ML: “As we look forward to the Ravens, obviously they’re coming off of a very good victory against the Broncos. I think in all three phases, they played very good football. They did a great job defensively of limiting the Broncos plays down the field, they were able to contain their running game for almost the entire game, and their offense was able to move the football running it. They made great catches and they converted third downs. They had a big play they created in special teams with the kickoff return to open the third quarter.
“So as they come in here, they’re coming back to playing football the way they do -- getting turnovers, playing good defense, taking advantage of it and making the plays and still trying to push the ball down the field offensively as much as they can. They’re back to running the football very effectively.”
Q: You know Baltimore’s defense well. Why has
ML: “Well, I don’t know. If you say we’ve had success, that’ll be your line. But, we’ve been fortunate. We won the last time up there. It’s a whole new football game this week, though. I can’t worry about what we did in the past.”
Q: You said recently some of the young guys, especially
ML: “I don’t know if I was that definitive with it. I said the bye week would be good, and as we go through the rest of the season, some of the other guys may get a chance. Andre, obviously, would be one. But we’ll see how we go.”
Q: What do you need to see from Andre Smith to get a chance to play against the Ravens?
ML: “Be one of our best 45 guys to dress up on Sunday.”
Q: What did you like about
ML: “Well, everything we liked that made us decide to pick him (in the draft). He’s got great physical athleticism. He is learning. He’s a good, young prospect learning how to play that fullback position, which he didn’t play exclusively at BYU. He was more of a runner there. So very much like the guy we had here before (Chris Pressley), he is coming here and learning to play the fullback position exclusively. There’s some advantages that he had as far as athleticism and some other things that he’s continued to learn and grow with. He’s a big man who is very, very talented.”
ML: “He’ll work today. We should have all our players out there working today. As we said, it was a good week away and now it’s time to get focused on the Ravens, and we’ll have the opportunity to be as close to full strength as we have been.”
Q: Will Andre Smith dress this week?
ML: “I’ll make that decision later in the week, on Sunday. So, I think that question was asked already. Same question, same answer.”
Q: Is it easy to get the players’ focus back after the bye since the Ravens and Steelers are coming up?
ML: “I don’t know who we play after next week (smiles). That doesn’t matter. We had good work on Monday. The guys were, as usual, around here on Tuesday working on their video and their study, and getting a little head start on the week. It’s good. I don’t think it matters who we play at this point. They know what we’re playing for week-in and week-out, and that’s what counts.”
Q: How important is pass protection against the Ravens?
ML: “Well, you have to be able to protect your quarterback to beat any scheme, any defense. That’s part of life in the NFL. So we’ve got to have clean pockets. We’ve got to give the quarterback the chance to deliver the football. We’ve got to run through the grabs and the things that are going to occur down the field, like we did in the first game, and understand those things are going to happen, and we’ve got to keep playing, keep competing on the perimeter. That’s the thing, we’ve got to go and do a great job perimeter-wise and, like you said, continue to keep clean pockets for the quarterback and allow him to deliver the football.”
Q: You guys are three-point underdogs this week. Do you like playing in the underdog role?
ML: “Well, I didn’t know I was an underdog, so it doesn’t matter what we are. We’ve just got to play. We have a nine-game season and our first week is this week against the Ravens, and what counts is this game. This one counts, and all the other stuff is peripheral. It’s good for people to talk about, but when you come out there on Sunday the team that executes, runs and tackles and takes care of the football will win the football game.”
Q: What has
ML: “He has done a nice job of helping us convert third downs, both with the ball in his hands or as a protector. He understands, he has a lot of versatility, and so he offers a lot of things the offensive coaches can utilize in the game plan. We played without him against Houston (due to an injury). He was healthy and ready to go last week and I chose to sit him down (due to roster considerations at other positions). But if Brian is dressed and ready to go, he adds some versatility to our offense. And he can also get some snaps as our fullback if needed. He’s done a nice job for us as a special teams player as well. Being part of his role, he’s got to continue to get better and better at that. He’s very conscientious, works very hard at it and it’s important to him. It’s really like the essence of the entire football team is guys like Brian Leonard.”
Q: What has
ML: “He’s brought the professionalism, a desire just to get better and work hard and be a physical player and a guy you can count on. Those guys, be it in the running game or the protection scheme, make big catches, help us move the chains, and that’s important.”