Seven-man rotation covers all the bases

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Extra men help provide rest for offensive line

Billick wants crisp finish

December 14, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

When the Ravens introduced their offense before Sunday's win over the New York Giants, the names and numbers of seven linemen were announced.

That is two more than all other teams choose to highlight, but the Ravens, as evidenced during much of last season and revisited Sunday, believe their top linemen should all play.

And that is not likely to change.

"As long as they are working in coordination together, and that's hard to do," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "You don't see the rotation on offensive lines like you do defensive lines for that reason. But this group does a pretty good job with it. Mike Flynn has done a good job, and it was great to get Orlando [Brown] back.

"We're still apt to see a certain rotation."

Ethan Brooks and Flynn started at right tackle and right guard, respectively, and rotated throughout the game with Brown and Bennie Anderson.

Brown and Anderson began the year as the full-time starters, but the Ravens were impressed with Brooks as a fill-in starter six games this year, and Flynn has been a starter since the 2000 season.

Now Flynn has essentially switched places with center Casey Rabach, who rotated with Anderson much of last year.

Brown, who started the first 10 games of the season, missed the previous two before playing in half the snaps against the Giants. Though Brown did not have to deal with a rotation before hurting his knee, he will now.

"With the nature of what we have, that's been useful for us late in the game," Billick said. "You see defensive lines rotate a lot nowadays. That's kind of the vogue thing, fresh defensive linemen. That's no less true of an offensive lineman. You like to have fresh legs in there."

Serious business

While the Ravens' win over the Giants was a laugher, Billick was not in a joking mood when he gathered the entire offense together late in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens were forced to punt from New York's 36 with a little more than six minutes left. When the offense came off the field, Billick had the group circle around him, and cameras caught a rare sideline tantrum. The Ravens were up by 30.

"I didn't want to finish the game sloppy," Billick said. "I wanted to see the focus throughout. I wanted them to push themselves that way. There were a couple of series where a couple of things went on.

"Again, you can look at it in the context of the game and figure that's what happens in a game like that and we'll just get out of here. But at the same token I wanted a sense of accountability and to know that's not how we are going to finish."

Defending the spikes

Billick went on one of his longest rants of the year explaining why he called for two spikes in the Ravens' two-minute drive to end the first half when the team still had multiple timeouts.

Both spikes came after first downs, were authorized by Billick and drew boos from the crowd. The Ravens eventually scored a touchdown on Kyle Boller's 8-yard pass to Clarence Moore with 21 seconds left.

"To go on a nine-play, 70-yard drive and at the end of it get booed bothers me a little bit," Billick said.

No new injuries

The Ravens reported no serious injuries from the game. All who returned after missing time - Jamal Lewis, Brown and Deion Sanders - are expected to be available against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night.

"This was the first time we got everybody back, and I think it showed," Boller said. "All the guys did a great job stepping up."

Said Billick: "We came out relatively healthy. We got the normal bumps and bruises. Right now, no one is particularly at risk. We'll deal with it in more detail Wednesday. But I don't know of anybody right now who would be put in any category other than questionable."

Single digits

Linebacker Ray Lewis finished with just nine tackles, ending his streak of 22 games with at least 10.

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Ravens (8-5) vs. Indianapolis Colts (10-3)

Site: RCA Dome, Indianapolis

When: Sunday, 8:30 p.m.

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

Line: Colts by 8

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