Wednesday Practice Transcript - 11/30


Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. First of all, I just want to mention, our condolences to the McGlockton family for Chester McGlockton's passing last night. Chester was an intern coach here two years ago in training camp. Our guys know him real well. He was a great man, a great coach, obviously, one of the premier defensive linemen to every play in the National Football League. And, that was a surprise. I believe he leaves two young daughters behind. So, we said a prayer for his family and for his daughters out here for his passing. We have a class from Loyola here – a media class, right? Good to have you guys here. Welcome, welcome. [They will] be asking some tough questions; I can see you guys have got your notepads poised. That's OK. So welcome, and we're preparing for Cleveland."

You like to emphasize team over everything else, but another Ravens player was named Defensive Player of the Week this week. What does that say about the way others are looking at your team on that side of the ball? (Joe Platania) "We had an offensive player last week – Torrey [Smith]. It was a great award. We definitely support individual awards and accomplishments in the sense that we all take credit. We all feel like we are a part of that. We all feel when a guy like Terrell Suggs or Torrey Smith, or whoever, receives an individual award, we all feel like we contributed. I know that's how they look at it. So, in our minds, every award is a team award."

The class [from Loyola] was wondering if Ray Lewis will play this week? (Drew Forrester) "We'll let you know on Sunday. Thanks for asking."

Cleveland's defense hasn't recorded many interceptions or sacks, but they are first in the league in pass defense. What have you seen from them on film that has allowed them to be so good? (Dan Kolko) "They're covering real well. Dick Jauron does a great job in the back end. He's kind of a secondary guy from way back. They're very solid. They don't give up a lot of big plays. They get good pressure up front. They're a very good defensive football team. If you look at the numbers across the board – red zone, yards per play – there are a number of categories where they are in the top five, top 10 defensively this year. Very salty defense. Just watch them on tape. It's going to be a big challenge for us, especially there, in the conditions that we are probably going to have to go against."

What have you seen from CB Joe Haden in his second year? (Ryan Mink) "He's at the top of the league in passes defended, PBUs. He's way up there. He's got a lot of broken up passes. So, he's just played really well."

The Browns' trio of running backs have all gotten experience this season. What problems does their running game present to you? It seems like they are a downhill-style team? (Jason Butt)"They are near the top of the league the last two games in yards per game, in the rushing attack. So, they've really beefed that thing up. They've got Peyton Hillis back now, which really does it for them. But, in the meantime, two young guys have played really well for them. [Montario] Hardesty and [Chris Ogbonnaya], I will not pronounce his name because I'll probably get it wrong… The Houston Texans do such a nice job of developing running backs, and he came over from them in early October. So, they've got three really game-changers at running back. [They've got] a big physical offensive line, run all the basic schemes, really similar to what they did last year, as a matter of fact. So, it will be tough for us."

Does it feel like you've had a bye week or half of one? Do you feel the value of having the time off? (Pete Gilbert) "Yeah, I think we're a little fresher, maybe, obviously than we were last week. Last week was such a challenge. But our guys are going to be anxious to play on Sunday, for sure."

Have you seen anything different in Terrell Suggs in the past few years in terms of a better attitude or a sharper focus as he gets older and is taking on more of a leadership role? (Matt Vensel) "I don't know if I'd characterize it as that, but he definitely has a sharp focus. You see the playfulness, but the seriousness is there. And, for a guy to be able to balance the fun part with just a real strong desire to be the best in the league at what he does... He's highly motivated, you can tell by the way he works and the way he leads. It's been really nice to see it pay off statistically for him. But, as far as all that goes, I don't think he cares. I think he just wants to play the best he can next week."

You played against your brother last week, and this week it will be your good friend, Pat Shurmur, you will be coaching against. What are your emotions going into the game this week? (Ryan Mink) "I don't know. My emotions are to the football game on Sunday – being emotionally ready to coach. But, Pat's a great friend. He's obviously a really good coach, and you can certainly see what he's building there in Cleveland as far as the way he's putting that team together."

