Ravens WR Derrick Mason: ‘We have a good shot to score 25-35 points a game’

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason, 36, continues to defy his age. Re-signed by the Ravens this offseason and in search of his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season, Mason talked to Sporting News‘ Vinnie Iyer about what he does to stay in such great shape, the exciting additions to the team’s receiving corps and the renewed Super Bowl buzz in Baltimore.

WR Derrick Mason enters his sixth season as a Baltimore Raven.
WR Derrick Mason enters his sixth season as a Baltimore Raven.

Q: What’s your secret to staying in such great playing condition?
A: There’s nothing special or a magic formula. You stick a consistent workout, but don’t wear yourself out early. From February, it’s a long offseason. You want to keep your body fluid, so you don’t lose much in your side-to-side movement. There are a lot of guys with great speed at wide receiver, but it’s the ability to separate that keeps you around — and that comes with conditioning.

Q: So are you saying you are rejuvenated enough to return punts again?
A: For the early part of my career it was good to contribute catching punts and bringing them back, but after a while you take a lot of pounding on your body. I’ll still go back there if they ask me, but I think my days as a full-time return man are well behind me.

Q: So what do you think of the Ravens’ offseason?
A: It’s going well. We’ve addressed some needs and added some depth where it was needed. I definitely feel good about what we’ve done on the offensive side.

Q: The team’s biggest move was trading for three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin? What does he bring to the Ravens’ receiving corps?
A: It’s creating a good buzz. With Quan, there’s a reason for him going to three Pro Bowls. He’s the tough guy who is willing to go over the middle, sacrifice his body to make the tough catch. Then you also have Donte’ Stallworth, who brings the speed to make that 60- or 80-yard play out the slot.

Q: How does having Boldin and Stallworth affect your role in the offense?
A: I don’t think it will change that much. I’ll still be running a lot of the same routes. The one thing that’ll be different is that with Quan we have someone who can draw that double-team attention. We have so many weapons who can beat single coverage. So maybe I go from seeing 10 balls a game to making the most of the seven or eight I do get.

Q: With the added weapons, do you think we’ll see a big leap forward from third-year quarterback Joe Flacco?
A: He’s so dedicated to making himself better. He’s got the athleticism and the arm, but then he’s there in the classroom, learning the playbook until he has command of it. Then you give him the receivers and tight ends we’ve added. He also has put in the work with (new quarterbacks) coach (Jim) Zorn, which will help even more.

Q: With this kind of talent in the passing game, do you think the playcalling will be more aggressive and go a little more away from the run?
A: I think we were aggressive last year — there were just a lot of injuries that held us back. So we’ll come back aggressive because we have a good shot to score 25-35 points a game. We’ll still be a run-first team and pass the ball off our success there. That’s the kind of offense that wins in December and January.

Q: Just like you, 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis, at age 35, just keeps on going. What’s in the water in Baltimore?
A: He enjoys working out and keeping himself in peak condition because he wants to stay on top at middle linebacker. He’s the consummate professional who just takes care of his body.

Q: Another older receiver who stays in shape is Terrell Owens who hasn’t been able to find a job this offseason. Why do you think it has been such a challenge for him to find a team?
A: Sometimes, the perception becomes reality and it’s not fair. Looking at him, you can see he’s in great shape, that he can still fare well and produce numbers. But now he’s been treated like a scapegoat for what happened in Buffalo; it’s unfair. After a while, right or wrong, there are just some teams that don’t want to deal with a potential headache. He can be still an asset for some contending team.

Q: Just how tough is it playing in the AFC North?
A: For a couple years there you’ve seen who’s at the top of the division fluctuate, and you can’t expect to go out there and dominate. We’ve made the playoffs the last two years, but we’ve lost out on the division title to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. So we know how difficult it can be. They’ll be getting better in Cleveland with Mike Holmgren. The Bengals are a tough team, and they always play us tough. You know the Steelers will be back stronger.

Q: Is one of the reasons you came back to play another year was the possibility of reaching the Super Bowl?
A: I am optimistic about our chances after how successful we’ve been the past two years. It’s just a good feeling from how this team is put together on the field and with the coaching staff. We believe in our leaders and the ability to get by any challenger. We just have to sustain that all season.

Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason, 36, continues to defy his age. Re-signed by the Ravens this offseason and in search of his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season, Mason talked to Sporting News‘ Vinnie Iyer about what he does to stay in such great shape, the exciting additions to the team’s receiving corps and the renewed Super Bowl buzz in Baltimore.

WR Derrick Mason enters his sixth season as a Baltimore Raven.
WR Derrick Mason enters his sixth season as a Baltimore Raven.

Q: What’s your secret to staying in such great playing condition?
A: There’s nothing special or a magic formula. You stick a consistent workout, but don’t wear yourself out early. From February, it’s a long offseason. You want to keep your body fluid, so you don’t lose much in your side-to-side movement. There are a lot of guys with great speed at wide receiver, but it’s the ability to separate that keeps you around — and that comes with conditioning.

Q: So are you saying you are rejuvenated enough to return punts again?
A: For the early part of my career it was good to contribute catching punts and bringing them back, but after a while you take a lot of pounding on your body. I’ll still go back there if they ask me, but I think my days as a full-time return man are well behind me.

Q: So what do you think of the Ravens’ offseason?
A: It’s going well. We’ve addressed some needs and added some depth where it was needed. I definitely feel good about what we’ve done on the offensive side.

Q: The team’s biggest move was trading for three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin? What does he bring to the Ravens’ receiving corps?
A: It’s creating a good buzz. With Quan, there’s a reason for him going to three Pro Bowls. He’s the tough guy who is willing to go over the middle, sacrifice his body to make the tough catch. Then you also have Donte’ Stallworth, who brings the speed to make that 60- or 80-yard play out the slot.

Q: How does having Boldin and Stallworth affect your role in the offense?
A: I don’t think it will change that much. I’ll still be running a lot of the same routes. The one thing that’ll be different is that with Quan we have someone who can draw that double-team attention. We have so many weapons who can beat single coverage. So maybe I go from seeing 10 balls a game to making the most of the seven or eight I do get.

Q: With the added weapons, do you think we’ll see a big leap forward from third-year quarterback Joe Flacco?
A: He’s so dedicated to making himself better. He’s got the athleticism and the arm, but then he’s there in the classroom, learning the playbook until he has command of it. Then you give him the receivers and tight ends we’ve added. He also has put in the work with (new quarterbacks) coach (Jim) Zorn, which will help even more.

Q: With this kind of talent in the passing game, do you think the playcalling will be more aggressive and go a little more away from the run?
A: I think we were aggressive last year — there were just a lot of injuries that held us back. So we’ll come back aggressive because we have a good shot to score 25-35 points a game. We’ll still be a run-first team and pass the ball off our success there. That’s the kind of offense that wins in December and January.

Q: Just like you, 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis, at age 35, just keeps on going. What’s in the water in Baltimore?
A: He enjoys working out and keeping himself in peak condition because he wants to stay on top at middle linebacker. He’s the consummate professional who just takes care of his body.

Q: Another older receiver who stays in shape is Terrell Owens who hasn’t been able to find a job this offseason. Why do you think it has been such a challenge for him to find a team?
A: Sometimes, the perception becomes reality and it’s not fair. Looking at him, you can see he’s in great shape, that he can still fare well and produce numbers. But now he’s been treated like a scapegoat for what happened in Buffalo; it’s unfair. After a while, right or wrong, there are just some teams that don’t want to deal with a potential headache. He can be still an asset for some contending team.

Q: Just how tough is it playing in the AFC North?
A: For a couple years there you’ve seen who’s at the top of the division fluctuate, and you can’t expect to go out there and dominate. We’ve made the playoffs the last two years, but we’ve lost out on the division title to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. So we know how difficult it can be. They’ll be getting better in Cleveland with Mike Holmgren. The Bengals are a tough team, and they always play us tough. You know the Steelers will be back stronger.

Q: Is one of the reasons you came back to play another year was the possibility of reaching the Super Bowl?
A: I am optimistic about our chances after how successful we’ve been the past two years. It’s just a good feeling from how this team is put together on the field and with the coaching staff. We believe in our leaders and the ability to get by any challenger. We just have to sustain that all season.

Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

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