Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
Last year, for the most part, was a very positive year for your unit. Last time you met Trindon Holliday kind of put a damper on that. Any special emphasis when you look at him on film? (Joe Platania)"There is always special emphasis when you're playing a returner of his talent level. He's a guy that attacks the whole field, and everybody is going to be responsible in coverage this week for us to be successful. He's done it against others as well – it's not a fluke. We are very mindful of his skills."* *
With some of the roster cuts, some of the guys that were let go were some of the returners that have been working in the mix. I know you're not going to tell us who will be backing up Jacoby Jones, but obviously, you guys feel like you have other options there that you're willing to say goodbye to guys like Bobby Rainey and Tandon Doss? (Matt Vensel)"We have a plan, so hopefully Jacoby [Jones] is able to handle all of the reps that we have. And then if we need someone else, someone else will go in. We'll always play with 11, I can assure you that. So, there will be somebody back there, and what happens now is the other guys need to get reps in practice so they're ready to go."* *
On the two returns at Denver last year, was there something specific that led to the returns breaking down – a missed assignment or a missed lane or something that you can go back and see? (Bo Smolka)"On the punt, yes, there was a breakdown in coverage, but it was also a situation where in pre-game warm-ups we had analyzed the wind to see which way we're punting, like we always do. And in the weather conditions, real frankly, the coach made a bad call there – that would be me. I thought that we'd be able to get it to that sideline and the ball started out right and ended left. Then we had a guy that fell down, we had another guy get held up and there was just too much space. We didn't adjust really well to the ball. There was too much space for that returner. On the other play, it was just a situation where we were really defending the wide … We defended the play well; we didn't defend the returner well, because the play was going to the wide side, and we had that defended, but we didn't stay in front of him. He just took it north, which he's done a number of times. So, that's just another part of the coverage we've been working on."* *
John Harbaugh talked about Brynden Trawick making the team by doing a lot on special teams. As a special teams guy, can you speak to his play? (Bo Smolka)"What you saw in the last preseason game, was on defense in particular, you saw him running around and being physical and making hard, strong tackles. And that always speaks well for special teams, because where he plays on defense, being in the secondary, those are space plays. He's coming out of a deep middle and coming in the alley and filling the alley or making a play downfield, and special teams does that all the time, because we're always running and covering and making plays in space. So, those things translate well for special teams coaches. When you look at that, you like to see those kinds of things. And he had a very strong game the first game of the preseason, as well, against Tampa. He did a lot of the same things. We value that skill, being able to run and being able to tackle, and he's a big, physical presence out there. He's a big young man, and he's got a long way to go, but he's got all the tools that we're looking for, and he's just got to improve week by week now as we go through the season."* *
Robert James was claimed off waivers. What do you think he brings to the special teams unit? (Garrett Downing)"He's an experienced special teams player. He's played on all four special teams phases. He's been a productive tackler for [the Falcons]. He's a real good blocker, and we'll see how it works out in practice today. But I think we're able to get a guy – much like our personnel office has done in the past – get a guy right at the last second then come in and help us immediately. We're excited about his presence here."
Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell
Could you talk about how Joe Flacco has become more Peyton-like in what he does at the line of scrimmage and what you allow him to do? (Jim Corbett)"I probably wouldn't describe it that way when you say, 'more Peyton-like.' It's more like Joe [Flacco] – what does Joe do? Some of these things he's been doing for quite some time, so it's not like it's something new. He's been here – this is his sixth season – and there was kind of an evolution of the process as he was growing and developing. He's been making checks since he walked into the league and probably before that, so that's not any different. What's happened is that as growth has occurred, we've allowed him to have a little bit more freedom, just in terms of what he does at the line of scrimmage and how he goes about it. It's not only just him, it's everybody around him being able to get on the same page, being able to function in that realm without huddling and things of that nature, so that he's growing and developing and getting better by the day."
