Ravens are still wary of Jacksonville's Smith

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Receiver's numbers down, but Billick knows better

October 17, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Despite an off year statistically for the Jacksonville Jaguars' Jimmy Smith and the departure of his former partner Keenan McCardell, the Ravens still identify Smith as one of the top receiving threats in the league.

"He's still very special," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Smith may indeed continue to be special, but his numbers heading into Sunday's game against the Ravens are anything but. After holding out all of training camp before renegotiating a contract that will now pay him $12 million over the next two seasons, Smith has 22 catches (24th in the AFC) for 337 yards (14th in the AFC) and one touchdown.

Smith, who has the most catches and yardage of any NFL receiver over the past seven years, has undoubtedly missed the presence of McCardell, who was let go in a salary cap move during the offseason.

Former Raven Patrick Johnson now starts opposite Smith.

"Obviously a player of Keenan's ability and what he's accomplished over the years here, is going to be missed," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said. "By the same token, you have to move on. And Patrick Johnson has done a good job."

While Johnson will face his former team for the first time, Smith has had his share of big games against the Ravens, including six 100-yard performances.

Chances are, the Jaguars will try to match Smith at various times in the game against first-year starter Gary Baxter.

"I think they will do that," Baxter said. "It really doesn't matter who they match up against me. I'm going to play to my coverage, play to my help, and I'm just going to go out there and try and make plays."

Baxter looks ahead

Baxter said he received a number of calls from friends this week asking how he is after Sunday's controversial pass-interference call.

"I told them I play cornerback, and one lesson that I've learned from a lot of NFL cornerbacks is to forget about it," Baxter said. "If you are going to play cornerback, you have to have a short memory, so I'm on to the next week. I'm not going to let one play or one game dictate how I approach this game."

Wright signed to roster

Although the promotion will not affect his playing status, Anthony Wright still took pride in being signed to the active roster yesterday.

Wright had been on the Ravens' practice squad since Sept. 3, but he will now officially be the team's third-string quarterback.

"I just came in, did my job and was basically waiting for this time to come," Wright said. "Now I can start traveling with the team and dressing for games. I'm really feeling more a part of the team."

Parker in the fold

Defensive tackle Riddick Parker practiced for the first time with the Ravens yesterday after signing with the team Tuesday.

Parker is expected to take Marques Douglas' place in the defensive line rotation. Douglas tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Sunday and will miss the rest of the season.

"It's a great opportunity for me," Parker said. "I spent a little bit of time off because I was with New England and got released so I had time to reflect and think about where I was in my career. I moved to Maryland about five months ago because this is the place I wanted to be.

"There is a need for me to play immediately, and that's what I'm here to do. Whatever I need to do to help us win, I'm willing."

End zone

With Ray Lewis sidelined against Indianapolis, fellow linebacker Peter Boulware took over as the emotional leader of the defense. If Lewis is out again Sunday, Boulware will assume the same role. "I'm not going to get in your face, but I will lead by example," Boulware said. "I'll speak out there and say my mind more in a subtle fashion. But I think it accomplishes the same thing." ... The Ravens signed guard Jim Jones, who was with the team during training camp, to the practice squad.

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