Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Quarterbacks Coach Sean Ryan
RB Andre Ellington
QB Tom Savage
Conference Call with Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What have you thought about C Nick Martin’s development this year?
“I think this is in many ways a rookie year for him. I mean, he’s not a rookie anymore, but just relative to the injury last year. I think he’s gotten better and better every week. Very tough, very strong, athletic, smart. Everything that you’re looking for in a center. Great guy. (I) love coaching him. He’s an important part of what we do.”
Can you talk about the challenge of going against Ravens DT Brandon Williams?
“This guy’s one of the best, if not the best, inside tackle, Brandon Williams. Williams is, for a man his size, 340 pounds, 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3, he’s very light on his feet, very powerful, very quick. So, it’s a big challenge. It’s a big challenge for Nick (Martin) and everybody on the inside.”
WR DeAndre Hopkins was not at practice today, is there something going on with him?
“No, he’s all right. He rode the bike a little bit today. He’ll be there Monday night.”
What does WR DeAndre Hopkins do best?
“I think he does a lot of things really well. I think that he’s got great hands. I think he’s a very good route runner. I think he’s very, very competitive. I think he’s got a great ability to get both feet in bounds on the sideline. I think he knows our offense inside and out, so we can move him around and play him in all the different positions. I think he can play, obviously outside, but I also I think he can play inside. He’s got a great feel for the game and he’s come up big for us a lot this year.”
Since the first game against Jacksonville, you guys have given up 86 yards a game rushing. How have you been able to sustain the run defense?
“I think guys, really I know it sounds simple, but it’s really just guys doing their jobs, really setting the edge, playing their gaps, building a wall inside, not overrunning plays from the linebacker position, staying patient, staying kind of behind the back if the back’s going out here to the left I’m kind of staying behind, I’m not overrunning it where he can cut back. I think the edge has been set very well for the most part. I think (Jadeveon) Clowney’s doing a really good job of doing what we’re asking him to do. I think B-Mac’s (Benardrick McKinney) playing at a very high level. I think Zach Cunningham, D.J. Reader – I think it’s real hard to move him on the inside. I think he’s a very, very good run defender, very good inside tackle. So, I think everybody’s doing their job pretty well.”
How important is it this week for QB Tom Savage to have another good showing so he can build some momentum?
“No question. A quarterback has to play a good football game, a turnover-free game. I think last week on the interception, that could go either way however you judge that. The ball was batted in the air, tight coverage. But the strip sack in the pocket, he’s got to take care of the ball. Those are big things. Baltimore is No. 3 in the league, tied with New England, in the takeaway, giveaway category. They’re plus eight. They’ve taken it away 23 times and they’ve only given it up 15 times. We’re like 24th or 25th. We have to flip that script. We’re minus five. That’s a big, big deal. We have to flip that script. So, I think if we can – and a lot of that starts with the quarterback, but anybody that handles the ball, they need to do a great job of having 100 percent ball security on Monday night. I really feel good about the way Tom’s (Savage) playing. I think that he’s doing a good job. He’s taking what the defense gives him and he needs to continue to do that.”
QB Tom Savage said he wasn’t sure what the issue with the fumbles has been and that he isn’t a fumbler. What do you think is going on with the fumbles?
“Well, I think you got to have a feel for when the pressure’s getting around you. I think a lot of that comes with experience. I think in practice you can never simulate how fast that rush is actually coming, and so when it’s in the game, you need to really speed up your alarm, your silent alarm. You really have to understand, look it’s coming and look, maybe we don’t have it blocked very well (and) you got to protect the ball. And I think that all comes with experience, and he knows that. He knows that he can’t do that anymore.”
What are your thoughts on RB Andre Ellington?
“It was good to get him. It was good to have a shot to get him. Good quickness, good speed. A guy that can do a lot of different things. Can maybe help us on special teams. Today (he) seemed like a quick learner. Put him in there and got some reps today. Looking forward to coaching him.”
You all have given up a lot of touchdown passes. How much is the rush and how much is the coverage?
