**WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: COLTS – WEEK 5
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody – appreciate you guys being here. I'm told there's extra pizza in the media room right now, because of the sparse crowd we have here. (laughter) I guess we could give credit to the Orioles for that, right? OK, they've got a little something going on over there, so we wish them nothing but the best. Rumor had it Buck [Showalter] was going to come out to practice and watch us, but I guess he's a little busy right now. *(laughter) *So, we understand. Good luck to the Orioles."
Who are you pulling for? (Jamison Hensley) "I know the Orioles. I love the Tigers, but I'm pulling for the Orioles. My wife, well she's hardcore. She loves her Tigers, man. *(laughter) *She loves her Tigers and her Red Wings and her Pistons. She's not so big on the Lions, but she likes Jim Caldwell. OK, what do you guys have?"
John, not to say that you guys never had a physical mentality around here, but the way you've run the ball and stopped the run this year, do you feel like you have … Are you playing very physical football that way? (Jamison Hensley)"We do. That's something that's a goal every year. We've been great at it at times. We haven't been so great at other times. We need to be good at it. We're off to a good start. [If] you practice the way we practiced today, you're going to be good at it on both sides. It was a physical practice. Iron sharpens iron. Our offense and defense sharpened each other today. So to me, that's what gives you a chance to be good. When you practice like that – in that kind of a physical way – you have a chance to play physical."
When you watch the offensive line in protecting QB Joe [Flacco], and not having sacks, things you're seeing, just maybe you weren't seeing in previous years – three games is a long time in the league to not give up a sack? (Nestor Aparicio) "Again, I'm not going to go back and compare it. There are so many things that are different, it would be too hard to put it in a nutshell and do it justice. We're doing things better across the board. Some of it is Joe [Flacco] getting the ball out, too. He didn't take a sack when they timed up the free runner – was it, two weeks ago through the A gap, and it was Cleveland – and get us back. We take the big loss, and Joe hands it to Justin Forsett. It's not a sack, it's not a good play, but he's had some plays like that. But also, we've had some things blocked. We were sacked on a hot or two, too. So they take care of each other. We're just doing a good job."
**John, do you feel like the methodical approach and the less no-huddle has been good for the offense. Is it suiting QB Joe [Flacco] well what you're doing? *(Aaron Wilson) *"I think what we are doing is suiting Joe [Flacco] well, yes. That's not to say those other things don't suit him well. We were no-huddle in the second half against Cincinnati, as you remember, and what did we have, 350 yards in one half? So, I'd like to think we can do a lot of things well, whatever we need to do in a game to win the game."
How important has OLB Pernell McPhee's versatility been to move inside and obviously when getting pressure from outside? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It's been good. You can put Pernell [McPhee] anywhere, and he's going to get pressure. But we have two pretty good guys coming off the edge, so you want Pernell on the field. And not just him, [there are] other guys. Chris Canty has gotten tremendous pressure, too. And other guys, too. Courtney [Upshaw] has gotten pressure. We have a lot of guys that can rush the passer, and we want them on the field."
Coach [Chuck] Pagano was saying he thinks you've challenged their 12th man now? (Aaron Wilson) "I've challenged their 12th man?" (Reporter: "That's what he said. He was kind of, I think, half joking.") "He going to get his crowd all riled up. Chuck is a great motivator. We don't care how loud it is. You go everywhere, it's going to be loud. So, we have to handle it. It's our job to quiet them down. That's what we try to do."
When you look at the defense this year, like you said about the offense a few minutes ago, we're just doing things better. Is that what the key has been on defense this year, just doing things better? (Jeff Seidel)"We were pretty good on defense last year. What's the comparison to? We did some good things last year on defense as well, but some things we are doing better. There are other things we're not doing as well, and the big thing is the big plays. If not for the big plays, we probably are the top defense in football right now. And that was something we didn't do well last year. We've made it a big point of emphasis to eliminate those, and we are still working on doing that, which shows you how hard it is sometimes to get better at things. So, we have to keep working on that and hold onto the other things we are doing well at the same time."
Did you notice RB Justin Forsett right away during the offseason workouts, because he has been one of the better stories in the NFL so far? (Jamison Hensley)"That's a good question, because the answer is 'yes.' When you first saw him come out here, it's like, 'Whoa, he's good.' He's better than his reputation. He's underrated, I guess. You could see that right away. [He] had such a great feel for the offense. But I don't know if I really could have guessed that he'd break tackles like he does. He's really doing a great job in yards after the hit. That has been a strength, and you wouldn't assume that just looking at him."
