Kight isn't getting a kick out of all tackles he makes

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Short kicks, poor defense let foes reach `last line'

Trapp, Starks due back

November 20, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Kicker Danny Kight is averaging a special teams tackle a game.

Racking up tackles is a good thing for every player except a kicker, usually the last line of defense between a returner and the end zone.

Kight has four special teams tackles (tying him for sixth on the team) in the four games since he signed with the Ravens, in part because he has had no touchbacks in his past 13 kickoffs.

The Ravens' kickoff coverage unit gave up returns of 51 yards to Quincy Morgan and 42 yards to Benjamin Gay in Sunday's 27-17 home loss to the Cleveland Browns. Both long returns, set up by short, high kickoffs, helped the Browns to field goals.

"Danny was OK," coach Brian Billick said. "Danny, for us to keep him up on the active 45 [roster], he's going to have to be more consistent. We're taking a guy that could be on special teams, offense or defense. The kicks were pretty good, but Danny I know can do a little bit better. And we are going to need that."

Going into Sunday's game, their opponents' average starting drive was the Ravens' 28-yard line. Gay and Morgan averaged 34.3 yards Sunday.

"It puts our defense in a short field," said Alvin Porter, a safety on the kickoff coverage team. "It put their offense at an advantage, not having to go 75, 80 yards."

Matt Stover handled the duties for the first six games before a slight calf injury limited him to field goals. Stover is getting close to 100 percent.

Ground gains

Running back Jason Brookins rushed for a season-high 89 yards on 21 carries in Sunday's game.

Brookins and backup Moe Williams (five carries for 19 yards) combined to go over 100 yards for the Ravens, a bright spot in a turnover-prone offensive day. Fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo did not have a carry for the first time this season.

"That was a good combination," Billick said. "They ran hard this week in practice, and ran hard [Sunday]. That is a good sign."

Trapp, Starks expected back

The Ravens' secondary should get a boost with the return of nickel back James Trapp for Sunday's game at Jacksonville.

Trapp has missed the past two games with a groin strain.

Billick said he expected Trapp and cornerback Duane Starks to miss practice time this week but be ready to play Sunday. Starks strained his groin in the first series of the Browns' game.

"We're optimistic for Sunday, but we'll have to see," Billick said. "And Rob Burnett is still dealing with his [calf] strain. Outside of that, we're in pretty good shape."

Burnett missed his first game this season Sunday because of the injury.

Leaving the boos at home

The fans were chanting for backup quarterback Randall Cunningham and booing the Ravens with every negative play.

Such a reaction makes going on the road to Jacksonville on Sunday not such a bad idea.

"You don't like to think of it in those terms, but when a home crowd turns on you ... " Billick said. "It can galvanize you as a team, take on a certain personality. You'd prefer not to do it. It's aiding the enemy.

"But I realize that it is a mob mentality, there is no individual leading that. They all want the same thing we do. Like last year, if we are able to play the way we are capable of ... come January, we'll canvass the stadium and find out who actually was doing the booing. It might be hard to find somebody who would admit to, `Yeah, I did that.' "

Extra points

The Ravens will not better their record-setting defensive performance of last year. The defense has already allowed 184 points in 10 games, 19 more than it allowed all last season. ... Starks, Trapp, Ray Lewis, Chris McAlister, Sam Adams and Jermaine Lewis will distribute Thanksgiving dinners today to area schools and the Echo House Multi-Cultural Center.

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