Answer Man

<b>JW: </b>Everyone seems to be in a festive mood around here, Answer Man. I just saw Kevin Colbert at the cafeteria. A couple of us were pumping him about Philip Rivers and he gave his typical response. <br><br><b>Answer Man: </b>Smiling and talking about hockey?

JW: Close. Smiling and saying "You never know. You never know."

AM: Sounds like him.

JW: Well, what did you think about Rivers' bowl game the other night?

AM: More of the same. Like I said, the kid can make all the throws, is a great leader, can move his feet. More of the same. I think he's a first-rounder, but that won't really be determined until the combine.

JW: Sure. At the combine, he'll run a great time and show arm strength and you'll never get a chance at him. Is that what you want?

AM: Heh, heh. Yes, there's a part of me hoping he doesn't have a real good showing, either.

JW: Tell me about the Ravens.

AM: They're simple. Run Jamal Lewis and play good defense. The defense is playing well. (Terrell) Suggs is rushing the passer. Offensively, they're just going to pound, pound, pound, every once in awhile do a little bootleg and try to get it to Todd Heap or Marcus Robinson, try not to put that quarterback in position to be exposed and play the field-position game. No-brainer.

JW: So you can whip 'em again?

AM: You would think. I mean, it's going to be - especially if Cincinnati wins - a really hyped game. The teams don't like each other anyway, but for us to be their roadblock to getting into the playoffs, on Sunday night, national TV, it should be a special atmosphere.

JW: You guys match up well with them, don't you?

AM: We do. The only problem I see is if they try to exploit us with Heap over the middle against our linebackers and stuff. That's the only weakness I think we have. But if we can stop them and put them in passing situations, we should be in good shape.

JW: How much has Anthony Wright improved?

AM: He's an athletic thrower. He's not a passer that has touch. He's not a guy that's going to be able to sit in the pocket, read defenses and find that third outlet. They like to get him moving and if the first guy's not there, let him run. That's what it seems like they're doing to me. Or do some play action and hit Heap or throw it up to Robinson. He's had success with Robinson, just throwing it up. But you can see the first two games Wright did well and once he became a starter people got some film on him and how to play him, his production started to go down.

JW: Is Travis Taylor getting better?

AM: No.

JW: How about their right tackle?

AM: Orlando Brown's playing all the time now. He's just a big, mammoth, aggressive beast. Sometimes it's to his detriment because he can be over-aggressive and will lunge, but he's so big and strong. If he gets his hands on you he's going to be tough.

JW: How is their defensive front?

AM: Their front is actually pretty solid all across the board. They lost Adalius Thomas but Marques Douglas is a solid back-up, spot guy. Kelly Gregg has progressed. He's pretty good. And then Anthony Weaver is pretty good. The linebackers are their linebackers. I mean, their front seven is comparable to any front seven.

JW: Isn't Adalius Thomas a linebacker?

AM: They've played him between both, most recently linebacker. Cornell Brown's pretty good. He just gets exposed playing the pass.

JW: Is Ray Lewis showing any signs of slowing down?

AM: No.

JW: Was his shoulder bugging him last week? And is it the same one?

AM: I think it is the same one but he's still making plays.

JW: I hear Chris McAlister's playing well since they've been locking him down on the opponent's best wide receiver.

AM: Put it this way. The times I've seen him no one's really challenged him, so it's hard to say if he's that great or if people are just shying away from him, but he's shutting down half the field.

JW: Plaxico Burress has given him so much trouble. Do you see that changing?

AM: I don't see it changing. One thing about Chris is he'll gamble and if Plax catches the ball, and he gambles wrong, that's when we've had success with him. But I would like him. Put it that way.

JW: Is their secondary coming on like you figured?

AM: Yeah. (Gary) Baxter is a solid corner. He's got size and everything. Then they have Corey Fuller as their third corner and he used to be a starter. They're a formidable defense. It's going to be one of those three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust games. It's going to be a defensive game, field position. Whoever makes a mistake will probably be the one who loses.

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