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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-09-12

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-09-12

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-09-12
The Ravens' game at the Houston Texans has been moved to Monday night at 8:30 p.m. ET because of the threat of Hurricane Ike.

The hurricane is expected to reach landfall in Texas this weekend, striking between Houston and Corpus Christi.

Ike likely will come ashore as a dangerous Category 3 storm on the five-step intensity scale with winds of more than 111 mph either late Friday or early Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The decision by the league came down after a conference call with officials from the Ravens and the Houston Texans.

"This was the league's recommendation and we agreed," Ravens president Dick Cass said.

This marks the second time in the Ravens' 13-year history that a regular-season game has been moved.

In 2001, the Ravens' home opener had to be postponed until the end of the season because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We understand completely why the change had to be made," coach John Harbaugh said. "We'll adjust our schedules."

The game was originally scheduled for Sunday at 4:15 p.m., and the Ravens were set to fly to Houston on Saturday. But travel became a problem when airports in Houston announced they were shutting down Friday and Saturday.

The Ravens have changed their schedule, scheduling a short practice Sunday before flying out late that day.

There is a possibility that the game could be changed again Sunday if Hurricane Ike causes damage to the city and Reliant Stadium, the team's 71,054-seat retractable roof stadium.

If the game can't be played in Houston, the NFL might consider relocating the game to an alternate site. Shifting the game to Atlanta, which is 793 miles east of Houston, was discussed by the league.

"I'm sure the league and the Texans will monitor the situation and see what the conditions are in Houston when the storm has passed through (Saturday)," Cass said.

Keeping the game in Houston goes against the league's recent trend of moving games that are affected by severe weather. In 2003, a game in San Diego was moved to Arizona State because southern California was being ravaged by wildfires. In 2005, the league decided on a controversial move when it made New Orleans, which suffered through Hurricane Katrina, play an originally scheduled home game against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium. The NFL took heat for giving the Giants an unfair advantage, one reason why this weekend's game wasn't moved to Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium.

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron coached on the Chargers' staff in 2003, when the Cedar Fire forced the game against the Miami Dolphins to be played on a Monday night at Arizona State.

"Veterans don't last in this business being distracted," Cameron said. "These guys are warriors and we got a lot of those guys here. I can't imagine many things distracting this coaching staff or this football team. We all have an understanding that it's a blessing to coach or play in a NFL game. Just tell us when the game is and where to play it and we'll play it."

--With a rookie quarterback making his first road start, the Ravens need to run the ball if they want to run their record to 2-0.

The Ravens established a hard-nosed identity last Sunday, when they pounded out 150 yards with the combination of rookie Ray Rice and fullback/tailback Le'Ron McClain.

Now, the Ravens will bring back Willis McGahee, who is expected to start after being held out of the season opener with a knee injury.

With three running backs, the Ravens believe they bring an aura of unpredictability against the Houston Texans (0-1).

"You never know what you're going to get," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "Fullbacks can play tailback. Tailbacks can play fullback. But to have Willis back -- our main back -- is good for our offense."

McGahee dressed for the season opener despite being limited in practice last week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last month.

But McGahee, who missed the entire preseason, stood next to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for much of the game and never made it to the field.

"We were concerned about the knee and the fact that he didn't play a lot," coach John Harbaugh said.

McGahee, the Ravens' leading rusher last season, acknowledged some frustration.

"I didn't think it was going to be as frustrating as it was at first," McGahee said. "It was tough that I had to go sit down on the bench and not look at the game. You've got to keep it calm."

McGahee didn't know how much he would be involved in the game plan.

"I want a full workload, but that's something the coaches will have to go through upstairs," he said.

One of the reasons why the Ravens were so successful in the season opener was their play selection.

They were able to run the ball 46 times and pass only 29 times. That allowed the Ravens to take pressure off young quarterback Joe Flacco.

The Ravens' goal is to do the same against the Houston Texans, who had trouble stopping the run last Sunday. In their opener at Pittsburgh, the Texans gave up 183 yards rushing and three touchdowns. They gave up an average of 4.7 yards a carry.

"Houston can play really good run defense," Harbaugh said. "They've proven that. That's an aggressive run defense that flat-out flies around. The linebackers get after it. They've got two good young tackles who can run sideline to sideline. Those safeties get involved a lot in the run game. So, it's going to be a challenge for us to run the ball against this defense."

Houston coach Gary Kubiak believes it's a bigger test of his defense, which was run on 39 times in Pittsburgh.

"When you look at (the Ravens) last week, the bottom line is they were dominant on the line of scrimmage," Kubiak said. "I think our tremendous challenge is figuring out a way to stop their run."

SERIES HISTORY: 3rd meeting. Ravens lead series, 2-0. The Ravens have won both meetings by a combined five points. In their last meeting -- December 2005 -- Kyle Boller completed four passes in the final minute to set up Matt Stover's game-winning 38-yard field goal. The key play was a 35-yard pass from Stover to receiver Mark Clayton.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 12, 2008

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