Weaver out 4 weeks with dislocated toe/ Notebook

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

October 04, 2005|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

Ravens defensive end Tony Weaver will miss at least four weeks after dislocating his right toe during Sunday's 13-3 win over the New York Jets.

Weaver, the anchor of a defensive line that has remained largely healthy the past few years, has missed one game in his four seasons. Jarret Johnson likely will take Weaver's place in the starting lineup.

It was feared that Weaver's injury might be more serious than what was diagnosed yesterday, but a magnetic resonance imaging test showed there was no ligament damage to the foot.

"Right now, all the images and the prognosis is very, very good," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

"From a ligament standpoint, a bone standpoint, it could have been a lot worse, and it was not. We're in good shape."

Still, the loss leaves the Ravens without their most complete lineman, one who is as solid against the run as he is pressuring the quarterback. Peter Boulware, who registered his first sack in his most extensive action of the season against the Jets, might see increased playing time in place of Weaver on passing downs.

Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, inactive for the first three games this season, also could be used in running situations.

Weaver's projected absence because of injury marks the longest time out for any of the current defensive linemen since 2002. Kelly Gregg, Terrell Suggs, Maake Kemoeatu and Johnson have missed a combined six games since 2003.

Defense tops in AFC

Nearly a quarter of the way through the NFL season, the Ravens are the top defense in the AFC, giving up an average of 260.7 yards a game.

Last week, the Ravens were eighth in the conference, which is the reason Billick was not boiling over with excitement. Facing a third-string quarterback and limiting the Jets to 152 yards explains the jump.

"When we want to talk about league rankings, it's great to have," Billick said. "From our standpoint - even from a positive - yeah that's great, but we went from what to now the best defense in one game? Let's play a few more games [to see] what that means."

Sams on the spot

Despite the victory, return specialist B.J. Sams did not escape the ire of his coach.

Sams inexplicably attempted to field a punt at his goal line against the Jets, but the ball slipped through his hands. Luckily for the Ravens, it bounced out the back of the end zone for a touchback.

In the preseason against New Orleans, Sams also fielded a punt inside his 5-yard line, a big mistake for a returner.

"The first one in preseason, I was a little more forgiving," Billick said. "B.J., you can't make a mistake like that. We'll continue to bring focus to it. He's not a rookie anymore, so our expectations are much more demanding in terms of him. That's a critical error, and we can't make that kind of mistake."

New beginning

Even though the reality of having two losses is omnipresent, Billick has the team focusing on its 1-0 record since the bye week. In fact, that is the record the Ravens are claiming.

"I understand the two games," Billick said. "We are responsible for it. We put ourselves in that situation and we will be accountable until the end of the season. But you can understand why we want to take this mind-set.

"We've beaten ourselves up over that and hopefully made the corrections, and now we're going to go forward. It serves our purpose to have that mind-set, but we're not being ridiculous about it either."

The challenge

Billick does not regret wasting an instant replay challenge against the Jets, arguing that the spot on a third-down reception by Mark Clayton was a yard short. Challenges to where a ball is spotted are rarely overturned, and this one wasn't, either.

Billick has been fined by the league for criticizing the replay system, so he went in the other direction yesterday.

"I figured ... with our outstanding instant replay system that I have absolutely no lack of faith in. It's great that we have it," he said. "Maybe they'll give me back my $15,000 if I say enough good things about it. Was it worth a shot for a half an inch? Sure."

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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