When the Ravens line up Sunday at 4:15 versus the St. Louis, they will have two familar faces looking across at them from the Rams offensive and defensive lines.
Anchoring the trenches for the Rams are former Ravens in center Jason Brown, and defensive tackle Justin Bannan. Both spent four years in Baltimore, with Bannan coming over as a free agent from the Buffalo Bills from 2006-2009, and Brown having stayed in a Ravens uniform from 2005-2009.
Brown was a fourth-round pick of the Ravens in 2005 out of North Carolina, and after three solid years starting at both center and guard, he parlayed that into one of the richest contracts ever given to an interior lineman with St. Louis.
Both joined WNST this week to talk about how odd it is wearing blue and gold as opposed to purple and black, and if they had any regrets of not being a Raven anymore.
“It’s tough, but sometimes it has to be that way,” Brown told Drew Forrester of “The Morning Reaction” Friday. Of course I had made some strong connections and family there with the Ravens, and it was hard for me to leave the Ravens, but the thing is ultimately…my immediate family at the end of the day. I had to make that family decision.”
“It was tough with the lockout and everything,” Bannan told Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Thursday. “I signed here in the beginning of August and have been here ever since trying to get acclimated and get use to the new guys, new faces, and new defense. But it’s all come along pretty well.”
He’s looking forward to going up against his old friends and teammates, and one of them, guard Ben Grubbs, may not suit up against Bannan because of a foot injury.
“I don’t know what’s going on with Ben,” Bannan said. “I want to find out and see who I’m playing against, but obviously Grubbs is a great player and he’s a friend of mine.”
“I know a lot of the guys on that offensive line, so it’s always going to be a great matchup against them and it’ll be a great game.”
Playing in 58 games for the Ravens, Bannan felt like he learned a lot in Baltimore from coaches like Greg Mattison and Rex Ryan, and now he’s adjusting himself to playing for a similar coach in Steve Spagnuolo.
“In my mind, I like how he approaches the game,” Bannan said. “I like the way he coaches the game. He’s a smart man and he’s always taking into account everything. I’m glad to be a part of it. He’s always been good to me, and I think he’s a great coach.”
Brown said that Spagnuolo’s attention to detail is just as lively on the other side of the ball despite he being a defensive guy.
“Spags, he walks the walk and he definitely talks the talk,” Brown said. “He’s a man that’s led by faith…something a lot of guys identify with. When you have a foundation that you’re trying to build your team on built on discipline, responsibility, work ethic, morals-all those things, we have a great foundation here with the Rams.”
Bannan also gave Spagnuolo credit for giving him another chance to play in the NFL. Bannan, 32, was cut by the Denver Broncos in the off-season just one year, and for some, it could have meant the end of the line.
“Obviously, it was tough. I had a five-year deal there and they decided to make a business decision, and asked me to take a pay-cut.”
“That’s the nature of the business and that’s the business we’re in,” Bannan added. “You’ve got to move on, and you’ve got to take a step back and take a look at what you know.”
Bannan received a lot of praise in the preseason for his high motor, and for that, he has been receiving solid playing time the first two weeks of the season.
“I’m in my tenth year in the NFL and to me, that’s awesome to make it that far,” he said. “The fact that I still get to play this game and be on a great team and be around a bunch of great guys, it makes a huge difference.”
And while the team has not played well this early in the season, he attributed their struggles to early and predicts a turn-around on their part starting Sunday versus his old team.
“I like this team a lot, and I like this defense. It’s all talk saying we have a bright future, but I really believe that and it’s just a matter of putting it together and making it happen.”
“Things are definitely coming up out here in St. Louis and we know our biggest opponent right now is ourselves,” he said. “We haven’t played our best ball in the first two weeks right now. There’s so many mistakes that we can correct ourselves as an offense to put us back on track to being a great team.”
And like Bannan, he’s confident that it will start Sunday.
“Somebody’s going to walk away 1-2,” Brown said. “Even though we started off a little rougher than the Ravens right now, at the end of the day that’s what is going to have to be, 1-2.”
WNST thanks Justin Bannan and Jason Brown for joining WNST and wish them all the best following Sunday! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!