Stover embraces changes, looks to get off on right foot against Colts

Ravens notebook

Kicker has new snapper, adds kickoffs to duties

Pro Football

September 08, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Matt Stover has an added responsibility and a new snapper heading into Sunday night's season opener against the Indianapolis Colts, changes that sit well with the veteran kicker.

In a game in which field position can make the difference for the Ravens in trying to contain the Colts' offense, Stover will be asked to pin Indianapolis deep in its territory on kickoffs. When it's Stover's time to hit difference-making field goals, he will do so with rookie Matt Katula as his snapper.

"The team evaluated Matt a little bit better than Joe [Maese]," Stover said. "Tough decision by the coaching staff and management to make that jump because Joe has done an excellent job for the team."

As for the kickoffs, Stover said, "I've done it 900-and-some-odd times. I've always trained to be able to kick well and do the kickoffs."

It may be the last week for a while that Stover gets the chance. The team could re-sign kickoff specialist Wade Richey next week or promote Robbie Gould, whom they signed to the practice squad yesterday. The Ravens prefer to save Stover for field goals.

Stover, who has a .827 career field-goal percentage, converted 29 of his 32 attempts (90.6 percent) last season.

Meanwhile, if Katula has his way, this will be the last time he will be heard from for a while. Long snappers only get publicity if they fail to do their job.

Katula said he never had an errant snap during a game in his four years at Wisconsin. He replaces Maese, who had not had a bad snap his past three seasons with the Ravens.

"I thought it was leaning a little bit toward [Maese] because he's the veteran," Katula said. "But I'm glad they have the trust in me that I can go out there and do the job because I know I can."

Billick: Don't boo Boller

There figures to be much emotion in M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday night, and Ravens coach Brian Billick is doing everything in his power to make sure none of it is directed negatively toward his team.

Specifically, Billick wants to make sure the boos quarterback Kyle Boller heard during the preseason do not reappear, and the focus remains on the Colts' return to Baltimore.

"I can't imagine, it's totally beyond me how a Baltimore Raven fan, a fan that wants this football team to do well regardless of what happens in a game ... how anybody can even think twice about wanting to support the Indianapolis Colts by [booing]," Billick said.

Suggs clarifies position

The Ravens' official depth chart recognizes Terrell Suggs as a defensive end, but he bristled at that notion while talking about his responsibilities yesterday.

"Why does everybody keep saying that? Is anybody watching the games? I'm still standing up and I still drop [into coverage]," Suggs said. "I'm still a linebacker. I know everybody wants to give me the defensive end title. I don't know [why]."

Suggs, who hopes some of the confusion surrounding his actual position will hurt the opposition, was an outside linebacker in the Ravens' 3-4 defense last year.

"I think that is a great thing," Suggs said. "They don't know if Terrell Suggs is a linebacker or defensive end, but I'm going to go ahead and tell you. I just rush a lot more than I do drop, but I'm still a linebacker."

Football as escapism

Speaking publicly for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, Ray Lewis embraced the idea of sports as a distraction.

"This is not a game for the Ravens; this is a game for the city of Baltimore," Lewis said. "This is a game for all the people in New Orleans who are going through the things they are going through; all the people who are going to go through the emotions of Sept. 11 that they went through. This is something they can get away from."

End zone

Left tackle Adam Terry practiced in pads yesterday, six days after spraining his ankle in the preseason finale against the Washington Redskins. Terry and receiver Devard Darling (quadriceps) are questionable for the game, the only players listed on the Ravens' injury report. As for the Colts, former Ravens receiver Brandon Stokley (shoulder) is probable. ... Running back Jamal Lewis was literally unavailable for comment yesterday after having a root canal. Lewis was able to practice.

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