Returner Hall raises some special concerns

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

ChiefM-Fs kickoff TD was RavensM-F undoing last time

Sanders, Gregg improved

October 01, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,Sun Staff

Kansas City Chiefs return specialist Dante Hall will likely glide side to side, stutter step, reverse field and change speeds in an attempt to find room for a big return in Monday nightM-Fs game against the Ravens.

All of HallM-Fs histrionics, though, will only be part of the Ravens coverage unitsM-F concerns. The 10 other guys paving the way for Hall are just as big an issue.

M-tThose guys can block,M-v Ravens special teams ace Harold Morrow said. M-tThey block all the way up and down the field. We have to play our best game.M-v The Ravens know this from experience. Hall returned a kickoff 97 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of a 17-10 loss when the teams met last year. The return came after the Ravens had limited him to kickoff returns of 11 and 13 yards earlier in the game, and his lone punt return lost 4 yards.

But Hall, as dangerous return men tend to do, made the Ravens pay once he was given a second chance. The touchdown return came after the Ravens were offside on a kickoff less than a minute before and forced to kick again.

Hall, who missed practice yesterday with an infected lower lip, leads the NFL with a 14-yard punt return average this season. He drew praises from someone many consider one of the top punt returners of all time.

M-tI think he is the best to ever do what he does,M-v Ravens nickel back Deion Sanders said. M-tPunts and kickoffs combined, heM-Fs the best ever. ItM-Fs the truth.M-v

The good news for the Ravens is that Hall has only had a chance to field nine punts in three games because of the ChiefsM-F struggling defense.

Still, the Ravens know they have to be ready.

M-tLast year we had one of the top five special teams units in the league, and for him to get away from us one time, it just goes to show you how good they are,M-v Morrow said.

Ready for M-fPrime TimeM-F?

Sanders and nose guard Kelly Gregg returned to practice yesterday. Both were upgraded from doubtful to questionable.

Some believe, though, that Sanders is certain to return to Monday Night Football, where he has put on some of his most memorable shows.

Asked if he would make more of an effort to be in the lineup since the game will be played on the grandest stage of the regular season, Sanders said, M-tGames donM-Ft have a bigger meaning to me. Every game is the same. Every game I step out on the field, I get my opponentsM-F best.M-v

Offensive tackle Ethan Brooks (knee), linebacker T.J. Slaughter (hamstring) and fullback Ovie Mughelli (hamstring) also practiced. Receiver Travis Taylor (thigh) and tight end Todd Heap (ankle) did not practice and will not play.

Boulware progressing

Linebacker Peter Boulware no longer has the noticeable limp he has had since the beginning of training camp, making the Ravens more optimistic that the veteran pass rusher will be available midway through this season.

Boulware is on the physicallyunable- to-perform list, meaning he will not be eligible to play until the RavensM-F home game against the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 24. That date, though, is a stretch because the Ravens plan to be cautious with Boulware.

M-tHe seems to be moving well,M-v Ravens coach Brian Billick said. M-tKeep in mind that we have three weeks after they come off of PUP to make a determination. ItM-Fs not like the six weeks are up, and heM-Fs ready to go. We have three weeks to make that determination.M-v

JokeM-Fs on Baxter

Ray Lewis did not want to go into details about the practical joke he played on teammate Gary Baxter, which will air during halftime of the game Monday night.

All Lewis said is that he had to be talked into it, and that it will be funny.

M-tI donM-Ft know if I want to expose it to everybody yet,M-v Lewis said. M-tBut itM-Fs going to be funny. ItM-Fs a nice little joke that happened to him, and IM-Fll leave it at that. M-tI said no the first time they asked. They said, M-fNobody else will be good but you.M-F I was like, M-fOK.M-F It really didnM-Ft take long to convince me.M-v

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Kansas City Chiefs (0-3) vs. Ravens (2-1)

Site: M&T Bank Stadium

When: Monday, 9 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 2, 7/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Ravens by 5 1/2

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