Game SnapShot: Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens

<b>Game Snapshot</b><br> <b>KICKOFF:</b> Sunday, 1:00 ET<br> <b>GAMEDATE:</b> 11/02/03<br> <b>SURFACE:</b> Grass<br> <b>TV: </b>CBS, Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots<br> <b>SERIES:</b> 14th meeting. Jaguars lead series 8-5. The Jaguars won the first eight, the first 10 against owner Art Modell's team if you count the two wins over Cleveland in 1995 before the Browns move to Baltimore. But the Ravens have won the last five.

2003 RANKINGS: Jaguars: offense 14th (22nd rush, 7th pass); defense 10th (6th rush, 19th pass). Ravens: offense 21st (1st rush, 31st pass); defense 5th (8th rush, 12th pass)

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) at Baltimore Ravens (4-3)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jaguars stand a chance to stick with the Ravens because their strength is run defense, and the Ravens offense is heavily loaded toward a ground game led by RB Jamal Lewis. Baltimore QB Kyle Boller will likely need to step up and make more plays in the passing game against an injury-riddled Jacksonville secondary. The problem for the Jaguars will come on offense, where rookie QB Byron Leftwich has thrown three interceptions in three of the past four games. Several haven't been his fault, but he won't get much time to make decisions with the Ravens' quick linebackers attacking. Jaguars RB Fred Taylor must produce on the ground, and Jacksonville can't fall behind big early.

FAST FACTS: Jaguars: The team is 11-26 since starting the 2001 season 2-0. ... Coach Jack Del Rio was the Raven's linebacker's coach from 1999-2001. Ravens: The team is 4-1 when it holds opponents to 18 points or less. ... A third of the team's touchdowns have come following a forced turnover by the defense. ... They have won the past five meetings and are 11-5 under coach Brian Billick in November.

PREDICTED SCORE: Ravens 17, Jaguars 13


--QB Mark Brunell, who was inactive Sunday against Tennessee because he's recovering from elbow surgery, returned to the facility Thursday and will start throwing Monday, but is probably two to four weeks away from playing.

--CB Jason Craft was listed as doubtful for the Baltimore game with a knee injury and will likely miss his second consecutive game.

--WR Jimmy Redmond, who was inactive the last two games because of a foot injury, saw some action in practice Thursday, but is listed as questionable so he could miss another game.

--CB Kiwaukee Thomas, who hasn't played since suffering a groin injury on the first play of the second game against Buffalo, was listed as probable this week so he'll probably play Sunday.

--LB Keith Mitchell, who has played in only one game since suffering a neck injury in the second game against Buffalo, practiced for the second straight day Thursday. He may be upgraded from questionable Friday and be in uniform Friday.

--DB James Trapp, who missed the final two exhibition games and the first two regular season games with an ankle injury, injured the ankle again Sunday against Tennessee and was placed on the injured reserve list.

--DE Lionel Barnes is out of the Baltimore game with a calf injury he suffered against Tennessee.

--S Deke Cooper will start his second straight game because Jason Craft is ailing and Rashean Mathis has to move from safety to corner.

--S Rashean Mathis will start his second straight game at cornerback because Jason Craft is doubtful with a knee injury.

--QB Byron Leftwich suffered an ankle injury last Sunday against Tennessee, but is practicing this week. He wasn't on the injury report this week so he'll be ready to start against Baltimore Sunday.

--DT Matt Leonard was activated from the practice squad to take the place on the roster of CB James Trap, who was place on injured reserve.

--S Ray Perryman was signed to the practice squad to replace DT Matt Leonard, who was moved up to the active roster. He was waived by the Ravens on Aug. 25.


--CB Tom Knight had no setbacks after practicing Wednesday and was upgraded to probable with a groin injury. He is expected to play nickel back and cover the slot receiver.

--DE Terrell Suggs could have a multiple sack day against Jaguars left tackle Mike Pearson, who has struggled this season. Suggs has not had a sack in three games.

--RB Jamal Lewis should collect his seventh straight 100-yard game against Jacksonville, which was gashed by Tennessee for drives of 11 and 17 plays. The Jaguars' run defense is ranked sixth, which is deceiving.