“I think it’s a combination. I think when, in this league with the rules the way they are, you can’t touch anybody after five yards and if you’re not getting a pass rush and you allow the quarterback to hold the ball, it’s going to be hard to cover guys. It really is. I think if you look at the tape and you look at the times where we’ve combined coverage and rush, we’ve been in good shape, but when we haven’t had a rush, it’s been tough to hang on back there.”
What adjustments does a receiver have to make when he’s going between quarterbacks?
“Look, I don’t know. I think that everybody throws a little bit different ball. It’s really more the quarterback getting used to the different receivers. Everybody runs a slant route a little bit different, a stop route a little bit different, a comeback a little bit different. It’s more the opposite of that. It’s not – the receivers, as long as the ball’s in the area, they’re professional receivers, they’re going to catch the ball. That’s what they’re paid to do, is to get open and catch the ball. That’s their two primary jobs. So, I think it’s more the quarterback getting used to the different receivers. That’s where the chemistry really has to come along quickly.”
With the way that Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs has been able to bounce from two Achilles tears in his career, as a coach, how hopeful does that make you guys for a player who has suffered that injury on your team to come back from that?
“It’s funny you brought that up because we were just talking about that this morning. It’s all a matter of where the Achilles was torn, to be honest with you. I think if it’s torn in the middle of the Achilles, you probably have a little bit of an issue, but when it’s torn near the base – I’m not a doctor, don’t get me wrong. This is what was told to me. I don’t even play one on TV. That was a joke. It’s Thanksgiving. It really has to do with where it tears. So, that’s what was explained to me. I don’t know about Terrell (Suggs). Obviously this guy, Suggs, is playing at a high level. This guy – I can remember calling plays against him in 2009 in New England and having to know where he was on every single play, and that was when they had Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, just go down the list, (Haloti) Ngata inside. They had some great players, and he’s still there. It’s a testament to him. Great football player, and I think he’s been able to overcome that because of his own work ethic. I think with (D’Onta) Foreman – I think that’s who you’re referring to – I think it’s going to come down to, it’s going to be a rehab process. Look, pair him up with Deshaun Watson. They can rehab together. I bet Deshaun will push him and he’ll push Deshaun and that’ll be a good thing. Foreman will be back ready to go when he’s healed up.”
Is RB D’Onta Foreman’s Achilles tear low to the base and that’s a good sign?
“I don’t know. I don’t know that. That’s what I’m saying. Again, they were talking to me about the process of it. I didn’t get into the details. I just know that they feel very good about his surgery and where he’s going to be.”
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh praised the living daylights out of you a while ago.
“John Harbaugh’s a great coach. He’s a Super Bowl coach. Good friend. What else can you say? He’s been the head coach there since 2008. He’s won a bunch of games, does a great job. They have a very, very tough team which really is what he’s all about. He’s competitive and they’re very tough on defense, tough on offense. Special teams are real good, obviously, he was a special teams coach for a long time. I have a tremendous amount of respect for John.”
What’s the Thanksgiving schedule around here and also for your family?
“Well, the players will be off tomorrow (and) the coaches will work. I’m going to put the turkey in the oven in here, probably around 7 a.m. when I get in. It’ll be done by 5 (p.m.). I told my family I probably won’t be home for Thanksgiving. Nobody really was too concerned about me not being home for Thanksgiving. The coaches and I are going to share turkey tomorrow and break film down. I’m kidding. I mean, here we go. No, we’re going to work tomorrow. The players will be off. They’ll be back to work on Friday.”
Will RB Alfred Blue be 100 percent healthy Monday night?
“I don’t think anybody’s 100 percent but I think Blue will be ready to go.”
Do you have any hesitation at all to run RB Alfred Blue out there like you did with RB D’Onta Foreman?
“I don’t have any hesitation putting Alfred in a game, no. None at all. He has gained 100 yards in games before in the past for us. He’s come up big for us – Cincinnati, Cleveland – in the past. Those are the only two I can remember but there’s been more than that. He runs hard, he’s been practicing well. He’s done a good job for us on special teams. No hesitation to put Alfred Blue in the game.”
