On the "Mighty Men" jackets the players are wearing:"The 'Mighty Men' jackets went to the 53 mighty men who made the Baltimore Ravens' football team. We have had some requests from coaches and scouts and other people around the building for a similar jacket, but it only goes to the players. Fifty-three, that's who gets them. It's a pretty big accomplishment to make an NFL football team, especially this one."
On what he saw from WR David Tyree, and if he's a Raven or not:"He's not a Raven at this point. We saw a lot. David Tyree did a tremendous job. Having had a chance to go against him in that [NFC East] division all those years, and then having a chance to see him personally go through the workout and get to know him, he's everything we thought he was. He got after the workout. He attacked the workout, and that's the way he's played all those years. We've just got to see, make sure he's 100 percent ready to go and get some of the little things healed up. That's probably the main thing right now. We'll take it slow at this time. In the mean time, he may sign with somebody else, but we're going to take that part of it a little bit slower."
On if WR Mark Clayton is 100 percent:"I wouldn't comment on it if I did know, and I really don't know for sure. Those are the kind of things that you just have to wait and see how they go. How he practices, and how he feels with it [is important], because it's a hamstring. We'll just have to see."
On if he thinks the defense has more depth than last year:"I think we have a lot of depth. We think we have a lot of good players on defense. We kept a number of defensive players for that reason. We're excited about the personnel we have. We can always get better, but I think a lot of that entails everybody getting better at what they do – units playing every call even better every single day."
On how TE L.J. Smith is coming along:"L.J. is getting better. He's a possibility for this game. I know he's getting ready to play in this game. It's just a hamstring. Again, you just never know about those things, and you want to be a little bit cautious with him. But, he's worked really hard to get better. He is getting better, yes."
On if he has to manage any over-confidence with the team:"I don't think our guys have any illusions about the season. They understand who we're playing, what this team's all about coming in here. I think that we're not too far removed from where the Chiefs are at. They're going to come in here in a furious mood. That's what we're expecting. We've got a lot of respect for the program they're building. We see it, we recognize it, and it's going to be a big challenge."
On if there is some mystery to the Chiefs:"There's a lot of mystery to the Chiefs, X- and O-wise, and there's a lot of mystery personnel-wise. We're not sure who's going to play various positions. Guys have played different positions than they've played sometimes in their career, and the scheme is completely different. So, we are in the dark as far as a lot of things they are going to do."
On if what the Chiefs are doing really matters, because Ravens players say that it's all about the Ravens:"It always is. That's what football is. It's all about how we play, and how we execute and doing the things that we do well. You have to prepare. It just means you have to prepare for a volume of things that you don't have to normally have to prepare for. We've been doing that throughout. We knew we had the Chiefs in the opener. We knew the situation, so we've been in the process of doing that."
On what he sees from Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe:"Dwayne Bowe is physical – big, physical. Great-looking guy. Good hands. Wants the ball, obviously, like all the great ones do. I'd say an up-and-coming star."
On the impact of the addition of rookie T Michael Oher and C Matt Birk on the passing game:"You make a good point about the passing game and tying it to the offensive line. That's a big part of it; protection is huge. If you can't protect, you can't play. Matt Birk ties us together in there. He's done a great job developing our young offensive line, Michael Oher being a big part of that. Mike's got a big challenge now. He's going to be playing for the first time in a real NFL game, and the speed of it's going to crank up a little bit, so I can't wait to see how he responds."
On what the M&T Bank Stadium crowd means to these players when they play:"They were commenting on it even during some of our away games, the difference in a preseason game between our stadium and some other stadiums in a preseason game. Now, it all changes in the regular season, and all the places are loud, but there are not any places like our place. There's no outdoor place that is any louder, and our fans are real, real supportive. I think it's a big… It's a home-field advantage."
On if he thinks he'll be as nervous going into this game as the same time a year ago:"That sounds like a comparison question, again. (laughter) Everybody… People tell you they don't get nervous – everybody gets nervous. All of us get nervous when we're doing something we've worked hard to get ready for, so we'll all have the butterflies in our stomach before it starts."
