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News » Baltimore Ravens Strategy and Personnel 2008-09-27

Baltimore Ravens Strategy and Personnel 2008-09-27

Baltimore Ravens Strategy and Personnel 2008-09-27
The biggest concern is at cornerback. Samari Rolle re-injured his shoulder, which could limit him to nickel situations. If that's the case, Fabian Washington would start in place of Rolle. Washington has yet to play this season because of a bulging disc in his neck.

Even if Rolle starts, Washington should replace Corey Ivy as the nickel back. Although he isn't as physical as Ivy, Washington is faster and a much better cover corner.

Demetrius Williams returned last game as the team's No. 3 receiver. He is still being slowed by a hamstring injury. Once he fully recovers, the Ravens will look to hit him deep.


--RB Willis McGahee still has a swollen eye from Sunday's game against Cleveland, which could affect his availability Monday. "As long as he can see, he'll play," coach John Harbaugh said. "But if he can't, he's not going to be able to play."

--TE Todd Heap has averaged four catches for 41.6 yards in 12 meetings against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has only scored two touchdowns in his career against them.

--WR Mark Clayton has averaged 3.6 catches for 44 yards in five meetings with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His lone touchdown came in 2006.

--S Ed Reed has three career interceptions against Pittsburgh, including one in his past two games against the Steelers.

--LB Terrell Suggs has recorded six sacks in 10 career games against the Steelers. He has posted at least a half sack in three straight games at Pittsburgh.

GAME PLAN: The Ravens will follow the same blueprint of the Philadelphia Eagles, who had nine sacks against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Look for the Ravens to use the same disguised blitzes to get a free runner on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Ravens aren't concerned with the Steelers running game. They always held Willie Parker in check and should shut down his replacement, Rashard Mendenhall.

Offensively, the Ravens have shown a tendency to use the pass to set up the run. There could be some chances early to attack cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden. Expect more short passes and quicker drops to counter Pittsburgh's blitzes.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Ravens run defense vs. Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall. The Ravens haven't allowed a Steelers running back to gain over 42 yards in the past four meetings. The trend should continue against Mendenhall, who is replacing injured starter Willie Parker. The foundation of the Ravens defense is stopping the run. Baltimore hasn't given up 100 yards to a running back in 21 straight games, the longest current streak in the NFL. Its run defense has dominated the first two games. The Ravens have held teams to two yards or less on 41 percent of their rush attempts.

Ravens WR Derrick Mason vs. Steelers cornerbacks. Mason has been nonexistent the past few seasons against the Steelers. Since having 91 yards receiving at Pittsburgh in 2005, he has combined for eight catches for 45 yards in his past two trips to Heinz Field. But expect Mason to have more of an impact this time. Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco often targets Mason, the team's leader in receptions. Receivers have had success against the Steelers this season. Houston's Andre Johnson (10 catches for 112 yards) and Philadelphia's Hank Baskett (eight for 85) have made a dent in the Pittsburgh secondary.

INJURY IMPACT: SS Dawan Landry (neck) is out at least a couple of weeks after sustaining a spinal cord concussion. He will be replaced by Jim Leonhard, who will make his first start for the Ravens.

--DT Kelly Gregg (knee) is out at least for one more game with a cartilage issue in his knee. He will be replaced by Justin Bannan.

--LB Nick Greisen (thigh) was limited in practice. He will play and be the team's top backup at inside linebacker.

--RB Willis McGahee was limited for a second straight practice because of a swollen eye. His carries could be limited if the eye doesn't improve. But he is expected to start.

--RB Le'Ron McClain is banged up and could have playing time reduced. He didn't practice Thursday because of migraines. He was limited Wednesday because of back and ankle injuries.

--CB Samari Rolle is not expected to play because of a shoulder injury. He will be replaced by Fabian Washington, who will play in his first game of the season.

--QB Troy Smith (illness) took turns running the scout team but won't dress Sunday. He has regained 10 of 20 pounds that he lost because of the tonsil infection.

--WR Yamon Figurs (hamstring) had a full practice. He will return punts and kickoffs.

--LB Tavares Gooden (hip) had a full practice. He might play on special teams.

--CB Fabian Washington (neck) had a full practice. He could start if Samari Rolle is limited with a shoulder injury. Washington has yet to play this season because of a bulging disc in his neck.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 27, 2008

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Justin Bannan Name: Justin Bannan
Position: DT
Age: 29
Experience: 7 years
College: Colorado
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