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Post-Practice Transcript - Sept. 16

On his impression of Chargers OLB Shawne Merriman:"My impression is that he's really good, really physical, really fast and gets after it. He's a great player."

On if he thinks Merriman has lost a step:"No, no. Shawne Merriman looks better than ever. He looks great. He's playing great."

On what struck him the most from the Chiefs game:"What struck you the most is that we won. We had to answer the bell in the fourth quarter, and we were able to do that. We did it different ways. We were able to do different things offensively, defensively. That's the striking thing, I guess, more than anything."

On if he has any updates on ILB Tavares Gooden:"Looks like he's practicing, so we'll see how he gets through practice and how he feels when it's all said and done."

On how he counters an opponent's home-field energy:"The thing about being successful on the road, we tell our guys, and I think our guys understand this – the best thing to take with you is a really good team. If you're a good team, you tend to go anywhere and win. If you're not a really good team, you're going to struggle, on the road especially. If we go out and play well, then we'll have a really good chance to win the game. There's no magic to it. It's West Coast time, so we move the clock back three hours and we go play at 1 o'clock Pacific Time. That's what we'll do."

On if the Raiders' performance vs. the Chargers shows that you have to be ready every game:"Yeah. Everybody knows that who knows anything about the NFL. You better be ready every Sunday to play. That's what we intend to do every Sunday."

On his thoughts on San Diego's offensive weapons:"San Diego, they're a premiere team in this league. They've got premiere talent, and it starts with the quarterback [Philip] Rivers and runs through their offense. But it's on the defensive side, too. That front's pretty darn good. That linebacking corps, it's one of the better ones, if not the best, in the league. I know they feel like they're the best in the league. They've got great talent."

On what specifically stands out about Rivers to make him one of the top 5 quarterbacks:"Rivers, he's a big, strong guy. He's willing to fire it in tight areas. He's got a great arm. He's tough, competitive. He's got a great will to win, and he can throw it. That's the main thing. He's got a pretty good receiving group. He's got a lot of big targets out there to throw it to, so that sure helps."

On the Chargers' running game:"They do different things with [Darren] Sproles and [LaDainian] Tomlinson in the game. They each can do the thing that… They each do all the things, but they tend [to go] toward certain directions with different guys in the game."

On how big of a threat Sproles is in the return game:"You know, [he had] 246 all-purpose yards against the Raiders. He's the guy that's moving the ball for them to a large extent in that game. He's a big threat. He's a north/south guy, he's a quick accelerator, and he runs through arm tackles. He doesn't mess around too much. He gets the ball north and south fast, and they block really well for him. So the return game, our coverage units are going to be really stressed."

On what RB Ray Rice does to counteract being smaller:"One of the shorter backs out there, you mean? Yeah, because he's pretty thick. He's pretty powerful. He makes up for it by being powerful and fast and quick and tough."

On how he prepares for the crowd noise:"Crowd noise is a big part of home and road [games]. If you're on defense and you play at home, you've got some crowd noise issues. So, we work on that communication when we play at home. Obviously, it will be more toward the offensive side of the ball this week. The nonverbal communication is really important, and you've got to learn to shout really loud. At practice, we've got to talk really loud out here when the crowd noise is going [over the speaker system]."

On what director of player development O.J. Brigance means to this team and the new players:"O.J. is the heart and soul of so many things we're doing here. I think he epitomizes the spirit. The lessons are clear. He's stated them to our guys, and he lives them every day. He's the epitome of strength for the Baltimore Ravens, and our guys have relationships with him, most of the guys, long-standing relationships. But as you said, even the rookies are getting to know him and what he stands for. It's quite a testament when, with his struggles, he's able to grow relationships with rookies who haven't met him before. And what does that say about the kind of person he is?"

On traveling to San Diego a day early and dealing with distractions:"Our guys aren't most of us. Our guys are on a business trip. You may find it distracting to be in Southern California, but our guys will be playing the Chargers at 1 o'clock this Sunday, and that's where their mind is going to be, no doubt about it. You media guys, you might have other things that you have in mind. You've got some plans, probably. That would be my guess." (laughing)

On what he expects science to find after studying his brain:"Not much, not much. (laughing) They just asked for it, so I said I'd give it to them. It was, I guess, maybe because it's the brain and the spinal cord. It's a little bit morbid, but I just look at it as like being an organ donor. It's really not that big of a deal, and obviously if I'm dead, I won't need it. They can have at it and do what they want."

