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Conference call: Terrell Suggs and John Harbaugh
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OUTSIDE LINEBACKER TERRELL SUGGS
What are your thoughts on the Chargers, having seen some film?
I’ve always thought of Philip Rivers as one of the top three-to-five quarterbacks. The man’s got a cannon. I think this is a great team and I expect them to make the playoffs. This won’t be the last time we’ll be seeing them.
You expect them in the playoffs, huh?
Yeah, I think they’ll make it. I just hope this ain’t the game where they start their run.
What gives you that feeling?
A lot of things have got to happen for them, but they’re playing good football. That’s all that counts. I think they’re definitely going to be a contender, especially with the matchups everybody has this week. I think a lot of things can happen for them.
You’ve been a wrecking crew this year. What’s going on beyond what’s happened before, if anything?
I couldn’t say. I don’t think anything’s going on. I’m just healthy. A lot of times I haven’t been healthy. When you’re healthy, good things can happen. Our offense is doing a good job. When they’re doing good, the team does good, so it’s a pretty good thing.
You’ve always had a physical presence on the field. How has your mental approach evolved?
You’ve definitely got to study your opponent because this is the NFL and if you don’t study, you go out there and get lit up. I’m just taking my mental study to the next level. I’ve played next to Ray Lewis for the past five, six years, you know what I mean? He’s a studying machine. I’m just learning. I keep trying to learn and keep trying to get better.
How much do you have to study Jared Gaither, though?
I know Gait pretty well. He’s a really good left tackle. I definitely have my work cut out for me, but overall it’s not me versus him, it’s the San Diego Chargers versus the Baltimore Ravens, and if you ask me, both teams are very good football teams and it’s going to be a good football game.
How much does familiarity against an offensive tackle enter into the equation?
Sometimes it can go hand in hand but sometimes it doesn’t help you that much because you’re never really going against a guy in game-time speed (in practice). It could be different or it could be the same. I guess you just have to see when you get out there.
What did you think when you first saw he’d be the guy out here? He’s only been starting two weeks.
He’s doing a good job for them. I think they’ve won the two weeks he’s been starting, so something’s working. They’re a good team. Marcus McNeill, when he went down, they had some losses, and then they brought Gait in and got right back on track, so that’s why I’m a firm believer that they’re going to make the playoffs. I just hope this ain’t the week that they do it.
There’s a possibility that Ray Lewis may be back this week. What would that mean to the defense?
He’s a great leader. You always want your great leader out there. If he’s there, it’s going to be good for us. If he’s not, Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe have been playing phenomenal for us, so we’ll just have to hold the levee for one more week. If that’s the route we have to go, so be it. It’s going to be tough, but I believe we’ll be alright.
What’s he been like on the sidelines?
Just as intense, if not more. He’s still being a leader, still a vet, still telling the coaches what he sees, being a teammate. And that’s what he should do.
What is it about Philip that you like?
He’s got a cannon. He’s very smart. You like your quarterback with some edge to him. I love the guy, you know? I hate quarterbacks, but I’m a big Philip Rivers fan. I’m a big fan of Philip, especially when he and um… what’s the other quarterback that plays for the Bears? Jay Cutler? When he and Cutler got into it, I was like, ‘(Freakin’) awesome, man.’ At that point, definitely. I just love it. I think he’s a really good quarterback.
What kind of an affect has defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano had on the defense?
A tremendous affect. He matches the swag of our defense. I like him. He knows his players and puts his players in certain places. He’s been good for us. If you ask us, he’s been the difference.
It seems like every time there’s a new defensive coordinator, they say, ‘We’re going to get more aggressive.’ I get the feeling that’s really true in this case.
I don’t know if it is. He’s a smart coach and he studies. They work their tails off, our coaching staff. We all complement each other. He just does a good job studying opponents.
Playing on the road has been more difficult for you guys. What’s happened there?
I don’t know. I think we just ran into some good teams, teams that play well at home. There’s really no reason or excuse. You play good teams that play good at home, so I don’t think we should take anything away from those teams.
Is too much made of traveling from one coast to another to play a game?
I don’t think so. I think it only has an affect if you’ve got to do it in the middle of the week for a Thursday night game.
Is there something about the Ravens on the way you guys play, especially on defense? Do you get the sense that it brings out the intensity in other teams?
I’m not sure. I tend to think people play hard all the time, not just against us, so I don’t think so. We’re all professionals. We’re all NFL players, and everybody wants to win just as much as the next man.
What are your thoughts on seeing Antwan Barnes again?
Barnsey? I always thought he was good. I know he’s going to be fired up to play the game. I’ll be happy to see him after the game moreso than before.
HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
Do you have any advice for Coach Pagano on the brother vs. brother thing?