How big has it been to have a guy step up like that, like you said, so unexpectedly? (Jamison Hensley)"It has been important. Hopefully we can build a deep roster, and hopefully we have good players up and down. I'd like to think there are other players just waiting [for] their opportunity that, knock on wood, it comes in the right way, but that when they get their chance to play, they'll be able to play well also."
The Colts' offense is putting up a lot of yards, a lot of points. When you look at them on film, what is it they are doing so well without getting too specific? (Ryan Mink)"They're throwing the ball really well. Andrew Luck, it all starts with him. They have really good skill players. Reggie Wayne is playing at a high level. T.Y. Hilton is really good. They have two tight ends that can run and catch. Both those guys are different, but they both do a great job. They throw it to the back side of the backfield; both of them are excellent receivers. Hakeem Nicks – there's a guy who was, what, a first-round pick? He's their third receiver. And Luck is just really hard to get to. He's athletic. He moves to throw. He moves to run. He makes a subtle adjustment and gets the ball out, takes a hit, and he's very accurate when he does it. So, it's just execution. They have good players executing well."
Speaking of WR Reggie Wayne, Reggie Wayne and WR Steve Smith Sr. both came into the league in 2001, are these guys proving that age is just a number? (Ryan Mink)"Well, I don't know if it is just a number. How do you feel right now? You're not getting any younger, right? They definitely are doing something that is very special and amazing. How often do you see guys of that age produce the way they are?"
What do you tell your team that hasn't beat Indianapolis on the road? (Adam Vorce)"I didn't bring it up – never mentioned it. It's not even relevant. My guys would look at me and go … (gives a blank stare). That's probably what they would do."
As far as CB Jimmy Smith, obviously he turned the corner last year. What does it say about him to have a good season like last year and still pick up from where he left off last year and play so well this year? (Jamison Hensley)"Jimmy [Smith] works hard. He's determined to be one of the best corners, if not the best corner, in football. You can just ask him; he'll tell you that. And he backs it up with his work ethic. Plus, he's pretty talented. So, it's a good combination."
QB Joe Flacco
On whether he thinks the methodical approach to the huddle-up offense this season is working well: "Of course it is. It's the nature of the kind of games we've been in. That's the style of play we're going to be in the majority of the time. There will be times where we like to go no-huddle to put some pressure on teams, and there is going to be a time where we're going to have to go no-huddle again. But the goal is to be able to stay in our offense and choose when to go into that. That first game was obviously … The decision was made for us, and we don't want that to happen again."
On the advantages of the offense taking its time: "I don't really think about it that way. It's just what we do, and how we operate things. I think we still operate at a pretty quick pace; at least that's our goal. It's just how we call the plays."
On the few mistakes happening in the new offense: "Yes, I think we have a good group of guys. We've been in this offense for a few months now, and honestly, it would be tough for me to accept us going out there and making mistakes like that mentally. We've all had enough experience with football and learning new offenses and having to adapt to those kinds of things that it's something we should all be able to do, and I think it's showing that we have done that. So, it's not really that surprising to me, or anybody else here, as it is to the public and a lot of other people. I haven't had a ton of experience with switching offenses in the NFL and seeing how guys react to it, so I don't know if I have a different opinion than other people. But I expect our guys to be able to do what they've done and continue to do it."
On the difficulties of playing on the road: "Well, I think when you go on the road, you have to be careful about what you do with your snap count and your motions and things like that. The biggest thing about playing this game is going out there and doing the little things well. Akin to today, that's being more physical than the other team and playing smarter. It's execution. So, sometimes you can get caught up in trying to do too many fancy things, and on the road that can get you in trouble. It can create a lot of pre-snap penalties, and I think that's the biggest thing that you want to avoid on the road is those pre-snap penalties that are going to back you up before the ball is even snapped. So for us, we like to go out there, and like said, execute the fundamentals and not hurt ourselves and keep getting those positive plays – keep wearing teams out, playing physical football, and see where it takes us."
