Simplified offensive-line rotation seen

Ravens notebook

Vickers, S. Williams apparently main men, with Anderson rotating

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

Although it looks as if Ravens coach Brian Billick has settled on Kipp Vickers at right guard and Sammy Williams at right tackle, a form of the right-side offensive rotation will likely continue.

Previously, guard Bennie Anderson and tackle Erik Williams had been rotating with Vickers and Williams. But Erik Williams was inactive for Sunday's 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Anderson was in for just a handful of plays, leaving the vast majority of playing time to Vickers and Sammy Williams.

But that apparently was just for that game.

"There was a little bit of a rotation," Billick said. "We're still trying to find that best combination. Part of this is we have to keep them fresh, both Bennie and Sammy, because of what they've been through. We're trying to get through this the best way we can.

"They did some things well; they did some things not so well."

Vickers is capable of playing right tackle and switched to that position when Anderson was in the game Sunday. Anderson, a rookie free agent out of Tennessee State, played in the XFL this past spring, while Sammy Williams played in NFL Europe.

The odd man out appears to be Erik Williams, who signed with the Ravens on Aug. 28, but has not played to the level that garnered him three Super Bowls in 10 years with the Dallas Cowboys.

Erik Williams has been inactive the past two weeks, and, at this point, looks to be nothing more than an insurance policy.

"If we think Erik can fit the bill for us compared to those other guys, we'll push Erik out there," Billick said. "That's what he's here for."

Taylor not as busy

With backup quarterback Randall Cunningham running the show the past two games, receiver Travis Taylor has been mostly a non-factor, with just five catches for 39 yards.

Cunningham, in his 16th season, tends to look for fellow NFL veterans Shannon Sharpe and Qadry Ismail, leaving Taylor, in his second season, to serve as a decoy on many routes.

"Shannon has seven Pro Bowls and more catches than any tight end," Taylor said. "You have to go to the guy, no matter what."

Elvis Grbac will likely return at quarterback Sunday, which should allow Taylor to become a bigger part of the offense. The last two times Grbac started and finished a game, Taylor had a combined nine catches for 170 yards and a touchdown.

"With [Taylor's] early success, people have rolled to him," Billick said. "[Sunday] was unique because we went heavily into two-tight-end alignments. We only had about 35 snaps, and he and Qadry split them. So that's part of it.

"Travis is playing well, playing hard, holding up physically and practicing well. I think you'll see Travis reassert himself because that's what the game plan will call for."

Not yet pain-free

Backup tight end Todd Heap figures he had better get used to playing with an injured left ankle.

Heap suffered a high-ankle sprain Sept. 23 against Cincinnati. Although he's been able to play the past two weeks, he hasn't been completely healthy.

"It's a thing where I'm going to be dealing with it for the rest of the season," said Heap, who did not record a reception in either game. "Each week it goes away a little bit. I felt real good before this last game, but there were one or two plays where I got a twinge.

"You still have to go out and do your job."

Most players healthy

The Ravens will likely turn in one of their shortest injury lists of the year tomorrow.

Only defensive back James Trapp's status for Monday night's game is questionable. Trapp strained a groin muscle in the second half of Sunday's game.

The players have today and tomorrow off.

"We're fairly healthy," Billick said. "This is a mini-bye for us, which is good. We need this after the road stretch we've been on."

No fuss over rushing

The 41 total yards rushing against the Steelers was a season low, though Billick showed little stress over the number. Pittsburgh was No. 2 in rushing defense behind the Ravens heading into Sunday's game.

"I've been pleased up to this point and surprised by how well we've been able to run the ball," Billick said. "There are going to be games like we had yesterday where we weren't running the ball as well.

"The linemen were having a tough time hearing, not getting off on the ball as well. Not to make that an excuse, and we're certainly going to have to deal with it this week at Tennessee, but I'm comfortable with the direction we're headed."

Billick backs Torre

In keeping with what many people across the country were talking about yesterday, Billick weighed in on what was a spectacular World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees.

Billick had a rooting interest in the Yankees, in part because of his relationship with manager Joe Torre. He expressed disappointment with some of the criticism Torre received after the Yankees lost in seven games.

"Here is a guy who's been to four World Series [in a row], has won three of them," Billick said. "And now there are those experts, who can't seem to find a job in baseball, questioning those decisions he's made.

"I got news for you, if I go to four Super Bowls and win three of them, if you say some of the things that I've heard about him, I'm going off on you. Thank God Joe is a lot classier and better than I."

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.