WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: JAGUARS – WEEK 15
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see you guys. Thanks for being here. We just finished up a good practice here – more mental probably than physical, and we're moving forward getting ready for Jacksonville."
John, you just talked about mental, how do you keep these guys focused on winning a game that would appear – I know you talked about the film and everything – would appear to be one of the easier ones compared to what you've gone through? (Dave Ginsburg) "I would just reject the whole principle of that it's really easy. And, it's not something that our guys would even consider. Maybe you can afford to look at it that way if you're not involved in it, but if you're involved in something in your job, or your life, or whatever, you don't take anything for granted, right? Like I said, we have a huge challenge in front of us on Sunday, and we understand how difficult it's going to be. So, we're preparing to meet that challenge, just like every week, but even more so, because as it gets later in the season, there's more on the line."
What does CB Antoine Cason bring to the table as far as a veteran presence being able to add this late in the year? (Luke Jones) "Antoine [Cason] brings a veteran presence that we're able to add this year. It's very well said, and he's a good player. He has been around. He's a physical player. He's a good tackler – smart player. He has a lot of experience in big games, so we're very fortunate that he was available Monday when we had a need at corner."
**Is there a possibility – knowing what maybe you've seen the limited time out there, and knowing how he can adjust to the system – that CB Antoine Cason could possibly suit up on Sunday? *(Jamison Hensley) *"Yes. Yes, there's a possibility that could happen."
John, how do you keep a rookie like ILB C.J. Mosley fresh? I know you have plans for your veterans, but what do you do for a kid who has never played 20 games before? (Mike Preston) "That's a great point, because I think it's true with all the rookies, but [C.J. Mosley] has played probably the most reps out of all those guys. I think he asked a question on Saturday night or Sunday morning, [he asked] 'What week is this?' What week is this? It's the time between the end of the regular season and the bowl game, but we play games in there, so just keep playing. (laughter) And he's done a great job with it."
Obviously the team scouted ILB C.J. Mosley pretty heavily coming out of Alabama, and you kind of knew what you were getting, but has there been anything that maybe stood out that maybe you're like – now that you're seeing him every day – "Hey, I didn't notice that." (Jamison Hensley) "Nothing that we didn't notice [before drafting C.J. Mosley]. I would just say – even more so probably – his football IQ is really high, and I would say humility. Humility and work ethic are really high. He's not a guy that takes anything for granted, and that's a great quality in anybody."
John, is this just clicking for OLB Elvis Dumervil this year? Is he doing anything different than last year with [achieving] the team record in sacks (Dave Ginsburg) "I don't know about whether [Elvis Dumervil is] doing anything different. It would probably be a great question for him. I don't see anything different. I thought he worked really hard last year. But it is clicking, and it probably has a lot to do with the fact that we have some guys helping him all around him – really good pass rushers that are helping him. It's a group effort, but he's having one of the greatest years ever in terms of sacks."
I know you knew about OLB Elvis Dumervil in Denver having such great seasons there. When you first met him, were you at all surprised? (Jamison Hensley) "No, I'm not even going there. I'm not even going there." (Reporter: "Were you surprised by the production he makes that he's not the prototypical pass rusher, like physique and things like that?") "[Elvis Dumervil] has long arms. So, the great pass rushers generally have really long arms. Combine that with his ability to leverage under a block, I would say it has been favorable for him. So, what you're saying is with him, was I surprised that he wasn't taller." (Reporter: "Or big.") "I could ask the question myself. You don't want to be offensive, but you're asking a question. He's about 5-11, which as I watch him rush the passer, I see where it's a benefit to him. You look at James Harrison – I think it's another good example – James Harrison was a great leverage rusher. He can get underneath the block and tilt the offensive tackle's balance. That's what Elvis does. He can tilt the balance. And then he has ridiculously long arms, and he's very powerful in his lower body. He's probably healthier, [getting] back to the question. He's probably healthier than he was last year, and especially the year before." (Reporter: "Especially this time of year.") "Especially this time of year."
