Baltimore Ravens Confidential

BALTIMORE RAVENS VS. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick On WR Mark Clayton: "When you get the ball into Mark's hands, you know he's going to make something happen. He made that play last week. We just need to get the ball into Mark's hands." On the status of LB/DE Terrell Suggs: "[He] is questionable. He missed part of practice today."

On preparing to face Chargers LB Shawne Merriman: [Preparing for him] is a huge part. He is fast becoming one of those players that you have to account for on every play. He is an outstanding athlete. He will impact the game if you let him."
On comparing Merriman to LB Ray Lewis: "[They are] different in what they are doing. That is probably not a fair comparison to either one because of what [the Chargers] are asking [Shawne] do."
On the influence Marty Schottenheimer has had on his coaching style: "Marty is so well organized, so concise. You have to admire the way he presents himself. He probably doesn't like hearing me talk about when I was young and watching him coach, but you're exactly right. He is someone to admire. He has had a phenomenal career."
On Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson: "He is stronger than you think; he is faster than you think. He has incredible moves and quickness. He's got that vision that the great backs have. He can hurt you running and catching the ball. You can see why he can't get the ball in his hands enough."
On his reaction to the developments with Cowboys WR Terrell Owens: "[We] saw bits and pieces of it. It's not something for us to comment on."
WR Derrick Mason On his tandem play with WR Mark Clayton: "We played fairly well the second half of the [Cleveland] game, but what has to happen now is that we have to play four quarters as a team. That means offense, defense, and special teams. The second half, our backs were against the wall. We depended on one another. That's what you want from your team. We all came out collectively and everybody across the board made one or two plays to get us over that hump and secure a victory. Hopefully that was just a little taste of not just what Mark and myself can do, but the offense as a whole can do."
On his acrobatic catch in last Sunday's game: "I've been in this league for 10 years … I don't know. I have to go check the film. It was a good catch. Steve [McNair] put it where only I can get it, the defensive back never saw the ball coming, and I just dug down, I guess, and stuck that one arm up there. If you stick it out there you'll catch something, and I caught a football. That was just one of many plays that we as an offense made to put us back in the game and ultimately win it."
On his feelings about Clayton's play: "I am very proud [of him]. It shows how far he has come in the last year, year and a half. [It is] what he expects of himself, what we expect from Mark as an offense and what the coaching staff expects from Mark. He is a guy if you put the ball in his hands quick enough can make plays. The guy never stops. Once he gets the ball in his hands, his first motion is up field. That's what you want from a young guy, especially a guy of his caliber and with his talent."
On this Sunday's game being the first true test for the Ravens: "All of our games have been a true test. The Chargers play the same teams we play. They play Oakland, they play Tennessee. People make a big fuss about us playing three teams who are a combined 0-8. The Chargers played two teams who are a combined 0-5 or 0-6. Regardless of how you slice it, we played three good teams and they played two good teams. It just so happened that on those days we played better than those teams and they played better than the teams they went against. You can't take away from what they did; you can't take away from what we did. They are 2-0; we are 3-0. It's a match this weekend of teams who don't have a loss on their record, and it is going to be a hard-fought battle."
On the turmoil in the secondary after Chargers SS Terrence Kiel was arrested: "It's a bad situation. I know that once Sunday comes they will put that behind them, and if he can't play somebody else will fill that space. That's a very good ball team from top to bottom on that defensive side of that ball team. If one guy goes down, they have enough faith that another guy is going to step up and get the job done. So we can't concern ourselves with that; we have to concern ourselves with the guys who are going to be on the field. And if [Kiel] is on the field, then we have to deal with it, but if not then we have to deal with the person replacing him."
On Cowboys WR Terrell Owens: "That's a situation that nobody has authority to comment on, because nobody was there with him. So, I can't really comment on what Terrell is going through or what happened. My prayers go out to him in this situation, but as far as myself or anyone else trying to comment on it, I don't think anyone has the power or the authority to comment on it because nobody else was there."