The run defense appeared to play its best all season last week. What is it they did so well, and was it building up to this? (Pete Gilbert) "Obviously, San Francisco is one of the best running teams in the league. [With] Frank Gore, [they are] one of the best scheme running teams in the league. They do a great job of coaching various running schemes. You never know what you're going to get, and they do them all well. I felt we played really well fundamentally up front. Our front seven, but also especially the front, the defensive line, the outside backers, just played the one-on-one blocks and the schemes exceptionally well."

Does knowing that Ray Lewis was not in the backfield make the players feel they have to step up a little more? Is there anything to that? (Pete Gilbert) "Yeah, there probably is. You're right. It's an opportunity for guys to excel. Without Ray back there – they always want to play well – but everybody's got to pick it up a little bit. And then, of course, Albert [McClellan] played well."

Was the addition of Emanuel Cook designed to help special teams? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yeah, Emanuel Cook will be an addition right away for special teams. Of course, we think he's got a future as a safety, too. But, all that goes hand in hand being a football player. He's a guy who can help us, potentially immediately, as a special teams guy. We'll have to see how quickly we can get him up to speed. Whether it is this Sunday or not, I don't know."

QB Joe Flacco

On if he has gotten any other players to join him in growing out a mustache: "I am trying to get some other guys. Michael Oher claims he is going to, so you guys can put some pressure on him in that area."

On if some guys are too pretty to grow a mustache: "I think so. (laughing) I don't really get it. None of us are really that pretty. I guess some of us think that they are more than others." (laughter)

On if there is a common thread in the team's three losses: "I don't know. We didn't play well enough to win. When you come in and you give other teams a shot and you keep them around, every team in this league is a good football team, no matter what their record is. They all have guys that are perfectly capable of playing really good football games. People want to say that we have had an up-and-down season. We're 8-3. There is nobody better than us in the AFC right now. So to say that we have had an up-and-down season, I don't think it's correct. It's just we haven't played well against some teams that people would expect us to beat. Sometimes that happens. Like I said, we're a young football team. We've worked on being more consistent. I said all along, we are going to get better and better as the year goes on, and that's what we're working towards."

On if he feels the offense is starting to click now:"Getting Lee [Evans] back and really starting to click at this time of the year is what it's all about. I think, obviously, getting Lee back is big. We've been pretty healthy all year. The biggest thing for us, I think, is that we are a young football team and we are continuing to get better each week. The team that you saw last week isn't the same team that you are going to see this week and the next week and the next week, just because guys really do have so much room to grow. Yeah, the season is probably getting long for them, but at the same time, it's not that hard to deal with when you are winning football games like we have and really working towards being a great football team."

On how much more dynamic the offense is this year: "We definitely have some more weapons on the outside and some youth and some speed. I think speed definitely does a lot for you. When you look at an offense, it forces defenses to really question whether they want to come up and put pressure on you, just because they can be beat so quickly and the game can change like that. When they start doing that, then they really start getting into doing things that they don't really know if they want to do, and you can beat them with your underneath guys like Ray [Rice] and Anquan [Boldin] and the tight ends. I think we've definitely added that dimension, and it has helped us out a great deal."

On what he sees from Browns CB Joe Haden: "He's a young guy that is really starting to play well. They have had a good defense over the last few years, and he is a part of that. He can come up and put pressure on you and be physical with you at the line and kind of maintain that throughout the route."

On if he looks at Haden as one of the game's brighter young corners: "Yeah. After looking at him the last couple of days, he is playing well. He has played well this season, and they have some guys back there in the secondary that are veteran guys. They have [CB] Sheldon [Brown] on the other side who is a veteran guy. These guys have played well against the pass. Their run defense has been getting better the last couple of weeks. They have had a couple of teams hit kind of longer runs on them, but they have gotten better the last couple of weeks. We just have to go in there and just attack them with our game plan. Yeah, they have good players, and Joe is a good player, but I am going to trust my guys on the outside."