Can you just talk about the stamina of the guys? We were talking about keeping players fresh or what not, but I feel like you saw it in the second half of the Miami game that they got stronger as the game went on. (Ryan Mink) "That's something we appreciate – the fact that our guys work so hard in the weight room, conditioning. We practice really fast and really hard, and it's paying off for us. It has paid off for us every year, and I would probably say this group … Well, it has yet to be determined. We'll see, but this group feels like it may be in the best shape of any team we've had. So, it did show up big time in Miami. In the fourth quarter, that's where it really showed up."
John, how much have you … Last year when you guys signed him, WR Kamar Aiken didn't get a whole lot of attention. How much just being in the program in the offseason, getting a chance to compete – you had 11 receivers in training camp – really spurred his development? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Kamar [Aiken] is another guy that works really hard, and Bobby Engram has done a tremendous job with him, and Jim Hostler did a great job with him last year. The value of developing players in this league … It's a developmental sport. It's a practice sport. You practice, and you train way more than you play unlike most other sports. So, you can really develop a young player if he has ability and talent. We saw his strong hands. He has great body control. That's why one thing I think the NFL is trying to do is think about a developmental league of some kind, especially with the limits on practice and things like that. Hopefully we'll be able to pull that off. I know everybody thinks it's important – the Players Association, players, everybody. So, it would be a benefit for all these guys, because it takes two or three years sometimes for guys to grow into NFL football players."
OLB Elvis Dumervil
On how he and OLB Terrell Suggs strive to be the top sack duo in the league:"I've been there before twice [in Denver], so I definitely want to do that with Terrell."
On how much he and OLB Terrell Suggs talk about that goal together:"The thing about it is when you have a top duo in sacks, it really helps the team overall. You have two guys really performing well. He's been doing a great job. He's been disruptive on his side. It allows me to have one-on-ones, and vice versa. So, we both can take advantage of one-on-ones. It definitely helps our defense."
On if it is humbling to have Baltimore's single-season sacks record knowing the Ravens' defensive tradition:"It's a humbling experience. When I decided to come to Baltimore, it was one of the reasons I wanted to come here because of the proud defensive [tradition] that has been here – Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Peter Boulware, those guys. So, to be a part of something like that, it's humbling. It's been very special, and I'm truly grateful for that."
On how the Ravens have managed adversity this season:"I think a lot of guys in the locker room have faith. Whatever you choose to believe in – me, I believe in God – and outside of that, it's really just mental toughness. I think we get challenged day-in and day-out from training camp, from [Ravens head] coach [John] Harbaugh. He does a good job of challenging guys day-in and day-out, either with quotes and wise words from or amongst teammates, and keeping everybody accountable. When everybody cares about each other, they care about what we're trying to get accomplished."
On how different it is being with the Ravens, compared to other teams around the league:"It's special here. It's a first-class organization – top-down. I'm* *very grateful to be a part of that."
QB Joe Flacco
On if he can sense this will be a special game for RB Justin Forsett, given that he was in Jacksonville last season:"I have no idea. I haven't really been able to gather anything yet. But it's always big, I think, for guys going back to places they've been."
On RB Justin Forsett going from being on the Jaguars' scout team to the Ravens' starting backfield:"I don't want to speak for him and put words in his mouth, but like I said, I think anytime you're playing against a team that you've been on in some way, there's probably something to it there."
On if this is the best offense he's been a part of in his NFL career:"I definitely think that, in terms of talent-wise and the consistency that we've been playing with. We have the potential to be the best and have been probably playing the most consistent and the best since I've been here. I would say, probably."
On what he attributes that feeling about the Ravens' offense to:"I think the biggest thing is that we have a lot of talented positions. Our offensive line is playing really well. I think that's where it starts."
On how much the Ravens' bye week helped them in terms of simplifying things:"I think we've just been going out there and playing well. I think we had a couple games where we didn't play as well as we obviously wanted to, but we kind of just got back to playing good football. We haven't been turning the football over and we've been converting on third down a lot, and those things keep you on the field and keep the ball in your possession and give you more chances for good things to happen."
