Billick: Ravens not past their prime

OWINGS MILLS -- Don't count Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick among the growing contingent that believes his football team has too many senior citizens according to the NFL's youthful standard.

Billick did acknowledge that kicker Matt Stover, nickel back Deion Sanders and offensive tackle Orlando Brown -- veterans who are 37, 38 and 34 respectively -- have reached an age where they have to consider how many more years they have left.

He refuted the notion that a core group of starters that includes linebacker Ray Lewis, 30, offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo, 31, center Mike Flynn, 31, and wide receiver Derrick Mason, 31, are past their prime.

"How depressing is it to hear that a guy who is 30 is over the hill? I don't buy it," Billick said. "If there is a fall-off in their productivity, I don't see it.

"Is it the same? Is it different than it was two or three years ago? Sure, but they are playing at a very high level, a level that we can win at."

In the midst of an 0-2 start where the offensive line has come under fire for allowing nine sacks, including six in a 25-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans, the 6-foot-7, 365-pound Brown emphasized looking inward.

"I don't point fingers, I just know what Orlando needs to do," Brown said. "I need to work harder, lose more weight, practice harder, play harder until we start winning."

TARGETED: In the fallout from Stover's touchdown-saving tackle of Courtney Roby, Titans coach Jeff Fisher wants and expects the kicker to be fined.

Fisher is a co-chair of the competition committee that wrote the rule outlawing horse-collar tackles. Roby injured his toe on the play, but Stover wasn't flagged. NFL officials said they are unlikely to have a ruling on the play until Friday.

"Tell coach Fisher I'm sorry, that was the only way I could get to the guy and I didn't realize I hurt the guy when I did it," Stover said. "It was in no way a malicious way of getting the guy down.

"I told him, ‘Hey man, you're not going to score.' I think maybe he's after me a little bit for telling him that."

PASS BLOCKER: Because of the offensive line's struggles, two-time Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap had to pass-block more than usual last game.

"They did bring a lot of pressure and I was in there pass-blocking quite a bit," said Heap, who caught five passes for 56 yards. "We got to do what we got to do. We've got to protect the quarterback and take advantage of throwing the ball down the field."

RELIEVED: Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller is relieved that he won't require surgery and could possibly return between mid and late October.

"The doctor I saw made me feel good about it," said Boller, who's off crutches and in a walking cast until the end of next week. "I feel that if I listen to what they say, I'll be back out there very soon."

Billick reiterated again that Boller remains the starter, but declined to specify how many games he could miss before he would be replaced for the rest

of the season by Anthony Wright.

"If he can return in an acceptable period of time to keep the rhythm that we have at that point, then we will make that switch," Billick said.

REED ON THE MOVE: Safety Ed Reed moved his belongings from the high-rent district next to middle linebacker Ray Lewis to the farthest stall of the locker room away from the primary entrance. Reed is now by the practice squad members, and Lewis' name plate is above two lockers.

"There's a reason that Ed is in that corner and he can share it with you if he chooses," Billick said. "He has got himself strategically located for some of the things he wants to do. It has nothing to do with what you all want to intimate.

"[Ed thinks] ‘I know where the cold tub is. I know where the easiest access is out of here so I don't have to deal with certain people.' I love that thinking."

Reed declined an interview request, saying it was lunchtime.

QUICK HITS: The Ravens will practice in full pads Thursday and Friday. Billick emphasized that was his original plan and wasn't a reaction to the poor start. "This is as planned," Billick said. "I am not going to put them at risk." … Billick addressed the team after practice for several minutes, pointing his finger at the media at one point. Players said he emphasized keeping criticism in-house. ... The Ravens signed 6-8, 337-pound rookie offensive tackle Mike Kracalik (San Diego State) to the practice squad. He was recently cut by the New York Jets. ... Billick views 0-2 as the start of a 14-game season: "That's 'coach-speak,' that is Pollyanna, that is sticking your head in the sand and that's fine, but that is the way we are going to approach it," Billick said. "That is where we are going, and we have a 14-game season coming up here."

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

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