Lewis, Dalton News Conference Transcript 11/23

Marvin Lewis News Conference

Opening comments ...

            "As we get ready to play the Ravens, the thing that obviously is standing out is that they're doing a great job defensively, yards and points. They got off to a great start this season with the first three games and then lost four in a row, and then they came back and won two and then lost last week. But throughout all of that, they've been pretty consistent defensively. We've know it's going to be a physical football game, particularly on early downs. They're also very good on third down this year defensively. All in all, it'll be a big matchup for us offensively.

            "With their offense, they have (Joe) Flacco back this season full-speed, they added Mike Wallace and got (Dennis) Pitta back, with Breshad Perriman. So the speed that they have now offensively is really an uptick. And then Steve Smith continues to play at a high level. They're doing a good job with Terrance West as a runner. Their offensive skill guys are a little different than we've seen the last couple of times we've played, other than Steve Smith. They're doing a good job and fitting together now with what they are offensively. So on offense and defense, we've got to play really good football."

Why did you decide to bring back Cedric Peerman from Reserve/Injured over William Jackson?

            "It's a tough decision, but one that we just felt was best for the football team."

Did the loss of Giovani Bernard factor into that decision? And would you see Rex Burkhead moving into Bernard's vacated running back role?

            "We'll see how things go as we move forward. But we'll return Ced to practice today. That's where it is right now."

What's the biggest thing you miss out on with not getting William Jackson's feet wet as a rookie?

            "He had (only) three practices. He doesn't get a chance to practice football his rookie year. But in my mind, it doesn't change — we saw enough of him all spring — how we feel about him moving forward at all. Just him going through this reinforces to me what kind of person we have as far as a worker. And that part is good."

Is Steve Smith someone you maybe thought would retire a couple years ago, and yet he just keeps going?

            "He keeps going. He's very, very competitive. We faced him when he was in Carolina every three or four years, and now that he's been in Baltimore the last couple years. He continues to play very physical, very strong. He's tough at the catch. He's good with the ball in his hands. He gives every fiber of his body."

How has he evolved as a player and with his competitiveness, when his speed now maybe isn't what it used to be?

            "Because he is so competitive, that's what he is. I don't know what his speed would be, but he plays fast enough on Sundays, and that's the key element."

Have you ever played against anybody with a bigger chip on their shoulder on Sundays?

            "No. I don't know that there's many guys that play the game like Steve's played the game. When he's playing against other teams, it's fun to watch (laughs)."

Dennis Pitta is tied for most catches by a TE at this point in the season. How remarkable is that, considering all of the injuries he's had over his career?

            "Again, he's another guy that's fought back from two injuries over the last two seasons. You've got to credit him for that as well."

Terrell Suggs is another guy who has rehabbed through injuries. These guys seem to rehab right through big injuries, don't they?

            "It's amazing how that happens, huh (laughs)? But Suggs has just been a tremendous player for 14 seasons. I can remember being at Arizona State for his workout and everything. He's always given me a hard time that we didn't pick him — we picked Carson (Palmer) over him. So he's got a chip on his shoulder too (laughs). He's always given me a hard time about that."

When any player has a major injury, it's obviously scary for them, but what is the biggest thing as a head coach or as a staff that you try to do immediately right away to try to help?

            "First of all, it's just everybody reaching out and telling them you love them and wishing them the best of luck. Then it's to get a good repair with the procedure they're about to have. For them, their first decision is when and where and what. They get outside opinions all the time. But our guys have done best when everything is created and done right here. We're able to monitor better all the way through and deal with some of the complications that can occur with infections and things like that, which you don't want to have. That's the next part after this surgery — being in the right environment 24/7 and not having any setbacks with some kind of infection, or whatever it may be, that causes an issue.

            "And then it's getting them back into the fold as quick as possible to try and prevent any of that. The thing that I have found is, when guys rehab outside of here, at least initially, they don't come back here the way we expected them to. It's because we push better than others push. Our guys are paid to get our guys healthy; other people are paid just to make sure they show up every day. Sometimes it's a little easier when I don't push you too hard to get you to show up every day. We've got better recourse to get them to show up every day, when they're expected to do everything here right away. So their uptick early on is quicker. That's what we try to impress upon them all the time — 'This is your career, and obviously we want the best for you, because that's the long-term future and how the club feels about it.' "

Obviously there's a physical side to coming back right. Is there a mental and psychological part that you have to attend to as well?

