On how the toughness of S Tom Zbikowski, a former boxer, brings to the Ravens and how does it fit into the special teams:"Tom has done well in special teams, really, since he's gotten here. He's only gotten better. He's really an explosive guy. He plays really hard. He has really learned how to play the game fast, especially with special teams, but also at defense. He's been a force for us that way. He's just going to keep getting better at everything he does, but he's doing well."
On if he sees a role for Zbikowski on the defense more this year:"We hope so. We want it to expand, and we want him to be the very best player he could be. To me, there are no limits on what he's capable of doing in this league. And he works hard every day to do that."
On the balancing act of playing a quarterback like Tom Brady and how much pressure you bring and how much pass defense you plan:"Well, that's the balancing act. You try to keep him uncomfortable back there like you do any quarterback and try to cover their receivers like you do any receivers. You try to understand what they try to do offensively and how they're trying to attack you, and you defend it the best way you can."
On QB Joe Flacco's ability to read the defense after watching film and if it's more than just studying that's a factor:"It's like anything. It's all that stuff. You want to break it down and say, 'OK, what's the key thing?' Well, there is no key thing. There are a lot of things that go into it. The ability to take all that study and transfer it to the field, obviously, is a big part of it. You can study all you want. All of us can study a lot of film, but none of us can play. Those guys have got to be able to transfer. That's what makes good players. So, it's all those things."
On how cerebral the game gets when you have a good chess match between players like S Ed Reed and QB Tom Brady:"It will be nice to see how that chess match, as you put it, plays out. Tom takes a lot of time at the line of scrimmage trying to get an idea as to what you're in before the snap ever takes place. Then he's as good as anybody, once he gets the ball in his hands [at] just figuring out what you're calling and getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers. So, there will be that game being played, and it will be fun to watch before the snap and after the snap."
On if he will plan to handle Brady any differently than they would Peyton Manning:"We handle them all differently. Everybody's got their own style. You can compare Tom Brady to Peyton Manning favorably because they have the same idea of what they're trying to accomplish. They're trying to accomplish the same thing with a little bit of a different type of an offense, but they want to uncover the defense as soon as they can. They want to know what they're going against, and that's just part of what they both do."
On what RB Fred Taylor has brought to the Patriots' offense, in particular their running game:"Fred Taylor is obviously a premier back in this league. He's a big, fast guy. He has an interesting style. He can take the ball anywhere. He'll hit it up inside. He can be a north-south guy, but he can also stop on a dime and really challenge the leverage of your defense in any direction. We've got to do a great job of basically pressing through those blocks and keeping him in leverage at all times."
On the status of the Ravens' players with concussions:"The injury report will be coming out after practice, so you'll see it then."
On if he knows if the players with concussions are feeling better today:"I haven't asked them. They were out there for the walk-through, so we'll see how it goes at practice."
On what being named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week means to him:"Basically, to me, it's a testament to my teammates and to my coaches. They do all the hard work. I just go in there and do what I'm told to do, and I play football. Someone else has to think of the plays and think of the alignments and the assignments and the techniques. Coach [Greg] Mattison and Coach Vic Fangio, they direct us and tell us what to do and go from there."
On how it feels to be recognized for his defensive skills:"I'm just proud to be a Raven, I think, just to be a part of this team and to contribute. I wanted to be more than just a guy that's out there. There are guys that contribute, and there are guys that make a difference. This year, my goal was to make a difference as a Raven. I think I'm doing that, and hopefully I'll be able to do it more and continue to do it."
On how much playing with LBs Zach Thomas, Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis has helped his development as a linebacker:"Yeah, well I played with [Junior] Seau and Lance Briggs. I've played with some great linebackers. You take a little something away from each one of their games – like what did they do best. You try to incorporate that into their game, and you learn from things that they do. I take a little bit from every linebacker that I've played with, about five or six of them, and try to incorporate it in my game and try to be a better linebacker."
