Ravens players comments on facing Titans


Head Coach John Harbaugh

On his evaluation of how QB Joe Flacco has done overall:"I think you have to say he's done well. He's 2-1, he's played well in all three games, rookie quarterback, first three games all in the division – he's played well."

On the Titans' defensive line: "They're one of the best defenses in the league, period. Certainly, one of the best D-lines. [On] the left side there are two Pro Bowl players, and then you forget about Jevon Kearse on the right side. They've got four really good players in there, so it's going to be a challenge for our offensive line. Probably as good as we've seen this year."

On experiencing his first loss as an NFL head coach:"I've lost games before. [If] you're a head coach, you're an assistant coach, you're a player, [then] you've lost games before. So really, it wasn't any different. It was disappointing. And, [we have] a lot of great things to build off of, and we're moving forward."

On whether the Titans are as good as their reputation:"Yes. Tennessee is as good as their reputation. They are a very good football team."

On the status of NT Kelly Gregg:"With Kelly right now, we're sending his MRI pictures to a couple of other doctors. It's a very unusual injury from what I'm told. It's responding somewhat, and we just want to get another feel for what it is. We should know something this week more."

On if there is any chance Gregg might play against the Titans:"No. No chance he's available this week."

On striking the balance with winning and developing a young quarterback like Joe Flacco:"As far as his development versus winning? Is that kind of the question? We're not going to box ourselves into a corner that if Joe doesn't win he's going to be out or if he does win he's going to stay. It depends on what gives us the best chance to win the next week. Troy Smith is back in the mix. I would anticipate down the road Troy playing. He makes our team stronger. To what capacity, I think events will determine. We're developing Joe. That's very important. Winning the next game is the most important issue in front of us week to week. I haven't really thought about defining it. I'm not sure if I want to box myself in. But, no, we haven't said, 'Hey, we're going to develop Joe at the expense of winning, for sure.' And, winning is the No. 1 priority, but developing Joe is a priority. Developing Troy is a priority. Developing our young offensive line – it's all a priority, really."

On whether he envisions using Smith in specialized situations or plays:"We can definitely envision Troy playing. Troy's a really good football player. He's proven that. And, he's going to be on the field for us this year in some form or fashion, for sure."

On getting TE Todd Heap more involved in the passing game:"He's one of our playmakers, and we wanted him involved from the get-go. We're going to continue to work and he's going to continue to work to be involved in the passing game. He's done the things we've asked him to do in terms of blocking, run blocking and pass blocking. Sure, we want him catching more balls, and we're going to keep working on it to make sure that happens. It's really important for us to do that."

On the longevity of Jeff Fisher as the Titans' head coach:"Obviously, what they've done there – from the Houston Oilers through what they've done with the Titans – is about as impressive as probably has been done in the NFL in a long time, certainly, in my span of time in the NFL. He's been the longest-tenured coach. It's very difficult to do because very few people have done it. Obviously, they know what they're doing, and complements to them and to coach Fisher."

QB Joe Flacco

On earning the admiration of fans:"It's always good. I think everybody's been good. From the very first day I've been here, they've been supportive and on my side. We have great fans, so that's what I expect. That's what they've been all about from Day One."

On whether he feels like saying, "I told you so," to those who doubted his ability to start immediately:"No, there's no, 'I told you so.' I'm just glad to be out there playing and helping the team out. I think that's all that matters."

On if things have been easier than expected for him:"I'm in here working hard every week, and I'm going to go out there and give it my all every week. There are going to be good times, and there are going to be bad times. It's been pretty good so far. We've had a lot of different learning experiences where we've been successful, and we've had some bad times. It's all good for us as a team to grow and learn from it. I think later in the season, we'll benefit from a lot of these things that are going on."

On how much he has improved over the past month:"I couldn't even tell you; it's just so much. Any time you're able to go out there and get three NFL games under your belt and all the practice time, I can't even guesstimate how much better I've become because of it. I think it's huge for the learning curve to get out there and experience it for yourself."

