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Transcripts: Week 2 at Cincinnati (9/13)


Opening statement:"OK, [it's] good to see everybody. [I] really appreciate you guys being here. [It was a] good practice [and] great day. [It's] exciting going into the AFC North to play our first game against our divisional rival in their stadium. We've been there lately a few times. We're kind of comfortable with the locker room. We're looking forward to it, and we're preparing as such. What questions do you have?"  

Do you have any lingering feelings about the AFC Wild Card loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last season? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, you just remember stuff. Certainly, it's there. It wasn't that long ago, but it wouldn't matter if it was 10 years ago. You remember everything in football. They won the game. They played better at the end [and] made the plays they had to make, but that's history, and we're moving forward." 

Do you think the team took a lot of good from that game as well? (Childs Walker) "I don't really remember to be honest with you. That's a long time ago." (laughter) 

Is there any update on S Marcus Williams' injury? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes. They're working through all the dynamics of that right now. That's where we're at. [With] all those guys … [We'll] just see where we go. They'll all be on the injury report for you." 

Has TE Mark Andrews moved any closer to being ready to play this week? (Brian Wacker) "As I just said, so graciously, I just mentioned, refer to the injury report. He was out there practicing. I don't know if you noticed. Hence your answer." (laughter) 

Does losing RB J.K. Dobbins for the season with an Achilles tear alter things for you in a sense? (Brian Wacker) "We don't have J.K. That's disappointing. He's a great player. He's a great guy. Obviously, any time you [lose] a player like that on your roster, that's a big deal. He's an explosive athlete and ball carrier [and] receiver, but I am very confident in the guys we have stepping in there as well. We have very good players stepping in, and they're excited for their opportunity." 

What does FB Patrick Ricard represent for this team, and why is he able to still have a place on this team despite a change in offensive philosophy? (Kyle Goon) "[Patrick Ricard is] a good football player. When you have a good football player on your team, you definitely want to use him. How many plays it is from week-to-week, I think that'll be … It won't be the same. It'll be whatever it is that week based on whatever's going on. He's a good football player. He brings what he brings. You know what he brings. You see it every day when you watch him play, right? It's effective. It's meaningful reps when he's out there doing what he does well. I'm very happy we have him on our team." 

It was noticeable during training camp that S Kyle Hamilton was more vocal. How much do you have to lean on him now with S Marcus Williams potentially missing some time with his injury? How much does it help that he is taking more of a communication/leadership role? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Right. [Kyle Hamilton has] had a great camp. He's done everything that he's been asked to do in different roles position wise – moving around. He's still capable of doing that. We still have all those options at our disposal with the guys that we're putting out there. Yes, I'm sure he'll be very vocal, but he was before. That's the way we'll roll." 

WR Zay Flowers looks like he has been a leader for a long time and has a hunger for the game. How good is that for his development? (David Andrade) "[Zay Flowers] is champing at the bit to get out there and show what he can do. He made the big catch over the middle into the red zone. [He] had a lot of really good blocks. He was running routes fast. I was happy for him. He's just going to build off of that 100%, and he's going to have a lot of great days in front of him." 

What kind of challenge does it pose to face the Cincinnati Bengals' potent offense with their wide receivers? (Jamison Hensley) "We're very familiar with their talent. They're a very talented offense, obviously. They have a great [running] back. They have a great quarterback. We've played them a lot. They've played us a lot. We're very familiar with one another." 

The Cincinnati Bengals did not play up to their standards in their Week 1 matchup with the Cleveland Browns. Do you throw that game film out to a degree or assume that they will be the team you have seen in past years? (Childs Walker) "We know how good they are. We're getting ready to play the game. It's going to be played this week, not the one that was played last week by either team. The same thing goes for us. You never stay the same. We're getting ready for next week, and I'm sure they're doing the same." 

I would assume that you were pleased with the pass rush during the game last week. What did you see with the pass rush? (Cliff Brown) "I saw exactly what I told you we would see, and those guys were bringing it. It was exciting and fun. We have a new challenge in front of us this week, and we have to get better. Those guys are determined to keep getting better – obviously pass rush, pressure, sacks, hurries, batted balls. Those are very important aspects of pass defense in the National Football League. I like the way they played. We have to keep getting better." 

What is the challenge and difficulty of going up against the Cincinnati Bengals' defense? (Brian Wacker) "The challenge is the guys … That is football. That's why guys, as we spoke about last week, are on the roster. They're starting-caliber players, or they wouldn't be in the league, the way I look at it, especially on this team. Those guys are ready to roll, and they're going to go out there and play. We respect their pass rush. We respect their run defense. We respect everything. It's our job to go out there and do our job, and our guys are looking forward to the opportunity to do that." 

