Hey, how you all doing? We’ve now had two tough divisional games and it’s easy to see why people have been calling the AFC North the new Black and Blue division. With us, the Ravens, the Steelers and the Browns, some of the matchups have been going on for a long, long time, and it just makes for intense rivalries and more bruises!
I don’t worry about the stats. My number will get called as the season goes on—stuff will start opening up for me.
So what’s it like to get hit real hard? You really don’t think about it during the game—you’re pumped up, your adrenaline is going. But come Monday morning, you are feeling it, the soreness… black and blue. Thing is, you know you are going to get hit. So the goal is to catch the ball, get as much yardage as you can, and if you’ve got that first down and feel a d-lineman coming at you from the back, you get a feel for going down. A lot of the great receivers who’ve had long careers know when to protect themselves. Obviously, in certain situations when you need that first down, you’re going to fight for that extra yard and get tagged. At the end of the day, football is a contact sport and that’s why we love it.
We’ve been using all our receivers—six guys caught passes in our win over the Browns. I feel good that all our guys are getting involved. Andy is spreading the targets and we have confidence in our group to make the play. It’s good for me because they may not double me as much, but if that does happen, and it opens up routes for my teammates, it’s all good. I don’t worry about stats. My number will get called as the season goes on—stuff will start opening up more for me.
So are you a fan of the NFL’s aerial assault? The great teams today may have a little bit of a running game, to keep defenses honest, but most of them have great quarterbacks and it’s become very much a passing league. That’s what people come to see, the offense putting up a lot of points.
There are different reasons for this change. The QBs coming out of college are better prepared. The receivers are bigger and faster, and that allows offenses to dictate play. There are better matchups for the offense when you have a 6’5″ receiver who can run on a 5’11″ corner, and then it’s about giving us a chance to make a play on the ball. Or maybe it’s a wideout matching up with a linebacker, and if it’s working, you try to go back to it. It’s all about getting an advantage in matchups. It also has to do with the schemes. A lot of teams are using shotgun sets early in the downs to help QBs see the whole field better, versus being over the center with his head down. The shotgun helps them see the matchups better.
Rule changes have also helped the offense. Growing up, I remember refs not calling hands to the face, helmet-to-helmet contact, roughing the passer. Things have changed. Now you can’t jam a receiver outside of five yards. I think the NFL is trying to protect a lot of people for the long run. They don’t want concussions. It’s totally understandable, wanting to protect your players. Also, the fans pay hard-earned money to come watch the game and they want the best bang for their buck. If high scoring gets fans excited, then you want to give them what they want.
With two road games coming up against the Redskins and Jags, I’ve been asked if I have a pre-game ritual. Not really because I like to change it up. But one thing, I’ve got to have a ball in my locker, just to play with before the game. I used to juggle on my school juggling team, so I like to toss it around, get a feel for it, because it’s my money catching that ball.
I gotta give a shout-out to my fellow MadeMan blogger Randall Cobb. And also to Bengal Nation—we’re all working hard to bring success and a Super Bowl title to the City.
Check back with me and… Who Dey!
—As told to Ashley Jude Collie