Mughelli determined to get shot at going full speed at fullback


Special teams player feels he has something to offer alternating with Ricard


August 10, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

While most observers may not think backup fullback Ovie Mughelli is competing for a starting role, the second-year player believes otherwise.

Mughelli played on special teams in six games last year but got just a handful of snaps from scrimmage, all in a blowout win over the Cleveland Browns.

After spending much of the offseason working on speed, agility and dropping a few pounds, Mughelli is making a push to get more involved in the base offense. He finished last year with five special teams tackles.

"This year I'm trying to not only be a special teams factor, but to be instrumental in helping my team as a fullback," Mughelli said. "Alan Ricard was a great mentor for me last year. But I'm trying to get to the point where they can switch him and me out and not know the difference.

"I basically have to show the coach that I can do everything he can do and even more, which is what I spent the offseason trying to do in losing weight and getting my agility and speed up."

Mughelli, at 6 feet 1 and 255 pounds, may have a couple of inches and about 20 pounds on Ricard, but Ricard more than makes up for that with his experience.

Ricard's prominence rose around the league after a strong season in which he was a Pro Bowl alternate.

"I have an understanding of the offense now," Mughelli said. "But the fact that I haven't actually been able to see it going full speed is hurting me. That's one thing Alan has that I don't."

Said running backs coach Matt Simon of Mughelli, "He's got a little maturing to do. There's some real talent there, and it's got to be honed in. It's a bit wild right now. The game has a lot of moving parts, and Ovie's got to learn how to sort things out and get in the right place."

State of the team

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. attended the morning session, stopping by briefly to shoot a public service announcement before hosting a charity event in Frederick County.

Ehrlich said he is grateful the area has the Ravens.

"Just looking at the kids wearing these jerseys and signing autographs, you can't quantify how much we lost without a professional football team all those years," Ehrlich said. "How can you value taking your 5-year-old out here and watching practice and meeting the players? It's unquantifiable really. It's so great to have two real professional teams in Maryland. It's great for the state."

Secondary moves

The secondary shakeup continued during the morning practice when Chad Williams took Ed Reed's strong safety position in the dime package, while Reed shifted down to cover the slot receiver.

Williams has made his mark the past couple of seasons as the team's dime back -- usually lining up at what would normally be a linebacker position -- but Bart Scott took his place next to Ray Lewis.

It has been quite disjointed in the secondary because of injuries and the continued absence of Chris McAlister. Asked if he feels he will have a shot at more big plays at Reed's position, Williams said, "I wouldn't say that.

"It depends on what the offense does with the ball. In some formations, the offense tends to go to the dime man. On some formations, it's better off at the safety. You can make plays at both positions, so it's 50-50."

New entrance policy

The Ravens are initiating a new screening procedure for home games this year. All fans entering M&T Bank Stadium will be subject to a modified "pat-down" before entering the gates.

Fans are encouraged to arrive earlier than they have in the past to avoid long delays at the entrance gates.

Backpacks or tote bags of any type, coolers, large purses and umbrellas are among the objects prohibited inside the stadium.

No jinx here

As is the case every year, players flocked to televisions to try out the new Madden 2005 video game after practice.

This version has Lewis on the cover, which may not necessarily be a good thing.

Michael Vick (2003) and Daunte Culpepper (2002) were the two previous cover boys. Each suffered injuries that forced them out for a significant portion of the season, leading some to believe in a Madden cover jinx.

During an interview with ESPN, Lewis said he was not concerned, and Ravens coach Brian Billick was equally dismissive of any such hex.

"Some people still think Elvis is alive," Billick said. "If you want to believe what you want to believe, have at it."

Sun staff writer Jamison Henley contributed to this article.

Preseason opener

Opponent: Atlanta Falcons

Site: M&T Bank Stadium

When: Thursday, 8 p.m.

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

Line: Ravens by 3 1/2

Training camp

Full-squad practice, today, 8:45-11 a.m.; special teams, 3-4 p.m.

Camp update

Thumbs up: Ray Lewis landed a solid hit on running back Kory Chapman. ... Quarterback Brian Gaither hooked up with receiver Todd Devoe for a 50-yard touchdown. ... Kordell Stewart was sharp during a two-minute drill, scrambling once for 25 yards and completing a 10-yard pass to tight end Daniel Wilcox.

Thumbs down: Kyle Boller's daily inexcusable interception went to undrafted linebacker John Garrett. ... Terry Jones dropped a 25-yard pass in the middle of the field during 7-on-7 drills. ... Tight end Brett Pierce, in the midst of an attention lapse, watched the ball get knocked out of his hand by linebacker Brandon Barnes.

Quotable: "Every great football team has to have a consistent and highly efficient passing game. We can rely on Jamal [Lewis] only so far." - receiver Kevin Johnson.

Injuries: Peter Boulware (knee), Anthony Wright (shoulder), B.J. Sams (thumb), Trent Smith (leg), Orlando Brown (personal reasons) and Matt Zielinski (knee) did not practice. Todd Heap (knee) was limited. Chris McAlister (contract dispute) is not in attendance.

Today's schedule: Full-squad practice, 8:45 to 11 a.m.; special teams, 3 to 4 p.m.

Countdown to season opener: 33 days.

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