Ray Rice said that the offense in the preseason is just learning the basic fundamental stuff and you're not trying to tip your hand so much. When you get into the regular season, could your offense look a lot different from what we've seen in the preseason? (Garrett Downing)"I'm not going to say 'a lot different,' but you're going to see some things different than what we've done previously probably here or there. We're not giving away any trade secrets, but there could be a wrinkle here and there. That's part of the preseason. You're trying to get younger guys to learn and develop within the process, and so we're trying to bring them along. Oftentimes, you have to do it slowly, so you're trying to get the basic fundamentals of it, and probably that was what Ray [Rice] was referring to when he said vanilla, because you are working on the basics. You've got to be good at your fundamentals – blocking, catching, all of those little things. And then, you start to expand and grow from there. Once you start to face an opponent that you're preparing for for an extended period of time, you're going to try to utilize things that put you in the best position against those particular looks. So, you may see a couple things that are a little different."* *
What did you guys like about what Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown did during the summer to put themselves in a position to make the team? (Matt Zenitz)"The big thing that I think you can see is [that] they make plays. They caught the ball well during the preseason. They put themselves in position to make plays and did a nice job. They have speed, they have size, and they're smart, so it's a pretty good combination for a young guy."* *
How excited are you to see things come together, with the changes you've made on offense this year, during a regular season game? (Ryan Mink) *"We take an exam every week in this league, and I'm pretty excited about having an opportunity to play against a great team on the road. It's going to be a really festive atmosphere, to say the least, and we're looking forward to it. It presents a great challenge for us, but I think our team is one that loves a challenge, and we've been preparing for this for quite some time. It's always good to see how we react. Literally, we have a lot of new guys as well, so that's going to be a lot of fun." *
Denver no longer has Elvis Dumervil, and Von Miller is gone this week. Discuss their pass rush and what you expect from them. (Bo Smolka)"I know one thing: I've been around this league long enough to know that anybody who lines up at one of those positions in this league – they can play, and they can rush the passer. Obviously, they have [Shaun] Phillips, who can do a tremendous job. He's done it over the years. I think he may have like 60-some odd career sacks or so. You look at [Robert] Ayers, who is a guy who can do some damage, but then also [Derek] Wolfe. Wolfe does a tremendous job. He gives you pressure inside as well. He's relentless. They have a great group of guys. That's the thing that I think, oftentimes, people get lulled to sleep in this league. [If] you think you can go into that ball game thinking you're not going to have a guy who can rush the passer, you're kidding yourself. They've got them and more. The things that they can do with their linebacking corps, [with Wesley] Woodyard leading the group there – they can give you some problems. And maybe, perhaps, [Denver has] as fine a secondary as you'll see. [They have] two talented corners – Champ [Bailey] on one side and 'DRC' [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] on the other – who can flat run and play. [They have] two safeties who are active that get after you. Rahim Moore is a very, very good player, and 'The Duke' [Duke Ihenacho] is back there now for them, and [Mike] Adams is still a guy who's experienced. It's a very deep and experienced group. [Chris] Harris comes in and plays well. You don't want to sleep on this defense. They're too good."* *
When you get a guy like Elvis Dumervil who may have played for an upcoming opponent, do you try to pick his brain or is that overrated? (Kevin Richardson)"Certainly. You do everything you can to try to glimpse a little bit here and there. That's a common thing. It's not like it's uncommon. Everybody does their due diligence in that way. If they tell you they don't, then they're probably not being truthful. We try to find out anything we can to help. Some of that stuff, when you say it's overrated, when you find out or you talk or do your scouting report and get it filled in here or there with maybe some tidbits, the fact of the matter is [that] when they're walking between thin white lines, it's time to play and do your job. Oftentimes, those little tips that you got really are of little value."* *