What have you seen from the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive backfield with some new players in the mix as well? (Tim Barbalace) "They're playing the same defense. They're filling the roles that have been built into the defense. They did a nice job doing that. Obviously, the Hill kid [Bengals S Dax Hill, brother of Ravens RB Justice Hill], we have a little knowledge of. We're familiar with the family, it's a good family. They're good players, and they're in that defense. They're doing what the defense asks them to do, and I thought they had a good start." 


On how tough it is to see RB J.K. Dobbins go through another injury:"It's tough. The game can be unfair sometimes. The timing was just terrible for him. I know how hard he's been working in the offseason and how emotional he was before the game to be finally back. All three of us [were] healthy [and] ready to go. I feel for him. I checked up on him after the game. He's in good spirits, he's a tough guy. I know he's going to grind it out, and he trusts God's plan."  

On how he feels the running game will go forward without RB J.K. Dobbins:"That's what we get paid to do. 'The Next Guy Up' mentality. Everybody has a family to feed, so we have to step up and do that." 

On what he and RB Justice Hill bring as running backs that's different than RB J.K. Dobbins: "We make plays, [and] I guess I bring a physical aspect. Justice [Hill] is more speed; [an] agility guy. I'm excited for him, too, because I know he's primed to have a good year. He's been working his tail off, too. So, I'm excited for him to see what he does." 

On the if the rivalry with the Bengals has kicked up a notch in the past two years:"It's important. They're on our schedule every year more than once. I feel like we're always playing them. We're ready for it. It's going to be a physical game. Everybody's dialed in. We know how big this is. It's early in the year, but it's a big game for us." 

On how big it is to have QB Lamar Jackson play in this game in Cincinnati since he's missed the last three there:"Yes, we lost a couple times, but I feel like we played strong games. We were in those games until the very end, and with Lamar [Jackson] back, we have our leader back, and it's going to be a lot of more big plays."  

On how fresh he feels in Week 2 of the season: "I feel great. Practice has been going well for me. I haven't been really feeling [any] setbacks. I'm ready, honestly."  

On playing this first game under a new offense and if they worked out some of the kinks of this new system:"Yes. We've definitely seen a lot of things that we have to work on. We hit those right on. [We] didn't dodge anything. [We] didn't try to be secretive about anything, and we hit it right on, and we got right back to work on it and making sure we fixed everything that we messed up [in last Sunday's game]." 

On how big of a challenge will it be to not have C Tyler Linderbaum and T Ronnie Stanley in this game: "[It's] just like the running back room, it's 'The Next Guy Up' mentality. I feel like the O-line knows that, too. They have to step up. The players that are stepping in, I believe, they've had some playing time with us, too. They get a lot of practice reps. They'll be ready, and I have faith in them."  

On how much he takes it upon himself to step up knowing he'll have more responsibility in this offense now:"I've always been preparing like I was going to get a lot of carries. It's really not too much of a difference to me. [I'm] making sure that I'm conditioning and feeling good during practice [and] wearing myself out in practice so that way the game is easier for me. I've already been doing that so I should be straight." 

On what's the challenge defensively and if there's the extra motivation to get the win:"[It's] just that they're a team that know us, and we know them. They're a team that, I would say, they kind of get guys on their team to try and defend us, and we do the same. We're very aware of each other. I know it's going to be – like I said – it's going to be a physical game. The crowd is going to be there. Everybody's going to be in it. It's early on in the season, but it's a big game, and we're going to treat it like that." 


On the challenge for the secondary without two of its leaders in CB Marcus Humphrey and S Marcus Williams:"Yes, [Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Williams] are two guys who are hard to make up for. They're two of the best in our league, and you don't just come across guys like that very often. But I think we challenge ourselves every day, and our coaches harp on it in practice – that everybody has to be ready to play. They preach [that] if you're in there, you're a starter. So, I think guys like Geno [Stone] and Ronald Darby – we brought in – Rock Ya-Sin ... But everybody is ready to play at any point." 

On the how important communication on the back end has been and will continue to be:"Yes, to your latter part, I think we can get a lot better with it – myself included. That was the first time the starters got live bullets; like, we didn't play in [the] preseason and stuff like that. Hitting people, taking hits in the game, you get a little more tired, and it's a little harder to communicate, and there are those stressful times in games where maybe we get a call late, or there is a communication error, and safeties have to relay it through DBs who are coming back from covering a go route and stuff like that. [There are] just little nuances to the game that we'll get ironed out. But I think we did a good job overall. [There were] not really any busted plays or anything like that, and [there were] no balls over our head last week, so we'll just try to do more of the same." 

