A Bull's-eye On Simms?

Ravens notebook

Ravens Will Likely Try To Confuse, Rattle Buccaneers Quarterback

September 09, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

Chris Simms has yet to start a full season's worth of games, but the quarterback will open the regular season under weighty expectations that he can help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers repeat last year's run to the playoffs.

The Ravens, Tampa Bay's opponent tomorrow, figure to target Simms.

"The guys up front, I believe, are going to go after him," cornerback Chris McAlister said. "I can't imagine there being any quarterback that you just want to let sit in the pocket. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens."

Added defensive end Trevor Pryce: "You want to rattle every quarterback's cage. That's not a surprise."

The Buccaneers went 7-4 under Simms, 26, who completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,035 yards and tossed 10 touchdown passes against seven interceptions. He is regarded as a mobile quarterback with a strong left arm.

But the Ravens will likely try to confuse Simms with a variety of formations and blitz packages. Simms said he is well aware of the challenge ahead.

"They're going to do what they do and throw whatever they want at any quarterback," he said. "They're a great defense. They're very experienced, so they know what they are [and] they know what they want to do. They never make it easy on any quarterback."

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, however, cautioned against putting too much into the matchup. Lewis said he would be just as concerned about second-year running back Cadillac Williams.

"Their heartbeat is running the ball," Lewis said. "[The Buccaneers'] Jon Gruden is that type of coach - he likes to establish his running game, he likes to play a man's game. So to put our focus on Chris Simms because he's young, we could be fooling ourselves."

Injury update

Several Ravens, including running back Jamal Lewis (hip), wide receiver Derrick Mason (thigh) and McAlister (thigh) were upgraded to probable yesterday. Also, kicker Matt Stover (back) was added to the injury report, but his status is probable.

Rookie running back P.J. Daniels (thigh) was downgraded to doubtful, and defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (thigh) is still listed as questionable for tomorrow's game.

Only Franklin and Daniels did not practice yesterday. Daniels jogged on an adjacent field during special teams practice, but later went back inside the team's training facility.

For Tampa Bay, rookie guard Davin Joseph (knee) is out, and linebacker Shelton Quarles (groin) and guard Dan Buenning (ankle) are questionable.

Stover's tough starts

Starting off on the right foot has been a constant problem for Stover.

The third most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history, Stover is 2-for-7 in season openers since 2001, including 0-for-3 last year. Conversely, he has only missed 16 times during the other 75 games in that five-year span.

"I wish I could deny that the first games aren't hard. They're tough," Stover said. "You really can't duplicate regular-season kicks. You can try to in the preseason, but it's a different mentality. The pressure isn't the same."

A nice ring to it

Yesterday's practice ended with an animated huddle of coaches and players in the middle of the practice field.

When asked about the uproar, Ravens coach Brian Billick said that offensive lineman Samuel Gutekunst, the team's NFL Europe entry who is on the practice squad, received his European championship ring after Gutekunst's Frankfurt Galaxy won the title earlier this year.

"So they kind of got fired up for Sam that he got to be awarded hopefully the first of [two championships]," Billick said.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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