Gregg shows nose for ball, too


Disruptive nose tackle nears 100 tackles

R. Lewis may need harness again

Pro Football

December 20, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

If he can average six tackles over the next two games, Ravens nose tackle Kelly Gregg would reach 100 for the season.

That's about 20 more than coaches expect from that position, and that would be in a good year.

"We knew he was a hell of a player," defensive line coach Rex Ryan said. "But that is an awfully high number, extraordinary for a lineman. An outstanding player in that position may have 80 tackles."

Perhaps Gregg's finest game was his most recent. In the Ravens' 20-12 loss to the Oakland Raiders, Gregg tied his season high with nine tackles, including one for a loss, and penetrated into the backfield to disrupt numerous running plays.

Gregg was able to slip through creases in the line, usually not something he is asked to do, against the Raiders.

"[Tony] Weaver and [Marques] Douglas are great on the move, and it's good to see that nose guard get on the move," Gregg said.

"My main job is to occupy the center and guard so the whole defense can run and make plays. You want to be out there and be productive and help the team. There have been games where I've had two tackles and we've won and played a lot better. The most important thing is to play within the confines of the defense."

The 88 tackles are 16 more than the next defensive lineman (Douglas) and is fourth overall behind Ray Lewis (198), Ed Hartwell (124) and Gary Baxter (92).

"It is hard to get any notoriety from that position," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It is a tough, nasty, dirty job. I don't know anybody who does it better than Kelly."

Questionable but playing

The Ravens reported no changes to their injury report.

Lewis remains questionable with a bruised shoulder and may have to wear a harness for the second straight week. Edwin Mulitalo (groin). Alan Ricard (ankle) and Chester Taylor (leg) are all listed as questionable but expected to play. Cleveland Browns cornerback Anthony Henry is out for the last two games after having knee surgery yesterday.

Mulitalo, jokingly, said he hurt himself after the Ravens' touchdown against Oakland.

"I'm good," Mulitalo said. "It's just a little strain. I did the splits in an end zone celebration."

Fassel's buddy

Billick said he has tried to call New York Giants coach Jim Fassel, who was fired this week but will coach the final two games, but the wives have had more success communicating.

Fassel is one of Billick's closest friends in coaching.

"I tried to call a couple of times, and Kim [Billick's wife] talked to Kitty [Fassel's wife]," Billick said. "He's handling it well. They'll play hard, but it's tough circumstances. They'll do it. That's what this game is about. They respect Jim, so they'll respond to that."

Changing faces

Only six of the Browns' 11 offensive starters that played in the first game against the Ravens are expected to play tomorrow.

Cleveland will have a different starting quarterback (Tim Couch), running back (Jamel White), receiver (Andre Davis) and tight end (Darnell Sanders), plus a few changes along the offensive line because of injuries, a suspension and ineffectiveness.

"We have had 27 changes offensively alone this season," Browns coach Butch Davis said.

After further review

The NFL admitted earlier this week that there was a good chance Taylor's two-point conversion attempt against Oakland would have been reversed if the proper replay arrived before the 90-second clock ran out.

Taylor's forward progress on the carry - which came late in the third quarter with the Raiders leading 17-12 - was ruled to have been stopped, though the referee did not blow his whistle. The Ravens challenged, but Ed Hochuli upheld the ruling on the field, saying he could not tell whether Taylor's knee hit the ground before he stretched the ball over the goal line.

"I have no doubt that Ed Hochuli was not given the appropriate view to make the proper call. I know for a fact that Ed would make the right call," Billick said. "Why and how the process that he doesn't get the right view, that is the process that I've called into question and has to be examined."

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