RW: Absolutely. Vince is an excellent player. I think that is obvious by what he does on the field every week and he pushes the guys across from him to get better every day. So any chance I get to go against him makes me a better player.
Q: What about the challenges of the defensive line of the Ravens?
RW: I think it is clear. This team is a really good team. That is why they are in this game. Their defense in anchored by those big guys up front. They have [Haloti] Ngata and [Terrence] Cody and then behind them you have [Arthur] Jones coming in. I mean, they are solid all the way across the board. They are big human beings.
Q: What did you take away from your first time against Haloti Ngata?
RW: Ngata is everything that is advertised. He is a big, powerful guy, skillful, quick feet, good hands, knows how to get to the ball, understands football, knows how to beat offensive linemen’s blocks. He is a great defensive tackle and he is going to be a huge test for us.
Q: When you are going against a guy who has some size on you in opportunities when you are single blocking him, what are some of the techniques that you are relying on to overcome the size discrepancy?
RW: It is just that: it’s technique. There is nothing I can do about my size. I can’t work on getting any taller. It’s the things we have been working on our whole lives in football: basic fundamentals, using your feet, using your hands.
Q: I am sure it wasn’t perfect, but it seemed like the offensive line did a real stand up job against the Houston Texans. Do you take confidence in that going forward?
RW: That game and this game are two different games, two different teams. This team is going to present different challenges and with the kind of guys that they have on the defense of Baltimore, I’m sure they are going to do a great job of getting after Tom [Brady] and it’s going to be a test for us.
Q: Was some of what we saw last week from the offensive line as a whole related to the continuity that has come about over the past few games because you guys have all been out there together?
RW: It’s always good when you have guys out there week after week. But at the same time, you know injuries happen in football. Our team has injuries and their team has injuries too, so guys just need to be able to step up and play and I think our guys have done a good job of doing that.
Q: How important is that to a successful offensive line, in terms of building continuity and consistency and knowing tendencies with the guys on each side of you?
RW: It’s hugely important. On the offensive line there are no individuals. Every guy is only as good as the guys next to him. My job is made by the guys on each side of me:
Q: Are you aware of the stats that were published last week about the number of plays NFL players took part in this season?
RW: Yeah, I am aware of it.
Q: You’re number one.
RW: Yeah. I think first it says a lot about the organization, our training staff heading by Jim Whalen and Joe Van Allen and our strength training coaches, Harold Nash and Moses Cabrera, that do everything they can all season and all off-season and during the spring to keep us healthy throughout the whole season. I think it says more about them then it does about me individually.”
Q: How are you feeling?
RW: How am I feeling? I am feeling excited about this game.
Q: Are their bumps and bruises after playing in 1,200-plus plays during the year?
RW: Everybody gets bumps and bruises. I don’t think I feel any different than the other guys. I have been spared big injuries and I think that is what has kept me on the field.
Q: It seems interesting for you because this is the first time you have been out here for every game and been a starter. Can you put all that together by getting the chance to start and not only proving yourself but leading the entire league in plays on the field?
RW: It’s been good, but the biggest thing I worry about is winning games. The fact that we have been able to win some this year and have a chance to be playing this Sunday and win another one, that is the biggest accomplishment for me and my team that I focus on.
Q: You are certainly not the first offensive linemen to come to the this program and have to work his way up from the practice squad, getting cut a few times and coming back. Was it frustrating for you at all to have to go through that waiting process before getting the opportunity this year?
RW: It wasn’t frustrating for me personally because college football was all I ever dreamed of and then after that, getting the opportunity to come to the New England Patriots and be on the practice squad was a great thing in my life. I thought of it as a huge event to be able to come here and take more time to develop and get better at my craft and to learn from Dante Scarnecchia and learn from the guys that were ahead of me. I think that is what has given me the opportunity to play now.
Q: Who were some of the guys that you learned from?
RW: They’re guys that are still here: Dan Connolly, Logan Mankins. Guys that have left: Steve Neal, Matt Light, Dan Koppen. These are all guys that I got to see their example on how to be a professional and get better every day.
Q: So when you were at Fresno State, you didn’t really have thoughts of playing in the NFL?
RW: When I was at Fresno I was more focused on playing Boise State and Nevada.
Q: I know you guys make a habit of not talking or speaking boastfully, but Anquan Boldin said that the difference between this year’s AFC Championship game and last year’s is that the Ravens are going to win. What is your response to that and why do you guys tend to keep your confidence inside the locker room and not out in the papers and in the media?
RW: The difference between this year’s AFC Championship and last year’s AFC Championship is that they are different teams. We’ve got new players and some of the same players that were in that game; they’ve got new players and some of the same players as well. Nothing matters that happened in the regular season. Nothing matters that happened last week. We’re two good teams that are going to squaring off in this game. All that really matters is who goes out and performs.
Q: Is there an internal memo in the locker room to not give anybody any material to grab on to. We know athletes use whatever little advantage they can take to build momentum or hatred for the opponent and you guys seem to keep all that stuff in house.
RW: I just think that guys on our team are just really focused on their job and the opponent across from us. I think that takes up enough time.