Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"One announcement, personnel-wise: Kapron Lewis-Moore will begin to practice today. He's done a great job with the rehab. I credit [head certified athletic trainer] Mark Smith, [assistant certified athletic trainer] Kevin [Domboski], [physical therapist] Sam [Bell], our guys in the training room, who have done a great job with him, along with Bob Rogucki. We'll see how he holds up. He looks good physically, and we'll have three weeks then to make a determination about whether he will go on the active roster."
**Were you ever anticipating that Kapron Lewis-Moore would be out for the entire season? *(Pete Gilbert) *"No, no."
I know the timetable with Dennis Pitta was around mid-to-late November. Are there any expectations on when he'll return? (Matt Zenitz)"I haven't had any reports that would change any of that. I don't know exactly [when he will be ready]. When we talked about that time frame, that was a long time ago. Everything I've been told is that he is on schedule, but I think it's still pretty vague and generic. We are getting close to that date. I'm interested to hear when he can start practicing again. I've been asking that question. [I] haven't gotten a yes yet. He's closer than ever, obviously, and I have my fingers crossed, just like everybody else does."
**The close losses this season are obviously frustrating, but does it show just how close the team is to being a winning team? It's not like you're being blown out. *(Dave Ginsburg) *"It's the National Football League, and most all the games are going to be close. And the difference is winning the close games. When you look at the teams that have the winning records, they've won the close games. There are exceptions. Denver has had a lot of high-scoring games, but most of the teams are winning close games. We've done that in the past. We have to do that again. That's what we have to figure out how to do. On defense, we have to get off the field and give our offense a chance. The defense can't control what the offense is going to do with it, but that's the thing on defense that we need to do. The other thing we need to do is we need to start faster. Let's come out of the gates. Let's find a way to get a lead. We have not been able to do that. I just talked to the team about that right now. Let's find a way to do that with how we practice and how we prepare. Then, offensively, we've just got to get better. We've just got to continue to improve. There's a lot of unseen improvement in there when you study the tape. I've got a lot of optimism; we do as a team. But, we'd sure like to get it going and build some confidence and see our guys starting to make some plays. We believe we can do that. So, we'll just keep working toward that and we'll be looking for a breakout here."
**Joe Flacco mentioned the other day that the team scripts plays. Would you consider changing how you script plays? *(Glenn Younes) *"Yes. I'm not going to tell you exactly how we do it. Coach [Jim] Caldwell has his way of doing it. That's his style. Every play-caller has their way of doing it, and that's their way of doing it. We do [script]. It goes back to Bill Walsh. It's a West Coast system idea. We're not a West Coast offense, but that is kind of where it originated. Yes, we're going to have to look at how we do it. We've tweaked a few things. Jim has tweaked a few things, and we've got to continue to do that to start faster."
*In relation to what is going on in Miami with rookie hazing, can you comment on how your locker room is conducted? How do you feel about hazing and the situation in Miami? *(Jerry Coleman) *"Not knowing what is going on down there as much, but in 2008, that was one of the first things that we did. We're not a hazing team. That's not what we are about. Anybody who comes into our locker room is a teammate. You don't have to earn your stripes that way. There are some fun things guys do. The guys have to buy chicken for the road trips. So, Popeye's gets a shout out on that. *(laughter) *And there's a lot of business being done, I can tell you that. *(laughter) But, our guys do a great job with that. We emphasize – we talked about it again today, obviously, because it came up – but when you can help somebody out ... When someone is sitting alone at a table and they are by themselves, go sit down and have lunch with them. Ask somebody how they are doing. We also instituted in 2008 our mentoring program. Every rookie is assigned an older mentor, and our guys do a great job with that. [Director of player development] Harry Swayne does a tremendous job of organizing that and training the mentors, and that's been a plus for us. We're going to continue to try to do that. Nothing is perfect, but it's important [to do]. Ray Rice is huge into the anti-bullying campaign. It's all of us who have kids who feel very strongly about that. So, as older adults, parents, coaches, teachers, I would think that we would be all over that in our society right now, especially with computers and all the different things that are going on with social media. That's our responsibility to train our kids how to treat one another. Again, we're not perfect, but we do our best."