On if he feels like his speed is what gives him the edge on the defensive side of the ball:"Yeah, sure. (laughing) I mean, I'm in there for speed. I'm built for speed, so to be able to get out there and utilize it, that's what I really love to do. You don't have to run 70 yards to get it. You can run 30 yards or 20 yards, and it's usually even shorter than that, and just explode and burst and be able to hit something. And to not have to run 70 yards makes it a little bit more fun."
On if he likes dropping back into pass coverage or if he would rather rush the quarterback:"You have to do it all. You have to do it all. That's what makes it defense. Sometimes you show like you're rushing, and you drop back and pass. Sometimes you pretend like you're pass dropping, and you rush. Man-to-man coverage and blitzing on the inside, outside, doing all these various techniques, running out and covering wide receivers, covering tight ends man-to-man – it's all defense, it's all fun. I'll do anything that the coaches tell me to do. It's all for the team. It's all to win a championship, and every guy feels the same way. We'll do whatever our assignment is, whatever we have to do to make this team a better team and win a championship."
On the matchup of Patriots QB Tom Brady and himself in Sunday's game:"It should be fun. It's another game for us. It's a road game. We've got to go on the road and get a win. The Patriots are a very good team, and we expect their best. So, we're going to come ready to play."
On what makes the Ravens so successful on the road:"I don't know. I just think we're a good team. So, it doesn't matter if we play on the road or at home. You go in with the mindset that you're going to win the game. I think that's all we do, and I don't think there's anything special to it."
On if he feels the Patriots have their same old defense or has it changed with injuries and trades:"I have no idea because I don't know what the Patriots looked like five years ago. They look pretty good to me, and they're going to come ready to play. So, we're going to have to make sure we bring our A game, and that's what it's going to take to beat them."
On how tough it is to treat the game against the Patriots like just another game with so much hype surrounding it:"I don't know. I don't feel any extra hype around it. It feels like another game to me, and that's the way I want to keep it. So, that's the way we'll approach it."
On if he sees anything in Brady that reminds him of himself:"I have no idea. I like to think of myself as a good quarterback. Obviously, he's considered a good quarterback. Over the last handful of years he's done a great job and won many Super Bowls. I hope to win Super Bowls in my career, and that's what we're working towards here in Baltimore. So, I don't really know. I can't really tell you that. It's up to you guys to say."
On if there is anything that he tries to imitate that Brady or other quarterbacks in the NFL do:"Honestly, I don't necessarily look at other guys' games and try to do things the way do. I just try to play to my strengths and play the way I do. If you guys want to make comparisons, that's up to you. I don't really try to play like anybody else."
On if the Patriots are unpredictable in where they bring their pressure from:"I don't think they're necessarily too much of an unpredictable team. They come into the game with a scheme and they execute it well. They're in the spots where they're supposed to be and that's the way they play well together and that's what we expect from them. I don't think they are going to confuse you too much. They might have a wrinkle here and there, but I think the bottom line about the guys is that they're in the right spot and they play the defense the way it's supposed to be played."
On how he is feeling after his stinger in the Browns game: "Everything's cool."
On if he had a concussion after that one play: "The bottom line is if it's going to exist, it's going to exist. You can sit out five or six plays, or you can just come back [after] one. My symptoms – what I was having – I was going to have for the rest of the day anyway. So, I just dealt with them. I wasn't comfortable enough with saying I'll sit on the sideline for five or six plays. So, why not go back out there and fight with my team?"
On if it was important to show that leadership to the guys on the team: "I just think it's important – before you go past [my teammates] – I just think it's important the way I approach this game. Unless there is something that's hanging off of me, then I'm back up. I've got the ability to [do that]. I just have to get my feelings back in my body. Once I got it back, I was back to normal."
On if he appreciates the preparation QB Joe Flacco puts into a game: "From Year One to Year Two, that's the biggest thing you've seen. That's why his leadership role has taken over as well. He's so comfortable understanding what Cam [Cameron] and John [Harbaugh] want, that he's really mastered it himself. So now, in his second year, Joe is out there pretty much controlling the offense himself, basically."
