Conference call: Ravens head coach John Harbaugh

HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH

(On how familiar he is with the history between the Titans and Ravens)

I would say somewhat familiar. Just as a fan I would watch it, in the past from the other team I was coaching. Talking to the people around the organization here I'm educated on some of the history I guess.

(On if both team's good start to the season will add a new chapter to the rivalry)

Probably, it's not something we really think about in those terms. We have a very important football game against a really good team and that's what our focus is.

(On the challenges of a short week)

It's a challenge game planning-wise, it's a challenge for our guys recovery-wise and focus-wise and all those things. We're confident our guys will be up to the challenge.

(On if Joe Flacco is playing better than he thought in his rookie year)

It's irrelevant. We didn't really have any particular expectations. We were hopeful. We always thought he was obviously worthy of that high pick but I don't think you put a value and say, "Well, this is what he's going to be and then he exceeds it or doesn't." It is whatever it becomes.

(On how Joe Flacco has stood out to him so far)

Well, the fact that he's handled the offense so well. He manages the clock well, he gets us lined up, he gets us in the right formations, he gets the plays run. He's been pretty secure with the football for the most part, he's been accurate and he's been very solid for us and that's not an easy thing for a first-year quarterback to do.

(On his expectations of how defenses will play Joe Flacco)

I think it's different with each team. Also I think everybody's going to try everything with him and if they get a beat on him, if somebody has success doing something, I think we'll continue to see that until we solve it.

(On his thoughts on the Titans defense)

I think they're playing very well. They're one of the best in the league, they are very fast and active, they play hard. I think they're excellent tacklers. It's just a tremendous defense.

(On the matchup of two solid defenses)

Yes, it will be an interesting match.

(On on the status of Willis McGahee)

McGahee's fine.

(On if he expects Willis McGahee to play Sunday)

Yes.

(On if it's been a strain to deal with the injuries at running back)

Well, it's been a strain in the sense that [Willis] McGahee had the knee early on and he's been the bell-cow here last year. Him having the knee scoped during training camp set him back. It also gave us an opportunity to get Le'Ron McClain some more work at running back, and he's done well with that. And also Ray Rice, our rookie, has gotten some reps in there so it's been a positive as well as a strain, I guess.

(On what's changed about the Titans offense since Kerry Collins replaced Vince Young)

I hadn't really studied them with Vince Young other than from a far. We studied them this week with Kerry Collins and that's the offense that we're determined to prepare for. Kerry Collins has a history, he's a veteran quarterback, he knows how to play the game. When I was in Philadelphia, we played him when he was with the Giants a few times. He's obviously capable of playing at a really high level and that's what he's doing right now so it'll be a big challenge for us.

(On if Kerry Collins is the same player he was back then or if he's matured)

I think he's even better. I think he plays around his talent really well. He makes all the throws he needs to make, he's big, he's poised in the pocket. Just really playing well.

(On the challenges of replacing a long-time head coach)

The biggest thing, I think, in any new program is you just try to establish what your identity intended to be and what our value system is going to be. You establish that by talking to guys, and we talked to every guy on the team pretty extensively individually and as we got through minicamps and group-type settings. Then just reinforcing that through events and actions as we go and that's an on-going process.

(On spending time with his dad)

Yeah, he comes in all the time, he's got a locker here in the building. He's been a big part of what we're doing. He also splits time out in California at Stanford with my brother so, I don't see as much of him as I'd like to. Then we've got our sister Joni, who's married to Tom Crean, the basketball coach at Indiana. So the old coach Jack is getting pulled in three different directions right now.

(On his impressions of Jevon Kearse this year)

Yeah, you know Jevon [Kearse] looks healthy again. I think he's back to his old form. Getting upfield, rushing the passer, extending those arms against the run and shedding blocks well and really playing hard. He just looks like the Jevon we had early on there in Philly and I think he's a wonderful guy and a good human being I just really respect him a lot.

(On why Jevon Kearse didn't play up to expectations in Philadelphia)

I think it was the injury, he had the knee. I think that was a tough thing. That hurt him there for some stretch.

(On why Derrick Mason played so well Monday night)

Well, the fact that they were playing a lot of two-deep and he goes inside. [Derrick] Mason can run routes with the best of them, as you guys know and Joe [Flacco] did a nice job getting him the ball.

(On Derrick Mason being only a few years younger than him)

Well, you know [Derrick] Mason, he's a special guy because he's such a hardworker. He's been with the program from the beginning, through the offseason program, all the OTAs and minicamps, made all the practices in training camp. He's just one of those guys that really fine-tunes himself physically.

(On the Titans trying to play the underdog role)

I could see why they'd want to do it but they're definitely not the underdog in this game. I mean, the Titans are one of the best teams right now in the conference, if not the league, and they've earned that.

(On Ray Lewis)

Ray is definitely playing at as high a level as any linebacker in the NFL, and he's as good, or better, than any linebacker in the NFL right now.

(On how Ray Lewis has been getting players emotionally up for games)

Well, I've been around some good ones. Ray Lewis is really special in that way and it's because they respect him so much and because he's such a man of integrity. So when he speaks, they know it's coming from his heart, it's real and he lives it.

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