**Your family has been around football a long time. Have you seen in other places where hazing can be a detrimental thing? *(Nestor Aparicio) *"I've never been a part of it where it was detrimental. When we were kids, I've told you this, you know the story, but we were taped to goal posts and stuffed in lockers when we were in seventh grade. And it's not just football or sports – it's fraternities, it's sororities, it's all those kinds of things. But, there sure as heck better be a line there and an understanding of where the line is. I'm not determining where that is. It was different 25 years ago. When I was in college at Miami (OH), there was hazing. I look back on it, and it was things that you would never tolerate today. So, we've grown as a society, [and] maybe we are growing past some of that stuff. But, you see it in all areas of life. We better be more tuned into it, maybe now, all of us, than we have in the past."
**Even though the Ravens have a program in place to guard against excessive hazing, it is up to the veterans in the locker room to make sure it is implemented, isn't it? Is that where the veteran leadership shines? *(Pete Gilbert) *"Veteran leadership shines in terms of how they [conduct themselves], what kind of people they are. If you have guys who understand and have a heart for other people, then they will do a good job with that, and it will never cross the line. Things can be hidden from teachers and coaches and everything else. But, you also have to be vigilant if you are in a leadership position as a teacher or a coach or a boss. [You need] to try to ask a lot of questions and try to talk to people all the time. Most people will tell you what's on their mind if you really want to find out – most of the time. And we've found that to be true here. So, you've just got to dig in and try to find out as much as you can and see if you can head something off."
*After evaluating tape, what do you see is missing with Ray Rice and the running game this year? *(Jim Corbett) *"I don't know if I want to get into that, because every play is so different. We *have got to find a way to make more plays – fewer mistakes and more plays – and try to find a way to put that together for everybody. Every single player can just do a little bit better. We can block plays better, we can get in better plays, we can run against better looks, [and] we can create better situations to put our players in position to make plays. You look at yourself first. So, offensively, as coaches, we're looking at ways we can put our guys in position to make plays and have an easier time of making plays. And we've got to just do a better job of that. We look at it that way, the players look at it how they can do better, and we'll get better."
Given Ray Rice's difficulties this year, do you feel it becomes difficult and possibly a mental thing for players when they are struggling to find success? (Jamison Hensley) *"I'm not sure [what you mean]? I'd like to answer, but I don't know what mental thing you are talking about. What do you mean?"
**Sometimes when you don't have the confidence to do things, there starts to be some more lingering doubts when you don't have success. *(Jamison Hensley) *"Isn't that true of everything in life? Sure. We're going to earn our confidence. We'll earn our confidence by doing well. I think, fundamentally, we have a confident group. There's no question all of us are confident. We know we can get it done. We know we can get there. But until you start doing it with some consistency, it's hard to be confident in what you're doing. So, sure, we've got to get that done. But cart before the horse, you know? We've got confidence, but as we start doing things, we'll build on that confidence."
**Is there a sense you are in playoff mode now given that a few more losses could eliminate the Ravens from playoff contention? *(Mark Zinno) *"No, because it's not true. It won't end our season mathematically, nor will it end our season. In the playoffs it is winner go home. In the regular season, it's win or lose and play next week. So, we get that. We have a sense of urgency, but we always do. It's not like the sense of urgency is heightened. If our record was more what it was last year – we had a huge sense of urgency last year – and if you remember the questions were coming hard, fast and furious last year about what we were doing and where we were at. I don't sense any different sense of urgency from you guys, even than last year, when I look back on it. The dynamic doesn't change that way. We're kind of in a corner, but you're always in a corner. And how we handle it will be what's remembered, not the adversity we go through. That's how life is. We all face circumstances. It's how you handle it that's going to be remembered."
**Vonta Leach has been playing fewer snaps lately. Is that because of his play or part of an evolving offensive scheme? *(Childs Walker) *"It's probably more about an evolving offensive scheme. We do want Vonta [Leach] in the mix, but where do you lean most heavily? Our formations have been more one back-type formations the last few weeks."
