Battle-Tested

By JustinForsett
Sep. 28, 2016

It’s so hard to win in the National Football League, especially when you’re on the road. So it really means a lot to be winning, especially following all of the adversity we faced last season. Between all of the injuries and hard-fought losses, we are so grateful to have started our new chapter off the way we wanted – start fast and string games together.

Winning brings confidence. And our confidence is in a good place. Being overconfident is not the Raven way. We are built to overcome adversity and stay even-keeled throughout the process. Our main goal is to get to Houston. In order to do that, we have to get better in all phases of the game, and we are dedicated to the process of getting better.

Sure, we’re 3-0, but we know there’s a lot of work left to do. We could do so much more and be so much better, so we are working and fighting to reach that potential. We are sticking together. We’ve got players stepping up in the right moments. We’re finding ways to execute, to close out and finish games. We’re harping on all kinds of situations, like practicing the opening drive of a game, converting from third downs and end of game situations. But I think the main thing is that we are a battle-tested band of brothers. And now we have to continue to build on all of this and move forward.

We have a lot of leaders who have been super influential in the process. Terrell Suggs is a big voice for us. He’s been playing in the league (and at a high level) for a long time. Steve Smith, Marshal Yanda, Joe Flacco…we hear from those guys just about everyday. They definitely give us that spark we need. I do see myself as one of the leaders on the team, but I try to lead by example. I speak when I need to, but my job is to perform at a high level and make sure that I’m making my teammates better.

Being able to play football again with my teammates, with my friends, is not something I take for granted. When you’re out that long, you realize just how much you miss the game. It was a long road back to getting healthy, and you better believe I’m relishing in every moment. Whether it’s laughing with my teammates on the plane ride home or something as simple as being handed my hotel room key card, I’m taking it all in. I’m enjoying every minute because I know that this time is fleeting. I know that any given play could be my last.

Anyway, back to the team. Our mindset is to go out there every week and get the ‘W’ using whatever means necessary. And it doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says; I know that we always have the opportunity to come back and win. When it came down to the wire on Sunday in Jacksonville, man, we knew we just needed one play. Our defense stepped up big and our kicker Justin Tucker made some huge kicks for us. It was definitely a team effort.

Looking ahead to this weekend, we have to execute on all cylinders against the Oakland Raiders. On offense, on my side of the ball, we have to go out on third downs and score more points. We need to find a way to get into that end zone more, to run the football better, to raise our game to another level. I take extreme pride in the run game, and right now we’re not running the ball as well as we’d like. Our offensive line, our receivers, our offensive coordinator, we’re all dedicated to making our run game go.

This week at practice, we’re making sure to do the little things right so that we can put ourselves in the position to be successful on Sunday. We all believe we can do more, and now it’s time to seize the opportunity that we have in front of us.