Ravens-Broncos: Game Snapshot

Can the Ravens stop the Bronco's rushing attack and force them to pass? All the info you need to know about today's game, straight from TheInsiders! Details, key match-ups, strategies, and more!

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/26/03
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Randy Cross
Denver Broncos (5-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-3)

SERIES: 5th meeting. The Ravens lead the series, 3-1, winning the last three meetings. Last season, the Ravens upset Denver, 34-23, on Monday night. The Ravens scored a team-record 31 points in the second quarter, which included Chris McAlister's NFL-record, 107-yard return of a missed field goal.

2003 RANKINGS: Broncos: offense 12th (3rd rush, 21st pass); defense 4th (9th rush, 6th pass). Ravens: offense 20th (1st rush, 31st pass); defense 9th (10th rush, 17th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Broncos QB Kyle Boller will have to step up and make some plays if the Ravens are to move the ball consistently.

FAST FACTS: Broncos: They're plus-56 point differential in the first half leads the AFC. ... Portis has rushed 18 rushing touchdowns in his past 16 games. Ravens: Boller is the only rookie to start every game at quarterback this season. ... Coach Brian Billick is 3-0 against Denver. ... Lewis has at least 100 yards rushing in five consecutive games.

PREDICTED SCORE: Broncos 20, Ravens 13

PERSONNEL NEWS:

Broncos:

--WR Ed McCaffrey's injury problems continue, and he most likely won't play Sunday for the second straight week. He has soreness, possibly tendonitis, in his right knee, and did not practice Thursday.

--WR Adrian Madise could find himself as the No. 3 receiver this weekend because of injuries to Ed McCaffrey and Chris Cole. Madise caught his first NFL pass last week but also made a few rookie mistakes vs. Minnesota.

--TE Shannon Sharpe practiced on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday because of a bruised knee.

--C Tom Nalen practiced on Thursday after being held out because of a sore ankle. He will start.

--CB Kelly Herndon will start again at right corner.

--DT Daryl Gardener could see his most significant action of the year this weekend. He played most of the fourth quarter in Minnesota and is feeling more comfortable with his surgically repaired right wrist.


Ravens:

--QB Kyle Boller was upgraded to probable after showing no setbacks with his sprained left shoulder from practicing Wednesday. The rookie does seem to be somewhat awkward in his throwing motion with the injury to his non-throwing shoulder.

--WR-PR Miami Dolphins.

--PR Lamont Brightful will probably have his role reduced as the Ravens give Dedric Ward opportunities to return punts. He ranks 23rd in the NFL with a 7.0-yard average.

--CB Tom Knight was downgraded to doubtful after his groin injury continued to bother him. He did not practice Thursday and is expected to be replaced by Will Demps in the nickel package.

--FS Will Demps is expected to take over in the nickel package for Tom Knight, who has a strained groin.

--RG Bennie Anderson will start after missing most of the second half with a sprained shoulder. He will likely be rotated with backup Casey Rabach.

--G/C Casey Rabach will probably rotate with right guard Bennie Anderson, who is nursing a shoulder injury.


INSIDE THE CAMPS
Broncos:

Denver Broncos veteran WR Ed McCaffrey was downgraded to doubtful for Sunday's game against Baltimore because of continued soreness in his right knee.

He did not practice at all Thursday after going less than full speed Wednesday.

"We've just got to get him healthy," offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said.

Coach Mike Shanahan said McCaffrey's problem might be tendonitis in the area where his quad connects in the knee.

"Eddie's a guy who will push through anything, but right now he can't go," Shanahan said. "Miracles do happen and he could be fine, but it doesn't look good (for the game)."

No. 4 wide receiver Chris Cole also is far from healthy. He has a high ankle sprain and jogged Thursday but did not practice.

That leaves Ashley Lelie as the starters and rookie Adrian Madise as the backup.

"Does it limit you when you have a couple of wide receivers out? Yeah, it limits you. We just have to wait and see who's healthy. We might even activate somebody if both of those guys can't go," Shanahan said.

The Broncos have two wide receivers on their practice squad, Nate Jackson and Charlie Addams, who could be called up to the active roster. That would mean cutting another player.

McCaffrey, while remaining one of Denver's best downfield blockers, has been pretty much a non-factor in Denver's passing game this year.

He has just eight catches for 73 yards, and no touchdowns. He went without a catch in the opener and in Week 5 against Kansas City, then saw limited action against Pittsburgh and was inactive last week.


Ravens:

The Marcus Robinson.

Brightful, a sixth-round pick in 2002, is 23rd in the NFL in punt returns, averaging 7.0 yards per runback. He has not been sound in fielding punts or in signaling for fair catches.

"We're getting more and more comfortable with Dedric all the time," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We don't want to give up on Bright because he's been solid for us and helps us in the secondary. But we're working him in. If we find an appropriate place to do it, we'll do it."

Ward, 29, said he has not heard from the coaching staff whether he would return punts Sunday.

"I go out and prepare as if I'm going to be the guy," Ward said.

Capitalizing on field position could be key Sunday. The Denver Broncos have the league's sixth-worst punt coverage team. Opponents have averaged 13 yards on 24 returns, which includes a 93-yard return for a touchdown.


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