Hopes for a healthy offensive line dashed before start of game

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Swayne comes up lame in warm-ups

Ogden lasts for just opening series

Notebook

October 11, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It didn't take long for the Ravens' offensive line to assume a familiar, unsettled look yesterday.

Left tackle Jonathan Ogden, who left last week's game in Atlanta with a cervical strain in his neck, started against the Titans, but only made it through the team's opening possession.

Right tackle Harry Swayne, who left last week's game with a severe, lower leg bruise, was seemingly ready to go after three encouraging days of practice, but he came up lame during pre-game warm-ups.

Midway through the first quarter, the Ravens were left with the lineup that finished the Atlanta game. Spencer Folau replaced Swayne. Left guard Everett Lindsay slid down a slot to replace Ogden. Mike Flynn came off the bench into Lindsay's left guard position.

Advantage Titans.

"You've got one Pro Bowl player [Ogden] on the offense. If you lose him, that's going to hurt you," said Ravens coach Brian Billick, who had rookie guard Edwin Mulitalo available as his last reserve. Veteran guard James Atkins was deactivated. The Ravens went into the game with eight linemen.

"We thought Harry Swayne was healthy, but he couldn't go. But to be down to what we had after Jonathan went down, I'm probably going to feel pretty good about what those guys did [after reviewing game tape]."

Ogden staggered off the field after re-aggravating the injury he suffered against Atlanta. It happened on the first play of the second possession.

"I took a shot [to the head] that never should cause any pain, but it sent a lot of pain down my neck," Ogden said. "It's the same kind of shot I've taken in every game for the last four years. My body told me I wasn't ready to get back in there. I would have gotten tentative if I had stayed in there."

Said center Jeff Mitchell: "It was disheartening when J.O. went down. But as soon as you get back in the huddle, that's over. These guys know what they're doing."

So did the Titans, who stacked the line of scrimmage repeatedly with at least eight defenders, taking away running back Errict Rhett and daring quarterback Stoney Case to beat them.

Advantage Titans.

Rhett delivers knockouts

Rhett had his toughest day of the season, which is exactly what he expected while preparing for the Titans, whom he figured would crowd the line to neutralize him. But Rhett's 21-carry, 59-yard game featured some of his more bruising work of the year.

Rhett punctuated his effort by knocking Tennessee safeties Blaine Bishop and Marcus Robertson out of the game, each in the second quarter.

Robertson was poked in the eye and Bishop was knocked woozy. Both players returned, although Bishop missed nearly a quarter.

"He runs hard," Bishop said. "He took blows and we took blows."

Said Rhett: "I told both of them they were going to be leaving early. That was some hard-nosed football. They were running up in the hole and I was trying to knock them out of the hole and send them to the sideline."

As for the loss, Rhett said, "We made a lot of key errors that would have changed things down the line. In the NFL, you've got to score touchdowns."

Bad decision for Ismail

Ravens wide receiver Qadry Ismail wishes he could run the final play of the game again. The play went for 32 yards to the Tennessee 41, but Ismail elected to cut inside after catching the pass near midfield from Case, instead of dashing out of bounds to buy time for one more sideline pass play and a possible, game-tying field-goal attempt by Matt Stover.

But Ismail cut inside of cornerback Donald Mitchell and was tackled in bounds. And the Ravens, who were out of timeouts, watched the clock kill any last hopes of a comeback.

"With 20-20 hindsight, I should have fought like heck and dove out of bounds. It didn't work out. I've just got to do a better job," Ismail said.

"I don't exactly where he was on the field, but [running out of bounds] probably would have been kind of a smart thing to do," Billick said. "That would give us either a chance to make a Hail Mary or a heck of a field-goal attempt or something. I'm sure [Ismail] was trying to make something happen."

Roster update

Because they were forced to activate eight offensive linemen, Billick also deactivated defensive tackle Martin Chase, leaving the interior line rotation largely in the hands of Tony Siragusa, Larry Webster and Lional Dalton.

Siragusa, back after missing one game while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, recorded one tackle, but also had to leave the game with a concussion. Webster rebounded nicely from a turf toe injury he suffered last week to make four tackles.

The Ravens also deactivated tight end Aaron Pierce, who was injured late last week in practice, giving A. J. Ofodile the most playing time he has seen since becoming a Raven two years ago. Greg DeLong started in place of Pierce.

Rookie wide receiver Brandon Stokley was inactive for the third straight game and the fourth of five games this year. Running back Jay Graham was active for the third consecutive game, but did not play for the third straight week.

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