TE Todd Heap On his ankle: "The swelling is still the same, but it's just a matter of getting it out of there and hopefully it'll be back to normal."
On San Diego's defense and LB Shawne Merriman: "He's a great player. It's only his second year and he's accomplished a lot in his short career. He's definitely a guy you have to be aware of when he's out on the field, and where he is, because he's definitely a big part of their defense. He's just an all-around athlete. He's pretty darn good at everything he does, whether it's dropping back in the pass or rushing the passer or stopping the run. He's definitely a big part of the defense and we're going to have to be aware of where he is on the field."
On the teams they have beaten: "I don't know if we can go on record this early in the season; it's still really early. Maybe if we're in the 10th week, and we looked at what those teams' records were, it would be a little better indicator of where we are and where they are. Right now I don't think that could give us any clue whether we are beating teams because they're bad or we're beating teams because we're good. And the same for them, so we'll see who is better this Sunday. That's what it comes down to."
On using the Chargers as a measuring stick: "I definitely would say that the way they've been playing and what we've watched on film, and the players they have on their side of the ball, I think it's a good gauge of where we are if we win this game."
On being overconfident: "It's always something you have to watch for. I don't see that or notice that from any of the guys in the locker room. Especially after last week, beating a team and having such a close game against a team we thought we should beat. I think we are not complacent right now; we're just eager to win that next game. "
On experts still considering them underdogs: "I honestly don't pay attention to what the experts say. If we sat around and listened to [them], then we probably wouldn't get very far, so I can't pay attention to that. We have to pay attention to what we are watching on film, and pay attention to our game plan and worry about ourselves right now. That's the only way we are going to be 4-0."
On K Matt Stover: "We have all the confidence in the world in Matt – even in the huddle, when we were at the 35-yard line. We ended up getting those two extra yards off of [Derrick] Mason's catch, but I said, ‘Guys, all we have to do is not mess up. If we keep the ball right where it is, and don't' get pushed back or have any penalties, Stover is going to make this kick.' Sure enough, he came out, Mr. Automatic, and made the kick."
On players teasing Stover about his age: "I don't think there is anything a kicker [doesn't get teased about], whether he is oldest, youngest, it doesn't matter. He gets teased about everything, because kickers in general are going to get teased; that's just a given. All you young kids watching: If you want to be a kicker when you get older, expect that."
LB Bart Scott On comparing Shawne Merriman to Ray Lewis: "To me, the only thing I can say that they have in common is the emotion and passion they play with. He's a very passionate player; a young excitable player. But they are two different positions. Ray Lewis – it's tough to put somebody else in that breath. You have to earn a lot of stripes before I put another player in the same category as Ray Lewis."
On Chargers LB LaDainian Tomlinson: "You've got to take your shot. If it's true, any other week, it's more important this week that everybody take their shot and run to the ball, because if you break down, he's going to freeze you and he's going to make you look bad. If you take your shot and miss, you're supposed to miss because he's a great back. But if you get him, then you're going to get a pat on the back."
On the success of stopping the run: "Just the belief and the consistency. We get to work in practice, and it's the same thing every day. You go full speed in practice so you can know where that guy is going to be and you can take your shot. It's just like a puzzle, everybody has a fit and when you really get good, guys may do something and you develop the chemistry where you can play off them. So it's just like fitting a puzzle, and I think that's how we're coming together."
On how it feels to lead the NFL in sacks: "Who's leading the NFL in sacks? Oh wow. It is flattering, but it's early yet. It's a marathon; they don't give out prizes for the first month or the first three games of the season. But it is something that I pride myself on and whenever you get the opportunity to go at the quarterback, you want to go full speed. I've been getting great looks and great help from my teammates. It's not because of me that I'm getting sacks; it's because my teammates are keeping guys off me. You have to account for a guy like Trevor Pryce, you have to slide for a guy like Terrell Suggs, and I'm just the beneficiary of the lay-up."
