Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. Obviously, it's a very exciting week for us. We're playing a really, really good football team, a hot football, a team that we've had a chance to kind of watch from the outside looking in because we're so near to each other. I've just been very impressed with what they've been doing. They've got a lot of talent. They're very well-coached. It's going to be a heck of a battle on Sunday.
"As far as injuries go, Ray Lewis will practice today. He will not play on Sunday, and I don't know that he is ready to play, physically, anyway. This will be part of his rehab. We'll just see how he does, and when the time comes where he is ready to play, we'll let you know. We're not going to spring it on you, so when he gets to the point where he can play, then there will be an announcement there. But, that's not something that is going to happen, obviously, this week, and I don't know when that's going to happen. As far as Terrell Suggs, I am going to leave it to Terrell to let you know what's going on with that. He has, basically, a biceps, a very serious strain. It could be called a tear. It's something that you can possibly play with. He's figuring it out now with the trainers and the doctors, and we'll just have to see what his comment is on that."
John, what have you seen from this pistol offense, something new that they are bringing to the NFL now in San Francisco and also the Redskins? (Aaron Wilson)"It's something that we've seen in college a lot, and we've actually seen it a little bit in the NFL from time to time. It's something that I think they've done a really great job of building into [their offense]. You try to build your offense around your players and what they're capable of doing. They've done a really nice job of that with their quarterback, with RG III [Robert Griffin III]. Obviously, he's smart. He's got a lot of athletic ability, but he also has a lot of quarterback awareness. They run a basic, fundamentally-sound NFL offense with some added juice with the option game, the dive option, the option-pass stuff and all the things he can do with that."
John, is this a rivalry at all? It's very close, but you only see each other every four years. It's certainly not Pittsburgh. (Dave Ginsburg)"I don't know. I'm not in the business really of determining and judging what … It seems like a rivalry to me. For us, and maybe it's just how I think, every game seems like a rivalry. We play the Browns; it's a big rivalry. We play the Bengals; it's a big rivalry. Those are obviously division games. I felt like Philadelphia was a rivalry when we played them. We certainly feel like Washington is a rivalry this week. Maybe that's just the way it works in this league, but it's a big game."
I know he has a little ways to go to get back on the field, but how do you characterize how quick Ray Lewis has been able to come back from what was initially believed to be a season-ending injury? How impressed are you that he is going to be out there? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I'm always impressed with Ray Lewis. There's nothing he does football-wise, or as I've known him as a friend, that hasn't impressed me. He's just a guy that I think is worthy of that kind of respect. We'll see about the injury. Whether he gets back soon, late, at all, what he has done to work through the injury … The rehab he has put himself through … I have had a chance to watch him now do the rehab, and you watch how hard that is and how much work it is, and really there is a lot of pain involved with that. It's pretty impressive, and to me, that's where the admiration starts."
How do you simulate Robert Griffin III in practice? (Bo Smolka)"We run the plays. We run the plays that they run. We try to execute them. It's not just one player. It's the whole offense that we have to execute. But, we've got Tyrod [Taylor] here, and Tyrod is a quarterback with a lot of skills and talent and ability. He'll be doing that for us."
Vonta Leach has joked a little bit about wanting to be more involved. Was that the squeaky-wheel theory on Sunday, or was that something you guys have tried to implement and get him involved a little bit more? (Drew Forrester)"We try to get all of our guys involved. We have a lot of good players, and we want every good player involved all the time. If we had a player that didn't want to be more involved, then I'd be concerned. So yeah, we want guys to be involved. Vonta is involved, and he is a huge part of what we do, there is no doubt. He is a big leader for us, and he is a heck of a player."
What have you seen from Alfred Morris on tape? He looks like he is a rally tough guy to bring down on the edges. (Ryan Mink)"He is a tough guy to bring down. He runs the edges really well, and he also runs between the tackles really well. He knows how to run behind his pads. He is a north-south runner. He is explosive, and he has been, obviously, really well-coached into their scheme."