--CB Chris McAlister will go head-to-head with Jaguars receiver Jimmy Smith, tailing him wherever he goes. In the last two meetings, McAlister has reduced Smith to 8.8 yards per catch.

--K Matt Stover has been the most consistent offensive weapon for the Ravens. He has nine field goals over the past three weeks.


A familiar face returned to the Jaguars' locker room Thursday.

Quarterback Mark Brunell was back for the first time since undergoing surgery on his bursa sac on Oct. 13 and said he plans to start throwing again next Monday.

Since he hasn't thrown since undergoing the surgery, it's uncertain how soon he'll be able to play although he wouldn't rule out being ready for a week from Sunday for the Indianapolis game.

Coach Jack Del Rio, who has said Brunell will be the backup once he's healthy, said he'll be surprised if Brunell is ready that soon.

Brunell, who wasn't allowed to return to the facility because of the fear of infection after the surgery, said he had the stitches taken out of his elbow Wednesday and now doesn't have to worry about getting the elbow infected.

"I'm happy to be back," he said. "I'm not frustrated at all."

Brunell said he doesn't expect to make another start as long as Byron Leftwich stays healthy.

Del Rio said he didn't want to discuss any "what if?" scenarios, but said it's possible that second year quarterback David Garrard could get a start at some point.

Brunell, who will be leaving the Jaguars at the end of the season, said he'll keep his home in Jacksonville, but said he didn't want to discuss any of his future options.

"I haven't gone down that road. It's not the time for it," he said.


The recent play of Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister may not wipe away his mistakes but it has erased the opposition's top wide-outs from the game plan.

In Arizona, he picked off Jeff Blake twice and returned one 83 yards for a touchdown. In Cincinnati, he held Peter Warrick to four catches for 43 yards. Last week against Denver, he followed two-time Pro Bowl receiver Rod Smith all over the field and limited him to four catches for 23 yards.

"I'm trying to get things back to normal and I don't know if they're there yet," McAlister said. "A lot of people have created an image of me in their head from what they've seen on TV. Ultimately, we all make mistakes. I am not saying what I did was right but nobody's perfect. I come out and play harder on Sundays just to try to change the way people see me."

McAlister's presence on the left side usually prompts quarterbacks to throw the opposite direction. But the Ravens have been allowing him to stalk the team's best receiver, forcing teams to throw more passes his way.

His challenge Sunday is going head-to-head with Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith, who has 17 receptions in three starts. In following Smith all over the field the past two meetings, McAlister has reduced the notorious Raven nuisance to 8.8 yards per catch.

"For a coach to say 'Go get him,' it takes me back to being a kid at Toys 'R Us," McAlister said. "Now, I can have some fun."

Fun has been trouble for McAlister.

Near the end of training camp, he was charged with driving under the influence in Fairfax County, Va., and missed a day of practice. Then, two days before the Ravens' Sept. 21 win at San Diego, McAlister broke curfew and skipped a team meeting.

Two incidents in two months put McAlister in the midst of a viscous cycle.

"I had to find a way to stop the bleeding," McAlister said. "The only way to patch it up is playing hard and staying out of trouble."

McAlister signed a one-year, $5.9 million contract as the team's franchise player and is expected to be an unrestricted free agent in about four months. Despite his off-the-field problems, he doesn't believe all the bridges have been burned with the Ravens.

"I can definitely see things working out to where I will come back here," McAlister said. "That's something I'm not worried about whether I'll be here or not. I honestly believe I will be a Raven."

