Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Thanks for coming out. Just one announcement to make: We are going to practice Jameel McClain today. He's eligible to do that. We do not know what that means for this week, next week or the week after. We do know that it means within three weeks we have to make a decision about whether we put him on the 53-man roster. So, we'll just have to see how it goes with that. There's really nothing else to talk about. Josh Bynes has an infection in his finger, which he cut a couple of weeks ago. He was actually in the hospital last night with it. He got good news. It's good; it's clearing up. He'll be back out here sometime this afternoon."
With regards to Jameel [McClain], has he been cleared? (Brent Harris)"Right, that's what we mean. He's allowed to practice, and he has been cleared to practice or play. There's no difference – practice or play. He has been cleared. Yes, thank you."
Was there a trend you saw with the seven three-and-outs last week, or was each situation a specific issue? (Pete Gilbert)"The trend is that we are not doing very well on first down. And, we're not doing very well on second down. We are putting ourselves in very long third-down situations. I would say our second-and-longs and our third-and-to-go's have been inordinately long, and that's made it very difficult."
Ray Rice likes to see the hole and run through it, and he hasn't had much success doing that this season. Is that a product of the blocking, or is he running differently for some reason this year? (Dave Ginsburg) "It's a collective [thing]. It's everything – everything's got to come together better, and we just have to improve on that. There's a lot that goes into it. If you're looking for specifics, it would probably take a little longer than this format will allow, but there are many different things that we've looked at over the last few days to try to improve. We definitely have the men to do the job. We've got the talent up front [and] at running back, so we've just got to go do it."
Is Ray Rice 100 percent speed and quickness-wise right now? (Peter Schmuck)"You'd have to ask Ray [Rice] for a percentage."
How is Eugene Monroe adapting to the zone-blocking scheme? (Glenn Younes)"Very well. That's probably something he's suited for. He's that kind of a guy. He's very athletic, as you guys have seen, and that's what he does well."
Does it feel like a Pittsburgh week to you? (Dave Ginsburg)"Oh yes, absolutely."
Is it true that team records don't matter in this game, particularly looking at Pittsburgh with their record this season? (Dave Ginsburg)"I don't know. I haven't thought about that cliché too much, but it's definitely a Pittsburgh week. And there's a lot at stake in this game."
What does that mean to you, a Pittsburgh week? (Pete Gilbert)"I really don't feel like describing it right now. I've described that a lot over the years. I'm on record with that. So, go back and check the record and you'll see. Let me say this: We respect them tremendously. We always have. And I'm sure we will continue to do that, because they are a tremendous organization, and they've always been a very good football team, and we respect the way they play."
The fans are accustomed to the Pittsburgh-Baltimore games having such high stakes over the years. Can you make the case that when two teams are working to correct things and fix problems that there actually could be more at stake? (Peter Schmuck)"You probably could. I look forward to reading about it. *(laughter) *It will be great."
You pride yourself on having a physical football team. Does the zone-blocking scheme not allow you to be as physical as you want to be? (Mark Zinno)"It's the same line of questioning every week. We're going down the same road every week. I feel like I've answered that. The answer is no. It allows you to be physical – maybe more so than some of the other blocking schemes, if you understand the scheme."
Is there a sense as the season goes on and you start trying to pull away in the division, that you could put the nail in the Steelers' coffin here? (Aditi Kinkhabwala)"We're more concerned about our situation right now. That's what we need to be concerned with. And it's a division game, so it counts for probably a game and a half – if that's your point. It's a good point. It's an important game."
When you analyze the Steelers' win over the Jets last week, did Pittsburgh do anything dramatically different than earlier in the season? (Aditi Kinkhabwala)"Well, the difference is in the result. It makes a big difference to win. They found a way to win. Probably the turnovers, I think they would probably say were the biggest difference for them. But they are the same team they've always been, and we respect them very much."
Every year is a different year, but does winning the last three seasons in Pittsburgh help you at all when face the Steelers this time? (Jamison Hensley)"I don't know. But we're focused on this one. We're not thinking about the last three or the last five or the last 10. We're thinking about this one."
Do you sense frustration from Ray Rice given the running game has not done what you've wanted so far this season? (Aditi Kinkhabwala)"No, I really don't. I would expect him to be whatever word you want to use for it. I would expect him to want to do well in the run game. And whatever motivation it takes, he's motivated – he always has been. He wants to do well, just like all the guys do. Wouldn't you expect that?"
How difficult is it to mix in all the wide receivers now that everyone is coming back from injury? (Glenn Younes)"It's a challenge for us, but it's a good problem. We want to have talented guys. We feel like we have a talented group that we're developing in a lot of ways. And we need them out there to grow with those guys. So, I love having those guys out there. We've got some options this week. It's going to be fun to see how it plays out in practice to see which guys we put out there."