On where he has seen the most improvement:"I think a lot of it is mental for me. You're just going out there and adjusting to the speed of the game and getting comfortable with the game plan each week, looking at defenses, learning how to prepare. Playing is the only way you can experience a lot of these things. You can get better sitting and watching, but I don't think you'll get better as quickly. That's what I've been about from Day One. I've been fortunate enough to be put in that position."

On the Titans' ability to generate pressure with their front four:"It's always good for a defense when they can bring pressure with their front four and go back and cover and be confident like that. But, you know, we have a good offensive line, and they've been doing a great job on the year. We're going to expect those guys to be working hard this game and give us some time back there to throw. We're going to go execute our game plan. No matter what they do, I think we plan on being successful. But that's going to come on Sunday. We've got a lot of hard work to do this week, and we'll do that and we'll get it done on Sunday."

On his chemistry with WR Derrick Mason:"Derrick's great. He's a veteran player that's proven himself over the years. He's a guy that you know is going to win for you and is going to make plays for you on Sunday. Any time all things are equal, you know you can look for him to win free and get the job done."

On how it felt getting his first loss:"It's a little different coming into work when you haven't won the game before that. But, in all reality, you've got to put it behind you, and you've got to move on because we've got another abnormal week coming up. We played Monday. This is a short week. We've got to get ready for Sunday. As much it kind of stinks to lose, you've got to put it behind you and move on. It's going to happen in the NFL sometimes. We kind of left one out there, and Pittsburgh took it from us. We've got to move on. Like I said earlier, we'll get better from all these things that are happening to us. Losing to those guys, we're going to have to find something else to get better from, and I'm sure we'll do that."

On Tennessee's defense:"They've been a good defense over the last few years. Teams like that, they've always had a good defense. That's why they've won games the last couple years. They're successful. Obviously, they're a good, physical team that loves to stop the run and put some pressure on you if they can. Like I said, that's what all teams are about. We're going to go execute our game plan and just do what we do."

On what lesson he takes from the Pittsburgh game:"Obviously, we want to limit our sacks. We don't want to lose yardage, and we don't want to turn the ball over. As long as we take care of the ball and limit our sacks and make a few plays, we've got a great defense on our side of the ball. That'll give us a lot of help, and we should be good."

On defensive players giving him encouragement on the sidelines:"It's always good. You know our defense is out there playing as hard as they can. You like to see that they understand that you're out there doing the same thing. That's what we're doing. We're out there playing hard. We understand that things are going to go bad [sometimes], and they do, too. That's why they give us their support, and it feels good to have that."

LB Ray Lewis

On why he says it's personal when other teams run on the Ravens' defense:"It's the bottom line. Running on any defense is the main challenge, and when the coaches go into the game plan and say we can run on this team, they're telling you that they are basically going to out-physical the team. And, that's why it's always personal. Because any time somebody buckles up their chin straps and say we're going to run the ball 30 or 40 times, then they're telling you that we feel that our offensive line can get to your defensive line and we can get to your linebackers, things like that."

On what has been the key to the Ravens' defense being one of the best run defenses the last 10 years:"It's personal; it's personal. That, and the people take it that personal, it just really is. Me being around here for as long, as I've been around here, it's just the bottom line. Every new person who comes in here, the first thing I say is, 'There's something we don't do, and that's we don't let people run the ball.' It's kind of the thing that we all buy into from Day One, and when the ball is snapped, everybody has to find the football."

On the rivalry between the Ravens and the Titans:"Here we go again; here we go again. Those teams always come back up. We were once in the division together to where we had one of the more classic rivalries, and now we're still back to another type of rivals. They're playing great, great football over there, and we're playing good football. So, here we go again. You see some of the same old faces. [Jevon] Kearse, of course, went to another team and now he's back playing at a high level and things like that. They really have their defense playing great, and they're running the ball extremely well and things like that. I just overall think it's going to be a good matchup."

On whether Titans QB Vince Young has sought his counsel and advice as many other players do:"Yeah, I've talked to Vince. We briefly talked about a couple of things and things like that. There are a lot of guys I talk to. I had at least a 45-minute conversation yesterday with Patrick Willis, which is always good. [He's] one of my youngsters and we talk over a lot of off-the-field, on-the-field things. It's just a good way to always connect with a lot of guys."