On the versatility of the defense: "That's the beauty of our defense, that's what our defense is based off of – giving opposing offenses different looks and different fronts and making them think. Usually, it's the offense trying to make the defense think, with multiple formation shifts and things like that. We try to create that same tempo on the defensive side of the football."
On the Chargers being the biggest test they have faced: "Of course, because it's the next week. It's Week 4 and it's an undefeated opponent, a respectable opponent, an opponent who is picked to do well in this league. But like I said, it's the beginning of the season. It's a great matchup, and yeah, you can test yourself and it's a measuring stick, but It's a long season to go. Each team, I'm sure, if they faced each other again later down the line, would be a lot different, and a lot better."
On stopping the run: "Well, whenever you have a young quarterback, you would rather him do it than a proven Pro Bowler or a proven veteran. The key every week is to stop the run, so there is no secret about that. The key is always to stop the run and make a team one-dimensional because that allows us to dictate the tempo of the game."
On Chargers TE Antonio Gates: "He's probably their No. 1 receiver after LaDainian Tomlinson; that's the Catch 22. If you stop [Tomlinson] in the run, they'll spread him out and throw him the ball. He's very dangerous and he's a great football player that you just want to get the ball in his hands. But you can't stack [the line] for him because they have another weapon in Antonio Gates, one of the better tight ends in the league. We have some special players over there and it will be a great challenge for us. The good thing about playing great players like that is it allows you to raise your game and see what you're made of."
On the Chargers not allowing a sack yet: "San Diego hasn't played the Baltimore Ravens yet. But they've done a good job and it's going to be a test for them. We'll see what we're made out of and they'll see what they're made out of."
DB Samari Rolle On the Chargers' Offense: "[LaDainian] Tomlinson is probably the best offensive player in the league. [Antonio] Gates is one of the best tight ends in the league. They've got probably the best fullback [Lorenzo Neal] and good receivers. So our work is cut out for us this week."
On LaDainian Tomlinson: "Right now, like I said, he might be the best player in the NFL. This is a huge stretch for us this week and we just need the crowd to be into it."
On QB Phillip Rivers: "He has done a great job managing the game. He only threw 11 passes the first week; but last week he threw 35 and completed 26 of them or so. We know what we've got to do this week, stop the backs, limit the big plays, and ultimately we should be OK."
On Antonio Gates: "He is the best tight end we will face this year. He attacks the middle of the field, outside, everywhere. They try to use them to the best of their ability and they do a good job with him."
Is this game the real indicator of the Ravens' strength: "I don't think this game is going to make our season, but we will truly find out how good we are this young season. We'll see that on Sunday."
G Edwin Mulitalo On the Chargers' "D": "I don't know if you have watched the film, [but] they are kind of bend-but-don't-break. They let you make the mistakes. [They are a] great defense. They really come at you; they try to force their will on the offense. I think that we can match up well with them and come up on the ball and spread the ball over the field."
On Donnie Edwards as an underrated middle linebacker: "Whenever you've got undersized guys, you've got those guys who want to make a point every game. They are going to want to make a point every game that they may be undersized, but the way they bring it is not undersized at all."
WR Mark Clayton On his growth as a player: "I obviously have confidence in making plays. Ultimately, those plays in that situation go back to training camp and the offense is expected to make plays on third down to keep our drive going to get in to position to score points, as well as give our defense a rest. I think we expect that of the offense."
On playing well with Derrick Mason at Cleveland: "It was a step. It was a step we took and it was a positive one for us to be able to make plays in the situation which required us to make them and we needed to make them. By doing that, it was a step."
On his confidence: "Every game we feel like we go out and we get better, and getting better usually builds confidence that we can continue to get better. Going into this week, San Diego is a very good team. We are confident that we are going to be able to go out and make plays."
On going against a player like Shawne Merriman: When the receivers are out there we have to go down and get open and give Steve [McNair] a place to put the ball. That goes for every game pretty much."
