Knight returns to where his career began

Healthier with Ravens, corner set to face Cards


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

With only one stall separating their lockers, Ravens cornerback Tom Knight could easily overhear the questions being fired at receiver Frank Sanders, prompting him to offer a little advice.

Knight, who was a teammate of Sanders for the Arizona Cardinals for five seasons, jokingly told Sanders to avoid saying negative things about their ex-team during a radio interview.

Five minutes later, Knight had to take his own suggestion, limiting himself to acknowledging that Sunday's game at Sun Devil Stadium does mean a little more and stopping at that.

"I'd be lying if I say no," said Knight, who was a first-round pick (ninth overall) by the Cardinals in the 1997 draft. "But I look to make plays each and every game. I think it's no different in that regard. It might mean a little bit more, but I can't force anything when I'm out there. I have to play within the frame[work] of the defense."

For Knight, that means seeing limited time as the Ravens' nickel (fifth defensive back) in certain game situations.

The Ravens shift safety Gary Baxter to nickel and bring in Will Demps at safety most of the time, but Knight's snaps have increased over the past two games.

For Knight, it is a comeback from five injury-hampered seasons in Arizona in which he was heavily criticized by fans and the media for not living up to his lofty draft status.

His time with the Ravens has not been much healthier. A leg injury kept him inactive after he signed in December for the last four games, and a hamstring injury and broken thumb limited him during the preseason, allowing Demps to reinsert himself in the lineup.

"It's a limited role in terms of downs," Knight said. "I'm not used to it, but it's my role. The big thing for me is regardless of whether I get five snaps, 25 snaps or 60 snaps is to make the best of my opportunities.

"I'm feeling good. This is the best I've felt in a long time."

Back from layoff

The Ravens returned from their five-day layoff yesterday and the best news for the team was that everyone participated in the non-padded practice.

"This puts them back in the right frame of mind, all refreshed and ready to go," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Most teams do not give their players so many consecutive days off during the bye week, but Billick said he felt his team needed the time away with Friday's trip to Arizona looming.

"It's always good to get back in the grove after having a couple of days off," Baxter said. "We're still in football shape, and we got a great sweat."

Him again

As soon as the Ravens stepped off the field, word spread quickly that Kansas City Chiefs return man Dante Hall scored yet another touchdown yesterday.

It was the fourth return for a touchdown in a row for Hall, who brought back a punt 93 yards in the Chiefs' 24-23 win over the Denver Broncos. A week earlier, Hall returned a kickoff 97 yards against the Ravens to win the game.

"Thank God it wasn't me again," Billick said.

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