MF: How are you feeling this season?
RR: I’m healthy. I can’t complain. Just trying to get us to the Super Bowl.
Last season the Ravens got so far. You guys really did everything right, and then it came down to a field goal. How do you muster up the energy to go through another season after that?
When you get close and don’t get what you want, you’ve got to get the urge to try to get it again. It’s sort of like getting a taste of some good food and you want that taste again and obviously you want more the next time. So that’s how I always muster up the hunger to go back. I’m never just satisfied. I never get complacent with success and you’ve always just got to stay hungry.
Is there anything the team did differently this season?
I think last year we did everything we could to be the best team we could be. When you drop a few games you learn from them. But, when you get to the AFC Championship, or you get into the playoffs for 4 years, that’s not by mistake. That’s from hard work and everything else.
What does your strength-training regimen look like? How often are you in the gym, and what are you doing in there?
In the off-season I do a lot of powerlifting. Especially coming out of the season. I’m working out four days a week and I use one day as a recovery day. On Wednesday I get a massage, deep tissue, just to work everything out. But I do a lot of powerlifting and a lot of explosions and a lot of CrossFit now. A lot of guys are getting into that. So that’s really how my routine goes. The CrossFit was very new to me, but one thing I learned about it was it was a change of pace. So when I stopped doing my powerlifting, I went into CrossFit, and CrossFit, obviously, was different because you’re just non-stop. You keep going and it wasn’t as long as my powerlifting sessions were, but it did get me in great shape.
Is CrossFit something you’ve continued to do in the regular season?
Oh, no. You have to put the breaks on it during the season. One thing that I did, in terms of my training, was I tried to get myself in the best shape possible. And the only way to get in football shape is to play football. But I did come to camp with great cardio conditioning.
Are there other guys on the team who did CrossFit with you or is it something you did on your own?
No, it was something I did on my own. I trained up in New York. And the whole team comes back in great shape. Everybody has their own program. The greatest part about being a pro is you get to find what works for you. This past off-season I did CrossFit, I did some boxing, I did sand workouts, and I did pool workouts. I did as much as I could.
Which was the most challenging of those workouts?
The boxing was great. You know what? If anybody thinks they can last in the boxing ring for that long—three minutes—it’s the hardest thing ever. But I try to incorporate football into my boxing so I will do ladders and then I’ll have to do like a set of jabs, or hook and jab combinations. And you’re always moving, non-stop.
What are your pool workouts like?
The pool was more of a therapeutic thing. It’s mostly for injury prevention. You get in the pool and you’re working every muscle without straining anything. That was definitely one thing that got me stronger. When you come out of a long season, one thing you want to do is strengthen up the muscles that were weak, so when you go out there and you’ve got to perform at a high level, you can be strong. The pool was definitely a change of pace. It was tiring, but the amount of work you get done in the pool in a short amount of time was really the biggest thing for me.
What kind of exercises are you actually doing in there? How are you creating resistance?
You start with a dynamic warm-up in the pool, and then you’re doing jumps, you’re obviously swimming down the lane and back, and you’re working the legs. As far as the cardio, we would do timed sprints on the shallow end, getting down and back as fast as possible, doing it for time. That was definitely a different kind of conditioning because your lower body is working so much harder because you’re in the water.
MF: What kind of diet are you following these days?
RR: I’m trying to keep my weight during this season so I eat good carbs. I like pasta, especially if it’s whole wheat. I eat a lot of fish, and a lot of grilled chicken. I’m allergic to shellfish. I do like my daily oats, like oatmeal and egg whites. The biggest thing I’m trying to get into now is my nutritional shakes and stuff.
Aside from shellfish, are there any foods that you avoid because of how they affect your performance?
During the season I try to stay away from fried stuff. The only time I get a little antsy and eat something is obviously when my mom cooks it on a holiday or Thanksgiving. But I can get rid of it; I’ll run it out. My mom knows the deal. I’m trying to get her on a healthy plan as well. She knows when I come around I keep it pretty healthy.
You started working with BodyArmor Superdrink this year. Why them?
I was training over the summer and I saw a bottle of BodyArmor, so I tried it. I read the bottle, because you obviously want to find out more about it, and it was great for hydration and energy—it had all the antioxidants. It was definitely for me, because one thing I wanted to do was make sure I was hydrated because I used to get full-body cramps. I was always depleted of water. BodyArmor has a lot of electrolytes, a lot of potassium, and the biggest thing that I’m big on now are the antioxidants. That’s the stuff that really sold me on the drink, but it tastes really good as well
So where would someone actually drink this? Before a workout or a game? Or after working out?
I always like to drink it post-workout. But, obviously, if I was going to drink it for hydration purposes I would drink some before as well. Also, if I’m out the Friday before a game, for example, I would drink a lot of BodyArmor on Friday and Saturday so I don’t have to replenish my fluids again on Sunday. So I’m taking my hydration as far as possible.
Speaking of football, this season the Ravens had two big changes right out the gate with Ladarius Webb and Ray Lewis getting sidelined with injuries. How did the team adjust to that?
One thing about the league that you know you should never do is replace a guy like Ray Lewis or Ladarius. But what you do is try to build around them or try to build into the void that they’ve left. We had our first home game without them and we got it handed to us pretty good by the Texans, but then bye week came at a great time and we were able to get ourselves healthy again for a strong push for the second half of the season.
Lewis is more than a player; he’s kind of like a leader for you guys, and a big motivator. Has someone stepped up to fill that leadership role, or is he still very much in that spot?
Well, you know what? Myself. I’m an offensive player, but I’ve got to be more vocal. On defense, a guy like Jameel McClain, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed—those guys are really vocal. They don’t want to replace what Ray has done throughout his career, but one thing we all try to do is carry his legacy and what he’s built, what he’s done for our organization. Not only as a football player, but as a man. We try to keep that up and we do what we gotta do.
You said yourself—do you feel like you’re taking on that responsibility to step up and lead the Ravens?
Of course. That’s my role now. Being my fifth year in the league, I have to be a vocal leader out there. I have to be the one to get the guys going. And although I’m still young in my career, I feel like it’s my time to step up and be a leader.
Joe Flacco doesn’t get the best treatment from critics. What do you say to commenters who say he’s been backing off a bit?
The quarterback is the toughest position in the game. The way Joe Flacco has deflected all the critics and naysayers, he’s just playing good ball right now. And obviously quarterback is just one of those positions where you’ve got to be able to deflect all of that, because it’s the most important position in the game. He’s done a great job with that. Me and Joe came in together and I’m forever going to be by his side.
What about your position? Do you feel like it’s evolved at all? The kind of guys you’re up against – do you feel like you need to evolve from season to season or is it the same deal from year to year?
It’s the same kind of deal. For me, I don’t really worry about who I’ve got to go up against. I just try to put myself in the best position possible to be successful for our team, whether that’s running the ball or catching the ball. Anytime I can be successful and help my team out, I’m doing a great job.