Ravens head coach Brian Billick is looking for every edge he can against Indianapolis, trying to drudge up the past as a way to inspire fans to be louder on Sunday night.
"It's the Indianapolis Colts that are coming into our stadium with a mentality that our quarterback is going to run his offense at the line 80 percent of the time," Billick said. "I can't imagine what that means to Baltimoreans to see that Colts helmet in this stadium and them thinking they can run their offense on the line. Fans, the challenge is there. Keep up the noise because we can wear them out."
Colts defensive end Raheem Brock can't wait to get started so that the Colts defense can put some of their own ghosts from seasons past to rest.
"We're excited. Real excited," Brock said. "We want to show our defense is going to be better."
The Colts offense gets a huge boost with the return of center Jeff Saturday -- one of three prominent Colts, along with safety Gerome Sapp and WR Brandon Stokley who started their careers in Baltimore.
"It's nice to go into opening day with all of your weapons behind you and beside you and in front of you," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "To get Jeff back, we're excited about that. His experience and his level of play has been top-notch the last few years."
Sapp will be primarily playing as a starter on special teams, and this week the Colts added linebacker Keith O'Neil to those units. The former Cowboy has finished in the top three in special teams tackles over the past three seasons. Sapp was happy to see the Colts make the move.
"It helps me out when I've got other guys that other people have to worry about besides me," he said. "I think it'll be a positive all the way around."
O'Neil is expected to make his Colts debut against the Ravens Sunday night.
The other recent addition to the Colts' linebacker corps, former Titans linebacker Rocky Calmus had a setback this week. He tweaked his hamstring and will miss at least this weekend's game. He could have contributed on special teams and provided depth at linebacker.
The Ravens hold a good height advantage over the Colts' secondary, but Baltimore head coach Brian Billick isn't assuming that the inches will automatically translate into offensive success.
"They play pretty feisty," he said of the Colts secondary that includes big hitters like Bob Sanders. "They know their size situation, so they do things to augment it."
The Colts have won the last two meetings between these two teams, but haven't beaten the Ravens in Baltimore in their first two attempts. But that was prior to Tony Dungy's arrival. He's 3-0 against the Ravens, twice with the Colts and once with Tampa Bay.
NFL.com national editor Vic Carucci believes the Colts defense could play a bigger role in the outcome of game than many people may think, since the obvious matchup most focus on is the Colts' offense versus the Ravens' defense.
"...with erratic Kyle Boller working from a fairly basic passing attack, the Colts will no doubt look to take away anything deep and force him to try and complete throws into their zone coverage," he says. "They also will use a variety of blitzes, including some zone blitzing, to rattle and confuse Boller. With Simon being the disruptive force that he usually is inside, defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis should be able to generate considerable pressure on Boller."
Expect Colts running back Edgerrin James to remind everyone of his value beyond rushing and receiving Sunday night. Respected as one of the better blocking backs in the league, he'll be getting up close and personal repeatedly with Ray Lewis, who will be more free to roam in the new Ravens scheme than he was last year.
The Ravens plan to kickoff the festivities on Sunday night with Lee Greenwood singing "God Bless the USA" prior to launching into the national anthem.
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