On whether he's discussed with Young how he's feeling mentally:"No, actually I haven't talked to him since he's been hurt or anything like that."

On how the Tennessee offense has changed without Young in the lineup:"I think it's pretty much the same offense outside of a lot of quarterback drawls and things they used to do with Vince, and of course, they're not going to do that with Kerry [Collins]. He's not as mobile as Vince. If you see their package, their package is pretty much the same. They want to run the ball with LenDale [White], they want to pick Chris Johnson on the edge and really use his speed like that. They're really still doing the same things. Kerry Collins is making a lot of big throws for them. He has a real big arm. I just think they're doing the things they normally do outside of a lot of scrambling things with Vince."

On whether the Titans' speed is a big factor:"I think speed is always a big factor, but everybody in this league is fast one way or another. Whether it's a Willie Parker, whether it's a Fred Taylor, anybody. Chris Johnson is another guy who has a lot of speed. A lot of guys that you see with speed like that, like a Chris Johnson, he doesn't have that much size. You just don't want to let him get on the edge and keep him inside."

On whether he feels Collins is much different today than when the Ravens played him in the Super Bowl:"I couldn't tell you. I haven't watched him like that. [Today] will probably be the first day [of practice] before I get on Kerry Collins [film]. I said, I just think as a team they're playing [well] overall as a team, and I think [Collins], being a veteran in this game, he's managing the game pretty well – playing to their defense. And, I think that's why they're 4-0."

WR Derrick Mason

On how he would rate Joe Flacco's performance overall this season:"I think he's done a great job. I think he's been able to do what we anticipated him doing, and that's to go out and run the offense, make plays when we need to make plays and be smart with the ball. Joe has done all of that. So, I think he's right where this organization wants him at this point in time. He might be ahead of the curve a little bit."

On the rivalry between the Ravens and Titans, his former team:"They look forward to it because it's another game and we look forward to it because of basically the same thing: It's another opportunity for us to go out there and try to pick up a victory. Especially coming off of a hard-fought Monday night game, we want to try to get a victory. That's how we're looking at it."

On how important Baltimore vs. Tennessee was for him when he played for the Titans:"I think each year when I was in Tennessee, and it seems so long ago, but when I was there it had some type of playoff implications and the stakes were always high playing this team. Once we got out of the division we usually played them toward the end of the season and always something was at stake. So, tensions were high because [the Ravens] knew they had to have the game and we knew we had to have the game. It's always an added incentive when you're playing a very good team and the situation is such that you have to win this game in order to get to the playoffs. Now, it's a whole different scenario. It's early in the season and it's just a game that we're looking to go out there and play the way we've been playing the last three games and try to pick up the victory."

On if his strategy has to change because of the Titans' defense being able to pressure the quarterback:"I think our offense line is doing a good job – a great job, actually. [In] this game, you're going to get pressure on the quarterback at times. That's why teams scheme up blitzes and all types of other defensive schemes to try to get at the quarterback. Tennessee is good at rushing with their front four and putting pressure on the quarterback, but that's nothing that we haven't seen. I'm pretty sure the offensive line will do what's necessary to protect Joe, and I think Joe will do what's necessary to get the ball out of his hands when he needs to."

On whether he spends extra time working with Flacco or is there natural chemistry between them:"It developed really the last two games of preseason, and then it has gone on from there. Joe's a very smart quarterback and he understands the game a lot better than a lot of other young quarterbacks would. I think the chemistry has been building not just with me, but with [Mark] Clayton and Demetrius [Williams] and the other guys. He's been doing a good job. We get together after practice, walking off the field, and discuss some things that we need to discuss as far as the passing game or go over some [things] we might not have hit in practice. I think that only helps the passing game. So that, coupled with some other things, has allowed us to do some things in the passing game."

On what the he and the offense may have learned new about Flacco from the Pittsburgh game:"I didn't learn anything new about Joe that I hadn't already [known]. The guy is a competitor. Mentally, he's tough. He is maturing. I say this every week, but he's maturing. The more and more he's out there on the field, he's maturing as a quarterback, and it was evident [in Pittsburgh]. You can pick out some games here and there, but this last game when we needed to score to put it into overtime, Joe did it. He was cool out there, and that's what you've got to have in your quarterback."

