Ravens, C. Taylor meet again

The Baltimore Sun

Minnesota Vikings running back Chester Taylor is treating tomorrow night's preseason game just like any other contest. The same could be said for the Ravens, the Vikings' opponents.

Taylor, who spent four seasons in Baltimore, was the team's second-leading rusher last season before departing as an unrestricted free agent during the offseason. But Taylor said the opportunity to play against the Ravens lacks any added meaning for him.

"The only difference is I know more people on that team," said Taylor, Minnesota's featured back in new head coach Brad Childress' offensive system. "I have more friends on that team than any other, but I'm still going to treat it as just another game. I take every game the same, preseason or not. I'm going to go out there and play my hardest."

The sentiment is mutual among some of Taylor's former teammates.

"It doesn't really mean a lot to me," linebacker Adalius Thomas said. "If it was the regular season, you'd probably see a lot more of him, but it's nothing that is major or anything."

Still, linebacker Bart Scott said he expects an animated performance from Taylor and not just because both Scott and Taylor are from the Detroit area.

"We're happy for him, but we have to play him just like any other guy," Scott said. "Maybe even a little harder because if he does something special, he's going to want to throw it in your face. It's kind of like bragging rights."

Taylor isn't the only former Raven who is now a Viking. Wide receivers Travis Taylor and Marcus Robinson will also be on the other side of the field.

"It's always good to go up against your former teammates," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Marcus, Travis and Chester, we'll always love them like brothers, but we know that when we line up, they're not wearing the same kind of purple, and it's business as usual for us. We're definitely looking forward to it, and it's another fun game."

Taylor, who is aware of the challenge the Ravens' defense poses for the Vikings' offense, said he expects an inspired effort from the Ravens.

"It's a game. Of course, they aren't going to take it easy on me," he said. "I'm on a different side of the ball now, so I'm looking forward to them coming out with their best. The Ravens have a great defense. I've been around them for four years, so I know they're a great defense. I'm just looking forward to the challenge."

Back in Minnesota

Speaking of familiar faces, coach Brian Billick returns to Minnesota for the first time since 1998, when he had been the team's offensive coordinator for six seasons.

Billick, who is 2-0 as a head coach against his former employer, did not seem distracted by the possibility of playing at the Metrodome.

"I really haven't had a chance to dwell on it, but I've never been on the other side of that noise, which will be interesting," he said.

Safety shuffling

Safety Gerome Sapp was sick and missed yesterday's practice. It is unclear whether he will be able to play tomorrow night.

In related news, rookie Dawan Landry is the leading candidate to start at strong safety with free safety Ed Reed and cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle in the secondary.

Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan confirmed that Landry has moved to the top of the depth chart at that position over Sapp and B.J. Ward.

"There are several guys that are good football players, but we like the way [Landry's] playing," Ryan said. "He's got good poise, and it's not too big for him. He's a big guy that's a physical presence for us. So far, he's doing pretty well."

Clayton gets kicks

Could Mark Clayton be a triple threat?

The Ravens' wide receiver waited alongside B.J. Sams and Cory Ross yesterday and took part in kickoff returns. On Monday, Clayton joined Sams and Ross in returning punts.

"Returning is tight. That would be fun," Clayton said, adding that he would have no concerns about getting injured. "That's football. They'll do it whether you're on offense or returning punts or returning kickoffs. They're trying to get you regardless. It's just another way to have fun on the field."


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