Rising since departure, Stokley praises old team


Wide receiver says it `was four great years'

Moore backs Boller

Pro Football

December 18, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Indianapolis Colts receiver Brandon Stokley's career has ele- vated since he left the Ravens after the 2002 season, a fact most directly attributed to his health.

Though questionable for tomorrow's game against the Ravens with a groin injury, Stokley has yet to miss one this season.

He has 58 catches for 936 yards and nine touchdowns, all career highs. Those numbers though, have not gone to his head.

Always one of the most humble players through his first four seasons with the Ravens, Stokley passed at the chance to take a swipe against his former team.

"I had a great time there," Stokley said. "It was four great years. There were some ups and downs and some disappointments with the injuries. But I'll never forget my time there. I'm thankful for those four years. I got a Super Bowl ring and met some great people."

Stokley showed promise when he played for the Ravens. The problem came from the number of games he played, reaching more than eight in just one of his four years. The Ravens shied away from offering Stokley a lucrative contract because of his injury history.

After signing a two-year deal with the Colts and missing the first half of last season, Stokley has excelled at being the team's third receiver (lining up in the slot position).

"We didn't think it was a major injury risk," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "We just thought he would fit in pretty well. He started to give us this type of production really at the tail end of last year, and it's just kind of carried over this year."

Chances are if he plays, Stokley will be matched up against Gary Baxter. The two often had their battles during practice.

Baxter, though, would not admit to having to cover Stokley.

"It's going to be a whole bunch of matchups out there," Baxter said. "Everybody is going to be matched up, moving around, so everybody is going to get their turn.

"Stokley has really made a number for himself."

Taking Kyle over Peyton

Many of his counterparts may long to play with Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, but Ravens receiver Clarence Moore is fine where he is and with who he has.

Moore leads the Ravens with four touchdown receptions, all from Kyle Boller.

"I'd rather grow together with a young quarterback," Moore said. "Me and [Boller], we're going to grow together. What are you guys going to be saying about us in a few years when we put time together? It's going to be fun to watch."

Less heavy burden

For a rare time this season, the Ravens will not have to worry about a defensive tackle weighing over 300 pounds.

Colts defensive tackles Montae Reagor and Josh Williams both weigh 285, a matchup for a Ravens interior line that features three players over 300.

To make matters worse for the Colts, right guards Mike Flynn and Bennie Anderson split time, a move Flynn, a former starter, endorses.

"It's fine," Flynn said. "It's the situation I'm in now, and I'm happy. The biggest thing for me is it took a little bit longer for me to get in football shape, but the key is I'm playing. You worry about all that other stuff later."

Kudos for Gregg

Of all the stars on the Ravens' defense, Dungy chose to highlight one of the most unheralded members.

"I've always liked Kelly Gregg," he said. "Ever since he came out, I thought he'd be prototypical in our system when I was down in Tampa. We didn't get a chance to draft him, but those guys make things happen."

Gregg is second on the defensive line with 70 tackles.

All are `ready to go'

The Ravens remain optimistic they will be at full strength tomorrow.

Despite nagging pain in his ankle, running back Jamal Lewis is expected to play, and linebacker Bart Scott should also be available.

"Everybody is ready to go," coach Brian Billick said.

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