Sapp may be in place for start

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Safety could get his chance if Landry can't go against Saints

October 26, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

Gerome Sapp might finally get the chance to do what the Ravens had expected when they acquired him in a trade in June.

Sapp might start for the first time this season if a sprained right knee prevents rookie strong safety Dawan Landry from playing in the Ravens' game at the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Landry, who sprained the medial collateral ligament in his knee in the Ravens' 23-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers 11 days ago, practiced yesterday at the team's training facility in Owings Mills and is listed as questionable for Sunday's contest.

"I'm feeling pretty good right now," Landry said. "I did a little more running today. ... Whatever the coaches do, I'll be OK with it."

If Landry can't play, Sapp -- who is also questionable with a thigh injury -- would likely suit up alongside free safety Ed Reed.

"They brought me here to play," he said. "So every week, whether I'm starting or not, I'm ready to play. So whatever happens to either Ed or Dawan, I'm ready to go."

When the Ravens sent a 2007 conditional draft pick to Indianapolis for Sapp on June 19, Sapp -- who had made two starts in 16 games with the Colts last season -- was considered to be the front-runner to replace Will Demps, who was signed by the New York Giants.

But Sapp was quickly overtaken on the depth chart by Landry, a fifth-round choice in April's draft, and an intestinal illness that forced him to miss the final two preseason games lessened Sapp's chances. Since then, Sapp has largely been relegated to special-teams work, posting four tackles.

Dennis Thurman, who coaches the secondary, said he has the confidence in Sapp to play if Landry can't go.

"Gerome knows the defense and he understands what we're doing," Thurman said. "He's been ready. ... He's aware of what we want and what we're trying to get done. We're very comfortable if Gerome has to go in and play."

In addition to Landry and Sapp, quarterback Steve McNair (concussion) is questionable for Sunday's game. Cornerback Corey Ivy (kidney tear) is out.

For New Orleans, running back Deuce McAllister (hamstring) is listed as probable, and offensive tackle Zach Strief (finger) and defensive tackle Willie Whitehead (elbow) are questionable. Tight end Ernie Conwell (knee) is out.

Helping hand

Vic Fangio, a defensive coordinator in New Orleans, Indianapolis and Houston, has been assisting the Ravens' coaching staff in film study.

It is unknown exactly when the Ravens hired Fangio as a coaching assistant, but a team official confirmed that he has been with the team since the beginning of the regular season. Fangio also will have a role on game day in aiding Brian Billick in his dual role as head coach and offensive coordinator.

"That's where Vic Fangio will help me out a great deal now, to make sure that my attention is where it needs to be at critical times," Billick said.

Right impression

Rookie running back P.J. Daniels gives up 3 inches and 18 pounds to Saints two-time All-Pro running back McAllister, but that didn't stop the Ravens from asking Daniels to replicate McAllister's moves on the practice field yesterday.

Daniels -- who sported a yellow No. 26 jersey, which is what McAllister wears -- might not have the bulk of the 6-foot-1, 232-pound McAllister, but Daniels' elusiveness and speed persuaded the coaching staff to use the fourth-round draft pick on the scout team.

"I was Deuce McAllister for a day or at least for a week until the game," said Daniels, who also wore No. 21 before LaDainian Tomlinson and the San Diego Chargers visited on Oct. 1. "But I'd rather be P.J."

End zone

Wide receiver Clarence Moore, who was cut Oct. 14 and re-signed three days later, said he is happy to be back. "It feels great to continue to be employed," he said. "It feels good to stay with this team." ... Sunday caps a tough four-game stretch for the Ravens, who will have played opponents -- 4-2 San Diego, 5-1 Denver, 4-3 Carolina and 5-1 New Orleans -- whose combined record is 18-7. ... The Ravens are 5-2 under Billick in games after their bye weeks and have won their past four.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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