WEEK 8: BENGALS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Marvin Lewis
On if he has ever before had so many players injured at one time: "I don't know that I've ever experienced a team that … To lose so many starting players, and we've only played six games."
On how injuries have affected the progress and identity of the team: "Well, obviously, it affects your progress, because we've lost guys that are playmakers. And we've had some guys step up and do a good job. But you just keep grinding. You just have to keep grinding and keep finding a way, and we have to keep it up."
On how the Bengals' fan base is treating him after losses: "Well, I think everybody's the same. Players win, and coaches lose."
On what he thinks of the Ravens' outside linebackers and their extensive depth: "They do [have depth]. They've done a great job. And obviously, Terrell [Suggs] has just been – since the '03 season – just been a fine, great, great, great player as he reminds me every time we play him, both by telling me, and his play. *(laughter) *And [Elvis] Dumervil has just come … Elvis has just done a great job since they obtained him. You see the strength and ability of [Courtney] Upshaw out there, and then now they have [Pernell] McPhee playing outside 'backer and all the different spots he's playing and all the great stuff he's doing. They're very strong and explosive, and they've been playing with the lead, and it makes them hard."
On whether he thinks the Ravens' outside linebackers are one of the best position groups in the NFL: "I don't know that I've ever seen four guys like that on one football team. I know I haven't. So, they're very, very impressive. And you put the rookie [C.J. Mosley] in there, and you have five guys, in my opinion – and [Daryl] Smith not far off it – but guys playing at a Pro Bowl level."
On the different look the Ravens' provide with so many targets for QB Joe Flacco: "They have such big, physical guys. And even though Steve [Smith Sr.] is not the biggest guy in height, he's so doggone physical. And obviously, he's such an accomplished receiver. He understands everything, to playing the game and adapting and adjusting to coverage and leverage, and so forth. And he's so competitive at the catch."
On the Ravens' offseason additions adding to what the established team leaders and veterans offer: "Well, those guys continue to lead – [Haloti Ngata] up front and 'Suggsy' [Terrell Suggs]. I mean, those guys continue to lead and do a great job of leadership. And, obviously, Joe [Flacco has] been there since 2008, so the leadership of the football team has stayed very, very consistent. And they're bringing guys on and around – [Marshal] Yanda has been there for a while now. So, you have some good interior leadership that's helping the young players kind of step in, and the standard is set high."
On what he's seen from the Ravens' secondary the last couple weeks:"I think with [Lardarius] Webb coming back, he's really added another very, very good cover guy who does a great job, in my opinion, of playing the ball in the air, and he's very good around receivers. He has a great feel around the receiver, and so he adds another coverage guy and gives them more opportunities, and he's making quarterbacks have to hold on to the ball a little bit longer."
On how the Ravens use a number of safeties in their defensive packages:"Well, they're trying to maybe play it by situation and so forth, but I think [Darian] Stewart has done a great job, and [Matt] Elam has his role. And you see 31 [Terrence Brooks] in there a little bit, and then Jeromy [Miles] plays. There have been games where Jeromy was in there, I guess based on injury and so forth. They have a lot of ability and they all have good athleticism, and they're doing a good job that way."
On if there are any injury updates on WR A.J. Green and LB Vontaze Burfict:"No, I don't kind of give updates, but we'll see as the week goes on how we do on the practice field and so forth."
On how the Bengals plan on blitzing the Ravens' left side of the offensive line:"I don't know. I think, first, we better stop the run, because they're doing such a great job of it. That takes the pressure off the offensive line. You have to get them into third down and get them into passing situations, and right now, they're doing a good job of staying out of those."
On how DT Geno Atkins has progressed from his injury and if he's 100 percent:"Well, he's 100 percent, but obviously, it's an injury that time on task. He played more and more effectively, and I think each and every week we see more and more of him anytime he gets singled up. He's been an effective rusher over the last few weeks."
On the importance of this weekend's game against Baltimore:"I think it's a really important football game for us. We just got our head beat. As I said, we got shut out and we didn't play very well, and we lost to an AFC team. We lost to New England already, and this is a division football game, so it's a really important game for us because it means, at the end of the year, if we get our ship right and keep going, and the Ravens continue to play the way they're playing, it'll help us in the standings in this division."
RB Giovani Bernard
On what he thinks of the Ravens' OLBs, specifically Courtney Upshaw against the run:"To me, I don't really look at individual players. I kind of look at the scheme, and the Ravens have a really good scheme. It's just a matter of us converting on third downs and not turning the ball over."
On how much of a challenge it will be going up against an athletic player such as rookie LB C.J. Mosley:"Like I said before, I kind of base my opponents not just off their individual talents, but how they play as a team. At the end of the day, this is a team sport."
On the importance of this game knowing the Ravens stand atop the AFC North:"Every game is important. I think it's just a matter of how we kind of come out and just play. Every game is important. We haven't really been on top of our game these past couple of games, but we just have to get back to it and hopefully start it up this week."