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Week 9 at Cleveland Browns: Wednesday Transcripts

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement:"I've got a couple of announcements to make: We made some changes on the roster. Today the changes will be made officially, but we talked to the guys last night. We will be releasing Michael Huff and Marcus Spears. Those two guys did a great job for us. We appreciate what they've done. I had a chance to talk to them last night. [They are] good men, good Ravens, and I just appreciate what they did for us. Going forward, that's not to preclude the possibility that they can come back at some point in time and help us in the future. They're in shape, and they're healthy enough to do that. So, that will obviously be down the road as a possibility. We added Omar Brown and Brynden Trawick. Those are two guys who have been on the practice squad. Those are guys who will give us a chance as backup safeties but also special teams players that have done a good job in practice on special teams and in games when they've been in there. It will give us a chance to bolster that area a little bit. On the practice squad, Kamar Aiken, a wide receiver, and Nick Stephens, a quarterback, will be joining us on the practice squad. So, that's where we are at with the roster."

Huff and Spears are two players you brought in during the offseason and one was a starter at one point. Is there any message being sent here? What was the decision-making behind the move? (Jerry Coleman)"We're really not about that, I wouldn't say. To me, there's always the fact of life in the National Football League. And what we'll always try to do is have the strongest roster we possibly can to be as good a team as we possibly can be on Sunday. We feel like these moves move us in that direction. We feel like these are necessary moves that we need to make to be the best team we can be [in] all three phases. Any message beyond that is just … I think guys already understand those things."

Do you see the addition of these safeties helping on special teams in the short term and on defense long term as the Ravens still have a lot of good quarterbacks to face this season? (Joe Platania)"These are two good, young safeties. We have high hopes for both of these guys. Omar [Brown] has been here a year-and-a-half now. Brynden [Trawick was] kind of a surprise guy to make the team the first week or so. [He] had a great training camp. We think they both have tremendous upside on defense and [can give] special teams immediate help, yes."

The Browns will have a different starting quarterback from the first time the Ravens faced them this season. How different is the Browns' offense from the first time around? (Pete Gilbert)"They are better. They've continued to improve. We've played [Jason] Campbell a number of times, and he's an athletic guy with a strong arm that has been around and knows how to make plays. We respect him tremendously. Their offensive line has improved. The skill players have improved. Josh Gordon, obviously, continues to get better the more he plays. We know Willis [McGahee] very well as a running back and a downhill-type of back. Jordan Cameron is really coming on as a premier tight end in the National Football League. He runs every route, and he does it really well, and he's a go-to guy for whatever quarterback they are playing with. So, offensively, they have taken some strides."

What has Elvis Dumervil added to the Ravens' pass rush? (Aaron Wilson)"We have spoken about Elvis [Dumervil] many times. He's everything he was advertised to be, and I would even say much more. He's a tremendous hard worker, a tremendous leader. But from a pass-rush perspective, he's a premier pass rusher. We've got a number of those guys right now. But the top two guys between him and Terrell Suggs, I feel it's as good as any, and throughout the course of the season we will see if it is the best in football. We hope that's the case."

The first time the Ravens played the Browns, the defense recorded five sacks on Brandon Weeden. You mentioned on Monday how well the Browns played against the Chiefs last week. Is it that they are playing better or are the Browns doing something better scheme-wise to shore up the pass protection? (Jamison Hensley)"They have not changed their schemes, no. They're probably blocking a little bit better. Jason [Campbell] did a nice job getting the ball out quickly."

Your thoughts on how the Ravens' rookie class has done up to this point in the season? (Aaron Wilson)"They've done well. I don't have a grade. We'll see, but we're pleased with those guys. Most of those guys are playing and playing well. Some guys are starting. It's a heck of a group. We thought it was in the beginning, and that's proven out to be true."

