Secondary With Something to Prove

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Following a string of lackluster performances, the Ravens' defensive backfield stepped up last week against the Denver Broncos to limit quarterback Kyle Orton to a 71.0 passer rating.

The unit will have a chance to demonstrate that such an outing was not an anomaly this weekend when Baltimore travels to Cincinnati to face Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer and his stable of talented wideouts.

The Bengals can trot four talented receivers out on the field, and each of them is capable of a big play, something that will test the Ravens' depth.

"They have four wide receivers," said cornerback Frank Walker, who was inactive for the Broncos game. "All of them are notables, and they can all hurt you. And they take pride in it. It's not just a bunch of quiet receivers. They're confident. They're talking and walking."

Five-time Pro Bowler Chad Ochocinco is the biggest talker. The Twitter fanatic has had success against the Ravens in the past, as he averages 4.8 catches for 73.6 yards over 17 meetings.

Chris Henry averages 21.9 yards per reception when playing Baltimore. He logged a 73-yard grab in the Ravens' 17-14 loss to Cincinnati at M&T Bank Stadium, in fact. Andre Caldwell, who scored the game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds remaining in Baltimore, is another target to watch.

In addition, the Bengals are working free agent addition Laveraneus Coles into the mix. Coles is currently third on the team with 16 receptions for 155 yards and three touchdowns.

With Cincinnati coming off its bye week, cornerback Domonique Foxworth is expecting to see a lot of different looks.

"It depends on what type of package the come out in," Foxworth said. "They're coming off a bye week, so I'm sure they will have all kinds of new stuff for us. They're a versatile offense, and I'm sure they will throw a lot at us. It's a new challenge this week, but that goes for every week."

The Ravens are expecting Palmer to test a secondary that has given up nine passes of 30 or more yards with his trademark strong arm, which is healthy after an elbow injury limited him to only four games last year.

Palmer essentially poses a different type of test than Denver, considering Orton did not attempt a single downfield throw.

"They couldn't because our guys were in position and they covered them," head coach John Harbaugh explained. "That was a talented receiving crew. This is a talented receiving crew. They do have a little bit of a different system, somewhat, but Carson Palmer is one of the premier quarterbacks in the league. He can make every throw.

"It's just going to be a tough challenge for us with their passing attack."

Much of that has to do with a healthy Palmer, a player the Ravens' pass rush will have to attack with vigor, just as it did with Orton.

"It was great for them," said Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison of the secondary's play against the Broncos. "But don't point just at the secondary. The one thing you saw, I think we hit the quarterback 10 times in that game with four-man rushes. It's always been a combination. You can't put a secondary out there and expect them to cover these wide receivers in this league for a [long] period of time.

"You've got to get after them, and that's why it was a total team effort."

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