Brown adds backup center to his resume

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Chester's injury sends starting guard up the depth chart against Giants

August 20, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

Jason Brown is back in a familiar place.

Brown, the starting left guard for the Ravens, has been playing center, the position he played as a three-year starter at North Carolina. And with backup center Chris Chester nursing a sprained right foot, Brown became the No. 2 center behind Mike Flynn for last night's preseason game against the New York Giants at M&T Bank Stadium.

"The thing is, you just never know," Brown said last week. "Anything can happen during any part of the season, and I can be called to play either center or right guard. A couple of games last year, they thought they might have to put me at right tackle during the game, and that's after me not taking a set at right tackle since my freshman year. So you've always got to be ready."

Listed at 6 feet 3 and 320 pounds, Brown would seem to be a bulkier option at center than Chester, who is listed at 6-3 and 305 pounds. But it is Chester who has been taking snaps with the second group.

Offensive line coach Chris Foerster said the coaches had determined that they were going to alternate Brown and Chester with the second-team offense before Chester injured his foot against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Ravens' first preseason game last week.

"Jason has been working at center since he's been here," Foerster said. "He's always been prepared to be the third center, and some weeks, he's had to prepare to be ready to be the backup center and taken all of the backup center work. So he's done it before, and we feel very comfortable with him doing it again."

While Brown worked with the second group, Ikechuku Ndukwe was scheduled to play the second half as the center of the third-team offense.

Ndukwe, a third-year player, is making the transition from guard.

"My progress, I think, has been pretty good," he said. "I've never played center before at any level, whether it be pee-wee or high school or college. So to play at this level has been a challenge. But I'm very happy with it and accepting of that challenge, and I think I've come along well."

Taking a seat

In addition to Chester, the Ravens deactivated wide receiver Derrick Mason (shoulder), defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (thigh and knee), tight end Daniel Wilcox (ankle), linebacker Antwan Barnes (ankle), running back P.J. Daniels (hamstring) and offensive tackle Steve Edwards (knee).

Demetrius Williams started in place of Mason, rookie Ben Grubbs started for Chester, and Justin Bannan started for Gregg.

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe) and linebackers Mike Smith (shoulder) and Dan Cody (knee) are on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

The Giants sat, among other players, wide receiver Plaxico Burress.

Injuries pile up

Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle and wide receiver Mark Clayton went into the locker room for X-rays on their ankles, but the X-rays were negative.

Nickel back Corey Ivy replaced Rolle, and Derrick Martin, who was inactive for eight of the team's first 11 games last season, was the first player in as the nickel back.

Clarence Moore joined Williams in the offense's two-receiver set. Moore caught a pass for 4 yards in the first quarter.

New York lost cornerback Sam Madison (pulled hamstring), wide receivers Michael Jennings (ruptured Achilles' tendon) and Steve Smith (concussion) and former Ravens safety Will Demps (dislocated elbow).

End zone

After incurring just three penalties for 23 yards against the Eagles last Monday, the Ravens committed nine penalties for 45 yards in the first half. Five of those penalties were assessed on the defense. ... Kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd sent his two kickoffs into the end zone, one resulting in a touchback.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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