- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

OWINGS MILLS, Md. No touchdowns, a total of 41 points scored in four preseason games and a quarterback making his first NFL start.
The honeymoon is over for the Baltimore Ravens' first-team offense Sunday in the season opener against the Carolina Panthers at Ericsson Stadium.
There are plenty of lingering questions about the team's lack of scoring and the play of third-year quarterback Chris Redman. The Ravens are referring to the preseason as "in the past" and are confident the offense will perform better now that the games count.
"We could lead the league in offense midway through the season and I'll still have questions," coach Brian Billick said. "I feel good about the offensive line, I feel good about the running game and Jamal [Lewis] staying healthy and I feel good about our quarterback's ability to execute the offense get the ball to our good receivers like Todd Heap, Travis Taylor and Brandon Stokley I think those guys will step up. I feel good about where we are at."
Redman's preseason passing numbers were mediocre at best. The 6-foot-3 Redman finished the preseason with a paltry 55.9 passer rating. Redman completed 40 of 69 passes for 392 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. His completion percentage was 58 percent.
Veteran backup Jeff Blake posted better numbers 75.6 percent passer rating completing 33 of 63 passes for 391 yards, two touchdowns and one interception than Redman but did it against second- and third-string defenses.
The Ravens scored only four touchdowns in the preseason and two came off an 18-yard interception by rookie safety Will Demps and a 99-yard kickoff return by rookie wide receiver Javin Hunter.
"We were just trying to get a feel in preseason," said Lewis, who sat out all of last season recovering from a torn left ACL. "You can't worry about that. That's in the past and now it's Carolina. This is when the real bullets start flying and it's time to really put it all together and go out there and do what we have to do."
The return of Lewis, who rushed for a team record 1,364 yards two seasons ago, will certainly help the Ravens' offense if he can post similar numbers this season. Lewis ran nine times for 44 yards in the preseason. The Ravens offense will look different with Lewis carrying the ball 20 to 30 times a game.
"One of the things I'm really anxious to see is Jamal back and running for four quarters," said Ravens five-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis. "I don't think anybody can just sit there and take that [pounding] for four quarters. Our offensive line is doing the right things and Chris Redman is playing a smart football game. That's one thing Trent Dilfer did. You don't have to go win a game, just play a smart one. I think our quarterbacks should understand that."
Dilfer, who led the Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XXXV two seasons ago, was a soft-armed passer and doesn't have Redman's physical attributes like youth, mobility and a cannon-like arm. Redman, who is the NCAA's all-time leader in completions (1,031) and attempts (1,679) out of Louisville, said he has learned various nuances while apprenticing under Dilfer, Tony Banks and Elvis Grbac.
"We know we're able to score some points," Redman said. "As soon as we get into the flow of things, we're really going to put some numbers on the board."
That better start with the Panthers. Last season, the 1-15 Panthers were the worst defensive team in the league and ranked 28th against the pass. The Panthers, who will play in the new NFC South this season, lost all eight home games last season.
"You can't go in underestimating any team and you can't talk like that, you've got to go in focused like you're playing the best team in the league," said second-year tight end Heap. "You got to put the pressure on yourself. We didn't score a whole lot in the preseason, especially the first team, and we've got to go out there and make plays, drive the ball down the field and put some points on the board. We can't rely on our defense and our defense can't rely on us."


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