Slaughter could stay starter

Left tackle's play, injuries to others boost chances

August 10, 2008|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun reporter

When Chad Slaughter was signed by the Ravens a little more than a week ago, the veteran offensive tackle was viewed as a stopgap after Jared Gaither and Adam Terry were sidelined with ankle injuries.

The stopgap could turn into the team's starting left tackle by opening day against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Gaither and Terry are still recovering, and the 6-foot-8, 340-pound Slaughter has done a more than respectable job in practice and played well in Thursday's preseason win over the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.

"He did as good as he could do, and we're expecting him to do a whole lot better the next game," Ravens offensive line coach John Matsko said after yesterday's morning workout. "It was interesting at the conditioning level. We really wanted to play him the whole game, but we didn't do it."

Not that Slaughter, 30, is satisfied.

"There's a lot of work to be done, both in the technical and mental aspects of the game, but that's what practice is for," he said. "I'm just out there trying to get it done."

His appearance against Patriots Pro Bowl defensive end Richard Seymour was his first game action since being cut by the Oakland Raiders in training camp last year.

"I didn't even know what to expect. I just went in there open-minded and having my mind focused on my technique, see how my body was going to react," Slaughter said. "I just followed the calls we made and I played."

Matsko said Slaughter's transition to the Ravens was made easier by the fact that he was familiar with the system offensive coordinator Cam Cameron brought in. It was also used in Oakland under Norv Turner.

"[The differences are] just maybe in the words. That's the biggest thing," Slaughter said.

Slaughter isn't making any predictions about what might happen with the Ravens after sitting at home last year in Dallas trying to get a concrete and landscaping business started.

"I don't think you ever really know," said Slaughter, a six-year veteran who has mostly played as a backup. "I just try to approach the game the same way, and that's just to get better. I don't worry about depth charts or anything."

In a pinch

When the Ravens ran out of healthy bodies at nose guard against the Patriots, defensive coordinator Rex Ryan went looking for volunteers.

He found an unlikely candidate in Jim Leonhard.

Undersized for a safety at 5-8, 186 pounds, Leonhard was a virtual Lilliputian against the Patriots.

"I went dropping back, [and] the guard actually chased me out on a pass play," Leonhard recalled yesterday. "I don't really know what he was doing, but they ended up calling a flag on something else anyway."

Reed (almost) back

Safety Ed Reed, who has missed all of training camp with a shoulder injury, came off the physically-unable-to-perform list and was back on the field, albeit with a red jersey to prevent him from being hit.

Along with Samari Rolle's return last week after the death of his father, it gives coach John Harbaugh an idea of what his secondary is going to look like for the regular season.

"They looked good," Harbaugh said. "Samari made some plays, and Ed's moving around well."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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