2 road games on tap for end of preseason


Regular season to open on the road, too

summer slate includes 3 from NFC East


ORLANDO, Fla. -- Although the preseason is essentially meaningless, the Ravens' exhibition schedule could influence the start of their regular season.

The Ravens face an unfavorable three-game road stretch this summer, playing their final two preseason games away from home and their regular-season opener on the road.

In the schedule announced yesterday at the NFL owners meetings, the Ravens wrap up the preseason at the Minnesota Vikings and at the Washington Redskins. Because the Orioles are playing at home on the NFL's kickoff weekend, the Ravens will start the regular season on the road.

It is only the third time in the Ravens' 11-year history - 2000 and 2002 were the others - that they will end the preseason with two away games and begin the regular season on the road.

"That's always a problem; it seems like we always start [the regular season] on the road," coach Brian Billick said after the meetings concluded. "Three games in a row is a challenge. But the fact that it's the end [of the preseason], they can recoup a little bit. D.C. is also like a home game. I'm comfortable with it."

The Ravens open the preseason at M&T Bank Stadium on Aug. 11, when they meet the New York Giants at 8 p.m. They next play the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 17 in a rare Thursday night game (8 p.m.), which avoids a weekend scheduling conflict with the Orioles.

The Ravens' third game will be at the Vikings in a matchup tentatively scheduled for Aug. 25. They close the preseason against their local rival, the Redskins, on Aug. 31 in their third contest against an NFC East opponent.

Because the Orioles play the New York Yankees at home Sept. 10-11, the Ravens are forced to play their first regular-season game on the road because the teams share parking lot space at Camden Yards. The Ravens have opened at home only twice in the past seven years.

With the Orioles out of town for the second and fourth weeks of the NFL season, the Ravens likely will play at home on those dates.

The NFL's regular-season schedule is expected to be announced next week.

"[The season opener] is fixed because of our lease," Ravens president Dick Cass said. "We will be away the first weekend."

QB update

The owners meetings ended with no progress on the Ravens' quarterback front.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said he spoke with agent David Dunn, who represents Kerry Collins and Joey Harrington, but indicated nothing surfaced from the meeting.

Asked if he expected to pursue a trade with the Detroit Lions for Harrington, Newsome said, "Not at this point."

End zone

Of the handful of NFL rule changes approved yesterday, Billick didn't seem to favor the one that stopped a rushing defensive player from forcibly hitting a quarterback below the knees. "There are real downsides that you worry about as a coach," he said. "But the trump card is you're trying to keep a vulnerable from being more vulnerable. That's a compelling argument." ... Billick was a supporter of allowing a defensive player to wear a radio helmet connected to coaches on the sideline. That proposal didn't pass because 11 teams voted against it. "If nothing else, we have a real good definitive list [of] who's good at stealing defensive [hand] signals," Billick said. ... The Ravens received an NFL-high four compensatory draft picks, but none ranked higher than the fourth round. Newsome said there was a reason why they weren't rewarded with a higher one. "You have to realize that playing time is involved [in the formula], and Gary [Baxter] and Ed [Hartwell] both got hurt," he said. ... For those who think Cleveland general manager Phil Savage has raided the Ravens, he pointed out that the Browns have only signed three - Baxter, punter Dave Zastudil and tight end Darnell Dinkins - which is the same number of New England Patriots on their roster. "It's a ridiculous and absurd notion; it's way overrated," Savage said. "I hope I can still go back to the Inner Harbor."


Ravens' 2006 preseason schedule

Date ........ Opponent .......................... Time

Aug. 11 ... N.Y. Giants ...................... 8 p.m.

Aug. 17 .....Philadelphia .................... 8 p.m.

Aug. 25* .. at Minnesota .................... TBA

Aug. 31 ... at Washington .................. TBA


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