Wednesday Practice Transcript - 12/7


Head Coach John Harbaugh

You've talked about Joe Flacco's development. How is Ray Rice different from the first year to this year in terms of leadership and on the field? (Dave Ginsburg) "Probably in both areas, he's three to four years better, however long he's been here. He's become a tremendous leader, as a young guy. He's not a young guy anymore, is he? This is his fourth year in the league, I guess. He's a premier player. He's a playmaker. He's a great guy. He's very mature. He's one of the hardest working guys. He's a great guy to be around, and I'm just very proud of what he's done."

Indianapolis is not the same Colts team you are used to without Peyton Manning. They have beaten the Ravens six straight times. Is that something that motivates the team because of the history at all? (Jerry Coleman)"Sure. It might be good if we'd write about that. I'd appreciate that. It could help us."

Is there anything left to the Indy versus Baltimore thing? You've talked about it in the past. (Dave Ginsburg) "I haven't been here that long. You guys have been here the whole time, so that's what you guys write about every year. So, I don't know."

Do you hear anything from the players regarding it? (Dave Ginsburg) "Nope. The Colts have been gone for how long?"

What did you see from the Colts in the fourth quarter last Sunday and their offense coming alive a little bit? (Glenn Clark) "I thought they looked pretty good. Obviously, they got in the no huddle [and] the quarterback [Dan Orlovsky] sparked them. They've got playmakers everywhere on offense. Every one of their guys on offense is a major playmaker. So, it was kind of what you'd expect from them."

The Colts have always had good pass rushers. What are your thoughts on guys like [Dwight] Freeney and [Robert] Mathis? (Aaron Wilson) "They're great players. They still are. They've got plenty of good players around those guys. That defense is very fast. We have not ever fared well against them since we've been here in 2008. We've turned the ball over, we didn't run the ball on them, we've gotten sacked, [and] we've had plays for negative yards. It's been a theme against that defense. So, we've got our work cut out for us. We understand that."

Will it be strange to play the Colts without Peyton Manning? (Aaron Wilson) "We just play the team that's in front of us. You play the team you're going to see."

Could you talk technically about Marshal Yanda and what he does that makes him one of the premier guards in the league? (Matt Vensel) "He's fundamentally as good as any [guard], if that's what you're talking about. If you want to talk about every single little technique, I can't think of one that he's not good at. He executes every technique very well. He's really strong, really strong, [has] great feet [and is] a good bender. But, that's not what makes him the player he is. I think it's just his personality, who he is as a person. Nobody works harder than Marshal. Nobody cares more."

Joe Flacco has been plagued by fumbles this season. Do you think it is a case where defensive players are trying to intentionally knock the ball out of Joe's hands when he tucked in the pocket? (Ed Lee) "Well, sure. Absolutely. That's what you do when there's a history there; you go after the ball. They do that anyway. That's what they are taught to do. You can't turn the ball over anyway. I don't care if it's the quarterback, the running back, the wide receiver, the defense on the interception or special teams. If you turn the ball over, you're putting the team at risk. The ball is the most important thing. The ball is gold, and if we expect to win football games and to move forward, we are going to have to protect the football."

The networks are fighting over the schedule. Do you think it's because people want to see Tim Tebow play? (Aaron Wilson) "Yeah, OK. I've been instructed to say, 'No, I don't care.' I'm supportive of the decision. Whatever the league says, we support it."

You talked about Tyrod Taylor on Monday. Do you like running the Wildcat and will we see more of that? Was making the decision to take Tyrod into the season a difficult one? (Dave Ginsburg) "No, to the second question. The first one, the Wildcat, in the sense that Joe split out, but Tyrod's a quarterback. So, he could be in there with Joe in the game or with Joe not in the game. As we said, we're going to try to pursue opportunities to get him out there. It's hard to take your starting quarterback out of that spot, because you have so much confidence in him. Where is that balance? How much do you want to do that? You'd like to be able to do that and give Tyrod a chance to play. So, that's what you struggle with. But, the priority is to win the football game."

