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Sunday NFL News and Notes

Sunday NFL News and Notes

NFL Preseason Preview - N.Y. Giants (0-1) at Baltimore (1-0)

(Sports Network) - The Baltimore Ravens will look to maintain their preseason momentum on Sunday night, when Brian Billick and company play host to the New York Giants in the second 2007 tune-up for each team.

The Ravens got off to a dominant start against the Eagles this past Monday, dealing Philadelphia a 29-3 setback that saw Baltimore look sharp on both sides of the football.

Quarterback Steve McNair completed 6-of-8 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown in his limited action, while running back Willis McGahee rushed for a healthy 20 yards on four carries in his first appearance in a Baltimore uniform.

Defensively, the Ravens displayed the suffocating form that has become their calling card. Six different Eagles running backs combined for just 11 yards on 15 carries in the game, an average of 0.7 per rush.

Baltimore should play its starters slightly longer in the second preseason game than in the first warm-up, though notables like All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe) are not expected to be in uniform.

The Giants did not get off to a winning start to their preseason, dropping a 24-21 decision at home to the Carolina Panthers, though Tom Coughlin's club did display several positives.

Quarterback Eli Manning was 3-for-5 passing for 27 yards in his brief time under center, culminating a first-quarter drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Shockey.

Also impressive was running back Reuben Droughns, who in his first appearance in a Giant uniform had 49 yards on six total touches, including 32 yards in the receiving game.

On the downside for the G-Men, virtually unknown Panthers wideout Taye Biddle burned the New York secondary for touchdowns of 23 and 85 yards.

Perennial Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan, who is considering retirement, will not be in uniform for the Giants on Sunday night.

The Ravens have a 6-4 edge in their all-time preseason series with the Giants, but were 17-16 home losers when the teams met prior to last season.

The most memorable game played between the franchises was Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, won by Baltimore, 34-7.

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Giants to test new ground game against tough Ravens defense

BALTIMORE -- If preseason games are so insignificant, then why do the Baltimore Ravens seem to care so much about Sunday night's matchup against the New York Giants?

The Ravens will break out their black uniforms, which they usually save for special occasions. Looking good is one thing, but the team is eager to impress a crowd of more than 70,000 fans and a national television audience by playing well, too.

''We just want to show them that we're a tenacious defense with a lot of depth,'' linebacker Bart Scott said. ''There's a lot of guys here who could be starting on other defenses. ... Let's see if (the Giants) can match our tempo and intensity. It's important we take each game like it's our last.''

Moments after he blew the final whistle of an upbeat training camp, Ravens coach Brian Billick gathered the players on the field Saturday at McDaniel College. He congratulated them for working hard over three straight weeks, then issued a warning: Don't let up.

''We've had a phenomenal camp. Best I've ever been a part of. But we have to follow through,'' Billick said later. ''Things have been going well, there have been a minimum amount of distractions and we had a great game Monday night (a 29-3 win over the Philadelphia Eagles).

''For them to not follow up at home Sunday night on national television, not to have the right focus and passion ... I don't know that they won't, but conventional thinking says that's a trap you can fall into. We want to make sure collectively and individually we don't do that.''

The Giants, meanwhile, are seeking to improve upon an uneven performance in their preseason opener, a 24-21 loss to Carolina. Brandon Jacobs and Reuben Droughns, who are expected to receive the brunt of the carries in place of the retired Tiki Barber, combined for 32 yards rushing on nine carries.

It won't get any easier against a Baltimore defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL last season and limited Philadelphia to 23 yards on 18 attempts Monday.

''We just want to be consistent and have everyone do the right thing,'' Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. ''Baltimore is a defense that does a lot of looks. It will be a good test for the offensive line and the receivers to read and make adjustments.''

New York's defense will be tested, too. The Panthers put together three long scoring drives in the first half and finished with 154 yards rushing, averaging 5 yards per attempt.

''We have to stop the run,'' linebacker Antonio Pierce said. ''Last week the team rushed for 150, and 70 or 80 against the first defense. Our No. 1 goal is to stop the run every weekend, especially since we didn't do it the week before.''

The Ravens rested their first-string offense against Philadelphia after Steve McNair directed a 93-yard touchdown drive on Baltimore's opening possession. McNair and new starting running back Willis McGahee are expected to get more playing time Sunday night.

McGahee, who ran for 20 yards on four carries, will be the Giants' main focus of attention.

''If you can't stop the run in this league you don't have a chance,'' linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said. ''We had a lot of corrections we had to make, but they were not devastating things. If wasn't like there were major flaws in our defense. It was an issue of focusing on the basics.''