On if he sees anything in Patriots QB Tom Brady that reminds him of Flacco: "I don't compare them like that. Joe is a totally different quarterback than Tom. They're two totally different quarterbacks. Joe does things that… Joe is kind of figuring his thing out on the go. Tom is settled and things like that."
On if he is eager to get re-acquainted with RB Fred Taylor:"Good rivalry. It's been a great rivalry for years. Fred has always been one of those backs that you've really got to keep a hold on. If you don't, he can really hurt you in the running game. He has the ability. He's big enough to run between the tackles, and he's fast enough to run away from most defenses. We have to really do a good job on Fred this week."
On if it will be nice to see LB Adalius Thomas this week: "Not at all. I'm looking for New England's offense."
On how you characterize Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's chess match: "I just think you really have to prepare. You have to know everything. They play a heck of a chess game. Tom [Brady] really takes his time trying to figure out all of the defenses before he makes his calls. Playing the game with them, you're going to have to be in your own game. Let them settle in and do what they're going to do, and then you do what you're going to do. Playing the chess match with them is different because you've got to really be patient with it."
On what Ravens director of player development O.J. Brigance has meant to him from when they first met until now: "Anytime you walk with somebody through life and you go to war with people… If you've ever been around O.J. long enough, you'd know that he's one of the chosen ones. He's a very special spirit. That man, he's so incredibly sounded – who he is. The bottom line – me being able to celebrate his 40th birthday – I wish I could have been there for everyone. He's just that type of person."
On what he thinks of LB Brendon Ayanbadejo's development as a linebacker: "I told Brendon the one good thing that we've got when we work together is that we communicate very well with each other. We're talking before almost every play – about the play, about what I may think is coming – just trying to alert him. Working with him is good. Brendon is, physically, doing the things he wants to do. So my job is just to direct him in the right way and instruct him what I'm thinking we're going to see. From there, he's just a heck of a football player. So, it's a great appreciation playing with him."
On how much the team's temperament has changed since the Ravens played the Patriots in 2007:"I caught a mind blank. I don't even remember that game, seriously. Next question. (laughing) I'm not trying to be rude, but next question. I can't even remember that game. Totally different teams."
On how QB Joe Flacco has put his fingerprints on the command of the offense this year compared to last year:"He's more comfortable with what he's doing out there. He has more confidence in the guys on the outside, in the skill players. He knows that he can go out there and throw the ball around, and guys will make plays for him. When your quarterback has confidence in you, I don't think there are too many things that you can't do as an offense. But, there are still a lot of things that, obviously, he'll probably tell you that he can get better at and that we can get better at as an offense. From last year to this year, I think his confidence level has totally risen, and that's the way it's supposed to be. You're in your second year, you feel more comfortable in the offense, and you show [that you're] more comfortable around your teammates. That true greatness will start coming out, and it's coming out with Joe."
On Flacco being so focused on football, and if he is boring:"Joe is not focused. (laughing) To you all he's boring, but not to us. He gets to be himself when he's around us. Obviously, you've got to wear two hats: The media hat, then you've got to wear the player's hat. Joe's not boring at all, but when he comes out here he's mild-mannered, he talks very, very slow, and that's his demeanor on the field. That's him, and we love it. But when he's in the locker room with us, he's having fun. He's one of the guys. We love the approach that Joe has taken the last two years. I think he'll continue to take that approach as long as he's playing this game."
On if he sees any comparisons between Patriots QB Tom Brady and Flacco:"No, you can't compare the two. You can't compare the two. That would be unfair to try to compare the two. Obviously, Tom's one of the best in the game, and Joe's a young, up-and-coming quarterback. Joe's very good in his own right, but it's unfair to compare the two. Tom has three Super Bowls, and hopefully we can help Joe to catch up with him pretty soon. It's unfair to compare the two, but they're both doing what they need to do for their teams in order for their teams to be successful."
