Guarding Burress a top priority

OWINGS MILLS -- New York Giants imposing wide receiver Plaxico Burress' size advantage is inherent to his game, and the bane of most opposing cornerbacks' existence. At 6-foot-5, 233 pounds, Burress tries to post up defensive backs like a power forward.

"He's just long, and he uses his physicalness to his advantage," Baltimore Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle said. "He's a great receiver."

Due to disciplinary transgressions that have sidelined him occasionally this fall, Burress' numbers aren't overwhelming with 32 receptions for 407 yards and four touchdowns.

That doesn't make him any less dangerous heading into Sunday's game at Giants Stadium as he remains one of quarterback Eli Manning's favorite targets.

"Obviously, he's a tremendous receiver and it's a guy that they really go to," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "It's hard to match up size-wise with him, but we've got a few things for him.

"Every now and then, shoot, you're going to be matched up one-on-one with a corner and we'll see what happens. But it will be a big challenge for us."

Burress has built a reputation for pushing and shoving cornerbacks, and often getting away with the contact.

"Yeah, he does the Vlade Divac sometimes," Rolle said. "He'll just flop here and there."

Burress has averaged roughly four catches for 69 yards in 11 career games against Baltimore with only one touchdown in the past five meetings.

"Eli has got a lot of confidence in throwing it up there," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Manning directing the football to Burress. "Sometimes when he's covered, he's not covered."

FIGURING IN: Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron had more than a hunch that speedy return specialist Yamon Figurs would make an impact against the Houston Texans.

He practically guaranteed it, and Figurs responded with a 43-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter of the Ravens' 41-13 victory.

How was Cameron so certain that Figurs would catch his first pass of the year and the second of his career?

"You really never know, but then you factor in the game plan and th en you tell him, 'Hey, we're going to push the ball to you.' He about had a couple more. That could have been one of those games where he got behind them two or three times.

"The game plan was kind of set up that way. I'm not a guy that really calls plays that haven't worked in practice. I think the players buy in when you play like you practice, and the same things will happen."

Figurs said he's prepared for an expanded workload beyond returning punts and kickoffs.

"Every time I go out there, I think I'm going to score," Figurs said. "Cam puts the pressure on me to get better every day. My hands are the same as before. I'm just getting more of a chance to use them."

INJURY REPORT: Free safety Ed Reed (hamstring) was upgraded to limited participation in practice after not practicing Wednesday and originally being listed on the Thursday injury report as not practicing.

Wide receiver Derrick Mason (dislocated left shoulder), offensive tackle Willie Anderson (sprained left ankle) and wide receiver Terrance Copper (shoulder/neck) didn't practice for the second consecutive day.

Mason is intent on trying to play after not practicing all week.

"He's one of the toughest guys I've been around," Cameron said. "I don't think there's anything Derrick could do that would surprise me from a toughness standpoint, so we're just going to wait and see what happens."

Anderson is out of the walking boot, and wasn't limping as badly Thursday.

Rolle (neck) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (thigh) were limited.

The Giants upgraded running back Reuben Droughns (neck) to limited participation.

QUICK HITS: Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis said there's no comparison between this year's defense and the 2000 unit that won a Super Bowl. "We're no way close to that," Lewis said. "Are we talented and good? Heck, yeah. But to be that, you have to cap it off with that bowl. That solidifies true, true greatness." ... Manning has made a major progression since posting a zero rating as a rookie in a loss to Baltimore, winning a Super Bowl to match his older brother, Peyton Manning. "I really don't care how far he's come," Ryan said. "Obviously, he's come a long way since he won the Super Bowl. But I really haven't noticed how far he's come and all that stuff." ... Cameron credited quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson for accelerating rookie quarterback Joe Flacco's development. "He does a tremendous job," Cameron said. "He's done a great job with the quarterbacks." ... Flacco grew up near Camden, N.J., and hasn't fielded a heavy demand for tickets for the Giants game. "Everybody in my town is an Eagles fan," he said. ... Rookie wide receiver Marcus Smith, who has been inactive for seven of nine games, practiced as the third receiver working in behind Mark Clayton and Figurs. ... Special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was intentionally vague when asked whether rookie kicker Steve Hauschka could hit a field goal beyond 54 yards. "We shall see, I guess we never really know until we put him out there," Rosburg said. When asked what was the longest kick Hauschka had made in practice, Rosburg replied: "I know, but I can't tell you because I don't want them to know." ... Veteran kicker Matt Stover was wide left and short on a 50-yard att empt against the Texans. What happened? "What stood out was that it was like the one he missed in a similar fashion at home," Rosburg said. "We got a little quick on it, and things just didn't work out right. When you get into the 50-yard range, it's very common amongst kickers to get a little extra push to the ball and you end up getting a little quick on your hips. I think that's what happened."

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


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