Douglas' gamble pays off for Ravens

Ravens notebook

Defensive end slips gaps to thwart Portis

Fuller is only injury concern

Pro Football

October 28, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

When things are going his way, Ravens defensive end Marques Douglas, ever the gambler, can break up plays before they get started.

Douglas took a risk Sunday in helping to set up Ed Hartwell's tackle for a loss of Denver running back Clinton Portis in the Ravens' 26-6 win. Douglas slipped through a gap between the guard and tackle, forced Portis to stutter-step, then watched as his teammates cleaned up in the second quarter.

It was a calculated guess.

"My coach has a motto, `If you know you can take a chance and make a play, then make the play,' " Douglas said. "But you also run the consequence of not making that play and putting the defense in a vulnerable position. So a lot of times you have to find that balance. You might see a formation that you recognize and then take your shot."

Douglas is tied for second on the defensive line with 30 tackles. Coaches are counting on him to get, or force, a couple of tackles a game behind the line of scrimmage because of his risks.

How the 6-foot-2, 280-pound Douglas does it is relatively basic. If a tackle or guard is lined up over Douglas but leaves his spot to make blocks elsewhere, Douglas uses his quickness to exploit that small window to get in the backfield.

"If a guy blocks down and the guy that he is on pulls, sometimes you can knife in there and make a play in the backfield, and that is what Douglas does probably as good as anybody out there," defensive line coach Rex Ryan said.

"It wasn't as much [Sunday], but the week before, Marvin [Bengals coach Marvin Lewis] kept trying to run the same play, and against a guy like Marques, he gets off the snap fast and has a great knack for getting through that hole and knifing in there to make that secure tackle."

It is what got Douglas noticed as an undrafted free agent out of Howard. "Ever since he got here, he's always had a knack for doing that," Ryan said.

Aches and pains

The Ravens made it through the game relatively injury-free.

Cornerback Corey Fuller, who strained his hamstring and groin near the end of the game, is the only major concern. Fuller is day-to-day but might be listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars once injury reports are out tomorrow.

The Ravens are expecting nickel back Tom Knight, who missed Sunday's game with a groin injury, to return to practice.

"I'm definitely much stronger," Knight said. "And last week, as much as a disappointment as it was for me, I think the guys went in there and did their job."

Tight end Todd Heap jammed his neck on a collision with Broncos linebacker Al Wilson in the second quarter, but finished the game and is expected to practice this week.

Boller shoulders load

Though Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller looked to be in pain a couple of times against the Broncos, coach Brian Billick never considered removing the rookie from the game.

Boller took every snap for the Ravens despite nursing a sore left (non-throwing) shoulder that originally had him questionable last week.

"There is a difference between being hurt and being injured," Billick said. "Everybody hurts. He's a tough kid. At no point did it limit his play or he felt like he had to come out. He took a couple of shots, but we were watching it very closely and it didn't seem to inhibit him at all."

Blue in red zone

Billick did not seem too bothered about the Ravens settling for field goals four out of five times when inside the Broncos' 20-yard line Sunday.

"Put it on a list of a number of things we'll look at to try and get done," Billick said.

Ejection discussed

Denver lost one of its best offensive linemen in tackle Matt Lepsis after he was ejected from the game in the second quarter for pushing a referee.

Deservedly so, said Billick.

"I thought the action was appropriate to keep it under control," Billick said. "That's a tough one. Obviously it happened to the other team, and I'm sure Mike [Shanahan] had a different view on it. That happened in front of me, and I was upset by it. I think the officials responded appropriately."

Lepsis had tried to cut Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis at the knees, but Lewis jumped over Lepsis and avoided the hit. Fuller then confronted Lepsis, and Lepsis accidently pushed the referee instead of Fuller.

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