On if it's natural for guys to be scoreboard-watching knowing they're in the playoff hunt:"I kind of figured that if we won the last three, it'd be tough for it not to be like that. Yes, that is always in the back of your mind, but it's honestly so tough to think about because we have a young team coming in here this week that has a lot of talent and can play really well. It's just so much to worry about that. So, it's tough to look ahead to all of that, even though it is in the back of your mind because people are always talking about it. These guys are a tough team. They're young, but they have a lot of explosive players. It's going to start with these guys, and we have to make sure we go take care of business."
On if quarterback sneaks are something he likes to do or if it's just part of the job:"It's just something that's part of the job. (laughter) I don't mind it when they're on the half-yard line – at least I get credit for a touchdown. (laughter) That's pretty cheap. That's a pretty cheap way to get a touchdown. It says, 'rushing touchdown' – I quarterback-sneaked it. But hey, it's part of it, and if that's the best way for us to get the first down or to do whatever, then I'm all for doing it."
*On if his personal technique on the quarterback sneak has gotten better over the years: *"I am a believer that it has nothing to do with me. There may be one sneak every year that maybe you had a little something to do with getting it, but it's all about Jeremy [Zuttah], K.O. [Kelechi Osemele], Marshal [Yanda], all those guys, pushing guys forward. Hey, shoot, I put my head down and close my eyes and move forward – that's all I do."
On him maybe keeping his eyes open on quarterback sneaks from now on:"Hey, I don't know if I keep my eyes open or not. I just assume my eyes probably close at some point." (laughter)
*On if there was any point during the year when he imagined the type of production WR Kamar Aiken could have this season: *"I'll tell you what: I didn't get to see much of him. How long has he been here?" *(Reporter: "It's his second year. He was on the practice squad last year.") *All last year I didn't get to see much of him. But this offseason, when the new coaches came in and he was really in there in the mix just like everybody else was, I got to see what kind of a receiver he is and how his hands are and all that. It jumped out at me, definitely. He's a physical guy that can play. I could see that actually pretty early on once he was in there with the regular rotation."
On what has helped the team get through the adversity this season:"We have a tight group of guys, but I think we're used to it around here. I think it starts with John [Harbaugh] and his attitude that he brings into the team meeting room after a loss or that he brings every day in there. It definitely starts with him and filters throughout the rest of us. So, we are able to keep that levelheadedness and keep the same mentality no matter what's happened the previous week and move on and still go out there the next week and play well. We've lost more games than we would have liked to at this point, but at the same time, we fought through a lot and continue to come back and come back, and we're right there in the thick of things. Obviously, that's a credit to the kind of guys we have here, but like I said, I definitely think it starts with the attitude that John has toward the adversity that we've been facing. "
On head coach John Harbaugh's attitude toward adversity:"You can get a sense for how we should handle things based on how he comes in there in our team meeting on Tuesday or Wednesday, and what his attitude is towards it. It's guidance to maybe how we should be handling things. I think the longer John has been here and the longer [I've been here] – obviously, I been here all [seasons] with him – I think he's so comfortable and so confident in what he is doing that he can portray that to all of us and we can [follow his lead]. Everybody feels [adversity]. Let's just say adversity is losing a game. We all don't feel good coming in here on Tuesday after a loss. But when you see your head coach get up there and, while he is fiery, he is still confident about getting back to work and going out there the next week … I think he's been doing a really good job with that, and that's with everything."
RB Justin Forsett
On his emotions this week facing Jacksonville: "It's going to be fun. I'm excited to see some of the guys that I worked with last year. I have a lot of great friendships over there. First things first, we need to win this game. It's a playoff game, and [we need to] take care of that first, and everything else will be icing on the cake."
On what it was like when Jacksonville released him: "The writing was kind of on the wall when I was at the bottom of the depth chart and then [placed on] Injured Reserved. So, I wasn't really surprised, but it was still a hard pill to swallow knowing that you've been cut, and [I] didn't know what the future was going to hold. But [I] just kept the faith, kept working, and this opportunity came up."
