Cleveland still home to Ravens' road woes

Ravens Notebook

Team hasn't beaten AFC North rivals there since '03

September 23, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

The road monkey is off of their backs, but another weighty matter awaits the Ravens.

Tomorrow's game against the Browns is an opportunity for the Ravens to knock off their AFC North rivals in Cleveland for the first time since 2003.

The Browns have not been hospitable hosts lately, winning the last two games between the teams in Cleveland by a combined score of 40-19.

Throw in the Browns' 0-2 record this season and fervor from the fans over the return of a franchise that former owner Art Modell moved from Cleveland to Baltimore, and left guard Edwin Mulitalo said he expects the Browns to be a tough match-up.

"The only thing I'm thinking about is that for a lot of teams that start 3-0, the chances of getting into the playoffs are huge," he said. "Then I'm also thinking about teams that start 0-3 and what happens to those teams. And I think of Cleveland [thinking], what are they going to do to stop from becoming 0-3? So when I look at this game, I think it's huge."

"The most important thing for us is the win -- any shape, form or fashion," safety Ed Reed said. "It doesn't matter if it's home or away. But at the same time, we do know that it's great to win on the road. It's hard to win on the road, but we definitely want to win on the road."

Coach Brian Billick said the team will likely adhere to the same schedule that was used before the opening victory over the Buccaneers in Tampa 13 days ago.

"We have not changed our schedule yet. At some point we will," Billick said. "Obviously, the last road game went fairly well, so the approach we took merits doing the same thing -- whether it be how we practice or travel or what bed we sleep in."

Six upgraded, but ...

The Ravens upgraded the status of six players, but three others -- offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (knee), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (back) and running back Musa Smith (knee) -- missed a portion of yesterday's practice and are questionable for tomorrow.

Linebackers Ray Lewis (neck) and Adalius Thomas (foot), cornerback Samari Rolle (ankle), running back Jamal Lewis (thigh), defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (thigh) and offensive lineman Chris Chester (thigh) were upgraded to probable.

Three Browns starters -- cornerback Gary Baxter (pectoral), defensive end Orpheus Roye (shoulder) and wide receiver Joe Jurevicius (ribs) -- missed a portion of practice yesterday and are listed as doubtful.

Two more starters -- linebacker Willie McGinest (calf) and running back Reuben Droughns (shoulder) -- are questionable, and tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) is probable.

Williams chipping in

Besides Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, the other constant among the Ravens' wide receivers has been rookie Demetrius Williams.

While the team deactivated Clarence Moore for the season opener and Devard Darling for last Sunday's home opener against the Oakland Raiders, Williams has been the No. 3 wide receiver.

"I'm feeling comfortable, but not too comfortable where I don't have to stay on top of my game," said Williams, who has caught two passes for 18 yards. "We've got great receivers who on any week can play that position. It's just a very difficult position, but at the same time, as receivers, we have to be accountable as a group. So whoever's out there on the field, we try to make a play."

Gregg eyes center

Browns center Hank Fraley's unfamiliarity with the offense's playbook would figure to be a liability, but Ravens nose tackle Kelly Gregg isn't buying it.

On Sept. 2, Cleveland sent a seventh-round draft choice in 2008 that could improve to the sixth round to the Philadelphia Eagles for Fraley. The Browns made the move after All-Pro LeCharles Bentley suffered a season-ending knee injury in the team's first practice in training camp, backup Bob Hallen retired, and Alonzo Ephraim was suspended for the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

"They've definitely had some new guys come in there, but Hank's a professional, and I've played against him quite a bit," Gregg said. "He's going to be tough, and I'm sure he's hitting the playbook every night and catching up as fast as he can."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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