Starters to play 1 quarter vs. Eagles

Ravens notebook

Intrasquad scrimmage precedes preseason opener

August 06, 1999|By Mike Preston and Brent Jones | Mike Preston and Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The Ravens have a scrimmage this evening at Western Maryland College, but there is already a high anticipation for Thursday's preseason opener against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Ravens coach Brian Billick said yesterday that he plans on playing his starters for a quarter against the Eagles. Billick said the Ravens will not do a complete game plan for Philadelphia, but did want his players to pick up a game-type preparation level. The top three quarterbacks, Scott Mitchell, Tony Banks and Wally Richardson, are expected to play.

"We'll have our first true evaluation at the end of this week when we have the intrasquad scrimmage," Billick said. "We're doing a lot of situational, down and distance work in anticipation. After the scrimmage, we'll kick into a little bit of a game mode to get ready for Philadelphia.

"Our second units will play most of the second and into the third quarters. We'll be looking at specific players we need to see in game situations in the fourth. We'll be ready to play against another team. Your hitting is not reckless in camp. It is somewhat controlled. You can sense a lot of players waiting to let go completely and they can do that in Philadelphia."

Defense to carry offense?

The consensus around the league is that the Ravens' defense will have to carry the offense for the first half of the season until the offense comes around. The offense will have new players such as Mitchell, tight end Lovett Purnell and fullback Charles Evans.

Meanwhile, the defense will feature Pro Bowlers Michael McCrary, a defensive end, and linebackers Peter Boulware and Ray Lewis. But Lewis isn't subscribing to the theory.

"Eight weeks is way too long," said Lewis. "This is a team game. If the pressure comes down to us, we'll be ready to handle it. But the offense will come around. I'm pretty confident about that."

Washington ready if needed

With McCrary being held out of workouts because of off-season knee surgery, reserve Keith Washington is working with the first team. This is nothing new for Washington, who had 15 tackles last season.

McCrary's knees haven't been sound since signing with the club as a free agent two years ago.

"I feel good. I know I have to follow a great football player in McCrary," Washington said. "I have to get better also. Being here in my third year, I know I have to be ready to play at all times. If I had to, I'm ready to take on a starting role."

Woodson enjoys transition

One of the advantages Rod Woodson can see in camp after moving from cornerback, where he was a seven-time Pro Bowler, to safety for the upcoming season is that he has more of a chance to see the whole field.

"It is a transition and more learning again," Woodson said. "But it is fun. I can see more and react more. I can free-lance a little bit more than I could at corner. That makes it enjoyable."

The move will give the Ravens one of the youngest cornerback tandems in the league, with second-year player Duane Starks on one end and fourth-year player DeRon Jenkins battling rookie Chris McAlister for the other spot.

Woodson led the team in interceptions last season with six, the second most in his 12-year career. As for whether the switch to safety this season will allow him to add to his 47 career interceptions, Woodson said that remains to be seen.

"We can all make plays at whatever position we play," Woodson said. "Corner was a challenge. I enjoyed it. I'm just honored to be playing in the league for 13 years. I'm just hanging in there."

Siragusa steps up

First in line for many of the defensive line drills this season is 10-year veteran Tony Siragusa.

Siragusa said he realizes that with the departure of last year's defensive line leader James Jones, he needed to step up as a leader this season.

That and knowing the end of his career is nearing has Siragusa approaching this season wanting badly to improve on the Ravens' six wins last season.

"Last year, Jones did a great job of helping out the defense, and with him leaving, my role has got to increase in order for us to be a great defense, not just good," Siragusa said.

"I'm just a person out there trying to win. My time is limited in the NFL to maybe two, three or, if I'm lucky, four years. I have left too much on the field not to try and go out and get a ring. That's the goal and the only reason why I'm in here now."

Stover aims for Pro Bowl

The only thing missing from kicker Matt Stover's resume, one of the league's all-time most accurate kickers, is a Pro Bowl appearance, which he hopes to add this season.

Stover went 21 of 28 last season in field-goal attempts and made all 24 point-after attempts. He's facing a challenge from Scott Bentley, which Stover has seen before over his nine seasons in the league.

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