**We've seen a switch to more of an up-tempo start the last few weeks, similar to last season. Is that something you are going to do more going forward? *(Kris Jones) *"Yes, we've been more up-tempo. We've been fewer substitutions, which goes to the question about Vonta [Leach] being on the field. That will change from week to week by game plan, [depending on] how fast we are, whether we want to run guys on and off the field or not. Sometimes you want to mix up formations and personnel groups; other times you want to keep the same group on the field so you can go faster. Even within a game you try to mix that up for strategic or tactical reasons. And that's really up to the offensive coaches to decide how they want to do that."
Do you feel the Bengals have become a more dangerous team every year? How do you see the Bengals evolution over the past few seasons and how they have added playmakers? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"The Bengals have been extremely talented ever since we've been here. They're always very talented. They've done a great job with the draft. They've always got playmakers on both sides of the ball. So, that's an evolution that has been going on. I don't think they are any more dangerous than they were last year, the year before or the year before that, and they've been plenty dangerous. They've got playmakers at every single position on offense. Their quarterback is playing well. They've always been a mauling offensive line. So, that's what we are dealing with."
**How different is the Bengals' defense without Geno Atkins? Does that open everything up for you? *(Aditi Kinkhabwala) *"It would be hard to say that. You don't know the answer to that. But Geno Atkins is a great player. Geno Atkins is really a force in there, and he's very difficult to block. I'm sure they know that. But, they've got other very capable players. They've got good players everywhere on their defense, and their defense doesn't change. Mike Zimmer does an incredible job with his structure. It's very challenging – it causes you all kinds of problems. They are playing great defense. They are one of the top-ranked defenses in football."
**How much do divisional games change? When you face a team twice each season is there comfort in knowing them well, or is every game different? *(Aditi Kinkhabwala) *"Every game, the way it plays out is different – like life. But, the X's and O's are more similar. When you play in your division, you are building more on what you know from them in the past. When you play outside your division and you play a team that you haven't been playing – like we're doing with the NFC North now – you more start from scratch as you take a look at that team."
Does the remainder of this season have a sense of urgency or feeling of panic with the Ravens 3-5 record? (Kent Babb)"I don't know if I have really thought about that and analyzed that. I understand where you are going with that, but for us right now it's just about going to work and trying to do everything you can as a coach to give your guys the best chance to be successful. Really, that's all you think about."
**With the way Deonte Thompson has come along this season, could you see his role progressing in the future? *(Matt Zenitz) *"Yes. Deonte [Thompson], hopefully, will continue to be a bigger and bigger part of what we do because he is so talented. Deonte is a very good route-runner. He can run all the routes outside very effectively. So, when you have a route-runner, you like to get him the ball and have him make some plays for you. If people are going to play us the way they're playing us right now, you need a route-runner outside to make some plays."
**You talked this summer about the need for new leadership on the team. How satisfied are you with your leadership? *(Aditi Kinkhabwala) *"I'm very satisfied. Our team, our attitude and our work ethic and the way we are handling adversity – which is the measurement of that – that's what counts. And in the end, it will show up in the results. The best kind of leadership is leadership by example. Our guys make speeches, but you don't have to make a speech, you don't have to show up and show everybody what a leader you are, you just have to be a leader. I really love our guys, and I think they do a great job with that."
QB Joe Flacco
On the difference between last year and this year: "Well, I just think we haven't played consistently enough to give ourselves those chances to win the game. Before, if we were playing a lot of close games, we were giving ourselves chances and playing well, and eventually we were having a play go our way. This year, we just haven't played well enough to earn the right to go win the game."
On if anything has changed about his communication at the line: "The pass protections are all the same. We're always working together. Maybe a little bit more in the run game just getting to certain stuff. So, over the last couple weeks, it's probably changed. There are probably some things that are a little bit different and require a little bit more communication, maybe, but that's all."
