Sanders lends hand in win over Broncos


Third-down receptions key drives in second half

Pro Football

October 30, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

A while back, Ravens receiver Frank Sanders set specific goals for how many third downs he wanted to convert.

"One year my goal was to have 40 receptions on third down because that was the knack," Sanders said. "Not anymore."

Before Sunday's 26-6 Ravens win over the Denver Broncos, it would have been ambitious to think Sanders could even hit double digits in that category.

But the nine-year veteran receiver kept drives alive twice in the third quarter against the Broncos, hauling in a 9-yard reception on a third-and-five, and a 7-yard reception on a third-and-five on the last play of the quarter.

In the game Sanders caught the 500th pass of his career, one that now has new goals.

"It's pretty much any down and distance, you want to go out and make plays," Sanders said. "If we connect on third downs, and [quarterback Kyle Boller] feels comfortable coming to me and the coaches feel comfortable calling it, I will assume that role with all honor just like in Arizona."

Sanders finished the Broncos game with three receptions for 21 yards. It was his most catches since singing as a free agent this offseason, and he now has eight receptions for 81 yards this season.

Slowly, he seems to be developing a rapport with Boller.

"Anytime you can contribute to the team, you feel like you are serving your purpose here," Sanders said. "I also know that purpose here is to be a leader and a mentor to the guys that are young. And also to be the best player I can be to help this team.

"If it's just my presence on the field taking away double coverage on Travis [Taylor] or double coverage in certain places, I feel like I've done my part whether I've caught balls or not."

Bumps and bruises

The Ravens moved practice to M&T Bank Stadium yesterday after heavy rains flooded the fields at the team's complex.

It was a workout without cornerback Corey Fuller, who is doubtful for Sunday's game with hamstring and groin injuries.

If Fuller is unable to play, safety Gary Baxter would likely shift to cornerback and Will Demps would start for Baxter.

"It's not looking good," Fuller said. "I'm about 60 percent. But you got to be careful. You don't have an off week."

Nickel back Tom Knight (leg, questionable), tight end Todd Heap (shoulder, probable), running back Jamal Lewis (shoulder, probable) and linebacker Bart Scott (leg, probable) are also on the injury report. Former Ravens cornerback James Trapp, now with the Jaguars, will not play Sunday because of an ankle injury.

Debut for Franklin

Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin made his debut with the Ravens against the Broncos, recording one tackle in a handful of snaps.

Franklin, who was inactive in every game until Sunday, was quickly introduced to NFL speed on one of his first plays from scrimmage. Franklin was knocked on his back by two Broncos linemen.

"I was just glad for the opportunity to go out there and play and fulfill my dream of playing in my first NFL game," said Franklin, the Ravens' fifth-round draft pick. "It was just like my first game in college, with jitters but as the game went along, I started playing better and better."

Taylor apologizes

Taylor originally declined to comment on why he came dressed as Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant at the Ravens' Halloween Party on Monday night, but then went on to issue an apology.

Taylor and his wife went dressed as Bryant and the woman who is accusing Bryant of sexual assault.

"If I offended anybody, I apologize. I didn't try to offend anybody," Taylor said.

Billick's just fine

Ravens coach Brian Billick indirectly admitted to receiving a fine from the league for his post-game comments on the replay system.

Because coaches are asked not to discuss league fines, Billick stopped short of saying he received a fine.

"The rules are clear," Billick said. "I don't comment on any communication from the league via the officiating and the comments we make and send in. I'm not going to get a fine on top of a fine."

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