On whether he has feelings of resentment toward Jacksonville: "No, no resentment, because all of the pain and the hurt I may have felt during that time, it made me a better man. Those dark moments, those times of frustration – they happen for a reason. I'm definitely a better man today because of it. So, those times really molded me."
On whether he has given the team advice on attacking the Jaguars' defense: "This is just another opponent. I may have some history with them, but what we've been doing has been working. We just have to stay consistent. We want to be able to go out there and be balanced, run the ball and pass the ball and protect Joe [Flacco]."
On how nice it is to be in a playoff chase: "It's nice, man. I've been playing seven years, and I think I've been to the playoffs twice. One of those times was on a 7-9 team [with Seattle]. So, just to be in the hunt it's a blessing, and I don't take it for granted. I'm excited to go up there and capture these wins down the back stretch."
On the key to having big runs this season: "Our offensive line. We have a great front. I always like to say it's their job to get me to A to C, [and] my job to get to C to Z. They have been opening up lanes, and I've been trying to do my best to make guys miss and get those long yards."
On wearing down opponents in the fourth quarter with the run game: "That's what we want to do. That's what the run game provides. Every time we come out, we know it might not pop right off the bat, but we believe if we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to wear defenses down, and we're going to be able to gas them late in the game, and we've had some success doing that."
T Eugene Monroe
On whether it will be emotional to play Jacksonville: "Really, it's not. I try not to let emotion get in the way of the task at hand. Obviously, it's something that I think about, especially how the scenario played out with me getting here through the trade last year. But they're in the way of us making a run to the playoffs, so I'll treat them with the same respect I treat any other opponent."
On most of his Jacksonville teammates not being with the organization any longer: "A lot of the guys that I was really close with aren't there any longer. A few of them are, but there has been so much change like any other team. But from the top down, even people on the staff in the building are different. But it's cool to play against a couple familiar faces that I did battle with in practices – a couple of their D-linemen who are playing really well right now."
On what it's like to be on a team in the playoff hunt: "It's exciting when you have a chance to do something special. Anytime you have a chance, there's energy, there's excitement, there's emotion towards that, but it all comes down to us being physical on the field on Sundays and being dominant, and that's the goal."
On whether making a playoff run makes you a better player: "I don't know if it makes you a better player, but it certainly forces you to zero in on everything that your job requires, especially being fundamentally sound. It's going to be crucial at this point of the year. Being fundamentally sound and being physical – that's what it's going to come down to."
LB C.J. Mosley
On how he is staying fresh throughout this season:"Getting treatment and pretty much the cold tub and hot tub, and getting some good sleep – that's about the only thing you can really do."
On if he does any extra conditioning:"No, I'm playing pretty much every snap, so that's keeping me pretty conditioned." (laughter)
On if he's asked any veteran players how they get through an NFL season:"They pretty much have seen my pain, especially the last game with my wrist. [My] knee [is] hurting a little bit, and I caught a stinger or two. So, I kind of went through the grind for this past game. But that's just what comes with it. I have to put my body on the line for this team. We have somewhere to be at the end of this year and in January, so we have to do what we have to do."
On if he pays any attention to the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year talk around him:"No, not really. As long as I am producing and not missing any calls on defense and we win the game, that's really all that matters to me."
On if he would be happy if he won the honor:"It would be a great accolade. With all the hard work I've put in, pretty much since last January since my last bowl game, I've been grinding ever since to get to this spot. It may just be a great accolade for me and for this organization to have another [player] win Defensive [Rookie] of the Year. But, that's at the end of the year. We still have three more games to focus on."
On any specific area he would like to improve in his game:"I guess, since with my wrist and everything, just make sure I take care of that and make sure I'm staying physical in the run game. Because when people see that weakness, they're going to try to attack that. So, if that's the case, I have to make sure I stay firm in what I do. I just try to get smarter every day, learn the passing scheme and try to learn the opponent as best as I can. That's as much as I can do."
On what he's seen from Jaguars rookie QB Blake Bortles in his preparation:"He's [learned] his position pretty well. He's very calm under pressure, so what we have to do is make sure we keep the edges contained. Just like last week with [Ryan] Tannehill, he's a running quarterback, too. When he gets out of the pocket … I think he is averaging 6.8 yards a carry. So for us, we have to make sure he doesn't run the ball as effectively as he has been doing. That's going to be the main thing, trying our best not to give up big plays on the back end."
