Ravens Hope To Exploit Shorthanded Raiders

OWINGS MILLS, Md.- The punishment inflicted on Oakland Raiders quarterback Aaron Brooks on Monday night might only have been a precursor to more pain and suffering.

As terrible as left offensive tackle Robert Gallery -- the No. 2 overall pick three years ago out of Iowa -- looked in allowing three sacks to San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Shawne Merriman in the opener, just imagine how his backup might fare.

The Baltimore Ravens are about to find out Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium as the Raiders will be forced to start Chad Slaughter, because Gallery is out with a partially torn calf muscle. The Raiders surrendered nine sacks in a 27-0 loss.

When it was suggested to Baltimore rush end Terrell Suggs at his locker stall Friday that Slaughter might be the proverbial sacrificial lamb served up at the Ravens' dining table, Suggs began laughing uncontrollably and high-fived linebacker Gary Stills. "That's a good one," Suggs said. "I'm going to have to use that. Oh man, that's nice. We'll see what he's got."

The Raiders have reportedly had chaotic practices all week with the defense dominating the action enough to halt drills. Slaughter might be an obscure blocker, but he is known for being scrappy. He's also a big guy at 6-foot-8 and 340 pounds.

When Gallery was out with a broken leg in the season finale last year against the New York Giants, Slaughter bloodied Giants All-Pro defensive end Michael Strahan's eye by striking him with a fist through his face mask.

"Chad is a battler," Raiders coach Art Shell said. "He has long arms, which gives him an advantage. He can get to guys before they get to him. He can punch pretty good."

PASS RUSHER: Ravens offensive tackle Tony Pashos has drawn the most challenging assignment against disruptive defensive end Derrick Burgess, the reigning NFL sack champion with 16 a year ago.

At 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, the Pro Bowl selection is known for his blend of speed and deceptive strength. He forced three fumbles and recovered two last season. The Ravens are likely to use chip-blocking techniques with a fullback or tight end to assist Pashos even though he didn't allow a sack in the team's 27-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Pashos is four inches taller and 60 pounds heavier than Burgess, but will be at a major disadvantage in regards to quickness. "Derrick is a legit defensive end, but I think Tony will be fine," said right guard Keydrick Vincent, who played with Burgess at Ole Miss. "This is a big test for Tony, but he's up for it."

TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens' injuries apparently weren't too serious, upgrading 10 players from questionable to probable in their final injury report.

"Everybody's fine," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Here's who's probable and their respective injuries: center Mike Flynn (ankle), tight end Todd Heap (back), running back Jamal Lewis (hip), safety Ed Reed (thigh), kicker Matt Stover (back), running back P. J. Daniels (thigh), defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (thigh), linebacker Gary Stills (hand), tight end Daniel Wilcox (back) and wide receiver Demetrius Williams (knee).

The Raiders have issues in the secondary because of starting cornerback Nmandi Asomugha's foot injury. Tyrone Poole is likely to start in his place.

MARYLAND TIES: Shell has longtime ties to the state of Maryland as an All-American tackle on both sides of the football at the University of Maryland Eastern-Shore, formerly Maryland State College where he graduated in 1968.

"I like the Maryland area, especially down on the Eastern Shore," Shell said. "Matter of fact, some of them came out to the game this past Monday night and I'm just disappointed that we didn't give them anything to be happy about."

PORTER UNLIKELY TO PLAY: Whether he actually cheered Brooks being sacked or not against the Chargers, disgruntled wide receiver Jerry Porter is unlikely to play Sunday. Shell indicated that he will play the same receivers this week.

Porter has denied the incident and teammate Jarrod Cooper backed his version of events up. Porter wasn't looking at the field when Brooks was sacked, according to Cooper, who said a fan sitting behind the Raiders bench yelled an expletive at Porter. "I turned around and was like, ‘Easy guy and Porter was like, ‘Don't worry about it, Coop.'" Cooper said. "The guy kept yelling stuff, and that was it. Porter might be a [jerk], but he's not vindictive."

QUICK HITS: The Ravens were in a boisterous mood after practice with a series of impromptu wrestling matches with defensive players tackling receiver Derrick Mason. "They've been very workmanlike all week, but they're frisky which is good," Billick said. "They are relaxed, confident and showing passion for the game."...

The Raiders have drawn criticism for picking Texas safety Michael Huff with the No. 7 pick instead of available quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler. "When Michael Huff goes to his third, fourth and fifth Pro Bowl, all those people criticizing that pick are going to forget that they ever said that," Billick said.

"We were hoping that he would drop to us because we think he's an outstanding athlete. We have a very high opinion of him." …

Raiders cornerback Duane Starks played on the Ravens' Super Bowl championship team intercepting two passes in their AFC title game win over Oakland, but doesn't have a major role this year. The Raiders cut him Sept. 2, but re-signed him. "I've got to be on the field for it to be special," Starks said. "I'm just playing it by ear." …

The Raiders piped in artificial crowd noise during practice in anticipation of a noisy stadium.

Oakland has dropped 20 of their last 24 away from home. ...

The Ravens no longer give out individual game balls, but awarded a game ball to the entire defense for posting a shutout.

Reserves who practice well are granted prime parking spots.

Aaron Wilson cover the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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