Ravens have no plans to overlook Vick

November 19th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Ravens have no plans to overlook Vick


Associated Press

BALTIMORE - Chasing Tennessee quarterback Vince Young was merely a prelude to the task the Baltimore Ravens' defense faces Sunday, when the elusive Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons come to town.
"We're going to need our track shoes and a couple of rockets to chase him down," Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas said.
Although Vick totaled six turnovers the past two weeks in losses to Detroit and Cleveland, the veteran quarterback remains as nimble as ever. His 650 yards rushing is more than Baltimore rushing leader Jamal Lewis has compiled in twice as many carries.
That's scary news for the Ravens, who allowed Young to run for 39 yards and a score last week in a 27-26 victory. Young is agile, but he's no Vick, who long ago mastered the art of escaping a pass rush and improvising on the fly.
"You better have more than one guy assigned to him at any given time," Ravens coach Brian Billick said, "because he's going to make some phenomenal plays outside the structure of the offense."
The fashion in which Vick can torment a defense extends beyond running linemen and linebackers ragged. Baltimore's cornerbacks and safeties also anticipate receiving far more exercise than usual.
"It makes for a long day on the back end if he gets out of the pocket, because receivers then have an opportunity to readjust their routes," Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister said.
Baltimore (7-2) will be without middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who also missed last week's game with a back injury and is still receiving treatment. But the Ravens will receive no pity from the Falcons (5-4), whose postseason hopes are in danger of collapsing under the weight of several season-ending injuries.
Former Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney, who leads Atlanta with five sacks, is out for the season after tearing his right pectoral muscle last week. The Falcons were already without their defensive end from the other side, three-time Pro Bowler John Abraham, who will miss at least two more games following abdominal surgery.
"You never want to use injuries as an excuse, but we're decimated on defense," Atlanta coach Jim Mora said. "We're just going to have to pull together and figure out a way."
Second-year player Chauncey Davis and rookie Paul Carrington, an undrafted free agent, will be the starting ends against a Baltimore offense that has staged a revival since Billick took over the play calling a month ago following a 23-21 loss against Carolina.
The Ravens have since won three consecutive games while averaging 29.3 points a game. But Steve McNair, who threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns last week in leading Baltimore back from a 19-point deficit, doesn't expect to sleep any better on Saturday night knowing he won't have to contend with Kerney and Abraham.
"Regardless of who we play, regardless of who lines up against us, we have to stay focused and get the job done," McNair said. "We're all professionals, and they wouldn't be in this league if they weren't good."
Davis and Carrington aren't exactly Abraham and Kerney, but they're the best the Falcons have got on the outside.
"They're fighters. They'll stand in there and they will battle," Mora said. "They will give their all every play."
Two weeks ago, when they were 5-2, the Falcons appeared to be playoff bound. Now they're a game behind New Orleans in the NFC South and trying to rebound from successive losses to sub-.500 teams.
"We're in the middle of the pack. You have to try to find a way to climb your way out of this hole," Atlanta running back Warrick Dunn said. "When you lose two in a row, you can get down on yourself. Gut guys are staying positive right now. We realize that there is still a long way to go before the season is over with."
That's the same sermon Billick is preaching to the Ravens, who have opened up a three-game lead in the AFC North.
"Our players know how tenuous every week is," he said, "so they will be focused on Atlanta."

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