Suggs leads cheers as team places 5 in Pro Bowl

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Others take it in stride

R. Lewis to wear a cast

December 23, 2004|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

When the Ravens announced their five Pro Bowl players yesterday, the reaction was as up and down as their season.

The responses from the selected players - linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, safety Ed Reed, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and cornerback Chris McAlister - varied from surprised to subdued to surly.

No one was more elated than Suggs, 22, one of the youngest ever to reach the Pro Bowl. But coach Brian Billick, who informed the team of the selections after practice, made Suggs sweat a little.

"He went over the guys that made it and he paused for a minute." Suggs said. "Then he said my name and I was like, 'Wow.' It was a great feeling."

Besides Suggs (who became the Ravens' eighth first-round pick to make the all-star game), the others were repeat selections: Ogden (eighth), Lewis (seventh), Reed (second) and McAlister (second).

But many didn't share the same excitement as Suggs.

Before rushing out of the locker room, Reed's only comment was: "The Pro Bowl doesn't make me."

McAlister, who was genuinely shocked over his selection last year, was far more reserved this time.

"I'm not surprised." McAlister said. "It is what it is."

Asked why he didn't seem happier about the honor, he said, "It's the end of my workday. What do you want me to do? Jump up and down?"

It marked the sixth time in the franchise's nine-year history that the Ravens had at least five Pro Bowl players. In addition, Matt Stover was named the first alternate at kicker.

"As we know, the Pro Bowl also has somewhat of a cumulative presence, which is right to a degree." Billick said. "We like to refer to it as the Jonathan Ogden Invitational as opposed to the Pro Bowl."

'Pittsburgh's Kryptonite'

The Ravens, the only team to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers this season, are confident they can do it again.

"We're Pittsburgh's Kryp tonite." Suggs said. "They lost to one team this year and that team is us. Some teams just can't beat us, like Jacksonville, Denver and Pittsburgh. It's going to be a brawl."

Since the Ravens upended Pittsburgh, 30-13, in Week 2, the Steelers have reeled off 12 straight wins. Their average margin of victory in that streak has been 9.7 points.

R. Lewis to play hurt

With players still sore after playing on the RCA Dome's AstroTurf, Billick scaled back his practice yesterday and made it "a mental day."

Lewis (wrist), running back Jamal Lewis (ankle) and nickel back Deion Sanders (foot) - all listed as questionable - did not practice but are expected to play Sunday. Ray Lewis said he will wear a cast on his wrist, which he said was broken in Indianapolis on Sunday.

"It's getting better." Lewis said. "It's day to day. But it's going to be what it's going to be what it's going to be. Anything that is broken won't be good."

Tight end Todd Heap (ankle, questionable) missed parts of practice while backup nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu (calf, questionable) and reserve linebacker Bart Scott (knee, questionable) participated in all drills.

Prime Time, anytime

If Sanders wants to come back next season, the Ravens would welcome his return.

Sanders, who will turn 38 next August, has only started and finished six of the Ravens' 14 games this season because of injuries. As a nickel back, he is second on the team with three interceptions, running one back for a touchdown.

"He's been a joy to have, a great addition to this club." Billick said. "We'd love to have him back."

Sanders was not available to comment yesterday.

Cavanaugh or Wannstedt?

The University of Pittsburgh did not name its coach yesterday as expected, but Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh remains a finalist for the job.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, however, reported on its Web site that former Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt may have re-emerged as the top contender to replace Walt Harris.

Wannstedt, who had taken his name out of consideration last week, was expected to talk with Pitt athletic director Jeff Long last night.

Billick said the interview process involving Cavanaugh has not been a distraction and he seemed optimistic that Cavanaugh would become the Panthers' coach.

"I've been down that road several times, both personally and with a lot of staff members." Billick said. "We have a structure in place that's going well. We hope they move on very, very quickly. I'm very comfortable with where we are should that happen for Matt and we're very hopeful that it will."

End zone

The Ravens are looking for their first three-game winning streak in their series with the Steelers. Kevin Johnson has 21 catches in his past seven games. His 32 receptions for the season are second on the team to Travis Taylor (34). The Ravens, Steelers and Atlanta Falcons are the only NFL teams with two 600-yard rushers.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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