Holmes ready to play, but role is undefined

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Rhett remains starter against Chiefs tomorrow

October 20, 1999|By Brent Jones and Gary Lambrecht | Brent Jones and Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Running back Priest Holmes is set to return tomorrow, although even he is not sure what his role will be. Physically, Holmes said he is in good shape, and it will be up to Ravens coach Brian Billick how much he plays.

Holmes injured a knee in the second game of the season against Pittsburgh, then watched Errict Rhett run off three straight 100-yard games and become the NFL's second-leading rusher -- before this past Sunday -- with 409 yards.

Now Holmes, who started the first two games and rushed for a total of 54 yards, will back up Rhett against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"He [Rhett] has done a tremendous job," Holmes said. "He gave me an opportunity to heal up because he has run the ball so well. It is not going to stop, because we have a running game that is very strong this year.

"The No. 1 thing is to win. That is our No. 1 goal. So whoever is in there will have to help us win the game. Nothing has been planned as far as this is exactly your role. It is just a matter of being ready."

Holmes rushed for 1,008 yards last season, taking over the starting position in the fourth game. Rhett, who came to the Ravens in a trade with Tampa Bay and started the first two games last season, never found his niche in former coach Ted Marchibroda's offense.

Holmes came into training camp as the starting back this year and fought off challenges from Rhett and Jay Graham to start the first game against St. Louis. Billick has said he is pleased with the running game and will continue to give Rhett the carries.

Rhett prepared for Chiefs

Rhett repeatedly saw seven or eight defenders lined up close to the line of scrimmage in the Ravens' last game against Tennessee. Rhett expects to see the same scenario against Kansas City tomorrow night.

The Ravens have the 28th-ranked passing offense in the NFL.

"I'm used to it. I still have to get my job done," Rhett said. "This is the first time I've ever had a good offensive line blocking for me. When I first played in Tampa, I was taller than most of the linemen. We had the worst line in the league."

Injury update

Right tackle Harry Swayne's injured ankle will keep him out of tomorrow's game, said Billick.

"The bone scan showed a bunch of inflammation," Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf said. It is substantially better than it was [Monday]. I'm anticipating that Buffalo [Oct. 31] should not be a question. I don't think Monday [practicing] should be a question."

Left tackle Jonathan Ogden practiced yesterday and looks likely to play.

With backup tackle Spencer Folau out because of a strained knee, James Atkins has practiced at tackle, moving from guard. Atkins will probably see his first action of the season after injuring his hamstring. Folau may also return for the Buffalo game.

"Folau's [magnetic resonance imaging] showed an isolated [medial collateral ligament] sprain," Tessendorf said. "It's a good second-degree sprain. The good thing is there wasn't a lot of swelling."

Tight end Aaron Pierce practiced yesterday and is listed as questionable for tomorrow's game. Defensive end Fernando Smith practiced and will be a game-time decision.

All the injuries on the offensive line have Billick adjusting his game plan.

"You got to factor [the injuries] in," Billick said. "Last week we did to a degree with our protection scheme knowing that Harry and Jonathan were tentative."

Stokley to return?

There could be a Brandon Stokley sighting tomorrow night.

Stokley, the rookie receiver and fourth-round draft pick who caught the team's first touchdown pass in the preseason and regular season, has not been heard from since the season opener in St. Louis.

Since then, Stokley has been inactive for every game but one, and he did not play against Cleveland.

"At first, it was a little difficult. But you get used to having a role on the team," Stokley said.

Stokley had been trading game-day roster spots with second-year receiver Patrick Johnson. After Johnson caught a touchdown to spark the Ravens' come-from-behind victory in Atlanta, Johnson played the following week against Tennessee. He dropped a touchdown pass, which might have opened the door for Stokley's temporary return.

"I'm just going out at practice and showing them I can do enough things to get me back in there," said Stokley, hinting he might be in the lineup against Kansas City. "It could happen, maybe sooner than later. Keep your eyes open."

Taking on the run

With the Chiefs having the league's second-best rushing attack (135 yards per game), middle linebacker Ray Lewis could easily surpass his season-high 15 tackles, accomplished in the opener against the Rams.

"This is the type of game you don't have to even think about what they are going to do," Lewis said. "You know they are going to run the ball. You just got to stop them. My mentality is to play hard-nosed football. That is what they believe in, so it is going to be a very physical game."

If the Ravens are to stop the run, doing so will start with defensive tackles Larry Webster, Tony Siragusa and Lional Dalton.

The rotating trio will have to hold their own against guards Will Shields and Glenn Parker and center Tim Grunhard.

"We know they are going to keep coming at us," Dalton said. "We just have to keep rotating fresh tackles in there. Hopefully, they will learn their lesson because nobody is running up the middle against us.

"The more they run the more tackles for me."

Ticket update

The Chiefs returned 200 tickets, which go on sale at Ticketmaster today. The Ravens will give away a team photo to all those attending tomorrow's game.

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