How have you seen OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney’s intelligence show up on the field or in the meeting room?
“I think when you watch him and you see how we move him around on the field – I mean, he plays a lot of different positions. Each one requires different communication, so that shows it right there. Then, in the meeting, when the questions are asked, a lot of times even though you may be asking this guy over here, he’s the one answering the question. You almost have to get him, ‘Hey, relax. We’re asking this guy.’ He’s got a real good knowledge of what we do. He’s got a real good knowledge of football.”
Do you think ILB Dylan Cole will be back soon?
“Yeah, I think he’s got a shot to play.”
“Yes. It’s going to be hard to figure out who’s inactive, to be honest with you guys. Relative to what we have on the 53 right now, it’ll be interesting to see what direction I go there.”
What’s the plan next week for ILB Brian Cushing coming back from the Reserve/Suspended list?
“We’ve talked about that. Look, we’re going to get him back in the building and see how he’s doing and kind of go from there.”
Have you noticed a higher sense of urgency from OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney knowing that DE J.J. Watt and OLB Whitney Mercilus are out?
“I think JD, no matter who’s out there, he really plays on Sundays. He’s grown a lot since he came here. He practices hard. He plays very, very hard on Sundays no matter who’s out there. He plays with a great sense of urgency and he tries to really make a play on every play. He has a real knack for going to the ball, he can chase plays from behind, it’s hard to run at him. Like I said, we move him around. I think he plays the game with a real sense of urgency.”
How has QB T.J. Yates done since he got back here?
“Good. I like T.J. I think we think very highly of T.J. He’s very smart, he’s great in the room. He’s really picked up right where he left off when he was here before. I think he’s done a good job. He’s really done an excellent job as the No. 2.”
Do you have to ease ILB Dylan Cole back in slowly?
“I don’t think you can do that. I think maybe you can do that relative to practice, but once they play you’re not easing them in. It’s this time of the year. They got to go, you know what I mean?”
Are you hopeful that WR Will Fuller V will play on Monday?
“I’m not sure on that one yet.”
With all the injuries you guys have sustained this year, how much does it help that we’re in one of the preeminent healthcare hubs in the country?
“There’s no question about that. Just the proximity and then the level of care that you get over there, I think it’s the best. Some places where I’ve been, whether it’s college or the pros, you had to go a long way to get an MRI, get a doctor’s visit. Maybe it was 45 minutes to an hour drive. Here, it’s right there and it’s the best. We have great doctors, a great medical team here. Yeah, there’s no doubt that that’s a great part of our organization, no doubt about it.”
Do you view it as an advantage that you guys don’t have to play many games in cold weather?
“I’ll be honest with you, I love this time of the year and football when it is a little chilly. I think, for us in Houston right now, it’s a little chilly, so we’ll get out there on Friday, we’ll practice outside on Friday. It won’t be what it’s going to be in Baltimore but our guys come from all over the place. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I think our guys, we look forward to No. 1, Monday night, and I think we all look forward to playing these post-Thanksgiving games.”
QUARTERBACKS COACH SEAN RYAN
QB Tom Savage said you gave him quite a speech before last game. What did you say to him?
“I think whenever you’re getting guys ready for a game, I think you try to do anything you can to draw on anything you can, any past experiences you’ve had, and try to make them relatable to the player. Just do what you can to get those guys ready, give them another perspective, maybe, about where you’re seeing things from, and that’s really all I did. It’s really all I did. I would say this, that any success Tom has on the field, it really goes back to his work ethic, how he approaches the game, how important his job is to him, what he did all through the spring, what he did in training camp. So, that’s really the key to Tom playing well.”
Did you say or do something different with QB Tom Savage before last game that you don’t normally do?
“I kept him afterward and we just had a conversation. It was things that I was thinking about during the week and things that I thought were applicable to him that might help him with a different perspective (and) way of looking at things. That was that.”
What are some things you can do to help QB Tom Savage with ball security?