On the balance between the pass and the run: "Like we've always said, they go hand-in-hand. If we run it and they are stacking the box then we need to throw the ball. When we throw the ball we need to make it effective. Likewise, when we do run, we want to have an effective run, whether it is two yards or three yards. We just want it to be positive and be effective."
On getting certain advice from Mason versus the coaches: "[It is] way different. He has been on the field recently. He has done it. He has done it successfully. So, to hear it from him has more weight."
On competition with Mason: "Come on, man, I love that he makes plays. It picks the offense up as a whole. When Mason makes an exciting catch, everybody says, ‘OK, it's my turn to make a play for the offense. When your opportunity presents itself, you want to take advantage of it and make it. It brings up the whole camaraderie, the guys get excited and the defense loves it. It's all good."
QB Steve McNair On San Diego's Defense: "I think they are active, defensively. I think they put a lot of pressure with a seven-man rush. We just have to get a grip on them early, and they are going to mainly put pressure on the quarterback to force mistakes and turnovers. We got a good jump on them today with what we want to accomplish from an offensive standpoint."
On how they will adjust to the Chargers' defense: "I think it's all about rhythm this week. Five or three steps; hit, throw, pitch and catch. I think that's something we can do, offensively, a lot better than we have in the last two or three weeks. I think we started out with a good practice today getting rid of the football. We do max-protect, we have some guys who are in and help us push the ball down the field. This week it's all about execution; we have to execute better than we have in the past three weeks and this is a good week to start because of the aggressiveness they showed on their defense."
On what makes LB Shawne Merriman so good: "I think it's his skill, for one, and also his knowledge of the game. When you have a guy like that who is that smart, you can overcome a lot. Some things that he does are unbelievable. At the same time we have to know where he is at all times and have somebody account for him."
On game-planning against Merriman: "Of course, but at the same time, you have to have some protection to slow him down, too. So in certain situations, you have to speed up a little bit. But in [other] situations, we'll put a couple guys on him to make sure he slows down, so I don't have to rush during the course of the whole game. Like I said, you have to know where he is, account for him, and put a hat on him."
On the win in Cleveland: "It's a great confidence booster, because that's a building block for us that we can go out learn from it and know that we can do it. But right now I think we still have a lot of ironing out to do. We are not in panic mode, but we are trying to get better week in and week out. Every week it seems like it's a little different. As long as we continue to correct the mistakes from one week to the next, we'll be OK."
On QB Phillip Rivers: "I think for him being a young quarterback in his first starts, the coaching staff is doing the right thing. It's especially [good] when you've got a guy like [LaDainian Tomlinson] in the backfield, to use him. They simplify things, so you can go out and play football and not have to think a lot. I think that's what takes a lot out of a quarterback—when you have too much on your plate, you think too much. They are doing a great job of narrowing things down and letting him just be a quarterback, where he can go out there and just use his athleticism."
On the Ravens' offensive weapons: "Absolutely, and that's the thing that I like about this offense. We've got so many weapons in this offense that we can strike from anywhere. I'm very comfortable with those guys and we just have to get consistent and play that way for four quarters. Last week was a prime example. We sputtered for three quarters, and all of a sudden we had to go down and get some yardage and get in a position to win the ball game, and we did that. I'm very proud of that, and Mark [Clayton] has done a great job, and when you have him and Derrick [Mason] and Todd [Heap], that's a lot of weapons out there on the offensive unit."
On the game-winning drive: "I have been in situations like that for a long time, and I think what these guys realize and what we realized Sunday is that regardless of what the score is, and regardless of what time is left on the clock, if we set our minds right and take it one play at a time, we can get the job done. And those guys believed in it and they believed in me and I believed in them and that's all that matters. Once we get that confidence down, we can do it every time."
Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick (on looking forward to a defensive showdown) Yeah, these are two excellent football teams, the number one- and two-ranked defenses in the league and they are two teams that are undefeated. I can't imagine a better setting.
