind? And this year, if you guys trail early, do you think you have more composure and more experience to try to chip into that lead and mount a comeback? (Todd Karpovich) "I don't really want to say we panicked; I'll say, we tried to score points faster, and that's when we had more mistakes – just trying to rush things. That's all it was. I don't feel we ever panicked. We don't like being down, so we're going to want to attack even more, but we don't need to. We need to just stay with the things we've been doing. But we'll be fine. We don't want to dwell on what happened before, because we're focused on Sunday. It is what it is in the past. We can't do anything about it now, really. And we've just got to focus on what's going on Sunday, and we should be fine – I said it before."
Since last year's playoff loss, how have you improved as a person? Just personally, have you matured? How do you think you've improved as a person since that loss until now? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, I'd say, I've matured. I'd have to see from other people how they feel; did I mature or not? I think I did. It's easy for me to say I did. (laughter) But I don't know. I don't know." (laughter)
TE Mark Andrews
Obviously, you know the big storyline – QB Lamar Jackson being 0-2 in the playoffs. Does that affect him at all going into this game? (Jamison Hensley) "No, I don't think so at all. He's a different type of guy. His mindset, the way he thinks, that's not something that's going to weigh him down or really affect the way he plays this game. He's got big goals – we all do – we're all excited for this game. He's got a lot of teammates to help him out, and we're just excited for this game. Those two games and years past, they don't matter to us right now. This is a different team, with a different mindset, and we're ready to go."
I know it has been a motto of yours since you were a kid to be Top 5 in whatever you do. Do you remember exactly where that mantra took hold? And when you first started saying it, was it with complete earnestness, or was there any kind of braggadocios element to it? (Jonas Shaffer) (laughter) "I love that question. So, growing up, I was just always super competitive in everything I did. Being the youngest of four – two older brothers, older sister – all of us heavily involved in sports, competition has really been the main thing in my life that I love. I don't love too many things, but competition is one of them. And so, for me, it was one of those things where anything I did, it was, I'm Top 5 in whatever it may be, growing up, and I was always better than my siblings or whatever. So, there was a little bit of 'bragginess' into it, but there's some honesty there with some things, as well."
Earlier this year, QB Lamar Jackson and some other guys on offense noted that the opposition seemed to know some of your plays. Maybe it was the lack of crowd noise or whatever it was. Here you're about to play a team for the third time in a year. Have you guys addressed that, and have you noticed that to have changed at all as this season has gone on? (Mark Viviano) "When you play a defense, obviously, they watch a bunch of film, and every defense watches a bunch of film. You can see the video of Cam Newton talking to – I forget who. They were playing the [Packers], and he's calling out the wheel route, and he [Cam Newton] was like, 'Oh, you've watched film? Well, watch this.' Because defenses see things, they call out things; that's just how it goes. But the coaches have done a great job of game-planning, players have done a great job of being efficient, especially these last five games. Everyone is doing their job, coaches are drawing up great plays, and you can't ask for much else. We're doing the right things at the right time, and everyone is just playing good ball. We're all committed to this, and this is what we've all worked for all offseason – this moment right here. So, I know everyone is fired up and ready to go about it."
You guys have talked a lot about finishing, and I know you have some of the t-shirts that say "finish." But very literally, in the red zone, you've struggled to finish drives against the Titans in those past two games. When you review those, where were the missed opportunities? What do you think you need to do better to score more touchdowns? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Like I said before earlier, is that red zone is even more so [about] being efficient; all 11 guys doing their job, making plays. You do that, you're going to be efficient in the red zone. The last couple games, or five games or whatever, you look at our red zone [and] we have been that. So, it's all about us. We're worrying about us, and especially when we get into the red zone – I haven't focused too much on that – but we've been doing a good job. So, we've just got to continue to do that, and continue to make plays, and our guys will. So, we'll be efficient there."
In a really changing tight end room, you're one of the constants. I'm wondering about FB Patrick Ricard – fullback, H-back, tight end. How close have you guys gotten since TE Nick Boyle has been out? (Kirk McEwen) "Yes, it's been so much fun, first, to see Pat [Ricard] and the way he's evolved and how much has been put on his plate. He's been almost strictly a fullback for so long, and now he's playing the full tight end position, and he's doing a really, really good job of it. But he's just a good dude. He's a good teammate.
