On if there is a special sense of urgency going into the Broncos game because of the three straight losses:"There's always a special sense of urgency. That's how you look at it in this league. So, to make any game any different would be to demean or diminish the other guys, and we're not interested in doing that. So this game has the same importance it would have had no matter what our record is. That's how we look at it, and that's how you better look at it in this league to have a chance to win a game, because it's hard to win."
On if it's harder to scheme against a team like the Broncos who do a little bit of everything well versus a team like the Vikings where you have to stop just one guy like RB Adrian Petersen:"I guess it's an interesting question, but it's not really true to say that with a team like the Vikings you've got to stop one guy, because look at the weapons they have. They're a complete football team. Every team in this league has multiple weapons. There are certain things you have to make a priority, certain plays you have to control – no doubt about it. [There are] certain guys on the Broncos that we have to control, starting with the quarterback. But, you better be aware of everybody because everybody in this league has a chance to make a play on you."
On his memories of working with Broncos S Brian Dawkins while he was a coach in Philadelphia:"Brian's a Hall of Famer, beyond question. He's one of the best safeties to ever play the game. He's playing strong safety now; he played free safety all those years in Philly. He's definitely their emotional leader. He sets the tempo before and after the play. When they make a play, he's the guy kind of letting everybody know what they're all about on defense. That's the same way as in Philly. I just admire him, respect him and am looking forward to seeing him."
On if he feels Broncos CB Champ Bailey is still one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL:"Absolutely. Champ Bailey is, if not the best corner in the league, he's one of the top couple. He set a record for Pro Bowl appearances in his career. And the key fact is that he's playing at the same level right now. So, what's a Pro Bowl corner? Well, it's a guy who's had a great career, obviously, but he's playing at that level now. You can see it on tape."
On his opinion of the Ravens' pass protection this year and how much he thinks the Broncos defense will test that area:"The Broncos are going to test everybody's pass protection, for sure. Our pass protection has been good, but it needs to get better. The challenge with those guys is really twofold: They do a great job with their pressures; they do a great job of attacking protections schematically. They're very multiple front-wise and pressure-wise. At the same time, really, what makes them good is they beat blocks one-on-one. They do a nice job of bull-rushing, and they do a nice job of getting on edges. They're relentless, they never stop, and they've got some talented, fast guys. So, that's really what it comes down to. It's going to be our guys blocking their guys like it always is in football, really."
On if the Ravens' strong play in the second half of games this year speaks to the adjustments coaches make at halftime:"All those things tie together. You make adjustments, but the adjustments aren't anything you haven't worked on all week. Maybe you save some things for the second half, maybe you don't. I just think it's a matter of coming out and playing with responsibility and being physical and maybe coming up with a call or two here or there that makes the difference in any game. Look at the Broncos. Look how well they're playing in the second half. I think they've given up two third-down conversions in the second half all year – after six games. That's unheard of. So, the second half is going to be very important in this game."
On what defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has done to revitalize the Broncos' defense:"The first thing he did, they did a really nice job with personnel. He basically revamped the personnel of their defense. They brought in a lot of veteran players. [They have] seven or eight new starters on their defense who have played around the league. Some were starters, some weren't. And they've worked those guys in, so they've got some veteran players. Mike's instituted a real complex scheme. Their veteran players can understand it. He's got Brian [Dawkins] back there orchestrating it in the back end. They've done a great job of coaching fundamentals. [With the] veteran players, they picked those guys that were fundamentally sound football players. And, they're running to the ball exceptionally well, and they're playing hard, and they're not giving up big plays. They're getting pressure on the quarterback, and they're stopping the run. It's nothing magical, but it's a heck of a job coaching and it's a heck of a job of acquiring players from one year to the next to transform the defense."
On what he's seen from rookie CB/RS Lardarius Webb that makes him think about giving him more responsibility:"It's like any time, with any player. You look at what they've done, how they've handled the responsibility they've had, and then you try to build them into a little more responsibility. That's what we're going to try to do with all of our guys. Everybody wants to become as much as they can in whatever their field is, as a football player or otherwise. As he continues to grow as a player, he'll continue to play more. And if he levels a little bit, then we'll try to backtrack and improve and keep him growing as a player."