On the challenge of facing the top pass defense in the NFL: "You look at these guys as a whole defense. The bottom line is people have had success running the ball on them, for whatever reason. I think when you look at their pass defense… Obviously, they've been good in the pass defense. Some of that is the fact that teams have just chose to run the ball on them because they haven't been able to have success."

On whether his ability to throw the ball into tight windows has changed as he's developed as a quarterback: "It's something you've been doing your whole career, your whole life, and when you get guys on the outside that you can really trust to go out and do that and get the ball for you, and guys that can beat people at the line with speed, there's a difference between small windows. Sometimes you have the same window, but how quick the guy was at beating the defender makes a difference. When you're standing behind the line of scrimmage, for me, I've had confidence this year that our guys are going to do it. They've done a good job of being quick at the line and getting into their routes with speed and confidence and really get their head around and make the defense play catch-up. Sometimes that window is the same, but the defender is able to get his eyes back to the ball. That makes it tougher to throw into it. But this year, like I said, the defense has been having to play catch-up with the wide receivers. They haven't been able to get their eyes back to the ball. When you put that kind of stress on defenses, it makes it tough to defend the throw just because you can throw it over the top, you can throw it back shoulder, all those things. If they don't know where the ball is, it makes it really tough to defend."

DE Cory Redding

On being with a team that is a consistent contender: "It feels great to be in the room with a lot of winners. – guys [who are winners], not just in football, but in life. The things that they speak, the things they do; it's all about winning. And it's contagious. To be around a locker room full of men like that, the coaches are like that, this whole organization is like that, it just makes it easy to go out there and play, because you know you're part of something great. And, you also believe in yourself. You just want to go out there and give all you've got every single play. It makes it easy to go out and play the way we do."

On the difference with LB Ray Lewis being sidelined and how the players react in the huddle: "Without Ray in the huddle, we still have to go about it, same business as scheduled. Jameel [McClain] plays beside Ray, plays behind Ray. He's seen Ray for so many years, knows what to do. He studies, he prepares and he gets out here in practice and he goes hard. He's always where he is supposed to be and he makes plays. And that builds confidence amongst the rest of us, knowing that even though Ray is not in the game, we still have Jameel who can come out there and lead us, give us the calls – [Jameel] and J.J. [Jarret Johnson] putting us in the right situation to go out there and make plays. It's just a credit to our defensive coaches preparing him. It's a credit to him, studying, knowing all his plays, knowing everything inside and out, to go out there and execute a great game plan. My hat goes off to him, and I told him I'd go to battle with him any day because of the way he's shown how you can play in those tough environments, thrown in a situation with Ray being out and don't even blink. [He is] just going out there and executing plays."

On how hard it was for the defense to adjust to not having Ray Lewis in the game: "When one of your brothers goes down with an injury or a family issue or anything like that, you just have to rally around them, pick them up and let them know we're still going to ride, man. We are still going to go out there and do our thing. We're still going to go out there and play hard. Nothing is going to change. Yes, we miss you, we want you back on the field like crazy. But, you know what? We're still fighting for the mission at hand. We still know what we're fighting for this season. We cannot think and dwell on the situation that somebody's not in the game, 'Oh my [gosh], what are we going to do?' You can't do that. You have to keep your eyes on the prize, keep pressing forward, and that's what a brotherhood is all about. When one man goes down, then the next brother steps up. And, no blink, no wavering, everybody's going to do their job to the best of their ability for the overall goal. And, that is to win."

