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franklin county times

Saints face old friend in quarterback Jeff Blake

By By Richard Dark / EMG sports writer
Dec. 8, 2002
NEW ORLEANS Today the New Orleans Saints will be battling the elements, as well as an old friend looking to knock them out of the running for the NFC South Division crown. Former Saints quarterback Jeff Blake, who captained the Black and Gold through the first 10 games of the 2000 season before getting injured, now guides the helm of the Baltimore Ravens, the team New Orleans (8-4) visits today at 3 p.m.
The game will be televised on FOX.
That rising star, who is ailing this week, is a Blake protege and current slinger Aaron Brooks. Brooks took it easy this week in practice after suffering a shoulder bruise last week in the highly charged 23-20 win over Tampa Bay. It is unclear how the shoulder will affect his play up in Baltimore, where it is forecasted to be bitterly cold by kickoff.
One thing's for certain, Brooks, who ranks second in NFC with TD pass every 5.7 attempts, cannot afford to make mistakes and turn the football over to an opportunistic defense such as this one. The Ravens lead the AFC with 20 interceptions. Those are spread out among 12 different players.
With Blake at the controls, the Ravens are 3-3. He has completed 55 percent of his passes, piling up 1,061 yards, and six touchdowns. At 6-6, the Ravens, winners of three of their last four, are still fighting for their playoff lives.
After sitting out all last season with a knee injury, Lewis is back and has picked up where he left off, already eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark this year.
If they accomplish that and deal with the weather, they may wind up in a more favorable position. This contest is the first of the final quarter of the campaign. None of the teams left on the slate have winning records.
Horn trumpets competition
The former Itawamba standout Horn as usual was the life of the locker room following a late week practice. He shot hoops on a mounted toy basketball goal with teammates and let anyone within earshot know that this football team was ready to face off against the Ravens in the cold weather.
He also had plenty of praise for the man who will be charged with trying to hold his explosiveness in check.
From Eagles to Ravens
Former Southern Miss defensive stalwarts Adalius Thomas and Chad Williams will be on the field for Baltimore on Sunday. Both have seen action in all eight games, with Thomas starting eight of those at right defensive end, while collecting 51 tackles. Williams has 35 at the safety spot.
Both players have returned interceptions for touchdowns, totaling the number of picks this year at two. Williams returned an interception 98 yards against Cincinnati last week to help spearhead a comeback. "I didn't know how far 98 yards was," he joked to the Ravens media after the game.
Ravens coach Brian Billick gave the offensive, defensive and special teams game balls to him for the stellar performance against the Bengals.
The workhorse duo is also a handful on special teams. Williams is the leader of the unit with 14 total stops and a blocked punt last week, while Thomas has 12 tackles.
Wally's back
Saints offensive lineman Wally Williams returned to the team earlier this week after being suspended for four games because of substance abuse. It is still unclear if he will be active for today's game.
Riley in running
Haslett said Friday following practice that he told secondary coach Mike Riley he should in fact, take the vacancy at the University of Alabama. Reports are swirling that Riley is indeed Mal Moore's choice to fill the spot left when Dennis Franchione bolted to Texas A&M earlier this week. As of late Friday afternoon, Haslett said no one from Alabama had contacted Riley or anyone with the team, contrary to national media reports.
But Haslett said he told Riley that from a career standpoint he should accept the position if it is offered.
Riley is a former Crimson Tide defensive back, having played under Paul "Bear" Bryant.
Quick hitters
The Saints offense ranks first in the NFC with an impressive 61.4 touchdown percentage inside the opposing 20-yard line. Out of 44 appearances, the team has hit pay dirt 27 times … Brooks needs only 154 yards passing to reach the 3,000-yard plateau in 2002.

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