TC: This week, we prepare for the Baltimore Ravens, a team that played for the AFC Championship last year. A very talented football team that is 9-5, a team that has long been known for their physical play. They're a big, massive, defensive football team. They've had a couple of injuries. Offensively, very talented with (Joe) Flacco, (Anquan) Boldin, Torrey Smith, Ray Rice, who we know well. He has over 1,000 yards rushing, 55 receptions and their special teams have the number eight kickoff return and punt coverage team in the league, the number two kickoff return in the league with Jacoby Jones averaging 32.5 yards per kickoff return. So, they're a talented team. They've lost the three games in a row here at this point in the season, but they are in the playoffs and we certainly know, having played them in the past in the pre-season and watched their progress throughout the year, that they are a very physical football team and very, very talented.
Q: What about their defense? They've had an odd year defensively with the loss of key players. They're not ranked as high as they have been in the past. Do you still see a lot of difficulties in that defensive unit?
A: I do. Sure, I do.
Q: Is it the same kind of scheme?
A: Yeah. It's physical toughness. They've had some injuries at the linebacker level and they're playing a lot of people at that spot, but they're playing well and responding. You watch last week's Denver game, you know Denver balanced their rush and pass against the defense and had a couple of big plays as well.
Q: You mentioned physical play two or three times when talking about their defense. What do you think should be talked about your defense?
A: Just like our football team probably. The inconsistency... That's probably where I would leave it.
Q: You prepared three times in the last year for Jim Harbaugh's defense. Are there any similarities in the way that John coaches his?
A: They're aggressive, well-coached. I mean, I think those are the starting points.
A: I think there are some differences there, which there should be. You look at the way John came up the ranks and you look at the way that Jim came up through the ranks. You'll see differences right there.
Q: Is Ray Rice the number one priority for your defense to watch?
A: He's certainly ranked up there.
Q: How high?
A: What is he? 5'9, 5'10?
Q: How would you compare the way Eli is playing this season to last season?
A: Let's wait until it's over and done with and then we'll talk about that. No question two weeks ago, what we were able to accomplish as a team. Last week, not so well. Eli would be the first one to comment on that and he doesn't need me to say that. We're hoping that everyone plays better and with more consistency. We thought that was a big theme last week and, of course, it wasn't accomplished. So, we're striving for that again. We have the two-game schedule and we have to win both games to get in the playoffs and everybody's aware of that. We're going to have an outstanding effort both in the classroom and on the practice field this week. Hopefully, we'll play the way like we feel like we're capable of playing.
Q: Will Prince or Kenny Phillips practice today?
A: They will both practice, but it will be limited to the point where we're going to test Prince more than anything else. With Kenny, we feel like he's rested and ready to contribute.
Q: What have you seen teams doing to Victor Cruz this year?
A: They're aware of him and they react accordingly on defense. Last week's team on third down doubled him, which is not... There's nothing new about that. It happened the week before as well.
Q: What does Flacco do for the Ravens?
A: Well, he's an excellent deep ball passer. He's very good stepping up in the pocket. He can improvise. He does run. He will do that. You've got different styles, different offenses. Flacco contributes and runs their offense very well. They like to run it and they like to throw it deep and he does throw the ball deep very well.
Q: Do you know who your team is yet?
A: It would be easy for me to say I do, but the reality of it is we haven't been able to play to substantiate what I would say is the personality of this team. So I'm definitely counting on the veterans to go ahead and prove this and do it with consistency. Last year we did it over a six-game run and exactly we're in that situation again.
Q: Where does Bradshaw stand right now?
A: He won't practice today.
Q: When did Tuck hurt his shoulder?
A: He probably banged it in the game, although he didn't come out of the game or anything of that nature. We can and I think he can deal with it because he's had to before.
Q: Do you have to say anything to Eli or knowing that he's done it so many times before that you just let him work his way out of whatever is going on?
A: We talk and of course we do a great job of going over the film following each game and he learns from that and he certainly can see the good and the bad and he devotes himself to correcting what wasn't so good.
Q: Because of his history, whatever your concerns are with your team right now, is he not one of them? Do you assume that Eli has done it before and he'll figure it out?
A: Well, it's our whole football team. Hopefully, because of the position that Eli is in, he's going to lead us out of the inconsistencies.
Q: Is Tynes in a slump as far as kicking goes?
A: Well, we've missed a field goal in each of the last three games and the one the other day that would've made it 7-3... Who knows what will happen from that. I know I was disappointed in that. But I don't know if you'd call it a slump. There's been a different reason in each case. We thought his timing wasn't very good the other day on the one that we missed, but it's the time of the year we can't afford any misses. We need to be able to come away with points each and every time we're down there. Obviously, we'd like touchdowns, but you've got to come away with points and we can't afford not to and we would like to feel that no matter what the distance is, if it's within our range, our makeable range that we're going to come through and I have to believe we will.
Q: Do you have any idea of what Bradshaw's status is going to be for Sunday?
A: I don't. We'd all love to have him play, but it's going to be a medical decision. It's not going to be mine and although he wants to play as badly as he can, I think if the doctors feel that he can play without hurting himself, then I think that may very well be a case. If the doctors don't feel that that's possible, then they'll make the decision.
Q: Were you missing Ahmad on the trip, in terms of intensity and emotion?
A: You ask me questions you already know the answer to.
Q: I'd like to hear you say it:
A: The answer is: when he plays, he plays with fire. He plays with determination. He's focused. He's extremely physical. He takes great pride in that aspect of the game. For him, he takes great pride in defying what anyone says he can't do. He is someone on the sideline that's not very patient and is not afraid to make a few comments about it.
Q: Would you consider bringing him even if he wasn't playing?
A: It would be a consideration, but it's much different for the competitor when he's not competing. It really is.
Q: Do you think the missed tackles are a "matter of will?" Is it concerning when you see a game like that?
A: It's concerning anytime I see missed tackles, yeah.
Q: Can you pin-point what the problem is?
A: Not being in very good position. Not moving your feet. Not seeing what you're going to hit. Many times it's flopping through the air, diving through the air because you didn't get in the right position, or you shed or you melt-off as the term goes, instead of bringing the ball carrier down. There was a lot of that.
Q: Will Chris Snee be able to practice?
A: Not today. No for (David) Baas either.
Q: Chris Canty?
A: I think he's going to go, although you can't quote me until I see it.
Q: I think you're on live TV:
A: I'm stuck.
Q: Hakeem Nicks?
A: Not today, no.
Q: Is Prince Amukamara at the point now where when he doesn't play, there's a significant drop-off in the play of the secondary?
A: Naturally, you take a starter out of the game and you're going to notice he's not in the game. He's done a good job, he played the deep ball well the week that he was injured and that's definitely a factor. Your cohesiveness is interrupted. We like the young kid, (Jayron) Hosley, but anytime you take a starter out of the game it's going to be a factor.
Q: What does it say to you about what Victor Cruz has done amidst the tragedy?
A: Incredibly proud of what he's done. Incredibly. That family will remember that all their days. Hopefully, at least some of their grief may temporarily be spent in being able to embrace Victor Cruz.
Q: He can go out and catch touchdowns on Sundays in front of 80,000 people, but how hard is something like this to do?
A: Sure is. The fact that he went and did that speaks volumes about what he has in him, inside.