Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Alright, good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. A couple transactions we had: We signed De'Anthony Thomas to the regular roster. [We signed] Mike Onuoha and Byron Marshall – Mike was a defensive end that was here in training camp; Byron is a running back – to the practice squad. We waived Maurice Canady, and then we lost De'Lance Turner. He was signed by the Dolphins away from our practice squad, so that's where we're at with that stuff right now."
How do you envision WR/RS De'Anthony Thomas fitting in? What do you guys like about him? I know he worked out here recently. (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, he's a good a player. We played against him earlier when he was with the Chiefs. He's a wide receiver. He's a return man. He also plays special teams. So, we anticipate him having a lot of possibilities for roles on our team, and we'll see how it shakes out."
Do you anticipate him [doing] punt returns? (Kirk McEwen) "As I said, we'll see how it shakes out."
FB/DL Pat Ricard, I know you're an imaginative guy. You're like, "Oh, we could do some different things with him." But the way that he's evolved and can be so effective on both sides of the ball, did you really think that was where he could get to when he showed up? (Pete Gilbert) "Oh, yes, absolutely. Once we saw him and had a feel for what he was capable of doing … I'd say, probably, by the end of training camp the first year we had a vision for him. He's just done spectacular with it, and he continues to improve in every area. He's a valuable part of our team."
There's been a lot of talk this week about QB Lamar Jackson's athleticism, but what people aren't talking about is how well he's protected the football this year. Has that been a technique thing or a focus of his? How do you see him get better at doing that? (Todd Karpovich) "Right, yes, it's a process. Obviously, we work really hard at all the different ball handling aspects, whether it be run game, pass game, all those things. He's just improved, and not just him, but really our whole offense. It's, obviously, a team effort. It starts with the snap, running backs are involved with that, the receivers. A lot of different things we do with motions and things like that are all part of it, and it's just part of the offense and working on that stuff every day."
ILB Josh Bynes, I know you knew him already, obviously, but did you envision he could come in and have such a significant role? And how has he gone about solidifying this defense? (Bo Smolka) "Josh [Bynes] is a good, good football player. He's a MIKE 'backer by trade. He played the position all those years, so he brought a lot of experience to the table. He still has it physically. He's really the same player that he's always been. It's a tribute to him that he is there and [has] played good football for us."
CB Jimmy Smith has spent a lot of his career rehabbing from injuries. Do you have a respect for the work that he's done on the field and off the field given his unfortunate injury history? (David Ginsburg)"Absolutely. Jimmy [Smith] has done a great job of fighting through those things. He's had some misfortune with some of that stuff, and he's always done nothing but battle back. I remember the first year in 2012 when he had the injury and he and I were battling it out back and forth about whether he was actually going to come back, and he fought through that then, with some encouragement. (laughter) He'll tell you the story, and ever since then he's done nothing but work hard at all that stuff. It's commendable."
What have you seen from QB Ryan Finley on tape in the preseason that you've watched? (Ryan Mink) "I've seen the tape. I've seen all the plays that he played, and we've looked at a number of college plays. And I'm not really feeling like giving the scouting report on him right now." (laughter)
You just saw them [the Bengals] a few weeks ago. Is that just the biggest difference though? The change in quarterback? Anything else? (Jerry Coleman) "No, they made changes. There's a lot of evolution that goes on, and you never know what you're going to get from one game to the next. The bye week is a big factor in that, too. We have to be prepared for anything they might do coming off the bye. They're still playing very hard. They're a very physical team. We have to go to their place. They're going to get healthy. They're going to get some guys back, especially on offense, but also defense, too. They're adding a pass rusher [DE Carl Lawson] who's coming back, and the corners could be healthy. So, we just have to see how that plays out."