On if he agrees that this offense is better than last year's offense: "I agree. For one, this is the second year of our system. Guys are a lot more confident when they step on the field with what they're doing, where they're going and what we're trying to do offensively – the big picture. That makes the offense go to another level. And two, just the players itself. We're excited about our opportunity. We have some really good talent. We're just looking forward to seeing what comes out of our hard work."
On excitement about starting this year's season with a home game: "No doubt about it. In front of our fans – to me, the greatest fans in the National Football League – they've been great since I've been here. They're taking this to the next level, just like we are."
On his response to the media saying the team needs more receivers:"The organization knows – they're very good. They know what we need to win games. They're going to put us in the best position to win ball games. As players here, we feel like we have what we need. We've got what it takes. We've got the talent. We've got guys that can get down the field, underneath, make big plays, make tough plays. Anything, you name it, we can do it. We know what we can do."
On understanding what offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is trying to do with the offense: "It started off having to stay in certain plays offensively because we wanted to establish the fact that we are a physical offense and we are going to run the ball. We know if we want to score a lot of points, we've got to throw the ball. This year, that's what we're looking forward to. Joe [Flacco] has a year in this system. He's much more mature than he was last year, and he understands a lot more. I'm looking forward to scoring points and to a victory."
On if he can appreciate what the Chiefs are facing this season with a new coach and new quarterback and starting on the road like the Ravens did last year:"I don't think it's a good way to begin it. We're going to come in there, and we're going to play well, and I don't think they're really going to want to play us by the end of the game. I'm a Baltimore Raven. I'm obviously not going to say it's a good thing for the Kansas City Chiefs to come in here [and start their season]. We had a new coach [last year]. We came out and we had something to prove, we felt, and we wanted to play hard and play hard for our coach, play hard for the city and play hard for us. So, we know that Kansas City is going to come out ready to play. They've got a new coach, and they really have something to prove. They want to come out and prove that they're a good team. They've been playing pretty well in the preseason. They've had a handful of sacks, and they've stopped the run pretty well. Their front seven is playing pretty well. So, we're going to have to come out ready to play and give them all we've got."
On if he remembers how he felt being a rookie last year at this time and can he compare then and now:"It's tough to remember back exactly what I was feeling, but it's definitely a lot different [this year]. I have 19 games under my belt and feel a lot more comfortable heading into this one than I did the first game last season."
On the Ravens' success in the passing game during the preseason and does it mark a change given the team's history of being a running team:"We'll see. It's going to depend on what we feel like we can do each week. I think that during the preseason that was a little bit of our plan [to] come out throwing the ball and see what we can do. I think we did a good job proving to the coaching staff that we can hold up in the passing game and do a good job of it. It's going to depend on the game and what we feel like we can do best against them, but I think we'll definitely throw the ball a little bit."
On what concerns him about Kansas City:"They put some pressure on the quarterback, and their front seven is doing a pretty good job of stopping the run. They really look like they're playing well together. Like I said, they're going to come in here ready to play. So, we have to get off to a quick start and try to shut that down as best we can."
On if he thinks that the Chiefs feel they have something to prove this season after last year:"I don't know. You'll have to ask them. I feel like they're going to do a great job for us, and I'm sure they feel like they have a little bit to prove. At the same time, they're a bunch of guys who have gone out there and done a good job and done what's asked of them. I don't think that they should have anything to prove to themselves, or me, because I know they're going to do a good job. But, I'm sure they will have something to prove because of what everybody is saying."
On what the undefeated preseason meant to him:"I don't know what it means. I think we go into every game, we approach every game, and we want to get a win out of it, and we did a good job of doing that. I didn't even play in the last game, and our backups went in there and did a pretty good job against Atlanta and got us a win. So, I don't know what it means, but I guess we'll find out come Sunday."
On how the team is feeling before the first game of the season:"We're just kind of loose and excited and ready to play football. It's good for the season to be back around, and a lot of guys are excited about it. So, here we go."
On whether he feels he is getting older or younger:"I think younger. If you let life tell it, I'm getting younger. It's always just a good feeling when you are around a group of guys [like this team]. It lifts your spirits every day to just come out here and just fight the way we fight. We've had a great training camp, and now we've got Kansas City coming in at home. You can't be more excited for our young offense – Joe [Flacco] and Ray [Rice] and those all those people like that – and then you come [focus] on our defense. We're just really excited to get on the field and get it all started."