Do you believe that the group of receivers you have gives you a lot of different options in game-planning? (Matt Zenitz)"That's what we have to figure out. We know what guys can do, but also, how do they fit in with one another? We're still doing that. I mentioned Monday that we are in flux that way, probably, with the wide receivers. It's a good flux, because we've got talented guys, and now how do we utilize those guys? I'm excited to see how that plays out."
Joe Flacco was sacked five times last week. Are you satisfied with the protection, and are you worried about the offensive line with what the Steelers are able to do with bringing guys on defense? (Clifton Brown)"You've got to handle that against the Steelers. We've seen their scheme a lot, we understand it, but we've got to execute against it, and that's challenging. [Pittsburgh defensive coordinator] Dick LeBeau is a great coach. He builds a great scheme, and we know the challenges of that scheme."
Do the slow starts this season come down to execution or scheme? (Morgan Adsit)"It's collective. It's all of that. We have to look at every aspect of it. It all goes together. You can't just keep doing the same exact thing, and you can't keep doing whatever you're doing the same way. We've got to change all that."
It may be a cliché kind of question, but are you seeing what you thought you would get with Elvis Dumervil when you signed him in the offseason? (Matt Zenitz)"Yes. [We are] really pleased with our defensive front, our front seven. Our defense is doing a lot of good things, too. We're doing a lot of good things across the board as a team. But if you want to pinpoint Elvis [Dumervil] and Terrell [Suggs] and Courtney [Upshaw] and Pernell [McPhee] – those guys coming off the edge – you'd have to say those guys are playing really, really well, and they're putting a lot of pressure on the people we're playing."
OLB Elvis Dumervil
On the rivalry with the Steelers: "It's an NFL game. Every game is always exciting to me. From a distance, it seemed pretty intense. It's going to be good to be a part of it."* *
On how hard it is to sack QB Ben Roethlisberger:"He's gifted. He can run around. [He's a] proven winner and a champion. We'll have our hands full. We're going to need a good week of preparation."* *
On if the pass rush has hit its stride: "It's about winning and losing. We've got to win more than anything. That's what is most important right now."* *
On how much "wrapping up" has been emphasized in practice with regard to tackling QB Ben Roethlisberger:"The worst thing you can do as a pass rusher is miss quarterbacks. That's the emphasis for any quarterback. Obviously, with Ben [Roethlisberger,] he's big and he's mobile. He's at his strength when he moves around. We have our hands full, so we have to make sure we come to play."* *
On if the Ravens are getting teams' best efforts since they are the defending Super Bowl champions: "Like I said, any team at any moment could win or lose. We've got to get better."
QB Joe Flacco
On if there is anything that can be done to fix the slow starts the team has gotten off to: "We've just got to play better. Once we've got going and we've had to score, we've been able to do it. We just had a tough time getting that first one on the board in a couple of these games."* *
On if the slow starts are a rhythm issue: "I don't know. We've just got to execute better and be better on first down so we're not constantly digging ourselves out of hole. I think when you look back at our last game, we had one second-and-5 and one second-and-4. Other than that, they were all seven, eight, nine – mostly even 11 and 12's. I think our average third-down-to-gain was 11 yards. When you do that to yourselves, you're not going to score points."* *
On if there were any communication changes between him and T Eugene Monroe:"No, not really. Those guys are kind of locked away in their offensive line room, and we meet with them in the morning for like 45 minutes. It's all about him being comfortable and working [on] his technique and all that. It's not about, 'Hey, do this [or] do that.' I'm having confidence in him to get the job done, and he's going to get it done. From week to week, the thing with him is just getting more comfortable in what we do and the guy that he's playing next to."
On the key to getting the quick passing game going: "Well, we just ran some quick routes. We ran a couple quick outs. We hit Dallas [Clark] on a couple, and we hit Marlon [Brown] on a quick hook – stuff like that just to get the ball in your playmakers' hands and let them do work with it afterwards."* *
On how TE Dallas Clark has come along and what was done vs. Green Bay: "Nothing crazy. He's caught a couple quick out routes, like I said. We got the defense on their heels a little bit. [He] ran by a linebacker and made a nice catch in the end zone – really just simple stuff. It's just a matter of executing it, and it's not really any different than what we've done any other week. It's just a matter of simple stuff and making it work."
On if he senses anything different with RB Ray Rice: "Not really. He was banged up for a couple weeks, and this is really his first couple weeks back. So, anytime you get a little banged up and aren't 100 percent, you have to take a little bit of time before you can really expect to be back there and have full explosion. But no, not really, I haven't seen anything different than maybe that."