Has the return of Terrell Suggs helped Paul Kruger improve, or has Kruger just gotten better because he has gotten better? (Dave Ginsburg)"Players like Terrell Suggs do make everybody around them better, so that's probably part of it. And the other thing is he's gotten better. He's really improved. He's played a lot this year. Sometimes playing the game is what helps a guy to improve, and he's done that."
They've got a few former Ravens down there in Josh Wilson and Chris Chester. Is there any level of flattery that comes when you see an organization maybe trying to be like the Ravens? (Glenn Clark)"Well, I'm not going to say that. They have their own identity, and they know what they want to be. They've got a talented GM, talented coaches. They know what they're doing. But, it's always neat to go against former players that we had here. Those two guys are guys that were big parts of what we did. In some sense, they'll always be considered Ravens, although not on Sunday; I'm sure not in their minds. It'll be great to see them and go against them."
Do you see Robert Griffin III changing the way offense is approached? (Morgan Adsit)"Sure. It's a unique thing. It's a unique twist in the NFL, and he's got a unique skill set. You have to be able to do the things [he does]. You've got to be able to run the option. Not every quarterback has that skill set, but every quarterback is unique. You try to build around your guys, but sure, it's different."
John, you guys have the longest win streak in the NFL following a loss. Is there anything different in practice or preparation that you do differently or more attention that you pay after losing? (Kris Jones)"Maybe it's the fact that we don't. We pay attention after every game. We really try to go to work and adhere to the process and work as hard as we can to build on all the good things and correct every negative thing. So, anything we found from the game last week, whether it be strategic or whether it be execution-wise, we try to really address it before and as we move on and try to improve. Maybe there is naturally a little edge when you don't win for all of us. That's maybe one of the benefits of not coming out with the win. So, you try to find what can help you get better."
QB Joe Flacco
On the Redskins being a rivalry or just another game:"I think most of them are games for us that we prepare individually for. Because [the Redskins] are so close, I am sure there will be a lot of people out there that will have a little bit more interest in the game, just based on where the line stops for each of the teams. So, it will make it a little more interesting in that kind of sense."
On how close he feels the offense is to achieving consistency in its performances:"We are working towards that, and I think we have done it at times, and we haven't done it at times. It's a combination of a handful of things. We have four games left in the regular season here, and we're playing some very good opponents. It starts here with Washington, and we have to make sure that, first of all, we do everything we can to win these games and win this game. And that's going to require putting points on the board and getting better and better as each week goes on. We have to make sure that we come out and do all the things we can to do that and get it to the consistent point that we need it."
On taking a playoff run for granted with potentially making the playoffs for five years straight:"Probably. A little bit. Since I've been here, I haven't been around a team that hasn't been in the playoffs or is still competing to be in the playoffs at this point in the year. We've always been in it and right in the thick of things and really fighting for a spot, and it's no different this year. So, I'm sure that we do take it for granted a little bit. But, that's not a bad thing."
On anxiousness, keeping calm after a loss and head coach John Harbaugh's comment that it's business as usual all the time:"That's probably a little bit of a lie [that the team is always unfazed after a loss]. There's always a little bit of extra urgency after a loss, for whatever reason. I don't know if it's a bad thing or a good thing. But we are [calm]. We are always calm, cool and collected and confident around here. It's just because of the types of players we have and the types of coaches we have. We understand that we have to move on and get ready for this week."
On Mondays after a loss being different than Mondays after a win:"Obviously, it's not quite as pleasant, but it's all part of it. You have to come in and see what you can correct and move on as quickly as you can."
On OLB Terrell Suggs sustaining a second serious injury this season:"It's crazy. I didn't even realize it until yesterday. I had no idea. He's done such a great job in getting himself to the point where he could come back and be a help to our team, and then to have something like that happen, you kind of take for granted how fortunate we are to go out there and play every week. I haven't experienced it, but it's got to be a tough thing to want to go out there and be part of the team and help the team and just not be able to. So, if that's what the case is, then yeah, I feel a little bit for him."
