For the next edition of Inside Answers, where we've taken questions from fans and brought them to a top performer in the Ravens' most-recent game.
*Here's left tackle Jared Gaither, who has started every game for the Ravens' offensive line. *
[Ed. note: Questions may have been edited for clarity.]
Andrew Stevens, Easton, MD: What has Willie Anderson taught you? Is he your mentor?
Jared Gaither:"He's definitely one of my mentors in the locker room. Willie's been in this league for so long, doing what he does, that he's seen a lot of what I'm going to go through as a young player. He can help me out with the mental part of the game, and his positive attitude helps us all out on the line."
Pam Cotton, Baltimore, MD: GREAT WIN!! The offensive line won the battles in the trenches. When you became a member of the Maryland Terrapins' team, did you ever envision that you would make it to the NFL so quickly and be a starter in your second year?
JG:"I can't say it is surprising, to be honest. You have to believe in yourself and talk up what you want in life. I've always strived for the top and always said I wouldn't stop once I got there. It took a lot of hard work, dedication and belief in God to get where I am now. But, I have to keep pushing myself to get to an even higher level."
Cole Natterman, Reisterstown, MD: What do you do in the offseason to train and get ready for the season?
JG:"I make sure I'm in better shape than a lineman needs to be. It's a long season, definitely longer than college, so you have to prepare for a marathon. It test my body a couple of times a week to make sure I can endure the early-season heat and still perform. It's tough, but you have to have a strong 'wind' as a lineman, so conditioning and stamina is key. You'll be OK if you do that."
Kyle Beatty, Hanmer: Dude, first off you're a beast man. That last game against the Redskins was quite a dominant showing from your O-line. Did you feel any pressure stepping into the left tackle position, knowing that it was once occupied by the great Jonathan Ogden?
JG:"Not really. He's another guy that has been a great mentor to me. We've had good conversations about how to go about everything and have a sound technique. He just told me how to go about my business. He is a great person, and I'm thankful that I had someone like him in front of me last year."
Michael Figueroa, Bel Air, MD: Facing the Steelers next week and the best defense in the league do you guys think you can stop that prolific pass rush led by James Harrison to give Flacco time and give the running game some holes?
JG:"We've come a long way. I really come into every game expecting to not give up any sacks. That last time we played the Steelers, it was my first time ever playing Harrison, so I'm looking for a total improvement this time. I've been studying a lot. Eleven weeks later, I'm looking for tremendous improvement."
Scott Loughrey, Baltimore: Hello, last year the "O-line" struggled a bit, particularly against opponents' pass rush. This year the O-line is performing much better, even though several linemen (i.e., Terry, Yanda etc.) have been struggling with injuries this season. What's the reason for the success this year?
JG:"A lot of it has to do with the coaching and the talent we have. Also, we're very close off the field. People have heard about the dinners we go out to every week, and even today, we're having a Christmas get-together. Even outside of here, we're very close. It's not just about football, and I think you work that much harder when you have such a close bond with those guys."
Matthew Falkler, Severn, MD: Jared awesome season this year, I always tell my friends to look out for big #71! Being a former Terp, how do you think Maryland basketball will do this season?
JG:"Well, I hope they do well. From what I've seen early, they're getting some good wins. I'm definitely going to go to a few home games this year. They play a tough schedule, like the Tar Heels and other ACC teams, so it's going to be an interesting year."