On if he's had concussions in the past:"I've had a couple. Three, actually. The group at Boston University does these studies that study concussions, but also just repeated traumas. Playing offensive line, you don't get those big collisions, where you might not necessarily get concussed, but repeated blows over and over and over. They're trying to study the effects of that as well."

On if he received any indication of why he was asked:"The guy who heads up the group, I actually played college football with him. That's my connection. Probably that, and I'm just so good-looking." (laughter)

On if, due to his attending Harvard, they will find a bigger brain:"They'll probably be disappointed. It will probably dispel a lot of the Harvard myths out there."

On how it felt to win his first regular season game with a team other than Minnesota:"It was fun. It was great. I didn't really compare the two other than there were a lot of the same emotions that I had my first game back in Minnesota – running through the tunnel and looking up into the stands. It was great. A bunch of my family came out and got to see me. It sounds silly, but it was a treat for them to watch football outside on a beautiful day. We don't get that in Minnesota. (laughter) We get beautiful days, just not outside football. It was a great atmosphere, and obviously great that we won."

On if there is any risk:"Yeah, I think there's risk in everything. You can't just totally eliminate risk. You can calculate it and try to minimize it, but there are risks in everything you do. Obviously, football, there's inherent risk to playing the game, and a lot of those a lot of times, we as players don't really like to talk about it. You try to minimize it, doing this thing, working with this group. Also, I'm wearing a new helmet, new technology that actually, another one of my college teammates actually designed, that's supposed to be different, supposed to be safer and better. So, I'm trying to do everything I can, but you certainly think about the risk, I think especially if you have family. That's the No. 1 concern. The decision to do this brain donation, if it can help, if doing stuff like this can help make the game safer for future generations, then why not?"

On if what is done now can help to prepare future players:"This is a guy at Harvard. He went to class and studied really hard. That wasn't really me. (laughing) No, I don't know exactly everything they're finding. I do know, though, that they have looked at a number of – I don't know what the right term is to use – former NFL players that have died. They've examined their brains that have suffered effects of dementia or short-term memory loss or other symptoms, and they're pretty much batting 1.000 as far as finding things with these guys' brains that obviously occurred during their playing careers and manifested themselves later on, the symptoms. They've done enough work that I think there's something there. They just need to do more and more, get their hands on more and more brains, and see this thing so it has scientific proof or legitimacy."

On if he feels the Ravens can be as dominant on offense as they are on defense after their performance against the Chiefs:"I think we've always felt we could score on offense and be a good offense. It's obviously our second year in this offense for everybody, so we feel a lot more comfortable in it, and it's just a matter of going out there and playing on Sundays. We take great pride in how we practice during the week, and that's a big part of it, why we play well. And we're going to do that this week and then go out there and expect to play well on Sunday again."

On how aware the offense will have to be of San Diego LBs Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips:"They've got a bunch of talented guys on their defense and their offense. We're going to pay attention to those guys in certain things, but the bottom line is to focus on what we do and do what we do best. And that's what we'll do, and as long as we do that I think we'll be successful. Like I said, those guys are going to be good players and they'll make their plays here and there, but we're going to do things, too, and make sure we attack them. Hopefully, we'll just go out there and do a good job like we expect to."

On if any plays the Raiders' receivers made against San Diego jumped out to him on film:"Oakland did a good job. I watched [the game] Monday night, and they did a good job of playing against them. I don't think anybody expected they were going to play a great game against the San Diego Chargers. Everybody expected San Diego to be pretty good this year. Oakland definitely went in there and played well and did what they needed to do on offense and defense for most of the game. Our plan is to go in there and do the same thing. Attack them the best we can, and hopefully we can sustain that all four quarters."

On if he has ever scrambled for so long like he did on Sunday with the pass rush around him before making the connection with RB Willis McGahee for the touchdown, and if he got ragged on in the meeting room when the team watched the film:"No, I didn't get ragged on. People probably laughed, but I think it was a good thing. I liked it. I had fun watching it. There's usually a play or two like that a year that you have a little bit of fun on and you get pretty excited when it all works out. I went back and looked at it on film, and it didn't seem as long as it was out on the field at that time. I was definitely pretty exhausted after that play was over. But looking at it on film, I was like, man, it was only about three seconds long so I don't know why I was [exhausted]. I don't know if we're going to need too many of those kinds of plays. Hopefully we don't. We've just got to go out there and execute the play that's called, hopefully, and score a touchdown that way."

On people doubting his lack of mobility coming out of college and if his scrambling on Sunday proves them wrong:"I think they talked about that because I'm 6-6. I guess I appear to be a slow guy, but I never really pay attention to that. I feel like I can run pretty well and get out of things pretty well. It's part of my game. It's always been a part of my game a little bit, when it's needed. I'll do whatever's needed."