On what he's seen from the young guys contributing to New England's defense:"They're playing hard. That's what you expect of a [Bill] Belichick team, is to go out there and play hard and play as a team, and that's what those guys on defense are doing. They're not giving up many yards in the running game. They're not giving up many yards in the passing game. I think they're giving up just under 200 in the passing game. So, I don't think their record indicates how good that they're playing right now. Their defense is a bunch of new guys. You take a lot of guys like [Mike] Vrabel and [Rodney] Harrison, and some other guys that were there for a long time, you take them out and put new guys in, obviously, they've got to mesh. They're doing an exceptional job at playing the type of defense that they play."
On his perception of the Patriots' franchise and what they've done:"Obviously, they're amongst the greatest franchises of any sport. When you win three Super Bowls, three championships, in any sport, you're considered a dynasty. You're considered one of the best franchises that have every played the team game. But, we're not playing their franchise. We're not playing their history or their legacy. We're playing the New England Patriots team of this year, and they're damn good, still. We're not going to get into what they've done over the course of the last five or six years. We're going by what they're doing now. They're still a very explosive team on offense and defense. But you [can] compare them to any other franchises out there. In basketball – Lakers, Celtics. In hockey, you can compare them to the Red Wings. (Interjects Willis McGahee from the side: 'The Marlins!') Willis said the Marlins. (laughing) But in baseball, you can compare them to someone like the Yankees, the franchises that win championships. They're right up there with the rest of the franchises as far as what they've been able to accomplish in a team sport."
On if he expected to be going into Week 4 with six touchdowns:"No, not at all. I can't do anything but thank God for the situation I'm in right now. I'm happy about that."
On the mentality it takes to run the ball in the red zone, when there are 10-20 yards to get to the end zone:"When I first came into this league, the red zone was the hardest thing for me. It was like bullets flying everywhere. You've just got to protect yourself. But, now I've learned that you've got to go in there with the same attitude, the same mentality, that you just want to get in that end zone. That's the mentality I come with stepping into the game."
On if he feels like QB Joe Flacco has more control of the offense this year:"Yeah. It's all three of them, basically: confidence, control… He's just comfortable. When you're comfortable, you really don't have anything to worry about. Like you said, it's our second year under the belt of Cam Cameron. He's learned a lot from his first year, and he knows what to expect this year. He knows the target's on him. He has to make these good throws to the receivers, check the ball down. He's very confident. He came to training camp looking great, so we knew right then and there that he's going to have a great season."
On containing Patriots NT Vince Wilfork so the Ravens can run the ball like they want to:"He's a beast. I played with him at college. Not only college, I played against him in the NFL my first couple of years in Buffalo. He's been playing great football. He's one of those guys that you've got to watch out for. You don't want to sleep on him. You've got to have a hat on him just to control him, because he can control the run game if you let him."
On how Gillette Stadium compares to other stadium atmospheres:"New England is different because they don't like the opposing team coming in there. You know they're going to be rowdy. They don't show the away team [any] love whatsoever. It reminds me of Pittsburgh a little bit, but Pittsburgh is a lot different. Other than that, you've got to go in there and be focused. You can't let the crowd get you out of your game. You can't let that team take you out of your game. You've just got to go in there and play your football."
On if it's tougher in New England or Pittsburgh:"You know, when I was there, New England had the same feel as Pittsburgh with the grass, the dirt, whatever it was. I don't know what it was. (laughter) It was the same conditions, so I was pretty used to it. There's just something about that rivalry with Pittsburgh and Baltimore, you can't explain it."
On if he feels like the Patriots still have a target on their backs despite not making the playoffs last year:"No doubt about it. Like [Derrick] Mason said, they're a great franchise. You really can't count those guys out because they can find a way to win. Like last year, they didn't start out too good, especially when Brady got hurt. But, then they picked it back up, had an 11-5 season, if I'm not mistaken. They didn't make the playoffs, but that's a team that you have to watch out [for]. Coach [Bill] Belichick, he's a great coach, so he's going to have those guys prepared. You can't sleep on them."
On if the absence of Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi from New England's defense can cause it to not be on the same level, or if people make too much of that:"I think you make a little bit too much of it. Even when those guys were there, they were a big part of that defense, they were the style of that defense. But, you've also got young guys coming in probably doing a little bit better. The apple's just not falling their way right now. Once they get more comfortable and get under control, I think it will be the same situation."
