Head Coach Rob Chudzinski
On returning to Cleveland as a head coach this season:"It's been a whirlwind, for sure. We got a lot done in the short amount of time we've been here and putting the team together and getting started here with the season. [We're] really excited about the challenge of the season and certainly the one that we have this week."* *
On the protection for QB Brandon Weeden:"It's something we've needed to address this week. We need to do a better job in protecting him, and hopefully, we'll be able to do that this week against an outstanding group of rushers."* *
On what OLB Paul Kruger has brought to the team:"He's been outstanding for us. He wants to be a complete player. He's improved as a player. He's really developed into a leader of our team, and just seeing him work with the young guys, working with a guy like [Barkevious] Mingo, he's been great for us."* *
On if he knows of a better pass rushing tandem in the league than OLB Terrell Suggs and OLB Elvis Dumervil:"I don't know where … Obviously, they've shown it over their careers, the production that they have. And certainly, they have a lot of different ways of beating you – a lot of different moves. Those guys are outstanding football players and pose quite a challenge."* *
On what attracted them to bringing in K Billy Cundiff and if they're confident in him returning to play in Baltimore:"We are [confident]. We had a number of guys that we had worked with and tried out, and ultimately, Billy had it. He had a great workout; he had a good preseason this season prior to getting with us. He obviously kicks off very well and has been a Pro Bowler. He's played in the division; he knows the different stadiums and has the experience here in the division as well as around the league. We just felt that it was the right choice for us, and he kicked very well in the first game we had."* *
On if he will talk to Cundiff about the way he may be treated in Baltimore this weekend:"No, not to specifics. He'll approach this game as he does any other game, I'm sure. And obviously, he was with the Ravens and has the history there, but it's no different. This game is its own game, and that's how we'll approach it."* *
On the status of OLB Barkevious Mingo:"He's been cleared to play. We're going to practice him today, and we'll go from there based on working him into practice."* *
On if there is any desire to get back to the running game this week:"I think you need balance. This division has been about running the football, [but] obviously, in last year's Super Bowl, Joe Flacco was able to really have a good run of throwing the ball as well. The defenses are so good in this division that you have to be able to do both. We'll come into the game with a plan to do those things and then be flexible as we go."* *
On if they erase the board and see their 10-game losing streak to the Ravens as just history:"It is. Every game is different, every year is different, and our challenge this week is this team right now – our team and the Ravens team playing against each other."* *
On how confident his team is at this point:"I think we have a confident group. We have a lot of guys that are new, young, coming together in the offseason and through training camp. We've done a great job of bringing the team together, and we're confident and ready to embrace this challenge. I know the guys are excited. There was a lot of energy today and excitement, and we're looking forward to having a good week of preparation."* *
On if they will prepare any differently because of the Ravens' pre-game Super Bowl festivities:"The only thing that matters for us is once the ball is kicked off and that 60 minutes of play. And that's what we'll be focused on."
OLB Paul Kruger
On how it feels to come back to Baltimore Sunday:"[It] feels pretty good. I'm excited – just being able to play against my old team, especially in a conference game like this. It's a big one for us for sure."
On how it will feel to be on the opposite sideline when the Super Bowl XLVII Championship banner is unveiled: "It's going to be a little different. I was there for four years and have so many friends and people over there that I still talk to. It's going to be different for sure, but I've made this place a new home and am really loving it here. I'm excited [with] what we've got going on, so it's going to be interesting."
On if he was surprised when the Ravens released S Bernard Pollard:"I was. I didn't see that coming. There's a lot of surprises I think for everybody. It was just one of those types of years where a lot of different things are happening. [With] a lot of guys, it was their last year on their deal. It was crazy to see a lot of different faces and people going to different teams. [It was a] pretty wild experience."
On at what point during 2012 that he thought he might not return to Baltimore: "I honestly didn't know whether that was going to happen or not. I was pretty focused on what we were doing, focused on winning games and playing well. I obviously knew it was the last year of my contract, so something was going to happen. But, whether I was going to stay or go? I really had no idea."