On the slow starts: "I'm seeing us not get first downs. We're just not good enough at converting and putting ourselves in situations where we're fighting a battle that we can win consistently. We're putting ourselves in situations that are tough and are uphill. When you do that, it's tough to get going for an 80-yard drive. We usually come out into the second half and start it pretty well there, but it's just taking us a while to get going early on. We just haven't been good enough across the board in terms of precision in the passing game and getting the running game going and getting first downs. That stuff leads to first downs. We just haven't done it."
On if he's happy with the team's energy level: "Yes, it's the same as always. Like we said earlier, we've always played close games like this, and we've been able to win them. This year, we haven't. But there are eight games left. I'm sure we've been 3-5 at some point. Last year in the last five games, we were 1-4, and we still were a division-winning team. This year, we just happen to be 3-5 throughout the first eight games, and it's our job to just keep our heads down and move on to the next week, which this week is Cincinnati, and try to get a win. That's all we have to worry about, and that's all we can worry about."
On the challenge of trying not to do too much: "It's tough in the NFL to go out there and try to be Superman. It's just impossible to do that. So, I think that kind of keeps you in check and allows you to go out there and just play your game. It's frustrating when you're running off the field, and you're not getting first downs, and you're not scoring points. And that obviously has something to do with it – not being able to get that going – but we've got to be better in other parts of our game in order to help that out and in order to overcome that in certain times. We haven't been able to get it going enough, and we haven't been able to overcome it enough when it hasn't worked for us."
On the importance of Sunday's game: "It's the most important, because it's the next one. But obviously, there's probably a little more implication that goes with it than that. We can't really think about how important it is and what's going to happen if we win [or] what would happen if we don't win. And we can't think about that, because as soon as you start thinking about that, then you're not going to play the way you should. That's what causes a lot of indecision and tentativeness on the football field is thinking about the result of something. You've just got to go out there, and you've got to play 100 percent and just be locked in when you're doing it. And at the end of the day, at the end of the game, you look up at the scoreboard, and if you've done that, you can feel good about looking up and seeing what that result is. More times than not, it's going to be in your favor if you can kind of just stay in the moment and stay in the game. As soon as you start to think about that result and how important this game is and all that, then you're going to freak yourself out a little bit, and you're not going to play the way you want to."
On if he should have checked out of some runs last game: "They were in single-high [coverage] a lot, but we knew we could run away from a safety here and run to it here. Our plan was, depending on the play call, to run the ball into single-high looks but away from the safety and this and that. That was our plan, and we just didn't execute it well enough. We didn't have it badly blocked, but they were still going to make plays, with one guy here and one guy there. And that's just something we'll have to look at and see how much of that we can do in the future."* *
On the role of the passing game in opening up the run: "You have to be able to hit guys on the outside and win one-on-one routes. If you can do that, then you can get teams to play some different coverages where you don't have one-on-one, and then you can open up the run looks a little bit. Everybody knows that, it's easy, and we've just got to be a little bit better at doing it.* *
On hazing in NFL locker rooms: "They make us sing in front of the team and stuff like that. I'm actually somebody who wishes I didn't have to sing in front of the team. I'd rather have them tape me to a goalpost than have to sing in front of the team. (laughter) *That's kind of what we do around here. I heard stories when you come in and you kind of get like, 'Oh, no!' *(laughter) *But we're pretty good about it here. We've got a good group of guys, and anything that we do is all in good nature."* **
On what stands out about the Bengals' defensive front: "They're able to get after the quarterback. Geno [Atkins] is definitely the one guy who has stood out for them. It's a shame that he's not going to be able to be out there, and I'm sure that will affect them in some way. But they've got a bunch of guys over there that can get after the quarterback, and they've got some good schemes in order to help free those guys up and get them in one-on-one situations also. But that's been a big staple of their defense the last few years and since I've been playing them. If you just listen to our offensive line talk about those guys after we play them, I think our guys have always had a really high respect level for the guys on Cincinnati's team just because of the way they do play."
On if DT Geno Atkins being out is a shame or a positive for the Ravens: "It's a shame. You don't want to see guys get hurt to the point where they're going to be out for an extended period of time. We don't mind playing against the best of the best. It's just what you're up against in the NFL. As a player, you don't ever really want to see that stuff happen to other guys."