Does the bye week give you an opportunity for deeper analysis, which may have led to the roster changes you announced today? (Peter Schmuck)"The roster is something that is ongoing every day. We talk about that every day. So, those moves are continuous, and you just try to time them up when they're best for your team – whatever they may be. Hey, sometimes you can predict them – maybe this one was something we could predict a while back – and sometimes you can't because opportunities come down the pike. As far as the other part of it – analysis – sure, it's a chance to really spend some time and look at yourself and make some decisions about what your identity is. It's hard – it's not hard – but it's a process to determine who you are going to be in all three phases, and you really don't know until you start playing games, until you line people up and see how it shakes out. I'd like to think we've done a real good job of that. We're working hard, planting seeds in the morning, working all day and cultivating, if I'm going to use a farming analogy here. And you never know where your profit is going to come from. It could come from this, it could come from that, it could come from somewhere else. But we're going to chase all those things and be the best team we can be. I have really high hopes for this team, and I've told the players that. I really believe this team is going to catch fire."

Do you view the post-bye time as a second season? (Peter Schmuck)"You could, I guess, but the record is still there. Those games still count, but it's the second half of the season. And it's our opportunity to become what we're going to become as a football team. So, we're always chasing that. We're not going to be perfect on Sunday, but we need to be our best right now and hope that will be good enough. But I really believe that we can be a great football team. We've just got to go get it done."

How has Jameel McClain responded physically after seeing his first action since returning from his injury and having the bye week to rest? (Kris Jones)"Jameel [McClain] is 100 percent, had no problems, had nothing coming out of the game – not even bumps and bruises, really. That was really a positive."

How much of a challenge will it be to have both Jameel McClain and Josh Bynes back this week and dividing their playing time? (Matt Zenitz)"It's an opportunity, because anytime you don't have to play quite as many snaps, you're going to be a better player. So, it's going to help Josh [Bynes] and it's going to help Jameel [McClain]. Plus, those guys will be able to play more special teams. It gives us an opportunity to get better everywhere. When you start losing guys to injury, it has a domino effect throughout your team. This will be the healthiest we've been. We have all 53 guys practicing today for the first time all season. That's a good thing."

Can you talk about how tough the Browns are in Cleveland. The Ravens have had a lot of tough, close games over the years? (Ryan Mink)"Every time we play them, it's a tough game, it's a physical game. They've run the ball on us, they've played great defense against us over the years, [and] their pass rushers are legitimate pass rushers. It's always a fight right down to the finish, so we know it will be that kind of game again – at least that's what we are expecting and preparing for."

Matt Elam has said he's become more comfortable each week. How do you see his progress? (Matt Zenitz)"I would say that; I'd agree with that. Every week he looks like he's in better position. He's seeing more things. He's making better decisions back there every week. But they are going to test him. Norv Turner is going to come at him with some new under-over, bend-away-type route that is going to challenge him, and he's going to have to do a good job with it."

Tandon Doss has been a tremendous story this season. Is it safe to say there is nothing at this point you don't trust Tandon to be able to do? (Glenn Clark)"Yes, it is safe to say that. I take a little credit for that one. If you go back and read the quotes … I mean, sometimes I don't know what shakes a guy into becoming what he's going to become, and Tandon's story is going to be a great testimony going forward. But still, I expect him to get better. The sky is the limit for him as a football player, and he's got a ways to go still, so let's keep pushing that. Let's see how good he can still be."

What have you seen from the young defensive linemen, like Brandon Williams and DeAngelo Tyson? Do you feel they are ready to take on a larger role? (Matt Vensel)"Those guys are ready – both of them are ready to play in a starting-type rotation. They've proven it already by the way they've played. We have no concerns about that at all. They're going to play well."

How different do you feel the Browns' running game will be with Willis McGahee? (Mark Zinno)"It's probably not all that different. It's probably the same style that they were with Trent Richardson. Willis [McGahee] is a downhill, hard-running back. He can make a lateral cut. He always comes out the other side. He can get on the edge of a defender and get upfield. He's the same style back, I'd say, as Trent [Richardson]. They haven't thrown the ball as much to him as they did Trent, for whatever reason, but we know Willis has great hands, so we know that he's a threat to do that. But it's a very similar style run game still."

Is the current role of Tandon Doss along the lines of what you originally anticipated he would bring to the team? (Matt Zenitz)"Yes. As an inside receiver, motion, stack guy, running all the combination routes that he's doing – that's what we always hoped to see. We had him outside more last year because of Anquan [Boldin] and Dennis [Pitta]. I think the idea that he can go inside and fill some of that role was something we were hoping to see, and that's what he's doing now."

