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Conference calls: Baltimore Ravens


Wide receiver Andre Johnson is covered by safety Ed Reed when the Texans last played the Ravens in 2005.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and linebacker Ray Lewis spoke to the Houston media on Wednesday via conference call about their upcoming matchup at Reliant Stadium against the Texans.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh(on the Texans' defense and about LB DeMeco Ryans) "I think if you look at their defense across the board they are a young, aggressive, talented outfit. They play extremely hard. We've watched them through the preseason. We watched them into last year. They are just an up-and-coming group that we're very impressed with. DeMeco Ryans is obviously a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, very physical. He started off on special teams, so he has a special place in my heart and you work right through the roster. Obviously with (DE Mario) Williams and the rest of the guys, it's an impressive group."

(on being in the AFC now and what impresses him the most about LB Ray Lewis) "That's a great question. I had never been close to Ray other than maybe what all of the fans had seen. I had known some guys that knew him and spoke highly of him. The thing that impresses me the most about Ray is Ray, the man. Ray can still play, and I think that when people watch him on tape, they'd be the first to say that. Ray, the man, is a strong-character, an integrity-driven man. He's a tremendous leader on the football team. I'd have to say that I admire him as a person. That's the biggest thing."

(on if it was scary to start a rookie quarterback and if he feels more confident now) "We didn't think of it in terms of scary or confident or whatever. He was our guy because of the circumstances and the way it shook out. We had seen enough of him in the draft and obviously in practice to feel like he would be able to go in there and contribute to a victory, which he was able to do. We've just got to move on, and believe me he's got a long way to go and a lot of things to do to get better."

(on Hurricane Ike potentially hitting Houston and if there is any contingency plan to fly in on Friday) "We've got guys working on that. Our team president, Dick Cass, is working with the Texans and with the league. Our travel people are obviously working hard on that. As a football team, we're practicing and preparing for a really good Houston Texans club. Whenever they tell us we've got to get on the plane and travel and wherever we have to go, then that's what we'll do."

(on how he keeps his players from talking about the hurricane and focusing on the game) "We've got a tough opponent. That's hurricane enough to get ready for. So, I'm pretty sure our guys are focused on that."

(on if the defense can be as good all the time as they were in Week 1 against Cincinnati) "Well, that's what we'll find out. We've got 15 more games plus the playoffs if we play well enough. So, we'll find out."

Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis

(on what he thinks about Texans LB DeMeco Ryans) "I want to make sure I answer this honestly because I haven't watched him that much because we are always watching the offensive side of the ball, of course. But, the plays I have seen and the things I have seen, I just like the way he hustles to the ball. He really is a young guy who understands football. And then the brief time I spent with him at the Pro Bowl, you know, he's a humble guy. He really loves to play the game, and he understands the game. When you come into the league that young and understand the game like that, I think you have a head start. I think he has a great, great, bright future in front of him."

(on how he feels about all the young middle linebackers that look up to him) "I think it's one of the greatest privileges you can ever have. One thing I tell them, you know, I put God completely first. The second thing I tell you is, 'The only thing that follows work is results.' My whole career, coming from college, high school, I've never been the biggest, fastest or strongest. But I always tell these young guys, 'Don't ever let anybody out-work you.' So, when these young guys do look up to me, it's one of the greatest privileges because it does show that all of the hard work that I put in really pays off because people really do pay attention to it."

(on how good the Ravens' defense can be if they stay healthy) "That's always the thing around here. You know what, I told people last week, people say this defense is getting this, getting that. The bottom line is when you start losing people, your chemistry starts to die because you're trying to add this person in, trying to add that person in. But when you have the guys healthy, like all the guys we had back last week, some of them weren't even expected to play but then came out and played. Defensively, we can do what we always did, be one, two or three and just really dominate people. And really, overall, it's built because it's just a true togetherness and God has truly blessed us to have that much talent on one side of the ball. So, it's really fun to play on that defense. But I truly believe that if we stay healthy, we can do some great things."

(on if seeing the Texans play against Pittsburgh gives him more confidence) "No. You know what? Honestly, not at all. It's almost the same thing I told these guys here. When we were watching film this morning, I'm like, 'Look, every game, whatever it is, it's over. I don't care how good you play, how bad you play. The next game is up.' And what I tried to get them to understand is we are talking about a young team with some explosive talent over there. Andre Johnson, and I'm not being biased, I know he's from the University of Miami, but he's one of those talents. He's one of those talents that you have to keep your eye on because he can hurt you. Then you look at a guy like Steve Slaton, a guy who I think they took late in the third round. Things like that. They have pieces and they are getting young. You look at Mario Williams from the outside. I just love the way he plays the game. I think he's one of the greatest talents, young defensive talents, that we are going to see in the next upcoming years. When you look at what they have over there, they are a young team who's going to make some noise. So, bottom line, forget what they did last week, we have to understand how they are going to play us this week."

(on if he sees similarities between this team and their 2000 Super Bowl team) "Yeah, and honestly, I kind of already gave the guys that, kind of everything I see with it. What's scary is, almost the same situation has happened leading up into the opener. You know, who was going to be our starter (at quarterback) whether it was Tony Banks or whoever else. This happened, that happened, and the next thing that you know Trent Dilfer is our starting quarterback by the fourth or fifth game. So, I just truly believe if we stay healthy defensively, we're built to carry our team. You take a guy like the young Joe Flacco. Everybody loves him and I love him, I think, more than anything, just because of his personality he has a swagger about himself. But the kid has every tool to be good in this league. And like I told him, 'Your job isn't to come and try to win games. Your job is to try to manage the games and let your defense control field position and things like that.' So, I mean, when you think about those similarities, there are a lot of comparisons from our 2000 year."

(on what he thinks of the Texans' running game trying to emulate the Broncos running game) "You know, if you really study it close, they are trying to emulate it but I don't think it's totally there yet. You know, because you look at those Denver backs that came through there, they take one read and then they are downhill. It's bottom-line. And Denver's (offensive) line, that chemistry, the people were together for a good amount of time. So, they kind of learned how to play off each other, play with each other and things like that. I think once the Houston Texans keep going and truly start learning that style of offense, I think they will start getting better, too. But, as you're starting to see it you see a lot of similarities, but when you've been in the business as long as I have you just sit there and say, 'Well, they're not totally there yet, but they are trying to get there.' But they are doing a lot of good things, I think. They are really getting the ball off fast, really trying to create that tempo and things like that."

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