On if he prefers being in more shotgun formations: "I don't think there's any more responsibility or less responsibility or whatever. But it's definitely something that I like to do, and we've just got to continue to get better and better at it."
On how the team remained optimistic through its struggles last season: "Just feeling good about who we've got. Feeling good in yourself, first of all. I think if everybody just looks at themselves in the mirror and can feel good and confident about what they've been doing and what they're going to continue to do, then that's the starting point. You feel confident in yourself, and then that leads to confidence in each other and being able to push through these circumstances. Last year, we had to win one game to win the division, so we were able to still look at that. We had a goal right there for us. Every week, we had that chance. This year is a little bit different, but like I said, we've got a bunch of confident guys, and I think if anybody, we're the locker room to do so."
On how much the offense can really change: "Even if you do rip up everything, it's not like you can make it that much different. We've just got to be better at what we do. We haven't been good enough, [and] that's why we're not winning football games. It's really pretty simple. Obviously, it's a little more complicated. You've got good defenses you're going against and all that. But we've just got to get better and continue to have confidence and continue to believe that we're going to push through it and be a good football team."
NT Haloti Ngata
On the defense playing well, but struggling to get off the field late in fourth quarters:"A lot of those last drives are just little mistakes, or just like you said, we haven't been able to finish, and that's the thing is just not finishing the game. If we could just give our offense a chance to get back out there and score, or get some type of points, then some of these close games would be different."
On if it would be different if the team could get out to a faster start at the beginning of games:"Definitely. It definitely helps if you get out to a faster start, change the whole game. But, we haven't been doing so, and so we've just got to just go with what we've been doing throughout the game and try to finish it out. Like I said, we just haven't been able to finish."
On how he feels he played in the first half of the season:"I feel like I can do more. Just because we're losing, I think a lot of guys start looking at themselves [asking], 'What can I do?' But that can also be a trap, because you don't want to do too much to where you're doing two jobs instead of trying to do your own job. So, I guess for me, I just try to be more dominant in my position instead of trying to do too much."
On how it has been for him to focus more on playing inside this year, and if it has helped him health-wise being able to rotate a little more:"It's been good so far. I feel better in the fourth quarter than I did last year, just because playing end tires me out more than being inside. So, I definitely feel stronger in the fourth quarter, but hopefully we can just win games."
On what is especially challenging about the Bengals:"They just have playmakers all over the field – receivers, quarterback, running backs. They have two great running backs. Their offensive line is mauling people and creating holes for their running backs. They have playmakers throughout the whole field, and it'll be a great challenge for us."
On being moved around a little in the last game, and if he expects that to continue going forward:"We moved around just because of releasing Marcus Spears and just having certain guys staying with one position, so I'm able to play different positions. But it's probably still going to happen just because we don't have Marcus."
On what the mindset of the team is at this point:"Like I said earlier, each guy probably just has to focus on doing their own job and doing it to the best of their abilities and just try to be dominant in their position. I think when we start losing, a lot of guys try to do more than they are supposed to, so it's just more guys focusing on doing their job."
On what the disconnect is with the team and what it is that guys aren't hearing:"I don't think there's a disconnection, it's just we're not finishing games. Last year, we were able to win a lot of those tight games. It's just this year [the] defense is not getting off the field. I think once we can fix some of those minor mistakes and get off the field, then we'll start winning games."
On what his message is to the team as a leader:"Do your job. Basically, like I've been saying the whole time, just try to be the best you can be in doing your own job."
On nose tackle not being the most glamorous position, and if there are aspects of his job that he has to accept:"Just me, my job is to … If I need to keep [battling] two guys, I'm definitely going to try to do that. I don't mind not being in the spotlight. I kind of said it earlier with [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne], [that] I don't like being in this spotlight. I don't like all of the attention, but if I have to be, then I will be. But being a nose guard, I love playing football, and whatever they need me to do to try to win games, that's what I'll do."