You mentioned the different circumstances from this game to the last time you guys faced Cincinnati, but would this offense prove anything different or prove anything new that it hasn't already if it had a good game against a team that it's already faced? (Jonas Shaffer) "No. I'm not really even following the question to be honest." (Reporter: "I mean just there was the thought after the second game against the Chargers last season – teams adjusting to this offense the second time it's seen it.")"Oh, oh, I gotcha. Yes, I guess that's a benchmark then. That would be something that we would have to take into consideration. I probably should have thought of that. I realize we're playing them a second time, and we're trying to figure out exactly how they'll play us in what way and trying to be prepared for that. So, we probably are doing that without making the comparison to last year, which we are loath to do." (laughter)
How much have you guys changed offensively since that game earlier in the season? (Mike Preston) "We change a lot every game. I feel like we have a system. It's a really well-built system, and we're very flexible within it. We do a lot of different things that some people might notice of what we're doing differently from one game to the next. But we change up a lot each game."
You mentioned about them getting healthier on offense. One of the guys, obviously, is WR A.J. Green. How much does that change the dynamic of having him come back on this game? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, it's huge. Their receiving corps – and you can put Tyler Eifert right in there with that and C.J. Uzomah; they're both tight ends who are pass-catching threats, especially Tyler. He's, obviously, a receiver in so many ways. But that's a great receiving corps. Tyler Boyd is a No. 1 anyway, and then you put A.J. Green on top of that, [and] you have two top players. And A.J. Green is one of the best in football. We've made an argument before that he's the best in football. He's been injured for a while, so it'll be his first game back in a while. And, of course, it would have to be our game. Then they have some other guys playing really well. This Auden Tate from Florida State, who did a heck of a job in college and was a big possession receiver in college, is doing the exact same thing and even better in the NFL. All the back-shoulder throws, all the stops, all the fades, all the big-body routes coming inside; he's done well with. And then [Alex] Erickson is playing really well. He's running fast. He's really a fast receiver as a return guy. He's been really productive. All those guys, their receptions have been spread out in the last few games among those guys pretty much evenly. Then they add A.J. Green to the mix, so that's probably the biggest factor for us right now."
We saw a video of G Marshal Yanda after the game lifting Eric DeCosta and throwing him around. (laughter) _Is he ... Do you notice him maybe relishing this, enjoying it just a little bit more? _(Aaron Kasinitz)"Yes, he was relishing lifting Eric DeCosta and shaking the life out of him. (laughter) I think he shook all the change out of his pockets. (laughter) It was fantastic. It was a double-suplex wrestling move that Marshal [Yanda] has perfected. Eric is not really in his weight class, if you noticed that." (laughter)(Reporter: "But on a large scale, does Marshal seem kind of rejuvenated?") "I don't know. It's a great question for Marshal. He's not too good right now. He's sick today, and he won't be practicing today. He has something he caught from his kids the last couple days, so he doesn't feel rejuvenated today. (laughter) I know that."
How many years do you have to play before you're allowed to body slam the GM? (Childs Walker)(laughter) "Very good point! (laughter) You better be playing at a really high level, for sure."
You were given that Salute to Service Award in 2013. Nominated again this year. Just, your thoughts on the significance of that? (Mark Viviano) "It's a coincidence I have the [STS] hat on, just to be honest with you. I didn't really realize that that was going to be a part of the conversation, but the significance for me is just I don't deserve any kind of award at all. I just think the organization does an amazing job. I had a chance, because we live in this area, to get to know and become friends with a lot of service members of all different kind of ranks. We have some high-level generals that are really good friends now all through the ranks – people that have come over here, people that we've visited with in the area and a lot of Gold Star Families and things like that. To me, it's ... No one in our family ever served. We weren't a family that has had that background, and yet [we] have so much admiration for the people that make that sacrifice and the whole families that make the sacrifice. That's who keeps us safe, really. It's not a very nice world out there, and we should all be appreciative. Thanks."
