WEDNESDAY AVAILABILITY: Week 12 at LA RAMS
S Chuck Clark
On the defense reinventing itself and improving over the past month:"Yes, we've been playing pretty decent, but we feel like we can always do better, always get better week-in and week-out. But we have a bunch of different parts in different spots, and [we're] just trying to be the best that we can."
On how CB Marcus Peters has changed this defense: "He's brought a lot to our defense, bringing turnovers, and that's what he did in the other places that he was. But now he's here doing it for us and scoring, so we love it."
On taking advantage of the opportunity to step up after S Tony Jefferson's injury: "It's been huge, just taking advantage of it. A lot of guys, they look at the position when they come in out of college, and sometimes you might not get thrown into the spotlight. And that's kind of how I was. You kind of have to humble yourself, and you just have to wait your turn. And when your turn comes, you have to be prepared and ready to take full advantage of it."
On if he's ever seen a defense move up from near the bottom of the league rankings after Week 4 to now being in the Top 10: "I really haven't, but [we're] kind of doing it right now. But to me, it just means that guys are working hard. We have new guys communicating out there together, working together, and we're just trying to do our best together. That's all it is."
On his increased responsibility since S Tony Jefferson's injury – getting more playing time, wearing the green dot and even playing some DIME linebacker: "I just feel as a player, always studying the game and knowing different positions and assignments – when you're able to go out there and do that, it helps the defense. But it's also a testament to our defense, because being able to be in different spots, other guys can be in different spots, and we can all just go out there and kind of swag it out [with] guys in different spots."
On if he's played the DIME linebacker much before this year: "Being down in the box is a little bit different, but it's not bad. I kind of played down there in college. I mean definitely in the NFL, [there are] different body types and different sizes, but it is what it is."
On what attributes he has that help make him successful in a DIME linebacker role: "I would definitely say being faster than linemen getting to the spot." (laughter)
On what it will be like going up against S Eric Weddle and how much he expects Weddle to share with the Rams regarding how the Ravens play on the back end: "I don't know if 'Dub' [Eric Weddle] is going to tell on us or not, (laughter)but it's going to be a good feeling going against him. [I was] just a guy sitting behind him for two years watching him, how he prepares week-in, week-out, the approach to practice and games, so it's going to be a great feeling going against him."
On how much S Eric Weddle has meant to his career and how much of a transition was it this year without him: "Definitely, like I said, he meant a lot. My first two years, just being able to watch him and learn from him and talk to him as a player and just kind of studying day-in and day-out, it carries over to you as a player."
On how much CB Marcus Peters has helped the secondary, beyond his interceptions and touchdowns: "A lot. He's actually smart. I think Marlon [Humphrey] said he might be the smartest corner he knows. When we're out there on the field, sometimes he'll say something you might not be thinking about. He's pretty smart out there on the field."
On if it took some time to transition from playing with S Eric Weddle to playing with S Earl Thomas III:"Yes, in OTAs, you get the vibe of different players. We just feel it out on the field, and we go with it as it goes. But when we're all out there, as long as we're all communicating and we're knowing that we're supposed to be in the right spots, everything is alright."
On if he's heard from S Eric Weddle at all this week: "I haven't heard from him this week. Last time I talked to him was right after we played Cincinnati. I came off the field and they [the Los Angeles Rams] were playing the 4:25 p.m. game, and I'm like, 'Aren't you supposed to be getting ready for the game or something?' (laughter) He texted me. But yes, he's one of those type of guys, a guy that's going to give you shoutouts and give you your props, definitely." (Reporter: "But it's been all quiet on that front this week?") "Yes. I don't know [if we'll talk]. I don't know. It's early, still early, so I don't know."
On if the guys still have a group chat text going with S Eric Weddle: "I'm not sure. I'm not in one with him, but I think a couple guys are in one with him. Yes, you know, he's 'Dub' – he's always talking to guys, reaching out to us."
On what sticks out to him the most about the Rams' offense: "A lot of different good players, versatile players."
On WR Brandin Cooks returning to the lineup and the speed of the Rams' receivers: "Yes, they definitely have some fast receivers. I feel like we have some corners that can run with them, so we have to be able to match up."
On if he takes pride in the secondary's coverage and how it contributed to the seven sacks the defense produced against the Texans: "I feel like it goes hand-in-hand. They [the defensive front] gets good rush, we get good coverage. We get good coverage, and they get good rush. So, it works hand-in-hand together."
