The feud between NFL neighbors is the bitter subplot of Saturday's Ravens-Redskins preseason game.
As the league's version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, the Ravens and Redskins have not been subtle in their bickering over marketing practices and the exchanging of personal jabs. The game may be an exhibition, but it counts as far as bragging rights for franchises whose home stadiums sit 40 miles apart.
"Obviously, there is a rivalry that exists between marketplaces," team president David Modell said. "In the few times we actually get to meet one another, that carries out onto the field. That said, it is the third preseason game and we have objectives that we need to accomplish and that really takes precedence over any real or perceived issues that exist."
The Redskins started this fight in the summer of 2000, when owner Daniel Snyder broke an unwritten rule among NFL owners by advertising tickets to the Redskins' training camp in The Sun. Both teams wound up televising their preseason games in the other's market and advertising in the other city's major newspaper.
A few months later in a regular-season matchup, three Ravens staff buses were charged $40 each to drop off team personnel at FedEx Field in Landover. The Redskins made Art Modell park so far away from the stadium that the then-75-year-old Ravens owner needed a golf cart to get to the game.
Last summer, the flames were fanned when Snyder criticized the reputation of Art Modell.
When asked if there was an owner he modeled himself after, like Modell or the Patriots' Bob Kraft, both of whom had recently won Super Bowls, Snyder told Newsweek, "What model is Art Modell? He owned the team 42 years and won one Super Bowl."
David Modell then responded to the article by saying, "It would be one thing if Art's winning record was being criticized by [former Redskins coach] Joe Gibbs or [New York Giants owner] Wellington Mara. But it's not."
The Ravens are also well aware of where this game ranks with their fans, whose dislike for the Redskins is greater than for any other team.
"You've got to keep your priorities straight, and that doesn't mean you can't have multiple objectives," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "The players know this means a lot to the fans. You have to be deaf and dumb not to get caught up in the excitement that the fans have for it."
Ravens get Walls
The Ravens addressed their depth in the secondary by giving a one-year contract to Raymond Walls, a fast cornerback who may be put on the fast track.
With backups Tom Knight (hamstring) and Alvin Porter (groin) out for most of this week's practices, Walls could become the Ravens' nickel back (the fifth defensive back who enters in passing situations).
"We'll see if this kid in the next two weeks can pick it up," secondary coach Donnie Henderson said. "If he can pick it up, we'll go from there."
Walls, 24, who was taken in the fifth round of the 2001 draft by the Indianapolis Colts, has been clocked running the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. After playing last season for Cleveland, he was cut by the Browns last week when he left camp for personal reasons.
"I'm blessed to have a second chance," Walls said.
The battle for the kickoff specialist job got a little tighter with Wade Richey signing a one-year deal. Richey, a six-year veteran who has played for the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers, has a strong but erratic leg.
When he was released by the Chargers in Week 13 last season, he was second in the NFL in touchbacks.
In Saturday's preseason game in Atlanta, J.R. Jenkins placed all three of his kickoffs inside the 6-yard line, including one in the end zone.
"J.R. Jenkins has been doing a great job," Richey said. "But I think it will be good for the team to have competition at that position. I don't think anything but good can come from it."
Said Jenkins: "I just have to keep doing what I'm doing here. You never know what they're thinking."
Starting receiver Frank Sanders, who dislocated two toes in the first preseason game, said he has made progress and could practice "soon." The free-agent addition still may not play in the final two preseason games to gear up for the regular-season opener in Pittsburgh. "I'm grateful to be in a position where I can rest and allow the process to heal," he said. "I'm expecting to be back any day if this thing works out well." ... Michael McCrary will announce his retirement at a news conference today. The 10-year defensive end is second on the team's all-time sack list with 51. ... Sanders, Knight, Porter, linebacker Bernardo Harris (leg), safety Ray Perryman (shoulder) and receiver Hugh Smith (shoulder) did not practice. ... Running back Musa Smith (knee) was limited a day after participating in his first padded practice since twisting his knee the first week of camp.
Dallas at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m.
New England at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Atlanta at Miami, 8 p.m.
Minnesota at Oakland, 9 p.m.
Chicago at Arizona, 10:30 p.m.
Ravens at Washington, 8 p.m.
St. Louis at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Cleveland at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Tennessee at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.
N.Y. Jets at N.Y. Giants, 8 p.m.
Carolina at Green Bay, 8 p.m.
Jacksonville at Tampa Bay, 8 p.m.
San Diego at Houston, 8:30 p.m.
New Orleans at San Francisco, 9 p.m.
Kansas City at Seattle, 10 p.m.
Indianapolis at Denver, 8 p.m.