Besides changes in personnel in your secondary, what other improvements have you seen in recent weeks that made you guys get better? (Mike Preston)"Defensively, well, we've rushed the quarterback the way we've needed to in each of the last few games, the last two weeks especially. [They were] two completely different types of quarterbacks. Both, in their own way, [are] really good in the pocket. We rushed them differently but well, and that takes a lot of effort for those guys that do that. It really does. It gasses you to rush those certain, different kind of ways. You really kind of [go] through linemen. I think just the communication … We've been able probably to start hitting our stride just a little bit with scheme and doing some different things and changing up from week to week and getting it right. That's probably helped us. We're getting some experience working together. [That's] probably a big part of it, and it's just week to week. We have to play well. We have to cover people. We have to stop the run. We have to be consistent with everything we do, and we're probably more consistent than we were early, I would say."
Are you more versatile even than at the start of the season when you had all your guys healthy? (Mike Preston) "We're more versatile, yes. Yes, we are, just because of the guys we've added. I mean, we started off pretty healthy in the secondary, and that helped us. And then we got hurt, and then we got healthy again, now. And adding Marcus Peters has, obviously, been a big plus for us."
TE Nick Boyle
On what this week has been like after beating the Patriots and scoring his first touchdown and if he was receiving a lot of messages:"I'm not a good communicator with text messages, so I had a lot of text messages. It was almost like I got drafted with how many text messages I was getting once I scored a touchdown. (laughter)But it was cool to see how many people were watching the game and rooting for me. It's a good feeling. Like I said before, it's good when my teammates celebrate with me, and then I see all my family members, friends back home all watching and still supporting me."
On the touchdown dance that he tried to do:"Mark Ingram and I were just fooling around. We probably would have tried to do it a little earlier, but there were too many people around. We practice it out there sometimes when no one is watching. Hopefully, it'll be able to come out again."
On FB/DL Patrick Ricard's ability to be an effective player on both sides of the ball and their tandem on offense: "The amount of respect I have for Pat [Ricard] is crazy. I couldn't imagine, going back to high school, playing both ways. So, him doing it in the NFL is something really special. He brings that physicality that not a lot of offensive players can bring. Like I said, he's a huge reason why a lot of our run game works. He's the kind of player you can plug in and play him anywhere. He can move around. He can catch balls in the flat, catch balls anywhere. And he's super physical." (Reporter: "Better on offense or defense?")"I'd say offense. We make fun of him when he wants to go over to defense. We say, 'The defense doesn't want you,' and all this kind of stuff to make him come more to the offensive side. But they want him over there, too."
On the "classic trap game" in facing the 0-8 Bengals after beating the undefeated Patriots and how he addresses that: "That's a good point. Everyone is feeling good right now, and everyone is happy, and everyone's emotions are high. I think how you set the tone is how you're going to go out and practice today. There's not much to be said. When you're at this position in your career, when this is what you're paid to do, you're paid to go out there and perform. So, I think you should be self-ambitious to go out there and do your job week-in and week-out, and the way you do that is maybe you'll have to tell some people, but for the most part, go out there and practice really well. That will set the tone."
On if the history between the Ravens and the Bengals makes it easier to get players to focus on this game: "Yes. They're always a tough team to play against. Every game in the NFL is tough, but especially versus them. Those players are really tough. It's always a physical game. It's always been like a one-score game coming down to the end."
On what gives him and the offense confidence that they will stay one step ahead of the Bengals: "Just do what we do every single week. We have Lamar [Jackson] at the quarterback. We have our same offensive line. We have our same running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and same coaches. Basically, they're going to come out with a great gameplan. We're going to try to run that gameplan as best as we can and go out there and perform. Who we're playing doesn't really matter. I think it's more of, we step back, erase what happened last week, and just look back at ourselves and just kind of reset and go forward from there."
On QB Lamar Jackson winning AFC Offensive Player of the Week and if the offense takes pride in earning that award:"I didn't know he did that, but that's awesome for him. I don't think we bask in it. He deserves it from his performances there week-in and week-out. [He is] just a true, special player. Like you said, the offensive line, the running backs, the wide receivers, us – we all make it click."