            "As much as we can simulate football before they get to real football, that's what that process is. Because there is a mental thing for some guys, whatever it may be, and depending how long they've been away from football — 11-man football. There's a course of time that you've got to get back into playing it."

Now that you have a grandbaby, is it special for you at the holidays, especially with Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow?

            "It is. I won't get to experience that part of it (laughs). But for our football team, that is one thing I think is great. I told them that on Monday. It's a special week with Thanksgiving. Hopefully they'll get an opportunity to spend some time with their family. Just focus in on that when we get done tomorrow, and take a step back and appreciate how lucky they are. Be thankful. So it is (special). Unfortunately when we do what we do here, we don't get those opportunities this time of the year."

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving food that sticks out?

            "I think probably the turkey and the nap that comes with it (laughs). Whatever they put in that turkey that makes you go to sleep (laughs)."

Andrew Whitworth said it's been maybe 20 years since he's had Thanksgiving off. When was the last time you didn't have to work on Thanksgiving?

            "Something stuck in my mind earlier today, and now it's popped out, because I do remember doing something on Thanksgiving. But I don't remember when it was. But it's a great day as a kid. I have family in Detroit, so we traveled to Detroit a bunch. The parade, the game. All of those things that occur. We all have those memories of Thanksgiving and playing football in the yard. That's part of the tradition of our country and football."

Did you ever go to a Lions Thanksgiving Day game?

            "No, I don't think we ever went to a game. I remember my cousins listening to the game on the radio more than anything."

Andy Dalton News Conference When did you first find out about Giovani Bernard's injury, and what was your reaction?

            "I found out after the game. It's disappointing. Take football aside, just the recovery and everything that you have to do. It's tough on somebody to hear that. But it's very unfortunate. I'm sad for him."

What does he give you on the field? What kind of options does he bring to you as quarterback?

            "He's just versatile. He can do so much. He's great with protection, he's great catching the ball out of the backfield and getting him in space. Everybody knows that's the type of player he is."

What do you see every day in practice from Rex Burkhead that we're going to see from him in the game?

            "Rex is a similar type of player to Gio, just with his ability to get the ball in space. He's got great hands — everybody saw it in college. Rex has just been waiting for his opportunity, and now there's a chance for him to out there an help us. He's obviously been behind Gio and Jeremy (Hill), so now is his chance to really prove himself. We feel like he's a really good player."

Gio was a great in blitz pickup. We know Burkhead, we know about how he can rush and run routes and catch, but where is he with the blitz pickup?

            "It's just the understanding of what we're doing. We've already been meeting and making sure that everybody's on the same page with the communication of the protection and different things. I don't doubt that he'll be good in that area."

Baltimore loves to bring pressure. Last year in a game against them, Gio had a big block on an 80-yard touchdown pass. As you look at them this year, do you see the same sort of pressure and style?

            "Yeah. Baltimore is Baltimore. They've been good on defense for a long time. They give the different looks and different pressures and different things like that. So yeah, they're playing really well on defense."

You faced a Buffalo defense last week that likes to bring pressure. Do you see similarities between Dean Pees' defense and Rex and Rob Ryan's defense?

            "Yeah. There's some similar things, but everybody's got their own personality and style with it. Obviously there's some things that they do that are similar, but everybody's a little different."

With A.J. Green out, will you look to move Tyler Boyd around, like A.J. does, to try and open up things for the other guys?

            "The other guys are going to have to step up now. When you lose a guy like A.J., those other guys have a bigger role to fill. So yeah, we'll do some things and move some guys around and try to find our best guys to go out and help us win."

Tyler Boyd had six catches, for 54 yards, and a TD on Sunday. What did you think about the way he stepped up in Green's absence?

            "I thought he did a good job. The way things kind of shifted, he was getting involved and he made some really good plays. I'm happy for him. He caught his first touchdown."

In 2014, Green essentially missed five games in the regular season and you won three of them. How did you do it?

            "Everybody's got to ask more of themselves, and guys have to step up and win the one-on-one matchups and make plays when they're presented. That's the best way to do it."

With the way the rest of the division has played out this year, does Sunday's game feel like an elimination game?

            "I wouldn't say that. But this one's really important. It's obviously a division game, and there's only six games left. So a lot is to be decided. We've got to do whatever we can to try and find a way to win this one."

Will you have family in town for Thanksgiving tomorrow?

            "Just my immediate family — no other family. My family hosts everybody back in Texas, and my wife's family is down in Alabama."

What are you thankful for this year?

            "There's a lot to be thankful for. I'm thankful for my family, I'm thankful for my great friends. There's a lot to be thankful for."

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