Ravens' special teams singled out for praise

OWINGS MILLS -- One day after his usually-stingy defense was manhandled by the Kansas City Chiefs in a 27- 24 loss, Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick singled out one unit for praise: the special teams.

Rookie return specialist B.J. Sams had a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown and the Ravens' coverage teams contained Pro Bowl return man Dante Hall. However, their banner night was overshadowed by multiple defensive breakdowns.

"Special teams, probably one area, where we were as physical as the Chiefs, keeping an excellent returner in check," Billick said.
Sams scooted right, then cut back to his left behind a convoy of blockers for his first NFL touchdown. Then, the undrafted free agent from McNeese State (La.) accepted congratulations from Deion Sanders, who has quite a history of his own in the return game.
"It was a low kick and everybody was pursuing to the sideline," Sams said. "I just cut it back and had some great blocks. What good is the return if we lose?"

Sams was nominated for NFL Rookie of the Week for his performance.
Through four games, he's averaging 13.1 yards per punt return and 22.6 yards on kickoffs.

"He's got a knack," Billick said. "He's still learning to a certain degree. He's got great vision, great speed. He was a real find for us."

TRAINING ROOM: Sanders missed his second consecutive game with a strained hamstring and was deactivated after warmups, but Billick remains hopeful the nickel back will play Sunday night against his former team: the Washington Redskins.

"He just hadn't come quite far enough," Billick said. "No setback. Hopefully, this week he can go. We want to make sure he's totally healed."

Running back Chester Taylor suffered an ankle contusion, but Billick indicated he's likely to play Sunday. Linebacker T.J. Slaughter (hamstring) is expected to return after missing the Chiefs game.

Receiver Travis Taylor (groin), tight end Todd Heap (ankle) and center Mike Flynn (broken collarbone) are unlikely to play against the Redskins and won't return until after the bye week Oct. 24 against the Buffalo Bills.

TOO EXCITED: Kickoff specialist Wade Richey booted a kick out of bounds for the second time this season against the Chiefs.
"I think he was overly hyped," Billick said. "He kicked beautifully the rest of the game."

QUICK HITS: Quarterback Kyle Boller's interception to Eric Warfield was negated due to a defensive holding penalty. However, Billick was critical of the second-year passer's decision-making on the play. …Senior consultant Jim Fassel was on the sidelines Monday because he works with the coaching staff on Mondays and Tuesdays. He usually doesn't attend the games after helping Boller prepare during the week. … After the loss, the Ravens rank last in the NFL in passing and 21st overall in total defense. … Billick expressed respect for Redskins coach Joe Gibbs' schemes. Billick also noted that he was part of the Stanford staff that recruited Gibbs' son, Coy, to play linebacker for the Cardinal. ... The secondary, which was picked apart by Chiefs quarterback Trent Green without any deep passes surrendered, needs to improve overall, Billick said.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times and RavensInsider.

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