On what he sees in QB Philip Rivers that makes him a good quarterback:"He's smart where he goes with the ball. Obviously, he's got a great line, great receivers, and he does a great job of getting back and getting the ball to those guys. He goes with the ball in places he needs to go to. He's an experienced guy. He's been in the league for a handful of years now. He doesn't try to make too many plays where he gets himself in trouble, and he's patient back there. He lets his guys go and make plays for him."

On the versatility of RB Ray Rice:"Ray's a shorter guy, but he's pretty big, and he's a pretty savvy guy and runs well. [Ray is] a running back in the NFL, and if you're a running back in the NFL you're not just limited to one layer of running the ball. You can usually do everything, and that's the way Ray is."

On flying out on Friday and staying in a city for two days prior to a West Coast game:"There's no difference outside of you just get there a little earlier than your regular Saturday. Instead of flying in to the West Coast for four or five hours on a Saturday, you just do it on a Friday. That's all."

On his thoughts on San Diego's two-headed attack with RBs Darren Sproles and LaDainian Tomlinson:"I think that's probably one of the best combinations in football right now. Outside of L.T. kind of nipping his ankle, [we] don't know the extent of that. The bottom line is you prepare for both of those guys. You get kind of the best of both worlds. Both of them are slash running backs. They really want to get the ball into those guys' hands. So, it's going to be a great task for us this week."

On watching LB Shawne Merriman grow as a player and becoming an All-Pro player:"Offensively, I think we're just going to have to really keep him calm. He's the heartbeat over there on that team. When he can start getting at your quarterback and getting him on the ground and stuff, that gets them playing. I think offensively, we've got a great game plan, though, and I think we should be pretty good against them."

On if QB Philip Rivers is one of the better players the Ravens will face this season:"If you look at his quarterback rating from last year and things like that, man, the guy has a big arm. He throws the ball very well and has a lot of targets to really throw the ball to. So, I think that's a great credit to him. But the bottom line is he spreads the ball around very well, and he loves to sit in that pocket. So hopefully, we don't let him sit there too long."

On the threat of TE Antonio Gates when he can make the connection with Rivers:"That's the thing when you have that many athletes on that side of the ball. [Rivers] and Antonio Gates, I think they're real close. On the football field you can tell their relationship, that they kind of know each other – where the routes are going to be and things like that. So, our job is to make sure we don't let him settle in the pocket, don't let him get into their routes without being physical."

On if San Diego's two strong running backs present a different challenge to the Ravens' defense:"No, not at all. Not at all. They're the same two people. If you're playing a totally different back, a bruiser and then a quick slasher [it would be different]. Both of these guys are slashers, both of them are game breakers. They just really want to get the ball in their hands. From there, they run the same type of plays with them. They don't really change their package at all."

On whether it is helpful to go against Ravens RBs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee in practice to prepare for Sproles and Tomlinson:"Exactly, it's exactly alike. Of course, Willis is a little bigger than L.T., but I just think overall what they do, Willis and what Ray does, they're the same two backs. L.T. and Sproles, if you look at their packages, they really get them out to really try to get the ball in their hands to feature them, things like that. And that's what keeps drives going for them. So we're going to have to do a good job. Just like the last game you saw them play, this last Monday night, the bottom line is [on] their last drive Sproles really took control of the game. Our job is to make sure he doesn't get started."

On if he was surprised that it took San Diego a while to get going in the game on Monday night:"I'm always kind of biased to hear people say that because Oakland was playing a hell of a football game. Two teams [were] on the field, and [for] me watching that game, I'm looking at Oakland playing some hardnosed football. I think they really got after them a lot. They really attacked their offensive line and did some great things against them. So, I'm going to give a lot of credit to Oakland that game, and whether [San Diego] got out slow or not, when you step on the field, hopefully you're ready."

On if he feeds off the negative energy when playing in another team's stadium on road trips:"Everybody does. It's no different for us. You go play away. One thing about our defense, a lot of times we play better on the road because we can just hear. We can communicate a lot better and things like that. So you feed off the energy. They [cheer] with your offense, but when you step on the field you appreciate it because they're quiet for their offense. It gives us the flexibility of really hearing everything, getting every check, seeing everything that comes out. You always have your advantages [when] playing at home, but there are a lot of things with playing on the road as well."