On how often QB Lamar Jackson makes a play that makes his life easier:"A lot of certain blocks you have, a lot of certain types of protections, on boots and stuff like that, where you may be singled up on some D-end and he has to roll out around you … But he's just so fast. He makes it so much easier, and you don't have to hold your block as long. So, he makes everyone's job easier when he has the ball."
On if he ever thinks, "Wow!" when he watches QB Lamar Jackson's game film:"Yes. There are wild spots where I thought the ball was going to come over by me, and then I just look up and he's running the ball over there, and then he's like 40 yards downfield. I'm just standing there watching him like a spectator. Those moments you see in practice. Those moments you see in games all the time."
WR Marquise Brown
On if it's been encouraging that he has been able to make plays while working his way back from injuries:"Definitely. Just being back out there, no matter what percent, being able to make plays is huge for confidence."
On how much of a mental challenge it has been for him to push through after missing time and having the opportunity to return to the field:"It's just more like with the team, being out there with the guys, not wanting to let them down. But they all encourage me. They know I'm not 100 [percent], but they're like, 'When you're out there, you're going to make plays.' I just keep that in my head."
On having success when he isn't 100 percent and knowing that the Ravens can be bigger and better, especially after beating the Patriots: "It means a lot. It's just a credit to the staff here for putting us in situations to make those plays. So, it's big for confidence, too."
On his chemistry with QB Lamar Jackson, like when he made the clutch third-down catch vs. New England: "Anytime I see him running around, I try to keep my eyes on him. He made a – I don't know how he got the throw off – but he got it off, and I made a good catch."
On if his friendship with QB Lamar Jackson off the field carries over to the field: "Yes, of course. He wants to see me succeed; I want to see him succeed. I don't want to let him down, so he looks for me, and I'm going to try to make it happen for him."
On if he still drives QB Lamar Jackson: "Yes." (laughter)
QB Lamar Jackson
On how many new wrinkles he expects from this Cincinnati defense: "I can't tell you. I'm not over there in Cincinnati. I can only prepare over here."
On the significance of being named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season: "It's pretty dope. They came with it, but I'm here to win. I just had success and became AFC Player of the Week. I appreciate it, but I'm trying to win."
On what he thought about people saying he had a "tell" by touching his towel before the snap during the Patriots game: "I don't know. I thought I was doing it every play, because it was cold. I'm trying to feel my fingers so that I can catch the ball. I'm in shotgun all the time, so I did it to catch the ball. It doesn't really matter what play it is, but it is what it is. It is what it is."
On if he thinks anyone noticed anything off the towel touching: "I don't know. I can't you tell you. That's what he [Cris Collinsworth] said. I don't know. I don't know."
On if he shields himself from seeing himself everywhere on TV and in the media: "If I happen to be watching TV and it comes up, I'm going to turn the channel. Yes, that's what I'm going to do. That's it. That's it."
On a Ravens' fan base that has sort of felt pushed aside by the league over the years and if he feels the excitement now building from the Baltimore fans: "Yes, I do. I see where they're coming from, but we're winning games. When we were 2-2, it wasn't like that. So, we're winning games, and that's what comes with it. But all we can do is control what's here."
On people saying that what he's doing isn't sustainable: "Same response. The doubters are going to always be there. We just want to keep having success, and like I said, we're controlling what's here. We don't really care what they say."
On his and the team's mindset going from playing the undefeated Patriots to the winless Bengals: "Same thing. It's the NFL. Any given Sunday, anything can happen. We're playing ball. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what their record is. We're all grown men, so we know they're going to compete their tails off regardless. We're going into Cincinnati; we're trying to come out with a victory."
On if he feels comfortable knowing he just played the Bengals a month ago and if he's seen any new wrinkles from them on film since then: "Yes, we watched a little film just now. They got a player added back: 21 [Darqueze Dennard]. He's back. [Dre] Kirkpatrick, the corner, is down, but [it's the] same defense, same defense."
