Cheesehead invasion with a purple twist

OWINGS MILLS -- The unusual fashion statement of purple shirts and cheeseheads is headed to Baltimore, and it's all because of Ravens rookie long snapper Matt Katula. The Wisconsin native and life-long Green Bay Packers fan has purchased tickets for 25 family members and friends for Monday night's game against the Packers at M&T Bank Stadium.

"Maybe they will have a sign, too, along with the cheeseheads and purple shirts," Katula said. "My mom wants to get on television on Monday Night Football. It's all my mom's idea. It will be a big party."

Katula grew up in Brookfield, Wis., a suburb of Milwaukee, and attended the University of Wisconsin. He idolized the Packers and quarterback Brett Favre.

"I grew up loving that team, and I still have a place in my heart for them," Katula said. "But now I'm a Raven, so I'm ready to go out there and get a win."

Katula is nervous about introducing himself to Favre, a future lock for the Hall of Fame.

"I won't say anything, I just want to shake his hand," Katula said.

For a long snapper, remaining anonymous is important. Especially on the NFL's grandest regular-season stage.

So far, it's been a smooth transition for Katula who beat out incumbent Joe Maese in training camp.

"I don't want John Madden to say anything about me other than No. 70," Katula said. "I just snap the ball. So, he doesn't even need to know my name."

TRAINING ROOM: Running back Jamal Lewis (thumb) and offensive guard Jason Brown (ankle) returned to practice and were upgraded to probable.

Center Mike Flynn (ankle) was added to the injury report as probable.

Rookie fullback Justin Green (wrist) is out of his cast and said he'll be a game-time decision.

AGE GAP: Favre was a rookie in 1991 with the Atlanta Falcons when Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was 9-years old.

"I hadn't even hit puberty yet," Suggs said. "I was probably imitating Chris Doleman sacking him or something.

"[Favre] and Deion [Sanders] were on the same team, so it's going to be a little reunion between those two. Might be both of their last Monday night game, so it's going to be fun."

TRYING TO LOSE?: Ravens coach Brian Billick dismissed a suggestion that the NFL might need to formally address whether teams are intentionally losing to get a higher draft position.

"I have never seen a team, never had anyone intimate to me that maybe a team purposely laid down for a draft position," Billick said. "I don't know how you would orchestrate that if you were of that mind. If you go out on that football field and if you are not fully committed and passionate to it, you will get killed literally.

"From a player standpoint, let's be mercenaries here. ‘Let me see, I'm not going to play well so we can get a higher draft position so that my team may draft somebody to replace me?' That's not good business."

QUICK HITS: With the Ravens' well-documented struggles, receiver Derrick Mason acknowledged that it will take more than a few tweaks to fix this team. "Obviously, it's going to take some work," Mason said. "Everything, the whole season, this team, the things we went through this year, it's going to take a whole offseason. There are a lot of things we have to evaluate." … Wide receiver Mark Clayton is a self-avowed homebody and credits the rest he gets at helping him emerge as a game-breaker in December when most rookies are worn out. "I really don't do anything but play X-box in my spare time," Clayton said. "Being able to take care of my body, work hard consistently and prepare, that's it." … The Ravens will auction off the autographed black jerseys they'll wear Monday night to benefit charities. … The Ravens and Verizon are collaborating with actor James Earl Jones to promote the Baltimore Reads program on Monday at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

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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