On whether Kansas City RB Larry Johnson is a little tougher than the average running back to shut down:"He's probably one of the best backs in the league – of course, give or take, having a couple of up-and-down games, up-and-down seasons. But, the bottom line is he plays the game the way the game is supposed to be played. And we understand that. They like to run the ball, and we like to stop the run. That's what you really grab from this type of battle. They're going to come in and try to establish him. The guy that impressed me the most is probably [Jamaal] Charles, the young guy from Texas. He really gets out of the backfield and finds a way to get the ball in his hands. He has a lot of good speed and things like that. So, I just think, overall, they're a team that is kind of based from their running back position."
On the Ravens not allowing opposing teams to have a 100-yard rusher in 35 straight games:"Nah, we don't believe in that. So, something's got to give. That's just something that we understand – bottom line – as a defense that you don't let anybody come run the ball on you. That's all in your heart and in your will. We've been good at that around here, so hopefully we can continue that Sunday."
On if he feels the Ravens' defense can be even better than last year, even though it lost some players and coaches:"I think that's more of the excitement of what we see, as players ourselves. We really to see how good we can be. Now, whatever pans out, pans out. The way injuries [happen] play a huge role in that. Getting [Dawan] Landry back and signing [Domonique] Foxworth and getting Kelly [Gregg] back and things like that, [getting] Dwan Edwards [back], that gives the depth where we need it. And, that for us is the kind of combination that we've rolled out for years, having that much depth and being able to play two-deep sometimes. The expectation is going to be whatever it's going to be. As long as we take one game at a time, everything's going to take care of itself."
On the difference in defensive coordinators Rex Ryan and Greg Mattison and if it will be a factor at all:"I've said it time and time again: Do you love Rex? Yeah, but Rex has never made a play when you step on the field. No defensive coordinator has. Bottom line, the players make plays. We have a corps of guys around here who [are] dedicated to each other. Any time you have that type of chemistry inside, it's almost impossible not to come back and have the same defense. That's why this defense has been successful year in and year out doing the things we've been able to do so well."
On what changes he sees in Coach Harbaugh as he starts his second year as head coach:"Coach is a straight-forward shooter. He isn't ever going to shoot you wrong. And the bottom-line fact is he's [a good guy]. I think from the first year to the second year he's definitely more of a players' coach. Probably in his first year, he probably was as well, but he had to lay a foundation. But now we have more conversations about just life and about the totality of the team and what's best for the team. That's kind of his greatest strength – going to the players to really get our feedback and things like that. I think if you look at any big change, that's probably it for him."
On what the rookies will experience when they go on the field at M&T Bank Stadium for their first NFL game and do they have a sense of what it will be like:"You can't. I don't care if you're a rookie or if you're in your 14th year. You can't [imagine it]. That electricity in the building has its own aura about it. When you walk into it, you appreciate why people appreciate who you are and why you do what you do because it's so loud in there and so crazy, and fans are just out of control. And they're ready right now. They're ready, we're ready."
On what the he can do to help the Ravens avoid their history of disappointing seasons coming off their playoff seasons:"I think we have that [understanding], in a lot of different positions… You look at a Derrick Mason on the offensive side of the ball. You look at me, Trevor Pryce, Ed Reed and all those guys on the defensive [side] of the ball. You have that presence around our locker room. That's the thing in keeping these guys accountable. Bottom line, let them know that every week is a new week. And the bottom line [is] if we do the things we are supposed to do as a ball club, we'll be a very hard team to beat from there. So, that's kind of like our job."
On if he feels like he's established himself as the starting running back:"I know we're going to use our backs. Right now, I know I'm the starting running back, but I know it's a long season, and the more the merrier in our backfield. Like I said before, me, Willis [McGahee] and Le'Ron [McClain], we're all different. The way we use each other, and I know Cam [Cameron] is going to use us, is going to be pretty interesting. Me and Willis, he's not going to call the same plays for Willis as the same plays he's going to call for me or Le'Ron. That's a great part of having backs. I'll be starting the game, but I'm sure we'll all be in there at some point."
