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OWINGS MILLS — Besides his grinding approach and physical ability, there are at least five reasons why Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson is only a dozen yards behind LaDainian Tomlinson on the NFL rushing chart.
Offensive tackle Jordan Black, two-time Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters, blue-chip center Casey Wiegmann, 11-time Pro Bowl guard and potential future Hall of Fame selection Will Shields and wild-man former All-Pro offensive tackle Kyle Turley have paved the way for Johnson rushing for 1,312 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Baltimore Ravens (9-3) are well aware that dealing with the Chiefs’ experienced blockers is one of the most challenging aspects of their game Sunday against Kansas City (7-5) at Arrowhead Stadium.
“This is one of the top offensive lines, so you’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” nose guard Kelly Gregg said. “That offensive line sets the tone, and they make the running game go. They’ve been together for a while and they feed off of each other.
“They’re a tough team with a great running back. It’s a different challenge for us, and we need to hold that line or it could be a long day for us.”
The Ravens have only allowed 909 rushing yards and one 100-yard rusher (Tennessee Titans’ Travis Henry) this season. Johnson leads the NFL with four games with 150 or more rushing yards and has gained 100 yards in six of the past seven games.
“Those three guys [Shields, Wiegmann and Waters] have played together for a long time and they are Pro Bowl caliber players,” Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. “That’s the ingredients you have when you have a great offensive line. You always build it in the middle.”
TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens made only one change to their injury report, adding cornerback Ronnie Prude as probable with an illness.
Offensive guard Keydrick Vincent (groin, questionable) reiterated that he expects to be available Sunday. Rookie Chris Chester has started in Vincent’s place for the past three games.
“I’m 100 percent back,” Vincent said. “I want to be 130 percent."
Tight end Daniel Wilcox (hamstring) is also expected to return. Running back Musa Smith (neck) is doubtful for Sunday and has been limited in practice.
The Chiefs upgraded linebacker Derrick Johnson (ankle) and defensive tackle James Reed (groin) to probable, adding linebacker Keyaron Fox as probable.
QUICK HITS: Ravens coach Brian Billick expressed optimism in rookie return specialist Cory Ross’ ability to handle kickoff returns in place of injured return specialist B.J. Sams (fractured ankle, injured reserve). “Cory had a very good day,” Billick said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence in Cory. That’s why we kept him on the active roster.” Wide receiver Mark Clayton will be the primary punt returner with Ross, nickel back Corey Ivy and safety Ed Reed also catching punts this week in practice. …  The Ravens are preparing for anticipated gusty, cold conditions in Kansas City by practicing outside this week. “Cold and windy, we’ve got it covered the past few days,” Billick said. … Baltimore, which is 0-3 all-time against Kansas City included a 27-24 loss in 2004 when former Ravens running back Priest Holmes racked up 125 rushing yards and Kyle Boller was sacked four times, is the only current NFL team that hasn’t played at Arrowhead Stadium.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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