“What you do is you go through individual drills. Almost every drill that we had today, we added a little part of someone smacking at the ball, him stepping up. He’s frustrated as much as anybody else. He realizes we can’t turn the ball over. We were very fortunate last week that we got away with it, but we know that. You can’t turn it over, he’s aware of it. You just continually preach it, you talk about two hands on the ball, you point it out every example you can throughout a practice and then you try to incorporate that into every drill that you do.”
What do you think it does for QB Tom Savage’s confidence to have such a better game last week than his previous two?
“I think any time you play well, it’s going to help your confidence. You’re going to realize that there’s certain things that you’re capable of doing and I think you always know that. The athletes at this level always know what they’re capable of, they have it there, but when things aren’t going well for you, it’s hard to keep that at the forefront of your mind until you have a little bit of success. Obviously I think it will do a lot of good for his confidence, but now the key is you have to stack these successes. We’ve got to come in Monday night and we’ve got to improve, we’ve got to keep making improvements. There’s certainly plenty to make and you’ve got to just keep stacking them, keep doing it, keep building on it and if you’re able to that, now your confidence can really take off.”
Do you ever draw on your experiences with Giants QB Eli Manning to help QB Tom Savage?
“Yeah, I’m sure I have. I try not to focus on other players that I’ve coached too much, but every experience that you’ve ever had as a coach – I think, whether it’s from other players that you’ve coached, other coaches that you’ve been around, the coaches you’re around now that you hear different things, any time that kind of sparks an idea in your mind that you feel you can take to that player and make a point. I think all of us do that. I know for a fact I’ve mentioned Eli in the room, his professionalism, the way he does things, his work ethic. I know I’ve talked about that. His demeanor. That guy’s just a straight-line guy through the good, through the bad, all of it, so I know I have talked about him in the past, as I’m sure I’ve talked about guys that I’ve coached at any level I’ve been at.”
You coached Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. What similarities do you see with him and WR DeAndre Hopkins and how good is Hopkins on the sideline?
“I mean, the first thing that stands out to you, and I’m sure it’s probably what you guys are talking about, his footwork on the sideline is as good as I’ve ever seen. The guy it reminds me of is Amani Toomer in New York when I was there with him. He was one of the best I’ve ever seen with his feet around the sideline and on the end-lines. It’s uncanny what DeAndre’s able to do. You couple that with his ball skills and how he gets his body to the ball and is able to make some of the catches the guy makes. Between his ball skills and his feet, it’s as good as I’ve ever seen.”
How much of WR DeAndre Hopkins’ skill is attributed to his work ethic?
“I think it speaks for itself. You don’t just show up on Sundays and make those plays. Those plays come through repetition, those plays come from catching a thousand balls, they come from working sideline drills, working end-line drills, working back shoulder catches, working high balls, working low balls. I mean, it speaks for itself, his ability and what he’s able to do on Sundays really shows you what kind of work the guy puts into it.”
Can you teach a guy concentration and focus or is that something he has to develop independently?
“I think you can help it just through working it with him and incorporating it into some drills or throws throughout the week and throughout the spring and training camp. I think you can help it. There’s got to be a little bit of that that’s innate in the guy, I think, to build on. I think you can certainly kind of make it better and improve on it.”
Do you think WR DeAndre Hopkins playing basketball helped his hands?
“Sure. Absolutely. I mean, I just think any time a football player brings skills from another sport, whatever it is, I think it’s helpful. It’s hand-eye coordination, it’s footwork. It’s all those things that work together, so I think any time you bring that from another sport where you’ve used those skills and you’ve had success, it’s going to help.”
Is it impressive that WR DeAndre Hopkins has been able to put up elite receiving statistics even with offensive struggles over the years?
“Yeah. Again, I think it’s a testament to the guy being a playmaker. It really is. You put the ball in his catch radius, which is a pretty impressive catch radius, and he makes plays. So, sure, it’s impressive.”
Do you see other teams focusing a lot of their game plan on WR DeAndre Hopkins?
