Ravens focused on Browns

OWINGS MILLS. Md. -- A familiar obstacle is blocking the undefeated Baltimore Ravens' pathway toward unprecedented territory.

If the Ravens can topple the Cleveland Browns on the road Sunday to open their AFC North division schedule, they would advance to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history. Plus, a victory would set the stage for a high-profile encounter the following week against the San Diego Chargers. If the Chargers are actually on their minds, the Ravens aren't about to acknowledge it. "Seriously, it doesn't cross my mind," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "There are two down, they are in the record books. Our next thing is to just to keep our eyes on the prize, which is the Cleveland Browns."

Advancing to 3-0 requires not overlooking a winless Cleveland team that defeated Baltimore to conclude last season. Although some view this as a classic "trap" game, the Ravens sound determined not to underestimate their opponent. "No chance," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "This is a rivalry game. Who overlooks their rival? It's Cleveland. We don't overlook nobody. This is a business game." Cleveland, which ranks 30th in the NFL on defense and 29th overall on offense, hasn't lost to Baltimore at home since 2003. "Cleveland beat us last year, it's a division game and it's on the road," linebacker Adalius Thomas said. "That pretty much sums it up." It's hardly ever dull when Cleveland and Baltimore are paired up. Especially considering their shared history of the original Browns relocating to Maryland in 1995. "I know the fans carry a different perspective, especially their fans, and I think it will be always be that way," Ravens coach Billick said. "For us, it's a good division rivalry. Anything beyond that, you've got to think we're well past that."

TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens' biggest injury question mark appears to be running back Musa Smith, the primary backup to starter Jamal Lewis. Smith, who's listed as questionable, will likely be a game-time decision with a knee injury after being held out of practice Friday. "He's moving around pretty well," Billick said. "We held him back a little and let him get his legs back underneath him." Running backs coach Tony Nathan predicted that Smith would be active Sunday. With Smith's status uncertain, his playing time might go to veteran Mike Anderson, who scored his first touchdown since joining the team against Oakland. "We have a lot of confidence in Mike's ability to get the job done," Nathan said. If Smith is deactivated, one of two rookie runners, Cory Ross or P. J. Daniels, could be activated for the first time.

Baltimore upgraded six players to probable, including: Ray Lewis (neck), Jamal Lewis (hip,), cornerback Samari Rolle (ankle), Thomas (foot), defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (thigh) and center-guard Chris Chester (thigh). Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (back) and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (hyperextended knee) remain questionable. Among the probables, only Jamal Lewis missed a portion of team drills. The Browns reported no changes in their final injury report.

BREWSKIS BACK?: A few weeks removed from banning beer before road trips prior to a victory at Tampa Bay that snapped an 11-game road losing streak, Billick seems to be relenting. "No superstitions, you can only push that so far and you can only ask so much," he said. The Ravens seem to have gotten over their road phobia. "It was good to get that monkey off our back," linebacker Bart Scott said. "There's nothing more satisfying than shutting up the opposing team's pride and watching fans leaving early in the fourth quarter to make sure they don't get caught in the traffic jam."

QUICK HITS: Browns kicker Phil Dawson has never missed a field goal attempt against the Ravens, going a perfect 14 for 14 dating back to 1999. … Baltimore has won 9 of 14 games in the Browns series. ... Cleveland has run the ball 42 times and thrown it 65 times with opponents utilizing a balance of 73 runs and 74 passes. ... Browns coach Romeo Crennel's will is being tested by tight end Kellen Winslow's gripes about not being involved on third downs. Will he bend? "I'm calling the shots," Crennel said. "If he's more involved on third down and making plays, it will be a good thing. If he's not involved, he's going to be cheering for whoever is involved on third down."

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

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