Ravens' practice nearly perfect

Team dominates 'Skins in scrimmage

Sanders surprises with 2 sacks

August 07, 2005|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

If yesterday's scrimmage against the Washington Redskins served as a gauge, the Ravens could be full of surprises this season.

In the midst of the Ravens' dominating effort (no score was officially kept), the M&T Bank Stadium crowd of 35,517 could only watch in disbelief as Deion Sanders recorded a couple of sacks and Patrick Johnson caught a pass for the team's only touchdown.

For Johnson, it was a change of perspective. For Sanders, it was a change of position.

Playing in the slot instead of on the outside, Sanders exploited several open lanes to the quarterback, captaining a high-pressured defense that sacked Redskins starter Patrick Ramsey four times on 12 passing plays.

"That shows you how deadly that defense is," defensive end Terrell Suggs said. "We got people doing astronomical things at places they're not supposed to be doing it."

The pass rusher then joked about Sanders' new fondness for sacks, saying, "My job is definitely threatened. I've got to go back to the drawing board."

Although tackling the quarterback wasn't permitted, there was a near celebration after Sanders' first tap of Ramsey.

A Ravens official playfully approached Sanders about announcing his first career sack to the stadium, but the 14-year veteran responded with the date, the game, the quarterback and the situation of his last and only NFL sack. It was 1991 against Jeff Hostetler and it resulted in a touchdown.

"I've never been in a position where I blitzed on occasion," Sanders said, "but now I can drop into coverage or blitz."

There was similar awe after Johnson laid out for a 32-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Wright.

In his third stint with the Ravens, he is trying to change his reputation as a wide-out who drops passes. Johnson, a 1998 second-round pick of the Ravens, was the leading receiver of the scrimmage with four catches for 62 yards.

His impressive start in this camp might have leapfrogged him over Devard Darling and Randy Hymes for the fourth receiver spot.

"It's a different Patrick Johnson," Billick said. "He seems to be eliminating those pesky drops that he's had. He's always been an all-out player, but it's great to see Patrick have the camp he's had."

The biggest change in Johnson was his eyesight. Recently diagnosed with far-sightedness, he has new contacts and a new perspective.

"There are so many opportunities where I missed the ball because I just didn't see it," Johnson said. "I've been playing this way forever and just didn't know it."

It was tougher to judge the performance of the starting offense.

The Ravens were without running back Jamal Lewis and tight end Todd Heap, and the Redskins were missing six key defensive players.

In two drives, quarterback Kyle Boller was 4-for-6 for 44 yards. He put them in range for a Matt Stover 38-yard field goal on the opening series.

"We still have a long ways to go," Boller said, "but it was good to get the momentum of taking that first drive down there and getting points on the board."

Said Billick: "Kyle seemed in command. He had a good, solid session."

Wright seemed to look downfield more, hitting Clarence Moore for a 44-yard pass before connecting with Johnson in the end zone. Wright finished 4-for-6 for 89 yards.

"You can tell Anthony has been out a year," Billick said. "Things need to happen just a tad quicker."

The Ravens defense, however, appeared to be in full stride.

The starters held Washington to 25 total yards on 15 plays. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis was constantly around the ball, registering four tackles and one sack.

The surprising part was very little of the pressure came out of their new 46 defense, which they used sparingly yesterday. Most of the sacks came from simple, vanilla schemes.

"That was just good football players making plays," Suggs said. "We didn't even blitz that much. We didn't even give you a taste."

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