T. Taylor catches Billick flak over poor production


Coach challenges receiver to step up against Browns

Pro Football

October 03, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

For one of the few times in his four years with the Ravens, coach Brian Billick publicly challenged a unit of his team and specifically called out one of his primary players yesterday.

Billick usually is diplomatic when questioned about the production of his wide receivers in general and Travis Taylor in particular, but his patience apparently has worn thin. He demanded an increased performance level for Sunday night's game in Cleveland.

"The receivers need to show up," Billick said. "The receivers need to take accountability and say it's about time we impacted a game. Then, obviously, the line has to have good protection for Chris [Redman, quarterback].

"Again, it's a young group. My veteran there [Taylor], the guy we lean on, is very young ... He just now should be coming into his own. That's our veteran, go-to, throw-on-the-shoulders guy. And that's a lot for a young guy. But having said that, that's his job. That's what he's paid for. That's what he held out that first contract year for. So now I'm ready for the payback."

Taylor, a first-round draft pick, No. 10 overall, in 2000 who left the University of Florida after his junior year, has just five catches for 79 yards this season.

With Qadry Ismail and Shannon Sharpe gone, Taylor figured to be the team's No. 1 pass-receiving option this year. Instead, wide-out Brandon Stokley leads the Ravens in receiving yards with 175, and tight end Todd Heap and running back Jamal Lewis are tied for the lead in catches with 13.

Heap was the go-to guy during Monday night's victory over the Denver Broncos.

Taylor, meanwhile, did not back down from Billick's words.

"It's a challenge," Taylor said. "Let's go ahead and play some football. I have a long way to go. I have to get better at what I'm doing."

The receivers will face veteran cornerbacks Corey Fuller and Daylon McCutcheon on Sunday night. Fuller is questionable with a hamstring injury.

"I'm going to go out there and catch the balls that are thrown to me," Stokley said. "I can't control if the ball is not coming my way. I can just control what I do, and when the ball is thrown, try to make a play for it. I can't speak for [the other receivers]."

Final verdict: 107 yards

Much to the indifference of Chris McAlister and the chagrin of the Ravens, the cornerback's return of a missed field goal for a touchdown is officially 107 yards.

Elias Sports Bureau failed to reverse its ruling after the team submitted evidence that McAlister's return was indeed 108 yards, as originally decreed. Either way, the return is the longest play in NFL history. "I'm done with that," McAlister said.

"It's over with. What happened, happened, and I'm not really in tune with this whole kick thing anymore. I'm focusing on Cleveland right now."

McAlister was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week because of the return. "Anytime you get an award from the NFL, it's an honor," he said.

New status for Brown

After toiling as the primary backup to Peter Boulware for four seasons, linebacker Cornell Brown officially became a starter Monday night in place of Shannon Taylor.

It was the third personnel move the Ravens have made since the opener, with Ethan Brooks taking over for Edwin Mulitalo at right tackle, and Mulitalo taking over for Casey Rabach at left guard.

"For me, it means a lot because that is what I always wanted," Brown said. "I wanted to get to the NFL and get to be a starter. [To be a starter] means I accomplished one of my goals. Now I just have to take it to another level where I'm compared to the guys like Peter Boulware and Ray Lewis."

Harris' reduced role

Middle linebacker Bernardo Harris is adjusting to being a backup and now not even being active.

Harris, a starter the previous five seasons with Green Bay (he led the Packers in tackles with 130 a year ago), was inactive against the Broncos for the second time this season.

"Not being able to go out there and contribute is kind of hard, but I still have the mind-set of doing what I can to help this team win," Harris said. "Down the road eventually, I want to help this team win a game or two.

"It's a situation where it's a numbers game and you have to do what's best for the team."

Harris is the top backup at both inside linebacker positions.

End zone

Long snapper Joe Maese's cut hand, which caused a couple of off snaps Monday night, should be healed in time for Sunday's game. ... All three tight ends - John Jones (chest), Heap (thigh) and Terry Jones (hand) - are probable for Sunday's game. Heap said his thigh is sore but he expects to play. ... The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation announced that its "Ravens Rally for Kids," held at the team's training camp, raised more than $60,000 for the Baltimore Ravens' Courage House at St. Vincent's Center and the Ravens' Foundation for Families.

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