NEW ORLEANS - With Jamal Lewis missing his third straight game last night in the Ravens' 21-6 win over the New Orleans Saints, backup running back Chester Taylor cemented his status as the offense's Most Valuable Player in the preseason on his first carry.
Taylor broke through the line, made a sharp cut to his right, then outran the Saints' defense for a 43-yard touchdown on the opening play from scrimmage. He followed that up with a 50-yard run on his next carry, one on which he cut to his left, followed his blocks, then accelerated down the field.
"Man, I should be thanking the offensive line," Taylor said. "They were giving me a crease to hit, giving me a chance to look up and see the end zone. I think they've done it all preseason. They are building for the opener."
Taylor's analysis of the line was right. For as bad as the Ravens have been in pass-blocking thus far, Taylor has countered that with 253 rushing yards in about six quarters of work in the three preseason games.
"We weren't doing anything special," left tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "We got some man-on-man blocks. We were on our men pretty good. Chester is good at reading those types of blocks."
Lewis is expected to return for Thursday's preseason finale against the Washington Redskins. Ravens coaches say, though, they want to get Taylor more carries in the regular season, even with a healthy Lewis.
"He's gotten more than enough snaps," coach Brian Billick said. "Now, we need to get Jamal some snaps."
Carter has spasms
As expected, Dale Carter replaced an injured Samari Rolle at cornerback, but had to leave the game early with back spasms.
The spasms are not believed serious and were the day's only negative for Carter, who was tested on the Saints' first offensive play when Aaron Brooks hit Joe Horn on a 3-yard hitch. Carter came up and made the tackle, keeping the gain at that.
Carter left early in the second quarter.
"It was cool getting back in the flow of things," Carter said. "I was just happy to make the tackle."
Return specialist B.J. Sams returned to his home state last night, going out of his way to try to impress family and friends.
Sams inexplicably fielded a punt at the 1-yard line, just about the biggest mistake a returner can make. He brought the ball out to the 8, but the move drew a talk with special teams coach Gary Zauner.
Perhaps Sams was feeling too confident. He returned the opening kickoff 48 yards to the Saints' 43, setting up Taylor's touchdown run a play later.
"I had to put on a show for my family," Sams said. "I had to do something exciting."
Snaps for Pashos
Right tackle Tony Pashos rotated with starter Orlando Brown in the first half, something that is likely to continue into the regular season.
Pashos was called for a false start but otherwise played well, helping pave the way for Taylor's big first half.
"It was a good feeling getting out there and trying to get the same timing with those guys because Zeus takes a lot of reps with those guys," Pashos said.
Second-round pick Adam Terry worked primarily at left tackle.
Receiver Mark Clayton, who has cemented himself as the third receiver, also saw extended time with the starters opposite Derrick Mason.
Clayton played about seven snaps in place of Clarence Moore and finished the first half with one catch for 9 yards.
Moore, though, scored the offense's second touchdown, beating cornerback Mike McKenzie for 31 yards on a Saints blitz.