Controversial quotes nevermore

Ravens' McAlister intends to let actions on field do his talking

October 17, 2001|By Brent Jones | By Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Before the Tennessee Titans game two weeks ago, someone asked Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister about running back Eddie George.

McAlister's response, "Great guy, love him to death."

"Is that it?" McAlister was asked. "Yep. Eddie's also a great running back," he replied.

And so went the new McAlister, a toned-down version of his former self. McAlister, who last season reportedly said George "curls up like a baby" when facing the Ravens, has avoided such comments this season, preferring to be more complimentary toward opposing teams and players, while at the same time not pushing his own talent.

Oh, he still talks; he just does not say anything controversial. The reason is simple.

"I don't trust [the media]," McAlister said. "[The media] takes a lot of comments, things that I say, and blows them out of proportion. I was reading the newspaper the other day, and a comment that I supposedly made came out totally backward. That's why I choose not to say [anything] unless it is required, and I just go out and play."

McAlister does not deny most interview requests. Even in the aftermath of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre's performance Sunday, in which he dissected the Ravens secondary in a 31-23 win, McAlister answered all the questions fired at him for as long as they kept coming.

It was an especially tough afternoon for McAlister, who was hit with a 27-yard pass- interference call defending against Packers receiver Bill Schroeder and beaten for a 37-yard completion by Donald Driver and a 47-yard reception by Corey Bradford. All three plays helped set up Packers scores.

McAlister called the Packers game one of the worst he has played in an otherwise solid career. The mistakes he made will have little effect on how he will approach Sunday's game at Cleveland, he said. That, according to McAlister, will remain the same.

"I just have to stay fundamentally sound when I'm on the field," McAlister said. "That is what I need to stay focused on doing."

McAlister, in his third season, has 17 tackles. That is his biggest statistical contribution because, before Sunday, few passes were coming his way. It's been so quiet on his side, in fact, that McAlister has no interceptions and no passes broken up on the season.

He had his shot to increase his numbers in both categories against the Packers, but instead experienced the problem many defenders have against Favre.

"Nobody on our defense played well enough last week," defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said. "But I think Chris really has progressed in how to practice, how to prepare as a pro. Now, the next thing you do as a pro is stay consistent, week in and week out.

"You don't have ups and downs. That's a hard position he plays, maybe other than the quarterback, the hardest on the field. So you have to really be consistent because if you make a mistake the other team is lining up for a PAT."

McAlister has not given up a touchdown yet this season. In essence, outside of the Packers game, McAlister's play is speaking for him.

"I knew at the end of [last] season that I wasn't going to be outspoken toward the media," McAlister said. "I wasn't going to say anything about anybody or any team. Things always get turned around, and I don't have time to defend what I'm trying to say.

"It is not necessary at all to be outspoken. You can go out and still play a great game and get the recognition that you deserve without being outspoken. That's what I've learned from last year's experience. Let your actions on the field do your talking."

McAlister did not excuse any of his past statements, including one in which he said a closed mouth "never gets fed." He just said it was part of his maturing process.

On whether he thought he needed to say interesting things last year to become known for his defensive skills, McAlister said: "No, I didn't. I was just talking for no reason."

And now, with some prodding from others, he speaks differently.

"Hopefully, one of the things that come to realization is that you don't have to talk your way into being a good player or gaining honors," Lewis said. "You have to play your way.

"I think people mentioned that to him. He is a very fine player with a lot of ability. If he plays consistent and plays as a pro, he'll get the notoriety he wants to have."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Cleveland Browns

Site: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

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

Line: Ravens by 7

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