On if he senses RB Ray Rice's frustration: "No. I think we're all just frustrated at a certain level. At another level, we're just excited to get back out there and play again. But no, I don't personally see him any more frustrated than he normally is. He's still himself."
On how helpful it is to have a full set of healthy receivers: "Getting Jacoby [Jones] back last week definitely added something. You can tell [that] when he's on the field, defenses have to prepare for it. And I think the exciting thing is that we've gotten to really find out what kind of players some of these other guys are, and we're going to be able to rely on them in the future."
On if the Pittsburgh game feels any different due to the team records: "It's still a division game, and it's still anybody's division. It's Week 7, and it's a division game. You go take care of business in the division, and you give yourself a good chance at the end of the year to win it. It's exactly that."
On if the trip to Pittsburgh is a special trip: "I don't know. It's tough to put in words. It's definitely a cool trip to make. It's a big game, and that's the biggest thing about it. They're a good team. We're a good team. That's the way it's been, and because of that, it makes for a big football game. Like I said, it's tough to put in words, but it's definitely a little bit unique."
On getting every team's best shot as defending Super Bowl champions: "You better always be getting every team's best shot. I always say that – playoffs, regular season. What would it say about all the guys in the league if we weren't getting everybody's best shot? And the bottom line is we've always been a pretty good team around here and a team that people feel like they have something to prove against. Whether they think we're a bunch of knuckleheads who are more physical than everybody … Somebody always feels like they have something to prove against us, just like we always feel like we have something to prove against whoever we're playing. So, defending champs, not defending champs – I don't really think it matters too much. I like what [Torrey Smith] probably said initially: 'It is what it is.' We're not defending champions. We were champions last year. It's a new season this year, and we're trying to do it again."* *
On what WR Jacoby Jones has to do to draw attention away from WR Torrey Smith: "He just has to go out there and play his game. All the stuff that he does comes naturally. He runs fast, and he gets open. The fact that he can do that on the other side of the field as Torrey [Smith], it makes it tough for teams to protect against that and cover the middle of the field and cover our running backs and all that stuff. It just opens everything up."
WR Torrey Smith
On how WR Jacoby Jones can change the way defenses play Smith: "I think it just helps a lot, because it adds a different type of speed element on the other side. Marlon [Brown] is a big, physical guy, and he's not slow by any means. But Jacoby [Jones] – he's definitely explosive, and his speed is a lot different over there."
On if he will see different looks from the Steelers' defense: "I don't know. I just go play. Whatever happens, happens. The beauty in having some coverage things go my way is that someone else is open, and we have the guys to take advantage of it."* *
On if he saw double coverage looks last week: "We had opportunities, but again, those games are going to happen. Sometimes the ball will come my way, and others, it won't. Obviously, they were doing some things defensively, but a lot of that had to do with the type of situations we were in. A lot of times, we were third-and-12, third-and-15, and there is a linebacker lined up pressing me with the corner and safety over top. Obviously, it's going to be tough for me to be open, and they can play pass coverage because of the situations we put ourselves in. It's not like I'm out there, and they're bracketing me all the time. It happens a lot, but it's not like it's a constant thing. It's on me to get open, regardless of what the coverage is. Whenever the ball comes my way, catch it. If not, then someone else is open, and they'll make the play."* *
On the key to the quick-strike passing attack: "I think the biggest key for us is just moving the chains. I think it'll help a lot, especially on early downs, getting our line going. And it counts as a run play. It doesn't have to be a home run every time. Six yards is huge for us. I think the biggest thing is we need to stop playing behind the count in terms of our down yardage. First and second down, we haven't been doing as well as we wanted to, and it's made for some tough third-down conversions. We've had too many third downs actually, but I think that's something that we can do. We have the quarterback and the receivers to do it, so we'll see what happens."
On if you have to be in the building to understand the Pittsburgh-Baltimore rivalry: "No. Obviously, I've seen it from both sides. I've seen it from the outside-in. Down Route 1 in College Park, I've seen several fights over these two teams. And obviously, being in the building as a part of this organization, I've seen how it's been on the field and the preparation that goes into it, and I think it says a lot about the game itself. It's one of the best rivalries in football, and they have one of the best organizations in football up there as well. There's a lot of history and tradition with them. Anytime you get two very physical teams playing each other, it leads to some great football."
On if Heinz Field is his favorite place to play: "It's just another place to play. I'm always excited about going up there just because of the environment and the things you'll hear from the fans. It's always pretty fun. Some of them are pretty funny on the sidelines. But at the end of the day, it's another tough environment to play football in. It's not like we're going to panic or try to prepare any differently like we don't plan to win every single week. We do every week. It's just that this one means a lot for the division, as well as when we play the Browns or the Bengals. It's just going to be another tough one. I hate to downplay it and make it seem like it's just another football game, but that's the same way you approach it. But everyone knows what's on the line when you play them."
