Geno Stone is disappointed that he wasn't named to the Pro Bowl, but he won't let it spoil his breakout season.
Seven Ravens were named to the AFC team, but Stone was snubbed at safety despite leading the conference with seven interceptions. Stone's teammate Kyle Hamilton became a first-time Pro Bowler at strong safety, while Justin Simmons of the Broncos and Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Steelers were named the starting free safeties.
Stone thinks his season was Pro Bowl worthy and has the stats to back that up.
However, Stone refuses to be bitter and is happy for his teammates who made the Pro Bowl. If anything, being snubbed will help Stone maintain the chip on his shoulder that he's used to his advantage since entering the league as a seventh-round pick in 2020.
"That's why I never expect anything in this league," Stone said. "Everyone says the Pro Bowl's a popularity vote. But after every game I get respect from my peers who play the game and that's all that matters to me.
"I thought I was going to make it. I thought I did enough, especially leading the AFC in interceptions and leading the league for half the year. I'm happy for the other guys on our team who made it, especially Kyle and P.Q. (Patrick Queen). I know my time will come. People around the league are noticing what I do."
Stone has always been confident, but his play this season has taken that attitude to another level.
"It's shown me who I can be in this league," Stone said. "I feel like I finally belong. I feel I belong in that conversation to be one of the best safeties in the league. I'll just keep proving it every day in practice and on Sundays."
Patrick Queen is 'Proud' to Be Pro Bowler
Queen said he wasn't sure what to think Wednesday when he was summoned to General Manager Eric DeCosta's office.
"Oh my God, what did I do?" Queen said.
When DeCosta told Queen face-to-face that he had made his first Pro Bowl, he was deeply moved.
"So much work and dedication, so many sacrifices, go into it, for so many people around the league to respect my game and give a nod to me, it's incredible," Queen said. "I'm real proud. I told mom like a week-and-a-half ago, if I don't make it, I don't even care no more. I think I did everything I needed to on film to show my talents, the work that I put in. I was at peace with everything."
Queen entered the league with high expectations as a first-round pick in 2020, but he wasn't a full-time starter at LSU until his senior year and he went through growing pains during his first two seasons in Baltimore. But when Queen had difficult moments, it only made him more determined to succeed. His play took a major step forward even before Roquan Smith arrived in a trade, and now the dynamic inside linebacker duo has become a playmaking tandem in the center of Baltimore's defense.
Queen and Smith entered the season saying they were the top pair in the league, they play proved it, and their peers confirmed it.
Queen thinks going through adversity early in his career has made him a better player.
"The first two years were definitely rough for me and the fan base," Queen said. "I knew myself, I know the type of person I am. I came into the league raw, young, not that much experience under my belt. I knew it was going to be a bit of a process, but I didn't think it was going to be that hard.
"I wouldn't trade it for the world. I think that's what builds character."
Pittsburgh's Physical Running Attack Will Test Baltimore's Defense
The Steelers rushed for 202 yards against Seattle last weekend with Najee Harris (122 yards) and Jaylen Warren (75) providing a potent one-two punch. Pittsburgh will likely try the same ground-and-pound approach against the Ravens, hoping to take pressure off quarterback Mason Rudolph in his third straight start.
The Ravens defense has been the best in the league, but it ranks No. 13 against the run, surrendering 106.6 yards per game.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said controlling Pittsburgh's running attack would be a top priority.
"The Steelers run a couple versions of gap schemes," Harbaugh said. "They run what we call 'Duo' with no puller. They've been running that for years. Then, they run the puller gap scheme – the power [play] more than anything else – the 'Power O.' They've been great at that.
"I think the biggest thing is it's a downhill run, but it can also bounce. If you stop it up inside, and you don't control your edges, those two backs will take it outside in a second and they're both hard to tackle. It'll be a big challenge for us. Every week stands on its own, and stopping the run will be job No. 1 for us in this game."
Tyler Huntley Looks Forward to First Start of Season
With Lamar Jackson inactive against Pittsburgh, Tyler Huntley will start at quarterback for the first time this season is looking forward to the opportunity.
"[fixed quote]I'm just going to seize the moment and do what I do," Huntley said. "The Steelers are a physical team, and it's always a good game. We've just got to score points, and our defense is going to handle the rest."
Saturday's forecast is calling for possible rain and snow, but Huntley said the team did wet ball drills in Thursday's practice and is preparing for inclement weather. Jackson and Huntley are close friends, and the Ravens' starting quarterback is looking forward to watching Huntley.
"I believe 'Snoop' can get the job done," Jackson said. "We have guys who can go out there and ball out. I have all the faith in my team."