Rookie Joe Flacco may not have played in front of many big crowds throughout his two-year tenure at Division I-AA Delaware.
His previous home, Delaware Stadium, topped out at 22,000 fans. On the road, he faced 35,000 against Navy in Annapolis, Md.
So, the Ravens' Week 2 battle with the Houston Texans – and the 70,000 hostile fans filling Reliant Stadium – could be a daunting task for the young quarterback.
Preparing for his second-career start, the ever-calm Flacco isn't letting any of the outside noise get to him.
"It'll be a little bit different dealing with crowd noise, but at some point we've all dealt with crowd noise throughout our career," Flacco said. "It might not be the level we're going to see on Sunday, but we've dealt with it before.
"I plan on going in there just as confident as we did this past week and executing the game plan."
The Ravens have used large speakers to simulate a raucous crowd in their indoor practice field before, especially when the team traveled to St. Louis and the Edward Jones Dome for its third preseason contest.
"We train our quarterbacks as though every practice is an on-the-road, in-the-division practice," said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. "It's loud in every stadium in the league, for the most part. We'll see, but we're going to practice and get him as prepared as we can."
The crowd may be thinned from evacuation as Hurricane Ike barrels towards Houston, but the NFL has decided to move the game to Monday night, which may draw some of those same fans back to the city.
While the team will wait until Sunday to travel to Houston, Flacco is simply going to focus on what he can do to prepare when he's still in Baltimore.
It worked for the quarterback the last time he faced a large crowd at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, a 59-52 Delaware win.
That day, Flacco went 30-of-41 for 434 yards and four touchdowns.
Figurs, Gregg DNP
Wideout Yamon Figurs (hamstring) and defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (knee) did not practice Thursday after participating in the entire session Wednesday.
Gregg, who is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, is still expected to suit up this weekend.
"I thought he looked great to me," said defensive coordinator Rex Ryan after Gregg practiced Wednesday. "His technique's probably better than everybody else's, like it normally is. He looked good to me."
The Ravens also added defensive end Trevor Pryce to the list with a back injury.
Coverage Teams on Alert
The Texans boast a big-play special teams unit that features wideout Andre Davis. In 2007, Houston tied the NFL record for most kickoff returns for touchdowns in a season with four.
Davis was game-breaker when he stepped into the kickoff return role, taking one 97 yards to paydirt in Week 14, and then closing out with two successful returns – on consecutive attempts – in the season finale.
"When you face a guy like that, you know if he gets any space he can run away from you," said special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. "More than anything else, I think it gets the players' attention. They watch him on tape, and they see the crack that's created and then he explodes through the hole."
While Davis finished the year third in the league with a 30.3-yard average per kickoff return, Rosburg doesn't expect to change anything the Ravens have worked on throughout the preseason. Cincinnati's Glenn Holt averaged 29.5 yards on four kickoff returns last week.
"As far as our principles of coverage, our principles of coverage are pretty much our principles of coverage," Rosburg continued. "While we use different things for different games, this will be no exception."
After expressing frustration with the sideline-to-helmet radios for the defense, Ryan thought they worked well in Week 1. "During the preseason we definitely had our doubts. But, our first game it was right on, so it was fantastic," he said…Ryan expects the Texans to protect quarterback Matt Schaub from being sacked by employing shorter routes and running the ball, much like the Bengals did with Carson Palmer, who was sacked twice but hurried five times. "If the ball's coming out quick, don't expect the sack totals," he explained. "It's just like last week: I think we pressured Palmer quite a bit, but we only had two sacks."…The Ravens signed kicker Steve Hauschka to their practice squad and released defensive tackle J'Vonne Parker.