On if the Ravens learned anything from playing against Vikings DE Jared Allen that will help in playing against LB/DE Elvis Dumervil, or is it a different team and a different situation altogether: "Yeah, a different team, different scheme, different style of pass rusher pretty much altogether. They're relentlessness is the same. Those two guys are just fiercely relentless pass rushers. But the pass-rush moves, the tempo, the styles are completely different. I'd compare him more to [James] Harrison, probably, in Pittsburgh. He's the same kind of pass rusher."
On his comparison of Allen and Dumervil:"Jared Allen is kind of a long rusher, big long rangy guy. Elvis is more of a power-packed kind of a guy, a little lower built to the ground, gains leverage, more of a spin guy sometimes. Basically, that's it."
On whether the priority in the future will be the placement of the ball near the center of the field for K Steve Hauschka to kick a field goal:"It depends where it is. If it's back on the 38, 39 – if it's a 48-, 49-, 50-yard field goal, [from the] 31-, 32-, 33-yard line – we're going to try to get the ball as close as we can. There are diminishing returns the further out you go. Just think of the geometry. The ball tracks a little bit off. As it extends further, it's going to move more. It's not on a straight line. But our basic rule is, if we're in close enough we would like to have the ball in the center. So, if we can get it in the center, we'll try to get it in the center. Now you can never guarantee that, but if we have a chance to center the ball, we'd like to do that on a field goal that's a little bit closer."
On what are some of the specific areas of the defense that he feels can improve:"Defense is team defense. It always has been and it always will be. We had a chance over the bye week, in all phases of football, to go back and really study what we're doing [and] how we're doing it. Schematically what we can do, fundamentally what we can do, technique-wise what we can do – all those specific issues. Specifically, we need to do everything better. We need to cover better, we need to pressure better, we need to play better run defense, we need to scheme better. And that's how our guys always look at it. So, we search for improvement in every area."
On whether Denver's defense makes him think a more than other defenses:"Yeah, they're capable of doing some of those things and trying to make you feel uncomfortable and moving around a little bit and showing different looks. But, we've got to watch film, get them down and just go in there with our game plan, confident in what we do. As long as we go out there and play confidently and play quickly, then we'll get rid of that stuff. Like I said, we've just got to play our game, and as long as we do that, I think all of that other stuff will take care of itself, and the line will do a great job picking all of those guys up, and we'll be fine."
On his prediction for the World Series: "I don't know. I'd like to see the Phillies win. It should be a really good series. I mean, I have no idea who is going to win. They both have great lineups. I think it's going to come down to… I think if [Cole] Hamels can get going a little bit, then the Phillies will have a little bit of an advantage, but we'll see."
On whether he has played against a defense like Denver's yet: "I would say the most similar defense would be playing against our guys. They do a lot of the things that our guys have done in the past, and I think that plays well for us because we know how to react to it. There is going to be a certain amount in this game that you just need to go out there and play football and rely on the fact that you're a good football player and that we're all good football players. You get out there in the game, and you react to things and you play. And I think if we take a little bit of that into this game, then we'll be good."
On whether he likes the way his WRs have stepped up this season as an answer to critics who wanted an offseason acquisition: "Oh, yeah. I knew our guys were going to do a great job. They've always done a great job, and I knew that as we progressed in our second year in the offense that we were going to become better and a harder to stop offense. And I think that has shown. We've evolved as a group, and therefore everybody is playing a little bit better."
On whether that speaks to the hard work put in this offseason: "I think that's a lot of it, and I think anytime you're in the offense for a second year and you understand things better, you're just going to naturally play a little bit better."