On how veteran players ILB Daryl Smith and OLB Terrell Suggs have helped him get through the season:"Pretty much seeing them grind every day just like I am doing. They might have a couple more reps off than me in practice, but other than that, they're doing the same work that I'm doing. They're busting their tails every play, making plays during the game and at practice. They pretty much are keeping the pace up for young guys like me so when we get to that level or that age where they are at later in our career, we've already seen how it's been done so we can do the same thing."
WR Steve Smith Sr.
On if he had any advice to give RB Justin Forsett on facing his old team:"No, we talk. He's a lot less fiery than me, so I think he'll be all right."
On what he had to say to CB Antoine Cason the first time he saw him here:"Nothing."
On what he thinks has helped guide the team through the adversity it's faced this season:"I think, obviously, it's a great coaching staff keeping us on task, allowing us to vent. I just think the organization as well, having a team chaplain [Johnny Shelton] here, player personnel, [Ravens director of player development] Harry Swayne … Just having all those people in there to give us an opportunity to have closed-door conversations, discuss some of the issues if we chose to with some of the coaches and just staying on task and really just understanding it is real what's going on, but not pushing it aside. But also, [it's] understanding we have to compartmentalize to some magnitude."
On what he has seen in the development of WR Kamar Aiken:"It goes to how much hard work he has put in. I wasn't here a couple of years ago to really evaluate to say how much he's progressed. But he's done a heck of a job. He's fought his way; he's practiced well; he's put a lot of pressure on himself. He earned his spot in training camp, like everybody else. He's just been waiting, and he got his opportunity and he shined."
On if he has offered WR Kamar Aiken his expertise in some situations:"No, he doesn't have to pick, because we have so many discussions. We'll talk about routes – how they are – all the time. It's not necessarily a one-time thing where I have to pull him to the side. We're always discussing routes. 'Hey, on this …' I'll say, 'Hey, I'll watch film on that.' It's a consistent dialog which we have all through the year."
On how he has been through talk about playoff scenarios a few times before:"No, actually I haven't."
On knowing that if the Ravens win their final three games, they'll be playoff contenders:"Obviously, it puts more pressure on us, but it's also very clear, transparent – what you see is what you get. We know if we have a letdown that the consequences are not making the playoffs. And if we play well, we obviously use that momentum to go into the playoffs. So, it's not gray – it's black and white."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On how much pride he and OLB Elvis Dumervil take in striving to be the NFL's top sack duo:"I'm going to downplay it as much as I can. We want to get after the passer every week, but we also want to be up there in numbers as a duo. I think we got a tremendous amount of disrespect during the offseason that we weren't even considered amongst the top duos. But I think that'll probably change come this next offseason."
On if he thinks the Ravens can beat the Jaguars because they are a 2-11 team led by a rookie quarterback:"No, not really. We don't see rookie quarterbacks; we just see another NFL team. They're coming in here and they're trying to win the game just like we're going to try and win the game, and we just better execute. Otherwise, they can make it a long day for us."
On how the franchise has consistently handled adversity this season:"I think it's just the guys we have in our locker room. We're a very tight group. That has a lot to do with it – the guys you have in the locker room, and the veterans. And we know that we are who we are, and we accept it, and we're going to continue to be that way around here. We [understand] it's not going to be perfect. So, we expect to [handle adversity well]."
On how this type of adversity isn't faced everywhere around the league:"Well, that's what makes us special then."
On how he emphasizes a sense of urgency while there is calmness with QB Joe Flacco in times of adversity:"It's no disrespect – call a spade a spade. I'm not going to hold my tongue. I'm always going to speak my mind, but I'm not looking for inspirational quotes."
On how both calmness and urgency are needed in such situations:"We don't [mess] with each other around here – we call it how it is. If there's something that needs to be addressed, we'll address it, and we pretty much keep our locker room. Our locker room is ours."