Ravens-Browns key matchup

September 26, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht

Ravens WR Justin Armour vs. Browns secondary

On any given play, Ravens wide receiver Justin Armour may have to win a battle against one of three players today. It could be cornerback Ryan McNeil or cornerback Daylon McCutcheon or safety Marquez Pope.

No matter which Cleveland Brown is lined up across from him, Armour has a clear-cut objective: use his size advantage as a slot receiver to exploit the middle of the field and create a big play.

"What is ideal for me in this offense is I can take advantage of what's being given to me," said Armour, who leads the Ravens with 119 yards receiving on six receptions.

"A lot of the throws in there aren't real precision throws, where [the quarterback] is trying to hit a guy breaking out of a route. Basically, you throw the ball in a hole and let me fill up that hole, which I can do pretty well because of my size."

Armour, 6 feet 4, 209 pounds, said the Ravens spent part of the week trying to figure out which player will try to stop him.

If the Ravens go to a three-wide package early in the count, the Browns probably will be in a base defense, meaning Pope or an inside linebacker will cover Armour.

In more obvious passing situations, McNeil likely will take the injured Antonio Langham's place as the nickel back and check Armour. Or it could be McCutcheon, the rookie.

"We're trying to predict what shuffle they will go to," Armour said.

Whoever lines up on Armour, chances are that Armour eventually will spring loose for a big gain or two. Four of his six catches this season have come on third down, and in each case Armour got a first down. He is averaging 18.8 yards per third-down catch.

Armour has another advantage. As an expansion draft pick of the Browns, he spent three months practicing against his old teammates before the Browns released him in late May.

"No matter who lines up on me, I'll have some recollection of what it was like to play against him. Even McCutcheon was there long enough after the draft to get to know him," Armour said.

"This is a fun game for me. Cleveland released me. I won't be looking right, left, up or down for motivation. I'm looking forward to playing hard."

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