On if he could foresee in the offseason that RB Ray Rice would be this kind of a weapon in the passing game: "Definitely. When we threw the ball to Ray in the offseason, I've always known – we've known – that if you get Ray the ball in open space and give him a chance to make the first guy miss, then he's going to be tough to beat. And I think that's what we're seeing. He's making the first guy miss, and it's tough to tackle him. If you can make that first guy miss, you never know what's going to happen. You never know if there is going to be any defense beyond that. Lot of times he's breaking through that initial wall, and he's been gone recently."
On whether it takes a certain mentality to attack a team that is constantly pressuring and trying to hit him every play: "[That's] the same [mentality] I take into every game, and that's going to happen throughout the course of a football game. I think that's one of the main goals of a defense – it would be if I was coaching defense – is to put pressure on the quarterback. You know, make him feel uncomfortable. It's the job of a good quarterback to overcome that, it's the job of a good offensive line to overcome that, and that's what we'll do as an offense. Our receivers will get open on the outside and give me a chance to get back there and get the ball out of my hands."
On whether defenses thus far have made him feel uncomfortable at any point: "I don't know. I think they do a good job of trying to do it. There are certain times throughout a game where you feel uncertain about certain things, but I think I do a pretty good job of keeping myself level headed and keeping the offense going and reacting to those things on the fly and adjusting to them pretty well."
On how important it was to get away for some time during the bye week: "I don't know. You have a bye week, and you want to get healthy if there are any little bumps or bruises, and things like that. But the bottom line is you're preparing to play Denver. I think that's what we did. You know, we took a couple of days here and had some practices, and then the rest of the couple days we were kind of just trying to get our feet back under us and prepare for Denver along the way."
On how his feet are: "My feet are great. I feel good. I'm ready to go."
On how critical it is for the offense to get into a rhythm early against Denver: "I think you always want to get into a rhythm early and come out to a quick start. But at the same time, you have to understand if that's not the way it works, you've got to be patient and keep plugging away, and eventually the game is going to come to you. Having said that, we're prepared to get off to a quick start and jump on these guys early so that we can play the game we want to."
On what he's seen from Broncos S Brian Dawkins in the secondary:"He's definitely a leader. You see the passion that he brings on the field. I think he's brought that to their defense. But, they're playing him all over the field. He's not just playing safety. Now he's even playing strong safety a little bit more, too. They're bringing him down in the box a ton, using him in blitzes a ton, and he's playing all over the field. He's playing well."
On if he thinks this game is one of the biggest challenges so far:"No question this is going to be a huge challenge for us. Obviously, Mike Nolan was here with us and some of his philosophies worked, along with Rex's [Ryan] philosophies, which transferred over into ours now – some of the similar things that I've seen over the years, but stuff that's really worked over the years. They try to confuse you. They try to show a certain front or a certain coverage, and then they'll bring the blitz, or the dogs, off the other side. They're throwing everything out there, and they don't give the same look a lot twice. That's why we really have to be on our game. We really have to be prepared and have watched everything that they've done to be ready for this game."
On how the Ravens' offense has played so well in the fourth quarter and what they have to do to start games better:"Obviously, we do need to start better. That's going to be a goal of ours. Our last game, it was something where we knew the second half was going to be huge because Minnesota played so well in the second half, so that was a focus of last week. Obviously, one of our focuses is going to be to get off to a good start against these guys. It's just executing – that's the whole thing. You want to come out there and execute and be prepared for anything they can throw at you early. As you always go into a game, they're bringing in a game plan, and sometimes they're trying to confuse you and bring all their new stuff at you early. You've kind of got to react to it, and the more prepared you are the better you can react to those things and make big plays when they happen."
On his experience of dealing with a losing streak:"I think you've just got to really take stock of where you are, and you've got to look at what you can get better at. You've got to focus on the things that you can better at, which is funny because it's a losing streak, but at the same time, we'd do that if it was a winning streak. You always go back and try to figure out what the fundamentals that are I can get better at, and that we can get better as a team, collectively. It's the same thing whether you're winning or losing, but it's just heightened when you're on a losing streak. There's a little more urgency to it because we're all aware that we need to get a win. That's our main focus this week, is going in and getting one win. That's our only goal."
