Ravens-Browns key matchup

November 07, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht

DE Rob Burnett vs. OT Orlando Brown

Ravens left defensive end Rob Burnett knows Cleveland offensive tackle Orlando Brown well.

Burnett has said that he and Brown grew up together as pro football players while they were members of the Cleveland Browns. Burnett is also quite familiar with Brown on the field, since the pair spent countless afternoons facing each other in practice.

For the second time, they will square off as opponents today at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Brown has returned to his roots and his spot at right tackle. For the first time, Burnett is invading Cleveland, where he joined the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick out of Syracuse in 1990.

Burnett, who is having his best season since moving to Baltimore, knows what to expect. At 6 feet 7, 350 pounds, Brown is one of the game's most imposing forces, especially as a run blocker. Brown, originally signed as a free agent by Cleveland in 1993, is not as good as a pass blocker. He also brings a heap of emotion to the field.

"There will be a lot of excitement in the beginning, a lot more talk [than usual]," said Burnett, 6-4, 280. "[Brown] is going to be real emotional, because of what has been built up during this entire week. He's going to come out fired up. But as the game gets on and the flow gets going, it becomes just another game."

When they were teammates here, it wasn't uncommon to see Burnett and Brown get into a fight during training camp. Brown also could be exploited more easily back then.

"[Brown] is still a strong, physical run blocker, and he's a little better pass blocker now. He's not as aggressive with his hands and his body as he used to be," Burnett said. "He used to try to just kill guys. That's all well and good, until you miss. Then you can't recover in time.

"I think he has matured a lot. I also think he knows how important this game is to them, just like I know how important this game is to us."

It will be important for the Browns to establish a running game, which few teams have been able to do against the Ravens in 1999. Burnett figures Cleveland will try to pound the ball his way, behind Brown.

"If they think they can run at me, they'll do it," Burnett said. "But I don't think they can do it."

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