Each Wednesday we'll bring you a Q&A with a Ravens player to help you learn a little more about the team. Today's guest is wide receiver Kelley Washington, who ranks second on the team in catches (16) and receiving yards (198). Washington discusses his feelings regarding Sunday's opponent, his link with Dennis Rodman and his days as a baseball player.
Question: Can you describe your emotions about playing against your former teammates, the Cincinnati Bengals, on Sunday?
Answer: They'll be pretty high just because anytime you play against a former team - just like it was with the Patriots [on Sunday] - I want to show them what they don't have anymore. It's always going to be a good opportunity to go back and show them what they don't have.
Q: Is there any more significance in that the Bengals selected you in the third round of the 2003 draft?
A: I take it like I didn't really have an opportunity to really show what I had when I played with the Bengals. So this is a good opportunity for me to be out on the field, playing receiver and just showing them. Anytime it's like that, you really want to show them what you've got.
Q: Are you surprised that you rank second on the team in receptions and yards?
A: I expected it. I've always had an unbelievable amount of confidence in myself and my ability. It was just a matter of time and opportunity. It's like that in the NFL. Some guys have to wait two or three years, some guys are given the opportunity sooner, and there are some guys like myself who have to wait seven, eight years to get that opportunity. But when you get that opportunity, you've got to go in there and show that you can produce. I believe it was just a matter of me staying focused each and every year and learning from my experiences of playing with guys like Chad Johnson and T.J. [Houshmandzadeh] and Chris Henry and Randy Moss and Wes Welker. I learned a lot from those guys, and now I'm able to use what I've learned from them and use it my own way and put it on the field.
Q: Who is the toughest cornerback you've ever faced?
A: One of them was probably [ Chris] McAlister because he was a big corner who could still run and was very tough. He played here with this defense, and he was a tough corner to go up against.
Q: What is the origin of "The Squirrel" dance?
A: Ever since I was a little kid, I would always do this crazy little dance, and there had been a couple people who had said, 'Man, you look like a squirrel that got shot.' As I got older, I just kept doing it, and now everybody knows me from doing that dance. That's a dance I've been doing since I was about 4 or 5 years old. I just continue to do it because it's crazy and silly and people don't know what it is.
Q: How does a quiet guy off the field co-exist with the brash personality that will launch into "The Squirrel" dance?
A: I've always been like that. Off the field, I'm very quiet and just kind of in my own little world and a good teammate with the guys. But when I get on the field, I'm like a Dennis Rodman. I'm just in another world. It's almost like I'm playing in my backyard. I really feel like I'm out back playing all by myself and that's why I do all of those crazy first-down signals and dances in the end zone. That's what I did in the backyard when I was little, and that's how I play the game.
Q: You were drafted out of Sherando High School in Stephens City, Va., by the Florida Marlins and batted .213 with nine home runs and 98 RBIs as a shortstop and third baseman in 295 games from Rookie ball to Single-A. What do you remember about that experience?
A: My experience was just the long, grueling, hot days down in Florida and being on the baseball field at 7 in the morning and not getting home until about 7 at night. You just played baseball all day long. But mentally, I knew that was the best way for me to mature. I may not have liked it, but I knew that this was what was going to make me a better person and better athlete.
Q: You roomed with both Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett and Oakland Raiders wide receiver Javon Walker when you were playing baseball. What was that like?
A: We were just young athletes. We were young kids, and we all kind of shared the same experiences as great athletes in high school who got an opportunity to sign a professional contract. So I don't look at them as superstars like they are today. I look at them as the same guys I knew at 17 years old. But we were just kids with a lot of energy.
Q: Your nickname at the University of Tennesse was "The Future." Where did that come from?