"I'll tell you a little story: I was low the other day before practice – my blood sugar was [low] – and I started cramping or doing whatever happened, and Pat dropped all of his things immediately, ran out of practice, got me some Gatorade, got me some fruit snacks, came back and gave them to me. It was within 10 seconds [that] he did this, but he did it immediately, without a second thought. And that's the type of person that he is. He's an incredible teammate, incredible friend."
I know you guys have kind of said that the past games don't mean that much right now, but you guys are a prideful team. Does it "stick in your craw" a little bit – some of their antics – the midfield stuff with head coach John Harbaugh and some of the talking they did after the playoff game? Does that serve as a motivating factor, at all? (Jeff Zrebiec) "We don't need that. We don't need that type of motivation. This team is already extremely motivated and hungry, and [there is] a fire under us. If you're not, and it takes that to get you going, then you're kind of doing the wrong thing. We've got all our goals ahead of us. We're not worried about them; we're worried about us – doing our job. And if we do that, hopefully, it will be enough."
I still have nightmares about missing the front end of a one-and-one [in basketball] in a playoff game. You go back a year ago, a ball went off your hands, it ends up getting picked, and it goes the other way. Is that something in the middle of the night that is still stuck with you? And I know they're not going to motivate you, but does a play like that motivate you, getting ready for this ready? (Pete Gilbert) "That's tough. Last year, I was hurting bad. Obviously, that play replays in my head a ton, and I've worked really hard this offseason to try to get back to this point, obviously, and play better and be healthy, and I am right now. So, that's one check down, but we've got to go out there and finish, and that's what this game is all about – is finishing. So, I'm excited for it."
For everything that you guys have gone through this year and all the efforts to sort of keep it week-to-week, is there a collective sense of, "This is what we've waited 12 months for – to sort of have this opportunity again?" (Childs Walker) "No doubt, no doubt. I think almost the second that we lost that last game last year, I was thinking about, 'I want to get back to this moment. I want to get back to this moment, so we can see what we can do.' We've got such a talented team. For us, the sky is the limit. So, I just am extremely blessed to be back here, with this team, with these players, with these coaches. We're in a great position, and it's just all about us going in to finish and doing our jobs and trusting one another. Trust in all 11 guys on the field, and good things will happen. I'm excited to show the world what we can do."
What have you guys learned, and how do you think you might be better equipped heading into the playoffs this year, as opposed to the last couple of years? How has this team changed, maybe, and how different do you guys feel as you approach the playoffs this year?" (Shawn Stepner) "That's a tough question. I think it's so hard to judge different teams and see last year to this year. I know this team is completely … It's got its own, kind of, space in my head, of what this team is and what we are. And it's been a whole different year – unlike any years past – with these Zoom meetings, and practice, and being spaced out, but that adds another element to our team. We've done a great job of staying close and being able to have that chemistry, and we've been through so many things with COVID-19, and we've been hit harder than most teams have, and we've been through that. I don't know if that made us closer, but we've been through it, we've gone through it, we've done these things. At the end of the year, you'll look back at what your team went through, and how they stayed together, and how resilient they are, and that's what I'm looking at right now. We're a resilient team that has more left to do. So, I'm excited."
DE Calais Campbell
For this team, obviously, you don't ever want to go through the COVID-19 outbreak that this team has. How do you think this affected the team going through that kind of adversity? How do you think that impacted this team going forward? (Jamison Hensley) "I think No. 1 is we know we can handle it. We know we can handle any of the tough circumstances that we face playing this game, especially during this year. It's been quite a journey, but I feel like we're battle-tested. We've been through tough times and we came out on the other side. I feel like we've started playing our best football. So, now we're in the position where we have an opportunity. This is the best time to feel the way we feel as a team – locked in and ready to go."
