Robinson seeks breakthrough


Former Bears standout has no TDs, just 7 catches

Pro Football

November 15, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

After much prodding, Ravens receiver Marcus Robinson finally conceded that this season, his seventh in the NFL and first away from the Chicago Bears, is not quite going the way he had hoped.

"You get frustrated for the simple fact that I'm a receiver and I like the ball," said Robinson, who has seven catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns. "But what cures that is when you come into a room as an offense, and the coaches know that you are blocking. And Jamal [Lewis] comes in and pats you on the butt and says he appreciates it.

"Every receiver wants to have Torry Holt's numbers, but that's not the situation we're in right now. We've got to deal with what we have."

Robinson signed a one-year contract with the Ravens hoping he could revive a career that once featured a 1,400-yard season.

But after showing signs during the preseason of possibly being the deep receiver Ravens coach Brian Billick has never had, Robinson hasn't had a catch longer than 14 yards, and the team has pretty much stopped tossing deep balls his way.

That may change tomorrow, though, against the Miami Dolphins. Robinson is expected to start for a hurting Frank Sanders, who will likely miss the game with an ankle injury. Dolphins cornerbacks Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain like playing press coverage, which could open up opportunities downfield.

"With Frank being down, just the sheer number of reps [should increase]," Billick said. "Marcus has been fine when he's been in there. We haven't been able to get the ball to him on a consistent basis. He's certainly going to have that opportunity now to impact the game just by the sheer number of reps."

Robinson and the Ravens probably expected more explosive plays from a receiver who, four years ago, was as big a deep threat as any in the league.

Maybe with Anthony Wright at quarterback now, he and Robinson can relive magic from their college days. Robinson was one of Wright's favorite targets when the two were at South Carolina.

"This will give me the opportunity to showcase my talents a little bit more," Robinson said. "Whenever you get that opportunity, you have to take advantage of it."

Modest McAlister

He is playing better than nearly everyone at his position, but it is nearly impossible to get Chris McAlister to admit it.

"I think there are a lot of people playing well, and I consider myself amongst those that are playing well right now," McAlister said.

The past three weeks, McAlister has largely shut down the opponents' top receiver - the Denver Broncos' Rod Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars' Jimmy Smith and the Rams' Holt, the league's leading receiver.

In what may have been the best game of his career, McAlister limited Holt, who leads the NFL with 1,016 receiving yards, to 38.

Wind chill

The change in weather has not cooperated with the Ravens' change in quarterback.

The gusts of winds that have hit the area for the past two days have not helped the receivers establish a rhythm with quarterback Wright, who will be taking his first regular-season snaps with the Ravens. Although he has thrown the ball well at the wind-swept practices, some of his passes have sailed wildly.

"It would be nice to have the indoor facility up and running just for the timing of it," Billick said.

No decision on Sanders

The Ravens reported no changes to the injury report. Kyle Boller (leg) and John Jones (leg) are the only players expected to miss tomorrow's game. Billick did say the team is waiting until game time before making a decision on Sanders. "I'm amazed at how quickly he's come back," Billick said.

Dolphins regrouping

The Dolphins are going through their own share of turmoil after losing three of their past four games.

Linebacker Junior Seau defended his teammates earlier this week and said there is no finger-pointing in the locker room.

"I don't see any pointing fingers," he said. "Were there some frustrations trying to explain what's happening? Yeah, I can see that happening. For the most part we're back to work and the guys are ready to go."

Sun staff writer Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

Next for Ravens

Matchup:Ravens (5-4) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-4)

Site:Pro Player Stadium, Miami

When:Tomorrow, 1 p.m.

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

Line:Dolphins by 6

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