After dreary loss, Ravens' line looks a bit less sketchy

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Ravens coach Brian Billick stood on a podium dumbfounded, befuddled in his attempt to find anything positive to say in the wake of his team's 24-3 preseason loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Saturday night.

Billick repeated over and over again how he had nothing, but here is something. At least starting quarterback Kyle Boller, working with the first-string offensive line, did not take the beating Chris Redman did working with the backups.

That may not seem like much considering neither group was effective, but Boller did have a decent amount of time on most of his attempts from a line that featured backup guard Casey Rabach at center and Ethan Brooks in for a recovering Orlando Brown, who played the second half with a sore knee.

It was Brown's first action in 3 1/2 years since a referee's flag hit him in the eye and nearly ended his career. Starting center Mike Flynn missed his third preseason game after undergoing arthroscopic surgery the first week of training camp.

Boller was sacked twice and hit two other times, but by and large, he had time to throw on his 20 attempts, of which he completed 14. Most of his completions, though, were dump-offs, and the offensive line failed to establish any running game whatsoever.

The only time Boller didn't have much of a chance was when Peppi Zellner bull-rushed left guard Edwin Mulitalo and dropped Boller for a 6-yard loss in the Ravens' opening possession.

"He beat me," Mulitalo said. "I had bad technique. He got my hands, got me on my heels. It's been a while since that has happened. It shouldn't happen, but it does.

"Sometimes when I don't play as well, I feel it ripples to some other guys. We couldn't do a lot of things. We just didn't play well."

Redman's time in the second half was far worse. He was also sacked just twice but hit nearly a half dozen other times working behind a line featuring Jason Thomas (center), Brown (right tackle), Damion Cook (right guard), Jim Jones (left guard) and Lawrence Smith (left tackle).

Billick, though, decided not to remove Redman with the Ravens down three touchdowns and him getting harassed nearly every play in the fourth quarter. Redman finished 17-for-28 for 163 yards and an interception.

"Because of the nature [of the game], we just didn't have any consistency," Billick said. "We just wanted to get Chris a certain number of plays, and that is what it came down to."

The Ravens have one more opportunity to work their projected starting group together for the first time since the opening days of training camp.

Flynn is expected to play in Thursday night's preseason finale against the New York Giants at M&T; Bank Stadium. Brown could see time with the starters after making it through the game unscathed.

Although starters typically do not play much in the final preseason game, the Ravens may want to give Flynn and Brown extensive action to prepare them for the opening game against the blitz-crazy Pittsburgh Steelers defense.

It would also give the Ravens options heading into the Steelers game, including letting those who started the Redskins game remain while working Flynn and Brown in slowly during the season.

"It's like seven starters out there. I don't think it will hurt us too bad," Brown said.

By now, Brown was to have unseated last year's starter Brooks. But coaches continue to express their pleasure in Brooks, who is likely to start against Pittsburgh. But Brown said his performance Saturday night proved he is not far away from where he wants to be.

"I got a lot pent up, and I'm going to spread it out as the season goes," Brown said. "The guys I was playing against in the second half, they are like babies. They are two-, three-year guys just trying to make the team. I know what I can do against them. I like to play against veteran guys."

As for Rabach, the third-year player will likely go back to guard once Flynn returns and could push Bennie Anderson for playing time.

"Hopefully the coaches saw what I could do out there even though it's preseason, Rabach said. "I'm just going to keep on playing and take my role for where it is going to be. I just want to play, and if it's at center, great, at guard, great.

"But it is something that will pay dividends if they set the starting five as early as possible. We'll see."

Next for Ravens

Preseason opponent: New York Giants

Site: M&T; Bank Stadium

Time: Thursday, 8 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 45, Comcast SportsNet/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

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