Tender ribs slow O. Brown

Ravens notebook

Lineman curtails practice, expects to play Sunday

M. Lewis lauds Billick

December 05, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Orlando Brown was added to the Ravens' injury report yesterday as questionable, but the team seems optimistic that the right tackle will be able to start Sunday in the matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC North lead.

"He has a soreness in the ribs," coach Brian Billick said, "but he should be OK."

Brown hurt his ribs during Wednesday's practice, and backup Ethan Brooks said he has taken nearly all of the snaps with starters the past two days.

In his first season back after a three-year layoff, Brown has started the past nine games. He has been a physical force in the running game but has had some lapses in pass protection.

"There's nothing wrong," Brown said of the injury. "I'll be playing. I'll be starting."

Whoever lines up at right tackle will go against Bengals defensive end Duane Clemons, the team sack leader with six.

"I prepare like I always do," said Brooks, who has rotated with Brown throughout the season. "I've just got to be ready from the opening play."

Meanwhile, Ravens defensive end Tony Weaver (neck, questionable) practiced for the second straight day.

Closing with flourish

While the Ravens' late-season success has been widely publicized (11-5 under Billick in December), their production late in games has gone relatively unnoticed.

The Ravens have scored 119 fourth-quarter points, the most in the NFL. Over the past three games, they have outscored teams 40-7 in the fourth.

"Hopefully, it shows focus," Billick said. "It shows when you have to, you can get the job done."

It's a reversal from last season, when the Ravens were outscored 105-58 in the fourth quarter.

M. Lewis praises Billick

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, the coordinator for the defense that spearheaded the Ravens' Super Bowl run, said Billick did not receive enough recognition for the 2000 championship.

"Brian didn't get enough credit because maybe we weren't the 35-, 40-point scoring offense that he had in Minnesota, but we were an efficient offense that moved the football, that scored when we needed to," Lewis said.

"Even when we weren't scoring touchdowns, we weren't giving the other team the ball deep in our territory. As people ask me that question, that has been my response, that you are not giving that man enough credit for what he did.

"That place was in shambles as well [before Billick was hired]. We were finding a way to win four to six games, but there were some problems. Brian came in and got everything ironed out."

Watching the flags

The one area in which the Ravens are trying to drop in the rankings is penalties.

They have been penalized 101 times this season, tying them with the New York Giants for third most in the NFL. On Sunday, the Ravens were flagged only four times, their lowest total in nine weeks.

"Hopefully, it will bode well for us in the future, but we can't let our guard down," Billick said.

On equal footing

The Ravens expect to gain an advantage against the Bengals by not entering Sunday's game at a disadvantage, as some players feel they did when the teams met in Cincinnati Oct. 19.

Cincinnati had its bye the Sunday before the game, effectively giving the Bengals two weeks to prepare for the Ravens.

"Everything is equal now. You go one week and then you play the game," cornerback Corey Fuller said. "It was like an off week in college and when you play your big team, and you play and they don't. They have a two-week advantage on you and they've got rest."

End zone

With wintry weather expected, the Ravens' grounds crew has activated the heating device below the field. ... ... The Ravens' Jamal Lewis continues to lead the NFL in rushing with 1,442 yards, which is 49 more than New Orleans' Deuce McAllister. ... The Ravens have scored 88 points in their past two games, a franchise record. The previous record was 68, in 2000. ... The Ravens' Matt Stover is the third-most accurate kicker of all time, converting 82.5 percent of his field goals. He is behind Indianapolis' Mike Vanderjagt (87.3) and Philadelphia's David Akers (83.6). ... Ravens guard Edwin Mulitalo and Big Ed's Band Foundation will collect instruments tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Western High School's parking lot. Donations of musical instruments in any condition will be accepted, then repaired and placed in the city's schools.

Sun staff writer Brent Jones contributed to this article.

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