What was the biggest adjustment from playing for Mississippi State in the SEC to the Ravens in the NFL?

Not being vocal like I used to be. I used to be a real vocal person. I used to talk a lot and get in guys' faces, but everybody on this level is a grown man. Everybody's a leader, so you've got to be your own leader and look up to the leaders like Ray Lewis and [free safety] Ed Reed that are on the team.

But how do you suddenly rein in that role of being a vocal leader?

By being humble. I come in, listen and learn. The veteran guys, they've been here for years, and they know what it takes. This is my first year. So I just can't come in and try to take over. I would try to do that, but I know these guys, and I know when to do it and how to do it. So I'm just learning off them. This is my first year, and patience is the key.

As you mentioned, you're 11 games into the NFL season, which is pretty much a season at Mississippi State. How do you avoid the dreaded "rookie wall"?

For me, I don't really feel a rookie wall because I love football. Every time I get an opportunity to come out here and pad up and compete, that's what I like to do. For me, it's about competing and learning new stuff and learning from my coaches every day. That's the main thing with me. I don't think there's a rookie wall, and I haven't shown it so far.

What are your goals for the remainder of the season?

Get better and go out and win a championship.

Any personal goals?

No, I don't have any personal goals. Just go out and play like it's my last [day]. I just want to fight hard for my team.

As a fifth-round pick, do you feel like you're showing what the other 31 teams in the league missed?

I haven't proved anything to them yet. Until we play all 31 teams and I get an opportunity to dominate all 31 teams, then that's what I will feel like I proved it to them.

How gratifying is it for you to have played this well for an organization that decided to draft you?

I guess they saw what they liked on tape, and I guess they did take a chance. When they picked me, I told them that I was ready to come to work, and when I got here, it was [to] come out and compete, and that's what I did.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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