Sanders vs. Cards is no grudge match

Ravens receiver holds no ill will toward ex-team

Pro Football

October 08, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens receiver Frank Sanders anticipates he will have an array of emotions running through him once he steps on the field at Sun Devil Stadium on Sunday.

Sanders will be facing the Arizona Cardinals, the team with which he spent the first eight seasons of his NFL career. And while he may be feeling glad to renew old acquaintances, nostalgic about some of the plays he made in that stadium and eager to make more of an impact in the Ravens' passing game, Sanders knows what he won't be feeling - the urge to gain vengeance on his former team.

"I'm not a very vengeful guy," Sanders said. "I don't think I've ever been from the standpoint that I've got to prove something."

Sanders and the Cardinals parted ways this past offseason when the team declined to offer him what he considered a suitable contract.

His 493 catches with Arizona is the third-highest total in franchise history, and he averaged 62 catches a season while missing only five games. Four of those games were last year, though, because of a foot injury. That's likely part of the reason why the team didn't overexert itself in attempting to re-sign Sanders.

But there are no hard feelings from Sanders.

"It [being vengeful] doesn't fit his personality," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "But any time that you go home, it's important to you. You don't need to be a vitriolic or negative person to still have that extra pop to you."

The Ravens should hope so. Sanders' arrival after signing a four-year, $8.8 million contract with a $1.7 million signing bonus has produced little pop from a statistical standpoint (three catches, 45 yards and no touchdowns).

What Sanders has produced is a calming influence among the receivers, a veteran re-assurance that despite the criticism and lack of playing time the unit is getting as a whole, there will come a time this season when the running game falters and the passing game will have to pick up the slack.

He has counseled Travis Taylor and Ron Johnson on numerous occasions.

"This thing could easily turn around to 50 to 75 catches for any one of us," Sanders said. "We can walk away with 40 catches apiece, or even more."

None of the receivers has more than 11 catches, so Sanders' estimations are ambitious. The optimism, however, is one of the things the Ravens love about Sanders.

Sanders traces his persona to Christianity, which also dictates his lifestyle.

Sanders says he doesn't drink, smoke, curse, watch R-rated movies (except those starring Jackie Chan), listen to secular music or watch certain television shows (especially those of the reality genre).

"I don't live a life that's out there," said Sanders, who is married and has a 1-year-old daughter. "I guess I've always had a calm, laid-back spirit. I'm not aggressive and don't fight, but if I have to, I will."

That sentiment is close to how one of his teammates thinks Sanders really feels about heading back to Arizona.

"I know Frank real well," said cornerback Tom Knight, who played with Sanders in Arizona for five seasons.

"Regardless of what happens, whenever you leave a team, you always want to show them a little something as to why they let you go. Frank, although he may not admit it, there is part of him that feels that way a little bit."

NOTES: The Ravens signed defensive end Riddick Parker and waived defensive tackle Joe Salave'a yesterday. Parker was with the team last season and recorded 29 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles in 11 games. He was one of the final cuts in training camp. Salave'a was not active for any games this season. ... About 20 Ravens players and team president David Modell, along with Sandtown Habitat for Humanity, participated in the annual United Way Hometown Huddle yesterday, helping to refurbish homes in downtown Baltimore. ... The league is considering moving the Ravens' Oct. 26 game against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. A decision could be made today.

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Ravens (2-2) vs. Arizona Cardinals (1-4)

Site: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

When: Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

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

Line: Ravens by 5 1/2

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