On how the Ravens have had losses after big wins and how that resonates: "A lot of inconsistency on our part. A lot of mistakes, on our part. A lot of shooting ourselves in our own foot. It's on our part. It's basically on us to eliminate the mistakes, go out there and… It's like life. Anytime you are dealt a bad situation, you deal with it and you put it behind you and forget about it. You can't look back on it. OK, those games, we let them get away. Our mistakes, it's our bad. Put it behind us, and we're looking forward [to playing the] Cleveland Browns. We know we just came off a huge win – two games in the last four days. It was tough, it was physical, guys are hurting. But you know what? Cold tub, hot tub, treatment, rest. Guys are ready, refreshed, we're going on the plane, going to Cleveland, and the only mission is to get [win] No. 9. Period. By any means necessary. And you've got to put those games behind you; you can't look back. So, right now our main job is to go out there and stop [Peyton] Hillis and get on this passer."

On the excitement to put those losses behind and to remain undefeated in the division: "With us, that's football. We get excited for every game. With the last five games, I believe, two of them are Cleveland and Cincinnati again. What better way to end the last five games with three division games and win your division. It's a way to set the tone, continue to keep ourselves moving forward in this race towards the Vince Lombardi Trophy and just keep separating ourselves from the pack. So, we're excited for the game. It's another challenge for us. It's another time for us to show our face on TV and go out there and have fun and do what we do."

On his impression of Browns QB Colt McCoy: "That's just part of being a young quarterback. The guy can obviously run. He can move. We all watched him grow up in college at Texas and do his thing. [We watched him] become a young colt to a stallion – a young guy to a big man. But, you know what? He can run, he can get the ball down the field. He has his progressions, and you can see those on tape. He's a very tough football player, and so, he will bring a lot of things to the game. That's going to be good for them. But, what we have to do is eliminate those things. We have to attack him and attack him early and get after him early and often. [We have to] take away his reads, and when the ball is in the air, challenge him."

On if Hillis looks to be back to his old form: "Peyton Hillis is a professional football player. Regardless of how many weeks he's been out, he still is a paid, professional football player. So, [he has] a lot of pride, a lot of heart. A lot of fight is going to come out of that man. So, whenever he straps on the pads, it's going to be war. He knows it, we know, so the best thing to do is go out there with the mindset of stopping it. We stopped him before and we can do it again."

On if the defense still holds the memory of the first game vs. the Browns last year when Hillis ran for so many yards: "No. Like I said, we put that behind us. That was the first time we played them last season. It was early in the game, early in the year. We played them later on in the year, and we stopped him. And, we put that behind us. Of course, you will go back and look at those games and see what hurt us – this, that and the other – just to get refreshed about how he runs and the blocking schemes, all that kind of stuff. But, for the most part, this is a new day, man, and a new era. [He is] the same guy, same team, and you just go out there and do it one more time."

RB Ray Rice

On the NFL Network Sound FX special: "Yeah, it was cool. I'm just glad they kept it G-rated. You didn't hear some of the stuff that we're really saying out there. The game is pretty intense. But the sound effects really are who we are at the time. We play with a lot of passion and enthusiasm, so it was good. I actually didn't know that I was mic'd up until… [Ravens director of media relations] Chad [Steele] told me, but I forgot. I actually didn't see the microphone, so it wasn't a big distraction. I would have been looking for it, honestly, if I had seen it. But, they had my pads boarded up pretty nice. I was looking for the microphone because I didn't want to take that $25,000 fine if something happened."

On how hard he was trying to get a touchdown from the one-yard line: "I think if you had that challenge of being the first to crack somebody on the one-yard line and score a first rushing touchdown, you would have been fired up, too. So I was definitely fired up. San Francisco still has that streak of not having a rushing touchdown let on them. We were that close, so that will still bother me – not in terms of this game, but thinking about it you want to be… We like to be streak-breakers, and that would have been a great one."

On whether he thinks there is a common thread between the three loses the Ravens have so far this season: "No, I don't think playing to the level of competition. Every NFL team is good. Any team can win on any given Sunday. But one thing I can say is, if you look at the three losses that we've had, and you look at the level of execution that we've had, it was poor. You look at the situations where there were fumbles, or the field position, or whether it was getting a drive started, we played poor football then. Sometimes you've just got to give another team credit. Where another team comes out ready to play, and you're not ready to play, you're coming from behind and you find yourself playing out of your normal game plan. So going forward, we know we can't do that. We've got to come out ready to play as if every game – from here on out – is essentially a playoff game. We're fighting for something."