RB Ray Rice
On his response to people thinking he has lost a step: "Keeping working. When you watch the film, you understand that we've been playing pretty good fronts. Like I said, we've got eight games left, and that's my focus now. I've been working on my health; my health is there. Now it's time to keep pushing for these next eight games and win the ones that we have at home."* *
On head coach John Harbaugh saying, "Everything is still in front of you.": "Everything is still there; it's just taking a different route. This is my first time in my entire life being in a situation like this. I've always been on the plus-.500 side since I was a kid. There's a first time for everything, but at the same time, I know where I stand on this team. I know I'm a leader, and now I'm just going to go out there and try to be the best Ray Rice I can be for the second half of the season."* *
On if bullying would ever transpire in Baltimore:"I'm trying to stay away from comments on all that. They've got a lot going on down there, but obviously, everybody knows how I feel about bullying. Until the whole thing unfolds, there are two sides to each story. I don't want to be an injustice to a guy who probably wants his respect and privacy. To comment on something that I really have no clue about what's going on down there, I can only go with the media reports. There are two sides to each story, but everybody knows where I stand with bullying."* *
On the way the locker room is in Baltimore: "We typically don't have to haze a guy to win his respect. Everybody has their own respect; everybody does their things. For a guy like me, I still feed Ozzie [Newsome] chicken on the plane (laughter), but it's something I've been entitled to do as a rookie – little stuff like that. Me and Joe [Flacco] went out a few times and we would split the bill, but we would do that out of our own. I don't care if you're a rookie or if you're a 10-year veteran in the league. If I've got it to share, we'll all split it at the end of the day."* *
On his level of confidence:"My level of confidence is where it was in Week 1. I still believe we'll get the run game going; we have the guys. It's never going to be an effort thing. We've just seen some pretty good fronts and I've battled through some stuff this year. It feels good to go out there. I don't have to hesitate to do anything, I just want to go out there and let it fly. The next eight games, I'm just trying to go out there and be the best Ray Rice I can be for the next half of the season."* *
On if the team has tried different blocking schemes this year: "We've tried different things, but at the same, it's still the same thing. It's not a different scheme; it's not a different offense. We're running an offense that fits our personnel right now. At the same time, we're not taking the credit; the other side can take it as well, too. Look at the defense that we're facing; I'm not taking away from them. Could we have executed it better? That's not what I'm trying to say. What I'm trying to say is some other side, especially if you want to go back to last week … Look at Cleveland's front. They've got a top defense in the NFL right now. That's not easy to run the ball against a tough front like that. We've done it before, and that's the thing that we've got to get our hat back on. We've done it before. We've just got to continue to keep working and that's what we'll continue to do."* *
On how comfortable he is in the "pistol" formation: "The times that we ran it, the first carry I got five yards. It's a good change-up. With Joe [Flacco] controlling this thing, I'm looking forward to continuing to try and change it up. Sometimes it will be … Whether it's the gun, under center – it's essentially just doing the right different stuff. We've just got to execute at a high level. Joe drives this thing, and we're all just following. A lot of our mishaps come from communication. We've got to communicate at a high level. Being at home this week helps that out because we'll be able to hear each other and do what we've got to do."* *
On if he takes it personally when people say he's not the same player:"No. I've got a kid at home. I go home to my daughter happy. Everybody has these situations. A down year is not going to make our break me as a person. I've been through a lot worse than averaging what I'm averaging in carries. I've got broad shoulders. I'll take it more from anybody else, whether or not they're jumping on the front lawn of mine." (laughter)
On the team's communication process at the line of scrimmage: "Everybody – it's everybody at the same time. It's myself communicating with Joe [Flacco] and Gino [Gradkowski]. [It's] communicating with Joe and [Marshal] Yanda; it's everybody. As long as we're all on the same page, I think we'll be pretty successful."
