Ravens taking on the league's stingiest defense

After playing Colts and Steelers, Ravens offense facing new test against Packers

December 06, 2009|By Edward Lee | edward.lee@baltsun.com

The challenges just keep coming for the Ravens' offense.

For the third consecutive week, the offense will match wits with a defense ranked first in the NFL in an important category.

On Nov. 22, the Indianapolis Colts ranked first in the league in average points per game allowed. Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers topped the NFL in average yards surrendered.

On Monday night, the Green Bay Packers boast the league's stingiest defense in average yards, and it will be up to the Ravens to produce yards and points.

"It seems like we play everybody that has the best defense, week in and week out," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "Even with the injuries they have, that's just a testament to how hard they're working and the confidence they have in their defensive coordinator for one, [Dom] Capers, and the guys that are on the field. They're playing very good defense right now."

Capers, the former Carolina Panthers head coach, overhauled the Packers' defense, switching it from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment. Although the unit struggled earlier in the season, the defense has stiffened, limiting its past four opponents to less than 285 yards of total offense since surrendering 355 yards to the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 1.

Quarterback Joe Flacco said Green Bay's defense mirrors another unit that has traditionally been one of the best in the NFL.

"I think they take after Pittsburgh a little bit," he said. "They've got a bunch of athletic guys on their defense. They've got young guys on the outside, and they've played well the last handful of games. We've got to be ready to go in there and have those guys come out and play aggressive. It's going to be a physical game, just like the last couple of weeks, and we've got to be ready for it."

The Ravens have fared decently in the past two weeks, compiling 354 yards and 15 points against the Colts and 393 yards and 20 points against the Steelers. While playing against those two defenses could prove beneficial, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said, the offense must treat the Packers as a different entity.

"No matter what defense you're going up against, it's a challenge," he said. "You really can't get caught up in whether a team is ranked or unranked because there's field position and how you decide to call a game based on how all the phases are playing. You better just come ready to play and give it your best."

At 34, Driver 'ageless'
Wide receiver Donald Driver, at age 34 the oldest player on Green Bay's roster, is tied for seventh in the NFL in receiving yards (845) and is tied with running back Ryan Grant for the team lead in touchdowns (five).

"Donald Driver is ageless," Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth said. "That's the best way to put it. He's a talented guy. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him."

"I think he just came out [of the 2009 draft] with me," rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "He runs excellent routes. He's like a Derrick Mason to me. He comes out of his breaks and he's a veteran. That's what you see out of him - the way he runs his routes, the way he handles himself, the way he plays ball."

Returning to Lambeau
Two Ravens are returning to the stadium where they once played as Packers.

Offensive lineman Tony Moll spent the first three seasons of his career in Green Bay before the Ravens acquired him in September in exchange for defensive back Derrick Martin.

"It's exciting," Moll said. "It's something I've definitely been anticipating doing. It's going to be a weird feeling coming out of a different tunnel up there, being booed on the field, stuff like that. But it's a great place to play football. It's an important place to be able to play during your career."

Frank Walker returns for the first time since the Packers waived the cornerback after the 2007 season, paving the way for the Ravens to sign him.

"I'm privileged to go back," he said. "I miss the guys. It's going to be real fun. It's going to be a nice environment. 'Monday Night Football' in Green Bay at Lambeau is always a good time."

Injury update
The Ravens listed linebacker Terrell Suggs (knee) and tight end L.J. Smith (ankle) as doubtful for Monday night's game. Safety Ed Reed is listed as questionable with hip and ankle injuries.

Reed and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata had limited participation in Saturday's practice, but Ngata is listed as probable.

Also listed as questionable for the Ravens were safety K.J. Gerard (thigh) and cornerback Cary Williams (thigh).

The Packers are reporting tackle T.J. Lang (concussion) as questionable, although he did not practice Saturday. Linebacker Jeremy Thompson suffered a neck sprain at the end of Friday's practice and won't play Monday.

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