We caught up with retired Tennessee Titans All-Pro linebacker Keith Bulluck to get his thoughts on Sunday's game against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
Bulluck is a three-time All-Pro who retired in 2011 after playing 10 seasons for the Titans. He's now a radio analyst for the Titans' broadcast team in addition to working for Sirius XM NFL Radio.
Here's the Q&A:
Ravens Insider: What's your take on Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who will be making his second NFL start Sunday?
Keith Bulluck: I think this is going to be a great test for him. Obviously, it's his rookie year and he didn't get drafted where he expected to be drafted. He's embracing the opportunity to play at this level and show he can play in the NFL.
What are Mettenberger's strengths and weaknesses?
It's been hard to tell because he's only played a little so far. Everybody knows he has the big arm, but he also gets it. He gets the art of playing quarterback. I know he plays with confidence. It's almost like he doesn't know any better. He's learning on the fly. Like every rookie, Zach has a lot to learn, but he's a hard worker and a tough kid.
How much does the Titans defense miss having former Ravens strong safety Bernard Pollard on the field after he was lost for the season with a torn Achilles?
It's huge. Bernard had definitely taken on that role as an enforcer. He wasn't politically correct. He spoke up and told the truth. He didn't bite his tongue. They definitely have lost something from a leadership and playing standpoint, but I can also see how him not being out there could help a young team because other leaders may emerge.
The Titans signed defensive tackle Jurrell Casey to the big contract (four years, $36 million) after he had 90 tackles and 10.5 sacks last season. He already has 42 tackles, four sacks and 15 quarterback pressures this season. How tough is Casey as a blocking assignment?
He's a beast. He's the best player on the Titans' defense. He shows up week in and week out. You look for that in a star player. He shows up. He earned that money. He sets the tone for that defense, but he can't do it alone.
What do you think of the Ravens' offense?
I think obviously Steve Smith was a huge addition. I like the way the whole team has come in and followed his lead. I'm sure the Ravens didn't expect this much from a 35-year-old, but he's done a grat job. I think Owen Daniels was a great addition. I like how they've added veterans to their team to make them better in the long run. It's unfortunate they're not where they want to be as a team right now. I think Justin Forsett has done a great job picking up the load with Ray Rice not being there anymore.
Do you expect Ray Rice, who has appealed his indefinite suspension, to play again?
I think he'll play again. I think someone will give him a shot. It's unfortunate what happened to him and his family. All we can do is scrutinize and give our opinion and it's very unfortunate what happened there. I still think Ray Rice is a great talent and a great person. It's just unfortunate he and his wife had to go through this. We can't forget the victim. Hopefully, this will all benefit him in the long run as a person, which is the most important thing, not football.
What's your take on the Ravens' secondary issues?
You've got to have that strong play in the secondary in the AFC North. There are so many great receivers, and everybody is in that playoff hunt. It's one of the most interesting divisions in football. I think what the Ravens are doing and a lot of teams are doing is making midseason adjustments and trying to put the pieces together to make that long run.
How do you see this game unfolding?
I think if the Titans can keep it close they can come out and take the fight to the Ravens. The Ravens haven't had a bye week. They've been playing football since August without a break, so that could be a factor. The Titans are coming out fresh and I think they look at this as an opportunity to see what Zach does well and doesn't do well and move forward this week. It will be a tough game. The Titans have a chance as long as they don't shoot themselves in the foot. They've been their own worst enemy. They're a very young team.