Dallas Cowboys fullback Lawrence Vickers and Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis aren't strangers.
They're longtime rivals from their days competing in the smash-mouth AFC North division and have collided with each other on countless old-school, physical I-formation plays.
And Vickers, who has played a dozen games against the Ravens and gone 2-10 overall, is looking forward to another encounter with Lewis, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Vickers is far from shy, embracing the pending confrontation on the field with Lewis, the Ravens' emotional defensive leader.
“Let me tell you something, I played them two times a year every year I’ve been in the NFL, right?” Vickers told Dallas reporters. “And I’m still here standing: still mean, still stiff. They’re going to have to jump me, man. You feel me? They’re going to have to jump me. That’s the way it’s going to be.
"If you go back watching things, they’re out there jumping me because I’m coming with it. And they know I’m coming with it, just like I know they’re coming with it. Let’s meet in the lines. That’s just how it goes.”
The Ravens allowed 140 rushing yards to Jamaal Charles in a 9-6 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, with 125 of those yards gained in the first half before a halftime adjustment from defensive coordinator Dean Pees limited Charles to 15 yards on 10 carries in the second half.
The Ravens (4-1) rank 20th against the run, allowing 118.4 yards per game. The Cowboys (2-2) are a pass-first outfit, ranking 29th in the NFL in rushing offense with an average of 67.8 yards per contest.
During a conference call with Dallas reporters, Lewis said the Cowboys shouldn't expect the Ravens to be vulnerable against the run: "I tell you what, they can look to do whatever they want to do, but it ain't going to be what they think it's going to be."
The last time Vickers played against the Ravens was in January in an AFC divisional playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium.
Blocking for star running back Arian Foster with a zone-stretch system similar to the Chiefs' running game, Vickers helped Foster gain 132 yards for the most yards by a back against Baltimore in franchise history.
And Vickers' remarks hearken back to the blue-collar style of football that used to dominate a league now trending toward space-age passing games.
"I stay ready for whoever," Vickers said. "Names don't scare me, man. Teams don't scare me. I'm a man before anything. So I let other men just talk. See me in between those lines, that's how I get down."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun