Taylor stretches out Burress duel

Ravens notebook

Raven has longer gains than Pittsburgh receiver

Boulware's status still iffy

Pro Football

December 27, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens receiver Travis Taylor and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress were chosen two spots apart in the first round of the 2000 NFL draft.

Although Burress has had more statistical success in three of their four seasons, including this one, Taylor does have something he can boast about heading into tomorrow night's game at M&T Bank Stadium.

Taylor (selected 10th overall) has six catches for more than 40 yards this season, five more than Burress (selected eighth). Burress is the one thought to be more of a big-play threat.

"That's what we need," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "That's what we've got to have given the profile of us running the ball the way we are. When you only throw it 20 times a game, you've got to have those kinds of plays. They impact the game in a way beyond just what the yardage does. We need more of it."

Quietly, seven of the Ravens' top 10 quarterback-to-receiver completions belong to Taylor. Although his 36 catches for 611 yards and three touchdowns are all down from last year's numbers and are fewer than Burress' 59 catches, 847 yards and four touchdowns, Taylor has shown more big-play potential than he had in the past.

His 17 yards a catch is nearly 3 yards higher than his previous career high. Still, unless he has a monster game against the Steelers, Taylor will likely have his worst numbers since his rookie season.

"The biggest thing is winning football games," Taylor said. "You have to put your personal goals aside. Right now, our main focus is the Super Bowl. If that means running Jamal [Lewis] 35 times a game, then so be it."

Boulware limited

Linebacker Peter Boulware, who has a sprained knee, was limited in practice for the third straight day yesterday. His status remains a game-time decision.

"He's worked through it all week, but I think he's feeling a little bit better," Billick said.

The Ravens expect to have linebacker Ed Hartwell (chest, questionable) and guard Bennie Anderson (knee, questionable) available tomorrow. Both should start.

"I think Bennie is OK," Billick said.

Rookie awaits the call

One of the surprises coming out of the Ravens' win over the Cleveland Browns took place before the opening kickoff.

Rookie defensive end Jarret Johnson, who had played in every game this season and started one, was on the inactive list.

Apparently, the Ravens wanted to give Johnson a game off, in part because of an increased workload the past few weeks, in favor of veteran Riddick Parker.

"Anytime you get a weekend off, I guess that benefits you a little bit," said Johnson, who has 17 tackles. "But it doesn't matter because you still want to be out there playing.

"It was a surprise, but it was the right move. It's just something that comes along with being a rookie. Hopefully, I'll be out there playing, and if I am, I'll be ready to go and do my job. If not, I'll be on the sideline cheering."

Wright began with Steelers

Ravens quarterback Anthony Wright began his career as an undrafted free agent with the Steelers in 1999.

Wright's play during the preseason was so impressive, Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher decided to keep four quarterbacks on the active roster. Wright was released the next training camp and signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

"He was one of these guys as a free agent that had all the intangibles," Cowher said. "His role here was more of a backup. Anytime that you get a guy like that in camp, it's great. Now he is getting a chance to play. That is something that he couldn't get here or in Dallas. He is seizing it."

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