On what the "Mighty Men of Baltimore" shirt means to him:"'Fifty-three Might Men of Baltimore.' Any team is hard to make. Any roster is hard to make. This is my second year, and I wear it because I appreciate it. This is not just something coming out… Yeah, I got drafted in the second round, a guaranteed spot on the team. But, you come out every day, and you've got to prove yourself each day. And I think that's why Coach Harbaugh had these shirts made up, and that's what it means to us. It doesn't matter if you were a veteran or a guy coming in. You see guys getting weaved in and out every day in this league. We think it's special when you make this team because of the pride we have in playing for the Baltimore Ravens."
On his play this year compared to a year ago:"This year, I can say that the game has slowed down for me. Last year, I did start the first game due to Willis being injured last year, but the game was just so fast to me. I didn't know what to expect. Even though I went through training camp, you're not really fully understanding of what the game is until you go through a whole year and have a whole offseason under your belt. The learning of the game is just… I can smile now because it's slow now. I've been going against these guys and blocks are happening, you know where they're going to set up, you know where you can read a coverage, you can read a front. The game slows down."
On what rookie T Michael Oher has brought to the offensive line:"Not trying to big him up, but he's that good. He's probably going to be one of the best linemen in the league this year. I'm not just saying that. He's an athlete. He's going to learn, he's powerful. I've watched Michael Oher just throw a ball 70 yards, doing little stuff like that, seeing how athletic he is. His feet are great, and the sky is the limit for him. He has a great group that works with him. One thing you need to have between a quarterback, a back and a lineman is communication. Being that we're able to communicate with our line this year, we'll see a lot of different stuff."
On how he would describe playing for Coach Harbaugh: "Playing for Coach Harbaugh sort of sets you up for more than just football because of the way he disciplines his team. He treats it like a world-class business. The little things matter to him – just as simple as us being behind a line in a drill means a lot to him. So, playing for him will set you up in life. Just like when you're doing a job out there, it's the little things that matter – being on time, doing the little stuff. I think that's when great teams and great organizations, that's when championships are won. If you scale out every team – everybody is athletic, everybody has guys that are athletic – but it's the little things that take care of itself."
On whether catching the ball is just as important as running the ball: "Definitely. Catching the ball in this offense definitely gives you a chance to be a stud. And I say that because after you catch it, technically you're a running back again, especially when I get it. So, it doesn't matter if they're handing it to me or throwing it to me. When I get it, I'm a running back."
On if he is ready to play with his shoulder/neck injury: "I am as ready as I'm going to be. I still take precautions and try to play smart – not really worry about it as much and let my mind focus on that and what we have to do."
On what he can attribute to the defensive excellence that the Ravens display:"There are just guys that Ozzie [Newsome] and the staff upstairs bring in. The guys come out and they're willing to learn. Coaches keep it likeable and learnable. We understand, as a team, that this is a job, but it's our profession to play football. Guys understand that and they buy into it. That makes it easy. When guys buy into it, it makes it easy for us go out there and execute."
On the new jacket that he is wearing that says "Mighty Men of Baltimore": "I'm going into my eighth year now – just proud to make the team. It was a gift from the coaches. Everybody that made this team [got one]. It was a special offseason, special training camp. Guys, like I said, buying into what we're trying to do as a team. What the coaches present to us, as a staff, guys will buy into it. I believe that this [jacket] really came from that heart. It came from a place where the coaches appreciate us for what we did this year, coming off of last year – not really getting complacent. The season doesn't show that right now, and it probably won't show it, but it showed in training camp."
On this being a special year and the team being more united: "We are united. We are united win, lose or draw. That's just the way we are as a team, as a family. It was just special – guys not really paying attention to all the outside stuff that was going on, and just focusing on football. That's what we did. That's what I think this came from. It came from football players."
On if he feels better about this year than any other year:"Right now, it's all up in the air. Everything looks good on paper for everybody. Right now, the whole league is 0-0. There's no Super Bowl champ. That's what everybody is trying to work toward, and that's what we're working towards."
On the defense leading by example:"We have a bunch of leaders on this team – offense, defense and special teams. Everybody has a part that they play. Every leader has a part they're going to play. Somebody, at some time, is going to have to say something that's in their heart. We're that type of team. You can open up and say whatever. Guys take heart to it or brush it off and keep moving."