On LB Ray Lewis' return to practice:"I feel good for him. I know that he is getting up there and he wants to play. This guy wants [to play]. There is not anybody out there who loves the game of football more than he does. So, when he's not on the field with his guys, you know it hurts him. Obviously, it does things for our team, and things like that, but we are, as a team, how we are any way. You kind of just feel for him also."
On the frustration he feels when a defense is able to take away the deep passing threat in a game:"No, not really [frustration]. We take our shots, but at the same time, I think when our shots are the most successful is when we just let the game come to us, and we get teams on a reel a little bit, and they try to do some things to combat what we are doing underneath, and we hit them over the top. So, I don't really think that is a challenge. The patience sometimes has been [tested]. When we go in and we're playing a good defense and they're playing well, we're playing well, and we're having a little battle, [then] we've got to stay patient to not try to do so much. And I think we've done a good job of that for the most part, but you always have to fight up against a little bit of that."
LB Ray Lewis (statement)
"I'm making progress and will practice some today. But, the story shouldn't be about me right now. We're playing the Redskins Sunday, and I am not eligible to play. If I can help prepare my team in some way for that game, I will. When I know I will play in a game, or when I play in a game, I will say more then.
"For right now, I am excited to be back on the field, and I do plan to play again this season. We'll see how I continue to progress from here."
RB Ray Rice
On if he has heard the speculation outside the organization about his lack of touches:"First off, you always take time to reflect, and you have to look at the game and look at the situations. Situational football, like I've said, came into play. Could we have run the ball on situations? Yes, but obviously, when you sit back and look at it, we definitely could have executed a lot better. If we would have executed a lot better, I'm sure I would have gotten the touches [and] that wouldn't have been the question. We didn't get a first down. Going forward, we are going to do as I always say, work on our execution, and my touches will definitely come. It's that late time of year where the cream rises to the top and how I feel about that time of year. I'm not going to make any mistake for sitting here at 9-3 with a chance to get back into the playoffs again. It will be five years in the running – clinching a playoff spot – which is special. With all the negative that is going on with us losing last week, there are so many positives out there that sometimes you have to reflect and look where you are. We are still No. 1 in the AFC North with a lot of football left ahead of us. I'm just excited now to actually get ready to practice and get focused on Washington."
On playing his best football in December and January: "I just think [it is because of] the way I train. Everybody is hot early on, and coming out of college, the biggest transition to the NFL was not getting ready for September. It was getting ready for late November, December, January football, because essential right now, every college football season is about to end. So, you think about where you were at and how you had to train. You have to focus on playing through January if you are going to be a playoff contender or a contender for a Super Bowl. We play through the month of December as well. I think just the way I train and the way I prepare my body for this late time of the year … And obviously, my coach is doing a great job of keeping me what you call somewhat fresh. Bernard Pierce has been a great complement to me where I'm able to come in and bust big runs now, because it's that late time of the year where the run game is more important. Obviously, we had a good mixture this week coming into the Steelers game. We would like to continue that and keep going."
On what a week following a loss is like: "One thing I'm saying as a pro is it's never a good feeling when you lose, but it's the way you take a loss. I've always taken the approach – me being a leader on the team – what are you going to do to get better or worse from it? We've just been that kind of team to find a way; we've always found a way to bounce back after a loss. [There is] no way to accept losing, but the best way I know to get over it is to go in there, get a good, hard lift, get out to practice, work as hard as possible and know you have another game the following week, because as soon as you dwell on last week, you are going to carry that stink over to the following week. That's something that we don't want to do around here. It's over. It's good. You have the battles within, but the battles within … We take care of that stuff. We go out there. We iron it out, and we are all on the same page by Sunday."