How do think Haloti Ngata has handled nose tackle? Do you see teams blocking him differently? Do you feel it is affecting the attention he is getting from other teams or is it the same as before? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It's a different position, so he does get different blocking schemes. You get doubled-teamed all the time in there. Every single play you're going to get doubled-teamed as a nose guard, but Haloti [Ngata] can handle it, and he's playing well. And I think Haloti can be even more dominant. I would consider him a dominant player. I want him to be a game-wrecker in there every single play. You look at Haloti, and you say, 'Hey man, wreck the game.' And that's what he wants to do, too."

What has held Haloti Ngata back from being the "game wrecker"? (Glenn Younes)"At times, he has. People give him a lot of attention. Like [we were just] saying, he's going to get double-teamed, [and] they'll hang on those blocks for a long time. Maybe they're a little later getting up on a 'backer than they would against other nose guards. So, he gets a lot of respect in there, too."

DE Chris Canty

On what the releases of S Michael Huff and DE Marcus Spears means around the locker room:"It's shocking. It's a shocking thing. It's one of the things that I haven't gotten used to – being in this business nine years, you still don't get used to it. You forge relationships, you forge a rapport with guys on the field, and to come in the next day and they've been released from the team, and the team is forced to move forward without them [is difficult]. So, obviously there will be a little bit of an adjustment there – particularly on the defensive front – but they made those decisions in the best interest of the organization, and we have a job to do and we have to get it done on the field. Simple as that."* *

On what message is taken from a move like that as a player:"The message is, 'Win,' plain and simple. If you don't get your job done, they're going to find somebody else that can get it done. And in the case of Michael [Huff] and Marcus [Spears], they felt like it was in the best interest of the team to move forward. Whether you agree or disagree with it doesn't really matter; it's their decisions to make and you have to move forward with that and go about the business of getting our job done on the field, which is winning football games."* *

On what he's seen from some of the younger defensive linemen who will need to step up:"Scholarship is over; [you've] got to step up. Scholarship is over, plain and simple. [You've] got to get it done on the football field on Sundays, not in practice. Not to say practice doesn't translate to success on the field, but obviously, we've got to take our practices – the entire football team has to take our practices – to the games, and that's including those younger guys. So, we'll look forward to good things from them moving forward as they continue to get the experience, get the confidence and game situations. I have no doubt that they'll be able to make plays for this football team."* *

On the benefits of playing next to NT Haloti Ngata:"One of the things that you pick up as soon as you get here is just how much of a student of the game he is. And you see that in a lot of the great players, but one of the things, when you're such a big guy … He's such a big guy, he's such an athlete, he can rely solely on that if he wants to to be dominant, but he doesn't. He uses his football IQ, his intelligence to make a lot of football plays and help other guys get into positions to make plays. He really makes everybody around him better. He makes my job easier, he makes Art Jones' job easier, DeAngelo Tyson, Terrence Cody, Brandon Williams. He makes everybody's job easier, and that's pretty awesome to have an opportunity to play next to a guy like that. That's true greatness."* *

On all the offensive changes the Browns have experienced since Baltimore last played them in Week 2:"I think only one position has changed on the offensive line, and that's the right guard. They had [Oniel] Cousins in there, and now it's [Shawn] Lauvao. They've had some continuity with that group, and it shows. It's one of the strengths of their football team, both in the run game and the pass game. They do a lot of things well. They're talented individually, but collectively they do a great job of working with one another. So, that's going to present a challenge for our front."* *

On what QB Jason Campbell brings to the table:"He's a big guy. He's a big guy, and he's got the arm. He can make all the NFL throws. He's got a pretty good football IQ – I think he's a coach's son – so he's been around the game and he understands the game. He's not going to do things that are going to put his team in situations where it can be detrimental. He's a steady veteran."* *

On how he would describe defensive coordinator Dean Pees' pressure schemes:"He emphasizes first and foremost every week [to] stop the run. It's hard to fight the war on two fronts. We've got to be able to try to eliminate the run game in order to do some of the things that we'd like to do against the passing game, [like] being able to pressure a quarterback. It's hard to rush the passer on second-and-four and third-and-two, if you get my drift. So, I think that's the No. 1 thing that we go into every week, and what he emphasizes is being able to stop the run – playing good, fundamentally sound team defense against the run."* *