On whether he sees any hesitation from QB Tom Brady regarding his previous knee injury:"No, not at all. I don't think Brady, as a competitor, would have come back if he didn't feel like he was ready. He looks the same to me."
On whether Brady and the Patriots still have a lot of weapons:"Yeah. They still have a lot of guys they can go to, still have guys that can get downfield – [Joey] Galloway, [Randy] Moss and those guys. So, they still look like the same Patriots I've been watching for the longest [time]."
On whether Brady is one of the hardest guys to pick up tendencies from on film: "I think Brady and they do a great job of executing what they want to do – you know, the same thing we do. I don't think it's a matter so much of what the player is doing, as much as executing what you're trying to do. If you execute what you're trying to do, you'll be successful."
On whether he moves around a lot, trying to make Brady give a last-minute look: "I stand still just like I am right now, like I'm doing an interview. *(laughter) *No, I mean, we give him some movement, but for the most part it's pretty laid out on what we do on tape. I'm sure he's going to be more than prepared for us."
On what the difference is compared to the last two times they've played New England: "They went down to the wire. Somebody has to win, somebody has to lose. They came out with the win. They came out with the win, we lost."
On whether he looks back and wonders if they could have done something else to make a difference: "No, no, no. It's a team game. Defense, special teams, offense alike – it's a team effort. Their team came out with the win."
On the challenge of playing against a receiver like Randy Moss: "The same old thing with Moss: He can get down the field, he's running great routes, you even see him coaching on tape when guys are off the ball and not in the position they're supposed to be. He's a smart guy. So, you definitely need to do some things to discourage those guys as much as possible."
On whether the Patriots have a different level of confidence than other teams they play: "Yeah, I'm sure they do. They've been on championship-caliber playing for a while. The coaching staff hasn't changed too much. I'm sure they still have the same mentality year in and year out. Why wouldn't you? Why wouldn't you as an organization? So, I'm sure they have the same mentality over there, and those guys, they still can play. They wouldn't be on this team, in this league, doing the things that they've been doing for the longest [time] if they couldn't play football."
On whether he looks forward to the chess match with Brady: "I don't even like chess, man.* (laughter) *No, I play chess. And I'm always looking forward to going against great competition. But like I said, that's week in and week out. Now it's time to get prepared for New England."
On whether this is one of those weeks where they try to get in each other's heads, from an intellectual standpoint: "No, not really. I'm just trying to do my best job within this defense."
On what it will be like to be back on the field with former Raven and current Patriots LB Adalius Thomas: "Oh man, I saw 'A.D.' during the year, so it's always fun seeing 'A.D.' on the field. I always wish he was on my team, but it'll be fun."
On whether he's grown comfortable seeing Thomas in a Patriots jersey: "Oh, yeah. By now, yeah, because we don't have that multi-talented guy moving around our defense like we used to."
On the importance of getting pressure on Brady: "That's always the case. You need to get pressure on all quarterbacks. Same [thing], he's no different than any other quarterback. If you don't get pressure on him, they can pick you apart."
On what makes this team so good on the road: "We like to go in there with our game plan and try to block their fans out. We definitely practice with [the speaker noise] out here. We have our own crowd noise getting us ready for the game. We go in there prepared to face a tough environment. You've got to face it. Then once you start doing your thing, it sounds like you're at your regular stadium with a little bit of boos going around."
On if he's considering this game a measuring stick: "We respect the Patriots. We respect what they've done. We respect everything they're about. That's the thing: You've got to respect them, then you've got to attack them. You've got to go out there and play your game plan. It's always great to respect who you're playing. That's just the nature of the game. There's not a time where you're not going to respect your opponent. We respect who we play every week. The history, what they've done – Super Bowls that they've won – we respect it all. But we feel like we have to go up there to play a game."
On how much Patriots NT Vince Wilfork has determined what they can do in the run game: "That guy, he's a load. He's a guy that you've got to pencil him in on every play. You've got to know where he's at and know when he's in the game. He's a great run-stopper and pass rusher. We feel like he's the anchor of their defense. So, he has to be spotted at all times."
