Winborne fights for safety's sake

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Defensive back locked in battle with Ward, Butler for roster spot

Ravens & Nfl

August 23, 2006|By KATIE CARRERA | KATIE CARRERA,SUN REPORTER

Defensive back Jamaine Winborne has been on the bubble of NFL rosters before, but this time he's hoping for a different outcome.

In both 2004 as a rookie with the New York Giants and in 2005 with the Ravens, Winborne was waived as each team made its final round of cuts. This season, he is competing with B.J. Ward and rookie Robb Butler for the final safety spot on the Ravens' 53-man roster.

"I'm trying to do whatever I can do to stand out. I'm scratching and clawing right now," said Winborne, who had two solo tackles and a sack in the Ravens' first two preseason games. Butler has played in both preseason games as well but has not recorded a tackle, and Ward has been out with a head injury since the Ravens' scrimmage Aug. 5.

Winborne played as a cornerback last year in the preseason but is hoping that the switch to safety this year will benefit him by showing that he can be a more physical member of the secondary.

"I'm a little bit more versatile right now," said Winborne, who started as both cornerback and safety for Virginia while in college, and hopes to not get caught up in what mistakes he does make. "I'm just learning the position more so every day it's something new. ... I want to show them that even if I've got a lot to learn that I can learn it quickly."

While some players say they don't think about being cut, Winborne said he has been thinking about ways to improve his chances of making the team since before camp even started this year, and he believes he is closer to earning that elusive final roster spot than ever before.

"I think I've got a good chance," Winborne said. "I feel like I'm close, but I can still go the other way. I feel closer this year than I did last year."

Measuring up

At 5 feet 6, running back Cory Ross is the smallest player on the Ravens roster, but with a 15.7-yard average over three punt returns and 44 yards on two kickoff returns this preseason, the undrafted rookie free agent out of Nebraska is proving height doesn't matter.

"All I'm doing is catching the ball," said Ross, who is competing with B.J. Sams for a spot as a return specialist. "You have 10 other guys on the field who are working hard and trying to help you with the punt return and all you've got to do is run."

Koch may kick off

Punter Sam Koch said it's possible he will make the opening kickoff for the Ravens in their third preseason game Friday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Koch, a sixth-round draft pick out of Nebraska, kicked off for 72 yards in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, placing the ball two yards into the end zone. Kickoff specialist Aaron Elling handled the bulk of the Ravens' kickoff duties last year, but if Koch is able to handle both punting and kickoff responsibilities, it could open up a roster spot.

"I've been working on kicking off and the more chances I can get out on the field the better off I am," Koch said. "Once we get into game action and game scenarios, I've been doing really well, and here at practice I've been refining my skills."

Roster update

The Ravens began trimming their roster by releasing fullback B.J. Dean, wide receiver Tres Moses and offensive tackle Robin Meadow. The team, at 84 players, has until Tuesday to reach the 65-player roster limit.

Running back Jamal Lewis (hip), guard Brian Rimpf (hamstring), Ward (head) and wide receiver Matt Cherry (shoulder) missed yesterday's practice. katherine.carrera@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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