Game Snapshot
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/02/03
TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, Brent Jones
SERIES: 9th meeting. The series is tied 4-4, but the Bears have won the last three. The Chargers haven't been in Chicago since 1996, a game the Bears won 27-14. The last time the two played was overtime as the Bears beat the Chargers, 23-20.
San Diego Chargers (1-6) at Chicago Bears (2-5)

2003 RANKINGS: Chargers: offense 17th (7th rush, 23rd pass); defense 28th (25th rush, 22nd pass). Bears: offense 32nd (14th rush, 30th pass); defense 22nd (29th rush, 13th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: While an influx of young players has elevated the Bears defense, the Chargers continue to struggle to stop opponents, especially through the air. Chicago doesn't boast a dangerous passing game, so it might not be able to exploit that weakness. However, the Bears do hope to get RB Anthony Thomas back from a sprained foot that has kept him out of the past two games and his ability to move the ball on the ground could open up the downfield passing attack. The Chargers desperately need QB Drew Brees to cut down on turnovers and lead enough of a passing game to keep the Bears from stacking up to stop RB LaDainian Tomlinson.

FAST FACTS: Chargers: The team has lost 23 of its past 28 road games and hasn't won in Chicago since 1970. ... Tomlinson's 43 catches makes him one of four AFC running backs to lead their team in receptions. ... Bears: They are the first franchise to reach 650 victories. ... Thomas' 5.5 yards per carry is the highest average among NFC running backs with at least 350 carries.

PREDICTED SCORE: Chargers 24, Bears 23


-- CB Sammy Davis (ankle) didn't work on Thursday and he's going to be hard-pressed to be in game shape by Sunday. If he sits, rookie Drayton Florence or backup Kevin House fills in. Both have struggled this year.

-- TE Justin Peelle didn't practice. It's looking doubtful he can go, which makes that position thinner; Stephen Alexander (groin) is already out.

-- S Vernon Fox (groin) practiced and is a go for Sunday.

-- C Jason Ball (ankle) didn't practice.

-- WR Kassim Osgood (ankle) practiced.

-- C Cory Raymer (knee) practiced.

-- WR Reche Caldwell (wrist) practiced.


--QB Rex Grossman continued to take the snaps normally designated for the No. 2 quarterback (scout team reps), even though Kordell Stewart's leg injury has healed enough for him to mess around running routes with the wide receivers after practice.

--WR Marty Booker (sprained ankle) did some very light work at Thursday's practice and appears to be very doubtful despite his "questionable" status.

--S Mike Green (groin) hasn't practiced all week and looks to be very doubtful although he's "questionable."

--DT Keith Traylor (questionable, knee) practiced Thursday for the second straight day and could be in a rotation with Bryan Robinson and Alfonso Boone.

--RB Anthony Thomas (foot, questionable) practiced Thursday for the second straight day and coach Dick Jauron said he would be "shocked" if Thomas was not active on Sunday.


The Chargers are crossing their fingers center Cory Raymer can make it through Sunday's game in Chicago.

Raymer sprained his knee in Monday's loss to the Dolphins. Raymer was filling in for Jason Ball, who sprained his ankle on Oct. 5 in Cleveland.

It doesn't look as if Ball will be available of Sunday, which means the Chargers can ill-afford Raymer aggravating his injury. If so, the Chargers would turn to Michael Keathley, who was recently added to the roster as a street free agent.

If Raymer goes down, that means the offensive line -- which gave up six sacks in the last game -- would be hard-pressed to protect struggling quarterback Drew Brees.


Linebacker Warrick Holdman is still questionable after missing three games with a sprained ankle, but he was at practice Wednesday, although limited in what he could do.

"I'm just sore," said Holdman, who missed the final 12 games last season with cartilage damage in his right knee. "I've got to fight through that. It's basically just getting back out here and moving around."

In Holdman's absence, rookie Joe Odom has been impressive, which the veteran has noticed.

"That's the business," Holdman said. "It's supposed to make you nervous or you shouldn't be out here. I am a competitor, he is a competitor, and I'll be the first one to tell him, 'You're supposed to play like you want my job, or you won't last that long in the NFL.' I'm happy he's playing well, but I just want to get out for myself and play."

Job One on Sunday will be stopping Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, whose 979 yards from scrimmage are the third most in the NFL. A healthy Holdman would help, but playing against Tomlinson at less than full speed could be a mistake.

"This is not a week to put a gimpy linebacker on the field," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. "If he can't run, this guy makes some healthy linebackers look like gimps. So, if he's gimping around, he'll be on the highlight film. If this guy does commercials, Warrick will be right on there if he's not ready to go play."

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