Conference call: Ravens WR Derrick Mason

WR DERRICK MASON

(On if there's a "been there, done that" aspect to facing the Titans again)

Yeah, now it becomes more of a team thing now, as opposed to an individual thing. My first year here we played them, I know my second year here it meant a lot. But now it's more so of a team thing now. We have to go out, being long gone from that situation, we as a team have to go out there and it's another opportunity for us to pick up a victory.

(On playing after a short week)

I don't think it's tough, we've been at this a long time. We're not new to the rodeo. Is it a short week? Yeah, but we've handled short weeks before so this is no different from any other short week. We're going to prepare as if we had Monday off and Tuesday off and come back to work on Wednesday. It's no different, the week just seems a little bit shorter.

(On how he thought his role in the offense would be with a rookie starting quarterback)

I understood that in order to be a very good offense, in order to help Joe [Flacco] out a lot, I knew we first had to be able to run the ball. We've been effective running the football, the offensive line has done a great job, so I think that has helped us outside. I think that's made Joe's job a lot easier. I really didn't think about how my role would change or how diminished it would be just because Joe was the quarterback now. It didn't matter to me. I knew eventually, as Joe matured as a quarterback, we were going to start expanding the offense. Joe has done a great job at learning on the fly, learning quickly and maturing quickly. Now we're able to do a lot more stuff early in the season. With having a young quarterback, I think that's good.

(On if he was ever scared about a rookie QB starting)

Not really because Joe [Flacco] showed in the preseason, with the first team offense, that he could play. He showed the poise, he showed the maturity of a veteran quarterback so there was no apprehension whatsoever with myself or with the offensive players. I could see if he was thrown in there and we were in week three, four, five or six, "OK, this guy hasn't played, what are we going to get out of him?" But Joe showed through two-a-day camps, through the last two preseason games, that he's a guy that is ready to play and he has proved everybody right.

(On how he thinks Jim Schwartz will game plan for a rookie QB)

I don't know. I'm pretty sure because of the defensive makeup and the personality, of course he's going to bring some pressure. But I don't think he's going to sit there and say, "We're going to bring pressure every play." But I am pretty sure sometime during the game he's going to bring pressure and try to get to Joe [Flacco] as much as he can. To sit here and say Coach Schwartz is going to bring pressure every play, 90 percent of his packages are going to be pressure packages, no, they depend on that front four, which is a very good front four. [They can] get to the quarterback so they don't have to put [on] as much pressure with their linebackers and their secondary guys. That gives our offensive line an opportunity to show how good they are and block some very, very good players. It starts with the guy up the middle in [Albert] Haynesworth and blocking him and kind of going from there. They have a very good defensive line, I think one of the best in the league, so we have to figure out a way to stop those guys from getting to the quarterback.

(On his reaction that Mike Heimerdinger is not as intense as he was when Mason was in Nashville)

Oh man, I would be surprised. I think the older you get, you have to mellow out a little bit. If he was still ranting and raving like he was, it would probably cause an ulcer by now. The older you get, you start to calm down a little bit and I think the thing with [Mike] Heimerdinger is that he has a very good running game, so he can always rely on his running game. I think they do have some guys on the outside that can make some plays as well. Then you put the veteran quarterback back there and that kind of eases your nerves a little bit. Dinger's Dinger, man. He's going to get fired up, I guarantee, he's going to get fired up when he needs to. But for the most part I think he's going to keep it on the down low and just call the plays and put guys in position to make plays.

(On if he still keeps in touch with any Titans players)

No, with the exception of the equipment guy, I talk to him a few times. But other than that, all the guys are basically gone, with the exception of [Keith] Bulluck and Craig Hentrich. Everybody else is gone. Other than Hos [equipment manager Paul Noska] I don't talk to too many other guys because they're all young. Those guys, half of them weren't in the NFL at the time and the other half weren't on the team.

(On if the rivalry is still alive between the Titans and Ravens)

You know, this is a whole new coaching staff so I don't know how they feel. This is just a game for us that we have to go out and execute and try to pick up a win. I know this coaching staff doesn't see this as [a rivalry]. I don't know what the Titans coaching staff sees it as because the majority of those guys were there when we were fighting with Baltimore for playoff berths and in the playoffs we were fighting with them. I don't know how they're approaching this game, but we're approaching this game as business as usual, trying to get ourselves mentally and physically prepared to play a very good Titans team.

(On the transition from Brian Billick to John Harbaugh)

I think it's gone well. I think everyone has made the transition well. I think the thing is that everyone has bought into what Coach Harbaugh has been preaching and what the other assistant coaches have been preaching. When you have a team of 52 guys that is buying into the system, the transition is going to be smooth and you're going to see some success from that transition. We have seen some success from that transition so as long as guys continue to stay on the boat, and no one rocks the boat, we continue to stay on this course that we're on I think everything will be okay.

