Ravens' Weaver has a knack for being in the right place

Defensive end stands out as `spokesman,' line anchor

December 15, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Tony Weaver did not have a sack in the Ravens' win over the New York Giants on Sunday. The defensive end did not force or recover a fumble, make an interception or perform any other momentum-gathering, game-changing play that usually warrants what waited for him in the locker room afterward.

Without the theatrics, Weaver, as has been the case through dominant wins as well as heartbreaking losses, still had a flock of cameras, microphones and tape recorders in front of him and interested parties waiting to hear what he had to say.

He gave the crew exactly what it wanted - perspective. Weaver may not make the eye-popping plays of a Ray Lewis or Ed Reed, but he can sum up what his team just did and where it is headed as well as anyone.

"It's something that ended up happening," Weaver said of his role as unofficial team spokesman. "It wasn't premeditated or planned. It's just how it's been going.

"Being around these guys, after a game, I have a feel for what has gone on and what just happened. And I can articulate that at that particular time."

Describing Weaver's play during the games requires far less analysis.

Every week, Ravens coaches are content in knowing Weaver will be where he is supposed to be, do what he is supposed to do and take advantage of the limited opportunities that come his way. His production remains fixed. In 12 of the 13 games, Weaver has had between three and six tackles.

Weaver also has four sacks and five batted-down passes this season, but he will be hard- pressed to do either Sunday, when the Ravens play the Indianapolis Colts and quarterback Peyton Manning, who is known to have one of the quickest releases in the game.

To get to Manning, who has been sacked only nine times, Weaver will have to come from what amounts to a defensive tackle position.

Although the Ravens officially use a 3-4 defensive front (three linemen, four linebackers), outside linebacker Terrell Suggs frequently is up on the line, pushing Weaver to the inside.

"He's really a guy that is out of position," defensive line coach Rex Ryan said of Weaver. "We're asking him to really be a team player, and that's what he is. He can make more sacks, big plays if he was in a 4-3 where he was playing defensive end."

Weaver reminds Ryan of former Ravens end Rob Burnett, whom Weaver was immediately compared to shortly after he was selected in the second round of the 2002 draft out of Notre Dame.

Burnett anchored the franchise's line for 12 seasons. Weaver, who has missed one game in his three-year career, appears well on his way to doing the same.

"My entire career in high school, college, I've always been that pillar of consistency," Weaver said.

Even if the plays do not come his way, that won't matter much. Weaver still will be the voice many seek to find out what happened and what it all means.

"For some reason, this year everyone wants to talk to me," Weaver said. "Now, knowing the heartbeat of the team, I don't think I would have been able to do that the last few years because of the lack of experience."

NOTES: Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown was voted by his teammates as this year's winner of the Ed Block Courage Award. Brown, in his second season after a three-year absence because of an eye injury, had to cope with his mother's death just before the season opener. The award annually honors a player from every team who shows commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. ...

Lewis was among 32 finalists for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which honors the player who has balanced civic and on-field activities. ... The Ravens promoted guard Brian Rimpf from the practice squad to the active roster and signed center Drew Caylor, who had been on the New York Jets' practice squad, to their own. Long snapper Mike Solwold was released. ... The Ravens donated $50,000 worth of fitness equipment to three area schools. Linebacker Peter Boulware will provide a fitness program through his foundation for students at Forest Park, one of the schools that received equipment.

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