Jay Ratliff chats with The Scores Report

Defensive lineman Jay Ratliff came into the NFL as a seventh round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys in 2005 and all he’s done since then is become a two-time Pro Bowl selection in each of the last two seasons. He was also a first-team All-Pro selection in 2009 after racking up 40 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles.

We recently got the opportunity to chat with Jay about the Cowboys’ draft, how the ‘Boys can build off the success they had last season and what his thoughts were on the Donovan McNabb trade.

After you check out the interview, be sure to visit Jay’s official website, JAYRAT.com, for the chance to win a trip to see the Cowboys play in 2010. Two lucky winners will have the opportunity to see the ‘Boys take on the Titans at Cowboys Stadium, or the Giants at the new Meadowlands Stadium. The package will include airfare, hotel room, tickets to the game, as well as an opportunity to meet Jay before the game at the live airing of the DallasCowboys.com Radio Show.

The Scores Report: Hi, this is Anthony.

Jay Ratliff: Hey, this is Jay Ratliff.

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Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Terrell Suggs chats with The Scores Report

BALTIMORE - SEPTEMBER 27:  Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens takes the field against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on September 27, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Browns 34-3. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

Following defensive coordinator Rex Ryan’s departure from Baltimore after the 2008 season, pundits started to question whether or not the Ravens could still be a dominant defensive unit without him. But after finishing 2009 with a winning record, making the playoffs and absolutely obliterating the Patriots in the Wild Card Round, it’s clear that as long as the Ravens have players like Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis, Baltimore’s defense will be just fine.

Suggs was kind enough to chat with us recently about what the key to the Ravens’ success was last season, what it’s like to play alongside Ray Lewis and what ultimately made him decide to stay in Baltimore when he signed a new deal last offseason. Since he knows a thing or two about the topic, Terrell also broke down what makes a great pass rusher and whether or not he’d like to see the Ravens acquire Julius Peppers and/or Brandon Marshall this offseason.

The Scores Report: Hi, this is Anthony.

Terrell Suggs: How you doing, this is Terrell Suggs.

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Shawne Merriman chats with The Scores Report

Five years ago, Shawne Merriman burst onto the NFL scene as a rookie by racking up 10 sacks, 57 tackles and two forced fumbles. Over the next two seasons, he went on to register 29.5 more quarterback takedowns and emerged as the face of a fast, aggressive Chargers’ defense that was gaining attention throughout the league.

But during training camp in 2008, Merriman had trouble practicing on his injured knee. Initial reports stated that recovery would only take a few weeks, but soon rumors would circulate that his career could be finished. After discovering that he had a tear in his posterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament, he underwent massive reconstructive surgery and wound up sitting out virtually the entire ’08 season. After using the first six games to get his timing and rhythm back, Shawne produced back-to-back double-digit sack games in 2009 and although a plantar fasciitis injury limited him down the stretch, opponents still had to be aware of where he was at all times.

Shawne recently took time out of his busy offseason to chat with us about a variety of topics, ranging from his future with the Chargers (he’s currently a restricted free agent), who he modeled his game after growing up and what the Bolts have to do in order to reach the Super Bowl. He also filled us in on how he got the nickname “Lights Out” and what the hardest hit he ever laid on a ballcarrier was.

After reading the interview, make sure to check out Shawne’s Twitter page as well as his website, LightsOutEnergy.com.

The Scores Report: Hey Shawne, how are you?

Shawne Merriman: Anthony, what’s up man – what’s going on?

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Elvis Dumervil chats with The Scores Report

If you’re an NFL fan that is unfamiliar with Elvis Dumervil – get familiar. The four-year linebacker out of Louisville is having a tremendous 2009 season and currently leads the league in sacks with 15. TSR recently sat down with Elvis to talk about a variety of subjects, including his transition from defensive end (the position he played the first three years in the league) to outside linebacker, what first-year head coach Josh McDaniels is like and how defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has helped him become the rising star he is today.

The Scores Report: People talk about you emerging as one of the best young defenders in the game, but you recorded 8.5 sacks in your rookie season and 12.5 sacks in your second season. So obviously you’ve had success before. Do you feel that people have been sleeping on your ability?

Elvis Dumervil: I do sometimes feel as though my production has often times gone unnoticed, which I credit to the fact that I really stay under the radar for the most part. It’s something that has followed me through my entire career – even in high school and college. It keeps me striving everyday to work hard and prove my value out there. Like my mom always tells me: There is nothing wrong with hard work. I don’t take it personally; I know that I am a valuable asset to the Broncos defense and I have been an integral part of the team since being drafted 2006. As long as the team is doing well, and benefiting from having me out there, the personal praise is not necessary.

TSR: What has the transition been like for you from defensive end to a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end?

ED: It’s has been very challenging transition I must say, but also very exciting and fun. I was fortunate to have a coaching staff that could see my potential to thrive at this position and allowed me the opportunity to run with it. I definitely had to make some changes to my diet and had to humble myself in order to learn a craft and a skill set that I was unfamiliar with.

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Leon Hall chats with The Scores Report

The Bengals have been one of the best surprises of 2009, partly because quarterback Carson Palmer is healthy again and Cedric Benson has rejuvenated the team’s running game. But some would argue that the key reason the Bengals are on the verge of winning the AFC North has been the outstanding play of their young defense. Cornerback Leon Hall has emerged as the team’s most consistent defensive back over the years and is turning in a solid 2009 season. Through 13 games, Hall has racked up 53 total tackles, five interceptions and one defensive touchdown. He recently sat down with The Scores Report to talk about the key to the Bengals’ defensive success, what it’s like being in the same locker room as Chad Ochocinco and more.

The Scores Report: Your defense has been maturing as a group for the past couple of seasons now. What has been the biggest difference in the Bengals’ defense going from an improving unit to one of the best in the league?

Leon Hall: Mike Zimmer. He really came to Cincinnati with an attitude that if a team gets any yards on us, they’re going to have to earn it. Every week we work hard to do that on Sundays.

TSR: You have become Cincinnati’s most reliable defensive back the past two seasons. How vital is it for players to gain playing experience in their rookie season like you did?

LH: It’s real important. I think it helps you get used to the speed that things come at you, real early in your career.

TSR: Besides winning of course, what’s the one thing the Bengals have to do in order to reach the Super Bowl?

LH: Prepare well each week, playing great defense and giving the ball back to our offense so they can score.

TSR: Do you feel as though you’re playing at a Pro Bowl level at this point in your career or do you feel as though you’re still growing as a player?

LH: I think I am always going to grow as a player. With every year of experience you gain more knowledge and ultimately keep getting better with hard work. As far as Pro Bowl, I’m not really concerned. I just try to perform great week in and week out.

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