On how they are going to avoid a loss against the Browns: "They're a divisional opponent. They are in the AFC North. In order for us to do what we have to do… The Browns are always going to be there. We not only have to see them once, we have to see them twice."

On how gratifying it has been that the offense is sticking with the run game even when the yardage is less than they want: "I mean, it's great to stick with it because, No. 1, those are live reps that you can't take back. I'm not saying those are practice reps, but those are live reps that you can come in, and coach and get better at it. The more and more your line has to block a situation, the more and more you get better at the run. At the same time, you look at what happened last week, with the time of possession. Putting our defense out there fresh is a great scenario for us. Whether it's flipping fields or getting points, anytime you flip the field, and put our defense out there, it ends up being a good situation for us. [The defense] does a good job of getting three-and-outs, and then it's a field position battle. So time of possession and field position, the run helps out with that a lot."

On what he sees from the Browns' run defense: "Well, it's a new system for them. If you look at what they played last year and look at what they're playing this year, they were a 3-4, and they've converted to a 4-3. A lot of different changes in there – the personnel, they've had some adversity. But needless to say, we know they're going to come out [ready]. Obviously, if there's something that needs to be fixed, they're going to address the run game. I'm sure that's going to be a top priority coming into this game. We have to execute against them in the front. They've got some guys playing really well on their defense. No. 52 [LB D'Qwell Jackson] on their defense is playing really well. [DL] Ahtyba Rubin is playing really well. Obviously, their corners, Joe Haden… They've got some guys on their defense that are capable players that are definitely altering the game plan. We can't let those guys do that."

On whether he's looking forward to December football: "Yeah, I'm looking forward to December football. Like you said, I've had great Decembers since I've been a Raven, besides my rookie year when I had a little adversity [with a leg injury]. We know what's ahead of us, and December football is a time where I actually want to elevate my game, sort of like being a fourth-quarter player. This is the fourth quarter of our season, and it's time for our veteran players to lead us to the next level. Myself, Joe [Flacco], everyone that's been here before knows what December football is about. Our rookies are just reaching the surface right now. This is a time where they say 'the rookie wall' [happens], but our guys have done a really good job of staying the course and taking care of their bodies throughout the season."

On how important it is to keep the defense honest: "You want to keep them honest, because, you know, we sacrifice for each other. There's going to be times, when there's going to be a sudden change, and those guys bail us out. But there's no better feeling than seeing those guys come out on the field well-rested. They can go out there, and they don't have to worry about changing or checking anything, and they can just go out there and play football. Same thing for us: We like when they get three-and-outs, and it gets us the ball faster, and gives us the opportunity to score points. When we score points, they feed off of that. All teams feed off of that."

On his analysis of the season so far, as a whole: "My overall thought is that we're battle-tested. I would like to be undefeated right now, but we're not undefeated. At the same time, we've been through enough adversity right now that we're battle-tested. Let's take December and January football in stride. You go through the ups and downs, but right now we're hitting stride because we know what we want to do."

On how helpful it is going to be to have WR Lee Evans back and healthy: "You know what? I think our whole team is getting healthier. I know you're seeing our injury situation, but everyone is getting healthier right now, especially on the offensive side of the ball. We had a couple guys banged up. I think, actually, Thursday night helped us out. No one came out of the game banged up, and then you get that long weekend, 10 days until you play again. Our whole team is getting healthy right now, but having Lee Evans is going to be huge. His veteran leadership and him coming back being fresh, that's a whole new look for defenses. They get so used to seeing Torrey [Smith] stretching the field, and then you get another guy to stretch the field. And with Anquan Boldin doing the things he's been doing, we're looking at an overall complete offense."

