Patriots notebook

Billick knew Moss was a great catch

Email|Print| Text size + By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / November 30, 2007

FOXBOROUGH - Ravens coach Brian Billick knows what it's like to have an unstoppable offense with a one-of-a-kind receiver.

Billick was the offensive coordinator for the 1998 Vikings, the team that set the NFL record for points in a season (556). The Patriots, who face the Ravens Monday night, have 442 points in 11 games, and are on pace to score 642, which would shatter the record. The common thread is wide receiver Randy Moss, who as a rookie with the '98 Vikings caught 69 passes for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns.

"I look at a Patriots' offense that's about to just zoom past that 1998 offense that I had that holds the all-time scoring record," said Billick. "This team is running at a high level of efficiency."

Watching Moss, who has 71 receptions for 1,095 yards and 16 TDs this season, torch defenses is deja vu for Billick.

"We throw the term 'superstar' and 'unique' around too flippantly for my liking, but those are unique terms and he is as unique a player that has ever been in this game," said Billick. "I had him when he was just a puppy and he was great to be around.

"I really enjoyed Randy. You just saw greatness written all over him.

"And then I tracked him through his trials and tribulations, and I'm happy for Randy. I'm happy for him to have found a place with an organization, with a quarterback like Tom Brady that, hopefully, can allow him to exhibit his talents and stay focused on his talents and remove some of the noise that's followed him throughout the years because he's deserving of having the success that he's had and not being looked at in any other light than that of a great player."

Billick also defended Moss against charges by ESPN analyst Ron Jaworksi that Moss took plays off in New England's 31-28 victory over the Eagles last Sunday.

"I think that type of thing is overblown," said Billick. "If you chose to take a Polaroid snapshot of any player at any given time, you could probably find an instance that a player maybe was not 100 percent focused or coming off the ball. I mean, this is a tough game, so if you choose to isolate those things, I'm sure you could find it, but I don't put much credence in that."

Brown sounds ready

Wide receiver Troy Brown spoke publicly for the first time since being activated from the physically unable to perform list Tuesday. The 15-year veteran, who is the Patriots' all-time leader in receptions, didn't shed any light on how the Patriots would use him.

"Whatever my role is, whatever the coaches ask me to do," he said. "It's the same thing as it's been in the past. Whatever I've been asked to do, I've been willing to step up and do it."

With the team carrying seven receivers, Brown could reprise his role as a defensive back. Brown, who was on PUP following offseason knee surgery, did not address that possibility, but is eager to contribute.

"Obviously, [coach] Bill [Belichick], he has seen enough to activate me, so I feel decent and I feel good, so it's up to him whatever he decides to do with me and just take it from there," said Brown.

Passing thoughts

For the second straight day, running back Kevin Faulk did not participate in practice because of a thigh injury. Faulk said he was feeling all right in the locker room before practice, and when asked if he'd be able to play Monday replied: "I'm working on it, man. It's day to day."

If Faulk can't go, the Patriots would be without their preferred third-down and passing back. Fullback Heath Evans could fill that role, as he did when Faulk was knocked out of the team's 56-10 win over Buffalo with a concussion two weeks ago.

"Really, I'm comfortable with anything this offense asks of me," said Evans. "I've been here long enough now. No. 12 [Brady] exudes so much confidence for everyone in that huddle, you kind of just get in and go to work, and he makes things simple."

Wilson still ailing

Safety Eugene Wilson (groin) returned to the injury report. He hasn't played since injuring his ankle against the Dolphins Oct. 21. He was removed from the report a week ago, but was inactive for his fourth straight game. Wilson was placed on injured reserve last season because of hamstring/groin problems.

The Ravens released their injury report. Running back Willis McGahee (ankle) headlined a list of seven players who had limited participation in practice. He was joined by tight end Todd Heap (thigh), defensive tackle Justin Bannan (ankle), cornerback Chris McAlister (knee), tight end Daniel Wilcox (foot), and linebackers Gary Stills (knee) and Jarret Johnson (thumb). Safety Gerome Sapp (thigh) was a full participant. As expected, quarterback Steve McNair (left shoulder) is out. He's joined by wide receiver Demetrius Williams (ankle). Rookie offensive tackle Jared Gaither missed practice with an illness.

Meriweather remembers

Patriots rookie Brandon Meriweather found out about the death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor early Tuesday morning. Meriweather played with Taylor at Miami. Meriweather hadn't spoken to Taylor since before the Patriots beat the Redskins, 52-7, Oct. 28. "Sean was a good friend of mine," Meriweather said. "He was the first safety I got to follow behind from UM. He was one of the great ones to ever come through there. Sean was like one of my closest friends. He was a good dude and I'm sorry this happened to him. I want to send my condolences out to his family." . . . Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was emotional in his conference call with the New England media, deflecting questions about his verbal duel with Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas while citing the loss of Taylor. "To try to relive something like that when someone loses their life and we're trying to relive gossip, I don't have energy for it," said Lewis, who also played at Miami . . . Billick expects fans in Baltimore to greet Thomas, a former Raven, warmly . . . Patriots second-year tight end David Thomas, who is out for the season, was in the locker room with a protective boot on his right foot.

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