On what the difference is in Cleveland's running game with RB Willis McGahee as the new starting back:"A lot of the guys in the locker room are familiar with Willis; he was here. He's a hard-nosed running back; he's going to stick it up in there. There are not a lot of gimmicks to his game; he's just a tough guy. He's just a tough guy, and he's going to have a little juice about him in this game, obviously, playing against a former team. I kind of know what that's like, so he's going to be ready to go. He's going to be roaring out of there, and we've got to be prepared for that. We've got to be able to match that intensity."* *

On how important it is that the team is pretty healthy entering the second half of the season:"Well, it's a war of attrition in the NFL. You try to keep all your guys healthy, and unfortunately, it's a 100 percent injury rate in this business. So, you're going to lose some guys, but you try to keep your team as healthy as possible. We're healing up; we're getting healthy. We had a bye week, we had an opportunity to get some guys feeling a little bit better, and hopefully that translates into great preparation and peak performance on Sunday."  

QB Joe Flacco

On if he's hungry to get back out on the field after a few losses and the bye week:"I think you are always hungry to get back out on the field, no matter what. We came in a couple of days on our bye week and got some good practices in. Honestly, I think everybody's mindset was pretty good, and we really didn't let it affect us too much throughout the bye week, and we're coming back ready to go. After a loss, you're always eager to get back out on the field, but I think our outlook on things is pretty good, and we're just excited to get back out there, just like we are every week."

On if the release of veteran defenders S Michael Huff and DE Marcus Spears grabs the attention of players around the locker room:"I don't know. It's so [odd] when you hear about these things or how you hear about them. You're so used to going about your business, and going to your meetings, and going to practice, and going to your meetings, and doing a little bit of work and going home … Sometimes you don't hear about these things. I'm sure there are guys in there that probably haven't even heard it yet, or are probably just now looking over at the lockers and saying, 'Oh, wow.' We're just so caught up in what we're doing that a lot of the time you don't even realize it. We talked with a couple of guys about it this morning just a little bit. Like I said, 'Oh, wow, did you hear this?' But like I said, we are so caught up in what we're doing that you just go back to work."

On if what needed to be addressed in the running game was addressed during the bye week to help make it better:"What do you really address? I mean, there's an issue, you talk about it, you work on getting it better and you have to go out there and play well. That's how you address things is by going out there on Sunday and doing it well and getting yards. All the other stuff is really just talk. It's just a matter of going out there and doing it."

On if he still views the Browns as a formidable rival even having beaten them in the last 11 meetings:"Of course. Look at the last game. We didn't score a point until the second half, and we had to play a really tough game to pull one out. It's always a really good game. We haven't won 11 straight on accident, and we haven't planned on winning 11 straight. We've taken them one game at a time, and it just so happened that it's worked out this way. I think that shows you that we've had a good mindset and we've been able to take it one at a time. We know that they're a good opponent, so we don't take them lightly in any way. They're a physical front. They're a good secondary that hasn't let up a lot of yards at all this year. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us, and that's kind of how we look at it. We're just excited to get back out there and go put it to the test."

On what the Ravens can change in order to ensure a faster start in games:"Like I said earlier, there's nothing you can really do in terms of practice and stuff like that to ensure anything. You practice to give yourself the best chance to play the best, and it's a matter of going out there and playing. Once we go out there and play well early on, then people will forget about it and we'll forget about it to a certain extent. Listen, that last game we played at Pittsburgh, we had three real possessions in the first half and we had a little drive there at the end of the half. I go back to it, we didn't necessarily start slow that game; we needed to get touchdowns and we only got field goals. So, we're heading in the right direction. We've just got to continue to get better at practice each week, and then we've got to make sure it translates on Sunday."

On whether the offense ever scripts plays for the beginning of the game:"Yes, we script plays. Obviously, depending on the third-down situations and things like that, you can get off point a little bit. But yes, we script a handful – not just one set of 15 – we script a handful of sets of those and use those as points to get back on track."

