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Friday - 1/26/2001

Good scout Redman looks to the future

By Craig Ellenport
For NFL Insider

TAMPA, Fla. -- He's the quarterback who knows Baltimore's fierce defense better than anyone. And he's had the most success against it.

Then again, Ravens rookie Chris Redman has the advantage of facing the Ravens' defense every day as leader of the scout team.

Chris Redman has taken his rookie struggles as scout team quarterback against the Ravens' first-team defense. (NFL)

"It's a humbling experience," said the 23-year-old Redman, a third-round draft choice from Louisville. "Big plays don't happen very often against our defense, so when you hit a couple of long passes, you really feel like you've accomplished something."

One thing that makes the Baltimore defenders so good is that they play just as hard in practice as they do on game day. Fortunately for Redman, there's no hitting on the practice field.

"He knows he's not going to get hit, but it doesn't mean there's not going to be bodies flying around him," said offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. "They pressure the quarterback but they can't hit him. There are people flying around him, arms flailing. He just blocks that all out and looks downfield and makes his throws."

After setting an NCAA record at Louisville for career passing attempts, Redman threw all of three passes in two mop-up appearances this season. The 6-foot-3, 223-pounder has a chance to be the Ravens' quarterback of the future. So how close did he come to getting thrown into action earlier this season during the team's offensive slump? When Tony Banks was pulled in favor of Trent Dilfer midway through the season, Redman moved that much closer to assuming the starting job.

"He was next in line," said Cavanaugh. "But I wasn't completely disgusted with Tony�If Trent would have not played well in the next couple of weeks, I think we would have gone back to Tony. I don't know that Chris was quite ready at that point in the season, as a rookie, to jump in when our expectations were so high."

Still, Cavanaugh acknowledged that playing against Baltimore's starting defense has given the rookie good experience in playing under pressure.

"He's comfortable with people in his face and he's comfortable throwing the ball on the move," Cavanaugh said. "So from that standpoint, I think he's ahead of the curve."

And while Dilfer has been under the spotlight in Tampa this week, Redman still appears to be the quarterback of the future in Baltimore.

"He's competitive and he's smart," said Cavanaugh. "Every week, he's learning something new. He needs a good solid offseason to get himself a little stronger and study as much as he can. He's going to be a good player."

BIG-HEAD BILLICK: A lot has been made of Brian Billick's ego this week, and the Ravens' coach apparently has no desire to shed that label. He lightheartedly made reference to it twice during his Thursday morning press conference.

In explaining why he gets along so well with personnel director Ozzie Newsome, Billick said: "He has no ego, which is great for balance with my over-exaggerated ego. So there are good checks and balances."

Asked if he ever questions his readiness for the Super Bowl as a head coach, Billick said: "I have said before that it catches you off guard, even someone as egotistical as I am�just how humbling it really is."

Even his coaches agree that Billick is arrogant.

"Sure, he is," said Cavanaugh. "There's no question. But I don't know many coaches who aren't. He's egotistical, but he's got a right to be. He's a bright, excellent head coach."

HAPPY RETURN?: Return specialist Jermaine Lewis has been made well aware this week that no player has returned a punt for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

"I've heard that," Lewis said with a smile. "I'm really surprised by it."

Considering the fact that he has six career punt-return touchdowns and ran back two punts for scores in the regular-season finale against the Jets, Lewis just might be able to make history.

However, he doesn't expect the Giants to make it easy for him, despite their special-teams troubles earlier this season.

"They seem like they're more aggressive to the ball carrier," Lewis said of the Giants' improved play. "They're not laying back waiting for something to happen. I haven't really seen too many weaknesses. We'll just see how it turns out on Sunday."

BOLD PREDICTION: It's one thing to guarantee victory. Linebacker Peter Boulware took his prognostication to another level Thursday.

When asked his favorite part of Super Bowl week, he projected into the future.

"The Super Bowl moment for me is being the MVP," said Boulware. "I'm going to get three or four sacks, a caused fumble. I'm going to pick one up and run it back for like 30, 40 yards for a touchdown."