- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 23, 2001

OWINGS MILLS, Md. Two teams have offered to trade a running back to the run-deficient Baltimore Ravens before the NFL's trading deadline today at 4 p.m.

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' senior vice president of player personnel, refused to identify the interested teams, but said they are the same teams that were willing to consummate a deal before the season.

During April's NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos offered Mike Anderson, last season's AFC rookie of the year who rushed for 1,487 yards and 15 touchdowns, for a second-round draft pick (62nd overall), which Baltimore used on defensive back Gary Baxter.

There also were rumors that the Green Bay Packers were willing to trade Dorsey Levens, who lost his starting job to Ahman Green last season.

"Right now, it's more about them calling and trying to trade somebody to us for draft picks," Newsome said. "If we can get the right guy and make a good trade, we'll do it. I'm not out there calling people and asking if they have anybody they want to trade. We feel pretty good about our roster."

It was reported that Baltimore is actively shopping reserve defensive tackle Lional Dalton. If the Ravens are able to land a top-notch running back, it would probably take an established player and a relatively high draft pick to complete any deal.

Dalton denied yesterday that the Ravens were using him as trade bait.

"My agent doesn't know anything about it, right now it's all speculation," Dalton said. "I know it's a business, I don't think I'm going anywhere. I feel that I'm an asset to the Baltimore Ravens and hopefully I think I'm the future starting defensive tackle."

Besides concerns about Baltimore's 11th-rated running game, Ravens fans can start pointing fingers at both sides of the ball for the mediocre 3-3 start.

The Ravens' record-setting defense from a year ago has given up 55 points in the last two games. The Ravens surrendered just 165 points in 16 games last season, an NFL record.

The offensive line has allowed eight sacks in two games, with seven coming Sunday against Cleveland. Quarterback Elvis Grbac has thrown four interceptions in the Ravens' past two losses. Grbac was knocked out of both losses by the opposing pass rush.

Grbac suffered a rib contusion in the third quarter of Sunday's embarrassing 24-14 loss to the Browns. Grbac is listed as day-to-day and his status for Sunday's home game against Jacksonville (2-3) is questionable. If Grbac can't play, 38-year-old Randall Cunningham will start against the reeling Jaguars.

"I feel pretty sore in the chest area and there is something going on with the cartilage, but we'll see the next couple of days throwing," said Grbac, who is third in the AFC with 1,348 passing yards. "The cartilage thing is what I'm concerned about the most. Can I throw and can I use my upper body to throw?"

Turnovers are perhaps the Ravens' biggest nemesis. In last season's championship run, the Ravens led the NFL with a plus-23 turnover ratio. Currently, they are minus-7 and fourth-worst in the league in turnover ratio. The Ravens have already lost one more fumble eight than they did all last season.

Baltimore coach Brian Billick blames turnovers and big plays for his team's lethargic start. However, Billick also pointed out that four of the Ravens' six games have been on the road, where all three of the Ravens' losses have come.

Still, losses at Cincinnati and Cleveland should be a warning sign. Billick said on paper, the Ravens are seemingly superior to Ohio's perpetual downtrodden football teams.

"It's my job to analyze what works, what doesn't and why, and what can we do with it," Billick said. "I sit here with the No. 1-ranked defense in the league statistically [235.8 yards]. The No. 4-ranked offense statistically [361.5]. No team has earned more first downs [125], no team has given up fewer first downs [84], no team is better at stopping teams on third down [25 percent conversion rate]. We've got balance, only one team [Cincinnati has run the ball more than we have, yet we also throw the ball we're second in the NFL in passing [243.5 yards]. Yet, here we sit 3-3. What wins a football game? It's always been turnovers."

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