On if the offense is clicking right now and starting to come together with all of the new personnel:"Listen, we've got a long ways to go. We haven't been operating the way we want to, but we're heading in the right direction. I think we are starting to create an identity and go after something. We're just excited about doing that."

On seeing WR Tandon Doss emerge as such a big contributor to the offense and what might have clicked for him:"Guys that have talent, you've got to put them out there and you've got to give them a chance to play. You can see that Tandon has talent, and it's just a matter of getting that experience, getting comfortable out there on the NFL football field and getting some more confidence in yourself. We're all confident, we all have talent, but going out there and doing it at this level always reiterates to yourself that you can do it. And that's what he's been able to do. He's been able to go out there when he's needed to – and that's been a lot recently – and he's had success. And anytime you can go out there and have success, it's just going to help you and help you and help you in the future. I heard John [Harbaugh] say, 'We need him to get better.' And that's the truth. He's gotten to the point where he's playing really [well] for us, and like I said, he's a very talented player, and he's just going to get better and better."

On if it was an adjustment having T Eugene Monroe at left tackle, and if it was, if the adjustment period is over:"You've got to ask the linemen. I don't really pay attention. I drop back and try to feel where I'm going. (laughter) It's just the truth of it; I've trusted him to do his job. If I get hit, then I usually don't know it until after I'm on the ground. It just is what it is, and I think he's doing a great job. I think he's going to be a really big factor for us. So, that's all I can really pay attention to is after the fact when we go back and see how well he is doing. I think he's doing a great job. I think our linemen – 'K.O.' [Kelechi Osemele] especially – will get used to playing with each other over there and things will get better and better."

On whether there is an element of luck, or if it's more preparation that has allowed him to avoid injuries during his career as an NFL quarterback:"There's a lot of things that go into it, I'm sure. You definitely have to be fortunate though. There are so many freak things that can happen that you really have no control over. You have to be fortunate enough to avoid those things, and I have been up to this point."

RB Ray Rice

On why he has played so well in Cleveland: "I don't know. It's a divisional opponent. We know every win counts. They've got a pretty good front. Every year, it's always a challenge. I don't know what the deal is in Cleveland – the grass or something like that, I don't know. (laughter) *Maybe there's something in the grass out there, I don't know. I always look forward to playing these guys. They're a very tough front. Obviously, we know what they're ranked statistically on defense. They get after it. I watched them last week. I had a chance to sit up there and watch them against [Kansas City]. I always try to watch how they do against other running backs. They always do a great job. We've definitely got our hands full."* **

On how important the bye week was to get healthy: "It was every bit much needed. I felt myself turning the curve after the Pittsburgh game. I felt pretty good. I've been coming out of games getting better and better each week. So, having a week where you're not even getting touched – that definitely pays dividends. So, I got a chance to enjoy my family as well. So, that is always special. You put a two-in-one deal – you get to enjoy the kid [his daughter] and get healthy at the same time. It really felt good."

On the addition of RB Bernard Scott: "I've always admired the guy. He was definitely the scat back in Cincy – quick-hitter, speed. We've always had that continuity here with the running backs. As much as I was the guy, even last year we had three running backs active every week. It was myself, [Bernard] Pierce, and Anthony Allen. Now with Bernard Scott, we just added another third dimension to our backfield. You've got to have backs going through the season. This has been my first year dealing with something [a hip injury] that is not what you would call normal for me. But at the same time, we play a position that's very physical. Having all hands on deck – it really helps us out, especially going forward for this last push."* *

On if the Ravens' success has a lot to do with how he plays: "It definitely is a team game. I think collectively, as an offensive unit, if we do our part, we score points, we score touchdowns, and I'm able to play at the level I know I'm capable of playing at, obviously, we'll do a lot of good things going forward. But to solely point out one guy, I definitely don't feel that kind of pressure. Even last year, as much as they say I'll get my touches or whatever it was … Yes, you want the touches, but you want to be successful as well. The overall goal is to win. We've won a lot of football games around here. That's what I'm used to, and obviously, I'm used to contributing. So, that's what I'll look forward to continue going forward. Being that I am getting back healthy, obviously, I can put my best foot forward out there and just try to put my team in a position where we can win games. With that being said, I'll just need to be Ray Rice on Sunday. I don't need to do anything more, anything less. [If] an opportunity comes, I've got to make the play. And obviously, if it comes in a situation – situational football – that's what we all get paid to do."

