-- If it had happened only once, it would have been a mild surprise. But when Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney spun around Baltimore Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden and drove quarterback Kyle Boller into the turf for a second time when the teams played last season, it was downright shocking.
Ogden, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection who is generally considered among the best tackles to play the game, may give up two sacks in a season. He almost never gives up two in a game. But Freeney, at the time a third-year player, finished with two sacks and several quarterback pressures in the Colts' 20-10 victory in December.
On Sunday night, when the Ravens host the defending AFC South Division champions in the season opener, Ogden will get another chance at Freeney.
"It's not even really that important," Ogden said when asked about facing Freeney again. "Let's see what happens on Sunday."
Pass protection -- or the lack of it -- was an issue in the preseason for the Ravens. It will be in the spotlight again against the Colts, whose defense ranked 29th in the league in total yards allowed last season but excelled at pressuring quarterbacks. Freeney led the NFL with 16 sacks; defensive end Robert Mathis tied for 13th with 101/2.
The Colts solidified their defense by trading for linebacker Rocky Calmus and signing free agent defensive tackle Corey Simon. Indianapolis Coach Tony Dungy said both recent additions will be available to play, though not extensively.
"It's apparent they bring pressure," Boller said. "Just getting the ball out of your hands, you can't afford to take sacks, can't turn the ball over, all things that you're going to lose games if you do that stuff. We've got to make sure on Sunday night that those things don't happen."
Running back Jamal Lewis rushed for 130 yards (90 in the first half) against the Colts last season. Baltimore Coach Brian Billick indicated earlier in the week Lewis's carries would be limited and that backup Chester Taylor would split the workload. Taylor averaged 6.9 yards per carry as the Ravens' primary rusher in the preseason, and Dungy said he was "the best back in the preseason."
Lewis, who underwent offseason ankle surgery and missed the first three preseason games, said he is prepared to do whatever the Ravens need to win. Said Lewis, "I'm ready to take on the load."
That's good news for the Ravens' offense.
Indianapolis's "number one thing is rushing the passer. Our number one thing is rushing the football," said Ogden, who is 6 feet 9 and 345 pounds. "We need to try to run the football. We have to keep them off balance, but we've got to try to pound them. They're small up front, but they play hard and tough. We've got to use our size. We throw the ball a lot, and that's playing to their advantage, which is speed. Ours is size."
The 6-1, 268-pound Freeney, who is listed as probable with a toe injury, certainly has speed. His first two steps are super quick, and he likes to spin off of offensive linemen. Freeney has recorded 40 sacks in his first three seasons, the third-highest total for a player in his first three years (behind Reggie White's 52 and Derrick Thomas's 431/2).
"He's good. He's very good," Ogden said. "He can utilize his speed; he's fast, he's got a really good spin move, and he can convert it to power. He's good. We've got to try to limit him and see what happens."
Ogden, who was held out of the final preseason game as a precaution, is healthy. Last season, Ogden, one of the Ravens' most durable players, was bothered by injuries throughout the season. He sprained his knee in the final preseason game, which kept him out of the season opener, and then injured his hamstring in late October, which caused him to miss three games.
The Ravens also point to several extenuating circumstances from the Colts game. Freeney was playing at home, on the fast synthetic turf. The noise from the sellout crowd inside the RCA Dome made it difficult for the offensive line to hear the snap count.
"Let's keep in mind that there were two sacks, and that was on the road," Billick said. "That is a very difficult place [to play]. Freeney is an outstanding player, probably as good a player rushing off the edge in the league, and he plays to that strength."
Ogden shrugged when asked if Sunday's game was about redemption.
Said Ogden, "I'd rather go out and win."
Ravens Notes: Only two players are listed on the Ravens' injury report: rookie tackle Adam Terry (ankle) and wide receiver Devard Darling (quadriceps). Both are questionable. . . .
Baltimore will wear all-black uniforms for the second time in franchise history. The Ravens will match every dollar collected from fans attending Sunday's game to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The money will be donated to the American Red Cross.