(Laughs) I think John actually has the edge on that right now, so Chuck’s just trying to catch up.
What kind of an impact has Chuck had on the way you’re doing things defensively?
He’s had a huge impact. Obviously he’s our defensive coordinator. He’s always been a big part of what we’ve been doing here since we got here. Now in the fourth year he’s in charge of the whole thing and I think they’ve responded great. He’s a great coach. A great teacher. I think they reflect his personality a little bit, which is what any coach tries to effect on his team.
What would that personality be?
Well, watch them play. I think you see it. He’s aggressive and he’s excitable. It’s just an enthusiastic kind of style.
Did Ray Lewis practice today?
We haven’t practiced yet.
What you do, like at the end of practice, you get a report on that. And it’ll list, you know, “partial…”
Good to know.
(Laughs) You guys are familiar with that, right?
Do you scratch your head when you look at the Chargers the last few weeks and they’re 6-7?
Not really. I think they’re really talented. The specific reasons that you lose a game here or there are pretty obvious. I’m sure you guys have probably talked a lot about that. But it’s tough when you turn the ball over and things like that. It’s the same thing that’s happened to us. When we’ve lost it’s because we haven’t taken care of the ball or we’ve given up some big plays or whatever the case might be, but I think they’re a great football team. You watch them and you study them and we’re getting ready to play them for one game on Sunday night. They’re just an immensely talented football team.
What do you know you’re going to get when you play against a Norv Turner offense?
I think you’re going to get potential for big plays at any time; that’s the main thing. That’s No. 1. No. 2 they’re willing to run the ball. He’s very patient with that. It’s a very physical downhill running attack. Two excellent backs. He pretty much attacks you every part of the field. They’re very diverse as far as formations and movements and all those kinds of things. He’s been doing it really well for a long time.
You guys are still winning games without Ray, but what’s it been like? Is this a case of a team stepping up in the absence of one of its leaders?
Yeah, probably. I think so. One thing about football in general and certainly the NFL in particular is that has to take place. There are going to be injuries. There are going to be setbacks. And it’s incumbent upon everybody else to rally around that sort of thing and a lot of times that’s going to dictate how you play. You’d love to stay healthy and have everybody available, but it doesn’t work that way very often, and I think our guys on defense especially have done a great job of that.
Is too much made out of teams traveling from one coast to another and how well they perform?
I don’t know. I guess you just have to look at the numbers on that and just determine if they’re different than other types of trips that are shorter. It’s not easy. It’s a long way, but certainly doable. It’s not like you’re on a covered wagon coming across the country. I think we’ll be OK. We’ll come out on Friday so we should have enough time to get acclimated.
There’s a marked difference in home and road wins for you guys, though. Has it been difficult for you?
Most teams, you’re not quite as good on the road as you are at home. We haven’t lost at home, so I guess for it to be the same we’d have to be undefeated on the road. And we’re not. We’d love to be undefeated on the road right now.
What kind of progress has Jimmy Smith made, and has he met your expectations so far?
Yeah. The only disappointing thing that Jimmy feels is that he’s been injured early on. He had some different things injury-wise early on and wasn’t able to play for a bunch of games there to start. I think a young guy wants to get out there and establish himself and start developing. He’s been playing the last four or five weeks and that’s probably where he’s at. He’s still kind of early on in his rookie year as far as the playing time goes, but he’s as-advertised and he’s going to be a tremendous player. He’s a really hard worker. A really good person, and we’re just very happy with him.
Do you think he’s in line for an extended amount of time this week with Lardarius Webb’s injury?
I’m probably not going to comment on all that with who’s going to play and start, but he’s been playing a lot and he’s healthy, so I’m sure he’s going to play quite a bit. We’ll just have to see. We expect all those guys to be playing, though.
Have you seen any game tape on Corey Liuget, the Chargers’ first-round pick? Do you evaluate a player like that on stats?
No, I don’t think so. We really, really liked him coming out. He was very high on our draft board also. I think he fits their defense really well and he’s playing very good, solid football in there with what they’re asking him to do. The numbers are going to come, but we’re very concerned with him. He’s a good player.
What did you think when you saw Jared Gaither is starting for the Chargers?
I was happy for Jared when I saw it. I knew he’d be real motivated to do it because he likes to play. I saw the tape and I was, ‘Wow.’ He really was playing well. As well as he’s played. He played really well here when he was healthy. It looks like he’s healthy and he’s playing up to his high standard.
What struck you about the way he’s playing? Footwork? Anything specific?
No; I think he’s playing really hard and I think he’s healthy. That’s the thing I noticed. He looked like he was really moving really well. He’s a great athlete and a tough guy. It looked like he was just moving around really well. Read