On the main benefit of a bye week:"I think the largest benefit is just to heal your body, make sure you're doing everything you can to get ready to go for the remainder of the season. Other than that, there are a lot of things you can go over like we did this past bye week. You can look back and reflect on what you've done the first few games, and really refocus yourself on what you need to do to play your best for the remainder of the season. I think that's the biggest thing that we did this bye week."
On if he is happy about being back to play football: "Why wouldn't we be? I'll sum it up like this: Basketball season started, and you always watch a different sport. You see the excitement behind it all. I watched the Lakers last night, then the Celtics and the Cavs. It is kind of exciting to see how the season is going. I was sitting there with my girl and my boy, and was like, 'Wow, we get to go back and play football again.' So, you had your little break all week, which is a good thing. We needed it and really got after each other on the bye – practiced some small things. I think now we've got a nice little chip [on our shoulder] once we get back to the field on Sunday. So, it should be a good thing."
On his thoughts about knocking off an undefeated football team: "It doesn't get any better for football. There are a couple teams left undefeated. I'm OK with not being undefeated, because I want to do some other things. Those guys are in a great position right now. All we have to do is just go play football. The bottom line is the Broncos are playing very sound football right now. They have a reason to be undefeated."
On what he sees in Denver QB Kyle Orton from Chicago until now: "I didn't watch him that much in Chicago, of course, being in totally different divisions. But if you watch him for the first couple of games they've had, he's just very safe with the football. He's not making the big mistakes, turning the ball over and things like that. He's really getting his playmakers involved – Brandon Marshall, all of his running backs. The tight ends are touching the ball. Eddie Royal, a bunch of those guys are touching the ball, but they're touching the ball in very strategic places to make sure they don't put the pressure on him. I just think he's doing a great job of managing the game."
On if he gave himself some mental time off during the bye: "You try to. You get away, mentally, from it for about two or three days. But realistically, when you're in, you're in it for the long haul. You're going to pay attention to what happens here, what happens there. You're definitely going to get away from it when I spend time with my kids and stuff like that. You're strictly [spending time with your kids]. You're not going to turn on the TV and things like that. It never leaves your mind, because it's just what you do, and you enjoy doing it. Realistically, it's just because you're excited for the second half of the season. Here we go, getting back started again. So you get away real quick, but you make sure you stay in tune with it."
On if a three-game losing streak is something that he has been thinking about: "No. If you do, you don't understand this business too well. Whether it's a winning streak or a losing streak, there are no streaks. The only thing there is, is the next game. If you understand it that way, then you come prepared like that, because if we go win this one, there is no streak. It's if we win this game, we've got to go to Cincinnati next week. That's the process that you have to do, just keep playing football. That's what I tell these guys. Take a win just like a loss, 24-hour rule and it's over. Enjoy it, be mad in it – whatever you want to do on how you play – but the bottom line is you've got to keep it moving."
On if it is a matter of being more disciplined to cut down the big plays: "I think big plays are just big plays, bottom line. Either you're going to make them, or somebody else is going to make them. In the first half [of the season], other people have made them. That's why I say, 'You can kiss those bumps early or you can kiss those bumps late.' Hopefully, just like last year, we catch them early, and after the bye week we correct those."
On what Broncos defensive coordinator Mike Nolan does as a defensive coordinator: "I think the advice that I did give has already been given. The personnel is totally different than when it was here. A lot has probably changed. It's been four or five years now. I just think he has those guys playing at a very high level. So if it was anything, they're going to play hardnosed football, and nine times out of 10, they're going to keep the ball in front of them. That's kind of what his philosophy is."
On his relationship with Denver S Brian Dawkins: "The game is not played any purer than by men like him. I enjoy sitting back and watching him play football because of his passion and because he is a true man of God. He honors that. He honors going out and displaying what he can do. His leadership is probably respected more than anything. I've always looked up to 'Dawk.' Every time I see 'Dawk,' we just smile and hug each other because there is a certain level of respect that we have between each other. He's one of the classiest people I probably have ever met."