How much has Tom Zbikowski's versatility helped with what you're trying to do both with special teams and defensively? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, the fact that he's always been a really good special teams player is positive for him. It just shows you what kind of player he is. He's a defensive player that we have full confidence in when he goes back there and plays. So, you don't even skip a beat when he's out there. He's one of our leaders on special teams, and he's one of our leaders on defense. He knows the scheme inside and out. He helps get guys lined up. He's just a good player; a really good player."

Is using Tyrod Taylor in the Wildcat because you're trying to score more touchdowns in the red zone? (Dave Ginsburg) "Not really, no. We want to score as many touchdowns in the red zone as we can, no matter who is out there."

Does using Tyrod Taylor in that way give you more creativity to try to do more things to score more touchdowns? (Glenn Clark) "No."

The Ravens have done a good job in coming away with points, avoiding turnovers, but going into the playoffs where points are at a premium, do you feel more pressure to start coming away with seven points as opposed to three? (Matt Vensel) "We don't feel more pressure to do it, because we always feel pressure to do it. You want to score seven,; you don't want to give up for three. There's a touchdown, checkdown mentality for the quarterback. We'd like to be able to run the ball in there, but obviously, the safeties are a lot tighter. It's just tougher sledding down there. We're playing very good red-zone defense. A couple of the teams we've played lately are playing great red-zone defense. But, that's not going to be a reason for us not to do well. We did what we had to do the last couple of games down there. But, heck yeah, we want to score more touchdowns down there all the time."

QB Joe Flacco

On whether it amazes him that the Colts have struggled so much without QB Peyton Manning this season: "You know, obviously he's been a big part of their organization forever since I can remember at this point. So, to have a guy like that hurt, you can see why it would probably bring a little bit of struggles. But I think they obviously had a little bit of trouble early on, and they've played some good games, but when you have a little bit of trouble early on and you have a lot of injuries, it can be tough to overcome some of that."

On whether his fumbles this season are byproducts of him being more aggressive and stepping up into the pocket more: "I don't know. Guys hit the ball. I'm doing all I can to keep two hands on the ball and not let that kind of stuff happen. They got one on me on Sunday; I was trying to make a play, and to prevent that one it might be, 'Hey, we're not going to convert this third down, just run it up in there for a couple yards and live to punt.' But there's a fine line there, and I can do a better job, and some of them are a little unfortunate."

On whether he's doing anything extra in practice to work on the fumbles: "I'm not really fumbling when I'm running the ball. It's more in the pocket and things like that, so I've just got to do better some of the times to keeping guys away from swiping at the ball."

On whether there is such a thing as being too cautious in the red zone: "There are a lot of tough throws that we make. We hit Dennis Pitta, and it was a tight throw against the [49ers]. You don't throw when everybody is completely covered though; that's when you have to throw the ball away. If there [are] little windows, then believe me, we take the chance and throw them in there, because we have guys that can go up and make the plays. It's just that sometimes there's not a lot there. We ran a couple plays on the goal line and down in the red zone against Cleveland, and there really wasn't anything there to take. And if you try to force balls in there, then you're pretty much going to throw picks or balls that should be picks. So yeah, there's a fine line with that also. When guys are open and there is a little window in there, I'm going to take them. But when it's not there, then it's not there, and sometimes it's just not there."

On how he can prevent guys from taking swipes at the ball when he's in the pocket: "I don't know. I [work on] it a lot. It's just a matter of giving them a shot to do it, and stepping up enough and realizing when you've been in the pocket a little bit too long maybe. These guys are good at it today, so you've got to be aware of that. And when you drop back and when you give guys… When you're in third-down situations a good amount and guys are really rushing the passer, you just have to be a little bit more aware of it."

On what FB Vonta Leach has brought to the offense: "Well, Vonta has been in an offense that… I think the biggest thing is he's a veteran guy. He's been around this league for a while, and he knows what it takes to be successful and just the way he prepares and the way he can kind of coach our running backs out on the field with what he sees, what they see. I think he's like an extra set of eyes, and he's usually doing the right thing, so he can kind of tell the running backs what he saw on that play and, 'Hey, you might want to follow me up in here on this one.'"