On what the Steelers did against the Jets that was impressive: "They're still the Steelers. A lot of people are going to talk about their record and the way they've been playing so far. They've lost some tough games, but they're still a great team. They still have their playmakers on offense. And defensively, Troy Polamalu has been looking way better. You can tell that he's healthy, and he's flying around. It's going to be a challenge. They lost some guys, but at the same time, they develop and draft guys well. We're going to have our hands full."
On what's tough about playing against Steelers CB Ike Taylor: "I think he's a smart guy. He's been around for a while, so he knows what it takes to be successful. I haven't met anyone that talks as much trash as him. So, when I get to play him, it's always pretty fun, because I'm not a guy who talks, but he gets it out of me every single time. *(laughter) *I have a lot of respect for him, and obviously, he's been one of the top corners in the game for a while. You know he's going to bring it, and you have to bring your 'A' game as well."
On how RB Ray Rice has handled his lower yardage totals this season: "I think that Ray [Rice] has handled it as well as you can. Obviously, you're going to be frustrated, especially when you're him [and] you're used to producing a certain way. He's not putting himself above anything else. The biggest thing is that we haven't been winning, and we haven't been doing as well as we wanted to on offense. It's not necessarily about him and his own stats. It's about us as a unit going out there and trying to be the best offense we can be. And we haven't [been] up to this point. We haven't met our own expectations, and he's definitely frustrated with that. I don't think it's necessarily about just his own personal numbers, because if we do what we're supposed to do, then the numbers will come. And at the end of the day, the most important number is us winning."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On if they feel like they can "put the nail in the Steelers' coffin" this week:"No. This is a team that is never going to say die. I think this rivalry is what it is because the teams are so similar, and we would never say die. They're definitely going to come out and they're going to play, and we are expecting the Pittsburgh Steelers."
On if the fact that they are in the bottom of the standings makes the Steelers more dangerous:"I don't really think that matters. This is Ravens-Steelers, and both teams are going to go play a football game in Heinz Field. And they are really good there."
On if he's excited to go against Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger after not playing him last season:"I did not notice that. I did not notice that. I'm excited to line up and play, especially healthy. Anytime I get the opportunity to go out there and play, I'm going to play. There is just something special about this game – this game right here in the NFL, Ravens-Steelers. My bet is we'll probably get the other 30 teams watching it, regardless of how they fare. Everybody's going to be pretty much looking forward to this one."
On if they need to change the pass rush in any way when facing a QB like Roethlisberger:"Yeah, most definitely. He's very tough to bring down, and he's always looking to make a play downfield, especially if the rush breaks down. The guy has won two Super Bowls; that speaks for itself. He's played in three. You've definitely got to alter some things."
On if he senses the same intensity with the Steelers-Ravens rivalry given the turnover of so many players on both teams:"I guess you'll have to ask me at 4:25 p.m. [on Sunday], just because the cast of characters, it is different. There is no [No.] 86 [Hines Ward], and he played a major part in this game. There's no [No.] 92 [James Harrison]. We don't have [No.] 52 [Ray Lewis] on our side, [No.] 20 [Ed Reed] on our side, [No.] 31 [Bernard Pollard] on our side. Definitely the look of this movie is a little bit different than what we've seen before. But like I said, it's Ravens-Steelers, Heinz Field, at 4:25 p.m. And once you get into it, it's going to feel like Ravens-Steelers."* *
On his favorite part about playing at Heinz Field:"I'm going to keep that one to myself. I like it there. It's what a football atmosphere should be. You're playing in a stadium against a team that has so much tradition, and what they're reputation is – that's what football is. That's what a football game should be – like you said, the heated animosity between the two teams, the rivalry and the tradition and the past of the two teams. You've got to love all that and what carries into this game."
On how he feels he's played against the run this year:"I feel pretty good. I've always said I could be better. You never want to hit your cruising altitude when it comes to this game. You always want to be ascending, and every year I'm going to try to critique my game and master my craft so I can be the best complete player I can be and not just in one aspect or another."* *
On if the fact that the Steelers and the Ravens haven't been running the ball well this season changes the level of physicality in the game:"No, I most definitely think both teams are going to address that in this game more than any."
On if there's anything he is still not satisfied with:"Like I've said, you can never be completely satisfied. There are a few things I think we need to definitely tighten up as a team, but that is as a team. No team is perfect. Even the teams that haven't lost yet, they have some things they can work [on]. After six games, we're .500, and me personally, I think we can be better than that. We work hard to be better than that, and it starts with every man in the locker room to get that fixed."