Ravens take news on Owens in stride, refocus on future

Brown, others disinclined to be resentful of receiver

Pro Football

March 17, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Orlando Brown couldn't muster any anger toward Terrell Owens.

The Ravens' right tackle has been through his share of legal battles with the NFL, so the word of Owens' getting his wish to play for the Philadelphia Eagles next season did not faze Brown.

"I'm happy that he got what he wanted," Brown said. "He knew what he wanted to do, and if he didn't want to be here, he didn't want to be here. Now, he's on the other side of the ball, and we look forward to playing against him."

The Ravens will get their shot this season in Philadelphia in a game that will now be one of the more intriguing of the year.

Owens filed a grievance with the players' union shortly after his March 4 trade by the San Francisco 49ers to the Ravens, and his demand to go to the Eagles was granted yesterday.

The Ravens, in turn, received back their second-round pick from the 49ers and were granted a fifth-round pick from the Eagles, who shipped defensive end Brandon Whiting to San Francisco for Owens.

From Day 1, Owens maintained he did not want to play for the Ravens.

"That will probably be motivation for somebody on this team by [Owens] saying he didn't want to be here," Brown said. "But I know how it works. You hit [age] 30, they look at you as on your way out of the league.

"I know he probably wanted to get his money now, because the next two years, it's going to be hard for him to get it, even though he's worth it."

Though fans of the Ravens may not think too highly of Owens at the moment, Ravens players and coaches took an understanding approach upon hearing the news, not taking Owens' disdain for playing in Baltimore personally.

"I'm not going to take it personal. With all the legal stuff I've been through, I know how it works," said Brown, who sued the NFL after getting hit in the eye with a referee's flag in 1999. "I'm happy for him. I wish he was on [the team], but he's not, so now I get to hit him."

That is something a number of Ravens fans probably wish they could do.

From the team's standpoint, the situation at receiver is not as hopeless as many think.

Receivers coach David Shaw, for one, despite expressing regret in not having the opportunity to work with one of the NFL's true game-breakers, said he is looking forward to seeing which one of his young players will capitalize on the chance.

"Like all of us, I'm disappointed," Shaw said. "We felt we had the proper structure, the proper offense and the pieces in place to make this a good place for him to flourish, but now we move on.

"Our cupboards aren't bare as it is, anyway. We took a shot with a guy that is proven he's toward the top in the league, and it didn't pan out. Now we have plans B, C and D ready to go."

That seemed to be the mind-set of the Ravens' front office.

"We made an aggressive move to get Terrell Owens on our team," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "In good faith, we made a trade that was approved by the NFL, and we thought we had a valid contract with [Owens]. We have our second-round choice back and an extra selection. We'll use both to improve the 2004 Ravens."

With the Owens issue in limbo for nearly two weeks, the Ravens lost out on the chance to retain Marcus Robinson, who signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Robinson's 31 catches for 451 yards last year were second among receivers on the team behind Travis Taylor.

Now, the Ravens return a corps that combined to catch 54 passes, with two of the receivers coming back from season-ending injuries.

"We've got guys that have shown promise that we need to be able to count on week in and week out," Shaw said. "Travis is our guy still. We were hoping to team him up with another guy of high caliber, but that didn't happen.

"Frank Sanders is still on the team. We're still waiting to hear that Javin [Hunter] and Randy Hymes are back 100 percent. We're counting on Kareem Kelly showing us his athletic ability, and he's going to get plenty of opportunities this preseason.

"Ron Johnson is finally back healthy after playing all last year after getting his knee scoped. He never got a chance to heal and played with almost a limp the entire year. He battled through it, and he'll be ready to go to."

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