On what the Indianapolis defense has done to give the Ravens troubles in the past: "Really, I mean, they've limited us in having big plays. They've played really hard. They have a lot of pursuit. They play downhill. They react to the ball quickly, and they've kept us out of the end zone because of that. They've just been able to kind of play and look at us, read our eyes, read the ball, and they've done a really good job of just pursuing and really attacking the football. So, I think our biggest challenge is to just go in there and play with that kind of intensity and that kind of speed, so we can limit that a little bit."

On whether the Colts frequently drop their linebackers and do a lot of spying: "They rush with their four guys most of the time. They've got [Dwight] Freeney and [Robert] Mathis on the outside, and in third-down situations, they've played a lot of 'two-Mike' in the past. So, they kind of read the eyes and just react to the football, like I said. They let their guys react to the football, and they've done a good job of that in the past."

On how defenses change from the middle of the field to the red zone: "I think a lot of teams can stay pretty much with their base defense, and some teams don't change really until you get down around the 10-yard line, maybe inside the 15. That's when teams start maybe going a little bit more 'quarters' coverage and things like that, just to get out of their single-high and prevent you from throwing one-on-one routes to the outside, like little, quick posts and slants and comebacks and things like that that you can match up with your good athletes. It's tough for corners to kind of cover that without any field behind them and have to make a tackle, but there's really no time to make a tackle, because they're in the end zone. So, they go to a little bit more of that stuff. A lot of times when you get down in there, they're bringing all-out blitz to get to the quarterback and play tight on your receivers, or they're doing a lot of eight-man drops and making the quarterback hold on to the ball and be smart with it, just because they want to drop and make sure they take away everything in the end zone. So, I think that's what a lot of teams go to, is a little bit of 'quarters' coverage, all-out blitz, and then all-out drop."

LB Jameel McClain

On facing the Colts without QB Peyton Manning: "It's different, but it's the NFL. Like always, the game has got to keep going on. But, Peyton brings a lot to that team and he does a lot of things. But, the quarterbacks that they are working in there, they're trying to get it moving in there. They're working towards something themselves."

On the mindset of facing an 0-12 team: "My mindset is the same as it is every week. We've got to go in there and play our best game, do the best that we can do, as a defense, to put the offense in the position that we can. I'm not one of those guys that looks at the record. You've heard me talk; you've heard me say that. I always look at the film and I look at the fight in the person. I look at what they're doing. So, I really don't care about the record. I just care about what I see them doing."

On the ups and downs of the run defense: "Obviously, it's been up and down. We've given up100 yards to about two players before. That's up and down, and that's something that we can't do – as the Ravens. This is what we do and this is what we're about. So, 100 yards [or] 70 yards by one person is a lot, in my opinion. So it has been down, but it's been very consistent, too. That's kind of like a double standard. That doesn't make sense."

On the play by the defense in stopping the run the last several weeks: "Exactly. If you base it off of that, the past two to three weeks, we've improved. We've been doing a good job of getting after the running back. With the linebackers, especially the D-line, those guys do amazing things that a lot of people don't give them credit for. We just go in there and hit the people after they get all the good work done. But definitely in the past three weeks, [the defense has done] a great job in stopping the run."

On how LB Ray Lewis has helped him prepare the last few weeks: "Ray's being Ray, like Ray always is – giving tips where he can. Or, if he sees a flaw somewhere in the game, [he's] the same as a coach or another player. If you see something that somebody did wrong, you speak on it. And that's what this team is about. We're all about building each other up and fixing each other's flaws."

On learning the importance of film study in preparing to play an opponent: "It's amazing, man. It's amazing the difference in the game by itself when it comes to watching film or trying to understand what they're doing. But, it's a chess match. And that's something that I learned from Ray and Ed [Reed] and so many players in this organization. It's really a chess match, and you've got to guess their next move. And learning that and having those guys to teach you the little insides of the game, that's a good help for me."