On using silent counts on the road: "My experience, since I've been in the NFL, is you go into the road game assuming that when you're in the gun, you're going to be a silent count. You have to assume that on a third down – at least the first third down of the game – that it's going to be pretty loud. Throughout the course of a game, you don't need to use silent count every single snap. But I think the safe thing to do is to use it, because you never know at what point the crowd is really going to be into it, and you've made the mistake of not calling it that way in the huddle. So like I said, I think my experience since I've been here is [to] be ready for every crowd to be pretty loud and get used to it."
On WR Jacoby Jones' slow start this season: "I honestly don't even think about that stuff. It happens, and I get over it like that. It's the nature of the game. Things like that are going to happen. I'm going to miss some throws. I'm not going to be happy about those, but I have to move on. I think drops sometimes are things that are very obvious and out there, but they happen. And I think all these guys have made a lot of plays. They're all very good wide receivers, and they're going to make their plays, and they're going to play well. And that's the last thing [Jacoby Jones] should be worrying about, and that's the last thing I want him to worry about. All he should be thinking is positive thoughts and going out there and getting ready to make some big plays for us, because that's what he's going to do."
On not being sacked in the past three games: "It's great. It's a good thing. I must say, I think our guys are doing a great job, obviously. I think our wideouts are doing a great job of getting open. So, the combination of those two things allows me to see very well, and it allows me to get the ball out of my hands. Sometimes sacks happen for [the] reason that guys are good players. They're going to sack you every now and then, but we've been very good the last three games, and we've been fortunate probably a couple times. But I think if we continue to do this with the consistency that we have over the course of the next 12 regular season games, then we'll be happy with where we are at the end. That's for sure."
RB Justin Forsett
On if he thought this opportunity to contribute so much would never happen for him:"[I had to focus on] being patient. You never know in this league how things can turn out, but [I told myself to] keep my head to the ground, keep working, keep grinding, and [I kept] praying that everything will work out in the end."
On if his tackle-breaking ability is something that gets overlooked:"Definitely. It's something I've always done [and have] been able to do. Most people want to put me in the category of 'scat back,' but the way I play, I think my style is a little more physical. I like breaking tackles. I like making people miss. Yes, sometimes it does get overlooked."
On if he believed he would ever be the Ravens' starting running back:"My mindset with the situation when I signed here was to go out and compete as if I was going to start this season. That was my mindset. I think [for] anybody in this situation, that's the only way you can think, because you never know when your number is going to be called. You just have to be prepared when it gets called. That was my mindset going in. [We have] great backs here. We drafted a great back [in Lorenzo Taliaferro]. I didn't know what would happen. I just left it in God's hands."
On if he ever felt his last NFL down had been played:"Well, [I felt that way] last year. I just came off from [Houston], I was a free agent, Jacksonville brought me in, [and] I signed a two-year deal there. I was thinking, 'Finally.' I was going to get my shot. I was going to get my opportunity to play a lot and compete. I got hurt, and then I was on the bottom of the depth chart. And then I got hurt again and was on IR [Injured Reserve]. Then I got released, so I didn't know if I was ever going to have another opportunity to play this game again. Every moment I'm out there on the field in practice, I don't take it for granted. I'm thankful, and I play like it's my last."
On how much the three running backs feed off of each other:"I think a lot. At our position, we have the ability to be a spark for the team and for one another. [When] you see a guy out there making big plays, you want to do the same."
On how his familiarity with Gary Kubiak's offense helped his transition:"The transition was a lot smoother. I didn't have to learn anything new. I knew the playbook. I knew the terminology. It was a smoother transition."
On why Gary Kubiak's system is so conducive to running backs:"[It's] because he uses the backs in a lot of different ways. With the lanes that open up in the zone-blocking scheme, of course you have your opportunities there. But as far as catching passes out of the backfield, you have to [be able to] line up to catch passes from the wide receiver position. It just allows you to show your versatility. I think that's why running backs excel."
On how impressive the offensive line has been this season:"They've been very physical. I've been in this system for a long time, and for us to be clicking this early is a good sign for what's ahead. I'm excited about the future."
CB Jimmy Smith
On if he relishes being assigned to cover the opponents' top receiver:"Relish? I thought relish goes on your hot dog. (laughter) It's a challenge every week. If they ask me to do it, I'm willing to do it. I love new challenges, but that's just how the game plan has been working out lately."
