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Questioning the Enemy: Ochocinco A 'Knucklehead,' But Hard Worker


Each week, Baltimore media has a chance to speak with two key members of the Ravens' upcoming opponent.

With the Cincinnati Bengals up next on the schedule, Head Coach Marvin Lewis, a former Ravens defensive coordinator, and brash wideout Chad Ochocinco offered their thoughts on issues surrounding the game.

Here are some highlights:

Marvin Lewis
What do you think about the way Ochocinco approaches football, as opposed to Ray Lewis? ML:
"Well, that's the perception [that Chad takes it less seriously] because the knucklehead has to have fun.  He didn't get the attention [like Ray]; he didn't go to the University of Miami.  He didn't have that attention growing up.  *He kind of dances to a different drummer a little bit that way.  But, as far as the game and practice and everything, he's as intense in practice as Ray is. *And I think that's what helped him play well.  

"He practices [hard]; I have to pull him out of practices, I have to pull him out of plays against the defense because he wants to take every rep in practice. So, that part they kind of share that.  I think Chad really looks to Ray for guidance, and I think that's a good thing.  Ray has helped him do some of his sideways acting a lot and to keep him mindful of what's important."Does the media focus too much of Ochocino's antics instead of his hard work as a player? ML:"He never says anything that's going to get anybody to swing at him, because he might have to defend himself, and he can't do that.  Everything he's going to be is somewhat the challenge of playing the game.  He likes to play against good people.  I think that excites him.  We've gone to preseason games and they have a good corner, and they don't play that guy.  All of a sudden, he looks like somebody kicked him in the teeth because he wants to compete against the best all the time.  That's what makes Chad tick.  He wants to compete against the best."
What do you think of Ochocinco' tweeting habit? ML:"*His is jibberish.  Like his commentary on the game Monday night.  It is hilarious; some of this stuff. *The only thing I tell him is just be careful.  Realize it's not just adults reading this, sometimes it's young kids reading this.  So, you don't curse around here; don't curse acting tough in your twittering trying to act like you're tough, because you're not. Just watch your language that way and represent yourself the way you want to represent yourself.  You have built an amazing reputation and don't take anything away from it."

When did you see Ray Lewis becoming a team leader? ML:"From the very first time that he walked through that door, the people with him walked in behind him.When he walked into the huddle, the second practice that we had, he was the leader of the football team.And, the way he did things and how he did it, as fast as he played, he just became the leader of the football team.  He just had an innate sense to be out front.  He wasn't afraid to be out front and I think that was very evident from him from the very first day.

"I can remember him walking in front of those windows at the old place in Owings Mills and the people coming in the door with him walking behind him.  And I just thought that was interesting.  But, that's what I remember of him, that's how I knew him prior to the draft -- when I went and introduced myself to him back in Indianapolis at the Combine.  So, it hasn't shocked me."
Did Lewis' performance against the Jets remind you of vintage No. 52? ML:"I thought he played his tail off, as I expect him to do all the time.  I thought he did all the other things too.  He empowers the guys around him to be better, and he's always done that.  He did that early on, too, as a young player.I used to challenge him all the time, [and say] don't go to the Super Bowl and hang out and have fun, you go to learn.  You go to the Pro Bowl and you go to learn.  You go suck some knowledge out of some of those older guys.  And he did that.  And he brought it back to Owings Mills and he put it in play and he's never lowered that standard."
Chad Ochocinco
What's you assessment of this game's mentality? CO:
"It's going to be like it is every year; it's going to be smash-mouth football. You know, a two-chin-strap game, as coach Lewis will call it, and their defense is great. I mean, the defense has always been great, and us as a team, we're going to have to earn every yard we get on offense. We have to minimize our mistakes, and hopefully we can pull off a win.

"I'm really excited – and I've talked to you guys before – the only game that I really, really, really get excited for is when we play the Ravens, because you have to account for every single person on the field.And that just gets me going."
How much does it hurt the Ravens to not have Ed Reed? CO:"I mean, you have to understand that Ed is probably one of the best safeties to put on a uniform, period, in NFL history. Along with him and [Steelers S Troy] Polamalu, they set themselves apart from the rest of the NFL. I could care less what anybody else says, that's how I feel about them. And to not have Ed out there is a big blow, because those are shoes that you just cannot fill."
Are you looking forward to see some of the Ravens you know? CO: *"[I'm] looking forward to talking to some of those guys in pregame, especially Ray [Lewis]. You know Ray and I's relationship is extremely close. He's one of those who's kept me grounded throughout my NFL career and has taught me a lot of things about this game, on-and-off the field. So, *I'm looking forward to catching up with him and exchanging a few words before I knock his head off during the game."
What do you see from the Ravens' defense on film? CO: "Their defense, man – flying all over the ball. It seems like they have more than 11 people out there on the field on film. That damn Terrell Suggs is a beast, man. He's all over the place. Secondary… They play very solid. Ray's [Lewis] all over the place. Haloti Ngata… [expletive]… [He] might be damn near the best D-tackle in the game right now based off of what I'm seeing. I haven't had much time to watch film because it's only Week 2, but they look damn good on film."
Will the Bengals think of this game as defending their title as AFC North champions on Sunday? CO:"Yeah. In a sense, this is a big game for us. This is a divisional game. It's extremely important.You want to win early, so we have to do what we need to do to be able to maximize our opportunities on offense, and we'll see what happens."

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