O. Brown accepts sharing spot

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Subbing Brooks at tackle gives team more depth, flexibility on right side

Pro Football

October 25, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Tackle Orlando Brown was visibly frustrated after the Ravens' 34-26 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, and it was not entirely because of the score.

Brown came out for a series for the second straight game in place of Ethan Brooks, though Brown is physically capable of playing the entire game.

Brooks likely will continue to get occasional playing time, something Brown has come to accept.

"I'm ready. I put last week behind me and will focus on this week," Brown said.

"I'm the player. They are the coach. I've got to play and do whatever they want me to do. [The coaches] and I talked. I had to get a better understanding. I'm with a new team, and I needed a better understanding of how they operate. I'm more comfortable now. Whichever way it goes, I understand."

Between Brown (probable with a stiff back) and Brooks, plus right guard Bennie Anderson and backup Casey Rabach, the Ravens can put four combinations on their right side.

Anderson, who missed part of the second half of the Bengals game with a shoulder injury but could have played, will start and likely be replaced by Rabach at some point. Coaches want to give Rabach more chances.

"I'm used to working with both of them," Brown said. "So that's fine."

Injury report

The Ravens reported no changes to their injury report.

Quarterback Kyle Boller (shoulder) was upgraded earlier this week to probable, and Jamal Lewis (shoulder, probable) is also expected to be ready for tomorrow's game. Both players practiced yesterday.

Nickel back Tom Knight (leg, doubtful) likely will be the only player to miss the game because of injury.

Ward's expanding role

While Dedric Ward is expected to field punts for the first time as a Raven tomorrow, he may also continue to see time in the three-receiver package.

Ward played about a handful of snaps against the Bengals, though he did not have a pass thrown his way.

"I'm not sure long-term what that means in terms of playing time," Ward said. "But obviously, being a player in this league a number of years, I'd like to somehow rotate myself in the mix. But that is something the coaches are going to decide."

Reminded of memory

Chris McAlister had one of the most memorable plays of last season against the Denver Broncos, but the Ravens cornerback had all but forgotten.

McAlister returned a missed field goal 107 yards for a touchdown, the longest play in NFL history in the Sept. 30 game.

"I haven't even seen it since last year sometime," McAlister said. "Honestly, I didn't even think about it. ... It's in the past, not something I think about. But definitely I appreciate it."

Defending division

Earlier this week, Ravens coach Brian Billick got defensive about criticism that the AFC North is one of the league's worst divisions.

No division team has a winning record, and the Ravens (3-3) are in first place by a half game over the Cleveland Browns (3-4).

"They criticized it last year about the same time," Billick said. "Go back and check your notes. Go back and read your stuff and you'll read the same thing about this division this time last year. And here is a division that had two teams in the playoffs last year. So I'll make that observation."

As for those teams, Cleveland was ousted in the wild-card round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who lost in the next round to the Tennessee Titans.

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