(On what led to some of his success in the passing game this past Monday night)

I think the opportunity presented itself each and every passing play. Joe [Flacco] did a good job looking down the field and looking for me and I think I did a pretty good job trying to get open. I think that's what led to it. And then the number one thing was the offensive line. They gave Joe enough time to take his steps, take his dropbacks and look down the field to find the open guy. I think that's what really contributed to it.

(On it having been a while since he had 100 yards receiving before last Monday night)

Yeah, it has been. For some strange reason I think I'm the 90 [yard] guy or the 99-yard guy and can't quite get over that 100-yard threshold. But last Monday I was given opportunities to make plays and I think as a player and as a wideout, that's all you ask for, is the opportunity to make plays. We connected on a lot of them and some we didn't connect on. So the ones we didn't connect on we just need to work on a little more.

(On whether he still feels like a young player when he steps on the field or like an older player)

Every time I step on the playing field, whether it be practice or in the game, I feel young. I think I do what's necessary in the offseason to make sure during the season that I'm ready to go, and that's in practice and in regular season games. Each and every time I step on that field I feel young. Now if you ask me about the day after [games] it's a different story because my body's a little nicked and banged up. But gameday and when I'm out there at practice, I feel as if I did when I first got into this league.

(On when he had an idea that Steve McNair was going to retire)

The day he said it. I don't think anyone knew except him and his family that it was coming to that point. In this game, you never want to be forced into a situation where you have to retire. [Whether it be] physically where you have to retire, or where coaches say, "This guy can't play anymore so we can't sign him back." I think Mac [Steve McNair] was in a unique situation where he just felt it was time for him. He felt he needed to start spending more time with his family and I think he made the right decision.

(On how long he plans to keep playing)

I don't know. As long as I continue to have fun and my wife doesn't come to me one day and say, "Hey, it's time to hang them up", I'll continue to play. As long as I continue to have fun, as long as my body holds up, I'm going to go out there and enjoy this game. There aren't too many places you can go, work forces you can enter, where you really enjoy your job. I think this is one of the few that you can seriously say you enjoy.

(On if any current defenses compare to the 2000 Ravens)

It's hard to compare the two. That defense, when we played against the Ravens in their Super Bowl year, they were lights out. They had some very, very good players, they had some Hall of Fame players on that side of the ball. But I think it's a different day and age now. Players are a little bit different and I think it shows in the defense that we have and in the defense that Tennessee has. [Each have] a lot of fast guys, a lot of big guys, big guys that are able to run like safeties and wideouts. So I think the makeup of the defenses has changed but the relentlessness is still there for both defenses. I think that's what makes them so good.

(On some of the highlights and memories of his time in Nashville)

I mean, of course it was going to the Super Bowl in 1999. I think that surpassed any professional highlight that I've had. Being given the opportunity to become a bona fide star at your position, I think Coach Fisher and Coach Heimerdinger gave me the opportunity to go out there and play football and have fun. I will always be grateful of that because they didn't have to do that. Even though we had some injuries in that situation, they didn't have to. But they saw enough in me, that they gave me the opportunity to go out there and make the best of the situation and I think I did. I will always be thankful to Coach Fisher and I will always be thankful to Coach Heimerdinger because his passing game, his scheme in his passing game, allowed me to become a very good receiver in this league. I think those are some of the memories that I will always have. Then of course the city. I really do, if you ask anybody, I really do, and still do, enjoy Nashville. That's a place that I will always think of as home.

(On his matchup with Cortland Finnegan)

It is what it is. When I'm out there in a game, with me it's nothing personal, I'm just trying to do a job and if he's going to play hard, then of course I'm going to play hard. That's the name of the game, you try to play just as hard as the guy you're lining up against. He's a guy that's really coming into his own, I think he leads the league in interceptions right now. He's playing very well. As a player, I just have to go out there and do what I've been doing for the past 12 years and that's compete and play hard. I know Coach [Jim] Schwartz and Coach Marcus Robertson is going to have those guys really ready to play and really amped up to play this game. If he's feisty than I'm going to have to be feisty. I'm pretty sure he's not going to back down and I'm pretty sure he's looking forward to this matchup.

(On how Samari Rolle is and what it's like to have Lorenzo Neal as a teammate again)

It's been great. Samari and I have been going on four years together now and to have Lo[renzo Neal] here now, I think it makes it seem like old times again. Playing with Lo for four or five years down in Tennessee was great. He's a great player, great fullback, one of the best fullbacks to ever suit up. To have him now on our team, it enhances some of the things we can do in the running game and also in the passing game.

(On what it's like to play for a coach only a few years older than him)

I think it's a young coach. It's not an old player, it's a young coach. But that's just a testament to his ability and Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti and Ozzie [Newsome] seeing the ability and the potential in him to be able to be a great coach in this league. Not just a good coach. There are plenty of good coaches out there but the potential to be a great coach, in this organization, speaks volumes. I think he's a young coach, not an old player. What he's been able to do around here from day one is putting him on a road to success.

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