Now at 2-0, the Ravens’ confidence level is high heading into their “Monday Night Football” showdown against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, but defensive end Jihad Ward isn’t letting the pressure of a must-watch game affect him.
Ward explained he’s not the type of athlete to let emotion negatively affect his game. Instead, he tries to take to focus on what really matters — the present — and block out the outside noise. The 6-foot-5, 287-pound defensive end has played for the Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts and now the Ravens during his five-year NFL career, and he has had plenty of experience calming the hype.
“People be like ‘rah-rah’ but I’m not one of those guys,” Ward said on Glenn Clark Radio Sept. 21. “To be honest with you, I don’t care who we play. That’s just me personally. But I would just say … we are getting through today. So today we’re getting ready for meetings, we’re going to the next step — what can we do to win this game? I’m not worried about all of the hype, what’s going on or who’s watching. All we can do is find their strengths and find their weaknesses.”
Keeping a cool head and blocking out distractions can’t hurt when storming an opponent’s backfield. Throughout his career, Ward has amassed 51 tackles (25 solo) and five sacks. Though he does not currently start for the Ravens, Ward gets on the field as part of the defensive line rotation.
In Baltimore’s 33-16 win over Houston — its second game with 30-plus points — Ward missed on an opportunity to sack Deshaun Watson, but he said his next-play mentality ensured he wasn’t rattled by the play. So far this year, the Ravens have combined for 6.0 sacks, though Ward is still looking for his first.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing is that we got the W, that’s my biggest concern,” Ward said. “Sacks are going to come, and that isn’t just me saying that, it’s the whole defense. We’re dying to get more sacks. You know we’re hungry.
“We’ve got Calais [Campbell], Derek Wolfe, got [Pernell] McPhee, [Matthew] Judon. We’ve got all pass rushers in there. We are stacked and hungry. So all the sacks are going to come — we just need to wait, it’s the second game. We are just looking forward to Kansas City.”
The Ravens will be taking on the Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium Sept. 28, but Ward says it wouldn’t matter where they played. Even on the road, Ward still feels like he’s at home due to his close relationship with his teammates.
“It doesn’t really matter what type of environment we are in. It could be an away game and people think that just because we are away [that] we are going to be out of our zone,” Ward said. “But as long as we have each other, we’re going to feel like we [are] home. That’s all we need at the end of the day. We just go out there and we got each other’s backs, right or wrong. We the mob.”
For more from Ward, listen to the full interview here:
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