Your team and the Broncos were among the fastest teams in pace of play last year. From your perspective, what's the benefit of using the no-huddle against defenses? Why is that becoming more and more of a thing across the league? (Matt Vensel)"There are a couple of different things, and it's not like I'm giving you something that is revolutionary. Obviously, it makes it a little bit more difficult for teams to substitute. It makes it a little more difficult for them to give you a variety of different looks if you're pushing the pace fast enough. They have to be somewhat bland. They have to have certain answers to what you do, however they go about it, whether it's wristbands or whether it's signals, whatever it might be. You try to put them in position where you limit what they do. It also helps keep teams in a rhythm. Rhythm is extremely important in a ball game. You try not to break your rhythm if you can, so sometimes pushing the pace of play lets you dictate a little bit more [of what goes] on in the 40 seconds between those snaps and maybe give you an advantage here or there."* *
Is conditioning a factor on both sides of the ball at this level? (Matt Vensel)"Certainly, that's involved in it because of the fact that … Both teams, in this particular case, work against it – they see it every single day, so it's not going to be something that's new or unusual. Conditioning is a factor, particularly when you get some of those drives that end up being 13- and 14-play drives. It can certainly take a toll on you."* *
When you worked with Peyton [Manning], what did you get from him? Were there certain things when you picked his brain that you can pass down to Joe [Flacco] and the other quarterbacks? (Alex Marvez)"One of the things that I can tell you is [that] they're too numerous to name, just in terms of being able to … When you work with a guy for 10 years and you kind of go through development and looking at different situations and reacting to different situations and putting together plans, and he's one of those guys, like Joe [Flacco] … Both guys are the same. I could tell you the exact same thing about Joe. You learn a lot from them in terms of their vantage point. They're out on the field standing behind that center, and how they view and see things certainly gives you a little different perspective on things – what they can and cannot do, what they like and don't like. Those conversations to me are fascinating. That's why I love to coach, because you do get an opportunity to kind of get inside their mind. And also, I think that helps you coach because you've got to be able to listen, and not only that, but make sure you put them in the best position possible to do, No. 1, what they understand, what they like and where they think they function best. That's kind of your job. Every guy that I've coached I've had that opportunity, but I've worked with [Manning] in this league longer than anyone, so there are a myriad of things I could talk about."* *
When you had an entire offseason to work on your offense, how much did you go in mind thinking, "I know Joe [Flacco] likes this [and] doesn't like this. We're going to do this to take advantage of his strengths and minimize weaknesses?" (Alex Marvez)"A lot – that's how we have to look at it. I think he's obviously the centerpiece of our offense. What we try to do is take into account and take a look at what he does well and try to not put him in positions and things that he doesn't like. He can literally do everything. He's one of those guys who can roll to his left [and] roll to his right. He's a very, very fine athlete, and so there are hardly any limits with him in that regard. But there are things that I think he gravitates more to than others, so in developing the offense, I think it's important that you do that, not only with him, but also with Ray [Rice], with Vonta [Leach], our group of tight ends [and] our offensive line. You've got to look at them and say, 'Who are these guys, [and] what do they do best?' You have to be able to structure that kind of plan for your entire offense to make sure that you're functioning properly so you're not in a situation where you're trying to get a group of guys to do some things they're uncomfortable with simply because you like it." (Reporter: "That can happen in this league, though, can't it?") "It can, and it does, I think, from time to time."* *
What kind of growth have you seen from Ray Rice in your first offseason? (Jim Corbett)"Even watching him from afar when we had to compete against him, it didn't take long … I'll go back even further than that – watching him on film at Rutgers when he was coming out. You could see he just had an immense amount of talent and ability. And the growth process, I think through this league, he was effective from the first day that he walked on the field. And I think you'd see the same type of growth and development in him that you'd see in a lot of guys that have been around, like Joe [Flacco]. They get a better understanding of what they're facing, how to go about attacking it, and also being able to get into situations where they do what they do best, and we try to build some things around that. But, yes, his knowledge of the game, he works at it, he's a guy with a lot of spirit, he's fun to be around, he's a great teammate and he's a fine leader as well. The thing about him, and I think most of you that have been around him know, he's a fierce competitor. He flat gets after it on game day. Man, he's fun to be around on game day."* *
