Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Challenges mount for tackle Ogden


OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- No one is suggesting Dwight Freeney can move a mountain. Then again, everyone knows the Colts' superb defensive end doesn't have to, not when he can get around one in the blink of an eye.

"There's something special about Freeney," said Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs, whose Ravens will host the Colts in an AFC divisional playoff game tomorrow at M&T Bank Stadium. Consistent with the views of others in pro football, Suggs considers the containment of Freeney to be a key.

Enter Jonathan Ogden, Baltimore's massive left tackle, the 6-foot-9-inch, 345-pounder who recently was named to his 10th Pro Bowl. Impressive, just not invincible, which Freeney has proven.

"Freeney has caused problems, but I think J.O. will be ready and quicker this time," said Suggs, a reference to victories posted by the Colts over the Ravens last year and in 2004. On the M&T grass in 2005, Freeney had three tackles, but no sacks; on the faster synthetic turf inside Indianapolis's RCA Dome in 2004, the onetime Syracuse star burned Ogden for a pair of sacks.

At 6-1, 268, Freeney gives away nearly 80 pounds, but he more than offsets that with blistering speed. That highlights a subtle concern within the Ravens, because Ogden missed the last two regular-season games with a sprained left big toe and he's been limping. Still, the perennial All-Pro has returned to practice and insists everything is a go.

"I probably won't be 100 percent, but I will be ready," said Ogden, who merely shrugs when asked about his assignment. "I don't think any offensive tackle would want to go to Indy and play him on their turf with that noise. But at home, I think it is to my advantage."

Team player
He knows the painful history -- one-and-out in four of his seven postseasons, a 4-6 playoff record, no conference championships -- and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning concedes he receives the bulk of the criticism. But he's not so sure it's deserved. "I've always looked at it like, when we've won a game, the Colts won. When we lose, the Colts lose. Usually the times we've lost in the past in the playoffs, the cut-and-dry of it is, I don't think our team was good enough. Other people have other explanations, other answers, but that is kind of how I seem to view it. The better team usually wins in the playoffs." . . . Has Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan enjoyed the preparation for a playoff game against Manning? "I'd rather see [Jim] Sorgi in there, to be honest with you," said Ryan. In three years as Manning's backup, Sorgi has played parts of 10 games, the last being a cameo Sept. 17. Ryan is one of Buddy Ryan's two sons who are NFL defensive coordinators -- Rob (Oakland) being the other.