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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens linebacker Bart Scott likes to compare his old friend, running back Chester Taylor, to 50 Cent because he says the fellow Detroit native dresses, acts and talks like the bullet-scarred rapper.
Although Taylor has downplayed the encounter with his old team tonight as Baltimore travels to play his Minnesota Vikings, it definitely means something to the trash-talking Scott.
“It’s always exciting to play against a friend, especially 50 Cent, A.K.A. Little Jamal Lewis Jr.,” Scott said. “I don’t want him to be able to say in the offseason, ‘Remember, how I ran you over.’ You try to eliminate all bragging rights. That way, you’ve got ammunition to shoot with.”
Taylor negotiated with Baltimore as an unrestricted free agent this spring, but ultimately the Ravens decided to sign veteran Mike Anderson and re-sign Lewis. However, he wound up a rich man in Minnesota with a four-year, $14.1 million deal, including $6.5 million in guaranteed money. After four seasons in Baltimore, Taylor isn’t attaching a lot of sentiment, at least outwardly, to this reunion.
"The only difference is I know more people on that team," Taylor told Minnesota reporters. "I have more friends on that team than any other, but I’m still going to treat it as just another game. I take every game the same, preseason or not.
"I’m going to play my hardest. Of course, they aren’t going to take it easy on me. I’m looking forward to them coming out with their best. The Ravens have a great defense. I’m just looking forward to the challenge.”
As one of three Vikings who used to start for the Ravens, including wide receivers Travis Taylor and Marcus Robinson, Taylor isn’t off to a fast start with his new team. He’s rushed for just 54 yards on 19 carries for a 2.8 average.
“Chester is a different kind of runner than we’ve faced,” Scott said. “He’s a cutback runner, so it will be a good matchup. I plan on having a little something extra for 50 Cent.”
COMING HOME: This marks the first time Ravens coach Brian Billick has been back in Minnesota for a game since 1998, the last season of his six-year stint as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator. Billick sports a 2-0 record in Baltimore against the Vikings, but has yet to coach on the opposing sideline at the Metrodome.
“I really haven’t had the chance to dwell on it, but I’ve never been on the other side of that noise, which will be interesting,” said Billick, who still vacations in Minnesota each summer.
RESPECTED: Billick used to coach Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson and hasn’t forgotten about his former protégé. Although Johnson, 37, is one of the oldest quarterbacks in the league, he remains an accurate passer. The Ravens tried to acquire Johnson in 2001, but he declined their offer and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“His whole career has been underappreciated,” Billick said. “He really knows how to manage a team and manage a game.”
WAITING HIS TURN: Rookie quarterback Drew Olson finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting last year for UCLA, but that hasn’t earned him any special distinction or playing time in the NFL. Ranked behind Brian St. Pierre as the fourth quarterback, Olson is unlikely to make his NFL debut tonight. He’s likely to get one final chance to prove himself against the Washington Redskins next week in the preseason finale.
“It’s a learning experience for me whether I’m out on the field or not,” Olson said. “I prepare each week like I’m going to play. I’m just looking forward to showing what I can do against the Redskins.”
TRAINING ROOM: Offensive guard Brian Rimpf (hamstring), wide receiver Matt Cherry (shoulder), safety B.J. Ward (migraines) and running back Jamal Lewis (hip) are unlikely to play. It’s unclear if safety Gerome Sapp, who missed practice with a stomach ailment, will be available.
QUICK HITS: Starting wide receiver Mark Clayton has returned punts and kickoffs in practice this week and is eager to perform that extra duty in games. … The Ravens won’t wear their alternate black jerseys this season.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.