On his takeaways from the game that ended the Ravens' season in Cincinnati last year:"The ending to last year, that was low-key mid. Obviously, we want to win a Super Bowl every year, and [it was] a pretty mid result last year, but this year, we're trying to make it a W. And we've played these guys two of our last three games, [and] it's going to be three out of the last four, so we're getting familiar with them. They're a good team, and we're going in there with a good gameplan. We've just got to execute, and we'll come out on top." 

On the keys to going against QB Joe Burrow:"[Joe Burrow] is super disciplined in the way he plays. He takes what he can get, and the great ones do that. He's very good at knowing what you're in, and if you're not holding your looks very well, he's going to dice you up. So, we've got to be disciplined in our looks and try to make it a little cloudy for him and not make it a clear picture. But yes, like you said, he's a great quarterback, and it's a big challenge for us. They have weapons all over the field. But like I said earlier, I think we have the guys to do it and contain it and hopefully go out there and get a 'dub' [win]." 

On if the Ravens-Bengals matchups from last season are on his mind as this game approaches:"The playoff game was – it's September – so what, eight months ago? And obviously, [there's] nothing we can do about that now. We've got another opportunity, thankfully, coming up, to right that wrong. And I think it's more of – for myself – [a] be-where-your-feet-are kind of deal and get better from what you messed up [on] in the past. But you always have the opportunity in front of you; just take advantage of it." 

On if he sensed that the Ravens-Bengals games from last year were a little chippier than the average NFL game and if any lingering rivalry/bad blood between the two teams:"Yes, I mean … Like I was saying earlier, be where your feet are, but at the same time, we've got to appreciate the past and understand the rivalry that goes into playing at Cincinnati and playing in the AFC North in general. All four teams are – what I would say – rivals, and there is a pretty gritty understanding within the whole division that you've got to be a certain kind of player to play on all four of these teams. So, I think we take that mentality into every division game and every other game, as well – but especially division games, because they feel a little more like you've got a little edge on your shoulder [and] a chip on your shoulder going into there. Last year, they were a couple games that were pretty important. The first game we played them last year was the week after the whole Damar Hamlin thing happened, and that was a little heavy – going in there and just understanding what we're playing for and the sacrifices that go into it and how hard we play. And then the second game [and] going into the playoff game, obviously, [there were] big implications on that. So, this game – Game 2 in the season – it's hard to look down the line and see the impact of it, but this is a pretty big game for us early in the year, and it's a good test." 

On if Cleveland's Week 1 defensive film against Cincinnati appeared similar to how the Ravens played QB Joe Burrow last year:"Every defense varies – person to person, team to team. I know there are also some egos involved with DCs [defensive coordinators] taking another DC's place – stuff like that – [and] kind of believe in their own stuff. But at the same time, I feel like we execute what we go out there and do differently than a lot of people, and it's hard to replicate. Last week, the Browns did a good job. They were physical. But it's not as much about what the Browns do; that's not going to have an impact on Sunday. [The Bengals] are going to be motivated to come in, in a home opener and play a division rival, and they want to get a win, too. So, we have to go in, play our best football and get a win." 

On the importance of chemistry on the back end and his chemistry with S Geno Stone:"Daryl Worley included; we all probably play too much videos games together – a lot of Call of Duty. We go through some arguments on the game, so we can definitely handle each other out here. But in the locker room, in the lunchroom, during lunch – everything – it kind of feels like we're all brothers. [We] all come from different backgrounds, [and] I'm probably 12 years younger than some guys in the locker room, but we all feel like we're kind of the same, and that also stems [to] the DB [defensive back] room. [We're] a bunch of different guys, but … Like I said, Geno [Stone], 'D-Worl' [Daryl Worley], everybody else in the room included, it's kind of a one-family, one-unit kind of thing. [When] one guy goes down, it sucks for him, [and we're] praying for him, but at the same time, it's another opportunity for another guy to prove what he can do. So, I'm excited for everybody."  


On how he feels going from Week 1 to Week 2 not having played in the preseason:"I feel pretty good. [I] just had three little mishaps during the game. That's why I felt I was rusty, but other than that, I thought I was doing pretty good." 

On how tough it was watching the Cincinnati games last year without playing in them and how excited he is to play this year: "[It was] very tough. One, I was injured. Two, I wasn't able to travel with my guys and support them. Just being out of the game, that's not something I want to do ever again. Going back to Cincinnati, it's a great atmosphere [and] great crowd. I have some of the Louisville guys in the area, so it's great support from the Ravens fan base in Louisville. It's great to be there." 