Obviously, you're coming into the situation fresh, but have you sensed, just around the team in general, a desire to show that this is not last year? (Childs Walker) "Well, it isn't last year – that's for sure. (laughter) Everything is different. I feel like a lot of times, you get caught up in history and all of that. At the end of the day, the goal is to win the Super Bowl. We have an opportunity, and they're in our way. So, that's just part of it. They're a good team. They earned the right to be here. We have to go see them [in Tennessee] – that's a testament to them. This is going to be a heavyweight bout; two good teams fighting for an opportunity to hoist the [Lombardi] Trophy. I know history plays a role to a degree, but honestly, to me … I have good history with this team. We played [in] the same division, and I've had a lot of battles against them, as well. But to me, I feel like our goals are what matters, and our No. 1 goal is to win a Super Bowl. For us to do that, this is opportunity No. 1. I know last year and earlier this year, that's just information. That's just [something] we can study and try to learn how to attack them and be better. But at the end of the day, we just have to put together a good football game and find a way to win it."
You didn't get a chance to play the last time these two teams played earlier in the season. How eager are you to face off with these guys? I know when you go back to when you got here, you talked about being one of the guys to stop what they do so well. So, just how eager are you to play these guys considering you missed it earlier this year? (Garrett Downing) "I mean, I'm eager just to be playing still. A lot of guys are going home, going on vacation, or just watching football on their couch this week. It's just a good feeling to be able to keep playing football. I've been in this league … I just finished my 13th season, the regular season, and this is my sixth time going to the playoffs. So, it's not guaranteed; it's hard work. This is a job well done. So, for me, just to be able to be in this situation is a blessing [that] I feel extremely grateful for. And then to be able to play against a team I'm familiar with, and who I know is going to come out and play good playoff football, it's going to … Hopefully, all of us are inspired to play our 'A-game.' It's going to take our 'A-game' to go out there and win this ball game. So, we have to go out there and just lock in. For me, not being able to play in that first game, and not being able to play [in] a bunch of games, I think the benefit is that I feel really good right now. I feel really healthy in the sense where I can go out there and make some plays. So, I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait to go out there and play some good football."
You mentioned the Super Bowl, and that's something that's been said since Week One as a realistic prediction for a team like yours. What is it about the guys that you have, the confidence that you have and the skills on the field and off that you are saying 'Super Bowl' so freely and not holding back that goal? (Morgan Adsit) "I think you have to have confidence. We goal-set, we put together a plan and we work hard to get there. It's going to be hard work; it's not going to be easy. There's a quote hanging up on the wall, 'We have what it takes, but it's going to take all we have,' and it's very true. We have all the pieces in place to be successful; from being able to run the ball, play physical [and] just pounding defense. In the playoffs, I feel like … Especially on the road in the playoffs, you have to be able to run the ball, you have to be able to play great defense [and] you have to be able to bring your special teams – that's kind of been the formula throughout history. Being a sports fan, that's just what it takes. Obviously, there's going to be a play here or a play there that we're going to have to make, and that we're going to have to prevent them from making, but I just have confidence that we have all the pieces in place to go out there and [do] whatever it takes. If we have to win the game on a last-second Hail Mary, or if we have to run the clock in the four-minute offense, or whatever it may be, we just have to find a way to get it done. I have confidence that we're going to fight until the very end, and we have the guys in place to be able to get it done. It's just one play at a time, earning the right."
When you were traded to the Ravens, was your understanding that part of the reason for that was to stop RB Derrick Henry? Like you said, you had a history. Obviously, they wanted to beef up their run defense. Was that said to you, or did that cross your mind when you first came to Baltimore that this is the kind of matchup they want you for? (Ryan Mink) (laughter) "Yes … I mean, sure. I think, just period, is being able to stop the run and being able to control the line of scrimmage. When Coach [John] Harbaugh talked to me for the first time after they traded for me, he pretty much told me that we're going to play a lot of teams that do a lot of this Zone stuff and just play downhill football. He knows from watching my tape and studying me, he knows I do that well. So, [he told me to] just come in here, be myself and play with everything I have. But these situations, stopping guys like Derrick Henry, I love this game of football, and it's a great challenge. Derrick Henry is one of the best running backs to ever play this game, and he's in the zone right now. So, yes – I take pride in the challenge of lining up and trying to shut him down."
