L.T. squarely on Ravens' mind, as is Gates

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- San Diego Chargers All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson has nearly monopolized the Baltimore Ravens' defensive focus, and rightfully so. That doesn't mean the Ravens have any delusions that they can concentrate their energies solely on containing Tomlinson.

There's another impact skill player to be concerned about: All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates, the athletic former Kent State power forward who caught 89 passes for 1,101 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
"He's the best tight end we'll face this year," cornerback Samari Rolle said. "He attacks the middle of the field, outside everywhere."
Because of Gates' presence, the Ravens will have to do more than merely crowd the line of scrimmage with eight players to deal with Tomlinson's shifty moves.
They'll try to counteract the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Gates' blend of size and athleticism by utilizing safeties Ed Reed and Dawan Landry along with outside linebacker Adalius Thomas.
The fourth-year tight end didn't play college football, but has caught on quickly in the NFL with 200 career catches for 2,535 yards and 26 touchdowns.
"He's probably their No. 1 receiver after LaDainian Tomlinson," linebacker Bart Scott said. "That's the Catch-22. If you stop him in the run, they'll spread out and throw him the ball.
"He's very dangerous and he's a great football player that you just want to get the ball in his hands. The good thing about playing great players like that is it allows you to raise your game and see what you're made of."
SUPPORT FOR T.O.: While the controversy swirled over whether Terrell Owens attempted to commit suicide, the embattled Dallas Cowboys wide receiver did receive a measure of support in the Ravens' locker room.
Thomas, who hails from the same Alabama town as Owens, said the receiver is in his prayers.
"This is just a game, this is about life," Thomas said of Owens, who successfully fought a trade to Baltimore in 2004. "People criticize him a lot. You really don't know what someone is really going through.
"Everybody's human. Everybody makes mistakes. This is not about football. This is about your life."
Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who has feuded with Owens and was mocked by the receiver's near perfect rendition of Lewis' trademark dance following a touchdown in Philadelphia in 2004, wanted no part of the T.O. circus.
"Please, no T.O. questions," Lewis pleaded.
TRAINING ROOM: Rush end Terrell Suggs' hamstring injury remains the Ravens' top question mark. He didn't practice or dress out in full pads and is listed as questionable.
His uncertain status has boosted the chance that Dan Cody, who missed all of last season with a knee injury and has been inactive for the first three games, could make his NFL debut against the Chargers.
Jarret Johnson would start if Suggs is out and Gary Stills and Cody would rotate in.
"There's a good chance I'll definitely have a chance to make an impact on special teams," Cody said. "On defense, everybody gets a piece of the action. It's been a long time coming.
"I was kind of disappointed the first week when I didn't play, but I got over that quick and I just hope to get a shot this week."
Offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo (arm), tight end Todd Heap (ankle), linebacker Bart Scott (foot) and wide receiver Demetrius Williams (arm) are all listed as questionable, missing a portion of team drills.
"The swelling is still the same," Heap said. "It's just a matter of getting it out there and hopefully it'll be back to normal."
The Chargers have ruled out safety Bhawoh Jue (knee), and list offensive guard Kris Dielman (neck), tight end Ryan Krause (hamstring), wide receiver Keenan McCardell (hamstring) and defensive end Igor Olshanksy (knee).
HONORED: Scott and kicker Matt Stover's work hasn't gone unrecognized.
Scott, who leads the AFC with five sacks and is tied for the NFL lead with Eagles linebacker Trent Cole, was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month. Stover, who has converted all nine field goal attempts including a 52-yard game-winner at Cleveland, was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month.
"Who's leading the NFL in sacks?" Scott said. "Oh, wow. It's flattering, but it's early yet. It's because my teammates are keeping guys off me. You have to account for a guy like Trevor Pryce or Terrell Suggs. I'm just the beneficiary of the lay-up."
QUICK HITS: The last time the Ravens played San Diego, they handled the Chargers 24-10 despite Tomlinson's 156 yards from scrimmage, including 105 rushing yards. Drew Brees threw three interceptions. … The all-time series is notched at two wins apiece. … San Diego has the NFL's top-ranked defense and Baltimore ranks second overall in total defense and first against the run.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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