Ravens fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo stood his ground and now has firmer footing this week.
In his first career start Sunday against Pittsburgh, Ayanbadejo made solid lead blocks and caught two passes for 10 yards. It was the first step of what he anticipates will be many more to come. "I think I was in the right position most of the time," said Ayanbadejo, who has begun his third season. "It was my first game, my first NFL start. I really didn't think about that until after the game, to tell you the truth. I kind of thought, hey, it's something to build on. It wasn't perfect - it was far from perfect. But it was OK. It's a foundation."
His performance, though, forced him into the starting lineup more than the Ravens had envisioned. To keep him fresh, the team had to substitute for Ayanbadejo on punt and kickoff return teams.
Ayanbadejo's increased play also kept Pro Bowl fullback Sam Gash on the sideline the entire game.
"It was just a matter of Femi is doing a great job for us," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We planned to play Sam a little more because Femi has such a presence on special teams. But again because of special teams depth, we were able to substitute for him on special teams since he was already into the flow of the game and Femi was doing a good job for us."
Call to cheer
With the Ravens searching for their first victory over Jacksonville on Sunday, Billick has challenged not only his players, but also the fans. He has called on the fans to disrupt the Jaguars' offense with as much noise as possible, something Jacksonville had little respect for last year.
"What I'm hoping this week is that our fans gauge that enthusiasm, temper that enthusiasm intelligently," Billick said. "And by that I mean, they have to pace themselves: I want it all game long. I want it cranked up when they're not only at the line, but in the huddle.
"Last year, [Jaguars quarterback Mark] Brunell came in here and did some checking. And the fact they thought they could do that indicated that they thought they could handle the crowd noise. I want to put that on the fans a little bit."
Wide-out Qadry Ismail has produced 100-yard receiving performances in four of his past six games. He had one in his first 87 games. ... The Ravens held Pittsburgh to 30 yards rushing, the second-best defensive effort in team history. They have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their past 18 games, the NFL's second-longest current streak behind the St. Louis Rams (19). ... Dating to last season, the Ravens have not surrendered a touchdown in their past 5 1/2 quarters (82 minutes, 59 seconds of play). ... Billick will be on the NFL's national media conference call today. He joins Ray Lewis as the only two Ravens ever to be scheduled.