The Ravens are set to visit the Redskins' FedEx Field on Saturday night in Landover in the two teams' first preseason meeting ever. Of course, this football game has absolutely no bearing on regular-season status. That fact hasn't reduced fans' fervor, though. To a man, the Ravens say they are definitely aware that this preseason contest carries additional meaning for their supporters. "We know how much our fans hate Washington," said Ravens receiver Travis Taylor, who played for Redskins coach Steve Spurrier at the University of Florida "The fans are ready for this one. I think we are, too. "If our fans feel that strongly about the D.C. area, we definitely want to try to put some points on the board and get out of there with a victory."
However, like every August game, the top priorities remain the same: to evaluate personnel, build continuity and avoid injuries. Winning a preseason game is viewed as a secondary goal on most NFL teams' checklists. "You've got to keep your priorities straight, and that doesn't mean you can't have multiple objectives," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "The players, believe me, it means a lot to them. They're in the community now and they know this means a lot to the fans. "You would have to be deaf and dumb not to get caught up in the excitement the fans have for it."
There's also an element of snippiness in the teams' recent past. Warring direct marketing ticket campaigns commenced three years ago when the Redskins advertised in Baltimore in a rare intrusion on a gentleman's agreement usually observed by league owners. Plus, caustic comments were exchanged through the press last summer as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder threw down the gauntlet with his remarks about venerable Ravens owner Art Modell in a Newsweek interview. "What model is Art Modell?" Snyder was quoted as saying. "He owned the team 42 years and won one Super Bowl."
As far as the off-field background, team president David Modell, Modell's son, dismissed the notion that a dispute that has been quiet since last summer would add much, if any, spice to the on-field matchup. "That is the oldest of old news," Modell said. "The rivalry between Washington and Baltimore has existed well before our rivalry here. "Those things are natural when you have teams that close together, and that's not uncommon. Winning is what counts. The other things are secondary."
The Ravens (1-1) and Redskins (0-2) have met only twice in the regular season, splitting the games. Washington took a 10-3 victory during the Ravens' Super Bowl season in 2000, with Baltimore edging the Redskins, 20-17, in 1997.
Will the Ravens try harder than usual to win this game? "It's more than just a preseason game because of the little extra stuff," Ravens defensive end Adalius Thomas said. "Especially to the fans, this is for bragging rights. There's a little more riding on this game. We would like to win it for them."
Primarily, the Ravens are looking for their offense to improve and to keep observing the quarterback duel between veteran Chris Redman and rookie challenger Kyle Boller. Redman has started the first two preseason games as he attempts to hold off Boller, a first-round draft pick. "We're more worried about what we have to take care of on offense and preparing for Pittsburgh than the whole Beltway thing," Redman said. "Obviously, it's a big game and we would love to take home a win for the fans in Baltimore."
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.