The Answer Man

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<p><b>Answer Man! Answer Man!</b> Wait up. I know you guys are winning again but that doesn't mean you can run from me, man. Remember, I was there when very few weren't …<br> <br> <b>Answer Man:</b> And so you were. OK. You have five minutes.<br> <br> <b>Me: </b> Can Chukky Okobi do the job at center?<br> <br> <b>Answer Man:</b> The coach thinks so. Word is he's almost as good as (Jeff) Hartings right now.<br> <br>

Me: Well, that remains to be seen. He looked average at best playing guard during camp. I watched him pretty closely when Kendall Simmons was hurt. I wrote Okobi out of the competition.

Answer Man: You should have. He's not a guard. He's a center. He's a much better center. But he has to learn guard because he'll always be active as the back-up center. People like Keydrick (Vincent) aren't always going to be active on game day.

Me: OK. One more center question. Is there a chance (Dan) O'Leary stays as long snapper since he started last week as the second tight end?

Answer Man: I doubt it. He had a bad game. It didn't look like he knew the plays.

Me: Tell me about the Ravens. Who are these guys and how are they still playing good defense, even though they lost just about everyone from last year?

Answer Man: Ray Lewis, Chris McAlister, Peter Boulware.

Me: Yeah, but all I've heard from the Steelers, while they were re-signing every starter the last two years, is that mixing stars and fill-ins won't work.

Answer Man: It's working for the Ravens, I'm guessing, because all of those fill-ins, as you called them, are too young to not listen to the coach. They're all where they're supposed to be and the stars are, well, stars.

Me: Can you give me the rundown?

Answer Man: Sure. But you only have a couple minutes left.

Me: Go.

Answer Man: Up front they have Kelly Gregg in the middle, and Anthony Weaver and Adalius Thomas at ends.

Me: Wow, Kelly Gregg.

Answer Man: I know, but he's an effort guy, like the rest of them. Weaver's a rookie but he's good. We liked him coming out of Notre Dame. Thomas is another effort guy. Behind them are Lewis and Boulware and you know all about those guys. (Ed) Hartwell and Cornell Brown, Reuben's brother, are the other two guys. Again, good effort guys.

Me: How are they doing with the 3-4 this year?

Answer Man: They can't do the things we do, but they're OK.

Me: Will Bill Cowher have some good ideas about how to attack a novice 3-4?

Answer Man: Yes.

Me: OK. Abrupt enough. I see you're taking these guys seriously. I remember you yukking it up pretty good before the Bengals and Colts.

Answer Man: You've got about a minute and a half left.

Me: How's Edward Reed doing and would you guys have drafted him?

Answer Man: We would've given him strong consideration, and he's doing alright, nothing great yet. I will say he's the most pigeon-toed athlete I've ever seen, but he's very fast. He's a little small, too, not a great tackler.

Me: How's the rest of the secondary? Chris Demps? Are you kidding me?

Answer Man: It's Will Demps, and he's playing well. He's a little slow, though, too.

Me: So you can beat the safeties deep with the tight end?

Answer Man: And which tight end on our roster do you see running past anyone?

Me: Right. But - the Ravens' defense in summation?

Answer Man: Like I said - Ray Lewis, Chris McAlister, Peter Boulware, and effort guys.

Me: Quickly, the offense.

Answer Man: The line's beat up, but it's always beat up. Jonathan Ogden's healthy, so he's the man there. Jamal Lewis isn't the fastest guy in the world, but he's a big back, tough to bring down.

Me: Kendrell (Bell) should eat that kind of stuff up.

Answer Man: You would think.

Me: And Chris Redman's a bit of a lead-foot at quarterback, isn't he?

Answer Man: He is but it's not hurting him. He gets rid of the ball quickly. He goes where the play's supposed to go. There might not be as many sacks Sunday as you'd think, but we may intercept a few passes.

Me: Ah, some unguarded optimism.

Answer Man: Forty-five seconds.

Me: Do they use a fullback?

Answer Man: Yes, but he doesn't run or catch the ball. Todd Heap's their weapon. Travis Taylor's OK. Brandon Stokely, every time you want to forget about him he shows up open and he's making a play.

Me: So what's so hard about covering Heap?

Answer Man: It's a match-up thing. Say they have another tight end on the field, as they often do. They can line up two tights and give the ball to Lewis. Do you want an extra DB on the field then? No. And out of your base, he can beat linebackers and overpower DBs. That's the problem all good tight ends give you.

Me: One more question. What are you doing about your kicker?

Answer Man: Talk to me after this game. He should be fine on the road. At least that's the hope.

Me: Oh, and how's Chris Hope doing?

Answer Man: Time's up. 


--Jim Wexell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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