“Yeah, I think so. Obviously there’s no secret. OB (Bill O’Brien) stands up here and tells you guys every week there’s no secret that we’re going to throw the ball to Hop. Defenses know it. They’re smart coaches and they do what they can to try to neutralize that, but obviously he’s still able to go out and make plays and be productive for us.”
How much do gloves have to do with receivers making acrobatic catches?
“I’m sure they help. I can’t answer that but I’m sure it plays some sort of part in it. I don’t really know to what extent. You definitely see more of it. I do think, though, one of the things that I’ve noticed in working with Odell Beckham Jr. a few years back was that that was a skill he worked. For whatever reason, whether you agreed with it as a coach, where, ’I don’t know if we should be working this skill. It’s great when you make a play like that because you have to, but I’m not sure we should be really working on it.’ But that guy, he’d be on the JUGS machine and he did it as a competition with Jarvis Landry when they were at LSU. So, for as much as you say, ‘Yeah, I’m sure the gloves don’t hurt,’ I mean, these were things that these guys worked on and they took pride in it.”
RB ANDRE ELLINGTON
WR Bruce Ellington said you were a role model for him. What do you think about that?
“Yeah, I definitely was. But Bruce is a sharp guy. He’s fun to be around. He’s a pleasure. I’m sure the guys love him out here and hopefully he can keep that personality going.”
What kind of running back are the Texans getting in you?
“Electrifying. Hardworking, dedicated and just willing to put it on the line.”
What’s it like to have a lot of familiarity in this locker room?
“Oh man, it’s going to be exciting, especially this week. We’re (Clemson) facing South Carolina in college. There’ll be a lot of smack-talk around here.”
WR DeAndre Hopkins talked about how close you were in college. What’s your perspective on that?
“Oh yeah, Nuk was my boy. I was there, but when he first got there, we started hanging out right away. He’s a great guy, he’s from Clemson, so it was always good to get with him and get out and see the city a little bit. He’s a great guy.”
What do you think about the way WR DeAndre Hopkins has blossomed in this league?
“I always said it, before he even got here, that he would be what he is today. A lot of people doubted it but he believed, and that’s why he’s doing what he’s doing.”
What made you think that Houston would be the place you were going to end up?
“Just the brotherhood that they have around here. The guys that are on the team, they know a lot about me and they all think highly of me. So, I knew they would put a word in for me.”
The Cardinals probably just could have left you here on Sunday.
“I had to pack, but yeah, it would have been nice. But I’m here now.”
Does it feel like high school again, playing with WR Bruce Ellington?
“No, it ain’t high school.”
Does the comradery feel like high school?
“Oh yeah, definitely. I’m going to enjoy it. It’s going to be fun, but we’re here for one reason and that’s to win games.”
What has your family thought about you signing with Houston?
“They’re loving it. They’re on cloud nine right now. They’re all excited about it now because we don’t have to buy separate tickets. We can all put them all together. It’s going to be good.”
QB TOM SAVAGE
How much of a boost did the win over the Cardinals give you?
“It helps, for sure, going out there and getting a win and showing the team that you can do it and handle it. Hopefully this trend is going upward and we’ll just keep it going.”
We saw you get out of the pocket a little bit.
“Yeah, barely, but enough. That’s all you really need in this league, is get out of the pocket a little bit to make a play. Guys made some huge plays for me.”
You mentioned after the game that that was a different deal for you. How do you adjust to all that stuff, working on the run like that?
“I was kind of joking. Obviously that’s what this position is about. You’re never going to just completely be in the pocket and you need to be able to escape sometimes and go make a play.”
What are your thoughts on the Ravens defense?
“I think they’re a great defense. We definitely got our work cut out. I know we’re really all excited to go out there and compete.”
What do you see from Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs, who is 35 years old?
“He just really hasn’t lost a step. He’s a strong player. He’s been in the league for 14, 15 years. Those guys have seen it all. So, you have to have your work cut out and I know we’re really excited for this opportunity.”
This is going to be a physical match because of their big corners.
“Absolutely. They’re aggressive corners. They’re big. Their secondary’s – they’re all vets out there so they’ve seen it all. So, we definitely got our work cut out and I know, like I said, I keep saying, but we’re really excited about this.”
