A special role, will to fulfill it, raises Holmes

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

He may not be starter, but unselfish spirit gives him high value

Pro Football

September 26, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Priest Holmes lost his starting job, not his value.

He had 99 yards from scrimmage in Sunday's 37-0 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and turned seven of his 12 touches into first downs. The fourth-year running back is sixth in the AFC in yards from scrimmage (365) and third in the conference in first downs (23).

"When you're on a winning team, there are certain players that have to fulfill certain roles," Holmes said. "And I believe my role is definitely important to the team."

Holmes was a major reason the Ravens produced 27 first downs in Sunday's romp, two shy of the team record. The Ravens went to Holmes on three of their first nine third-down plays, and he converted all of them.

"I told you way back when that one of the most pivotal things about a team is finding role players," Ravens coach Brian Billick said, "and guys not only that will accept that role, but try to excel at it."

Holmes also had to play bodyguard late in the game.

After rookie Chris Redman was stopped at the goal line on a quarterback sneak, Holmes said he had to defend Redman by exchanging shoves with some Bengals. He was the only one penalized, despite receiving a couple of blows himself.

"It was something that shocked me," Holmes said. "But for the most part, protecting my quarterback is the main thing. I felt they were being a little aggressive as far as they were pulling on his facemask. So, I was just trying to get them up off of him. I didn't mean any harm at all. That's part of football."

Billick shrugs off snub

It could have been the continued passing in the fourth quarter. It could have been the instant-replay challenge with a 34-point lead or the final meaningless field goal.

For whatever reason, Bruce Coslet, who resigned as the Bengals' coach yesterday, decided not to shake hands with Billick after the game. But Billick indicated there would be no grudges.

"I've known Bruce for a long time," Billick said. "I don't know what sequence of events justified or unjustifiable were in his mind at that point. You just don't hold anybody accountable at that point. You don't. I understand it."

With Rhett, earplugs?

This Sunday's game at Cleveland could resemble a talk show at times. The Ravens will face a former teammate, running back Errict Rhett, who is renowned for his nonstop trash-talking on the field.

"Just being with Errict one year, it's inconceivable to me that we have not heard everything that Errict has had to say," Billick said. "And our guys know that. So I imagine that it's going to be real fun. I don't know if I would mike it. That one could be rated `R' at one point.

"And the fact that our guys have been around Errict for a year, I find it hard to believe that anyone on this team will be drawn into what Errict has to say because they know what he's about."

Not same in Cleveland

The Ravens return to their roots for a second time when they play in Cleveland on Sunday. Billick, though, expects the outside distractions to be fewer this time around.

"Last year was a unique set of dynamics that came into play," he said. "Hopefully, it's getting to the point where it's what it should be: A good rivalry between two teams that are in the same division."

A plus for Redman

Redman turned what may be his only appearance this season into a productive one. He quarterbacked the Ravens' final series, completing two of three passes for 19 yards and driving the team to the Bengals' 1-yard line.

"It was a great experience to feel you contributed a little bit to the game," Redman said. "Any experience is a good experience, so I was happy."

Injured group may work

There were no new developments on the injury front. Defensive end Rob Burnett (bruised thigh), right tackle Harry Swayne (sprained ankle), tight end Shannon Sharpe (bruised knee) and backup quarterback Trent Dilfer (knee) all may practice tomorrow.

Dilfer, who was listed as the third quarterback Sunday after minor surgery last week, could move into his backup role again Sunday.

"It's going to be day-by-day," Dilfer said. "On Wednesday, I want to be able to practice in some form. I don't want to rush myself."

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