On if once free agency started he knew he would not be a Raven:"It was clear pretty quickly that it didn't look like I would be there. That was just a conversation between me and my agent. It was a process that I obviously haven't been through before. It went smooth, [and I'm] real happy with the outcome. [There's] no looking back, and here we are."
On if he's tried to take on a leadership role in Cleveland:"Like you said, in Baltimore, we had so many guys that I was able to look up to and learn from. They helped me a lot with my development as a player. Being able to bring some of those things here has been important for me. I've been able to take a lot of my experiences in Baltimore and apply them here. I feel like we have a lot of guys on this team with leadership abilities and some veterans that have been huge for us. Taking those lessons that I've learned from there … I'd be lying if I didn't say it was a huge help to me to bring that here."
On the differences between the Browns and Ravens organizations:"Honestly, it's not a tremendous difference, other than different faces, different names. Obviously, the coordinators are different. You're going to have differences. [Browns defensive coordinator] Ray Horton is one of those guys who I was really quickly able to look up to and learn from. He's been a tremendous coach, and I really like his style of defense. There's definitely differences, but all in all – schedule, scheme – it's all similar stuff. We run a similar defense. There's always going to be little differences and tweaks here and there. This is an attack-style defense. As far as the way things are run, it's very similar. [There are] a lot of good things between the two teams."
On if he's talked to Browns K Billy Cundiff about also returning to Baltimore:"Not really. I'm sure we will before the game. We tend to let the kickers do their own thing."
On if he's glad he'll be at the M&T Bank Stadium when the Super Bowl banner is unveiled:"Yeah, I hadn't really thought about it. It's an exciting thing to be a part of that. I definitely had great experiences [and] so many good memories there. To be able to see that will be cool, but my mindset will be pretty focused on what's going on. To me, that could be a distraction. My mentality right now is not to let it be, just to win this game and play the best that I can and helping this defense have a good outcome. That stuff will be cool to see on SportsCenter or something, but I'm going to be pretty focused on what's going on."
On what the key is to stopping the Ravens' offense: "They have a ton of weapons. They have a good offensive line. It's a 'total package' type of a deal. [To] stop them, you have to play a pretty sound game in all facets of the defense. I think Ray Rice is obviously key. They have a lot of deep threats – that's going to be key. There's not one thing that I can say, 'Hey, we have got to do this to stop these guys.' They've got too many weapons. It's just playing a good solid 60-minute football game."
On if it's shocking to see so many new faces on the Ravens' offense: "Not really. Every year it's a different team. There's always a core group of guys. You guys have seen it just as much as I have. Every team in the league, their rosters are being shaken up and [have] different personnel, different signees. That's kind of what the NFL is all about. To see new faces and new guys running around, that's no surprise."
On if he's ever hit QB Joe Flacco: "No, he's always had that bright red jersey on."
On what he thinks hitting QB Joe Flacco will be like: "He's a big guy. I've got to hit him hard to take him down. He's a big target. He's got speed that people don't see very often. It's one of those things [where] he's so tall and rangy … I would compare him a little bit to [Colts quarterback] Andrew Luck. [They're] both really fast guys. You don't assume their speed; you've got to be careful for that."
On going to a team that's had little success in recent seasons: "It was important to be a part of something that I could have an influence on. This is a year where we can come out and re-identify ourselves. I don't really look at the past. So many people talk about what the Browns have done in the past, [but] to me, it's irrelevant. The past is the past; this is a new team. I feel really good about our defense and our team and all that we have going on. Right now, I'm just looking forward."
On how he looks back on his time with the Ravens: "I had a tremendous experience there [with] so many good friends and mentors and relationships that were built. It's something that I'll always carry and look back towards with a good experience. [I was] able to be a part of some great teams. Obviously, the Super Bowl last year was something I'll never forget. It's something that I'll always be able to fall back on and use that experience to build and grow."
On how big Sunday's game against the Ravens is for the 2013 Browns: "It's huge; it's a conference game. We're playing against a really good team. It's time for us to go out there and shine. I'm looking forward to it. I think it's an opportunity for us. Every game in this league is crucial, especially the conference games. [It's] definitely a big week for us."