Report card

September 22, 1997

Running backs

Rookie Jay Graham was a nice change of pace in the second half, but veteran Earnest Byner continues to get yards when there is nothing there, something that Graham has yet to learn. Byner was a good weapon out of the backfield and did a nice job of handling blitzes.

C+

Quarterback

Vinny Testaverde has been maligned for not reading defenses, but that's a poor assessment. He destroyed the Oilers' blitzing schemes and threw some great touch passes.

A

Receivers

The Oilers' defensive backs are still looking for Derrick Alexander, Michael Jackson, Jermaine Lewis and Brian Kinchen. But this gang needs to get a little more aggressive on run-blocking.

A

Offensive line

The front line dominated the Oilers' defensive front, giving Testaverde all kinds of time to throw. The group, though, still has to help establish a dominating running game.

B+

Defensive line

Larry Webster did a nice job filling in for the injured tackle Tony Siragusa, and his enthusiasm and intensity seemed to pick up the team. The line also did a nice job of pressuring quarterback Steve McNair.

B+

Linebackers

This group keeps improving every week and middle linebacker Ray Lewis did a nice job scraping off blocks and finding Eddie George. Peter Boulware stepped up his game in the second half and fellow outside linebacker Jamie Sharper has increased his presence on pass defense.

C+

Secondary

The Ravens continue to use the bend-but-don't-break philosophy in the secondary, giving up pass completions of 42, 34, 33 and 55 yards. Cornerback Donny Brady was aggressive with his tackling.

C+

Special teams

Kicker Matt Stover performed well, as did punt returner Jermaine Lewis. But the line had problems caving in on field goals and the kickoff coverage was atrocious. Bennie Thompson: Stop holding.

C

Pub Date: 9/22/97

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