Run of injuries puts Ravens in adjustment mode

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

S. Taylor will miss playoff game

Burnett, Mulitalo questionable

Pro Football

January 10, 2002|By Paul McMullen and Jamison Hensley | Paul McMullen and Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

With reserve linebacker Shannon Taylor out with a separated shoulder, there will be plenty of adjustments among the Ravens' special teams for Sunday's AFC wild-card game at Miami. The offensive line could also be in for some shuffling if left guard Edwin Mulitalo's calf injury doesn't heal.

Veteran defensive end Rob Burnett (calf) and Mulitalo were listed as questionable on the Ravens' injury report yesterday. When a knee ailment caused Mulitalo to miss two games in October, Sammy Williams was entrenched at right guard, and Kipp Vickers filled in for Mulitalo. Vickers started the past eight games at right tackle, however, and if the Ravens are hesitant to move him in the event Mulitalo can't go, Orlando Bobo can play left guard.

Mulitalo was injured in Monday night's 19-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

"Ed's calf was either kicked or stepped on in the first half," head trainer Bill Tessendorf said. "It was better today than it was yesterday, but it's still less than 48 hours after the game. With Burnett, that's an aggravation of what he had several weeks ago."

Cornerback James Trapp is doubtful after re-aggravating the groin injury that kept him out of six of the seven games that preceded the regular-season finale against the Vikings. Offensive lineman Williams (back), running back Terry Allen (chest), tight end Shannon Sharpe (knee) and defensive tackle Larry Webster are probable.

Familiar Fiedler

Coach Brian Billick and backup quarterback Randall Cunningham are familiar with the rags-to-riches story of Jay Fiedler, the sixth-year pro who struggled to find a niche in the NFL, but this season became the only Dolphin besides Dan Marino to throw for more than 3,000 yards.

The Dartmouth grad spent the 1994 and '95 seasons in Philadelphia, when the Eagles quarterbacks included Cunningham. After bouncing around the waiver wire and spending a spring in the World League, Fiedler's career was resurrected in 1998 when Minnesota picked him up. His education continued under Billick, then the Vikings' offensive coordinator.

"He [Billick] was very instrumental in bringing me back into the league," Fiedler said. "I've learned a lot from Billick, and certainly respect what he can do as a coach. Coach Billick is one of the top offensive minds, and I took a lot from that year."

Cunningham said he learned as much from Fiedler as the understudy did from him.

"He's always been that guy who's known more than the starting quarterback," Cunningham said. "He's very good at perceiving what coaches want to do and what he needs to do. I don't think I had to teach Jay anything. He taught me how to be diligent in my studying, how to prepare myself. Just by seeing how quickly he got things, it pushed me how to be a better player."

Fiedler has engineered five fourth-quarter comebacks this season.

Sharpe tones down act

Sharpe made headlines a month ago when he said comparing Cincinnati Bengals middle linebacker Takeo Spikes to the Ravens' Ray Lewis was like comparing Dude, Where's my Car? to Titanic.

When asked how Dolphins middle linebacker Zach Thomas rated to Lewis, Sharpe was more complimentary.

"If Ray is Titanic and Ben-Hur," Sharpe said, "then Zach is Gladiator."

Altered travel plans

The Ravens are altering their travel routine by flying down to Miami on Friday. In the previous eight road trips in the regular season, the team arrived a day before the game.

"No, I am not taking my golf clubs," Billick said. "I want to get them out of here. That served our purpose well going to Oakland last year [for the AFC championship game.] We had a day to really settle in."

Award for Boulware

Ravens defensive end Peter Boulware was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording seven tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble against the Vikings.

His sack with 1:45 remaining forced a fumble that was returned by Jamie Sharper for the Ravens' only touchdown of the game.

Where are the fans?

Will the Dolphins truly have a home-field advantage?

As of yesterday, the Dolphins still have 19,000 tickets remaining for Sunday's wild-card game against the Ravens. If the game is not sold out by tomorrow at 4 p.m., it will be blacked out on local Miami television.

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