When you watched the film, what did you see in your performance?
“I think it’s just really, obviously the two turnovers. You don’t want to turn it over. This whole fumble deal, I don’t know where this has really come from. I’ve never been a fumbler in my life. I think it’s just really protecting the ball when you’re getting hit and just kind of moving past some of the turnovers. I think there’s two different directions you can go in that game. You have two turnovers, you’re starting to hear the boo birds a little bit and you could either fold or say, ‘You know what, I’m going to go out there for my team and pull a win out.’ That’s really all that matters, is winning.”
Is that a hard thing to do?
“It is and it isn’t. Listen, it’s an entertainment business. They’re not booing me, they’re booing the product. That’s what I think a lot of people have to realize is, if they met me they wouldn’t boo me, they’d like me, I’m sure of it, at least I hope. But, I mean, actually, you just got to go out there and you got to perform. Once you do that and you can see that it starts to take a turn and the players start to rally around it and that’s the most important part.”
Was that kind of a crossroads moment for you, when you heard the boos and things weren’t going quite right?
“Yeah. I think it was more coming off the sideline and seeing the teammates. Really, they’re the most important part. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to keep throwing the ball down the field, I’m not going to get gun shy and get worried about getting booed or throwing an interception or another strip sack. I’m just going to keep going out there and playing and that’s what the guys deserve. The biggest regret you’ll have in life in this whole deal is holding on to this too tight. I think you’ll regret that. You won’t regret going out there and just playing out and really ripping it.”
What are some keys for you to do a better job of ball security when you’re getting hit or blindsided?
“It’s tough and it’s an interesting deal because a lot of times you’re about to throw the ball and you have one hand on the ball and some guy comes in and strips it, but I think it’s more just the overall pocket presence and knowing when the play is done. I think feeling that pressure, and I know sometimes quarterbacks get made fun of it, but doing that little curl up and just getting down and protecting it and living to see another play, I think that’s important. I think it’s going to come with experience and just being out there.”
Why were things different on Sunday against Arizona?
“I think it was just we were clicking. Even (if) you look at the L.A. game and you’re going through it, there was a point in time where I said it last week, where we’re in it and things are moving. I think it’s just the turnovers. I put the defense in some tough situations in the Arizona game. This game is just about how you respond and I think it’s just all about going out there and keep playing and keep executing your job and knowing that you can’t score 21 points on one play. You got to go out there and you just got to keep putting drives together and really just going out there and letting your guys make a play for you. I think that’s what was a little bit different, if that helps you at all.”
What is it like having WR DeAndre Hopkins out there who is a master of the toe tap?
“He’s the best that does it. Just really going out there and just keeping it in bounds enough for him to go make a play. A lot of times I know it looks like where I’m throwing it high over his head, but it’s really one of those throws where it’s my guy, no guy, and it’s usually my guy.”
Is WR DeAndre Hopkins’ catch radius anything like you’ve ever seen with another player?
“No. No. I’m a fan of this sport and I’ve watched it. I’m not saying I’ve played with guys like that, but he’s remarkable. He just goes out there and he’s the ultimate competitor and that’s why I think he’s the best receiver in the league.”
What are your Thanksgiving plans and how is Thanksgiving different this year as a dad?
“Well now I’m going to have to watch the baby while my wife cooks, and I think that’s going to be hard because she’s a firecracker right now. She’s all over the place, so that’s going to be difficult. I’m extremely blessed to have a beautiful wife and a beautiful baby and be able to come here every day to work and be a part of this organization.”
Your teammates, specifically WR DeAndre Hopkins, have talked about how much confidence they have in you as the starter. How much does it mean to hear that support?
“It’s huge. Just knowing that everyone has your back, I think that’s the most important thing. So much of this game is about confidence and going out there and playing fully confident in yourself and knowing that you can make the plays. I know all the guys have my back and I know the staff has my back and it’s why it’s so easy to come to work every day.”
Do you think the years that you spent here led to their confidence in you this year?