(on what Steve McNair has brought to the Ravens) He has a proven level of productivity. His demeanor, his calmness. I think our two-minute drive and really the whole second half of the game last Sunday showed, not that he needed to show again exactly what kind of player and competitor and leader he is, but that's what you expect out of a Steve McNair. It's an element we have not had here since the organization got here, and the players are responding to it.
(on McNair's ability to impact everyone on both sides of the ball) I think our defense, when they see that kind of productivity, when they see and have that kind of faith that the offense can pull its share of the load, it gives them a great level of confidence and raises their level of play.
(on the overall success of the Ravens' defense) I think we have great balance. First off, getting Ed Reed and Ray Lewis back has a little something to do with it. Even though we finished in the top five defensively last year, (we lost) Ray for the last ten weeks of the season and Ed I think was the last eight games. Because we were put in that situation, we had a number of players that had to step up and raise their level of play. Now we have an additional depth or awareness on defense that we may have not have had had Ed or Ray not gotten hurt. Bart Scott is a perfect example, a man that was kind of on the fringes and had to step in and play the majority of the season and did a brilliant job. Adalius Thomas, we put him in positions that are truly unique. I don't know if there is another player in the league that does quite what Adalius does for us. Then you add the mix a couple of new guys. Obviously Trevor Price has brought us an inside pass rush that we have never had here, at least as long as I've been here. That adds another element to it. Then obviously Terrell Suggs on the outside, you add Dan Cody and Gary Stills, a new addition. It's a defensive team that has some depth about it and some balance.
(on Lewis' level of play now compared to the rest of his career) I've said through last year and the year before that, those that have thought that they saw some sign of diminishing skills, I'm around the man every day and I don't see it. He has taken his level of play, the instinct and physical skills that he has and now as you would imagine a guy going into his 12th year, he adds the ability to anticipate. He sees the game so well, so that does nothing but heighten his ability to react quickly and diagnose quickly. The time between his recognition and reaction is instantaneous.
(on comparing Lewis to Shawne Merriman) That was asked to me earlier today. I don't know. I have a huge respect for Shawne Merriman. He is one of those guys, particularly for such a young player, who is fast becoming one of those guys that you have to account for on every play. What we ask Ray to do in the middle verses what they are asking Shawne to do on the outside there is probably not a fair comparison of either man. They're being asked to do different things, but certainly their impact is obvious.
(on rookie Haloti Ngata) Haloti is a big physical presence. He is a tremendous athlete for that size. He's got great power. He's still learning some of the nuances of the pro game. He is a very mature young man, so you can see him working at his trade. Things that he didn't do as well at Tampa he did better in Oakland. He is getting better and trying to apply some of the basics, the fundamentals and techniques that we are teaching him. You see that happen from one week to the next, so it is exciting to see.
(on Philip Rivers) He has been around a little while so it's not like he is a rookie coming in. You knew coming out of the draft – and he's someone that we spent a lot of time with like everyone did – that impressed you with his poise, his confidence and physical abilities. They were obvious. He has done a nice job of taking those physical skills that were obvious to everyone and adding a maturity to it that belies the fact that this is only his (third) start. He is much more experienced and shows a presence far beyond his inexperience.
(on Rivers needing to ‘earn his stripes' by winning a tough road game) I think for any quarterback, there's certain milestones that you have to go through. He's in the process of doing that and will all season and probably for a number of seasons to come as a young quarterback. He's been very impressive to see early.
(on his impressions of Marcus McNeill) These games are great battles across the board. What strikes me looking at the Charger offense, defense, special teams is that you're always looking for match ups. You're always looking to say, ‘Okay, we can take advantage of this match up. We can beat this guy on the line or we can shut this receiver down. We can attack this corner or we can run to the left side or the right side, something that tells us where we can attack.' You don't see those weaknesses across the board. They're so capable across the board that it's going to make for an interesting game obviously, and that's on both sides of the ball. Obviously we have a great deal of faith in Terrell Suggs and his ability to play, but McNeill has shown that he's beyond his rookie year. He's a physical specimen. Even in that match up with it being a rookie, I don't know that you can definitively say, ‘Okay this is where we're going to attack.'
