C. Brown hopes experience will win out

Ravens notebook

His future with team may depend on when injured Boulware returns

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

Cornell Brown knows that he is competing with guys who are younger, more athletic and faster than he is.

But what Brown, who has been a fixture as a backup six of the previous seven seasons, has going for him are all the intangibles inherent in a seven-year career.

Brown built his reputation as a run-stopper and standout special teams player, often filling in for Peter Boulware during practices and training camp over the years while virtually assuring himself a roster spot with his play.

The Ravens, though, have become enamored with rookie Roderick Green, who has all but made the team, and promoted T.J. Slaughter to top backup at inside linebacker.

That leaves Brown and Bart Scott fighting it out over the final linebacker spot.

"I look at it like I do always; that I have to come out here and prove that I'm able to belong and someone they can use on this team," Brown said. "That's been my focus since I've got here, and that's going to be my focus as long as I play.

"They are younger guys, so that's always a factor. But I just have to go out there and prepare each day and do what I got to do to make this team.

The Ravens may choose to keep nine linebackers depending on the health of Boulware, who is not expected to practice and play until the regular season.

The longer Boulware is out, the better Brown's chances of making the opening day roster and guaranteeing his salary for the year. If Boulware gets healthy, it may be a stretch for the Ravens to keep nine linebackers.

Brown started three games last year and finished with 33 tackles. He started the Ravens' playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans, but struggled and recorded only two tackles, which may have played into the Ravens' drafting of Green. Then-Titan running back Eddie George and current Titan Chris Brown combined for 36 rushing attempts.

"Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. All I can do is go out there and perform, and hope my performance shows for itself," Brown said.

Woodson an option?

With all the talk about Deion Sanders, another all-time great cornerback's name was tossed around as a potential Raven.

Ravens coach Brian Billick was asked if the team had any interest in Rod Woodson, who played with the Ravens from 1998-2001 (primarily at safety). Woodson was released by the Oakland Raiders, where he spent the past two seasons, in July after failing a physical.

Woodson had a chronic left knee injury last year and eventually had surgery on it in December. It is not known when Woodson will be healthy enough to play.

"Rod Woodson is one of my favorite people. Depending on how things transpire, but I wouldn't preclude our interest in Rod," Billick said.

Unhappy returns

Billick gave his most scathing assessment of return specialist Lamont Brightful yesterday. Brightful fumbled his first punt return attempt in the Ravens' 24-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons last week.

Brightful also juggled his first attempt in the morning practice yesterday with no players around him.

"Anytime you put the ball on the ground, it's unacceptable," Billick said. "If he can't hold on to the ball, then we'll find somebody who can."

Working out for Kemoeatu

Ravens defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu recorded two sacks in the win over the Falcons. Although he did not have help either time in bringing down quarterback Matt Schaub, Kemoeatu credited Ray Lewis with an assist afterward.

"I've gotten bigger, faster and stronger," said Kemoeatu of his offseason workout program. "Ray told me to do some footwork, do some jump work so I can have quick feet and quick hands."

The sacks, though, came against backup linemen fighting for a spot on the team.

"A sack is a sack," Kemoeatu said jokingly. "I'm going to get two more in the Philadelphia game."

Making a mess of it

As is the case every year, the veterans tied a couple of the rookies to the goal post following practice.

Second-round pick Dwan Edwards and third-round choice Devard Darling were on the receiving end of some good-natured hazing which including getting tubs of water dumped over their heads, plus shaving cream and liquid soap sprayed all over their bodies.

Kareem Kelly and Marcell Allmond, both of whom tried to help Edwards and Darling, were tied up after the special teams practice in the afternoon.

"They had been threatening us all camp," Darling said.

Camp update

Thumbs up: Todd Heap was able to hide himself among the offensive linemen before slipping out in an open area and hauling in a pass from Kyle Boller for an 8-yard touchdown. ... Lance Frazier made a diving interception in the end zone in front of Clarence Moore. ... Kory Chapman had the best run of the day, eluding a couple of tackles and carrying the ball down the sideline for 30 yards.

Thumbs down: It was a rough day for Randy Hymes, who dropped two passes (the first on a 5-yard slant). ... The first-team offense failed to move on a first-and-10 from the defense's 12-yard line. All three of Boller's passes sailed out of the end zone.

Quotable: "I'm definitely starting to see people recognize me and see how good I really am in some of the things I do." - cornerback Gary Baxter.

Injuries: OLB Peter Boulware (knee), QB Anthony Wright (shoulder), RB B.J. Sams (thumb), TE Trent Smith (leg), CB Fred Weary (quadriceps), WR Derek Abney (shoulder), G Casey Rabach (knee) and T Matt Zielinski (knee) did not practice. CB Chris McAlister (contract dispute) is not in attendance.

Today's schedule: Full-team practice, 8:45-11 a.m., 4-5:30 p.m.

Countdown to season opener: 26 days.

Next for Ravens

Preseason matchup: Ravens (1-0) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (0-1)

Site: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

When: Friday, 8 p.m.

Line: Eagles by 3

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

Training camp today

Full-team practice, 8:45-11 a.m., 4-5:30 p.m.

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