Running game hits brick wall

MINNEAPOLIS -- It had been an uninterrupted string of bursts, busted tackles and broken-field runs for Baltimore Ravens running back Musa Smith. That is, until Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome where he was effectively stonewalled.

The burly runner gained only seven yards on four carries, a 1.8 average. His longest run was six yards.

Smith, who entered the game as the NFL's leading rusher with 116 yards, was a somewhat surprising starter in place of Jamal Lewis as veteran Mike Anderson was expected to see the first action.

Anderson didn't fare any better, though, rushing for just seven yards on five carries for a 1.4 average.

OGDEN RETURNS: Nine-time All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden made his preseason debut after missing the first two games for personal reasons following his father's death.

Ogden, who's trying to shed 15 to 20 pounds before the Sept. 10 season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, allowed a sack and appeared to be somewhat rusty. His normally agile movements weren't quite as polished as usual and he had trouble matching defensive end Erasmus James' upfield explosiveness.

TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens held out Lewis (strained left hip flexor), wide receiver Matt Cherry (shoulder), safety Gerome Sapp (illness) and offensive guard Brain Rimpf (hamstring).

SCARY MOMENT: The Ravens' charter plane had a bumpy ride Thursday into Minnesota as their flight ran into major turbulence caused by tornadoes that struck the region.

"There were a lot of pale faces," said FOX-45 sports anchor Bruce Cunningham, describing a scene where the turbulence lasted for several minutes to create tense moments for players, coaches and team officials. "We landed fine, but it was a rocky ride."

QUICK HITS: In the first half, right guard Keydrick Vincent was bull-rushed by big Vikings nose guard Pat Williams for an 8-yard sack of quarterback Steve McNair. Williams got position in the center-guard gap and rode Vincent into the backfield ... Safety Jamaine Winborne was flagged for pass interference in the third quarter. … The Vikings were without wide receiver Kevin Kasper, running back Mewelde Moore and cornerback Charles Gordon. … Linebacker Bart Scott, who grew up in Detroit along with Vikings running back Chester Taylor, may have seized the bragging rights he was seeking. He decked Taylor when he tried to run up the middle and stood over Taylor briefly, talking trash after the play. … Linebacker Roderick Green, who's battling to make the team, recorded a sack in the second half. … The Ravens have until Tuesday afternoon to release nine players to get down to the league-mandated limit of 75 players.

Aaron WIlson writes for the Carroll County Times


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