On how good it feels to step up when other players are injured and to play well: "It's nice. It's nice to have other people get to see that. This organization knows what they're doing. They don't bring us in here for nothing. We're not no mistake. We wasn't given anything – any of us players. So, we had to work for everything, and it's just nice to reap a little bit of a reward. But the journey is not done. This is just a small step, a small stepping stone in our careers."

On talk that he may be the potential successor to Ray Lewis: "That ain't me talking about it. There's only one Ray Lewis, man. I'm Jameel McClain."

RB Ray Rice

On how it feels to have the rest of the team put so much faith in his ability to win games: "Our defensive guys have a lot of faith in our run game. We have faith in it as well. But we all know that we do play the game. There are a lot of situations that we had to run it and a lot of situations we didn't have to run it. We know what December and January football is like. Our run game emerged last week. One thing about the run game, and even total offense, is we need all 11. You see our receivers blocking down the field. You see the offensive line getting the job done. I got all the glory, but needless to say, it was the guys up front, my fullback [Vonta Leach], Joe [Flacco] and everybody that got this thing going. They put it in my hands, and I always tell them, 'Just get me to the second level.'"

On how his relationship with FB Vonta Leach has evolved this year: "Vonta has been… Let's say, between him and Ricky Williams, they've been the best thing that's happened to me since I became a Raven. I learn a lot from Vonta and Ricky. But Vonta, essentially, is going to take me to where I need to be, and that's in the run game. Usually, it's just something as simple as reading him, to get to that second level. We have faith that the offensive line is going to do what they need to do. Sometimes when I make a cut too early, I'll hear about it on the sideline, and then we play off that, play off each other. It's just communication that allows us to do what we do out there. He's obviously a physical fullback. He wants only to plow the way. I'm a fan of sending 'Leach to the Beach' [Pro Bowl]." (laughter)

On whether there are times that he sees the big plays that Leach is making in front of him: "I mean, you watch two different weeks – the San Francisco game, and then you watch this week – we played two different structured defenses, but one thing I can say is that Vonta is not going to shy away from any linebackers. When he has the collision, it's my job to almost not be… I have to be on him, but not too close, because I don't want to trip over him. Then I'll really hear about it. This week was kind of funny, he sent me a text before the game and it showed all the guys rushing numbers. His text was, 'C'mon now, we've got to have a big one this week. Look where you're at.' (laughter) I told him, 'Man you really upset me. I needed to get it going this week.' But everything ended up playing out to be a total team performance. He's a character. He's a straight-up guy. He's a leader on this offense."

On whether he feels this season is the best of his career: "You know, I never really thought about it like that. I thought that I was just staying the course. I never really get too high, never really get too low. There was a time this season that people were talking about the carries I was getting. Now there's a time where I find myself second in the NFL for total yardage. I think it's my ability to stay the course. I usually reflect on the season after the season, but I do think that this year I've been through enough that I knew how to stay the course. The year is still going, and that's the great part about it. As long as I stay consistent, you know, it will be one of my best years – as long as I continue to do it now, week after week."

On what he has learned from RB Ricky Williams: "Ricky is the guy that, as much as he's been through, he still wants to learn. Now that I have Ricky Williams… He asks me questions; I ask him questions. We're always picking each other's brains. One thing about it is I've maintained the ability to stay fresh because we're not losing anything when Ricky comes in the game. When Ricky comes in the game, he's pounding the defense. When I get back in, the next thing you know, the defense is loosened up and I get a big run. Something as simple as when I break the run, I come out. I want Ricky to get that touchdown, because I know he's going to do it. That's big, when you know you've got a guy like that, and he doesn't complain about his role ever since he's been here."

On whether people still comment on his small size: "I've gotten over that part; that's part of the proving part. Look at the guy [Maurice] Jones-Drew. Nobody worries about his size anymore because he's packing a powerful punch. I feel like my situation was the same thing. Once you get known as a great football player, you just go from there."