On if this is physically the best he has felt this late in the season: "This is one of the best I've ever felt going into December football, just being honest. I think that has something to do with, obviously, being smart with my touches, but also having to do with how I take care of my body. The weight room has been my temple. When you go in there … This is the time of year where you don't need to cut back on the weights. You need to actually lift more – I feel – because that's when you are able to take the hits. Week-in and week-out, we know what kind of game the running back position is. Being able to not sustain weight … Being able to increase your weight levels right now is something that I'm trying to do; I'm trying to actually get stronger right now."
On his rushing attempts being 13th in the league: "I think we've always found a way towards the end of the year where my attempts have gone up – where I was in that Top 10 or top ranking as the season went on. I think 13th right now is OK, because we have been winning games. We will find a way to get the balls into our playmakers' hands. Obviously, I think I am a playmaker for this team. The coaches, our offensive coordinator, coach 'Harbs,' [John Harbaugh] and everybody – we'll find a way to get me the ball. One thing I don't like is being forced the ball. Being forced the ball sometimes – that's not always in your best interest, because you are being forced into a defense that is already preparing for you. But getting smart touches and getting touches that I can make a big play, that's something that I get excited about."
On how he looks at the Redskins game: "For me, I could go on and speak about 'RG III' [Robert Griffin III] all day, but I play offense. I have tremendous respect for him and what he is doing as a rookie and tremendous respect for that organization. From a defensive standpoint, the one that always sticks out to me is London Fletcher. [He] reminds me a lot of Ray Lewis. [They are] two different styles of players, but for me, it's just the wisdom, the way he plays the game, how year-in and year-out they question, 'Is he going to be able to play at that high level?' He gets the same questions that Ray gets asked. He's been doing it for a long time, and I just admire what the guy does it. Needless to say, he's a competitor, and I'm looking forward to going against him this weekend. He's the guy that sticks out to me on that side of the ball. Not saying that I don't respect the whole defense, but that defense goes as London Fletcher goes. He's somebody that when you design your game plan, you have to know where he's at all times."
On if there are bragging rights in the upcoming Redskins game: "They call it the 'Battle of the Beltway.' I think it's safe to say, but I don't know if you call it bragging rights or whatever. We are two different divisions, but it's also good to know if you can get a win when you are that close apart. Over the last few years, I think we've won, so I'm sure … They had a big game on Monday night – huge division win for them. I'm sure the coaches will get them ready to play, because we are two different kinds of teams and two different divisions. I always said that it would be kind of crazy if we ever had a Ravens-Redskins Super Bowl. It would be kind of crazy, but it's going to be quite the game. It's not going to be any different than last week. It's going to be a slugfest. It's going to be two teams that are going out there and fighting. We are fighting for a playoff berth. They are fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive. You are talking about two different teams that have a lot at stake with this game."
On if there is any sense that the Pittsburgh Steelers are gaining on the AFC North battle or if the team is comfortable with its position: "You're never comfortable with your position in this league, because when you are at the top, there is only one place you can go, which is down. It's our job to try to stay up there. We can't worry about what the Steelers are doing, nor the Bengals, nor the Browns. We are at the top, and we know the only place you can go from there is down. So, that's our job to try to maintain our position at the top, and that has nothing to do with the Steelers right now. That has everything to do with the next four games that we have going forward. We still have some great football left. I think the greatest thing about our schedule going ahead is that we don't have to travel far. We get to be right in our backyard. I know this isn't a home game, but it's only 30 miles apart, and then we have two at home, and our last one is in Cincinnati. Not having to travel far, being able to be in our building, getting our bodies right, getting guys healthy and playing good football right now – that's what matters."
On how much of a lift it is to have Ray Lewis back on the practice field: "I'm telling you, I get to come out, I don't get to wear his jersey anymore at Friday practice. *(laughter) *I think it's going to be pretty good. I'm excited, because he's worked very hard. I tease him all the time about him being a modern day Superman, but there's only person that could have pulled off what he's doing. He's not doing it for his name to be in the paper about him coming back. He's doing it solely because he loves this organization, loves his guys and loves being at war with us. He's our general. As he goes, we go."
