2 have a grip on QB issue

McCrary, Boulware quick to fill sacks, but McNair big test

October 06, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

They're healthy and chasing down quarterbacks with breathtaking speed and tenacity.

End Michael McCrary and linebacker Peter Boulware gave the Ravens everything they could want in helping to harass Denver quarterback Brian Griese into a quarterback rating of 54, two interceptions and five sacks in Sunday's 20-13 win over the Broncos.

McCrary finished with two sacks, a handful of hurries and five tackles against the Broncos, while Boulware had eight tackles, 1.5 sacks and a couple of sure bets that went astray because of his overaggressiveness.

Boulware, who at times looked out of control when pursuing Griese, will have to calm down some when the Tennessee Titans mobile quarterback, Steve McNair, comes to PSINet Stadium tomorrow.

"I think he gets really excited," defensive line coach Rex Ryan said. "He came clean a couple of times, and when that happens we call it, `Don't miss the layup.'

"We think about it as easy as laying a basketball in. But to Griese's credit, he made him miss. Pete knows that this week, we can't do that against McNair. He's a guy that can really hurt you running the football."

Boulware also realizes what he has to do to finish those plays off. "As a pass rusher, you don't get too many clean shots," he said. "I missed twice, two easy ones that I just missed. I have to settle down and get my feet under me."

Except for those plays, Boulware is actually playing much more disciplined with an increased set of assignments than he did his first few seasons.

With no shoulder problems distracting him, he is learning how to become one of the defense's most disruptive players.

"Peter is showing the ability to learn and take more into the game as far as our rushing goes," defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said. "He's seeing the more he can absorb, the more free he can get himself. I'm not sure he always understood how that works.

"Because we have [end] Rob [Burnett] and [tackle] Sam [Adams], we can move Peter around to various spots. The more that he can absorb, the more we can move him around.

"Now he's got a better handle of that. He's seeing it come true on Sundays when they flat don't block him. Those things will happen more and more with the more he can handle. He has to take the game plan and develop it from there in his mind."

As for McCrary, the play against the Broncos that, for Ryan, overshadowed the sacks was the way he destroyed a Denver reverse to Eddie Kennison midway through the first quarter.

McCrary tackled Kennison for a 6-yard loss after penetrating into the backfield and holding his position in what was a third-and-two.

"They were checking out our discipline, and Mac did a great job of stopping the reverse," Ryan said. "That was the only time they ran it. He played really a great game.

"He's an unusual guy in that he plays so hard all the time. Every week it's the same thing with the guy. It's amazing the consistency he has and the effort he plays with. He had a couple of sacks and several pressures."

As for his performance, the normally understated McCrary said, "I probably played better the week before."

McCrary and Boulware are responsible for 5.5 of the team's eight sacks this season. McCrary's 19 tackles lead all linemen, while Boulware is tied for third on the team with Jamie Sharper in tackles (24).

When McCrary and Boulware take the field tomorrow, they will be joined by another fierce rushing tandem in the Titans' Jevon Kearse and Kevin Carter. For the record, Kearse and Carter have combined for two sacks in one fewer game.

R. Lewis works out

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis took a favorable step yesterday when he participated in the team's noncontact practice. He remains questionable with elbow tendinitis, though he intends to play tomorrow.

"He ran out there," coach Brian Billick said. "Friday is a pretty light day, anyway. We'll have to wait and see on game day."

Three other Ravens listed as questionable with knee injuries - defensive ends Burnett and McCrary and fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo - all practiced, as well. But tight end Todd Heap (ankle) sat out for the third straight day.

End zone

Running back Jamal Lewis, who is out for the season with a knee injury, returned to the team's locker room this week. He was walking without a limp after having surgery last month to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. "I'm just rehabbing it right now," Lewis said. ... Right tackle Leon Searcy said he is regaining strength in his right arm after tearing a tendon in the first week of training camp. He is aiming to return for the Jacksonville game on Oct. 28, but hasn't ruled out playing in Cleveland the week before. "I keep getting stronger," Searcy said. "I'm using it [my arm] more now than I have in the past. I just want it to be as sound as possible. ... The Ravens' past two games - a loss in Cincinnati and a win in Denver - were the No. 1-rated shows of their respective weeks in the Baltimore market.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Tennessee Titans

Site: PSINet Stadium

When: Tomorrow, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Ravens by 3 1/2

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