He leads the league in sacks, he routinely makes plays that leave people stunned and he's setting team records.
But Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers hardly ever speaks - and when he does, it's very reluctantly.
He agreed to open up Thursday as long as television cameras stayed away. The highlights?
- "I feel the same. The numbers are better, so I guess I'm doing better. But I'm still playing the same, I think."
- "I'm amazed at how guys like Steve (Smith) and Michael Vick make plays, but I don't look at myself that way."
- "I'm honored that people feel that way about me, but each Sunday you have to go out and prove it again."
It's clear Peppers would rather do his talking on the field.
Peppers has eight sacks, 11 more than Mark Anderson of Chicago. His 481 career sacks are a team record. He's forced three fumbles, has 16 quarterback hurries and his 40 tackles are tied for the team lead. He's also blocked two field goals.
BEARS: Chicago safety Mike Brown was placed on injured reserve and will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery a day earlier to repair ligament damage in his right foot.
Brown, who made the Pro Bowl last season, was injured in Monday night's 24-23 win at Arizona. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Todd Johnson.
"It's disappointing, obviously," Brown said in the Bears' locker room, wearing a huge cast on his foot. "I know I can come back (next season) and play at a high level."
Brown, who missed the final four games last season with a calf injury and was out after just two games in 2004 with an Achilles injury, was hurt in a pileup in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the game, he'd scooped up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown - his franchise-best seventh career defensive touchdown.
The Bears, with a 6-0 record, have a bye this week.
GIANTS: New York's all-time leading rusher Tiki Barber said that he is firm in his decision to retire after the season.
"I've been talking about retirement for years now, and it has nothing to do with being physical or money or Hall of Fame," Barber said. "It's all about my desires, and for me to change them would compromise my integrity and would compromise who I am as a person and what I've always stood for."
Asked whether there was added pressure to win this year because of his plans, Barber said: "The pressure's always there, it's no different just because you guys know that I'm going to retire this year."
"I'm a diverse person," added Barber, who leads the league in rushing with 533 yards this season. "I have a lot of interests, and at some point it's time to execute a plan that's been in place for me for about eight years."
Still, Barber wouldn't commit to saying his retirement was 100 percent certain:
"It's Week 6 of the NFL season, so I won't say that."
However, he also said there was "nothing" that would change his mind.
Now in his 10th season, the 31-year-old Barber said that he has been banged up more this season than in any previous one, and that his passion for the game has waned.
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