Anderson sets tempo, stands tall

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Quarterback's play earns high praise from ex-teammates

Ravens Gameday

October 01, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN REPORTER

CLEVELAND -- As Phil Savage was riding the elevator down from the press box at Cleveland Browns Stadium after the home team's 27-13 victory over the Ravens yesterday, there was cheery chatter about Jamal Lewis and Kellen Winslow.

"Our quarterback wasn't half-bad either," the Browns general manager said with a smile.

Derek Anderson, who was with the Ravens briefly after they drafted him in the sixth round in 2005 out of Oregon State, was pretty good against his former team, especially in the first quarter when he threw two touchdown passes.

"He's got the arm and can threaten the field and, when we protect him, he can make some plays, and he did it today," Savage, the Ravens' former director of college scouting, said as he walked toward the Browns' locker room. "He hit the big one early and that kind of set the tempo for the game."

The big one - a 78-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Braylon Edwards - helped give the Browns a 14-0 lead. Earlier, Anderson had found wide receiver Joe Jurevicius for a 2-yard touchdown pass. He also hit Winslow for a 25-yard gain to set up the first touchdown.

Anderson, who took over as the Browns' starter when the team traded Charlie Frye to the Seattle Seahawks after a Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, finished 10-for-18 for 204 yards.

"It was huge," Anderson said of the team's fast start. "My first drive set the tempo for the whole game, got them on their heels a little bit. They realized we were going to get the ball out, [and] we hit them on a couple of big runs. They can get real crazy, moving guys around. That settled them down a little bit, made it easier for us."

The touchdown pass to Edwards, the longest completion for Anderson in his three-year career, came after Ravens quarterback Steve McNair threw an interception.

"It's always good to take a shot after a turnover," Anderson said. "I think Chris [McAlister] kind of guessed and I threw it out there and Braylon made a great catch and finished it off for us."

Even his one turnover, an interception by safety Ed Reed, led to only a field goal for the Ravens.

Reed and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who played with Anderson at Oregon State, were impressed with the quarterback's performance.

"Like I told Derek after the game, some things they do are predictable because of their scheme, but at the same time he did his job, he did what he was supposed to do, which is to control the game and he did that," Reed said.

Said Dwan Edwards: "He played well today. He's definitely capable of making all the throws. I don't think we got enough pressure on him today. It kind of made it easy for him."

McGahee feels empty

Willis McGahee had his most productive day as a Raven, rushing 14 times for 104 yards and catching two passes for 32 yards, but it was all for naught in his mind.

"We didn't get the `W,' so it's a bad day all around," McGahee said as he walked out of the locker room. "I've got to get better, I've got to make more plays. I've got to be the spark for the team. That's my goal."

McGahee wouldn't enter a debate about whether the offense seemed too pass-happy at the start against a team ranked next-to-last in rushing defense coming in, or about how he was used - or not used - in the red zone.

Asked if he would like more opportunities inside the 20, McGahee said: "I would love to. We have a two-back rotation going on and Musa [Smith] is a great back, I'm not taking anything from him. When my number's called, I've got to step up."

Tight end shuffle

Injuries to starting tight end Todd Heap (hamstring) and backup Daniel Wilcox (foot) gave Quinn Sypniewski his biggest chance since being drafted by the Ravens last year in the fifth round out of Colorado.

"It's the next guy up," Sypniewski said. "That's the bummer about NFL football: sometimes guys get hurt. That's why you've got three tight ends. If two go down, one more can play."

Sypniewski caught six passes for 34 yards, including a 4-yarder in the fourth quarter for his first NFL touchdown.

"It's a little bittersweet," said Sypniewski. "I told them not to put the score of the game on the ball for me."

How much Sypniewski will play Sunday in San Francisco will depend largely on the recovery of Heap and Wilcox. Both limped out of the locker room and were unsure of their status for the game against the 49ers.

"I can't say it's horrible. We'll just have to see how it goes tomorrow," said Heap, who has been hampered by ankle and leg injuries throughout his career.

It was another setback for Wilcox, who missed most of the preseason with a sprained left ankle and then sprained his right ankle in the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Wilcox had just started to feel healthy.

"I felt good. What can I say? Stuff happens," Wilcox said.

Rolle missed

Samari Rolle was with his teammates in Cleveland yesterday, but the veteran cornerback continued to sit out while he adjusts to the medication he's taking for an undisclosed condition.

Rolle continues to be missed. After Ronnie Prude had problems as the nickel back against the Arizona Cardinals the previous week, Derrick Martin had issues yesterday.

On the touchdown pass to Jurevicius in the opening quarter, the second-year cornerback admitted to getting there a bit late.

"It was a good call versus the coverage we had," Martin said. "I was a little late on the break."

Injury update

Rookie return specialist Yamon Figurs suffered a "stinger" in his shoulder and had to sit out the team's last punt return, giving way to Corey Ivy. ... Center Mike Flynn left with his left leg heavily bandaged, but said he suffered "just a contusion."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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