On him making the comment about being a pissed off at 9-2 last week and how he feels this week: "It's an even more pissed off 9-3, and I say that being serious. But I'm just never comfortable with where you're at. I'm not comfortable being 9-3 right now. There are guys that clinched [a playoff berth], and their records are a lot different than us. We have to control what we can control. Until we clinch and until we get ourselves in The Dance … A lot of teams play just to get in The Dance. I think we have been in The Dance for the last few years. Getting into The Dance isn't enough anymore around here. People will tell you the expectation has risen over the past few years. We would like to get to The Dance, but we'd also like to dance a while before it's our time to end. A little bit more pissed off 9-3."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On whether or not he will play Sunday at Washington:"We have to see how it goes. You all pretty much know who have been around here for some time [that] the creed is, 'If you can breathe, then you can play.' We just have to check it out and see how it holds up throughout the week. It will definitely be a game-time decision on Sunday."
On if it is a pain issue or if there is potential to make the injury worse:"I don't know. I think my [biggest] concern is [if] I would help or hinder the team by playing. I don't want to be out there and can't make a play because I am unhealthy and I don't have a full biceps. It's more if I will help us, like I said, or hinder us by playing. That's pretty much what I'm going to base my decision on."
On how he is able to decide if he's ready to play throughout the week:"You just have to find your limit. You have to find out what you can do and what you can't do. Like I said, right now, I would tell you I feel good and I was definitely playing. It's not always the case on a Sunday. You have to know what exactly it is you can do."
On if he can play with a harness and if the harness can help the biceps:"I don't know. I have never really had the injury before, so I have never really had to play with it. I'm not sure what that would do to help me. Like I said, we're just going to try it out [during] the week and see what we can do. That's pretty much the plan. I don't know what the harness would do or not."
On what the second opinion of his injury revealed:"The second opinion pretty much said what we already knew and just gave me the options. It pretty much just gave me a firm understanding of what I was dealing with."
On if the biceps could start to heal and improve as the season goes on:"That's what I have been told. I have been told a couple of guys in the NFL are playing with torn biceps and that it may get better, it may not. You may need surgery, you may not. I don't really know. Like I said, we're going to go over it and decide what's best to do for the team and myself."
On if there is a concern that he could injure the biceps further by playing:"It's not really a concern. I think anytime you have an injury and you play with it, you risk making it worse. But, if I do play, that won't be a concern on my mind. I have to go out there, and we have a job to do, and we have to get a win."
On where he is mentally with the injury, after just recently recovering from another major one with his Achilles:"I'm not in bad spirits at all. I'm not thinking about it. So like I said, if I can play with it, we're going to do whatever we can to protect it just so I don't injure it anymore. I'm in really good spirits about it, so I'm not really beat down about it."
On if he is convinced that he will play again this season even if he doesn't play Sunday:"The first part of that question (whether he will play Sunday), I haven't really ruled that out of my mind yet. But definitely, I think definitely I will continue to line up at some point this season. It all depends on when it starts to get better and how much I can really do with it."
On if he is thinking about shutting it down for the season if he isn't able to play Sunday:"No, I'm not. That's not an option for me."
On if he has thought about resting it for three or four weeks and if there is a bigger picture:"You said three or four weeks. *(laughing) *Like I said, if it's a possibility I can, then I am going to play. I don't give myself that kind of time frame. I don't want to miss any games. Let's just start with Week One. Hopefully, I can play. I really believe if everything [works] out with how I am feeling, and we do a good job throughout the week, I will be lining up. If not, then I miss the Washington game and hopefully I can be back for the Denver one."
On what these major setbacks do to a team:"Normally, we are pretty fortunate with the injury situation on our team. We don't usually have this many starters banged up like this. Like I said, in the NFL, there are valleys and peaks. Right now, even though we are getting hit with the injury bug, we are still 9-3. We still sit in a very great spot to go on a playoff run. I think that's the biggest picture, and we're going to use that going forward."