On how the defense plans on stopping the Broncos' rushing game: "Just keep playing football. Anybody can make a big deal about anything. You go 40 straight games without seeing a 100-yard rusher, and you come back and give up two. It's the same thing. It's the same formula. Come back. Be who you're supposed to be. Make the tackle when you're supposed to make the tackle, and the game takes care of itself."
On whether anything is different about this week's preparation:"No, not really. We understand what is at stake. We understand that we're on a three-game losing streak and that you want to dig yourself out of the hole. So, we're going to do what we've been doing, prepare the way we've been preparing, and hopefully the game won't come down to a last-second touchdown or a last-second play that we have to make to win the game. We're going to continue to do what we've been doing for the last six weeks. We know that eventually – hopefully – the ball will start to bounce our way a little bit."
On whether certain quarterbacks are born with the poise they maintain, even with taking hits in the pocket: "Yeah, you can't teach toughness. I don't care what you try to do. If a guy is not tough, he can't play in this league for a long time. Especially at that position – at the quarterback position – because you have guys around your legs, guys going at your head, except if you're Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Then no one can get close to you. But, you have guys flying around you and they're trying to put you on the grass or on the turf, and Joe [Flacco] has that ability to stand in the pocket. He's done it game in and game out, to take a big hit and still get back up and go to the next play. And if he has to stand in the pocket again for the team, he does it. So that's something you can't teach. It has to be in you, and fortunately for us, we have a quarterback that, he has sort of a defensive mentality when it comes to standing in the pocket."
On whether he has seen any weakness that can be exploited in Broncos CB Champ Bailey: "Just go out there and play hard, that's all you've got to do. He's a good corner, a very good corner. He's one of the best in the league. To me, he is the best, because he's done it year in and year out. The guy has been in the league over 10 years, and every year it's been a Pro Bowl year for him, basically. So, he's not one of these guys that plays good for two or three years, and then you don't see him play good again. He's a guy that's been consistent, and that's why I consider him probably the best in the game. But with him, you've got to play hard. You can't be afraid to play your game. You can't be afraid as a receiver to challenge him each play. If you don't challenge him, then you limit yourself to half the field. So, you've just got to go out there and play your best game. You've got to bring you're A game against him, because if you don't he's going to embarrass you."
On whether it takes the offense time to warm up throughout the course of a game: "Yeah, we've been kind of – the last three weeks – we've been kind of like that thermostat. We've been on 65, 70 the first two or three quarters, and then all of a sudden we kick it up to 90 and 100. It's good at times, but we have to be able to start off at 100 – like we did the first three games – to be able to come out first drive and establish ourselves, whether it be run or pass or both and enforce our will on the team. And I'm very confident that from here on out, we will do that. So, we have to start off at 100 degrees from here on out."
On what it takes to come out at 100 degrees: "I mean, every team scripts plays. We have to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to us. We have to make sure that our third downs are third-and-three or four, or five. And when we're in that range – third-and-three, or four, or five or seven – we're very good. There are not many plays you can call when it's third-and-13, third-and-14, even though Cam [Cameron] is a genius. But he can't come up with too many plays. So, if we minimize our third-down yardage as far as how far we have to go, then we're going to be able to stay on the field. And that helps us get into a rhythm, and it helps our defense also."
On whether he feels more inclined to make the most of offensive opportunities this week, given the success of Denver's defense: "No. Our approach is we take it week by week. We take every team as an opportunity to get better, an opportunity to go out there and play and give 100 percent. It just so happens we play Denver this week. So, we're going to go out there, we're going to make sure all 'i's' are dotted, all the 't's' are crossed, and make sure we go out there and play the type of football that we're accustomed to playing and not put ourselves behind the eight ball, like we've done the last couple of weeks. So, just because it's Denver, it doesn't mean anything to us. They are a very good and very talented team. They're 6-0. But they're the next team on our schedule, so we're going to take the same approach we've taken the last six weeks."
