Mason's better stats not enough

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Receiver passes 1,000-yard mark for 6th season

Notebook

December 24, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun reporter

SEATTLE -- A year ago, Derrick Mason was frustrated with his role in the Ravens' offense. His 68 receptions for 750 yards and two touchdowns were his lowest totals since the 2000 season in Tennessee.

The only salvation, if there was any, came in the fact that the Ravens were a 13-3 playoff team.

Mason is still frustrated, but for different reasons. He can take some satisfaction in the career-high 97 catches for 1,015 yards and five touchdowns this season, but the team's 4-11 record has lessened the value of the veteran wide receiver's contribution.

"As a player, when you come off a very disappointing season, your mind-set is to come back, work extra hard and play with a chip on your shoulder, and that's what I've done," Mason said yesterday.

In a 27-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Mason caught five passes for 98 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown pass, the longest of his 11-year career, from rookie Troy Smith in the fourth quarter.

As he has done all season, Mason credited his outside receivers, Mark Clayton and Devard Darling, for opening up space on the inside.

"What they do outside, defenses can't really jump on me," Mason said.

With Mason going over 1,000 yards for the fifth time in the past six seasons and sixth time in his career, and Ravens running back Willis McGahee going over 1,000 yards previously, it marks the first time in franchise history that the team has had players hit the mark in both receiving and rushing yardage.

Greisen grows

One of the more noticeable Ravens - mostly for good reasons - was linebacker Nick Greisen.

Starting for the first time this season in place of the injured Ray Lewis, Greisen finished with a game-high 10 tackles. Greisen, who previously started with the New York Giants, couldn't take any solace from his performance.

"I thought I had more good plays than obviously bad, but it's a tough place to be right now when guys just work so hard and things don't work out for you," Greisen said. "The guys have shown a lot of character of sticking together and staying as a team, not pointing fingers and competing as a team."

Greisen, in his sixth NFL season, said his approach to starting for the Ravens isn't any different from what it was for the Giants or Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I don't think you can ever prove yourself enough," Greisen said. "You always have to showcase your talents, and when you get the opportunity, you have to make the most out of it."

Greisen, who signed as a free agent after the first week of the regular season, acknowledges that he is still an unproven commodity among his teammates.

"These guys haven't seen me on defense. They saw me a little in Miami [after coming in when Lewis dislocated his finger]," Greisen said. "I wanted to show them that they have the trust in me that if something happens to Ray, I can step in and perform at a level that is up to standards for a Ravens linebacker."

So close for Martin

Second-year cornerback Derrick Martin had his second interception of the season, and nearly had a couple more.

"It was not as good a day as it could have been," said Martin, who had one of those near picks go right through his hands. "If I had made those other plays, you never know what could have happened."

Martin seems to have improveed since getting exposed in a Monday night loss in Pittsburgh last month.

"I'm trying to get experience, and it's good to get that experience as a secondary," Martin said. "Whatever happens next year for us, I hope we can stay together and keep this chemistry we have going."

Veteran safety Ed Reed, whose interception yesterday was his seventh this season, said Martin has shown him something the past month.

"To go against another good receiving corps ... to see him get better week to week, that's what you look for," Reed said.

Neuheisel denial

Ravens offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel denied a report on ESPN that he was in Las Vegas to watch UCLA play - and lose to - Brigham Young in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday night.

Neuheisel has been mentioned prominently as a candidate to become the next coach at his alma mater.

"I don't go to Vegas for anything," Neuheisel said yesterday.

As for his return to Seattle, where he served as coach of the Washington Huskies for four seasons, Neuheisel said: "It was exciting to be back in Seattle. As I have said before, I have had a lot of great memories here. Unfortunately, we didn't make another one today."

Extra points

Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been moved from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. ... In addition to the fractured ribs that sidelined McGahee, several other injuries sent players out of the game. Tight end Quinn Sypniewski suffered his second concussion of the season, and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and running back Mike Anderson each injured a hamstring. Defensive tackle Kelly Gregg limped out of the locker room with a bag of ice on his left foot. A team spokesman said Gregg strained his arch.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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