Brown blocks out poor preseason Ravens tackle reverts to form, trampling foes with old, bullying style

October 04, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens right offensive tackle Orlando Brown kept saying it was a false alarm.

When he was struggling during the final two weeks of the preseason, Brown never used his ankle injury as an excuse but basically swore he was suffering from an acute case of boredom. Then he promised that it would be different in the regular season.

So far, the 6-foot-7, 350-pound Brown has kept his word. He is back to his normal nasty, brawling, kicking, fighting and cheap-shoting self.

Ask any opponent. Or ask the Ravens. During a recent informal poll by a national publication about who was the league's dirtiest player, Brown got a couple of votes from his own teammates.

"I would say he has been steady and coming along," Kirk Ferentz, the Ravens' offensive line and assistant head coach, said yesterday, as the Ravens finished off their bye week and began preparation for next Sunday's home game against the Tennessee Oilers.

"This preseason he couldn't really drive into the ground like he wanted. He wasn't functioning as usual. But last week [against Cincinnati] was his best game. He had his rhythm back. Orlando is the kind of guy who has to practice; he can't afford to miss work."

That is what Brown and coach Ted Marchibroda had been telling critics when Brown first injured his ankle in training camp. Brown also got tired of training camp, which started in mid-July and didn't end until the week before the first game on Sept. 6. It happens often, especially to six-year veterans like Brown.

"I get gassed up for the preseason, but nothing like the regular season," Brown said. "The regular season is when all the fun starts. That's when you start concentrating, start to get focused. That's when we come in with a game plan and study your opponent.

"In preseason, you don't watch film, you don't study your FTC opponent. I'm the kind of player that needs to know my opponent's favorite move or his tendencies. If I don't, I'm not as effective."

For the first time yesterday, Brown admitted that he had another problem. He wasn't happy with the way the Ravens handled the situation with his best friend, Wally Williams, the left guard who held out for nearly six weeks of camp because he didn't get a long-term contract offer.

"I thought about that situation a lot," said Brown, who along with Williams will be a free agent after this year. "It really ticked me off because I know that same situation could happen to me. I went to Kirk and we talked about it. I had to kick all of it out of my mind. "There are some things in life that you can't control, and that was one of them."

A happy Brown off the field means a nasty one on it. There's nothing pretty about his style. His moves are abrupt and violent. He prefers to run-block instead of pass-block. He plays close to the edge.

He is the anti-Jonathan Ogden, the Ravens' Pro Bowl left tackle who is a technician.

"He has worked extremely hard to develop his technique, which is immensely different than when he was a rookie," Ferentz said. "They are different style players who play to their strengths. [Brown] has more of a hammer approach. He plays the game with a much different mind-set than Ogden."

Brown is from the streets of Washington, D.C., a product of Woodson High. During tough times, he remembers his childhood days, when he stood on the street corner and watched the boy next to him get shot in the head and killed instantly. Or saw his 14-year-old cousin's casket shot up with bullets by gang members.

"When I was a kid, I always told my mother I was going to this league," Brown said. "She laughed at me, told me I didn't have the grades. My friends laughed at me. And when I go back home, I still am shocked that I'm here. I've been around a lot of negative stuff and I use that to motivate me. That's why I think I've been around this long."

Pub Date: 10/04/98

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