Ravens working to shore up pass defense

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens' proud defense was absolutely scorched by the San Diego Chargers' passing game. Despite allowing Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to pile up 436 yards through the air during a 31-26 Baltimore win over San Diego, the Ravens insist that it wasn't nearly as bad as it seems.

Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth emphasized that the secondary had tight coverage the majority of the time, but just missed the football when it arrived in the receivers' vicinity.

"The frustrating thing about the game was I watched the film several times, and the coverage was great," Foxworth said. "You're hip-to-hip on the guys, and it's the difference between sticking your arm in the right spot.

"I guess that's kind of frustrating and encouraging at the same time. We were fortunate enough on defense to make some big plays at the end to win it, though."

Foxworth didn't duck any responsibility for his own play, which included allowing some long receptions to Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson.

He's still mad about the results, which marked the second-most passing yards allowed in franchise history.

"I guess it makes me a little self-centered because we won and everyone was happy and I should have been, too," Foxworth said. "But I was pissed off because I just kept replaying those plays in my mind. And everyone I talked to said, 'Well, you made some big plays.' But you know how it is, those aren't the plays that you remember.

"You want to be good and you want to be great and the ones that stand out in your mind are the mistakes that you make. After the game, it felt like I was the worst corner ever. They didn't fool us. They just made better plays than us and that won't be happening again."

Now, Foxwort h gets his chance to redeem himself against another high-profile wide receiver on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns' Braylon Edwards.

"He's a skilled receiver," Foxworth said. "Every week, there's going to be somebody on the other side that's going to be really good. There's not going to be trash on either side. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh has suggested that the secondary might need to employ more two-deep coverage schemes, and that the front seven needs to generate more of a pass rush.

Cornerback Frank Walker, who might be pressed into duty if Fabian Washington is out this week with a concussion, said that fixing the problem isn't that complex.

"Make the play when we're close to the ball and we'll be fine," he said. "Look at all those plays and we're close. Just make the play.

"I don't know what the scheme will be. I just know when we're in those situations, we need to make those plays."

INJURY UPDATE: Washington didn't practice and was listed with an illness on the injury report.

Plus, starting linebacker Jarret Johnson (shoulder) and offensive tackle Jared Gaither (illness) also didn't practice.

Washington watched practice from the side.

Johnson spoke with reporters prior to practice, but Gaither was absent from the locker room.

Tight end L.J. Smith has missed the first two games of the season with a pulled hamstring, but expects to make his debut Sunday.

"I've communicated to them that I want to go," Smith said. "I should be good. I'm feeling pretty confident."

Defensive tackle Justin Bannan was limited due to a knee injury.

Safety Tom Zbikowski, who was held out of the San Diego game with his first concussion, participated fully.

"I feel much better than last week," Zbikowski said. "I was close to being able to play Sunday, but wasn't quite myself until Saturday and Sunday. It was a mutual decision."

Meanwhile, Browns running back Jamal Lewis (hamstring) and offensive linemen Floyd "Porkchop" Womack (ankle) and Rex Hadnot (knee) didn't practice.

Nose guard Shaun "Big Baby" Rogers (foot) and linebacker David Bowens (knee) were limited.

TIGHT END COMPETITION: Smith said he's not concerned about the Ravens possibly sending him a message by signing free agent tight end Tony Curtis on Tuesday.

"To me, I don't really stress about stuff like that," Smith said. "I've just got to go out here and play. I don't like to talk about a situation like that, but it is what it is.

"I know that I've been hurt. The situation is what it is. So, I'm happy. I'm happy right now, and I'm going to go out and have a good practice."

Harbaugh emphasized that the Ravens simply needed to bolster their depth behind starter Todd Heap and versatile reserve Edgar Jones.

"We want L.J., we want them all healthy," Harbaugh said. "We'll probably have three tight ends up at one time, and we know we can go with four now. We've been with two the last couple weeks. We don't like that.

"We want to make sure we've got enough personnel in certain positions to make sure we can get through the long haul and try to get a little competition, too. Plus, Tony's a good player and a good player makes us better."

A 6-foot-5, 250-pound third-year pro, Curtis is trying to get acclimated to the Ravens' playbook after trying out over a week ago.

"I'm just happy to get another opportunity," the former Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys reserve said. "I've got to learn the system and go from there. I'm not sure what role they want from me on this team. I feel like I can block and catch. Whatever they need from me, I can do."

ATOP THE POLLS: Undefeated and atop the AFC North, the Ravens are ranked first in ESPN and Sports Illustrated's weekly power rankings.

The Ravens, who have been installed as a 13 1/2 point favorite over the Browns, are ranked fifth by CBS Sports.

"I couldn't believe it," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "Normally, they don't do those kinds of things to us. I think we were pretty far behind before this week. But it doesn't mean anything unless you're there at the end of the season, and that's what we're shooting for."

QUICK HITS: Reserve outside linebacker Antwan Barnes is still overjoyed following his first career interception against the Chargers. "I was in the right place at the right time, and it all comes back to my offseason work," he said. "It was way better than last year. I'm excited, I'm real excited. Maybe the next time I pick one off, I can get in the end zone." ... The Ravens aren't giving up on wide receiver Demetrius Williams even though he has been supplanted as the fourth wide receiver by Kelley Washington and has yet to catch a pass this season. He didn't play against the Chargers. "One thing about Demetrius is he works really hard at it," Harbaugh said. "You don't put on 12 to 15 pounds of muscle mass in the last year that he's done to get himself ready to play if you're not a hard-working guy. I think without question he'll be a big part of the plans the next few weeks." … Participating fully in practice for the Browns: running back James Davis (shoulder), center Alex Mack (shoulder), wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (shoulder), former Ravens running back Cedric Peerman (thigh), defensive lineman Ahytba Rubin (toe) and former Ravens punter Dave Zastudil (right knee).


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