On if it's hard to game-plan for Kansas City: "Right now, all we can do is focus on us. First game of the season is all about what we're doing right now. We can't focus on what they're doing because we really don't know what they're going to present. That's a good challenge for us, and it's a good challenge for them because they don't have a clue on what we're going to do, for the most part. We haven't changed and they know that. They've got new coaches going in, a couple different players, so it ought to be interesting."
On his expectations for this season after having a great preseason: "Every season is not the same. You're not going to always go 13-3. You're not always 12-4. You just come out and play week to week because they're professionals on the other side of the ball, too. You want to win them all. But does it happen? No. You try your best. You give your best on Sunday. From Baltimore fans – we've got the best fan base in the league, we feel like. Of course everybody feels like that with their team. We're going to come out this first game and try to give it our all. Then next week, do the same thing."
On how not knowing the Kansas City QB situation affects game-planning: "Like I said, we've got to focus on us – knowing what we've got to do, going in there and executing our defense, our scheme – then worry about who's the quarterback when we show up on Sunday at 1."
On how much he looks forward to pressuring the QB on Sunday, regardless of who it is:"Well, you know it's opening day. So, we're just excited to play. I think they're going to come ready to play, and they're going to stand by whoever is under center. So, we're just going to prepare and be ready for them."
On how much having a good preseason game inspires him going in the opener: "I would have rather played a week before. I would have rather played in the Carolina game just to have a few more snaps under the belt. But it played out how it played out. I have to be a professional, and on Sunday I have to go to work."
On whether he feels like he's ready to play for a full game: "Yeah, I think the coaches and the equipment staff did a good job making sure I was in game shape. So, yeah I think I'm ready to go. I hope it's hot."
On whether the regular season is what they paid him for, as one of the highest-paid NFL players now: "No, man. Why would you say something like that? No. [Ray Lewis] told you that? That's not true. They paid me like a defensive end. (laughing) I'm just going to play. Everybody wants to see me play, especially in these colors. So, that's why we agreed on a contract. Don't use that word like that again. No, we're going to have some fun; we're going to be the Ravens' defense. We get to see Joe [Flacco] go out there and see if he's still cool, see if he can still handle the pressure and everything. And we just get to see us play, and everything is live, so it's going to be pretty good."
On going up against a RB like the Chiefs' Larry Johnson: "You always want to go up against a good back, because then that's where you see how good you are. The simple fact that he's a great back and we have tremendous backs in this division… We have tremendous backs in this league. So, every week you're going to face a good back, or you're going to face a great quarterback or a receiver. It's the NFL, and we just like to line up. So we should be good."
On whether he remembers Johnson being the last RB to rush for 100 yards on the Ravens: "Was he? No, we don't remember. We just go out there and we just play. We know who we are, and we try to stay grounded on our foundation. But he had a good game, and we'll applaud it to him. We just need to keep on going forward, but most important is to win. We need to try to go out there and get a win. We don't get tied up in all that side stuff that [the media] needs to get tied up in."
On whether he remembers knocking Johnson out of bounds and taunting him a little bit: "No, I don't remember. That was a long time ago.* (laughter)* A lot has happened since then. I was a young man, and I tried to grow up. So, I'm putting all that behind me. You need to get rid of some of those memories. I've talked to Larry, and we're on good terms. So, it should be a good, fun game."
On what the difference is between this Ravens team and past teams that were in the playoffs and had a losing record the following season: "I think we're more mature. We had that weird awkwardness of having a new coach [last year]. And now, we all can be ourselves around each other. We can fart around our coach, stuff like that, you know? It's [like] the first time you move in with somebody. It's just kind of weird. But, now we're good."
On whether he could fart around coach last year: "Well, I was metaphorically speaking. (laughter) But yeah, I don't know. You never knew how he was going to handle it. But this year, he farts too, so it's cool." (laughter)
On how this defense stacks up against last year's: "I guess we'll just have to see. We'll have to see how we play with the numbers, and we'll have to see how we do opening day. Last year's defense is exactly where it's supposed to be, and that's last year. Now we need to pay respect to the guys that are here, that are working to take us to that next level. We're just ready for this year, and hopefully we can do some great things."