In 4th year, Mughelli gets a running start

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

November 28, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun Reporter

Given the opportunity to block and catch passes as the starting fullback, Ovie Mughelli took on another responsibility he had longed for: running the ball.

For the first time in his four-year NFL career, Mughelli took handoffs in the Ravens' 27-0 shutout of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Mughelli finished with four carries for 21 yards. He had more yards than backup running back Musa Smith (12) and just as many carries as Mike Anderson (four), whom the Ravens signed in the offseason as a possible featured back.

Mughelli, who scored the first touchdown of his career on a 30-yard reception against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 12, said he was grateful for the team's faith in him.

"It's priceless having the confidence of your coaches and teammates," he said. "Respect is hard to gain in this league and you have to show a lot to prove to people that you deserve to be where you are."

Mughelli's longest carry of the day was a 9-yard gain up the middle to Pittsburgh's 7-yard line in the second quarter. On the ensuing second down-and-one, Mughelli was surprised to hear quarterback Steve McNair call the same running play in the huddle.

"I should have scored," Mughelli said of a 4-yard rumble to the 3. "I was one cut away from scoring, and I'm going to kick myself all the way home. But it was my first time running the ball. I'm getting used to getting the handoffs and making the reads. I'm only going to get better."

Mughelli's participation in the running game wasn't exactly a surprise. Mughelli and McNair spent 10 minutes after practice on Thanksgiving practicing handoffs. Mughelli sounded optimistic that the drills would continue.

"Hopefully, I can get more ingrained into our rushing game," he said. "We'll see."

Letting up on J. Lewis

After a first half in which running back Jamal Lewis rushed for 61 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, Lewis ran the ball just four times for 5 yards in the second frame.

Lewis said he had no complaints with the cut in playing time because of Thursday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"That was just us getting prepared for Thursday's game," Lewis said. "I didn't really have to do anything else. We were up by a great amount of points. We have a short week coming up, and that was really just looking ahead."

Extra points

Ravens officials declined to update the status of defensive tackle Justin Bannan (dislocated toe) and linebacker Dan Cody (torn posterior cruciate ligament), both of whom were scheduled to undergo magnetic resonance imaging exams yesterday. Both could miss a significant amount of time if surgery is required. ... Return specialist B.J. Sams' trial on a charge of driving under the influence on Oct. 3 was rescheduled for March 6. ... Coach Brian Billick declined to assess this season's team as compared to the squad that won the Super Bowl in January 2001. "I can't remember last week, let alone 2000," he joked Sunday. "This is a hell of a group of guys that are making a name for themselves." ... Defensive end Trevor Pryce said that there are certain packages where he is the only defensive lineman on the field. "It's called [using] the four best pass rushers we have," he said. "That's what it boils down to."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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