Douglas gets his chance to start again

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Defensive lineman quick despite coming off injury

Pro Football

September 06, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The other major position competition with the Ravens was won by default.

Marques Douglas and Adalius Thomas swapped series with the first team through the first half of the preseason, but Douglas will be the starter on the defensive line for tomorrow's game at Pittsburgh after Thomas switched to outside linebacker nearly a month ago.

It was a contest that took a back seat to the much-heralded quarterback competition, but becoming an opening-game starter means the world for Douglas, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament that ended his season after five games last year, even if the status was obtained by a change in the coaches' plan.

"It means everything," Douglas said. "At the beginning of training camp, you're not really penciled in as the starter. Then when you finally gain the spot, you realize it is a lot more required of you - the focus, the attention you have to give in meetings as well as out there on the field.

"It just means everything for a guy coming from a smaller school [Howard], out there with guys like Ray Lews [Miami] and Anthony Weaver [Notre Dame], it gives you a sense you can compete."

Despite the usual limitations associated the year after a torn ACL, Douglas has shown a surprising burst coming off the line of scrimmage when rushing the passer.

In three preseason games, he shed offensive linemen right after the ball was snapped, resulting in either a loss for the running backs or a sack.

Douglas, in his fourth year, started his first game ever when he tore up his knee.

"I never doubted my ability to come back, but it was really devastating to me in the sense that I had finally arrived," Douglas said of his injury. "I was finally out there and being counted as one of those intricate parts as far as who the coaches counted on. When the injury happened, I knew it was going to take a lot for me to come back, but I knew it was possible."

O. Brown back in the game

Understanding was one of the attributes right tackle Orlando Brown acquired more of during his three-year absence from football.

It is showing as Brown, who will play in his first regular-season game since a referee's flag hit him in his eye and nearly ended his career in 1999, will start the season as a reserve for the first time since the middle of 1994, when he was with the old Cleveland Browns.

"I wish I was starting, but it isn't my decision," Brown said. "I've been out for three years and haven't played a whole game in so long. I guess they want to take my time and build my endurance up for a whole game. That's how I'm looking at it."

Brown will likely spell Ethan Brooks for a couple of series.

"Zeus is anxious and ready to go," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He will play an appreciable amount Sunday."

Injury update

The Ravens added cornerback Gary Baxter (knee) and punter Dave Zastudil (leg) to the injury list. Both are probable.

Frank Sanders (foot) remained doubtful, but he has practiced all week, and the team may change his status today.

"We'll see. We may upgrade that a little bit because he is moving around pretty good," Billick said. "But he is what we've listed him as."

Cornerback Alvin Porter (groin) and running back Musa Smith (knee) did not practice yesterday and will not play tomorrow.

Receiving end

If Sanders does not play, the Ravens will be maxed out of receivers when they go to a three-receiver set.

Marcus Robinson will start in place of Sanders with Travis Taylor. Ron Johnson will be the third receiver.

"Right now, it's just three of us," Taylor said. "We know what we have ahead of us, and I think we are ready for it."

Next for Ravens

Matchup:Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers in season opener for both teams

Site:Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

When:Tomorrow, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio:Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line:Steelers by 5

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