Taylor shows Ravens good staying power


Starting for J. Lewis, he gains 55 rushing yards

Sanders puts on pressure


August 14, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA - When the Ravens matched the Cleveland Browns' restricted free-agent offer sheet for Chester Taylor, the backup running back swore he wasn't bitter about not having the chance to go to another team and become a starter.

Having a chance to start in place of Jamal Lewis last night, Taylor's actions more than matched his words.

Taylor rushed for 55 yards on eight carries in the Ravens' 16-3 preseason loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Six of Taylor's runs went for 6 yards or more, including his last, an 8-yard scamper that converted a third-and-1 when it looked like he would be stopped at the line of scrimmage.

It was the kind of determined run rarely seen from veterans in a preseason game.

"Every time I go out on the field, I try and do my best to help the team and run hard as I can," Taylor said. "Hopefully, I did that."

Taylor played in all 16 games last season, rushing for 714 yards with four starts. Taylor had back-to-back 100-yard games subbing for Lewis in December.

Lewis, who had offseason ankle surgery, practiced last week but did not take any hits. He may play Saturday when the Ravens play host to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Ravens, meanwhile, are paying Taylor $3 million, a hefty but seemingly worthy price for a backup.

"I'm really happy with the way we ran the ball because [Atlanta] stacked it up pretty good," offensive coordinator Jim Fassel said.

Sanders applies pressure

To prove his two sacks in the scrimmage against the Washington Redskins were no fluke, Deion Sanders took his pass-rushing skills a step further.

Sanders sacked and stripped Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in the first quarter, then recovered the fumble. The play halted a 78-yard Falcons' drive that began at their own 9.

Last night also marked the return of Sanders to the team that made him a first-round draft choice in 1989, and the stadium he once dubbed "his house."

"We sent in everybody, and I mean everybody and their mamma," Sanders said. "Fortunately, I was unblocked and was able to make a play. I just batted it out of his hands on jumped on it. With a guy like Michael Vick scrambling around, you know he is going to be free with the ball. I knew I would be able to make a play on the ball if I got to him."

46 defense gets going

The debut of Rex Ryan's much ballyhooed 46 defense was an unglamorous one.

After forcing a three-and-out on the Falcons' first possession, the Ravens shifted into the high-pressure formation midway through Atlanta's second drive.

Vick hit fullback Justin Griffith the first time the Ravens went to the 46 for an 18-yard gain. The Ravens used the formation five straight plays, the most notable of which was a 32-yard pass interference call on Chris McAlister, who was matched up one-on-one downfield against Michael Jenkins.

"I thought C-Mac made a good play, but pass [interference] calls work themselves out in the long run," Ryan said.

The Ravens also forced a Vick incompletion and held T.J. Duckett to runs of 3 and 4 yards during that stretch.

Bumps and bruises

Fullback Alan Ricard (leg) and safety Ed Reed (knee) did not play in last night's game. Reed hurt his leg near the end of Thursday's practice, but the injury is not believed to be serious.

Ricard limped off the field during Friday's walk-through. Both players are expected to return next week. Ovie Mughelli started for Ricard, while Chad Williams took Reed's place in the lineup.

Tight end Todd Heap (ankle, shoulder), linebacker Adalius Thomas (knee), linebacker Dan Cody (knee), cornerback Dale Carter (knee), running back Musa Smith (knee) and running back Jamal Lewis (ankle) did not play.

End zone

Former Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa returned as a sideline reporter for the team last night. Siragusa showed off a slimmer figure, with estimates having him weighing less than 330 pounds. ... Receiver Patrick Johnson returned the opening kickoff 16 yards. Johnson is competing with incumbent B.J. Sams to be the team's kickoff returner. ... Philadelphia Eagles receiver Terrell Owens attended last night's game, sitting in the stands. Owens declined all interviews. ... The Ravens have canceled tomorrow's practice.

Next for Ravens

Preseason matchup: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Ravens

Site, when: M&T Bank Stadium, Saturday, 8 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 45, Comcast SportsNet/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

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