Ravens' D: 'We want to make a statement'

WESTMINSTER -- Clad in their black uniforms, the Baltimore Ravens want to make an equally intimidating statement with their top-ranked defense tonight against the New York Giants. As the Ravens head into their second preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens' hard-hitting defense has no intention of dialing down its intensity or hiding its intricate blitz packages.

After all, the entire country will be watching this nationally televised contest.

"We just want to show them that we're a tenacious defense with a lot of depth," Pro Bowl linebacker Bart Scott said. "Let's see if they can match our tempo and intensity. We want to seize that role. It's important we take each game like it's our last.

"It's a national stage. Every time you step out there you want to represent yourself well. You want the ultimate respect of your peers because it's a highlighted game."

The defense put an exclamation point on a 29-3 victory Monday night over the Philadelphia Eagles, holding them to only 23 rushing yards on 18 attempts. Plus, Baltimore registered five sacks.

Meanwhile, the Giants' featured running backs, Brandon Jacobs and Reuben Droughns, managed a combined 32 rushing yards on nine carries last week in a 24-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

"The stuff the Ravens do on defense is awfully tough to prepare for in a preseason game," said analyst John Madden, who's calling the game for NBC. "Obviously, Philadelphia wasn't ready for it. I don't know that the Giants will be ready for it, either."

Under defensive coordinator Rex Ryan's aggressive philosophy, the Ravens' base defense is tilted toward attacking at nearly all times.

Even though Baltimore doesn't specifically game-plan for preseason games, their approach often confounds offenses who are not prepared to audible to account for the blitz as they try to orchestrate a scripted playbook.

"Hey, you know what?" Ryan said. "I don't think anybody will be ready. What's elaborate to other people is just our base defense. We do more elaborate things during the season. I hope Madden is right."

One year ago, the Ravens led the league in total defense, allowing just 264.1 yards per contest. They surrendered the fewest points per contest (12.1) and finished atop the NFL in interceptions (28) while finishing second overall with 60 sacks.

And their depth was highlighted against Philadelphia as rookie linebackers Antwan Barnes and Prescott Burgess each notched a sack as Burgess recorded a team-high six tackles.

"There's a lot of guys here who could be starting on other defenses," Scott said. "We're very unselfish and willing to bite the bullet and sacrifice for each other. That's what makes us a truly dominant, dynamic defense."

Scott acknowledged that the Ravens only used about 1 percent of their high-pressure tactics against the Eagles.

And if two-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had his way, the Ravens would disguise their schemes even more, casting a cloak of darkness over experiments such as having 6-foot-4, 340-pound defensive tackle Haloti Ngata collapse the pocket from the middle linebacker position.

"I would like to give some false impressions, don't show too much and just execute our assignments," Suggs said. "We don't want to give anything away. Just when you think we're not the Ravens of old, even though we were No. 1 in defense last year, that's going to hurt you. Everybody knows our reputation."

There was little to nit-pick about the defensive performance a week ago, which was overshadowed by quarterback Steve McNair and the first-team offense driving 93 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive, with the exception of some uncharacteristically sloppy open-field tackling.

There were missed tackles by linebacker Jarret Johnson and cornerback Chris McAlister, and a few breakdowns in pass coverage assignments.

"We've got to secure the tackle," Ryan said. "We pride ourselves on being a great tackling team. We hope to get better at those things each week."

NOTES: Nose guard Kelly Gregg (thigh bruise, knee) will be held out as a precautionary measure and Justin Bannan will start in his place. ... Ravens coach Brian Billick said he didn't know yet if wide receiver Derrick Mason will play because of a minor shoulder injury. "We'll see how I feel during warmups," Mason said. "I could play if it was a regular-season game. It's really not that bad." ... Rookie first round pick Ben Grubbs will make his first NFL start at right guard with Chris Chester out with a sprained foot. ... Also not slated to play: tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained ankle), Barnes (high ankle sprain), running back P. J. Daniels (hamstring), offensive tackle Steve Edwards (knee) along with offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (turf toe) and linebackers Dan Cody (knee surgery) and Mike Smith (shoulder surgery), who remain on the physically unable to perform list. ... Kicker Rhys Lloyd finally reported the night before camp ended after a lengthy delay caused by work visa issues. He received a big cheer from the team when he boomed a kickoff out of the back of the end zone Saturday morning. "It takes some huevos to show up the last night of camp," Billick said. Added Lloyd: "Nobody was really at fault, the paperwork just took longer than expected. It's good to finally be here." ... Barnes won the team's annual King Ugly contest with defensive tackle Anthony Bryant and cornerback Willie Gaston taking second place and third place, respectively. ... Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress is out tonight with an ankle injury.

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

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