Now that you've seen Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley for a little bit of time getting involved in the offense, how do you think they've fit in so far? (Garrett Downing)"They're still getting a better grasp for the system every single day. Our system is pretty vast, but we've tried to make certain that they've been getting a lot of reps. They've been preparing in practice, they're diligent in meetings. Every one of them, the two guys are in here early and they stay late. You see them in the meeting rooms by themselves often, they're working, trying to get a little bit better, working with the coaches, trying to make certain that they catch up on things that maybe they may be a little bit behind [on], but I think in both cases they're fitting in well. And obviously, you'll see them out there on the field for us."* *
Jim, how difficult is that – those guys coming in late, and now Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown getting in there? Not many preseason games and now you're getting ready to go to a Thursday night game. (Bill West)"The difficulty is not necessarily something that we dwell on for the most part. They tell us to get a job done, and that's what we have to do. We have to get it done, and we will. We'll get them ready; get them ready to go. It's a challenge, and it takes a dedicated guy, and both those guys [Clark and Stokley] are pros. They understand – they've been in situations similar to this before and have been able to come through, learn the system and develop. The thing that's a bit easier sometimes is if a guy has gone through this on several occasions, learned several different systems, there's always something you can relate it to; 'Oh, yeah, that's just like this particular call that we had at Tampa or this particular call that we had when I was here with Baltimore the first time around.' You know, they can kind of mix and match some things to catch on maybe a little bit quicker than a novice, a young guy. So, I think they've been adjusting well."* *
Gino Gradkowski wins the starting center job over A.Q. Shipley in a tough battle. What made the difference there? (Bo Smolka)"It was real tough. Obviously, both guys, they were neck and neck the entire time. Both of them are scrappy and tough and intelligent. Both guys are very, very capable people, good leaders, and do a tremendous job of getting our line set in the direction in which they should be going on protections and in running schemes. But just all in all, I think it was just by a hair. Gino probably is a bit more familiar with the things and maybe a little bit easier to get some of the more difficult things done on the interior at this point, because of his familiarity. But, it's still one of those things, man, it's still right there, neck and neck. But nevertheless, I feel good about both guys. That's a good feeling."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Could you talk about the test that their receivers, now with Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, and certainly Peyton, with that triangle? (Jim Corbett)"It's the whole offense. You've got to consider the running back in there, too, and you've got to consider the tight ends. It's everybody. They've got a great skill group, [and they've] got a good offensive line that can protect. They can run the ball. It's a high-caliber offense. It's as good as, if not the best, in the league. It's everybody. You can't really concentrate on any one guy. It was kind of that way when I look at Peyton [Manning] all the way back to Indianapolis when he had Reggie [Wayne] and [Marvin] Harrison and [Brandon] Stokley, or whoever the slot receiver was – it didn't matter – and Dallas [Clark]. It's kind of the same thing. Pick your poison. If you want to double somebody, he's going to find the other guy. We approach everything with him as [if] he's always going to be right. He's going to always make the right decision. Instead of going the other way and saying we're going to trick him, we're going to assume that he's always going to make the right choice and read the right things. To me, this game comes down to, just like I think Peyton's philosophy is on offense, just out-execute you. And I think that's what we have to do on defense. We've just simply got to out-execute them. If you're in man coverage, you've got to cover your man. If you're in zone coverage, you've got to play with good eyes and break on the ball. If we're [playing] the run game, we've got to play the blocks and get off the blocks. I've gone up against him so many times, and I've seen so many people try to trick him, and very seldom [does it] ever work. You've just got to out-execute them. Period."* *
Is it good that you're getting them early in the season? (Ryan Mink)"No, I liked it better when it was eight-below zero [degrees], to be honest with you … (laughter) *… And his hands were cold. I liked that better. *(laughter) *When I've played Peyton in the past, like at New England, we liked playing him in [December/January] in New England as opposed to September in Indianapolis or any other time in Indianapolis. I don't think there's any benefit to playing him early or late. The only factor sometimes with him might be weather, and that's not going to be a factor."* **
