Mending Grbac says he'll play vs. Titans

Ravens notebook

Monday game gives him, Allen extra day to heal

November 09, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

The biggest reason the Ravens are excited about their first appearance on Monday Night Football is that it gives the aches and pains that have sidelined Elvis Grbac and Terry Allen an extra day to go away.

The soreness in Grbac's ribs continues to subside. Yesterday, he threw effectively and said he feels he'll be ready for the game at Tennessee. Allen, the other backfield starter who has missed the past two games, had his most extensive workout since an ankle sprain knocked him out of the Oct. 21 loss at Cleveland.

"He [Allen] got a little bit done," running backs coach Matt Simon said after yesterday's practice. "I think his confidence is up, and he's getting a little stronger."

Minus Allen and Grbac, the Ravens have gone with something new, Jason Brookins at running back, and something old, Randall Cunningham at quarterback. While Cunningham steered the Ravens to two wins, Allen's return would give the ground game some versatility.

Yesterday's practice was the first workout of the week for the Ravens, who were given an extra day off before they finish a stretch that will have them on the road for the sixth time in eight games.

"Given our road trek here the first half of the season, you had to give them that day," coach Brian Billick said. "We haven't had a bye yet. We were on the road [last week] against a rough, physical Pittsburgh team. Hopefully, it's rejuvenated them a little bit. "

Sam Adams, Michael McCrary and James Trapp all sat out yesterday's practice to nurse assorted knee ailments, but only Trapp is considered truly questionable (50-50) for the Tennessee game.

Maintenance man

Adalius Thomas calls himself the "Maintenance Man," and the second-year defensive lineman was awfully handy at Pittsburgh.

As a rookie out of Southern Mississippi, Thomas totaled seven plays from scrimmage in three games last season, but Keith Washington's departure to Denver got him a bigger role. Thomas was in on 23 plays in the 13-10 win over the Steelers, the most important coming in the third quarter when he trailed a pass to Troy Edwards and stripped him of the ball. Corey Harris recovered, and the Ravens' drove for the tying field goal.

Thomas spots ends Rob Burnett and McCrary.

"I'm like the maintenance man," Thomas said. "If it's broke, put me in there and I'll fix it. When I get a chance to play defense, I don't want there to be a drop-off, I want to be just like when Rob Burnett and Michael McCrary are in there. I'm letting it loose, because more than anything else I feel comfortable. I'm getting into the flow of the game, and developing a feel it. It's a lot different watching it from the sidelines."

Thomas remains a standout on all four special teams units. Only Trapp has more than his 10 special teams tackles.

Richardson on guard

Ex-Titans kicker Al Del Greco wasn't the only specialist who had a difficult day in the Ravens' 24-10 divisional playoff win in Nashville last January.

Ravens punter Kyle Richardson had two of his eight punts blocked that day. Tennessee was back at it at PSINet Stadium on Oct. 7, when its only highlight in a 26-7 Ravens romp came when the Titans' Donald Mitchell blocked Richardson and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.

"We had a breakdown in protection," long snapper Joe Maese said. "John Jones got a hand on the guy [Mitchell]. He thought Corey [Harris] was going to pick him up. I thought John was going to pick him up. They [the Titans] aren't going to get any there, I promise you that."

Last month's block was the first Richardson had suffered in a regular-season game since 1999.

"That's part of the Tennessee game plan now," Richardson said. "They rush everyone."

Richardson continues to be a master of the pooch punt, as he's in position to lead the NFL in punts inside the 20-yard line for the third straight year. Since the Ravens' last two wins have come by a total of four points, he appreciates his role in the field position fight more than ever.

"In some other areas we're not really cohesive yet, and sometimes I feel that extra added pressure," Richardson said. "That's OK. I feel comfortable in that position."

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