Ravens' Brown set for Kearse's taunts

Lineman who lost his cool in playoffs vows to control himself vs. Eagles' new pass rusher

October 29, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The last time Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown faced Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jevon Kearse, the sleek, pass-rushing specialist won the battle more with his mind than with his skill.

Kearse, then with the Tennessee Titans, baited Brown into two costly personal-foul penalties, the latter of which helped pave the way for a game-winning field goal by Gary Anderson in the Ravens' first-round home playoff loss last January.

Brown expects Kearse to be up to the same tricks when their respective teams square off Sunday in Philadelphia, but this time, Brown said he will be better than before.

"He probably will," Brown said when asked if he expects antics from Kearse. "Who wouldn't? But I'm a different player now. To me, it's a regular game, and he's a regular person."

Kearse is part of a defense, though, that is anything but ordinary. Brown's bigger concern may come from an Eagles defense that blitzes as much as any team in the league, often in the most unconventional ways.

With Jonathan Ogden (hamstring) set to miss the game, Brown will have to anchor a line that figures to face its most daunting challenge of the season. The Eagles lead the league with 23 sacks (13 different players help make up that number).

The basis for their success lies in simple mathematics. Philadelphia has a tendency to bring more players from one side of the field than there are blockers - essentially bringing both a linebacker and safety or cornerback from the same area as a defensive end.

As many as five players can come from one half of the field.

"They take more chances," offensive line coach Jim Colletto said. "Most people would never run five guys to one side of the offensive line. These guys do, and they make you throw it real fast, and they react to the throw real quick."

Even if the Eagles choose to overload one side, the Ravens feel it can be blocked or eluded by quarterback Kyle Boller's mobility.

"It can be blocked if you are in the right protection scheme," Colletto said. "If you are not, then your quarterback has to unload the ball."

That has been a problem for Boller this season.

The Ravens are 30th in the league in sacks per pass play (Boller is sacked once every 8 1/2 attempts). While Boller has been more aggressive in running the ball, he often takes off after just a brief look down the field, and defenses have been quicker to close down his running lanes.

Philadelphia blitzes so often, rarely are there running lanes to begin with.

"We need to be smart in all our protections," Boller said. "They will keep pressuring us, hoping that we make mistakes."

This is where the running backs come in, and it has nothing to do with how Chester Taylor and Musa Smith hit the holes.

Both backs will be called upon for blitz pickup, and they often will be the primary ones standing in the way of a blitzing defender and Boller.

It is not the best part of the job for Taylor.

"But that's part of being a running back," he said. "You've got to learn how to block.

"Like we do every week, we've got our blitz assignments. We just have to read our keys and go get him."

Even without the blitz, the Eagles present a formidable defensive line. Tackle Corey Simon made his first Pro Bowl last year after recording 7 1/2 sacks and fellow tackle Darwin Walker is second on the team with nine hurries this year.

Backup end and longtime Eagles favorite Hugh Douglas also has a couple of sacks this season in limited playing time.

But the catalyst on the defensive line is Kearse, whom Philadelphia signed to a lucrative free-agent deal this offseson. Kearse leads the team with four sacks and has also forced and recovered a fumble.

Just what did Kearse do last year that upset Brown so? Brown would not divulge too many details other than to say it was not verbal. Kearse did stand over tight end Terry Jones for an extended period of time after one play, which led Brown to push Kearse to the ground for one of the penalties.

The other came when Brown shoved Kearse again well after a play.

"I'm always doing something I'm not supposed to," Brown said. "But that was last year, though. He never said nothing bad to me. He just says I'm crazy. He tells everybody I'm crazy. I hear that a lot. I do see a psychiatrist, but I'm not crazy.

"He's a good player, I'm a good player. We're just going to meet at the line of scrimmage."

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Ravens (4-2) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (6-0)

Site: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

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

Line: Eagles by 7 1/2

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