Del Rio knows ex-team - or does he?

Ravens notebook

Panthers coordinator will see slew of new faces

Pro Football

September 05, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

One coach deems Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio's familiarity with the Ravens an advantage. The other thinks its negligible.

Del Rio was the linebackers coach for the Ravens the past four years. He left for the Panthers' job under new coach John Fox soon after the Ravens' season ended, and Fox implied yesterday having Del Rio could be beneficial strategically. Ravens coach Brian Billick was not so sure.

"It's a fun challenge to play someone that was part of your team and your family for a while," Billick said. "I don't know if there is an advantage to be gained one way or the other. You might say he has an insight to our personnel; well, he doesn't know 90 percent of these guys. So that advantage is lost. So I don't know that there is an advantage, one way or the other."

Actually, Del Rio should be pretty familiar with receivers Travis Taylor and Brandon Stokley, running back Jamal Lewis and the offensive line. All were contributors during Del Rio's stint with the Ravens.

"Jack's very familiar with the way they do things there," Fox said. "I think defensively, they've made some changes. I don't know if it's exactly the same as when Jack was there. Offensively, he knows their personnel. So there are some advantages."

Del Rio is looking to improve a Carolina defense that finished last overall.

"It will be cool to see him at first, but then it will be time to get down to business," linebacker Peter Boulware said. "He's going to be trying to beat us, and we're going to be trying to beat him."

Panthers sign Fair

Cornerback Terry Fair visited the Ravens' training facility yesterday, but the former Detroit Lion ended up reaching an agreement with the Panthers for a one-year deal that could be worth as much as $1.2 million.

The Panthers' starting cornerbacks are long-time nickel back Terry Cousin and rarely-used Reggie Howard. Fair, a four-year starter with the Lions, may suit up Sunday against the Ravens.

Mistaken identity

Tight end Terry Jones lived out every player's nightmare Friday.

Billick inadvertently thought the fifth-round pick was undrafted linebacker Louis Green and delivered his usual spiel to Jones about playing well but not having a roster spot for him.

"All of a sudden he had this look of astonishment," Billick said. "That's a look you don't get a lot. Then, the light came on and I realized who I was talking to."

Billick then tried to rectify the situation by saying, "Are you duly scared now? You're fine, you know you are on the team. There's a 2 p.m. team meeting. We got a good laugh over it."

Jones had dropped by Billick's office because he heard the coach wanted to meet with all the rookies. He left with a feeling that he will never forget.

"It felt like my heart just dropped," said Jones, who will be an integral part of the Ravens' two-tight end sets. "For a few seconds that he told me, I was trying to think how I was going to be able to handle it. It made me want to come out and work that much harder. You don't ever want to hear that speech."

Wright brings experience

If Chris Redman wants advice on what to expect starting his first NFL game, he can turn to an unlikely place - the practice squad, of which quarterback Anthony Wright is a member.

Wright started five games the past two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. He signed with the Ravens on Tuesday and practiced for the first time yesterday.

"[In Wright], you have a guy that has a little NFL experience," Billick said. "My developmental guy has more starts than my starter. How about that?"

Wright is allowed on the practice squad because he was not active in at least nine games in any of his three previous seasons. He said he figured his time was up with the Cowboys after Dallas signed backup Chad Hutchinson to a big contract.

End zone

The Ravens signed tight end Brandon Christenson to the practice squad. Christenson is a first-year player out of Northwestern Oklahoma. ... Former Oakland Raiders receiver Reggie Barlow signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Ravens had expressed interest in him. ... Safety Will Demps (elbow) is out for Sunday's game. Cornerback James Trapp (chest) is doubtful. Cornerback Gary Baxter (thigh) and defensive end Tony Weaver (ankle) are questionable. All except Demps practiced yesterday. ... Offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden, Edwin Mulitalo and Bennie Anderson will be weighed on a giant soup spoon scale today as part of Campbell's Chunky Soup's Tackling Hunger 2002 program. ... The Ravens hired Dennis Thurman as a secondary assistant.

Sun staff writer Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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