With J. Lewis suspended, rotation to have new spin


Running back packages to shift with Taylor-Smith

October 21, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

While running backs Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor use a traditional rotation, do not expect the same when Taylor replaces a suspended Lewis as the starter and Musa Smith is the backup for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills.

Taylor generally came in for Lewis on third downs, but the Ravens do not plan to use Smith in the same way against the Bills. Smith, who does not have a rushing attempt this season, will see the bulk of his action substituting for Taylor for an entire series periodically during the game.

"We have a couple of packages," coach Brian Billick said. "If you just wait to substitute, sometimes you look up and you haven't done it. So we have different packages where Musa is the lead back, and we'll try to get a rotation that way."

Once Smith makes his first carry from scrimmage, it will be more than he has had all season. Smith scored two touchdowns as a rookie, but he failed to unseat Taylor as the top backup during the preseason.

Because of his 6-foot, 232-pound frame, Smith was always considered the back who could better handle the majority of snaps in the absence of Lewis, but Taylor has proven his worth with at least seven carries in three of the past four games.

"I haven't been getting the snaps. I've just been doing special teams," Smith said. "I've had maybe nine snaps this season and haven't carried the ball at all. I'll be getting the ball this game, and hopefully some good things will happen."

With Lewis out the next two weeks, Smith realizes his best chance of impacting a game later in the season begins with gaining productive yards against the Bills.

It should help that Smith will have more than just one down at a time to do so.

"I've been doing real good on special teams, and I take that serious," Smith said. "Anything I do, I want to do my best. I just have to step up and do some great things out there, and hopefully they'll have me more in the offense even when Jamal comes back."

Billick wants rule changed

Lewis will have to wait until Nov. 1 before he can work out at the new facility, a rule Billick wants reviewed at the end of this season.

Because of his league-mandated two-game suspension, Lewis is barred from the Ravens' facility.

"We can talk to him, but he's not allowed to be in the building, which I really think has to be revisited," Billick said. "When you have an athlete in this position, this is when he needs the organization the most. He needs to be around the counseling, the mentoring we have here.

"To totally isolate a guy from a team, I don't think it's in the best interest of the team, it's not in the best interest of the athlete, and it's not in the best interest of the league."

Can't keep him down

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti had neck surgery last week but plans to attend Sunday's game.

Bisciotti, who visited the team for the first time since it moved into the new complex yesterday, had two vertebrae in his neck fused and is expected to be in a neck brace the next two weeks.

Former Ravens majority owner Art Modell also made his first appearance at the new complex.

Injury report

Receiver Travis Taylor and center Mike Flynn practiced, while tight end Todd Heap did not and appears unlikely to play Sunday.

The Ravens had circled yesterday's practice as key for Heap's return this week. Taylor (groin) and fullback Ovie Mughelli (hamstring) are questionable, while Heap (ankle) and Flynn (shoulder) are doubtful.

"We're very optimistic with Travis," Billick said. "Less so with Todd."

A lot of quarters

Because of problems with the laundry machines at the Ravens' new training complex yesterday, equipment manager Ed Carroll had to wash the team's practice clothes at a local Laundromat, using $200 in quarters.

Sun staff writer Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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