Ravens' Clarence Moore emerging

OWINGS MILLS -- Clarence Moore had a strong inkling that he would be heavily involved in the Baltimore Ravens' game plan last week, so the gangly rookie wide receiver alerted his mother.

With Denea Aguilar watching him on television at her Southern California home, Moore caught a career-high three passes for 82 yards during the Ravens' 15-10 loss to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.

"I knew it probably was going to happen that way because of my understanding of the game plan from practice," said Moore, who grew up in a single-parent household in Orange County, Calif. "I told her to be ready because I might get some passes." Now that the Ravens (4-3) are about to host the Cleveland Browns (3-4) Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium, Moore's mother is in town to watch him try to duplicate last week's performance.

"She got in last night, and she's real excited," Moore said. "She's never been to Baltimore before. It reminds me of when I was in high school with her being able to come to my games."

The 6-foot-6 sixth-round draft pick from Northern Arizona has emerged from a sleeper pick to make the team into one of the top three wide receivers for the NFL's last-ranked passing game. Moore caught a 52-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Boller to set up the Ravens' lone touchdown against Philadelphia.

Moore, who excelled in the triple jump and as an acrobatic receiver for the Division I-AA Lumberjacks, is likely to remain a top option when the last-ranked passing game in the NFL is utilized because of Ravens coach Brian Billick's preference for imposing receivers.

Plus, the Browns' 26th-ranked pass defense includes 5-foot-10 cornerback Daylon McCutcheon. "My eyes get open pretty wide when I see something like that," Moore said. "That's the play that I'm expected to make and I get so excited."

Although the 215-pound Moore still needs to bulk up some in the weight room, the former track and field champion has managed to withstand the pounding and outleap shorter, stockier defensive backs for first downs.

"This kid doesn't blink," Billick said of Moore. "As a rookie coming out of a small school, you keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, saying, 'Well, no at some point this kid is going to hit the wall, shut it down or drop a ball.' He just keeps going and going.

"With every opportunity he has had, he has stepped up and made a play. That says a lot for the young man, given his circumstances."

However, Moore's arrival has cost veteran receiver Kevin Johnson. Still listed as a starter, Johnson is expected to be the third receiver behind Travis Taylor and Moore.

Johnson has caught 11 passes for 129 yards and no touchdowns after Baltimore traded a fourth-round draft pick to acquire him. The smallest receiver on the team at 5-11, 195 pounds, Johnson was only thrown to twice last week and didn't catch a pass.

"Every receiver wants to catch the ball more, but I understand my role," said Johnson, who averaged 57 catches in his previous five seasons. "I want to help and contribute in any way that I can. I hope that my day will come."

TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens downgraded offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and tight end Todd Heap from questionable to doubtful on Friday, meaning both are almost certain not to play Sunday.

Heap's severe ankle sprain has taken a long time to heal, and this would be his sixth game missed since bending the joint awkwardly in the second game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"We've had experts look at it, it is what it is," Billick said. "Until he can get really comfortable and push off of it, we can't put him or us at risk. It's a bad sprain."

Apparently, there's no ligament damage and no reported setbacks. It has just been a slow healing process despite constant rehabilitation.

Offensive tackle Ethan Brooks missed part of practice due to an illness and is listed as probable on the injury report. Brooks is starting for Ogden at left tackle, and might not be 100 percent when he lines up against Browns defensive end Kenard Lang. Lang victimized him for three sacks in the Ravens' 20-3 season-opening loss.

Linebacker Ray Lewis remains probable with a knee injury, but said he feels fine.

QUICK HITS: Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps will be honored before kickoff Sunday night. ... The Ravens' defense will be introduced first amidst a fog machine, and Ray Lewis will be introduced last. He has vowed to continue performing his trademark dance that Terrell Owens mocked after his game-winning touchdown last week.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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