Cornerback Aaron Ross, New York's first-round draft pick, will see his first NFL action after missing the opener with a hamstring injury. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress (ankle injury) will miss the game.

Manning is expected to play into the second quarter, followed by Jared Lorenzen and Tim Hasselbeck.

The second stage of the competition to be Baltimore's No. 3 quarterback will take place in the second half. Drew Olson got the jump on Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith last week, directing three scoring drives in the fourth quarter after Smith went 3-for-11 for 34 yards.

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2007 NFL Preseason Notes


NY Giants - QB Rotation: Eli Manning, Jared Lorenzen, Anthony Wright, Tim Hasselbeck.

Coughlin said the Giants starting units would play well into the second quarter Sunday. Jared Lorenzen will replace Manning at that point, followed by Tim Hasselbeck in the second half.

A few changes have been made since Saturday's loss to the Panthers. S Craig Dahl, who was responsible for a pair of touchdown passes including an 85-yarder, has been bumped down to the third-team defense in favor of rookie Michael Johnson. Last week, Johnson had a few big hits and made several plays on the ball. On the defensive line, rookie DT Jay Alford has been moved up to the second team. Free agent Marcus Bell, who did not play well against Carolina, has been demoted to the third team.

Sundays game will also be a significant test for the Giants revamped running game, which features Brandon Jacobs, Reuben Droughns and Derrick Ward. The rushing attack was one of the few highlights during the Carolina game, but the stout Ravens defense should present a substantial test.

WRs thin. WRs Plaxico Burress (ankle) is out and WR Sinorice Moss (ankle) is hurting. WR Amani Toomer will play a little, testing his reconstructed knee.

Burress's absence continues to be a source of concern for Coughlin because he wants his first-string receivers to work with Eli Manning in the preseason.

The Giants are hoping the game will provide an opportunity for their coaches to evaluate the two place-kickers in camp, Lawrence Tynes and Josh Huston. Neither attempted a field goal in the first preseason game.

HC Tom Coughlin brought in Chris Palmer as QB coach and moved Kevin Gilbride over to offensive coordinator.

Baltimore Ravens - QB Rotation: Steve McNair, Kyle Boller, rookies Troy Smith and Drew Olson.

Brian Billick was noncommittal about playing QB Drew Olson in the third quarter and Troy Smith in the fourth quarter against the Giants. "Possibly," Billick said. "We'll discuss that, but that was the normal rotation against the Eagles. If we do switch those guys out, we'll just play them from the get-go."

Offensive line thin: With guard Chris Chester (foot) and tackle Steve Edwards (knee) nursing injuries, the offensive line featured a few different looks. At times, Jason Brown would move from left guard to center and Keydrick Vincent would fill the vacancy. Another look included Mike Flynn at center, Brown at left guard and Vincent at right guard. OT Jonathan Ogden (turf toe) has not been practicing and first-round pick Ben Grubbs sprained his knee.

Secondary thin, with starters CB Samari Rolle and safety Ed Reed ailing.

Unlike many teams that play vanilla defense in the preseason, the Ravens are turning up the heat on quarterbacks. In their preseason opener, they blitzed linebackers and cornerbacks from every angle, punishing the Philadelphia Eagles with five sacks. "We don't make apologies to anybody," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "It's not our job to protect your quarterback."

One justification for their aggressive style in meaningless games is evaluation purposes. "We're not out there to scrimmage," Ryan said. "We're out there to play a football game. And that's how we play. Playing passive is somebody else's defense."


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Re: Sunday NFL News and Notes

Sunday’s NFL starter report

New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens (-3, 33)

Coach Tom Coughlin expects the Giants' starters to play into the second quarter against the Ravens on Sunday. Jared Lorenzen will replace quarterback Eli Manning at that point, with Tim Hasselbeck set to follow in the second half.

New York has some serious injury worries with wide receiver Plaxico Burress set to miss the game because of a hurt ankle. Sinorice Moss, one of Burress’ backups, could also miss the game because of a similar injury.

On the plus side, Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer will make his first start since Nov. 5 of last year, when he suffered a knee injury which required extensive surgery.

Baltimore’s starters only played a quarter in an impressive 29-3 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, but they are expected to play about half the game against the Giants.

Quarterback Steve McNair threw for 73 yards and a touchdown in his limited action against Philadelphia. He's likely to get more time on Sunday. He will be replaced by Kyle Boller, who will go into the third quarter.

Rookie linebackers Antwan Barnes, Prescott Burgess and undrafted free agent Edgar Jones are all expected to see more action after putting in impressive performances in Monday’s game.

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