With all the changes that you've made on defense, how excited are you to see it all come together in the first regular season game? (Ryan Mink)"Very. I'm very excited. I was talking about it with my son last night, who lives in Denver, by the way. He's not a really popular guy out there. (laughter) *We've played a quarter, we've played a half, we've done all that stuff, but now to really have this defense and play a whole game and do the adjustments and do all the stuff you have to do in the course of a game … Every preseason game you kind of go into the game thinking, 'We're kind of going to major in this,' whether it be pressure, whether it be coverage, whether it be something new, let's try to look at it, and if it fails, we can throw it out because it's not too late. So, you always had kind of a motive in every game of preseason. Now, it's all about winning – whatever we've got to do to adjust and play. So, I'm really excited about it. I'm really excited to see this team play and see where we are and then go from there."* **
Corey Graham is somebody who is going to be a big part of trying to slow them down. What kind of summer did he have? (Matt Zenitz) *"I think he's had a great summer. I think he's done a good job in the slot. He's done a good job playing outside. Somebody asked me that yesterday, and I said, 'The good thing about him is,' and they said, 'What about the matchup with [Wes] Welker?' Well, he matched up with Welker last year. It's not like this is his first parade. He's matched up against him before, and we'll try to do the best job we can and help guys when we can help them. I feel Corey [Graham] has had a very, very good camp." *
They announced Ronnie Hillman as their starting running back, but they have a few guys who could potentially play a big role. (Matt Vensel)"Yesterday, they announced [Montee] Ball, so I guess it could be any one of the three. And we've heard [Knowshon] Moreno is going to play a lot. (laughter) *Every runner has a different style of running. Every guy is a little different in protection. Some are better than others. You know who's in the game – players have got to know who's in the game [and] could potentially run the ball. Are they a jump-cutter? Are they a downhill, one-cut runner? Are they a thumper? What are they? And our guys kind of know that, just like I'm sure they know about ours. The other thing is if a guy is in there on third downs, is he a guy who's probably going to be in there for protection or a guy they're going to try to get out on a free release? So, you kind of know those things. It really doesn't matter. You have to prepare for all three of them because, like I said, two days ago I heard Ball was going to start. And then somebody else told me they heard Moreno. We're preparing for all three of them."* **
Could you talk about the comeback Lardarius [Webb] has made, and is he ready to go four quarters in high altitude? (Jim Corbett)"I wouldn't make too much out of the altitude. I think he's absolutely ready to go. I think he's ready to play. He's done a great job of rehabbing. Teryl Austin has done a really good job as our secondary coach of kind of bringing him back not too fast. We didn't really kill him at the beginning of camp. He didn't go on PUP. We just kind of brought him back slowly, and each time, gained a little more each week. I think our staff did a really good job of getting him ready. I'd say yeah, absolutely, he's ready."* *
You've faced Peyton [Manning] a lot of times. Is there anything that can be gleaned from Brandon Stokley or Dallas Clark, since they played with him for so long? (Ryan Mink)"Well, don't forget [offensive coordinator] Jim Caldwell.* He might know as much about him as anybody. The thing of it is, he does, but it's not … When you talk to [Brandon] Stokley or you talk to Dallas [Clark] or you talk to Jim, it's the same thing you see on the film, and it's not like they do a hundred different things every week [and] it's a whole new offense. It's the same thing; he just picks where he's going to be. He might run the same route five times during a game and run it again five times the next game and five times the next game, but throw it to a different guy every time based on what he sees coverage-wise and stuff like that. It's not like it's rocket science that you kind of almost know sometimes what they're going to do – it's just defending it. There's always somebody open on every play, especially if you talk to an offensive coach. He's usually pretty good at finding that guy."* **
I know some corners have great speed, some are playmakers, [and] some have great size. What impresses you most about Corey Graham? (Matt Zenitz)"[He's] smart. I think the biggest thing any corner needs is to be smart. [He needs to] know if you've got the speed to cover this guy, if this guy can get on top of you, reading the route combinations, reading the formations, reading the splits – all that kind of stuff comes into play. There are a lot of talented, talented defensive backs out there that can run like the wind, and they might even be big, but can't play very well. And a lot of that just goes on, just like linebackers, you can be … What made Ray [Lewis] … Ray had special tools physically, but he also had special tools right here *(points to his head) *that made him the great linebacker that he was. All linebackers are that way, DBs [defensive backs] – any player. There are a lot of talented guys out there who aren't very good, and there are a lot of guys who maybe aren't as talented who are very good. Obviously, they all have talent or they wouldn't be part of a 53-man roster, but those guys who can really take that athletic ability and put it to use in the right way are … That's what I like about Corey. Corey is a smart, smart football player."
