Bisciotti bemoans Ravens' injury bug

OWINGS MILLS -- Steve Bisciotti didn't hesitate when asked why the Baltimore Ravens failed to make the playoffs, pointing out the injury bug that plagued the team.<br><br> The majority owner noted the impact of absences by offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, running back Jamal Lewis and tight end Todd Heap as reasons why Baltimore slumped to 9-7 despite Super Bowl expectations.

"If those guys were relatively healthy, would we be 11-5 or 12-5 and looking for a bye? There's no doubt in my mind we would," Bisciotti said. "These variables that we can't control are very new to me. In a typical business model, my vice presidents don't have high ankle sprains and miss three months."

Bisciotti denied that he played a role in the Ravens' divorce with offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. He said he defers on football-related matters to coach Brian Billick and general manager Ozzie Newsome.

"If I don't like their decisions over an extended period of time, I have the authority to fire Ozzie or Brian and that's it," Bisciotti said. "If Brian came back and said to me, 'This is why I'm keeping Matt Cavanaugh,' then I have one recourse: that's to fire Brian if I disagreed with him that much. I would not have disagreed that much because I'm not qualified."

The Ravens skidded to a franchise-worst 31st in total offense.

"Was I frustrated? Of course I was," Bisciotti said. "When our offense finished 31st, I know enough not to go in there telling him I think he should replace the defensive coordinator."

SECURE FUTURE: The Ravens indicated that they are in a extremely healthy salary cap situation for 2005.

"That allows us to retain our players, to be very active in the free agent market, and if need be, to move up in the top 10 of the draft and pay the price to get a quality player," Newsome said.

Although quarterback Kyle Boller made subtle, not overwhelming improvements in his second season, Newsome is enthused about his outlook.

"Last year at this time we were concerned whether Kyle Boller could be a starter in this league," Newsome said. "Going into 2005, that is not one of my concerns."

TAYLOR-MADE?: Wide receiver Travis Taylor has struggled since being drafted in the first round in 2000, but his tenure in Baltimore might not be over. Taylor will become an unrestricted free agent in March.

He was used sparingly at the end of the season and was deactivated against Pittsburgh so Randy Hymes could play against Pittsburgh.
"What happened at the end of the season and who plays on Sunday is Brian's decision," Newsome said, "but I was involved in the conversation where we saw what Randy was doing and saw that Travis was dragging. Randy gave us the best chance to win."

Newsome said the team is likely to negotiate with Mitch Frankel, Taylor's agent.

"Now that will have nothing to do with when I sit down with Mitch and Travis to try to work out a deal to bring him back," Newsome said. "I have five years of history with him, not two weeks."


As well as a being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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