On whether he wishes he would have been more vociferous in insisting that he was in bounds for the touchdown in the Monday night game: "I'm going to look up that word in the dictionary. No. It is what it is. I'm not going to sit there and [talk about it] because we had to hurry up and get back on the ball. I'm not going to sit there and argue the catch with the ref, because as I'm arguing the clock is going down. They said it wasn't a catch; I didn't bobble the ball. I went back to the huddle, and then it's up to the coaches whether they want to make the call whether to [challenge] it or not. I guess they didn't see enough to replay it. And that's cool, because we came back and we scored."

On the Titans' defense and why they don't get mentioned as a top-10 defense in the league:"They don't? Man, I believe they are the top two or three in the league in total defense. For this team not to be mentioned defensively, it baffles me, because they have a long tradition of being a very good defense and nothing has changed this year. They have a very good defense. Those guys up front do a great job of getting to the passer. I think they have one of the best outside linebackers in [Keith] Bulluck, who is very ranging at what he does. He can get to the ball and get to the quarterback, cover tight ends and back up the backfield. And then, their back end is playing very well. I don't know who decided to look at defenses and say that this is not one of the best defenses in the league. Year-in and year-out, coach [Jeff] Fisher has those guys playing very well on that side of the ball."

On if he does more at this point in his career to outsmart defensive backs:"I've been, and I don't know why, extremely blessed. Of course, as you get a little bit older things start to diminish. But, I've been extremely blessed to be able to still keep the quickness about me and learning from each and every coach that I've come across. Coach [Jim Hostler] has done an excellent job at making sure I continue that pattern of learning and making sure I continue to hone in on what I need to do as a wide receiver. Clayton and Demetrius, they keep me going, too. I do a lot in the offseason, so when I get in-season my job is a lot easier. My offseason is harder than the actual season. I try to do as much as I can, so when it becomes the regular season I'm ready to go."

DT Haloti Ngata

On the defense's performance against Pittsburgh:"I felt like our defense played great. We had a couple three-and-outs and did a lot of good things. We've just got to get Big Ben [Roethlisberger] down. He's a big guy, and he made plays off of those times we could've hit him and brought him down. We know we can play, and hopefully we can keep that intensity and get a win this weekend."

On why the defense has such success stopping the run:"We practice it all the time. It's something we take pride in. Our front seven, we really hone in on what we need to do, if it's me holding up two guys for our 'backers to get through... If I have one guy, I'm expecting to make the play. There's kind of a trust we have in each other. We practice it and kind of have that feel for each other because we've been around each other for awhile now."

On whether he's playing at a level he never has before:"Yeah, I feel like I am. [I'm] starting to get to know more – not just by myself, but offenses, formations, tendencies and stuff like that – all the way from coaching and how to become more of a student of the game."

On how a short week affects preparation:"Today, I'm a little sore, stiff. A lot of guys are. I think we've just got to get that mental part in. Today's a big mental day for us. It's going to be big for us to get to know their offense and our offense to know their defense. It'll just be a big mental day today."

On preparing for a team like Tennessee that likes to run the ball:"I'm just getting ready to play the run. I love when teams like to run. I love to stop it. The more they run, the more stats I can get, hopefully. I love to stop the run, but hopefully we can make them a one-dimensional team. They are good at running the ball, and [Kerry] Collins is great at passing it, too. So we've got to get that down, too."

On his impression of Titans RB LenDale White:"Big, strong, powerful guy. He's a big guy, and he'll run it down in between the tackles. He'll also pop out and run it out there, too, outside the tackles. He's a great athlete, and hopefully we can just get him down. That Chris Johnson kid, he's also just a real fast kid."

On if they notice and adjust the defense based on which back is in the game:"Kind of. LenDale White, I played against him at USC. Reggie Bush and LenDale White, they kind of had that [situation where] LenDale White was the power guy and Reggie Bush was the big playmaker guy. That's kind of like what it is now. You kind of know what they're going to do, but LenDale White can still run outside the tackles and make those plays. But Chris Johnson definitely loves to run sweeps and stuff like that because he's so fast. I don't blame him, you know?"