WR Torrey Smith
On rookie WR Marlon Brown's success potentially helping his ability to get open:"Marlon [Brown] has done a great job for us, and that has absolutely nothing to do with me. Whatever [defenses are] doing to me, it doesn't matter, because I'm just a small piece of the puzzle. For him to be out there taking advantage of his opportunities and just working hard, constantly getting better and growing – that's special for us. The more the merrier. Jacoby [Jones], Deonte [Thompson], Tandon [Doss] – whoever – it's all on us to go out there and make plays. It's not about me at all."* *
On why the team has slow starts: "If we knew, it wouldn't be happening. All of our problems now are on us. We've got to go out there and get it done. There is no motivational speech, no action, no scheme change or anything that's going to happen that's going to magically make us turn it around. We've got to go out there and play ball. It's really that simple."* *
On what the team will do differently this week:"[That's] top secret information. It's football; it can't change but so much. We're just going out there trying to figure out what we do best. Obviously, we've still been trying to figure that out, and it's going to constantly be a work in progress before we get it down."* *
On if he's seeing different coverages this year:"I saw the same kind of coverages at times last year; it just wasn't as much. It's not that it's happening all the time. I'm getting opportunities where it's one-on-one opportunities. It's not like the whole game I'm getting bracketed; it just happens at times. Obviously, it's a sign of respect. When I do get the opportunity, I have to take advantage of it. When I'm not and if I'm drawing that attention, then someone else is going to be open, and that's a part of my job, too."* *
On if he follows how well other wide receivers from his draft class are doing:"Those are my boys. I talk to them throughout the year. It's not like I look at it where I don't want them to do well. It's always fun to see A.J. [Green], Julio [Jones], Randall [Cobb] – you can keep on going. There are so many guys around the league in our class – Greg [Little] – who are doing well. Anytime you see someone who you know and have been around succeed, it's awesome, and I'm glad to be mentioned with those guys."* *
On the incident with the Miami Dolphins: "I feel like it's very unfortunate. It's tough as a player to speak on what you don't know, so I can't diagnose it and act like I can even relate to what it's like to be in that locker room. But, what I can say is, it's definitely bullying. There's no place for it there, in the classroom or anywhere – it's no different. Clearly, it's something that they're not proud of right now, and we've just got to continue to grow from it. [I'm] praying for the folks down there – both parties involved. It's a tough situation, and the team is obviously going to have to deal with these questions all year long. Everything will work itself out. I can say that, from my personal experience in Baltimore, it would never happen. We have great leadership, and guys are focused on trying to win. If you're out there focusing on trying to win, then the hazing and little things like that – it doesn't matter. If you're going to sit there and bully a rookie who you're going to need – or keep him up at night hazing him, having them scared to come to work the next day – then how is that person going to help you when you need them? It's been like that since I got here. I anticipated being hazed; I watched Hard Knocks. (laughter) *I watched all those crazy shows. We came out of the lockout and they had missed the whole offseason of potential hazing. To my surprise, I came in and Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, [Terrell] Suggs, Haloti [Ngata] took us right in [saying], 'Alright, we need you to be ready to play. We don't have time to haze. You've got to sing, buy Popeye's, but that's it.' It's more so about a family atmosphere and welcoming you in instead of tearing you down and trying to isolate you. I don't get how hazing even brings a team closer. It's stupid to me."* **
On others who have blamed the victim in the Miami incident: "Guys are going to say that because football is a manly sport. It's a sport that's typically about dominance. You're going to hear guys react that way [saying], 'Stand up for yourself,' or 'Fight back.' At the same time, if he did that, where would it have gotten him? We don't know if it would have worked. People don't bully the strong links, so clearly there was something that he saw and took advantage of it. You don't just bully anyone; it was very unfortunate. Like I said, I'm not going to disrespect their locker room – I don't know anything about it. But, if you have great leadership in there, you can see where it's clearly a problem, where it goes from being fun to a problem, which it escalated to. Hopefully, they'll get it right down there."* *
On how he would react if the Ravens acquired a player who'd been a victim of a public bullying incident: "He's a teammate. Like I said, the way we approach it, you welcome him in – he's another brother. We're not going to tear him down and then continue to tear him down. The coaching process is to break you down and train you so that you're stronger in the end. Like I said, bullying is when you're trying to tear somebody down with malice."* *