On what he sees from the offensive line now and what they have done to get to this point: "You know the game reps that you can't take away, the film that you get corrected… The offensive line, we've always felt like they were going to be a great line, but take away the preseason and the short amount of time that we had and just gelling guys together, we're gelling right now and at the right time. We'll continue to move forward with our offensive line, and I'll follow right behind them."

OLB Terrell Suggs

On if the defense is going to start growing out the Fu Manchu: "You are going to have to explain what that means to me. What's the Fu Manchu? I like the handle bars [mustache]. What a way to buy in to what we are doing around here. What's the Fu Manchu? *(Reporter: "That's what it [the facial hair] is called.") *Oh! Shoot. It seems like kind of an offensive [side of the ball] thing, and it seems like it has been working, so we are going to let them do them. We are going to stick with us being a little uneasy, not all there. That's what the defense's thing is."

On RB Ray Rice being the key to the offense's success: "The thing is, you want to get your best players the ball. He is definitely one of the best players on this team – he and Anquan Boldin alike. When Ray [Rice] is getting the ball, good things happen for us, and it opens up everybody. Like you said, I am not a coach, I am not an offensive coordinator, but I know what wins. And that's, if you look at the numbers, when those guys are touching the ball, we are doing a good job."

On if there is any fear about playing an 0-12 team: "I am going to be totally honest with you – yeah, because I lost to O-fer team. I think it was back in '07. It was actually the Miami Dolphins in overtime. A little slant route got us. This is the NFL, and they are professionals, and we expect them to line up and come up in here and play. Yeah, definitely. They are just as big a threat to us [as] if we were playing anybody else."

On if the Colts are different without QB Peyton Manning playing: "Yeah. That's always different. He is a great quarterback. But, like I said, the guys, especially the guy last week [Colts QB Dan Orlovsky], went out there and lit it up. We definitely are going to have to address that. We have to act accordingly. They are going to come and try to get a win."

On if he is surprised by how far the Colts have fallen without Manning: "That's not for me to speak on, comment on. They have their issues, and we have ours. 9-3, that is our record, and you all want to say, 'Oh, hey the Ravens!' But there is also some downside to being 9-3 over here. So we have our own problems and issues. I can't really comment on Indy. Only they know what they have to deal with. (Reporter: "I think the fact that they have fallen this far…") That ain't got [anything] to do with me. That ain't got [anything] to do with me." (laughing)

On if there is extra incentive for the veterans because they have never beaten the Colts with or without Manning: "You've got a point. Yeah, like I said, this team is very dangerous and they have had our number. Like I said, we know what we are playing for; we know what they are playing for. They are trying to get their first win. We are trying to pile these wins up and go on a playoff run. That's what is most important to us. Here they come. Let's do it."

On what he remembers about the 2006 AFC Divisional Playoff loss to the Colts: "Oh, in January [of 2007]. Not giving up a touchdown and still losing. I think a lot of us felt like that was a big year for us, but it was their year – we were wrong. That's pretty much the only thing that really sticks in my mind about it. But I'm over it, and I am more concerned about our run this year."

On if there is a feeling that you don't want to be the team to lose to a winless team: "Definitely. You don't want to be the team that drops one. They are trying to get wins. Like I said, all of that plays into this game, but I think [what's] most important for us is to… We have to win the football game to achieve what we want to do."

On what he remembers from the game at Miami in December 2007, when Miami was winless: "I just remember that there was a lot more going on than what was actually going on in the game. I remember I was sick that game. There was just so much going on. I think that game actually got our coach fired. I think that was nail in the coffin. There was a lot going on that year, particularly with that game. Like I said, that is the past, man. This is 2011, and this is the '11 Baltimore Ravens, and we are moving forward."

On what it is about playing at home that motivates the team: "M&T [Bank Stadium]. They can't hear, so whenever M&T is rocking, we have extra incentive. We are playing in front of our loved ones. I always say, you all probably think it is just a line, but we do, hands down, have the best fans in the world. I've played in other stadiums, but our fans are like no other. All they want to do is just see us play. They just want to see us do great. They want to see us win. I consider myself a player of the people, and I am going to try to give them a show."

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