McAlister prepared to step up his game, and tone down talk

Brash cornerback listening to veterans, focusing on victory

`Low key is all my idea'

January 24, 2001|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. - Chris McAlister, the Ravens' brash young cornerback, scaled down his high-decibel dialogue when he met the Super Bowl XXXV media yesterday.

Until Jim Rome called, anyway.

"Hey, D. Starks, you want to go on the Jim Rome show?" McAlister said, excitedly shouting his question down two rows of seats to teammate Duane Starks at Raymond James Stadium. "We'll talk some trash tomorrow."

McAlister was quick to accept an invitation - with Starks - to appear on Rome's Fox Sports Net show, "The Last Word," today. But, perhaps to the relief of the Ravens, he did not talk trash yesterday.

"Low key is all my idea," he said. "The coaches gave me freedom to speak my mind. I've been really wanting to speak my mind, but it's only Tuesday, guys. We've got a lot of time left."

McAlister, a two-year veteran, reined in his act after a conversation with Ravens' 14-year veteran safety Rod Woodson, who played in a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I have talked to him just to see how he handled this from a veteran standpoint, how you keep your composure," McAlister said. "I told him emotionally, I'm so excited right now that I'm trying to calm myself down so I'm not drained by Sunday."

"He told me not to get so wrapped up in the activities and try to relax like a normal week, [and] do what I'd normally do."

This, however, is not a normal week, as much as Ravens coach Brian Billick has attempted to make it one. The team was off yesterday, and will resume practice today at the University of South Florida.

Billick will impose no team curfew until Saturday night before meeting the New York Giants. McAlister said he will put his off-field activities on hold until after the game.

"I just want to come out with the win, that's all I want, really," he said. "I don't care about personal recognition right now. There's no telling when I come back - or if I come back [to the Super Bowl].

"There are guys who've played in the league 10, 12 years and never made it here. This is my second year; I would be grateful just to get a victory and walk away."

McAlister was, however, already warming to the challenge of facing the Giants' physical receiving tandem of Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard.

Giants quarterback Kerry Collins threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-0 rout of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game, showing an explosive element to what had been more of a grind-it-out offense.

"I'm happy because that just gives us more of a challenge for us coming into this game," McAlister said. "Because they're going to say they're explosive, and can we handle them?

"We'll find out."

Those are the kind of challenges the Ravens' defense has been eating up this postseason, first with the Denver Broncos' balanced offense, then with trips to Tennessee and Oakland.

"That's the attitude we have," McAlister said. "We don't get upset about all that's been written about the other teams. We just make a point to go out and prove them wrong."

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