On TE Todd Heap having a great opener and being back in a pass-catching role:"I think what it does is give [him] confidence – period. I don't care who you are. If you're not playing the game with confidence, then your talent only goes so far. Right now he's back in the mix, and [Joe] Flacco is really finding him on some big possessions. Heap, one thing he can do, is run and catch the ball. We know that. So the bottom line is getting him back in the mix really helps our offense out a great deal."

Opening Statement:"All right, I want to say one thing: Damn Keyshawn Johnson, OK, because I heard he said something else. Keyshawn knows where I'm at, he knows where the Ravens' facility is, so if he wants to hash this out man to man or talk about it, you want to stack up numbers man to man and talk about it, we can do that. Remember, Keyshawn, you were a No. 1 pick in the draft, and I was a fourth-rounder, and our numbers still pretty much stack up, OK? But let's go."

On whether he holds a grudge over all of this:"No, I never hold a [grudge]. I like it; it's fun. It's really fun. You're supposed to be about building people up, and a lot of people could have called him a bum many times. But they chose not to. Hey, it is what it is."

On whether he likes that QB Joe Flacco spread the ball around to seven different receivers last Sunday: "It makes our team better. Go in to any given game knowing that anybody can catch five or six balls a game, then that's good. Then the defense can't key on one guy. I think Mark [Clayton] caught six or seven, Todd [Heap] caught six or seven, I had four, Kelley [Washington] had three or four, and then Ray Rice and Willis [McGahee] coming out of the backfield… How does a defense stop something like that? You can't. You can't key on one guy, because then the other guys start catching a lot of balls on you. So, we want to try to keep this offense as balanced as possible and try to make sure everyone stays in the game."

On whether he expects TE Todd Heap to be more of a receiver than a blocker this year: "I don't know. You'd have to ask Cam [Cameron] about that one. But you know with Todd, when the play is called for him, he always seems to make it. Whether that's going to translate into more catches for him this year, I don't know. But anytime we've needed Todd to make a play for us, he's made it."

On whether it's hard not to call anybody out as a somewhat member of the media now: "Listen. No, it's not hard, because if you played the game, you understand what it takes to play at this level, then you won't disrespect a player like that because you know that week in and week out, or day in and day out, these guys are working hard. And if you're playing at this level, you can play – regardless if you're a first-stringer or a third-stringer. And when [Johnson] said that, he said it about the group. But I took it as a personal shot, because I'm the elder statesman in the group, and I know the other guys are not going to say anything. So, it's like attacking me. You just don't do that. If you're going to attack the bunch, you're attacking me, and I'm going to come back at you."

On whether it seemed like RB Ray Rice gained 100 yards rushing against Kansas City: "Did he gain 100 yards? Wow. (laughing) You know what, when they put up the numbers as far as total offense, and it was 500 yards, for one, I was like, 'Wow. Where did that come from?' It just didn't seem like we had 500, and then they showed we had 190-some, 180-some yards rushing, and I'm like, 'Where did it come from?' But I guess that's the way we like doing it, because you never know who that guy is. You say Ray had 100 yards, but I didn't know it, and I think Ray probably didn't even know it. But he went out there and he did his thing. If we continue to distribute the ball the way we did the first game, I think this offense will continue to score points."

On whether there were still some plays that could have been made: "Oh, yeah. There were a bunch of plays. I had two that could have been made that I didn't make, and I'm pretty sure some other guys felt that they've had some plays that they didn't make in the game. So we could have had almost over 600 yards in total offense and more points, but we didn't, and I think there is always room for improvement. And that's good. So, we see what we did right and we see the things that we didn't do quite well. We just try to build on that and try to correct it and move on."

On QB Philip Rivers having a quick release: "If you take the top five or six quarterbacks in the league, they all have a quick release. That's why they're the top five or six quarterbacks in the league. It goes hand in hand. If you can get the ball out fast, you don't take a lot of hits, you don't take a lot of sacks, and the routes come a lot quicker. So, he has a very fast release."

On his dance after his sack against Kansas City:"The 'fizzy wiggle.' My son taught it to me. He's three years old. So my wife and kids got a real kick out of it. It's an inside joke. Now it's an outside joke. (laughter)."

On how you prepare for Chargers RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles: "You prepare the same. What you don't want to do is lose your gap control. If you stay where you are no matter where the ball shows up, and not try to do too much, you have a chance. I've played against L.T. many of times – even when you think you have a chance, you really don't. He's a special back. Sproles, I don't know much about him, but watching him on tape is like watching a Madden game. It's interesting, if nothing else."