On what it means to have FB/DL Patrick Ricard blocking for him: "It means a lot. He does it all. He's playing offense and defense. He's scoring touchdowns, playing nose [tackle]. It's ridiculous. That guy is a freak, a freak of nature. I can't tell you anything about it."
On what he learned about his team after the win vs. NE on Sunday night:"We can battle with anyone. We're going to compete regardless of who they are, what their reputation is. We have a lot of heart over here, a lot of confidence, and we're here to win."
FB/DL Patrick Ricard
On if opposing players ever say anything to him about playing fullback: "Yes, sometimes they go, 'Why aren't you on defense right now?' And I'm like, 'This is what I do, man.' But no, people sometimes would come up to me and have just been really positive about it and just say, 'It's really impressive what you can do.' And I'm just appreciative about it."
On if he's better as a fullback or as a defensive lineman: "I think right now I'm a better fullback than defensive lineman. I don't know why. It just seems more natural to me. On defense, there are so many great players here, and across the league we're low on fullbacks. There are only 10 fullbacks in the AFC, and I think I'm one of the best ones."
CB Jimmy Smith
On how good it felt to return to the field and play at a high level against the Patriots: "It felt great. It felt great for a number of reasons. I hate being in the training room, obviously. But it just felt good to go out there and play and help win a game against a big team."
On where he pulls inspiration from after being in the training room almost year after year: "I don't know. I have a lot of football left in me. These injuries, they suck. They weigh on you a little bit, but you just keep fighting. I have a great team, a great organization that backs me 100 percent all the time, and they make it a little bit easier."
On his sports hernia injury in 2012 and battling back to win the Super Bowl: "I tore one side and just kept playing through it, but when the other side went, it was just a little too painful to twist and run and all of that. We had a real shot at going to the Super Bowl that year, and I didn't really want to get that surgery, but I needed it to perform well. Thank God, we ended up going to the playoffs and making it that far, because I think, really, the only game that I really truly impacted when I got back from that was the Super Bowl. So, thank you for that." (laughter)
On how he keeps his teammates on an even keel after beating an undefeated team and preparing to face a 0-8 team: "What would last week's win mean if we go out there and just lay an egg? Nobody wants to do that. It doesn't take any extra motivation to want to go out and win a game. We know what we're here for. It's only better if we win. We don't want to lose. That sucks."
On what he can do as a veteran to make sure his younger teammates stay balanced: "I truly believe, just keep doing what we've been doing. Don't go and be super anxious and get real tight backsides, and just do what we've been doing. Don't make it over anything or under, just keep it cool. Go out to play the game you've been playing, and let the chips fall where they may."
On Cincinnati's success against the Ravens in his time with the team: "This game is a rivalry game, just like the Steelers, the Browns. The records don't matter. We know what they possess over there, and they know what we possess over here. They know how to play us. The records don't matter. Everything that we've done to this point, it really doesn't matter much. We want to come out victorious, but we know how dangerous Cincinnati is and always will be."
On how he covers WR Auden Tate: "You have to try to be physical with him, get in his face, get the ball. You just have to cover him. He had a good game last time we played him. He's been having good games since. We're going to have our hands full. The strength of their offense is obviously their receivers, and the strength of our defense right now is our secondary. So, that's going to be the big matchup this week."
On how good the secondary can be with him, CB Marlon Humphrey, CB Marcus Peters and S Earl Thomas III: "We can be really good. We have a lot of talent out there, a lot of smart players. That really stands out with our guys. We have the physicality. We have everything we need. It's really just making sure we execute the gameplan. Now that everybody is healthy and we're out there, our game-planning can expand a little bit more each week, just based on the talent that we have back there. I'm excited to see what the coaches come up with."