On whether the defense can anticipate what might be coming with the different backs:"I guess, yeah, you can. LenDale White's going to run it down to you. Chris Johnson is going to run outside."

On how he approaches one-on-one battles along the line:"I try to win more, but you kind of just focus on your guy. That's how you get open. If you can beat your guy, that's how you can make those tackles. A lot of the time when I'm trying to get to the ball carrier, I'm just reading the offensive linemen and trying to make those plays."

On becoming a focal point of opposing offensive lines:"I feel like offensive linemen are focusing more on me. It's better for us because Ray Lewis can run around now and make those plays. Hopefully, I can just hold those guys down. I probably won't get as many plays, but it's all right – whatever's good for the team."

LB Bart Scott

On how tough Tennessee is:"They're a tough team. They're pretty much like ourselves – play solid defense, run the football, try to have a quarterback that manages the game. Our mission, of course, is trying to stop the run and try not to let Albert Haynesworth run crazy on us."

On Haynesworth:"I think him and Haloti [Ngata] are the only two players like they are in this league. I think a lot of guys are either one or the other. They're not just space-eaters. They're athletic players. They're not the Casey Hampton or the Jamal Williams-type bodies. They're the athletic, muscular, not pot-bellied bellies. No offense to those guys, but you know what I mean."

On Titans RB Chris Johnson:"He's a speedy guy. He's playing well. I think him and the guy from Dallas [Felix Jones] are probably the two rookies who are playing the best at that position right now. An explosive player, change-of-pace back, [he'll] create a great challenge for us. We pride ourselves on being a fast defense, and we're going to have to be fast in pursuit because he's a quick guy."

On whether he's put Monday's loss behind him:"Yeah, my body hasn't, though. We'll work that out. Tough loss. You've got to move on because if you don't, then you'll be sitting in this locker room Monday worrying about what happened to the last loss."

On if not having a bye week later in the season will catch up to him physically:"I'm still a young guy. At least, I like to think that. I've learned different ways and different players learn different ways to take care of your body. Me, I get three massages a week, two by my therapist and one at the spa. That's how I maintain my sanity."

On the importance of getting pressure on the quarterback with four players:"Because now, you just close up a window. A lot of times, when there are eight in the box, it's pretty much man-to-man on the back side. The quarterback knows at least he has an outlet to the 'X,' which is usually the single receiver on the back side."

On starting the Titans game fast:"We've just got to come out and use our crowd to our advantage, use the energy and momentum that we have and just come out strong. Start fast and finish fast. Finish this time."

On what he knows about Titans QB Kerry Collins:"I'm going to sit down and ask Ray [Lewis]. Ray played against him in the Super Bowl, so I'm going to sit down and try to learn all the secrets. I'll talk to Ray a little later."

On the difference between Collins and QB Vince Young:"I'm definitely not going to be worried about [Collins] as a run threat. He may try to pull the ball down like that, but I think he was timed with a sundial – if you're going to worry about his 40 now. A guy like [Young] is different because you've got a guy that can get out of the pocket. You really can't account for that quarterback with the football when you're dropping in coverage. But, when you have a pocket quarterback, it allows you to kind of know where he is and to prep for handling him."

On whether one style of quarterback is tougher to stop than the other:"It poses a different problem. Running quarterbacks give you opportunities for turnovers and to put them out of the game. Their feet aren't set, and when you run around you can't read, a lot of times, down the field. But a pocket quarterback whose eyes are always downfield and is not going to be rattled by pressure can hurt you in another way because he can make all his reads and go through all his progressions."

On if the defense changes for Johnson and RB LenDale White:"Let's see, a slow guy and a fast guy. Of course it changes. LenDale is a between-the-tackles runner. That's obvious, right? You watch the games, right? You could've answered that question."

On what message he has for the home fans:"Just come out. This is an opportunity for us to be able to get off the ball fast and make it hard for their tackles to hear the snap count so we can have our opportunity to get off the ball and create opportunities for ourselves." 

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