Ravens' offensive line rebounds

OWINGS MILLS - In shoving the Pittsburgh Steelers' front seven around, the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line effectively shed the confusion that cost them during the first week of the season.<br><br> With All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden back from a knee injury as the Ravens won 30-13 on Sunday, the defending AFC North champions rushed for 172 yards on 41 carries. Quarterback Kyle Boller was only sacked twice.

"We feel good about being physical, but there were details we can improve on," left guard Edwin Mulitalo said. "It's a much better feeling than last week when we were dwelling on a loss, but you don't want your heads to get too big. We haven't forgotten that feeling from the Cleveland game."

During a 20-3 season-opening loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens managed only 88 rushing yards as Boller was sacked three times by defensive end Kenard Lang against Ethan Brooks, Ogden's stand-in. The offensive line is still without center Mike Flynn, who's trying to return from a broken collarbone before the bye week.

"In the first game, we had a lot of uneasiness without J.O., plus we had Flynn out. Everybody was looking for somebody to take up the slack," offensive line coach Jim Colletto said. "We didn't play with the aggressiveness that we usually do, and Cleveland played good, too.
"Against Pittsburgh, I think we were all tuned in. Everybody was a little bit better."

Center Casey Rabach did a solid job of cutting off bulky nose guard Casey Hampton, also reaching the second level to wall off linebackers.
Jamal Lewis was limited to 62 yards on 24 carries, but scored two touchdowns as blockers cleared holes for backup Chester Taylor to gain a career-high 76 yards on nine attempts.

"We went out and the line blocked everything and we were successful," Lewis said.

Ogden limited Steelers linebacker Joey Porter to three tackles and no sacks.

"Huge, they did it all," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Casey is playing very well at center for us. With the calls, orchestrating and keeping it together, he's doing a great job."

Brown, whose mother died the night before the Cleveland game, was especially active against Pittsburgh. Nicknamed 'Zeus,' Brown held Clark Haggans to no sacks one week after the speedy outside linebacker posted two in a win over the Oakland Raiders.

"Zeus, all the problems on his mind, lessened a bit this week," Colletto said.

The Ravens struggled to diagnose and react to the Browns' line stunts and blitzes, often mixing up assignments.
This week's matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals promises to be as unpredictable.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, the defensive coordinator for Baltimore's Super Bowl champions, liberally blitzes. Lewis also runs a lot of twists and line stunts.

Occasionally, defensive ends Duane Clemons and Justin Smith drop back into pass coverage. Lewis and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier often call blitzes for their cornerbacks and safeties. And the Bengals run a 4-4 set sometimes in a deviation from their standard 4-3 alignment.

"They're very similar to Cleveland," Colletto said. "To a degree, that creates problems that we didn't handle very well in the first game. The biggest concern is being able to block what they do.
"They're active, and everybody in Marvin's program plays hard. They hustle. We've got to play very well and block them. If we do, it will be an interesting game."

The Bengals held the Miami Dolphins to 25 rushing yards in last week's 16-13 win, allowing no first downs on the ground. Splitting the series last season with Cincinnati, Lewis rushed for a total of 281 yards and three touchdowns.

Not coincidentally, the All-Pro rusher gained 180 on 30 carries in a 31-13 December win in Baltimore and 101on 19 runs in a 34-26 loss in October. After posting 2,066 yards last season, he has just 119 yards on 44 carries through two games.

With the second-heaviest offensive line in the AFC (average weight: 319.2 pounds and tight end Todd Heap and receiver Travis Taylor out with injuries, the primary game plan for Sunday isn't hard to decipher.

"Running is kind of our forte," Colletto said. "The key thing is identifying what they're doing on defense and getting them blocked."

NOTES: The Ravens signed offensive tackle Marques Ogden, younger brother of Jonathan Ogden, to the practice squad along with defensive end Demetrin Veal. Ogden and Veal played for Jacksonville and Atlanta, respectively. The team released linebacker Brandon Barnes, defensive lineman David Upchurch and center Lenny Vandermade from the practice squad, and now could add one more player to the eight-man squad … Former safety Gerome Sapp is expected to be claimed by the Indianapolis Colts. ... Defensive end Marques Douglas and linebacker Ed Hartwell, along with the Washington Wizards' Juan Dixon and Etan Thomas, visited Randallstown High School for an assembly. It was essentially a pep rally after a shooting incident this spring.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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