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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-11-06


Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-11-06


Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-11-06
As the Ravens prepare for perhaps the NFL's best receiver, they have gotten stronger in the secondary.


Samari Rolle is expected to start at cornerback for the Ravens on Sunday, when they play at the Houston Texans.

Out the past six games with a neck injury, Rolle could face the huge challenge of facing Texans receiver Andre Johnson.

"It's going to be a big help getting Samari back," cornerback Fabian Washington said. "We could definitely use that veteran leadership. I can't wait to see him out there Sunday."

Rolle, an 11-year veteran, likely won't make his first hit until Sunday. Asked if he is ready for his first physical contact since incurring a bulging disc in his neck on Sept. 21, Rolle said, "Yes and no. But definitely just to be back there, I'll be looking forward to it."

The return of Rolle could help the Ravens contain Johnson, who ranks first in the league in receiving yards with 834 and second in receptions with 60.

Blessed with prototypical size at 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds, Johnson has used his frame to become a huge target, converting 73.3 percent of his catches (44 of 60) into first downs.

Johnson is not just a possession-type receiver. The 2002 Big East Conference champion in the indoor 60-meter and outdoor 100-meter races, Johnson has registered 10 catches of 20 yards or more and averaged 13.9 yards per reception.

Nicknames such as "beast," "man child" and "total package" have been linked to Johnson.

"He's at the peak of his game," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "He's a man playing with boys. A good defense has to show up on Sunday or he's going to show why they call him the man child."

Opposing defenses have implemented a variety of schemes to limit Johnson's opportunities, including jamming him at the line of scrimmage and sliding a linebacker to take away the inside routes.

Johnson, who said he frequently hears defensive players point out Johnson's pre-snap position on the field, said the Minnesota Vikings tested his patience last Sunday by covering him with two players.

"You want to be patient, but when those things happen, you tend to go back to your old ways and not being patient and trying to rush things and things like that," said Johnson, who was held to 62 yards on four catches -- his third-lowest totals of the season in both categories. "It affects your game. It definitely frustrates you, but you just have to keep playing and let the game come to you."

A Ravens secondary without cornerback Chris McAlister (right knee) and a rusty Rolle, who has not played in the last six games, would seem to be a convenient target for the league's fifth-ranked passing offense.

But coach John Harbaugh said getting Rolle back should immediately enhance the pass defense, which is still ranked fourth.

"It's always good to have all of your good players back," he said. "Samari Rolle's a tremendous corner. He adds one more link to the chains. We're excited to have him back. He's going to make us better."

SERIES HISTORY: 3rd meeting. Ravens lead series, 2-0. The Ravens beat the Texans in their last meeting (2005), 16-15, when quarterback Kyle Boller moved the Ravens 67 yards on four completions. Matt Stover kicked the game-winning, 38-yard field goal with six seconds left in the game.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 6, 2008

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