On if he can recreate what it was like watching the Cincinnati playoff game last year: "I'd rather not, because we lost that game, but yes, I was watching that game. We were doing pretty good. I feel like it was my fault a little bit because I had to go use the restroom [and] get up. By the time I walked to the bathroom, I was hearing cheers. I'm like, 'What happened? What happened?' I looked and [No.] 94 [Sam Hubbard] was running the other way, so I almost hit my screen, but it is what it is." 

On what FB Patrick Ricard represents to this offense and how he feels when Ricard lines up behind him on the field:"Pancake Pat [Ricard], that name just fits him. He's the guy laying people out, doing pancakes, catching the ball sometimes out of the backfield [and] running routes sometimes. Pat is 'Mr. Do It All.' He helps our offense out a lot." 

On if he feels that Ravens haven't been able to give the Bengals their best shot over the last few years down the stretch because of injuries: "Yes, I believe so, but [injuries] just happens in football. It just happens to happen every time we play them. We have a lot of injuries or key guys go down versus them, but it's no excuses. We all have guys in the NFL that are getting paid to bust their behinds, so it is what it is." 

On how tough the game is going to be without RB J.K. Dobbins and other key players: "It's tough just because they're key players, but we have guys that are going to step up and lead us out there on that field and do what they're supposed to do." 

On what RBs Justice Hill and Gus Edwards bring to the team that's different than what RB J.K. Dobbins brought:"All three of those guys are just different, period. With those guys, they're also explosive as well, just like J.K. [Dobbins]. They're going to go out there and do what they're supposed to do to help us win games." 

On if it will take some time to build chemistry between a center that isn't C Tyler Linderbaum:"We're starting in practice. We're practicing and getting extra reps [and] getting extra snaps just because he's not Tyler [Linderbaum]. Tyler is usually the guy who gets all the snaps. Me and him always exchange the snaps together, but we're going to work. We're going to find a way to make it happen. That's the job to do." 

On if he likes being considered the underdogs: "I love being the underdog. I really don't care to be hyped up or people displaying that we're on top of the league. I'd rather be the underdog because we always have something to prove. We always have a chip on our shoulder to go out there and win a game." 

On if the Bengals are the hunted team at this point because they won the AFC North title last season: "To be honest, we just have to go and focus [on] one game at a time. We don't really care about where we're ranked right now. We're just trying to go in there and win. It's a division opponent." 

On what he looks for and what goes into his thought process when there's an option to run: "Just making a great decision about the play. If the defense gives me the ability to run [or] gives me the look to run, I'll run it. But other than that, I was trying to put my team in the best position I could." 

On if he saw the comment from Texans DE Jonathan Greenard about not running as much:"I think I saw that yesterday, but [Houston] didn't give me the chance to run, so it was cool. We got the W. I really don't care about running. We won." 


On having chemistry with the defensive backfield and on S Kyle Hamilton's comment about how the group plays the video game Call of Duty together:"I just started picking up Call of Duty when I started playing with Kyle and all those guys. We communicate a lot on that. Communication goes a long way for me and Kyle right now." 

On if he was playing Zombies:"No, just Warzone." 

On the significance of communication with the other defensive backs and getting to know one another: "It's definitely a big factor. You have to know each other – know how you play back there, know how to communicate with everyone, especially the back seven because [there's] a bunch of checks and motions – stuff you need to be on top of that. Communication is definitely a big part of all that." 

On what experience means to him now that he steps in again for an injured S Marcus Williams:"I just feel like having that experience from last year [and] the year before that, too. [I want to] just go out there and do my job. This year, I'll be more productive [and] hopefully get more picks – whatever it is to help my team, be in the right situation. Like you said, communicate and make sure Kyle [Hamilton]'s in the right spots. It's his first full year playing safety, so just be back there and make sure we all communicate." 

On what the Cincinnati Bengals' performance in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns means to him as they play them on the road: "I know what type of team they are. No matter what type of game they had last week, it's a division foe. They're going to bring everything they have. I know how talented they are over there, so [we] can't take any team lightly." 

On if knowing the Cincinnati Bengals and their talent adds to the stakes and to his duties: "Yes, a little bit. We just have to make sure you don't want to give guys easy access and stuff like that. But at the same time, you want to treat everyone the same. They have special guys over there – a special quarterback. [Joe Burrow] got paid all the money for a reason. We always want to make sure we're on top of our game and do what we all do." 

On how much he draws on how well they played against the Cincinnati Bengals defensively last season from a confidence standpoint: "I remember the first game we had a really good game. A couple hits here and there, but the last two games [in last year's Week 18 and the Wild Card playoff game], I feel like we gave a little bit up. They ended up winning the last two games, but this year, we just have to make sure we lock in on all the small details and make sure we get alright."

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