Mason taking unfamiliar route


December 29, 2006|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

What's more surprising: the Ravens having the 11th-ranked passing attack in the NFL or Derrick Mason ranking third on the team in catches?

Mason, who set the franchise mark last season for single-season receptions, hasn't produced the expected numbers in his reunion with quarterback Steve McNair, making 63 catches for 720 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn't caught fewer than 70 passes since 2000.

In Sunday's win in Pittsburgh, Mason was limited to two receptions for 10 yards and threw the ball high in the air in frustration after one catch.

"Anyone that's been in the league for a long time would want to be more involved in the offense, but when you're not, you've just got to keep moving on," Mason said. "Hopefully, one day, you will feel appreciated, whether that's with the current team you're at or someplace else."

Mason acknowledged the timing with McNair has been "a little off" since the two were teammates on the Tennessee Titans from 1997 to 2004.

"Is the chemistry the way it was when we were in Tennessee? Nah, but you don't expect it to be," he said.

Diminishing returns

New return specialist Cory Ross has yet to create any spark in three games, although coach Brian Billick said it's not all his fault.

"We've got to do a better job of isolating what Cory does well," Billick said. "The more we get into that rhythm and get a feel for what Cory can do, the more we can help him crank more out of those returns."

Ross is averaging 2.4 yards on punts and 22.1 yards on kickoffs.

End zone

Return specialist B.J. Sams, who is out for the season with an ankle injury, had surgery Nov. 6 to have a rod and screws placed in his right leg. He said the timetable for his return is four to five months, which should give him a chance to return for training camp. ... Defensive tackle Justin Bannan said he has not undergone surgery for the dislocated big toe on his left foot and will try to avoid such a procedure. ... The Ravens have a chance at winning their third NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award with either defensive tackle Haloti Ngata or safety Dawan Landry. "What they've done all year long ... is obviously a huge part of what we're doing," Billick said.

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