Jackson's mouth quick as legs Team's receptions leader says he gets a boost from baiting opponents

Ravens notebook

September 12, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Wide receiver Michael Jackson is not only the team's leader in receptions, but also one of the team's best trash talkers.

Jackson is off to a fast start after two games with 14 receptions for 228 yards, one touchdown and some great one-liners.

After catching eight passes for 143 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars' Dave Thomas, Jackson told Thomas: "The way I'm killing you, they ought to cut you after this game."

He has been known to tell opposing cornerbacks which route he plans to run.

His most famous prediction may have been in Jacksonville last year, when a fan heckled him and he told the fan in which corner of the end zone he was going to catch the ball for a touchdown. He also promised to throw the ball at the fan when it happened.

It all transpired, and Jackson was fined by the league.

"I didn't throw it at him as hard as I wanted to, because I was concerned about hitting a fan close to him. I let up on it," said Jackson.

Jackson said trash talking seems to be more of a natural thing between defensive backs and receivers than with any other positions on the field.

"I really don't start the mess talking until I'm coming out of the tunnel to play," said Jackson. "Wherever I can get an edge, I'm going to get one just as long as I'm confident in our game plan.

"I think it enhances my ability to make big plays. You're either going to back it up or be a big failure. Some receivers won't talk because they're more concerned about not making a mistake, but I'm confident that I have done my homework during the week.

"Sometimes I'll tell a defensive back what route I'm going to run, and I'll run it because he won't believe it. Then when I make the catch, I throw the football up in the air and say, 'Told you.'

"Or if a guy comes up to play me bump-and-run, I'll say, 'The last time you did that, I beat you badly on so-and-so route.' And when I beat them, I'll say, 'I told you not to play that.' Once you beat them a couple of times, they stop talking back."

When Jackson isn't talking, that's when his teammates get concerned. But that doesn't happen often.

"He's always talking to some cornerback," said tight end Eric Green.

Practice is all wet

The team had a tough time practicing in the wet conditions yesterday.

Starting defensive end Rob Burnett walked gingerly off the field about an hour into practice after hurting the same knee he had surgery on last year. The injury apparently was not serious, but he will be re-examined today by team doctors.

Jackson also sustained a slight hand injury while trying to catch a pass from quarterback Vinny Testaverde. Cornerbacks Antonio Langham and Dorian Brew had mild ankle injuries. All three finished practice.

Slot receiver Jermaine Lewis (knee) practiced with the team, but is still not at full speed, even though he is expected to play Sunday. Center Quentin Neujahr (ankle) and safety Stevon Moore (knee) did not practice, but Moore is expected to play. A decision on Neujahr will probably be made at game time.

Williams working in pads

Center Wally Williams, a starter before he ruptured an Achilles' tendon in April, is participating in limited workouts wearing shoulder pads and a helmet.

Williams has stepped up his cardiovascular-conditioning regimen, but says he needs to lose about 15 pounds to get down to his playing weight.

"I can't keep sitting on the sidelines watching. I guess I'm in the conditioning phase," said Williams. "I want to get the soreness out, start working on some blocking, because I haven't run in months. Losing the weight is no more than just a matter of me doing more work because I was inactive for so long with the injury."

Williams plans to return either Oct. 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers or Oct. 19 against the Miami Dolphins.

Up against the wall

Right defensive ends have the challenge each week of going against the best pass protector on each team, but the New York Giants' Chad Bratzke may have it a bit harder than his peers.

Bratzke had to face Jacksonville's Tony Boselli last week, and he has the Ravens' Jonathan Ogden on Sunday. Then, he has the St. Louis Rams' Orlando Pace, New Orleans Saints' William Roaf, Dallas Cowboys' Mark Tuinei and Arizona Cardinals' Lomas Brown.

Ravens right defensive end Michael McCrary had this advice: "Just play, man. I've had some of my best games against players who were considered great, and some of my worst games against players who weren't supposed to be great."

Miscellaneous

Running back Earnest Byner needs 103 yards to surpass No. 18 Gerald Riggs and 104 yards to overtake Roger Craig for 17th on the NFL's all-time rushing list. Byner, though, is downplaying the pursuit.

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