DE Chris Canty
On how familiar he thinks QB Peyton Manning is with the Ravens' defense: "That guy is always studying tape. He never stops studying tape. He's gotten a good look and has a decent feel of what we're capable of. We've just got to make sure we take care of our business. We feel pretty confident we'll be able to go out and execute if we do so."* *
On how difficult it is to play against QB Peyton Manning:"He's a pro's pro. He's going to be prepared; he's going to be at the top of his game. It really comes down to executing your job. That is doing your fundamentals [and] executing your fundamentals better than the man across from you. If we get more guys doing that on our side of the ball than they have, we feel pretty good about our opportunity to be successful."* *
On how he thinks the defensive line is gelling: "I think we are coming together. We're going to continue to improve. Obviously, the more reps that we get working with one another, the better we'll be. We'll continue to build on everything we've established here in OTAs, minicamp and the preseason. We'll continue to improve as the season progresses, too [and] continue to build on all the things we're doing day-in and day-out. You're always getting better or getting worse; you never stay the same. We just want to continue to improve."* *
On if he still gets excited for the first game even though he is a veteran:"Absolutely. You've got to have that sense of excitement for the first taste of regular season action. If you don't have that then you don't need to be in this game anymore. [It's] definitely exciting to play the opening game of the regular season. The NFL does a great job of promoting this game as a premier game, a showcase game. We're just really excited about the opportunity to go out there and compete against a top-notch football team. We're excited about the challenge and looking forward to it."
On how excited he is to be a part of the Ravens' defense:"I'm excited about this group. There are a lot of guys that bring a lot of different things to the table. We're just trying to put it all together and focus on the fundamental things that we've worked on. [We'll] also continue to improve on the little nuances, the little things here and there that really can give us an opportunity to be special. We're excited about the opportunity to continue to improve as a unit. We're just looking forward to taking that next step and continuing to build on the performances that we've had, and hopefully, that translates into success Thursday night."* *
On what sets QB Peyton Manning apart from other quarterbacks: "Tempo. Tempo and communication are going to be big challenges for us. We understand that they try to run an up-tempo operation and keep the defense off guard. [They] get the defense out of position and taken advantage of [with] mismatches and things of that nature. We've got to be prepared for the tempo. We've got to also be ready to communicate and make sure that everybody is on the same page so our unit can operate as one [to] give ourselves a chance to be successful each and every down."
WR Brandon Stokley
On what it's like to now be playing against QB Peyton Manning: "I've done it before. You know when you play Peyton [Manning] you have to be really good on the other side. Offensively, you're going to have to score some points, because he's going to get his points. We know on offense that we are going to have to play a very good game."* *
On if he has adjusted to the change from Denver to Baltimore: "I guess I might be used to it now. It was a little bit different because that is my home; that's where I'm going to live. From that aspect, it is a little different. But [in the] NFL – if you've been around long enough – you get used to change, and that's just a part of it."* *
On if he's discussed QB Peyton Manning's abilities with defensive coordinator Dean Pees:"That's the hard thing with Peyton [Manning]. He changes things up so much. He'll have a lot changed up. Once you think that you've got something down, he'll switch it up on you. That's when you really pay the price with a touchdown against you. I don't want to be responsible for that." (laughter)
On if he was surprised about QB Peyton Manning's tone with Baltimore media on a conference call: "He's a competitor, he's the ultimate competitor. That's why I loved playing with the guy. He's got some fire to him. So no, I'm not surprised about that."* *
On what he thinks of the Ravens' offense:"We've got a chance to be really explosive. When you're playing a really good defense like the Broncos, you're going to have to execute well. [You] can't turn the ball over, can't hurt yourself. We're going to have to be on top of our game."* *
On if he feels caught up on knowing the playbook:"Yes, I'd like to be a little bit further along. I'd like to have the whole offseason, but that's not the case. I played catch-up as much as possible. I studied a lot and have gotten a lot of help from the other receivers and Joe [Flacco]. It is what it is. I'm doing my best to know my stuff, and I think I do."* *
On if being a veteran helps with adjusting to new situations: "That definitely helps, because you've been around a lot of different offenses. You can understand what they are running here and you can translate it to different things that you've had in the past."* *
On if playing with QB Peyton Manning in 2012 was different that when they were with the Colts: "Not really. It's hard to say if he was more laid back or not, but I don't really think he was. He was pretty much the same guy he's always been. He's the ultimate competitor; he loves to compete, and he's probably the best quarterback to the play the game. We know that going in on the other side of the ball on offense, and we're going to have to play a really good game and score a lot of points."
