Ward seeks more returns on team investment

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Receiver takes new duty on punts, kickoffs as way to promote win, career

Ravens 26, Broncos 6

October 27, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

It was as if receiver Dedric Ward were a rookie again.

For what the Ravens wanted Ward to do, he might as well have been. The seven-year veteran returned his first kickoff since his first season yesterday, a 20-yarder in the third quarter of the Ravens' 26-6 win over the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium.

"On a team that is as competitive as this, it's tough to find your niche," Ward said. "Any way I can get on the field and help this team win and stick around here for a while, that's what I've got to do. I just have to learn on the run."

Ward was also the punt returner, averaging 8.7 yards on three attempts.

Last week Ward moved past Lamont Brightful, who did not return any kicks for the first time since Week 5 of last year, on the team's depth chart.

Ward's longest punt return came in the third quarter for 16 yards to the Ravens' 31. He was one defender away from turning the corner for an even bigger run before being forced out of bounds.

"It was all right, finally getting back into the flow of it," Ward said. "In this league, chances are limited. It's hard to come by opportunities because there are a lot of players on the team. I know it's a competition, but I know that every time I'm out there, I'm trying to make something happen."

Ward would not say whether he thought he did enough to hold the job for another week.

Brightful played nickel back late in the fourth quarter.

R. Lewis keeps his cool

Showing a remarkable amount of composure, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis voiced his displeasure to Broncos tackle Matt Lepsis for an attempted chop block well after the whistle.

Replays showed Lepsis diving at Lewis' knees in the second quarter, but Lewis leaped over Lepsis, then got into his face without laying a hand on him.

Lepsis was restrained by Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller, then ejected from the game for pushing the referee.

"One thing about me, I'm not going to say I play clean football," Lewis said. "But I play between the whistles. This play was clearly over, and 15 yards downfield he went after me. I just literally went and told him, `This is football. You don't have to come downfield and try and blow my knee out.'"

Milestone for Sanders

Receiver Frank Sanders recorded the 500th catch of his career in the third quarter, but the best news as far as the Ravens are concerned were the three overall receptions.

Two of those were on third downs and converted first downs, a staple of Sanders' nine-year career. It was the first multi-catch game for Sanders as a Raven.

"Today, there were opportunities to make plays because the ball came my way, and I made those plays fortunately," said Sanders, who had 21 receiving yards.

Scott comes through

Linebacker Bart Scott helped set up the Ravens' go-ahead field goal in the second quarter, partially blocking a punt by Micah Knorr.

Scott got a good push coming through the line, tipped the ball, but then had to watch it roll about 20 yards to the Broncos' 40 for a 32-yard net punt.

"The tackle was very small, so I was able to use my power to get him on his heels," Scott said. "He was only like 205 [pounds]. I just exploded into him. I got my whole hand on it, and it scattered."

Baxter steps in

Had starting cornerback Fuller not hurt his hamstring, Gary Baxter guesses he would have never made his second interception of the season.

Fuller suffered the injury, which will be re-evaluated today, covering Broncos receiver Ashley Lelie with a little over six minutes left in the game and did not return.

Baxter shifted to cornerback and Will Demps replaced Baxter for the Broncos' last three series. Baxter picked off Broncos quarterback Danny Kanell at the Ravens' 38 and returned the ball 34 yards.

"I knew when I went to cornerback, they were going to try and come after me," Baxter said. "I told [secondary coach] Donnie Henderson, `I'll bring you one back.' Being out at cornerback, you expect to get picks."

Because of a groin injury to Tom Knight, Baxter had played as the nickel (fifth) defensive back before Fuller's injury.

Stover makes No. 300

Still angry at his 45-yard miss on the game's first drive, kicker Matt Stover wasn't particularly concerned with a personal milestone.

But after a four field-goal game - including a 39-yarder at the 7:41 mark of the second quarter that was the 300th of his career - Stover did allow himself some personal satisfaction.

"I knew it was coming up, but I don't think about those kinds of things," said Stover, who now has 302 field goals. "You know it's there and if you get it, you smile and say, `Yeah, that's right, I did get that.' But it's not something that I try and try and try and get."

Mobley's scary moment

Broncos linebacker John Mobley, who was injured when he lowered his helmet to tackle Jamal Lewis with 1:37 left in the first half, had regained feeling in his extremities before spending the night at the University of Maryland Medical Center's Shock Trauma.

Mobley lay motionless for about 10 minutes before he was carted off the field.

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