Being part of a Ravens defense that has yielded more than 500 yards in back-to-back losses isn't the way Earl Thomas envisioned heading into his first Ravens-Steelers game.
There is a sense of urgency among the Ravens to right what has been wrong defensively. Thomas, a major offseason acquisition during free agency, isn't running from the questions about the defense.
The six-time Pro Bowl safety says there's been plenty of open dialogue between coaches and players this week, talking about the problems and how to fix them.
"We just broke down play by play, took all our mistakes, we got it in the open in front of everybody," Thomas said. "We've been focused on fixing those mistakes. Execution. Communication. Tackling. Always communication."
Thomas also addressed an NFL Network report that said he and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Brandon Williams had a "heated" discussion following Sunday's frustrating 40-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Thomas said he and Williams and resolved things, leaving them in a good place moving forward. Williams did not play against Cleveland in Week 4 due to a knee issue, after practicing most of the all week.
"We're on the same page," Thomas said. "We talked about it. I just want him out there. He's a Pro Bowler. We're better when he's out there. I was a little frustrated. I just wanted to see what was going on with him, because I know he had practiced early in the week. I didn't know. (Williams not playing) kind of hit me on the blindside. Hopefully he'll play this week."
The entire secondary has taken heat for surrendering big plays over the past three weeks, and Thomas is fully aware of the criticism. But instead of pointing fingers, the Ravens are focused on finding solutions. Baltimore's defense, really any defense, depends on all 11 players working together and anticipating what the player next to them will do.
"We have a lot of things to work on, obviously," Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said. "We're attacking that. It's a little bit of everything but it basically comes down to fundamentals, technique, angles to the football, and tackling."
The early portion of Wednesday's practice featured drills working with tackling sleds, as missed tackles have been among the issues plaguing the Ravens. On Nick Chubb's 14-yard touchdown run Sunday, the Cleveland Browns running back made four Ravens miss attempted tackles – Thomas, Matthew Judon, Brandon Carr and Maurice Canady.
Thomas led the Ravens with eight tackles last week, but some of those tackles came after the Browns had already made a sizeable gain. With the Ravens (2-2) still having three-fourths of their season in front of them, there is still plenty of time to improve defensively.
Thomas still has time to make the game-changing plays he's been noted for during his career. Though Thomas doesn't have an interception since Week 1, he believes feels he's putting himself in the proper position frequently.
"I've been in great spots," Thomas said. "The QB just chose not to throw it there at that time. Just keep doing my job, keep trying to put myself in position. And I'm always looking for ways to try and get my hands on the ball."
The Ravens know the importance of winning Sunday, and how a strong defensive performance could propel turn them back in the right direction. Thomas can't speak from experience about the Ravens-Steelers rivalry until Sunday. But he knows what he's been told, and he's looking forward to the challenge.
"I'm not really familiar with it, but I know it's going to be a hard-fought game," Thomas said. "It's going to be a dogfight."