He's looking to break loose

Ravens Notebook

McGahee eager to face Dolphins, league's worst rushing defense

Ravens Weekend

December 14, 2007|By Edward Lee and Jamison Hensley | Edward Lee and Jamison Hensley,SUN REPORTERS

Willis McGahee gets a chance to change his history against the Miami Dolphins, the Ravens' opponent Sunday.

In six career meetings with the Dolphins, the running back has eclipsed the 100-yard mark just once and posted one rushing touchdown. As a member of the Buffalo Bills, McGahee averaged 3.4 yards per carry against his former AFC East rival, which lagged behind his average against the New York Jets (5.1) and New England Patriots (3.8).

"I've had some good games," said McGahee, who has compiled at least 85 rushing yards in four of the six games against his hometown team. "It wasn't anything bad, but I look forward to playing the Dolphins just because they're the Dolphins."

A historically tough defense to run against, Miami ranks last in the NFL this season. One significant factor has been injuries, which have cost the unit middle linebacker Zach Thomas (on injured reserve with concussion-related symptoms) and slowed defensive end Jason Taylor (sprained ankle).

Three teams have rushed for at least 200 yards against the Dolphins. Six running backs have accumulated 100 yards against Miami, including the Buffalo Bills' Fred Jackson (115 yards) and Marshawn Lynch (107) in the Bills' 38-17 win Sunday.

However, none of the six 100-yard rushers scored, and although the Dolphins have surrendered the second-most rushing touchdowns this season, only 10 of the 16 touchdowns have been by running backs.

"They've got a good defense as far as Jason Taylor and Joey Porter," McGahee said. "I think Zach [Thomas] is out, but the other guys that are up there are pretty disciplined. It's not the same defense that you watch on TV. It's something else. I can't even pinpoint what it is, but they've got a great scheme on defense. So you've got to be prepared for that."

Future plans

Asked about a report by The Sun that said he has been notified he would return as Ravens coach, Brian Billick reiterated that those issues will be addressed at the end of the season.

"We have a nonstop dialogue between [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome], myself, [owner] Steve [Bisciotti] and [president] Dick [Cass] about how we're proceeding and what we're going to do," Billick said. "Right now, we're going forward collectively as a team, knowing that this team is going to come back substantially intact, and that's what our focus is going into Miami, because there's good things to draw from this game going forward both now and afterwards."

Injury update

Cornerback Samari Rolle (shoulder) and tight end Todd Heap (strained hamstring) did not practice for the second consecutive day.

In addition, linebacker Terrell Suggs was absent because of the flu, according to Billick. The same bug forced wide receiver Mark Clayton to sit out Wednesday's practice.

Defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (sprained knee) and Justin Bannan (sprained knee) and safety Gerome Sapp (hamstring) were limited, but defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (thigh) participated fully in practice.

Wide receiver Demetrius Williams (high ankle sprain) has been ruled out for Sunday.

Brief audition

Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon, who was named the starter for Sunday's game, might be an unfamiliar name to Ravens fans, but not to the organization.

In 2002, the Ravens brought the undrafted rookie out of Arkansas State into training camp, where he battled Wes Pate for the No. 3 position. Billick acknowledged that he did not remember much about Lemon, who did not make the first round of cuts during that camp.

"It's been a long time," Billick said. "Watching on the film, he's a good athlete and [has] a good, strong arm."

edward.lee@baltsun.com jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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