Happy return for Ravens?


November 02, 2008|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,ken.murray@baltsun.com

Contrary to popular opinion, the return of TE Kellen Winslow today in Cleveland actually might bode well for the Ravens.

It has not gone unnoticed that the Browns have notched their two biggest victories of the season without Winslow.

They beat the Giants, 35-14, with 454 yards of offense and the Jaguars (on the road), 23-17, with 327 yards.

With Winslow on the field, the Browns' biggest offensive output was 261 yards against the Bengals.

The theory in Cleveland is that the offense becomes one-sided toward Winslow when he plays and more balanced when he doesn't.

Browns offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski had Winslow in Miami, and perhaps he and QB Derek Anderson favor the big tight end more than they should.

One thing is obvious: A two-tight end lineup of Steve Heiden and Darnell Dinkins is a much better blocking unit than one with Winslow and Heiden. If Anderson tries to force the ball in to Winslow today, that's a situation the Ravens can take advantage of.

Around the league

It's still only midseason, and coaches continue to lose jobs at a furious rate. When the Chargers returned from London with a two-game losing streak, coach Norv Turner fired defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and promoted Ron Rivera to the job. It has been a steady slide since Wade Phillips left San Diego to coach Dallas, but in their bye week, the Chargers rank 28th in the NFL in total defense, last in passing yards allowed and 21st in sacks per play. Obviously the loss of Shawne Merriman (Maryland) was a big blow, but the season is getting away from the Chargers (3-5), and they've resorted to drastic measures to save it.

With their depleted secondary, the Ravens might feel the wrath of Hurricane Ike after all. When their Sept. 14 game in Houston was postponed because of the storm, the Texans were struggling. The game was rescheduled for next Sunday, and the Texans are playing their best football of the season. QB Matt Schaub has thrown for 379, 267 and 280 yards during the team's three-game winning streak and has completed 50 of his past 59 passes. WR Andre Johnson is on a monstrous tear, meanwhile, with 30 catches for 450 yards in those three games. He could become the first player in history with at least 10 catches in four consecutive games when the Texans play the Vikings today.

Falcons WR Roddy White has been overshadowed by Johnson's prolific numbers, but not by much. In his past three games, White has 25 catches for 357 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 14.3 per catch to Johnson's 15.0.

The Dolphins' Wildcat offense is on the blink. Since RB Ronnie Brown had two straight 100-yard rushing games, he has been held to 50, 27 (vs. the Ravens) and 43 yards, gaining a meager 3.0 per carry. Consider the cat caged.

The Cardinals have one of the weakest running games in the NFL (29th overall), but their passing game more than makes up for it. In addition to WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, QB Kurt Warner also has second-year man Steve Breaston, who is averaging 98 yards the past four games.

Compiled from Sun news services and NFL beat reporters.

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