Blitzing from the corner gives Baxter quite a rush

Ravens notebook

Raven loves putting hits on unsuspecting QBs

Pro Football

September 23, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

As long as he doesn't get caught, Ravens cornerback Gary Baxter embraces blitzing quarterbacks when he is lined up against the slot (inside) receiver in passing situations.

"I tell you one thing, if they don't account for you, it's a whole lot easier," Baxter said. "But if they account for you, one of those linemen coming out on a 200-pound DB is not fun. But for the most part, it's fun mixing it up in the fire."

Baxter must have had a ball knocking Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox out of the game on a blind-side hit in the third quarter of the Ravens' 30-13 win Sunday. Baxter came virtually untouched and knocked the ball out before Maddox's arm came forward to pass.

The Ravens recovered the fumble and scored a backbreaking touchdown one play later to go up 20-0. The key for Baxter was in the deception.

"That's the great thing I did against Pittsburgh: The man came in motion, and I played like I was in man coverage with the other cornerbacks," Baxter said. "The tackle and quarterback didn't account for me, and I came free. Disguising the blitz is always important because you don't ever want them to know where you are coming from."

Baxter often plays close to the line of scrimmage to jam receivers on the snap of the ball. But lining up there -- especially against the slot receiver -- also gives Baxter a shorter and clearer path to the quarterback, a conscious offensive tackle standing as the only deterrent.

Considering the confusion the Miami Dolphins caused the Cincinnati Bengals with their array of blitzes, the Ravens may opt to use Baxter as a pass rusher a few more times Sunday.

Billick not worried

Ravens coach Brian Billick gave a strong affirmation to a position that appears significantly weaker.

Tight end Todd Heap (ankle) will miss Sunday's game against the Bengals, but Billick gave the ultimate compliment to backups Terry Jones and Dan Wilcox.

"I'm not worried about the tight end position at all," Billick said. "I'm very confident there. What I'm worried about is the lost presence of down the field with a Todd. That presence down the field is what we are going to have to find a formula for. The actual tight end, point-of-attack blocking, Daniel and Terry are playing very well."

Sanders vs. Johnson

Cornerback Deion Sanders did not practice yesterday and is questionable for Sunday, much to the dismay of Bengals receiver Chad Johnson.

Johnson, who is close friends with Sanders, was quoted in the team's news release saying "tears came to my eyes" when he heard Sanders was coming out of retirement.

Sanders is hobbled with a strained hamstring that kept him out of the second half of the win over Pittsburgh.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Sanders said of the injury. "I'm going to try to do my best to be there for my teammates."

As for his relationship with Johnson, Sanders said, "That's like my little brother. Working with him during the summers, being able to cover him, we would love to get it on together. He's one of the top three receivers in the game. He's that good."

Charity event

Linebacker Ray Lewis will host the second annual Great Maryland Duck Derby on Oct. 2 at Padonia Park Club.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Ray Lewis Foundation, which provides personal and economic assistance to at-risk youth. Ducks can be adopted for $10 each or four ducks for $30.

"It's truly a great thing that brings not just the sports fans but the community together," Lewis said.

For more information, call 410-576-8343 or visit

Refs at practice

The Ravens will have officials at practice today to help cut down on the team's 10 penalties against the Steelers.

"We have refs coming out in practice just to re-emphasize some things, just to be there to make calls to the guys, `Hey, that would have been motion, that would have been holding,' " Billick said.

End zone

Center Mike Flynn practiced on a limited basis for the first time since August. Flynn is recovering from a broken collarbone and will not play Sunday. Defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (knee), Heap (ankle) and receiver Travis Taylor (thigh) did not practice. Heap and Taylor are listed as doubtful but will not play, while Gregg and tackle Ethan Brooks (knee) are questionable. ... The Ravens signed cornerback Calvin Carlyle to the practice squad. Carlyle, out of Oregon State, has had stints with the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. ... Former Ravens safety Gerome Sapp is expected to sign a contract with the Colts.

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