If not for outside linebacker Paul Kruger, who has tied a franchise record with at least one sack in five straight games, defensive end Arthur Jones might be the Ravens' emerging defensive player as of late.
Jones, the organization's fifth-round draft pick in 2010, has a sack in each of his past three games, amassing a career-best 4.5 on the season. His performances have helped alleviate concerns about defensive end Pernell McPhee, who has been slowed by right knee and thigh injuries this season.
Jones, who already has a career-high 38 tackles this season, has said he would trade his personal numbers for wins. He took time to discuss his outings and Sunday's challenge against Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
What has been the key to your improved play recently?
It's December. [I'm] getting comfortable out there. I feel like I'm back in college and everything's slowing down for me. I'm just feeling comfortable out there. When you've got good assignments, good alignment, know your technique, it's easy. The coaches give you the playbook, and you know where you line up at. You just have to perform, and that's what they pay me to do.
Last week, the defense had to prepare for Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is a dual threat. How much easier is it for the defense to focus on Manning, who isn't known for scaring anybody with his legs?
I wouldn't say that, because this guy gets the ball out of his hand fast. He's been doing this for a long time and is well-experienced at it. But it's definitely a lot nicer not having to chase around RGIII and worry about a guy who's probably going to stand around a little bit longer. And we don't have to worry about the option.
Because Manning tends to get the ball out of his hand so fast and counter a defense's ability to apply pressure, how can the defense disrupt his rhythm in the passing game?
We have to knock him back from the line. All of us have to put our hands up. Every passing play, we're taught to do that, but I think it's key this week against a guy who loves to pass.