Darling gets his kicks in roster bid

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Coverage team role could help receiver remain with club

August 17, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

Devard Darling lined up at his usual wide receiver position during practice at Ravens training camp yesterday and fought through a jam attempt at the line of scrimmage before racing downfield.

But instead of catching the football, Darling was following the ball's path to rookie return specialist Yamon Figurs. And instead of taking part in a passing drill, Darling was participating in special teams practice.

The display was part of Darling's plan to re-invent and market himself as someone who could contribute to the Ravens as more than just a wide receiver.

Playing special teams is "a huge part of me being on this team," Darling said. "That's what's called of me, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to put a lot of effort into it this year and a lot of focus on special teams."

Darling's effort on special teams could determine his future with the Ravens, who are thought to be weighing the value of Darling, Clarence Moore and Figurs as candidates for the team's No. 4 wide receiver.

Darling, who caught one pass for 11 yards in Monday night's 29-3 preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles, was not credited with a special teams tackle. But coach Brian Billick said Darling's presence on special teams should not be a surprise.

"He had played special teams for us before," Billick said. "For Devard, it's all about the games right now. We've had plenty of practices with Devard. He's done fine, but it's all about what happens in a game."

Darling has had his peaks and valleys in camp this month, pairing a dropped pass with a 40-yard touchdown reception.

"They're looking for consistency," he said. "That's the No. 1 thing in this game. If you're consistent, you'll stay around for a long time. I have the talent or else I wouldn't be here, but I want to provide that consistency."

Barnes improving

Rookie linebacker Antwan Barnes appeared at practice with his right ankle taped, but without a limp, as he did some light running on the sidelines. But Barnes said he was not sure if he would be cleared to play in Sunday night's game against the New York Giants.

"My ankle is feeling real good," he said, adding that he is waiting for the results of a magnetic resonance imaging. "I was just worried from the fact that I had that pain right there, and it was the same pain from before. ... But it's feeling better now."

Defensive tackle Kelly Gregg took part in more individual drills but was held out of team sessions. "He could go, but we're just being prudent," Billick said.

Billick also said that fourth-year offensive tackle Steve Edwards, who was absent from practice, is dealing with what Billick called a "serious knee [injury] that we're determining what to do."

Chester on hold

Right guard Chris Chester is putting weight on his sprained right foot and moving well, but he has missed the past two days of practice.

Chester, who injured the foot toward the end of the second quarter against the Eagles, said there's no timetable for his return, making him questionable for Sunday night.

"It's something I don't really want to aggravate," he said, speaking at the team hotel. "So we're taking it easy for a while."

Extra points

Billick was noncommittal about playing quarterback Drew Olson in the third quarter and Troy Smith in the fourth quarter against the Giants. "Possibly," Billick said. "We'll discuss that, but that was the normal rotation [against the Eagles]. If we do switch those guys out, we'll just play them from the get-go." ... With Chester out, left guard Jason Brown played center with the second-team offense.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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