“Yeah, I think it’s huge. They’re my brothers in there. I’ve been with them for four years. This has been the longest team I’ve ever been a part of. I’m just lucky to come here every day with these guys, and I truly believe that. I’m super excited about this whole opportunity this upcoming season.”
How much will a win mean in this big game?
“Every game’s a big game, but this is Monday Night Football, this is primetime and we’re all really excited about it. At the end of the day, we got to go out there and we got to execute what we got to execute. I know that we’re all confident in ourselves and Coach (O’Brien) always says it, ‘We are what our record says we are,’ but at the same time, we can go out there and we can really make a run at this thing.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH RAVENS HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
What comes to mind when you watch Texans OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney on tape?
“Fulfilling promise. I mean, he’s a game-wrecker. He’s all over the field. I think their defensive coaches do an outstanding job of hiding him and moving him around and making it tough to find him. He’s just been tremendous in every phase of the game on defense.”
It’s like Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs gets better with age. What do you see from him?
“Yeah, I agree. This is probably the best football he’s played in a while and as good as he’s ever played, I think.”
How impressive has it been for Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs to come back from two Achilles tendon tears?
“Very impressive. That’s probably one of the toughest rehabs. Steve Smith told me it was one of the hardest things he ever went through in his life. Sizzle’s (Suggs) done it a couple times now. So, that’s an awesome thing.”
Even though he doesn’t get a lot of attention outside of Houston, what are your thoughts on Texans ILB Benardrick McKinney when you watch him on tape?
“I’ll tell you, he gets a lot of credit in film rooms and meeting rooms around the league, I guarantee you. He’s an outstanding player. I remember all the way back when he came out, he was just a big, physical backer, could run, could cover, could rush the passer. He’s kind of a rare big linebacker that can do all those things well.”
How do you prepare for Texans QB Tom Savage and what have you seen from him on tape?
“Just a real good quarterback in terms of running the offense and making all the throws. He’s got a strong arm, he makes all the throws that they ask him to make, he reads things out very well, he’s very patient. Man, he stands in there and makes throws, and I think he’s played well for them.”
Are you expecting to see Texans QB Tom Savage continue his success from last week or struggle when he plays you?
“I guess you don’t probably look at it quite like that as a coach. You look at the player and how he fits into the offense and try to figure out how you’re going to defend what they do. We have tremendous respect for what he’s able to do and he’s shown that he can do it. He’s played very well in our eyes.”
What do you think of the matchup featuring Ravens DT Brandon Williams and Texans C Nick Martin?
“I think it will be a good matchup. Nick Martin’s a guy we liked coming out of Notre Dame. Very physical player, very tough. Very heady players. Should be a good matchup.”
What are your thoughts on Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins and where he is in his career?
“A star. One of the best, very top receivers in the National Football League. Very tough cover, go-to player. Very impressive.”
How tough is it to defend WR DeAndre Hopkins on the sideline with his toe-tapping ability and is he one of the best at that?
“He probably is. I would say he is, just off the top of my head. He comes down with balls that (you’re) just kind of amazed that he actually got in bounds. Off the top of my head, I’d put him right there.”
Can you ever remember a time where you’ve been as injury-struck as the Texans have this season and how does that affect you as a head coach?
“Yeah, we had it this year. So, it’s tough. It’s challenging. It’s something you’ve got to deal with, for sure. It’s not an easy thing. I think all the teams in this league have to, one time or another, have to fight through it. I think the Texans have done a great job of that. They have a great staff, very well-coached, very difficult to game-plan against and they do a great job of moving their players around and putting them into position to do things to make it tough on you.”
How proud are you of the Ravens’ defensive progression and some of the things you’ve been able to accomplish?
“I am proud of the way they’ve played. It’s week to week, it’s game to game, and we’re just trying to find a way to play the next game as well as we can. The big-picture evaluations and what you think of things just kind of wait until the end of the year.”
What really pops out to you about Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien?
“Top-rate game planner. Just brilliant offensive mind. The positions he puts you in defensively, I think are as good as anybody in the league. He does a great job.”