DT Brandon Williams
You've gone against a lot of running backs in your career, and you've gone against Titans RB Derrick Henry. [You] didn't go against him the last time, you were out [Week 11]. What kind of challenge does Derrick Henry represent, and all the running backs that you have faced over the years? (Jamison Hensley) "He's a hard runner. Obviously, he's a strong runner. He is his own blocker. He definitely has a lot of things in a great running back, and we're prepared to try to get to him as much as we possibly can. Like you said, I wasn't there last game. Also, I don't think Calais [Campbell] was there as well. There are two juggernauts there that are coming back that weren't there the last time. We're prepared and we're ready to go out and have a great game on Sunday."
As you get ready for this game, is it hard to ignore what he did, Titans RB Derrick Henry, in the postseason a year ago, and also what he did in the fourth quarter – even though you weren't out there – this season? As far as motivating … I know you want to focus on this week and that's all that matters, but how much of a motivating factor is that, what he was able to do against a very, very proud run defense? (Pete Gilbert) "I feel like, in that sense, it's really the next game. I feel like, yes, we're obviously going to look at the film [from] last year, we're going to look at the film [from] this past year, and we're going to make adjustments, we're going to make things different. But also, like you said, we've got different warriors who are coming back in this time. And it's going to be a whole different team, whole different defense. We're worried about what we have right now, and what we're going to do right now. So, that's what we're going to go forward with."
Just how different is this team than last year's team in the playoffs, and even the last time you played Tennessee? (Shawn Stepner) "I feel like we've been through some adversity. Obviously, we've had to callus-up against some things and we had to get some things right. I feel like right now is the perfect time when we're getting into our stride, and willingly so. [We're] going into Sunday with all the horses in the stable. We had people out, we had guys banged up and such, and now, we have a full unit. We're proud of who we are and what we've got."
Does last year's game serve as any motivation? (Garrett Downing) "Definitely, because it was them. So, now we get to see them again in the same scenario. Obviously, we have that sense in it, and we know what happened last year. And, obviously, we don't want the same thing to happen. So, we're going to come into Sunday ready to go."
Usually, you'd like you have a home playoff game. But recent history, you've lost the last two at home. Is there any sense that, maybe, going on the road, change of scenery – let's try it that way? (Kirk McEwen) "No matter where we are, at home or away – obviously, we want to win all the home games we can, every single one. But, it's the next game. No matter where it is, we're going to be ready to ball. So, no, it doesn't matter if it was at home or away. We're going to play a good game on Sunday."
I know you play defense, but with QB Lamar Jackson kind of maturing as a leader and all that – as a veteran player, what impression has he made on you these last couple weeks, and particularly going into this week? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Definitely seeing him just elevate more as a captain, elevate more as a player. Just seeing him grow in the adversity we've had, and his [own] adversity with him being out. Just seeing him continually having a steadfast approach and continuing to keep the main thing the main thing, no matter what happens. He's definitely continued to keep a composed and cool, level-head, being such a young quarterback and a young guy. But he's definitely playing like a 'vet' [veteran] and leading like one, too."
You know how it is around here … It's always, especially around playoff time, everyone points to the quarterback, and people are constantly bringing up that QB Lamar Jackson is 0-2 [in the playoffs] as a quarterback. Have you noticed at all that that bothers him? How do you think he approaches that and the attention and the pressure that comes with that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "He's going to approach it as the next game. He doesn't let a lot of outside noise deter him from who he is, and what he's here to do, and the mission that we have as a team. In that sense, he has definitely continued to be a leader in that sense and keeping the main thing the main thing, and the main mission forward."
You've spoken about having all your horses in the stable, and that includes DE Calais Campbell and DE Derek Wolfe, who are new to the team this year. What have they done for you, having those guys alongside? How well suited, maybe better suited now, going into the playoffs with those guys as teammates? (Mark Viviano) "I feel like, for me, for the defense, for everybody, for the team – they've done a great thing [with just] being them. Their presence, being on each side of me – Derek [Wolfe] being the three-technique, Calais [Campbell] being the five-[technique] – just more winning rushes. When I'm taking up two, they've got somebody one-on-one on them, and that's a bad idea. When I'm one-on-one, then I'm pushing somebody in the backfield. So, it just gives an offensive line a lot to worry about. It's definitely good to have two other juggernauts alongside of me."