On the incident with DT Phil Taylor from the last game against Cleveland: "It's old. There's nothing that came out of it. We were two guys jawing at each other, and I had my mouthpiece in, so when I went to say something back to him, it looked as if I projected towards him. But I had my mouthpiece in, I was saying something, he was saying something, and then, obviously, that's what happened. We'll leave that at that. Phil Taylor is a great, young player. He's coming along very well. He's making plays in their run game. [He's a] dominant force. I've got tremendous respect for him. He's a guy, as long as I'm in the AFC North, it looks like we'll be going at each other two times a year. *(laughter) *That was the past. I've got to keep my head level in those situations. I don't ever want to feel myself in a situation to make it seem like me and [another] guy have problems. I don't have a problem with them. But you know what? Guys talk – that's part of their game. And I really don't want it to be part of mine. I'll do my best to channel my emotions, knowing that those guys are going to make some plays. Hopefully, we'll come out making a little bit more."

On if this week feels like a must-win game with Cincinnati owning a 2.5 game lead in the division:"Every game is a must-win if I'm being honest. The Bengals are playing good football; we'll leave them where they're at. Obviously, we've been down this road before, but it just happened a little bit later in the year. We were always a little bit above .500, but we've been down this road even last year. So, we've just got to channel our emotions as a team and not hit the panic button and go out there and just play football. We're a resilient bunch. We can't say we're not working hard. Hard work is not something we worry about, but we do have to go out there on Sundays, go out and execute and play the game at a high level. Even with the changes, we've showed glimpses and things that we can be a good football team. We've just got to put it all together."* *

On if they've talked about it as a team, being down this road before, but never this early:"It is new, but like you said, we've got veteran guys on this team. You just saw a guy in Chris Canty, [Terrell] Suggs, myself, Joe Flacco, Haloti [Ngata] – there's a core group here that's been here long enough to understand what the situation is. In the meantime, like I said, I've been enjoying my teammates, everybody has been positive and supporting each other, and I just firmly believe we know what's at stake. We know what time of year it is. I think coach Harbaugh will tell you we've built this team on November and December football to obviously have a chance to play in January, and then you know what happens after that. That's where we're at these next couple of weeks. If you want a chance to play in January, you've got to take care of your business in November and December. And it just so happens the first of the month is coming up, and we start our new chapter right now."* *

On if he feels like the AFC North in general is a little bit packed in a tight race this year:"It's been like that my whole professional career. I don't care who we're playing, whether Cleveland's record was what it was, Pittsburgh has always been there, they're a resilient bunch … They're going through some things. Cincinnati, we've always felt like they were a play or two away from being a dominant team. So, it's all shaped out the way – at least I've been around the AFC North for over the last six years – but needless to say, when you put your shoulder pads on, and you come out of an AFC North game, you definitely know you were in a fight. Those Mondays, as much as I get my work done in the weight room, Tuesdays, yeah, I'm in here icing down pretty good."

OLB Terrell Suggs

On the surprise of S Michael Huff and DE Marcus Spears being released: "They kind of hinted that we were going to be moving some guys. It just sucks, but it's part of the business, and we've got to continue on with our season."* *

On if the Browns' offense is different from the first game in Week 2: "Not really. They're really good at home, and they're a really good football team. I expect the same kind of game. When we go down there, there is always a little turmoil, but that is to be expected."* *

On how big this game is: "It's November football. At this point, they're all big – [especially] after the bye. They all count. Not to say the ones before didn't, but these decide whether or not you get a chance at greatness."* *

On the challenges QB Jason Campbell presents as a runner:"Even Brandon Weeden is capable of making some plays with his feet.  Jason Campbell can do that, too – step up there and run the ball a little bit. But, you've got to pin all the quarterbacks in this league."* *

On if the team is a "ticked-off" team coming back from the bye: "You never want to leave after a loss, but like I said, all of them count now, and we know that."

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