Week 3 vs. Houston Texans: Friday Transcript

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Welcome – good to see everybody. Thanks for coming. We had some special guests here. Mrs. [Marie] Cusick came with her friends from the Little Sisters of the Poor, and that's pretty cool. They were here for the whole practice – got out here for special teams and watched every single play. So, if you guys have some questions, you can feel free to ask them about how it went." (laughter) (Brent Harris: "Would they know if Ray Rice is going to play?") "They would not. Not even they would know that. *(laughter) *But it was really fun having them here. They're great ladies, so it was a special treat. As far as injuries go, there's really nothing new to report. Nobody new practiced. Injury report will be out. All those guys … If I had something different on a guy, I'd share it with you. But, they're all working hard to get back. They're all in the same neighborhood as far as getting back – I'm thinking of [Chris] Canty and Ray Rice and those guys, who were injured last week. It'll be a game-time decision with those guys, and we'll keep our fingers crossed, although we're prepared for it to go either way."

What are your thoughts on Ray Lewis going into the Ring of Honor Sunday? (Eric Scott) *"Ray [Lewis] going into the Ring of Honor is obviously a tremendous honor. It's an honor for Ray, and it's also an honor for the Ravens and for all of our fans and for our city and state and everything else. I don't think I need to describe what Ray means to the organization or to football and what he's come to mean in a lot of ways to anybody who follows football in our country. He's a good friend, he's a great person, and he's someone that I feel blessed to have been associated with for the past five years and going forward as friends for the rest of our lives. But it'll be fun to see him, and we're looking forward to it." *

What challenges does the Texans' defense present? (Kim Jones) *"The Texans' defense presents the same set of challenges that it has over the past couple years. Certainly a healthy Brian Cushing is key for them. He's an enforcer in the middle, [and] he's a really good run stopper – one of the best. He's one of the best blitzers in the league, especially when he adds on, but also when he's a primary blitzer. They do a lot with him and J.J. [Watt] in the run game off the strong side of the defense there. They cause a lot of problems for everybody, and [it's] not just those two guys. They've got two good, young outside linebackers. Joe Mays is doing a great job in the middle. He's a real thumper against the lead schemes. They've got a very athletic, young nose guard. Antonio Smith is back. The secondary is very strong, and at some point in time here – possibly Sunday – it's about to get even stronger. It's just a very good defense." *

**Your defensive performances in the last two games have been dramatically different. Do you think that unit is on its way to being a consistent unit? *(Clifton Brown) *"We've been confident all along that it's going to be not just a decent unit, it's going to be a whole lot better than that. And that's the work in progress that we chase. It'll be judged by the results in the end, so I guess we'll just let those speak for themselves throughout the course of the season. But I'm excited about the defense and where we're going."

**These two teams have played each other a lot over the past few years. Do you think it's a budding rivalry? *(Garrett Downing) *"I don't really want to put labels on it. It is what it is. It's always a great game when we play them. We love playing against them. We've got a lot of teams that we consider rivals, it seems like. If it's a rivalry whenever we play one of the good teams, that's good because that means we're one of the good teams. We consider them a very good team. We've played them a lot over the years, and they've become a rival from the standpoint that they're in the hunt every year, and the games end up meaning so much. So, this is a very meaningful early-season game for us."

**How confident are you in Bernard Pierce, especially the way he was able to handle a bigger role? *(Luke Jones) *"I'm very confident – very confident in all of our guys, including Bernard [Pierce]."

*Sometimes players set bars that they sometimes have difficulty living up to, like [Joe] Flacco, particularly in the postseason. Did he play at such a level that now he's being challenged by something that he has previously done, because thus far, his start hasn't necessarily matched what you saw from him when it really mattered last season? *(Kim Jones) *"Only in the eyes of the evaluators – those out there who want to judge everything that everybody does. Other than that, it's just way too deep [of] a question. We just try to be the best we can be every single week, and that goes for all of us in our line of work. When you do a good report or one of you guys writes a great article, all of a sudden, does that mean you can't touch that for the rest of your career? Are you done? You'll be judged by that great work of art for the rest of your life and everything will fall short of that? Joe [Flacco] accomplished something that was really almost unmatched in postseason history. So, what he does going forward will be … Joe is going to become one of the premier quarterbacks in the history of the National Football League. I've said that many, many times. In the end, that statement will prove to be correct, and all the naysayers out there – they will be wrong, as usual. And I'll be looking forward to them when they say, 'I was wrong.' But, that will probably be a first. *(laughter) *Was that well said? I don't know." *(Reporters: "Yes, very well said.") "Alright, anything else?"

**Describe your relationship with Ed Reed, and will you get a chance to talk with him before the game? *(Adam Vorce) *"I will definitely look for an opportunity to talk to Ed [Reed] before the game, most definitely. I'm sure he'll be out there in pre-game, and I'll be out there in pre-game with all of our guys. We have a great relationship. How do you describe a relationship with a friend? It's a special relationship. They're all unique. He's a friend. It's a cherished relationship for me, and really for all of us. [We'll] be looking forward to seeing him, but as we know, over that three-and-a-half hour time span, he's going to be on the other side, and that's just the way it is."

**When you're deciding whether players who haven't practiced all week will play in the game, how much is it a trust issue and a veteran issue? Are you able to trust certain veterans you know that, despite not being out here, will be ready to play, know the offense, know the game plan, and you're not putting them out there when they're not prepared? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Absolutely. The guys who have played a lot of football here and know the offense … We're with them every day on the inside in terms of understanding what guys know. If you're asking about Ray [Rice], there's no question he can do it. Chris Canty – there's no question he can do it. When guys like that don't play because they haven't practiced, it's because they're not ready physically. It's not because we have some kind of rule around here like that. It has to do with how ready a guy is to play. From that trust standpoint, assignments, knowledge of what we're doing and preparation, I would have complete confidence in all of the guys that you're talking about."

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