Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware spent two years learning to play with one arm because of a shoulder injury. This season, he's had to learn how to play with two.
And it hasn't been easy.
So ingrained was his habit of protecting his ailing right shoulder that Boulware reflexively pulls his arm in, even now.
"I think it's a mental mind-set," he said yesterday. "I've trained myself to do that for so long. It's almost natural for me not to use it. It's nothing I'm purposely trying to do."
It's a habit that affects Boulware more as a tackler than as a pass rusher. He admits he's missed several plays already this year because of the subconscious reaction. He'll reach across his body with his left arm sometimes rather than simply react with his right.
Through three games, Boulware has 11 tackles, two sacks and one fumble recovery.
"I'm doing my job," he said. "I think that was good in the past when we were trying to build. Now we're trying to build a championship team, so I have to be a lot better than I was.
"That was a good standard for the past. Now we're trying to win and be the best. In being the best, you've got to elevate your level of play."
Said defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis: "He's got to break the habit of where he's been with it for two years."