On if seeing CB Marcus Peters jawing back and forth with WR DeAndre Hopkins fires up the secondary: "Definitely, definitely. You have to have something like that. And I remember before the game, he [DeAndre Hopkins] was kind of over there just staring at us warming up, but we were like, 'We're going to be out there. We're going to be ready.' (laughter)(Reporter: "WR DeAndre Hopkins was staring at you guys?") "Yes, while we were warming up." (Reporter: "What did you think about that?") "We're going to be ready, definitely. We were."
On if WR DeAndre Hopkins staring at the secondary as they warmed up backfired: "It is what it is."
G Marshal Yanda
On the challenge in facing Rams DT Aaron Donald:"He has it all. He has speed, strength, quickness. He definitely has the whole package. He's the No. 1 defensive player in the NFL for a reason. He definitely commands that respect, and like I said, [he has] all three of those [moves]. Most guys have one or two really good moves, whether it's bull rush is their main way they win, and then they'll have a change-up move. He has an outside move, a bull rush and an inside move that are all very, very, very effective. So, that's what makes him really good."
On if DT Aaron Donald reminds him of anybody: "I would say Geno [Atkins] on his top level. J.J. Watt when he was Defensive Player of the Year back in '11 and '12. Those two guys."
On how much he relishes the opportunity to go against the best:"Most guys in this league are competitors, and I'm definitely a very competitive guy. I'm excited for the challenge. Obviously, we all understand who he is as a player, and I definitely respect him, but I'm going to do my best. I'm going to put my best foot forward. Obviously, I'm not out there alone. We have 11 guys. We have a defense, a special teams [group] and a coaching staff. We'll attack the entire time with full effort."
On if he has a sense that this Ravens team could be special:"Yes, for sure. Obviously, with our record, with the big games that we've shown up and taken care of business, and the plays that are being made out on the field, making those plays on Sunday, it's definitely a special group. We have a long way to go, though. It's still only November, so we just have to keep grinding."
On how the Ravens' defense has come together despite personnel changes: "Obviously, they've been rolling some guys in and out of there. We're just continuing to find our way. You're climbing a mountain as a team from the start of the season all the way to the end of the season. Pieces change, but we're going to continue to strive every day. And obviously, the defense did a great job last Sunday. For most of the game, they pitched a shutout. Overall, they did a great job. So, it's exciting to see, and we're excited for the next opportunity."
On how pleased he is with the way the offensive line is playing this year: "We're doing well as a group. We're a consistent group right now. For you to be a player for a long time in this league, you have to be a consistent player, and I think that all five guys have played consistent football. And that's what you need. You need an offensive line. It starts with us up front. It starts with the D-line up front every single Sunday. We're playing very consistent football right now, so that's good to see."
On if he likes his role as the veteran of the offensive line: "I just want to do my part. When I was a young guy, there were great leaders and mentors on this team. Jonathan Ogden and Mike Flynn were my first old dogs when I was a young buck, and you want them to lead the way. And if you have questions, you ask those guys. So, I remembered that. And I remembered, if I ever make it to be the old guy in the room, I'm going to be a source for questions, for how I'm thinking about a play, or whatever – any type of resource they have. Taking care of your body, anything. I wanted to be that guy to help them out."
On how he has seen offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris handle the younger players on the offensive line:"'Joe D' [D'Alessandris] is a grinder. He works hard every single day. He was an offensive lineman growing up, and he played college football as an offensive lineman. So, he has the grinder mentality of bringing your lunch pail to work and work hard every single day. So, that's definitely carried over in our group, that everybody works hard every single day at doing their job at a high level. He's doing a great job."
On what makes QB Lamar Jackson special, other than his athleticism: "No. 1 that comes to mind is just making people miss in space. And then, gosh, there's a lot – his speed, his athleticism, making guys miss. And obviously, he has a nice touch on the ball. When he needs to get it out, he has a quick release. It's almost like a flick. It's just, 'Poof!' and it's gone. So, I would say that."
On what it is about QB Lamar Jackson that has allowed him to be a leader on this team: "I think it's his approach. He's said that he's just one of the guys, and I definitely feel that about him, as far as he comes to work every single day, and football is No. 1 in his life. Some guys that come through, they like what the game gives them, but they don't necessarily like the game all the time. This kid loves ball. He loves football. He loves getting better. He's a competitive guy. On Sunday, he's a competitive son of a gun. And that's what you need. If that's your guy, that's what you need. And he definitely has that. So, he's continuing to mature. In your second year, you have a lot of room to grow. I've said this before, but you can make big strides in both directions. Guys can regress [or] guys can really improve. And he's obviously matured and improved every single game."
On how he sees QB Lamar Jackson's competitiveness:"Just his enthusiasm, his calmness, also, at times. There are times where you need to be high and enthusiastic. The fourth-down play in Seattle when he wanted to go for it, I wanted to go for it. We're all fired up. That's exciting. And then his calm and collectiveness in the huddle, calling the plays, making sure guys are doing their job and on the right guys and stuff like that. So, it's a combination of a little bit of everything, a little bit of highs and lows. But just his enthusiasm and his love for the game [stands out]."
On going against former teammate S Eric Weddle and if this feels a little bit different than other games:"Yes. Eric [Weddle] did a great job for us, and we definitely respect Eric. But at this point in the game, you're rocking and rolling, and they're another opponent, and they're in our way. Obviously, we respect them and we want the best for him, but on Sunday, for those 60 minutes, it's going to be football, and we'll be rolling."
On if he expects S Eric Weddle to have an ability to understand what the Ravens are trying to do because Weddle was so involved during his time in Baltimore: "You can watch the tape, and obviously, the tape is out there of every single game we play. So, it's not a secret or a mystery what we're doing. He might have more of a grasp on it, but still, at the end of the day, it's executing football. It's blocking people. It's running crisp routes. It's making good throws, and all that stuff that happens, bang, bang, bang. So, we'll be ready to roll."
On how he describes the style of the way the Ravens are running the ball: "It starts with Lamar [Jackson]. He puts a lot of stress on every single defense, just because of his run threat ability as a quarterback. And obviously, he's run for a lot of yards. He's going to break … Has he already broken the NFL record?" (Reporter: "Not yet.") "Not yet, but he will, obviously. (laughter)So, his stress that he puts on the defense, No. 1, opens up other areas of the running game. So, that's a complementary system where you have to account for him, No. 1. And then we can run our normal run game, that would be like a normal running game, as an addition to what he does. So that just puts … Like I said, the stress on the defense, that's tough to defend."
On if the blocking scheme this year is any different compared to years past:"It depends. Sometimes, it's like it's just a normal zone left play, with him having the option on the outside of the play. But then also, it's just a designed give, too, where they try to think like he's going to keep the ball, and then it's just a designed give all the way. So, we have plays that are supposed to look like a normal play, and then plays that are literally a designed keep, too. So, there are all those balances to keep the defenses on edge." (Reporter: "So how hard is that for you guys?") "On the outside, it's the offensive tackle knowing when to arc the player, let a guy go for the read player for Lamar [Jackson]. But we rep that stuff all the time, every single day, and it's definitely muscle memory and doing things over and over and [being] repetitive. But yes, Ronnie [Stanley] and Orlando [Brown Jr.] are doing a great job at that."
On if he feels he is playing his best football this year:"No. 1, you don't do anything in the NFL on your own. It's a team game, so when everybody is doing great, everybody's job is a little easier. So, that doesn't take away the fact that you still have to get it done at a high level. But when you're around a bunch of good players and a good team, we all feed off each other and we're all complementary – the defense, the offense, the special teams, player to player. It's a combination of me taking care of my job and also other guys taking care of theirs, and we're definitely playing together at a high level."
On how happy he is that he decided to return to football and if there was any doubt that he would return:"I made it through healthy last year. After the year, you have time to think about it, and I definitely had that fire and desire to come back and play, like I still love to compete and love this game. And I made it through healthy last year, which is great, and it gave me some juice to come back and play this year. I'm definitely enjoying it. Like I said, I'm healthy, and we're being successful and having a lot of fun out there. That's why you play. That's why I play. I love this game. I love the camaraderie of the guys, the locker room wins. It's been a lot of fun."
On how he's enjoyed his role as the pre-game pump-up guy:"That's kind of part of … That's an ever-changing deal with the guys. Guys change in and out. But that's kind of me doing my job, and ever since Ray [Lewis] left, it's kind of been different. 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] did it for a long time, and now 'Sizz' is gone. But I try not to overthink that. Because for us, we have so many speeches, whether it's the Saturday night before the game, the Sunday mornings, and then offensive line speeches. You have a ton of speeches that you listen to, so you just want to be short and sweet, hit them with something that's on your mind. And everybody is ready to play at that point. I've never needed that, but I definitely do my part. That's part of it."
On if he borrowed any speech material from Ray Lewis: "No, none of that, no. (laughter)Ray [Lewis], he was his own unique guy, and there ain't no way I'm going to be able to do anything like him."
On how much fun he's having this season and if that has changed his thoughts on retirement: "I'm not even looking ahead to next year right now. You just live in the moment. It's one day at a time. I could still … The reality is that you could get hurt next week. I could get hurt in the next game. That's just the business that we're in. So, you live in the moment. You take care of today, and that stuff will work itself out after the season. So, I'm not worried about it at all."