Offensive line fills holes, then opens them

Injuries force shuffling

Billick: `They didn't blink'

Ravens 17, Jaguars 10

Nfl Week 7

October 21, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

After rushing for 119 yards in the Ravens' 17-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday, Jamal Lewis still wasn't quite sure who had paved the way for his performance.

Considering the amount of offensive line shuffling that took place before and during the game, that's not much of a surprise.

"I didn't really know at first that they had moved [Edwin] Mulitalo back to tackle and [Casey] Rabach to guard," Lewis said. "I didn't know that until [yesterday]. I wish they would fill me in more. Then during the game, I'm looking at [Mike] Flynn and am like, `Where are you playing?'

"But that's good. I told them that's what makes them special, being able to move back and forth and play different positions for us."

The offensive line's versatility and depth were tested against the Jaguars more than in any other game this season. Starting right tackle Ethan Brooks was inactive with back spasms, forcing Mulitalo, who usually plays left guard, to fill in for him.

Rabach, who started last week's game at center for an injured Flynn, played in place of Mulitalo, while right guard Bennie Anderson left the game in the first quarter after re-injuring the knee that forced him out of practice last week.

Jason Thomas replaced Anderson until he suffered a calf contusion late in the third quarter, which forced him out of the game and a hurting Anderson back in.

"Everybody was banged up, so I was feeding off everybody else being in there," Anderson said. "I was like, `If he can do it, I know I need to do it.' We all feed off one another.

"The first drive of the game, with the adrenaline, I was good. But in the second drive, I was like `uh-oh.' Then when I came back in the second time, I was so charged up that I didn't feel anything."

Left tackle Jonathan Ogden is the only offensive lineman to play the entire game at his usual position the past two weeks.

When Thomas left with his injury, the Ravens had one offensive lineman available - tackle Damion Cook.

"The most impressive thing was the way guys were going down and having to move around, particularly at the offensive line, and they didn't blink," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Quarterback Chris Redman was sacked twice but only for a combined loss of 9 yards. Outside of that, the line kept the Jaguars' young but talented defensive front featuring first-round tackles John Henderson and Marcus Stroud off-balance.

Mulitalo credits attitudes such as Anderson's for the Ravens' success.

"Bennie was hurt at the beginning of the game," Mulitalo said. "Like a warrior, he wanted to stick it out. He couldn't, so he said he was going to be selfless, sit it out and let Jason Thomas come in."

Anderson, Flynn and Brooks all missed practice time last week and were questionable until Friday.

"Win, lose, whether we play good or bad, the linemen here are pretty tough guys," said Flynn, who missed last week's game with an ankle injury. "When you see people limping around and making plays, it makes you feel good out there."

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