Rabach's move to center a snap


Former starter at guard fills in ably for ailing Flynn

October 08, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Casey Rabach entered the Ravens' 26-21 victory over the Cleveland Browns in the second quarter for injured center Mike Flynn, and as far as Rabach was concerned, he might as well have been playing guard.

Rabach started the first two games at left guard before giving way to Edwin Mulitalo, but he looked just as relaxed at center Sunday night.

"Every week I was playing guard, I was preparing in case Mike went down to play center, so it was kind of old hat when I went out there," Rabach said.

"It didn't take me long to get comfortable. I had a great supporting cast around me, obviously. We hardly missed a beat and kept on rolling."

They rolled to the tune of 187 rushing yards by Jamal Lewis and no sacks of quarterback Chris Redman. The offense had success before Flynn sprained an ankle, and it continued without much noticeable difference when Rabach took over.

Flynn said he is not sure of his status this week.

"It's sore," Flynn said. "It could be a week-to-week deal. I'll go out there and see how it feels. I have a history of healing pretty good. Being a lineman, you can play with a lot of pain in there. You're not doing a lot of running and cutting; it's more lateral stuff. Hopefully, I'll be playing this week."

Flynn has not missed a game since becoming a starter before the 2000 season and has the longest consecutive-games starting streak of any Ravens offensive lineman (36).

"I'm going to wait until Sunday. If I can play on Sunday, then I'll go," Flynn said. "The biggest thing is when Wednesday and Thursday roll around."

Ones that got away

The Ravens forced five turnovers against the Browns, yet left the game saying they could have reached double digits.

Cornerback Gary Baxter and linebacker Adalius Thomas dropped interceptions that could have been returned for touchdowns. Safety Ed Reed also dropped an easy interception, but he made up for it by picking off Browns backup Kelly Holcomb's final pass in the end zone with 10 seconds left, clinching the victory.

Chris McAlister saw an interception get called back because of an offside penalty, and Ray Lewis failed to gain control of a fumble by Tim Couch.

"We had plenty of opportunities to impact a game," said coach Brian Billick, whose team is now plus-three in turnover ratio. "But I told them, that's why you are on defense. If you all could catch better, Adalius would be a tight end, Ed would be a wide receiver.

"We knocked down a lot of big plays. But they were in position. Now, they'll become more and more used to being there. Yeah, that is a function of experience and them getting more comfortable with what their roles are."

Thanks, Cleveland

Billick gave the Browns fans credit for an assist in helping the Ravens' cause by booing Cleveland quarterback Tim Couch throughout the game.

"When you go into a stadium like that, obviously, that emotion makes a difference," Billick said. "When the fans turn like that and start booing. ... If there is a team that the great fans of Cleveland don't want to help, it's us. But you've got to know that helps [the Ravens]. You've got to know that's an emotional boost for this team.

"It never ceases to amaze me that the great, passionate fans in Cleveland, if they could stop and think about what they were doing, would they do that?"

Unitas billboard

A group of small-business owners known as the Inner Circle of Baltimore raised $5,700 to sponsor a billboard honoring John Unitas, who died Sept. 11 of a heart attack.

Located across from Ravens Stadium off Interstate 395, the board includes a picture of the former Colts quarterback along with these words: "HARD WORK, DEDICATION AND INTEGRITY Thanks for reminding us everyday, Johnny U."

The board was designed by Axiom, a local design and marketing firm, and rented at a discount from Clear Channel Outdoor, the owner of the board, said Axiom president Jim Naylor. It will remain up this month.

End zone

The Ravens gave game balls for Sunday night's win to McAlister (defense), Matt Stover (special teams) and the offensive line. McAlister finished with one interception, a near interception, two pass broken up and five tackles. He also averaged 16 yards on three punt returns and nearly broke one for a touchdown. Stover made all four of his field-goal attempts. ... Safety Chad Williams suffered a hip pointer against the Browns and is day-to-day. Robert Tate and Alvin Porter filled in for Williams as the team's dime (sixth) defensive back. ... The Ravens, along with the United Way of Central Maryland and Civic Works, will help to rebuild homes in Baltimore's Sandtown community today in the fourth annual NFL and United Way "Hometown Huddle." About 20 players are expected to participate.

Sun staff writer Jon Morgan contributed to this article.

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