Fullbacks try to push ahead

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Green, Mughelli locked in tight race

contrasting styles give offense options

August 10, 2006|By EDWARD LEE | EDWARD LEE,SUN REPORTER

Justin Green and Ovie Mughelli aren't sure which one will be tabbed as the Ravens' starting fullback. It's the same dilemma confronting the coaching staff.

Thirteen days into training camp at McDaniel College at Westminster, the competition for the job is still open. At times Green -- who is listed first on the depth chart at the fullback spot ---has been part of the first-team offense, but Mughelli has run with the same unit on other occasions.

It's a somewhat troubling situation for an offense that prides itself on a power running game.

"We've got to get some faith in those guys and what they're doing," coach Brian Billick said earlier this week. "We're using the H-backs and tight ends a little bit more in that capacity. So there's a full crowd, which is good, but what you're alluding to is very real. Our backs have to get into a comfort zone and a trust of the big fullbacks in front of them."

Last month, because of the presence of both Green and Mughelli, the team released Alan Ricard, who paved the way for Jamal Lewis to rush for 2,066 yards -- second most in NFL history -- in 2003.

Green, 5 feet 11 and 251 pounds, is the versatile back who can cut back between the tackles or roll out for a quick pass. On the other hand, Mughelli, 6-1 and 255, is the prototypical bruiser who can plow over a linebacker.

"The biggest thing for us is regardless of who starts, we're both going to be playing, and we bring two different things to the table as fullbacks," said Green, who started four games last season. "He's much more of a power-type guy, and I've got a more athletic background. So it's going to be a fun competition."

Mughelli, who started five games last season, said he used to stress out about his position on the depth chart last year and become ill. This year, he said he doesn't worry about it.

"It's pretty much whoever makes the fewest mistakes," Mughelli said. "We're all good, and we all have our strengths. It's basically who produces and gets the ball moving."

Ngata `doubtful' for tomorrow

Billick said it was unlikely that rookie defensive tackle Haloti Ngata would be available to play in tomorrow night's preseason game against the New York Giants at M&T Bank Stadium.

Ngata, the 12th overall pick in April's draft, sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during Saturday's scrimmage with the Washington Redskins and has not practiced since.

"I would say that it's doubtful," Billick said.

Reserve offensive lineman Brian Rimpf also may not play because of a severe left hamstring injury, but Billick said he did not know if the hamstring was torn. Wide receiver Clarence Moore (sports hernia), tight end Rob Abiamiri (strained hamstring), safety B.J. Ward (migraine) and cornerback David Pittman (strained hamstring) also did not participate in yesterday's morning session.

Ogden back in camp

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden is scheduled to return to training camp and practice today for the first time this preseason.

A team spokesman confirmed that the nine-time Pro Bowl selection called the organization yesterday and said that he would be present for the team's morning practice today.

Ogden has missed the first 13 days of practice after the death of his father, Shirrel, July 26. Ogden visited training camp Aug. 1 but did not take part in drills.

It is unlikely Ogden would be ready to play in tomorrow night's exhibition contest.

Daniels learning

When the Ravens used a fourth-round draft choice on Georgia Tech's P.J. Daniels, he became part of a running back group already stocked with several established players. However, Daniels said he isn't discouraged.

"I'm learning a lot from the veterans," he said. "Mike [Anderson], Musa [Smith], Jamal [Lewis], they have all talked to me and let me know how it is. They've told me things like to make sure you take care of your body, make sure you go hard and make sure I continue doing what I do -- being hungry for the game."edward.lee@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Katie Carrera and David Selig contributed to this article.

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