On if he takes offense when reporters talk about the loss of Rex Ryan and they don't give the players credit: "No. I don't take any offense to it. Football is a game of entertainment. What's said in the media and what's said outside of our locker room, we have no control over. You can't buy into it too much or let stuff like that bother you."

On if San Diego having a short week equalizes the cross-country trip: "No. We're playing at their stadium, and that's about the only advantage you can put in writing. Traveling and a short week, all those things, that affects everybody a little differently. I look at it as we're playing in their stadium, and that's usually the biggest advantage an NFL team has over another – home and away."

On his thoughts about making the Denver Broncos' 50-Year All-Time Team: "I knew this would come up. It's a great honor. I'll talk about it some other time. I just found out – they told me a couple days ago. Somebody sent me a link to it yesterday, and I was like 'wow.' If you look at the Ravens' all-time team, it's pretty much the guys that are here. This is a young franchise. The fans voted on it, and when I'm back home in Denver the fans always say, 'We shouldn't have got rid of you,' and that type of thing. So, I think I know where it comes from."

On if it's harder to tackle a smaller back like Sproles: "Yeah it is. It's a lot harder because you have to leave your feet to dive at him. You can't squat that low. The bigger you are, the harder it is to tackle a small back. The lower he gets, the lower you have to get. By that time you're sitting on your behind. They're strong – shorter guys are always strong because they're compact. You wouldn't be so surprised on how strong they are, but when you see a guy like Sproles run through tackles, it's not foreign to us. We see it all the time."

On what jumped out at him when he was watching tape from the Kansas City game: "Dive when you get to the 1 [-yard line]. As a team we overcame some adversity. We can put that away now and use it for more games to come at the end of the season when we're fighting the tough battles. For me personally, I feel like I ran the ball well. There are little things that I always think I can get better at – better run faking and doing little things. That's something that coming out to every practice, you can work on that each day."

On if he sees any similarities between Ravens ILB Ray Lewis and Chargers OLB Shawne Merriman:"He's a force to be reckoned with. He's not a guy where you can look at that side of the ball and not recognize him. He's a force to be reckoned with. If he gets his motor going, he's tough to stop. Our line – we have just the men for the job. We play against guys like that every day. We've seen it in camp. 'Sizzle' [LB Terrell Suggs] – there are similarities. We see a lot of the great players on our side of the field. So when we get to go against a guy like that, we've already been prepared for it."

On if he learned something from traveling on the road last year: "Definitely. This is going to be a little different for me. I've been on the East Coast my entire life. I played in a bowl game in college. We were out there for a week. So you got used to being out there and the three-hour difference. Getting out there on Friday and getting acclimated to the weather, being on the West Coast is going to be different for me I'm sure. This is their home opener. The crowd will be into it. They'll be into it. It's going to be a great environment out there. So this is different for me, but at the end of the day, once you start playing a few snaps it's just football."

On how much you watch Chargers' RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles: "L.T. [LaDainian Tomlinson] – I look at him as one of my role models. I've watched him my whole career. While I was in college, high school – I watched L.T. Sproles is doing things that I see myself emerging doing. I can do a lot of the things that he can do out of the backfield. He is, obviously, a little shorter than me and weighs less than me. I think I got him by 22 pounds, now that I've seen how much he weighs when we got the sheet today. But they are great players and work together really well."

On if he was surprised to get 100 yards against the Chiefs: "Yeah, I was surprised. It felt good knowing that. If you don't know what's going on and you get the surprise at the end of the game, it's a good surprise for you. I just knew that we were throwing the ball really well and late in the game we started with our run. I think that was a role reversal for us. Last year we were run first and then if we needed a chippy pass, we would do it. Our offense has balanced out. We still can get better. Hopefully we get L.J. Smith back, and that's another weapon we can use on our offense."

On if it is surprising to meet the guys you grew up watching: "It is surprising. When [LaDainian Tomlinson] is playing against other teams, you want to see him do well because he deserves it. I can't say that I want him to do good this week because he's playing against us. I've got much respect for him, much respect for what he's done in his career. You've got to look up to a guy like that and just admire what he's done, not for his team but for the game – for all the running backs that played this game. He's up there with the best of the best."

On if it is eating at him to get his first touchdown: "I haven't really thought about it. I got [a feel for] it a little bit in the preseason. I guess I've got to get one that counts. At the end of the day, I'm trying to get the win. I still get to carry those balls that I used in the preseason and scored. These are ones when it counts. If I get in, I get in. I know I've got to get in from at least the 20 [-yard line] because when I get to the goal line, I'm coming out."

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