(on whether or not he expects Suggs to play Sunday) He'll work through the week and we will see on game day how he does.
(on LaDainian Tomlinson) He is just the complete package. He's everything. He's got the vision that the really truly great backs have. He has a certain durability, toughness, explosiveness, speed, quickness running and catching the ball. He is as complete a back as I have seen in a long, long time in this league.
(on Jamal Lewis) He's running very physical. Our depth of our running core is something that we're drawing some strength from. Musa Smith is playing very well. Having Mike Anderson now. That's something that's going to serve us well all year long. It's going to take a lot for us to be pushed out of our running game due to injury. That's a position where you always worry about that, but we have some good depth and Jamal in particular is playing very physical. He does look healthy.
(on dealing with distractions as a football team) These players don't live in a vacuum. You don't lock them up at night and unlock them in the morning. They've got lives, so every team deals with at some point during the year personal issues. Some are very positive. We've already had a couple of births and things like that. Then there's the tragic side. We have already lost a family member with Jonathan Ogden losing his father. Then there's the outside social issues that every team has to deal with. Unfortunately or predictably, that's something every team deals with every year in varying degrees.
(on if he believes some teams are better than others at dealing with distraction) The NFL spends an incredible amount of resources both from a league standpoint and each team has a battery of counselors, doctors and special programs people to help players deal with the lifestyle that they are in in the National Football League. I think this league does a great job across the board of mentoring and providing services for these players and recognize, look, you live in a predatory environment in the National Football League. You'd better get used to it and you'd better prepare for it.
RAY LEWIS (on his relationship with Shawne Merriman) I took him under my wing. He played college ball with my brother. I kind of met him then and from there, the relationship just actually blossomed. He has the same kind of heart and the same kind of passion I do. I've told him that he's a young lion. He's really trying to come out and set his standard of what he wants to be in this league. Anything that I have, anything that I can do to make him a better player, I'm there for him. Me and Shawne probably type or text (message) each other or talk at least three or four times a week just to really not only talk about football but to keep up with regular things. I try to keep him balanced with where he's trying to go, how to prepare for the next game and how to keep his mind focused on the season at hand. The relationship that we have is just like an older brother relationship, trying to pass everything along to my younger brother.
(on how good he thinks Merriman can be) Like I told him, ‘The sky is the limit, but let no one put more pressure on you than you put on yourself. Whatever expectations that you have for yourself, deal with it just like that. Don't waver and don't go away from it. The sky is the limit for him. God forbid he gets hurt or anything crazy comes up, that guy, what's going to make him excel is his passion for the game. He really loves the game of football. Any time that you can get anybody with that type of ability that loves what they're doing, they're going to excel, outside of injury or anything like that.
(on what the Chargers defense would look like with Ray Lewis) I wouldn't do that because I love where I'm at now (laughing).
(on there being a little interest in becoming a Chargers expressed on his part)
There are a lot of things that were expressed back then. Whatever happened, happened. If it was meant to be, it would have been meant to be. I guess it wasn't. It could only be an if, and I don't deal with if too often.
(on how he feels physically) As far as health wise, I feel great. My thing is to always come back and do what I'm going to do. My plays that I'm going to make, I'm going to make. Football is football. That's what I try to tell people all the time. Folks talk about losing a step, you cannot lose a step in the game of football. You can lose passion and all of that for it, but losing a step, injury itself is the only thing that has slowed me down in 11 years. The way I'm playing now, the only thing I can account that to is right now we're sitting with the number one defense in football. That's the bottom line, and if we end up at the end of the year with the number one defense in all of football, my job is done extremely well. Personal accomplishments, I've done everything there is to do. I've been to Pro Bowls, had MVP's and all of that. My legacy is to get these young kids around here to understand that there is a common goal that we have and if we all believe in it together, there are some special things we can do. If anyone wants to challenge me to what I believe, and that's that I'm the most dominant player in this game, get your defense and whoever we're playing and then we'll talk about it.