On if there is an offense comparable to Indianapolis' unit:"This is probably the best offense we've had to face so far. They have a ton of receivers that can get open, get the ball [and] score. [They have] fast receivers. They have a quarterback who is pretty much on his way to being the best in the league. And I think they're the No. 1 offense in the league right now. We have our work cut out."
On how much progress QB Andrew Luck has made since the last time they faced him in 2012:"It's his rookie season compared to his third season, so [he's made] a leap. He was already good his rookie season, obviously. Even now, he's that much better. He has way better control of his offense. He runs the offense to a 'T.' He knows when somebody is open, and he knows how to hit that person. I feel like every time a person is open, he hits them – on film, at least, that's what it looks like. Everybody has to be on their game this week. Everybody has to know exactly what we're doing, and we can't let any balls get over our head."
On what makes WR Reggie Wayne a good wideout:"Any veteran receiver – as you see Steve [Smith Sr.] – just knows how to play the game. The older you get, it's not so much about speed. It's more about technique. And when you watch him on film, he isn't burning anybody, but definitely he's getting open and he's catching the ball when it comes. That's what they ask him to do, and he does a great job at it."
On if he plans on chasing around guys when he's WR Reggie Wayne's age:"Hopefully I can make it that far into this league staying healthy and all."
On how he's tried helping WR/RS Jacoby Jones during his current dry spell:"We've had conversations. I told Jacoby, 'This is how it is.' [There are] ups and downs in this game. If everything was perfect, it just wouldn't be right. Nobody goes out and catches every single ball ever thrown to them. But he's going through a little phase right now, and he'll get past it. All he has to do is catch one big play, and he's back to Jacoby."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On how much improvement Colts QB Andrew Luck has made in his career:"When it comes to Andrew Luck, he's definitely emerged as one of the best in the league. We're real impressed with the kid, and we don't say that about a lot [of players]. Usually we come up here and play the political game and are like, 'Oh, this guy can make every throw,' or, 'This guy is pretty good.' But this guy is actually really good. He is really good, and he can run. He ran like a 4.5 [40-yard dash] or something at the combine, so he's outrunning most defensive ends and everything. It's going to be a fun and entertaining game."
On if OLB Pernell McPhee is like a "super-sub":"Super-sub? I don't know. We have a lot of starters on this team. Our depth is immaculate, I like to say. We can go very deep into our depth. Pernell has been playing phenomenally. He's been playing phenomenal since he got here. He's dealt with little nicks and bruises, but now he's getting on the field a lot, and we like that."
On how pleased he is with the Ravens' defense:"It's good. Would we like it a little bit better? Absolutely. Would we like to be 4-0? Absolutely, but it's the NFL. Any success in this league is tremendous, and you just want to keep the success going. We definitely aren't satisfied. We have not peaked, and we want to continue to work so we can get as good as we can get."
On WRs Steve Smith Sr. and Reggie Wayne still getting the job done at their age:"Steve, he's always been very feisty. Him playing as well as he has is never a surprise. It's not a surprise to me. The only people it's probably a surprise [to] are the Carolina Panthers, and I definitely would be surprised, too, [if I were them]. As far as Reggie Wayne, he is from the 'U' [University of Miami]. We know how their mentality is and how guys from the 'U' prepare. That's really not a surprise, either."
On if a team's defense can be judged by how it stops the run:"A lot of teams play physical and still can't stop the run. It's a combination of that; it's a combination of chemistry and scheme and everybody pretty much doing their part and being where you're supposed to be. All [of] that comes into play, but the only thing that matters are the W's. I've seen a team that was ranked like 32nd [in run defense] come here in a playoff game and ended up going down and winning the Super Bowl. I guess as long as you're winning, you take the good with the bad."
On if he feels like he broke the ice in terms of his sack production:"Not yet. I thought I did, but I ended up having to share it [with Elvis Dumervil]. (laughter) I'm definitely fighting the NFL on that. I'm definitely sending it in. All I can do is just continue to go to work. It'd be one thing if we were getting lit up for 400 yards passing and [if teams were] putting up 40 points on [us]. Then people would say the lack of pass rush is the reason the Ravens get lit up, but it's not that. A big part of why we're 3-1 is because [of] what opposing offenses have to do against our pass rush. I don't think I've broken the ice yet. I'm still going to go to work until I get one."
On if he finished the Carolina game feeling good, physically: "Yeah, I'll be alright – just little nicks and bruises, but I'll be alright."