OLB Terrell Suggs

On the Cleveland Browns: "If you were a fighter, this is the fighter you avoid at all costs because he is always going to fight you hard, and he is always going to fight you for the 12 rounds. If you look at just the matchups between the two teams in the past, they have always brought it against us. They have always had a special thing to play us. They are going to bring it. Once again, our work is cut out for us. [It's] tough for everybody else; we're just the right man for the job."

On if there is a special awareness, given the previous losses to teams with losing records: "Obviously, everybody is making it a point, and we can't seem to get away from it, but rightfully so – we've earned that. If we go on the road against a team that 'wasn't good' in y'all eyes, and we dropped it, like I said, we've definitely earned that reputation. So until we show y'all different, that's going to be the story."

On what has been the biggest difference this year, in general: "I don't know. We practice in here [indoors] a lot. We get to see what we are playing for [the Lombardi Trophy]. There is a big reminder at the end of the end zone. (Suggs points to picture of the Lombardi Trophy.) It's a constant reminder that this is bigger than one's self. I think we are all buying in and playing for each other this year."

On how Browns RB Peyton Hillis changes their offense: "He is a really aggressive runner. Everybody knows he is Peyton Hillis; he has the Madden cover. He likes to have good games against good defenses. I expect for the juggernaut to be up in there and try to run down some walls."

On how much trust he has in ILB Jameel McClain: "I have always trusted Jameel [McClain]. I have been on his team since '08. Y'all don't know this, but during the game, I may be out of place on some plays, and he has always been there to cover me up. Y'all don't know this though. I have always trusted Jameel. I think he is getting the opportunity to show you all just exactly who he is and what he can do. But we always knew what he can do."

On if McClain is stepping up and becoming a leader on defense: "We have to see. He is doing a good campaign so far with Ray [Lewis] not in the lineup. Jameel, he has been playing phenomenal. He has been doing a good job for us. That's our word. He has been doing a good job, and I think sooner or later, all of us our going to have to put him in that [phenomenal] group."

On if his voice in the huddle has changed without Lewis in the lineup: "Nah. (laughing) I am still the same guy. I am still the same guy. You all have seen the games. Ray [Lewis] is still pretty much out there. He is not playing, but we still are getting the calls, we are still getting adjustments on what he sees when we come to the sidelines. So he is still there. It's still standard-operating procedure."

On if the defense finds itself looking to the sideline for Lewis when on the field: "No. When we come off [to the] sideline, win or lose, we're coming right into it. That's what a leader does. He is going to constantly lead you. So we come to the sideline, you see him, he is there showing you what he sees and what they're doing and making sure we are representing."

On playing at a high level in consecutive years: "To be totally honest with you, I think as you climb years in this league – I am 29 years old – I am not that old, but I am not going to be 29 forever. When I first got in here, I was 20, and then we made a run in '06, I was 23, and now I am 29. We have a good chance to make a run at it. My opportunity to achieving that football immortality, that greatness, the window, let's be honest, is not as wide as it was when I first started when I was 20. I only play for one reason and for one thing only, and that's first to win the Super Bowl. Second [is] to win the division. No. 1 overall [is to win] the Super Bowl. I feel [if] we win the division, we have a good shot of getting home-field [advantage] throughout, making a Super Bowl run. I think [we] just kind of [need] some more [home games] to get it done."

On his impression of Browns T Joe Thomas: "I think he is definitely a top-three left tackle in the league now. It was an era where it was the Walter Joneses, the Willie Roafs, and of course the greatest ever, Jonathan Ogden. Now it's the Jake Longs, the Joe Thomases, and the third one is slipping my mind right now… But just since you brought him up, those two are definitely two stout left tackles in our league, and they don't get much better than that. We always have battles when we go up against each other. When it comes to Joe, I think he is one of the best there is."

On if there is anything that Thomas does especially well: "He is very strong, He is very disciplined with his hands. He is very athletic. He is more athletic than people give him credit for."

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