Browns strike a confident stance

OWINGS MILLS - For a football team the Ravens swept last season as Jamal Lewis rewrote the NFL rushing record book, the Cleveland Browns definitely strike a confident stance.<br><br> Browns defensive end Kenard Lang made a bold prediction for how Lewis, the All-Pro runner who gained 500 yards last season against the Browns, will fare in Sunday's season-opener at Cleveland: "He ain't going to break the first line of defense."

Safety Earl Little, who was last seen diving unsuccessfully at Lewis' feet, chimed in on the Browns' official Web site: "We're not worried about him running the ball. He's just a guy we have to get down."

Offensive guard Kelvin Garmon said he doesn't think linebacker Ray Lewis "takes on blocks as well as some linebackers."

Plus, linebacker Andra Davis added that, "We're not worried about their passing game."

Several Ravens declined to comment on the Browns' remarks. Safety Corey Fuller, a former Brown, simply noted the Ravens' combined winning margin from last season: 68-13.

"I'm sure they're very confident," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I'm sure their focus has been on stopping Jamal, and I imagine that was the case last time, but they feel very equipped to do so last year."

DEION UPDATE: Deion Sanders is slated to make his debut as a nickel back with the Ravens.

Other than his age, 37, little appears to have changed about the flamboyant seven-time Pro Bowl selection.

"A passion is something you just can't wait to do," Sanders said. "I'm excited about just getting the first play over with, of catching that first punt."

Sanders said he's unconcerned about being able to handle 25 to 30 snaps in nickel packages, or criticism that he's past his prime.

"How can someone say that I'm not qualified or capable of being a nickel back?" Sanders said. "When you play nickel, down and distance dictates a lot of the routes. It's really easier to study. I'm a study freak.

"Man, my critics have critics. Why would I be concerned about a critic? Shying away from a challenge wouldn't be Deion Sanders."

Sanders joked that his most challenging issue is choosing his wardrobe for the road trip.

"What suit I'm going to wear, I haven't decided that," Sanders said. "I don't know if I brought all of the shoes to match the suits as well as the hat."

TRAINING ROOM: All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden remains questionable with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and is likely a game-time decision.

"I haven't had a practice yet, so I don't know," Billick said of Ogden's status. "So, tune in Sunday."

Nose guard Kelly Gregg is questionable with a knee injury, but said he feels better each day at practice. Linebacker Adalius Thomas (knee) is questionable, too, but guaranteed he would play Sunday.

Receivers Devard Darling (quadriceps) and Travis Taylor (groin), linebacker Ed Hartwell (quadriceps) and safety Chad Williams (abdominal) are probable.

ROSTER MOVES: Fullback Harold Morrow, a special-teams ace, was re-signed after being released earlier this week.
Rookie quarterback Josh Harris was released to make room for Morrow and could be added to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

SHARPE SIGHTING: Former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe was at the team's training complex to interview Sanders, Ray Lewis and Fuller for CBS' pregame show. He's not ending his retirement, though.

QUOTABLE: Billick on whether he warned Sanders about excessive celebration: "Deion can do whatever he wants, just no one can go near him. When he gets there, we'll all stand there and watch and critique it and hold up our cards and go 9 or 10."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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