Early line: Ogden in, Swayne out

Injury news is mixed as Ravens step up preparations for Chiefs

October 18, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

After a week of adjusting their offense, defense and special teams, the Ravens yesterday began preparations for Thursday night's nationally televised game at PSINet Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs, which should include Pro Bowl left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden.

The Ravens officially listed Ogden, who has a sprained neck, as questionable for the game, but the 6-foot-8, 335-pound fourth-year player went through a full workout yesterday as the team returned to practice for the first time since Friday morning.

The news wasn't as positive for right offensive tackle Harry Swayne, who still is suffering from a lower leg injury. Swayne is listed as questionable but was held out of practice yesterday. If he can't play, third-year offensive tackle Spencer Folau, who has performed well in place of Swayne and Ogden, would get the call.

Reserve defensive tackle/end Fernando Smith also was held out of practice after having arthroscopic surgery on his knee Tuesday. There is still a chance Smith could play against the Chiefs.

"Jonathan practiced, and he went through the whole thing," said Ravens coach Brian Billick. "Harry is progressing, but not as well as he should. Overall, we had a good practice today. Anytime you take time off, you're a little worried about getting into gear. But I think we focused pretty well."

Until yesterday, the Ravens had spent more time focusing on themselves than Kansas City (3-2). A lot of emphasis is on the offense, where the Ravens are ranked No. 24 overall, 27th in passing offense, averaging 164.2 yards.

But the pass offense doesn't include just receivers, quarterbacks and running backs. Billick had his offensive line and running backs coordinating pass protection schemes. The Ravens have allowed 19 sacks, and could break last season's mark of 41.

"We're light-years away from where we need to be, but only a few adjustments away from being a decent team," Billick said. "At this time, numbers and stats mean nothing. They are useless to us. We have to work on things where we can become an average group in the NFL."

Specifics, please.

"Route adjustments, protection pickups between the linemen and running backs, little subtle stuff," Billick said. "Against Tennessee, which was a very winnable game, Stoney [Case, the quarterback] had a lot of pressure in his face. There was a lot of yardage to be had. That's not to say he couldn't have made better throws, either.

"But it's the little things, like our receivers positioning themselves or the backside of the offensive line finishing a play off. Those are the things we have worked on," Billick said.

The Ravens don't have as much to improve on defensively. They are ranked No. 7 overall, allowing 83.2 rushing and 191.2 passing yards a game. The Ravens haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher or receiver yet this season.

But that didn't stop defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis from going back to the fundamentals.

"Fundamentals, communication, alignment, that's what we've stressed," Lewis said. "We also gave our backup guys a few more repetitions. We also self-scouted ourselves, and the bye gave us a little more extra time to prepare."

Against Kansas City, the Ravens will face a team with the No. 8 offense overall and the No. 11 defense. The Chiefs don't do anything pretty offensively. They just try to run the ball and pound away. Kansas City is averaging 135 rushing yards, and the Ravens will get a chance to go against their former top running back, Bam Morris.

Morris hasn't been that productive, with 93 yards on 33 attempts, but Chiefs receivers Derrick Alexander and Andre Rison, both former Ravens, have accounted for 25 catches for 454 yards. Defensively, Kansas City has a pressure-type defense, and the Chiefs will play a scheme similar to that used by Tennessee, with seven or eight players near the line of scrimmage to shut off running back Errict Rhett.

This will be a very physical game.

"Gunther Cunningham is a coach's coach, and one of the most respected members of our fraternity," said Billick, who tried to lure him to his staff before he got the top job in Kansas City. "His team reflects his tenacity, toughness and thoroughness. This will be a hard-fought, physical game. Those are the types of games they play."

Pub Date: 10/18/99

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