On the strides CB Marlon Humphrey has made with non-football responsibilities: "He picked it up, the studying, last year, a lot. When you get in here and you're a cornerback based on your athletic ability, that's the first thing. You just rely on your ability. This year, he's relying on both, knowing the game. And he's playing a different position this year, which is making him study even more. Playing nickel is not like playing corner, really, but it's just making him that much of a better player. The thing to me that stands out most about what Marlon [Humphrey] is doing right now is his confidence is out of the roof. And when you have confidence playing cornerback, you can do anything you want to do."
On how bizarre it will be to face the Bengals without QB Andy Dalton: "That is going to be pretty crazy. I've been playing against him [since 2011]. We got drafted in the same class. He was my first interception. (laughter) I threw that out there. (laughter)It is going to be strange, because obviously, our careers have kind of been mirrored, in a sense of just being drafted over there second round. So, it's going to be crazy not to have him back there, but we're excited for the challenge of [Ryan] Finley coming in."
On his expectations from WR A.J. Green and how the Ravens will attempt to shut him down after he's had so many good games: "We know A.J. [Green] is a thorn in our side. He makes tremendous plays. I'm sure he's gunning to come back and can't wait, but we're going to try to do our best to keep him contained and keep this offense contained completely. We know what he can do, but we know what 83 [Tyler Boyd] can do as well. We know what 19 [Auden Tate] can do now. And then you have to watch out for 12 [Alex Erickson], as well. But they have a [strong] group of guys, and it's our job to make sure we can contain that."
On at what point in the year he gets a sense of how far a team will go based on his experience:"Only one year, since I've been here, did I know we were out of it. I think that was a 5-and-whatever year [in 2015]. Other than that, we're always fighting to the end. But either way, it really doesn't matter, because we're just going to fight until the 16 games are done. I don't know. You just don't really think about the playoffs and all that type of stuff. When you're out of it, you're kind of playing for pride. Thank God we're not in that position, though."
On what went through his mind when he got hurt in Miami and how determined he was to return ASAP given the team's potential:"Initially, when I felt my knee, I didn't know what it was. It just felt like something went, and I was kind of nervous that if it was in the ACL or something really serious, how much it would impact my career, just being an older guy and all that, and my history. But finding out it was a sprain and I could come back, it definitely boosted my spirits. But initially, it was like, we didn't know what it was. It could've been a Grade Three, and Grade Three … I WebMD-ed myself, (laughter)and it was like, that could be a long time. And playing four games or something like that was not going to be great. Like I said, by the grace of God, it was a sprain, two weeks, and the bye fell at the right time. So, I'm able to come back out and still play, and we have eight games left."
On how to prepare for a quarterback like QB Ryan Finley, who has little film: "I personally YouTube-ed him yesterday, just to see what he's like, see how he throws. I've heard what our coaches tell us and watched a little bit of the preseason, but we'll figure it out when we get out there."
On if he has been impressed with what WR Marquise Brown has been able to do knowing what it's like to recover from a Lisfranc injury: "Absolutely. It's a tough injury, extremely tough. I know what he's going through, as far as every time he gets up and wakes up and it's cold outside, that thing hurts. So, I understand it. And having a high-ankle [sprain], which I also had, back to back, he's fighting his way. He comes up making plays. He's keeping his head up. All the guys talk to him. I've been in his ear, letting him know, 'You're going to get over it eventually.' But I'm proud of the way he's bounced back and performed."
On ILB Josh Bynes' transformation from a member of special teams to an asset on defense: "He was always a good linebacker. He might have been overlooked a little bit, but he played really well in, I think it was Detroit, Arizona as well. So, it's not that he didn't have the talent. We had C.J. [Mosley]. But now that he's back, he's doing great for us, and we're happy that we have him."
On having ILB Josh Bynes back as a player who he has shared past experiences with:"Absolutely, him and 'Phee' [Pernell McPhee], we reminisce all the time about our first year here and how different it was then and the guys we had and just how things change so quickly. But it's always good to see familiar faces on the defense."