CB Lardarius Webb
On CB Corey Graham's two interceptions against the Broncos in last season's playoffs:"He does it at practice, [too]. I'm just saying, [if] you all try No. 24 [Corey Graham], he's bound to get his hands on the ball. It's just how hard he works, how hard he studies – he practices hard. Ever since he came in for training camp from Chicago, we all were thinking, 'Hey, we've got a special teams corner.' That's what we got him for. Once he got here, he started picking balls off and making plays. We [were saying], 'Ozzie [Newsome] got him [a cornerback]. I don't know where Ozzie found this guy, but he found himself a great corner.'"* *
On if there is anywhere that CB Corey Graham's improvement from last year sticks out: "Just his leadership role [and] him getting comfortable with the guys around him. [He's] speaking up now. He's been there, he's played in the Super Bowl, [and] he's succeeded in the playoffs [and] the Super Bowl. He's just got more of a voice now. That's his biggest improvement, but he's still being Corey Graham – making plays and always around the ball. That's what we love about him."* *
On how he feels: "I feel good – excited to be back on the field with the guys, with Corey [Graham and] to really play with the guys. The defense that we have – the guys we brought in – I'm just so excited to be around these guys. To actually play with the guys – Michael Huff, [Elvis] Dumervil – these are some great guys that we brought in. [They're] not just great guys, but great football players. I just want to be a part of it."* *
On if this team could surprise people with how well they play: "Yes, I think we can be really good, but we have to put the work in. We have to continue getting better each day, and this is a day that we have to take advantage of. We're going against the Denver Broncos – a great team. It's a great start for us to see where we are right now. Going against Peyton Manning, you always want to [be prepared]. The guys he has around him like [Wes] Welker, [Eric] Decker, and Demaryius [Thomas] – he's got some guys around him. It's going to be a good test for us up front and the back."* *
On if having OLB Terrell Suggs and OLB Elvis Dumervil makes his job easier: "Yes, it makes it way easier. It makes it easier when you have [Terrell Suggs] on one side and [Elvis] Dumervil on the other and Haloti Ngata. [With] these guys going at the quarterback, the quarterback better know that they're coming. He better want to get the ball out sooner or later. So yes, it makes our job way easier."* *
On what it means to be able to get back on the field:"It's a blessing – a privilege. Just knowing how important it is to be on that field, knowing all the hard work I put myself through. I miss it; I miss it to the fullest. I just can't wait to touch my foot on the field."* *
On how he felt during the preseason games he played in:"I felt great. Just the way I look, I have to improve on some things [and] get used to some things – [like] feeling out routes. I'm coming along fine. I can't wait to get back to work."* *
On which ACL tear was tougher to come back from: "The first one, because the first one was my first time going through the injury. This time, I've kind of been through it so I knew what to expect. I just knew what I had to do. I knew I had to work in the offseason."* *
On if he knew instantly that his ACL was torn when it happened in October: "Yes, I knew it. The hardest thing to get back this time was mentally just getting my head right."* *
On his assessment of trying to defend QB Peyton Manning:"First, you have to try to outsmart him, and it's going to be a hard job. He's an up-tempo guy. He's going to run that offense up-tempo. He brought in Wes Welker, who is a guy for that up-tempo offense, so we have to be on point. We have to communicate in the back end. We have to play smart football."* *
On if Baltimore's offense is sort of a mirror image of Denver's offense:"It is. With Joe [Flacco] coming along the way he is, he's preparing us during practice and during camp to face this up-tempo offense. As good as Joe is, it's hard to replicate Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning, so we just have to be on the same page at all times."