On how much fun it is to run trick plays and how exciting it is to see them in games: "To me, they're pretty amazing. If they work in practice, [Cam Cameron] is going to call it in the game. He said that when I first got here, and it has been a true testament of his word. The one thing we're about is execution. He'll call as many plays as he can. This is a long season, so we don't see any reason why we should trim down. As long as we're executing the ones that he puts in, we can just keep adding more."
On if he buys into the fact that QB Tom Brady still isn't totally back from his leg injury: "I think only he knows where he is with his play. I just know that he's one hell of a quarterback and we definitely have got our hands full."
On if Brady has shown any tentativeness: "I don't know because he doesn't have those weapons that he used to have, when he had that receiving core. They were stacked the year they went undefeated. This year they've got the young guy and the new tight end [Chris Baker]. I think he's still the same player. He's still capable of winning big games."
On if the New York Jets gave the defense a blueprint on how to attack the Patriots' offense: Every team is different. A couple of years ago we thought the Eagles had the blueprint, and that didn't work, we didn't work, and they ended up going undefeated. We just have to go out there and do our job. We have to play some football."
On if he has talked to New York Jets LB Bart Scott:"No, I'm not going to talk to Bart this week because they already have the victory and we need to get ours. So, we're going to really focus on us versus the Patriots."
On what he remembers from the 2007 game against the Patriots:"I remember us winning a large portion of the game. I remember being heartbroken. I remember a certain colleague of mine throwing a flag in the stands. I remember a certain colleague going after a referee. It was crazy. You look at it now and you can laugh about it, but at the time we were just like, 'Wow, we can't believe all that just happened.' I just remember all of the disappointment and the heartache. They were a great team that year."
On if there is something about the Patriots: "There is always something about them because that's where you measure where your program is. They're such a great team. They've got a great coach, and they're just fundamentally sound. So, you're going to have to get back to the little things if you want to win."
On what type of leadership LB Ray Lewis showed last week after coming right back in after he got hit: "We knew he was going to come back. We knew he wasn't going to stay out because he's a warrior. We always joke… We call him Leonidus from the great 300. We know he's a great leader, and we're glad to have him. We're definitely going to need him to be our leader this week."
On what RB Fred Taylor has brought to the Patriots: "He gives them a 1-2 punch with [Laurence] Maroney and him, especially with his size and speed. I don't think there's another back that has that same combination that Fred Taylor has. Like I said, it's going to be an all-around challenge for, not just the front end, but the back end as well and our whole team – offense, defense and special teams."
On if the 2007 Ravens team has matured since then: "I didn't think we were that immature. You've got different people in the locker room, different personnel. There are different things that I expect now. I didn't think we were that immature, but we are a better team than we were in 2007."
On if there is a noticeable difference in him now than when he stepped on the field as a rookie: "I thought you were going to talk about how much I've grown up in [the locker room], because you know I'm still the biggest kid in here. You know that. I can't wait to bring media dodge ball back. *(laughing) *But when I go out on the field, it's more attention to business, where before I was just out there running around like a chicken with his head cut off. Now, it's more important that we win. At first, if I got three sacks and we lost, I'd be like, 'We lost, but I got three sacks.' Now I just want to win more than anything. If we get these wins to pile up, then all great things will start to happen for us."
On if he misses LB Adalius Thomas: "I'm not going to lie to you. He was my mentor when I got here – he and Bart [Scott]. I do miss him, but he's one of them now. It's all business, but he's still a great friend. He's had some success up there, and we've had some success down here. I still love him, but it's still going to be a fun game."
On if he feels like he has become somewhat of a mentor to the younger guys:"Yeah, definitely. I've got to stop doing my antics in the locker room because they're going to be doing them. You've got to have a lose guy. You've got to have a fun guy. It can't be all business all the time, otherwise you'd be all uptight and can't really enjoy what you're doing. I'm going to try to take a few guys under my wing – how to pester you guys – make your job a little bit harder. (laughing) It's all in good fun."