It's hard for the Steelers to escape criticism in Pittsburgh these days, but beating the Ravens on Sunday would reduce the heat.
Baltimore expects to see Pittsburgh's best game on Sunday for many reasons. The Steelers (5-5-1) haven't won in three weeks and need a victory desperately, they're coming off a 41-10 beatdown by the Cincinnati Bengals, and they're playing the rival Ravens (8-3) who sit atop the AFC North.
The Steelers are on the ropes, and Ricard expects their best punch.
"They're an organization where if they have a bad loss, the next week, they're not going to have another bad loss," Ricard said. "They're going tighten everything together and really give their best game. And I think we're going to get that from them, because of what happened to them last week, and they're playing us in Pittsburgh. It's a big game for both of us, so I think we're really going to get their complete best, for sure."
The Steelers have one of the NFL's most rabid fan bases, and visiting teams know they're in a hostile environment at Heinz Field. Ricard said his wife, Hayley, has felt the wrath of Steelers fans while watching him play from the stands.
"It's probably the most hostile environment that we play in," Ricard said. "It's so crazy seeing all those towels, fans just screaming. My wife has been to a couple games, and she hates it, because those fans are brutal. They were cussing her out, and she was just sitting there. So, it's always great whenever we get a win there. I don't think there's a better feeling than that."
Patrick Ricard Says Hip Is Structurally Sound
After having offseason hip surgery, Ricard has shown up several times on injury reports in recent weeks, listed with either hip, ankle, or foot ailments. However, Ricard said his hip is sound, and that he's simply playing through the bumps and bruises of every season.
"I've had MRIs, everything looks good structurally," Ricard said. "It's just kind of end of the season-type thing, overuse. I just have to stay on top of it, make sure before I come out here, it's warmed up, it's loosened up, it's ready to go. The medical staff has been doing good. Last week, I felt great on Sunday, and this week I should, too."
After playing 402 snaps last season, Ricard has already played a career-high 489 snaps and has played at least 50 percent of the offensive snaps in all but one game – and he still plays special teams. Since Nick Boyle suffered his serious knee injury last year, the Ravens have relied on Ricard's blocking more than ever and he has adjusted to the heavier workload.
"If you look back two years ago, I was getting in the 30% of snaps; now I'm getting like 60%-70%," Ricard said. "I think it's definitely a difference, because I can't just go super, all-out every play, because I know I'm playing more. But it's a lot of fun. I can really get in a groove, really get a feel of the game and get a lot of reps, and I enjoy it."
Lamar Jackson Focused in Practice Following Subpar Performance
Lamar Jackson said he let the frustration of throwing four interceptions against the Browns fester a little bit, but after a full week of practice, Ricard said Jackson looks razor sharp and ready to bounce back.
"Lamar is an absolute competitor," Ricard said. "He's very accountable. He understands if he plays good or not, and I think he's been more focused this week – more than ever. In his eyes, he didn't have the best performance, and we're obviously playing the Steelers, so I think he's just so locked in, and I think he's going to perform better."
In two career starts against the Steelers, Jackson has a 59.2 quarterback rating, his lowest mark against any team. He's thrown three touchdowns to five interceptions.
However, we've reached the time of the regular season when Jackson is usually his best. Jackson has won 12 straight regular season games as a starter in December and January.
Harbaugh Discusses Not-Green Grass on Practice Fields
The brownish color of the grass on the Ravens' practice field has become a topic of conversations on social media.
Head Coach John Harbaugh gave a simple explanation following Friday's practice.
"It's Bermuda [grass] that goes dormant," Harbaugh said. "That's the word – dormant. You could say hibernation, but that's more for mammals, I think. I think dormant goes for plants.
"The University of Kentucky, have you ever watched a game there in November [or] December? There you go, [it's the] same kind of grass. What more can I say?"