(on Merriman's ability to achieve longevity and maintain his intensity) That's the only thing. It's the same thing I was trying to tell him. There will be roadblocks in the road. He's going to go through something whether it's injury, whether it's off the field, it's going to be something. You just have to get your mind right and get ready to deal with it. If this guy can stay healthy, like I told him, ‘You just have to go play every play, practice every play like it's your last play and just let it come to you.' Just this business and how fast he plays and how fast I play, injury is going to happen. For him, that's the only thing I see. Like a said, outside of off the field stuff and things that come up, injury is the only thing that's going to get this guy down because of the way he loves the game.
(on the play of Haloti Ngata) I just think that with what we have, with him and Justin Dannan, Trevor Pryce, it's overwhelming how they've been mixing things up up front. If you watch our defense, these guys have been making a lot of plays. (Opposing linemen) have been trying to slip off to our linebackers, but Bart (Scott) has been coming free. People are trying to scrape off to get me, but our d-line and people are making so many plays. This young guy (Ngata) comes in and we don't want to put that much pressure on him up from day one. But he does understand the importance of being a professional around here. He's picked up on that, and he's a great young man to be around as well.
(on Bart Scott) Bart is one of those fiery guys. My job is to try to always try to keep him tuned in, to know exactly what's going on, to know what's coming out and to always point him in the right direction. He's one of those fiery guys who loves the game but plays with an attitude. When you're playing the position of linebacker, that's one thing you have to do is play with an attitude. He's just flying to the football. He's having a lot of fun doing it. I'm just greatly appreciating being beside him. I'm helping him so much. Just to see what he's doing is overwhelming.
(on LaDainian Tomlinson) I think what makes L.T. so special outside of just his pure passion to play the game, his athletic ability is really overwhelming. He has a nice stop and start. You haven't seen that too often outside of Barry Sanders and people like that. His change of direction is the thing that has always given people problems. When you watch this guy, he's very low to the ground. He's not really a big guy, but he's low to the ground, very, very shifty, he can make people miss, and when he's in space he's probably one of the most explosive backs in the National Football League.
(on Steve McNair) It doesn't get any better than that. It's one thing to draft a young guy from college and wait for the expectations to come up or whatever. It's another thing to (acquire) a former MVP of this league and a guy that has been to the Super Bowl. He hasn't won one, but he's still hungry to win him. With his fight and leadership as a warrior, he has a certain mentality of wanting to win. Having him around the locker room and just his presence in general has really blossomed the way our offense goes out on the field.
(on the level of respect McNair has) I think the respect that he has coming from everyone else is just respecting that he's a true warrior. He's a true warrior, a true professional, and he's going to approach it like that every time. People have seen it time and time again. Every time you count him out, he always finds a way to bounce back.
(on playing for Brian Billick) First of all, I just love the way he structures everything. He's a great business-minded person. The way that he takes care of us as players, he really lets the players control certain things and the coaches pretty much facilitate it. As players and coaches, we have great relationships. He orchestrates that. It's really a beautiful thing to watch, the way we just get along and interact with each other on and off the field.
(on if he anticipates a low-scoring game Sunday) Yeah, it's one of those games. The National Football League doesn't get any better than this. This is one of those games where you could sit at home and be like, ‘Wow! Can I play in that game one day?' You're talking about from LaDainian Tomlinson to Keenan McCardell to Antonio Gates, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis Adalius Thomas, Chris McAlister, Shawne Merriman. It goes on and on and on and on with just big-name players who are going to be facing each other, who are going to be going at it and butting heads. This is one of those games where legends are made. This is your stepping stone. If you want your name, this is where you grab it right here.

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