Reserves pick up secondary

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Two interceptions help defense pitch shutout

Pro Football

August 13, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

With one of its leaders missing and another playing just a quarter, the Ravens' secondary managed to get along just fine in the team's preseason opener last night.

Cornerback Fred Weary returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown, and Ray Walls also picked off a pass as the secondary gave up just 111 passing yards in the Ravens' 24-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens were without Chris McAlister, who has yet to report to camp because of a contract dispute. Ed Reed, the other Pro Bowl player in the secondary, played just a couple of series.

But Weary, Walls and Rashad Holman carried their weight with strong games, as the Falcons' longest completion went for 16 yards.

Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub, who entered after the first series and played into the fourth quarter, completed 12 of 24 passes for 108 yards and finished with a 27.8 quarterback rating.

"We have a lot of guys that love to play the game," Weary said. "With Chris out, the other guys were just ready to play."

Weary's interception came with less than two minutes left in the first half and put the Ravens ahead 14-0. The seven-year veteran jammed first-round pick Michael Jenkins at the line of scrimmage, knocking him off his route. Weary then placed himself in perfect position to catch the ball as it caromed off Jenkins' hands.

Walls' interception came on the next series when he jumped a route and stepped in front of Jimmy Farris at the Falcons' 27-yard line.

Blitzes come early

While players from both teams may have been in preseason form with 17 combined penalties, the defensive coordinators were not.

Atlanta blitzed all three downs on its first defensive series, resulting in two sacks sandwiched around a desperate 7-yard run by quarterback Kyle Boller.

The Ravens, meanwhile, blitzed Will Demps on the third play of the game, resulting in a 9-yard sack of Michael Vick. Reed also blitzed on Atlanta's next series, forcing a third-down incompletion by Schaub and subsequent missed 51-yard field-goal try by the Falcons Jay Feeley.

As for his sack on Vick, Demps said, "I credit my teammates for opening the hole. It allowed me to get that sack."

O. Brown still missing

Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown missed last night's game because of personal reasons. He also missed practice earlier in the week.

"We certainly want to keep that the priority," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We want to make sure he's comfortable and on top of that before we put him in a game situation."

Brown is expected to return to practice tomorrow.

Receiver Travis Taylor (groin) also did not play. Rookie Devard Darling started in place of Taylor but did not have a reception.

Wilcox: 2 TD catches

Tight end Daniel Wilcox continued his strong camp with a big performance last night.

Wilcox caught touchdown passes from Boller (12 yards) and Kordell Stewart (10 yards), furthering his chances of becoming the Ravens' third tight end.

"This is going on year four for me, and I've always been that border guy," Wilcox said. "The NFL is all about competition."

End zone

Anthony Wright (shoulder), B.J. Sams (hand), Peter Boulware (knee), Matt Zielinski (knee) and Trent Smith (leg) did not play. ... Three calls were overturned on instant replay challenges. ... Last night's attendance (69,299) was a Ravens preseason record.

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