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Friday hits: Secondary thoughts; injury update; weather check

Like everyone else in Bengaldom, secondary coach Kevin Coyle was livid at his first look at last Sunday's stat sheet and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's 258 yards.

"Where are all these yards coming from?" Coyle wondered and the tape gave him his answers.

It certainly wasn't from any long-range passing plan.

The longest play of the game was the 45-yard pass to wide open rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez. The second was the 32-yarder from wide receiver Randy Moss that was all yards-after-catch when cornerback Johnathan Joseph missed the tackle.

"One was a busted coverage and the other one was a four-yard hitch that J-Joe turned into a big play because of the missed tackle," Coyle said. "I went and charted how far each ball was thrown in the air and it was mainly four yards here, five yards there. There was a 21-yarder and the longest after that was eight."

And the 21-yarder might as well have been a busted play, too. That came when Brady patted the ball in the pocket, patted it again, filed his income taxes, shined his Super Bowl MVP trophies, and finally found running back Kevin Faulk in a tight window on the sidelines.

"There weren't many of the typical 25-yard passes down the field where the DB gets beat deep," Coyle said. "That's where we'll be challenged this week. The (Ravens) run great routes. They run great double moves."

Coyle saw the Ravens wideouts rack up a slew of pass-interference and holding calls against the Jets Monday night and felt the reason was because the DBs got out of position and let the Ravens get on top of routes, and he knows that is easy to do against the Ravens. He has not only been preaching it all week, but any time the Bengals have played a Cam Cameron offense with a big-armed quarterback that the Ravens max protect while giving their receivers deep balls with double moves and option routes.

"If you're trailing the receiver when the ball is thrown vertically and the DB doesn't have vision on the ball, in this league they're going to call (interference) if there's any contact," Coyle said. "We're not trying to find ourselves in those scenarios down the field. We're going to try to use our speed and stay on top of routes. Try to be the receiver when the ball is in the air. Not the defender. When those balls are thrown downfield, we want our guys aggressively going for it, not just keeping it from being a completion but aggressively taking the ball away."

And, like everyone else in Bengaldom, Coyle has a lot of appreciation for that new Ravens wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Not only did his DBs go against him for eight seasons in practice, but so did Coyle and he can see the benefits for Joseph and Leon Hall, the slot corner on third down. 

"Especially in the slot," Coyle said. "He understands coverage and because of that he knows how to maneuver and to establish the leverage that he wants. As you're defending him, you have to understand what he knows and how he's going to react to the leverage presented for him. That helped.

"Everybody would say that T.J. isn't a burner, but there were a lot of plays where he made plays on the ball downfield. He's one of those guys that he shows that he understands if he gets body position on you and gets even with you down the field, he can make plays."

Which is exactly what Coyle doesn't want to happen because the Ravens can strike quickly and deeply with the long ball. More so than the Patriots offense.


» Defensive lineman Jon Fanene (hamstring) is out. Running back Brian Leonard (foot) and linebacker Keith Rivers (foot) are questionable. Leonard has gone full in practice all week. Rivers has been limited the past two days. Running back Cedric Benson (shoulder), receiver Andre Caldwell (groin), and cornerback Brandon Ghee (head) are probable after all went full go Friday.

For the Ravens, middle linebacker Ray Lewis (foot) is questionable, but no one thinks he won't play. He was limited Friday. Wide receivers Anquan Boldin (thigh) and Marcus Smith (knee) are probable. Defensive tackle Terrence Cody (knee), linebacker Tavares Gooden (thigh), tight end Todd Heap (thigh), linebacker Jarret Johnson (back), and linebacker Jameel McClain (knee) are questionable. All were limited Friday except Johnson, who didn't pratice. Right tackle Jared Gaither (back) and wide receiver Donte' Stallworth (foot) are out for the second straight week.

» Ravens head coach John Harbaugh indicated in his Friday news conference that a guy that didn't play Monday night, cornerback Lardarius Webb, could go Sunday. He's not on the injury report.

"I think there's a chance he'll play," Harbaugh said. "It just depends on how he feels as we get close to the game. We said last week he practiced 100 percent, and he did, and he's practiced 100 percent again this week. So, he's doing well."

Sensing a rip job, Harbaugh wouldn't get into a discussion about the Bengals offseason moves of big names.

"I'm not going to even answer that because I see where you're going with it, and I just would refute that," Harbaugh said. "All you try to do is make your team as best as they can be. We don't try to match anybody's offseason moves. We just try to make our team as best as they can be. But I'm impressed at what they've done. Obviously, they have a lot of good players. They're an even better team than they were last year from a talent standpoint."

» The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio is calling for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 80s, a 20 percent chance of rain, and a light wind out of the south at five to 10 miles per hour.

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