Offense hits stride in goal-line drill

WESTMINSTER -- The bullies got served a taste of their own medicine. For years, the Baltimore Ravens' aggressive defense has overwhelmed their offensive counterparts. However, that wasn't the case Thursday morning at McDaniel College as the offense clearly dominated a live goal-line drill with five touchdowns in eight snaps.

"Yeah, I'm not even going to lie to you, they got us," Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "They really brought it. I don't know if we're getting worse or they're getting better.

"It was ridiculous. We don't appreciate it. They won Round One."

In the first full-contact red-zone work of the season, new running back Willis McGahee burst into the end zone untouched from the 1-yard line for his first unofficial score since being acquired in a trade.

Steve McNair connected with tight end Todd Heap on a play-action pass, hitting Derrick Mason in stride for another touchdown.

Running back Mike Anderson powered over the goal line. Plus, Demetrius Williams snared a fade pass from Kyle Boller by outleaping Evan Oglesby.

"We looked really sharp," center Mike Flynn said. "When we score touchdowns in the red zone, that's always exciting. We always want to give the defense a challenge. That's a confidence-builder."

It wasn't long, though, before last year's top-ranked defense reasserted itself.

During a later portion of practice, middle linebacker Ray Lewis recorded consecutive tackles at the line of scrimmage and the offense struggled to move the football with Jamaine Winborne intercepting a tipped pass.

"That last little live period, defense kind of owned the day," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It's back and forth. Good session."

Could a newfound balance be afoot in an operation traditionally heavily tilted toward the defense?

"If that's what it is," Suggs said, "then that's a beautiful thing."

INJURY UPDATE: Rookie offensive guard Ben Grubbs (sprained right knee) didn't practice, but did perform some individual drills. He's a question mark for Saturday's scrimmage against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium.

Rookie linebacker Antwan Barnes remains out with a right ankle sprain, an injury he acknowledged could sideline him this weekend.

"I don't want to miss it, but I'm probably going to have to," Barnes said. "I'm doing whatever it takes to get me back on the field."

Tight end Quinn Sypniewski (stomach flu) was limited to individual drills.

Rookie fullback Le'Ron McClain missed the end of the morning practice with heat-induced leg cramps.

Not practicing: nose guard Kelly Gregg (thigh bruise), offensive tackles Jonathan Ogden (turf toe) and Mike Kracalik (ankle), linebackers Dan Cody (knee), Mike Smith (shoulder) and fullback Justin Green (knee).

Gregg is feeling better, limping less noticeably and no longer wearing a compression sleeve around his right leg.

BAD MEMORIES: Heap winced as if he were in pain.

It was an expression of disgust when asked about his fumble during the Ravens' playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts last winter.

"Why did you have to bring something like that up?" Heap said. "I forgot about that. You have to have a short memory. I haven't thought about that since last year. Well, I thought about it once when I saw a replay on TV.

"Of course, you don't want to make a play that doesn't help your team win. You always want to make a big play to make up for it. Those things happen, but it's frustrating."

QUICK HITS: After four days of practice, rookie offensive tackle Jared Gaither has been so impressive that he was starting at left tackle Thursday ahead of fellow rookie Marshal Yanda, who worked on the right side with the second-team. Gaither is a 6-foot-9, 350-pound supplemental draft pick from the University of Maryland . … The team hired former Ravens defensive tackle Larry Webster and former Atlanta Falcons receiver Terance Mathis as coaching interns under the NFL's minority coaching program. "This is very important to me," said Webster, an Elkton native who played at Maryland . "Being a player and a coach are two different things. Now, I have to learn to be the teacher instead of the one being taught." … The Ravens' afternoon practice session has been moved indoors and is closed to the public. The morning session remains open.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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