Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was regularly approached this offseason by fans who spoke excitedly about the start of the regular season. Knowing that the opener was still months away, Flacco said his response would be, "OK, take it easy." Now, Flacco is swept up in the excitement as well.
"It is one of many to come, but no matter how you put it, it's exciting," he said. "We've waited a long time for this."
His counterpart Sunday didn't argue.
"Everybody is — around the league — excited," Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said. "Players are looking forward to getting started and playing some games that count. But we certainly understand what a tough challenge we have playing against these guys. These guys are certainly one of the top teams in the NFL."
A common response emerged from the Ravens locker room when players were asked about who they were rooting for in Thursday night's NFL season opener between the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I want both of them to lose," Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said.
Ravens veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs said he was looking forward to watching the game, but dreading the end result between two of the Ravens' biggest rivals.
"To be honest with you, I can't really win [Thursday] night," Suggs said. "Whoever wins, I lose."
Suggs has had a long-standing feud with Tom Brady, but he said that he was glad that the Patriots quarterback had his four-game suspension vacated and is eligible to play immediately.
"This league needs its players," Suggs said. "Whatever happened, happened. I'm not an expert on the situation. I don't know what the hell happened, so I don't really care. But what would the NBA be like without [Kevin] Durant and LeBron James? The NFL, we definitely need all of our players playing."
Flacco called the Ravens being a trendy Super Bowl pick as "a bunch of nothing." Suggs, meanwhile, referred to it as a "kiss of death." … Ravens running back Justin Forsett had an interesting response when he was asked whether he does anything different to play in the high altitude of Denver. He said that he puts on more ChapStick. … For the Broncos, defensive end Kenny Anunike (knee) didn't practice and linebacker Lerentee McCray (groin) was limited.