This time, Billick feels Porter's wrath

Ravens notebook

Steelers linebacker says coach let Ravens starters play too long in '03 finale

Pro Football

September 16, 2004|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter expanded his mini-feud with the Ravens, taking a shot at coach Brian Billick yesterday.

"A smart coach, you don't play your players that long in a regular-season game that has no meaning," Porter said. "And he played them all the way to the end in overtime just to beat us. That lets you know how serious the rivalry is."

Porter was referring to the Ravens' 13-10 win over the Steelers in last season's regular-season finale. The Ravens had learned hours before the game that they had clinched the AFC North title because of a Cincinnati loss, but still played their starters for the entire game.

Asked if he thought Billick wasn't smart, Porter said, "He's probably a smart coach, but at the same time, he's coach of that team and that's what he felt like he had to do to get their motivation up for next week. Personally, me, I wouldn't have played my guys into overtime knowing they have a playoff game the next week."

Porter has a history of fighting with the Ravens, dating to his altercation with linebacker Ray Lewis in last season's opener.

Lewis and the then-ailing Porter - inactive because of a gunshot wound - exchanged words before the game and later in the bus area at Heinz Field.

"He probably hates me," Porter said, "and it's the same around."

Unlike their trash-talking heyday in 2000, the Ravens have given a cold shoulder to such remarks from their opponents this season.

"We need to stop getting dragged into what people want to create," Lewis said. "I truly wish you guys [the media] would stop stirring up that confrontation. It was never a confrontation. I come to play football, that's it."

Ogden `feeling a lot better'

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden practiced for the first time in two weeks and remains optimistic about returning to the lineup.

"It's feeling a lot better," Ogden said about his sprained left knee after practice. "I did a lot more things."

Ogden and receiver Travis Taylor (groin) are listed as questionable, with Taylor not expected to play. The Ravens declared three players out - center Mike Flynn (collarbone), nose tackle Kelly Gregg (knee) and backup offensive tackle Ethan Brooks (knee) - for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.

Maake Kemoeatu will replace Gregg, and Randy Hymes will fill in for Taylor.

Tillman tribute

The Ravens will join the rest of the NFL in wearing a No. 40 decal on their helmet Sunday to pay tribute to Pat Tillman.

The former Arizona Cardinals safety left a multimillion-dollar contract in May 2002 to join the U.S. Army Rangers. He was killed April 22 in Afghanistan, the first NFL player to die in combat since the Vietnam War.

"He's the type of guy we all strive to be," said tight end Todd Heap, who knew Tillman from his days at Arizona State. "He went out and laid his life on the line for all of us and our freedom."

Baxter to wear soft cast

Cornerback Gary Baxter will wear a soft cast on his left hand in Sunday's game.

Baxter was injured in the first quarter of the Browns game when he got entangled with a player on a punt. Baxter missed much of the first half and had to get stitches at halftime. He was able to return.

"The challenge now is catching the ball," Baxter said. "I'm not worried about being physical or putting my hands on a guy. I know I can go out there and do that. I don't get paid to catch the ball. I get paid to knock it down."

End zone

Steelers backup quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injured his right knee during a passing drill yesterday, and the status for the first-round pick has not been determined. If Roethlisberger can't play, Pittsburgh likely will promote Brian St. Pierre off its practice squad. ... Steelers linebacker Kendrell Bell is questionable with a groin injury. ... Despite yesterday's rain, the Ravens practiced outdoors rather than moving to their new indoor field. ... Asked about dealing with his first loss under new principal owner Steve Bisciotti, Billick said, "Steve has been very supportive and Steve has a great feel for the emotional ebb and flow of this game and I'm appreciative of that."

Sun staff writer Brent Jones contributed to this article.

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) vs. Ravens (0-1)

Site: M&T Bank Stadium

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

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

Line: Ravens by 4

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