On RB Ray Rice's progress this year and what it means to the offense: "It means a lot. He's been able to allow our offense to do some things that I think that we want to do, meaning that Ray can run the football and he can block, which is exceptional for especially a guy his size. He does a great job at blocking, but he's also able to get out of the backfield and pose a mismatch for the opposing defense. And when you have somebody like that… The thing about Ray is that he can run basically every route in a route tree. So, you can line him up outside, line him up inside, put him in the backfield, let him come out of the backfield and do a lot of things. His versatility helps us as an offense, and in turn it helps myself, it helps [Mark] Clayton, it helps Todd Heap, because now with Ray on the field, it's like having four wideouts out there. So that's always a plus for us."
On if people underestimate him because of his size:"I don't think so, not anymore. I've made a few plays now, and now it's just trying to make it a pattern and a habit. It also comes with hard work and practice, a great offensive line, being in the right place at the right time, play-calling. There are a lot of things that come with making plays in this league. I'm just glad that I'm able to help my team and put us in positions to be in the position where we almost can win a game. Now, we've had our bye week, we're facing a great Denver team. There's nothing that they don't do well. They're a great team, and [I'm] looking forward to the opportunity of going out there Sunday and giving it our best swing."
On what the first six games of the season have done to his confidence:"I think the first six games were like a testament to my offseason. I was comfortable. It slowed down for me. From the first game to the sixth game, I've definitely learned a lot. You could be out there practicing, but [when] you're in a game you see different looks, how different teams play you. I've had every look, I think, that we're going to so far this year where everybody, where a linebacker's covering me or I have to read a defense, read a coverage, read a down front. I think I've seen it all to the point where now it's time to just chip away and start to master the game a little more. It's sort of like playing chess. You've got the beginner phases. This is the beginner part of the year. This is the time of the year where – I think everybody's athletic ability is going to be there – this is the time of year where you've got to be smarter than the next guy."
On if he didn't want the bye week so he could keep his momentum going:"No, I think that 15 straight [games played, actually 19 games] last year as a rookie wore in on me. That bye week is really meaningful in this league. It's a work week, but it's a time to get off your feet, relax or get a massage. At the same time, enjoy your family while you can. You can't get away from it or not. Wake up Sunday, and not having a game was kind of weird for me. I'm sitting back watching the games, and it was frustrating watching those games, especially when you see teams that we've played, and we were that close. That was the frustrating part of Sunday, not having a game."
On what it means to him to get appreciation from fans like he did when he attended the MMA fights:"It's everything that I've dreamed of. Baltimore is a great city. The fans are great. Football down here, this is what we have. I've heard 'football and crab cakes' – too bad I'm allergic to that shellfish. *(laughter) *Crab cakes aren't going to cut it for me, but football and salmon will do me good."
On any advantages to his size:"I think the size thing really doesn't… After you make a few plays, I think they forget about it. I think overall, you start to develop yourself as a football player. I've been this size nearly my entire life, ever since I've been at Rutgers running between the tackles, now here doing a little bit more catching and running. I was a 2,000-yard rusher in college. Running the football and making plays was something I've been doing my whole life. The size thing is really… I think after you make a few plays, they sort of… It weighs back inside. Same thing with Maurice Jones-Drew. People talked about that guy, his size, and he made a few plays, and now you don't hear about his size anymore. I just look at my size as an advantage to me. If I get an open space, my job is to make the first guy miss, and I think 90 percent of the time I get that job done."
On the pressure the Broncos' defense brings and how it affects him as a running back:"You've got to plan on going into this game protecting your quarterback first. I think everything else takes care of itself. I played against the guy that has 10 sacks, Elvis Dumervil, in college where they line them up and do different things with them. He's doing more now than he's done, than he was doing, in college. He was just a straight end in college. He's a linebacker in their defense, that front that they run. You definitely have to be aware of that guy. At the same time, you've got crafty vets back there in Brian Dawkins, Champ Bailey, that mold that defense together. It's not how they bring it, it's how sound they are when they bring it. We have to take advantage of… If a play's going to go five yards, we have to get that five yards. We get the hit-or-miss plays down the field, those are plays we've got to capitalize and make."