Now, the situation is completely turned around as a Ravens team dotted with
Pro Bowl selections will take on the rebuilding Titans on Sunday at The
Coliseum. Tennessee is now the NFL's youngest team.
"They are literally reversed," said Ravens coach Brian Billick, who went 7-9 in 2002 with 19 rookies one year before winning the AFC North with a 10-6 mark.
Two former Tennessee mainstays – wide receiver Derrick Mason and cornerback Samari Rolle – will start for the Ravens on Sunday at The Coliseum. Only four Titans – quarterback Steve McNair, punter Craig Hentrich and offensive linemen Brad Hopkins and Zach Piller – remain from the 2000 Super Bowl runnerups.
"We anticipated change, like everybody does if they're doing their job," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "You could argue that if you're doing your job, you can avoid it, but sometimes it's unavoidable."
The Titans have lost 12 of their last 17 regular-season games, including a 34-7 loss last Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Titans general manager Floyd Reese has mirrored the Ravens' salary cap purge of 2002, taking his roster lumps all at once.
"You wait around long enough and everything you've done has been done by somebody else at some point," Billick said. "Every team goes through it at some point, in some form or fashion to varying degrees."
The Titans still feature McNair at quarterback and outspoken All-Pro linebacker Keith Bulluck. While propping the Titans up, Billick still savors the upset win from 2002.
"I don't think their team is the team that everyone is making them out to be," Billick said. "They're a much better team than I think people are giving them credit.
"I think they were 11-5 that year coming into a team of such youth, low expectations and getting beat. There's a lesson to be learned there."
TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens and Titans made no changes to their injury reports. Terrell Suggs is listed as questionable with back spasms, but predicted he'll play.
"Of course, I'm going to play," said Suggs, who returned to practice Thursday. "My back is getting loose."
Deion Sanders, who's questionable with a thigh injury, was more active in practice.
BACKUP QB STATUS: Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Ravens are likely to announce today that Kordell Stewart will back up starter Anthony Wright ahead of rookie Derek Anderson.
FULLBACK UPDATE: Fullback Alan Ricard, a healthy inactive against the Colts, could return Oct. 2 against the New York Jets. Ricard isn't listed on the injury report, but did miss time last month with a calf strain.
"Right now, I think Alan is getting very close to being 100 percent healthy," Billick said. "I don't think he's quite there yet. The bye will be very helpful."
UNSCATHED: Stewart is a native of New Orleans whose family was fortunate enough to escape the wrath of Hurricane Katrina.
"With my family, everybody is fine," Stewart said. "Psychologically, it kind of hit me a little bit because that is my home.
"I was contemplating about two weeks prior of going home and spending time with my family. I was thinking it might be my last visit to anybody, but I didn't go. Fortunately, I didn't because I would have been stuck there."
TRUTH AND STATISTICS: The Ravens rank second in the NFL in passing offense after generating 355 yards in a lopsided loss to Indianapolis. They also tossed three interceptions, two from Wright.
"If that is the tell-all, we're in great shape," Billick said. "Unfortunately, it doesn't really tell the true story."
QUOTABLE: Billick on whether he emulated Fisher by growing a beard last month: "His looks a lot better than mine. I think he kept it around longer, and Jeff's a lot better looking than I am."
In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.
If you are reading this article via a news portal, you can find the
original on RavensInsider.Com