Aside from an uncharacteristic 157-yard outburst by the Philadelphia Eagles' Brent Celek in Week 2, the Ravens have succeeded at containing opposing tight ends this season. Only one has caught a touchdown, the Houston Texans' Owen Daniels, and none since Celek have reached 90 yards receiving. The Ravens will face another tough tight end Sunday in the San Diego Chargers' Antonio Gates, who leads the team in touchdown catches with four and ranks second in yards with 355. Ravens inside linebacker Jameel McClain has been thrown at 28 times this season — the most among Ravens linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus — but he has yet to surrender a touchdown catch. He discussed how the defense has adapted to limit tight ends.
How has the defense improved since the game against Brent Celek against tight ends this season?
"I think it's a communication thing. To say that we've had tremendous success is a little off to me, because I remember in the beginning of the year, Brent Celek got his yards. It's communication, and that's what we focus on. The communication between the linebackers and the safeties is the most important thing."
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How much communication is there between the linebackers and safeties?
"There's a lot because there's always a gray area. With [free safety Ed] Reed, [strong safety] Bernard [Pollard] and myself and [inside linebackers] Ray Lewis and El [Dannell Ellerbe], we're focusing on understanding that there is a gray area. So before the snap, we're communicating what can happen. So as long as we're all on the same page, there's really no gray area. But what we weren't doing in the beginning was communicating the possibility of the worst-case situation."
How dangerous is Antonio Gates?
"He's a phenomenal tight end. He's definitely the standard when it comes to that position. He and [the Atlanta Falcons'] Tony Gonzalez, they kind of go hand-in-hand. He's quick, he's big enough to reach over your head, he's powerful enough to get you when he's breaking off of his routes. He does a lot of things that makes it even more important that everybody has to understand what's going on. I think he's still got all the tools that are necessary to win games and more importantly, to get open when he's running routes."