On how the leadership dynamic has evolved throughout the season: "It's been awesome. I think for a team to have their heads in a place where ours is right now, considering that we're down … This is my third year in the league, and we've never been in this situation. [Terrell] Suggs, Haloti [Ngata], Joe [Flacco], Ray [Rice] and all the guys that have been here in the past, they're still focused. We're having good practices; everyone is still loose and having fun. No one is pointing fingers, and I think that's what it's all about. We can struggle right now like we are and everyone will still stick together, not flinch, not jump ship, and think that it'll make us a stronger team and get this thing right. It'll be that much more special, because we stuck together and gutted it out."* *
On if the team's ability to overcome struggles last season is present on his mind:"Ultimately, you're defined by adversity. We're talking about how we lost three games last year, a stretch towards the end, and people were [saying], 'They lost it,' 'Their leadership [is absent],' 'They're going to miss the playoffs,' and [we] ended up winning the Super Bowl. You've got to go out there and continue to play until it's over. I feel like until it's mathematically impossible for us to not make the playoffs, we're going to keep fighting. Even then, we have more pride than to just roll over for anyone. We're going to go out there, represent our team and try to get these wins for us as well as our city. Our plays didn't change, our mindset didn't change, our drive didn't change – it's all still the same. We go out there and we practice hard every week. We prepare to win; we don't plan on losing. That's on us to go out there and get it done."* *
On if it's a good thing to see a familiar opponent at this point:"I don't care who it is. I just look forward to playing each and every Sunday. It's pretty special, and it's an honor to do it. To play against a team you're familiar with, it helps us out a lot because we know them; they know us. It's a lot easier, but at the same time, we respect them and they're a very talented team."
OLB Terrell Suggs
Suggs when asked: "Is there a level higher than 'state of emergency?'": "DEFCON 5. I think that's pretty serious. I don't know. What do you think?"
On what he expects from the Bengals: "They always play us tough. It's always a fight with these guys. This is the AFC North. We don't expect it any other way. We'll be ready, we'll be prepared, and we'll have at it on Sunday."* *
On if the team has learned anything from the Miami situation: "I just think it's a terrible situation for both sides to be a part of – the players and the organization. But, it just goes to show what kind of organization we are and what kinds of guys we've got in the locker room. We're fortunate enough that we don't have that here. I send my support out to the people who are involved on both sides, and [I hope] clear heads prevail and they can come up with a solution."
On the team's wherewithal in moving forward during a tough time: "We know any one of these games can be the one where it finally clicks for us and we start playing like we know we can. We're just holding on to that. Every man involved is going to do whatever it takes to get this thing rolling in the right direction. We even said when we were winning a lot of games – when we were 2-1 or 3-2 – we still said we had work to do. We already knew that, and the plan has not changed. We're going to continue to work."
On the Giants game last year that seemed to make things click: "At that point, we had had nine wins under our belt already, so we definitely have to start knocking them down. If you let too many of these games go, then you're on the other side of your destiny or your dreams, and you don't want to do that. You don't want to be [on] the outside [looking] in [through] the glass, and you need help from other teams to get in. You kind of want to handle your own business, so to say. We're at M&T [Bank Stadium Sunday]. There's not a better team or a week to start getting this thing rolling."* *
On how he feels the defense is playing, considering their high statistical rank: "That's just the ranking. That doesn't really matter to us. The big picture is that we're 3-5, and we don't like that. We don't like the feeling. [The ranking] doesn't matter. It doesn't feel well. Ask me after we've got a couple wins. You can ask me the same question, [and] I can have a more accurate answer for you. But as for right now, we've got to get this 'W.'"
On the frustration of not being able to get off the field in the fourth quarter: "It's always frustrating. You've got to win games. They're on scholarship, too, so to say – the opposing team – and they're making plays. It's just one of those things. You've just got to get after it and do it."
On Bengals QB Andy Dalton: "He's one of the best in the game. His record says it and his numbers say it. He's playing good football right now and inspired football. They're at the head of the division, so that says something. He's matured a lot. I've had the pleasure of seeing a quarterback do that already. But he's my opponent this week, I don't want to give him too much praise, but he's doing a good job."