Colts look to build on success

June 26, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

Tracy Ham talked about the rust he had to lose. Jearld Baylis talked about the inconsistency he didn't like. John Congemi talked about mistakes that can be corrected.

Opening night in Shreveport wasn't all flash and -- for the CFL Colts. There were parts of Baltimore's 33-18 exhibition victory over the Pirates Friday that didn't go down easily when coach Don Matthews made a closer inspection yesterday:

* There was the loss of rush end Ken Benson to a broken fibula. Sandwiched on a punt return, Benson will have surgery today and be sidelined for a minimum of eight weeks.

Even though David Webb and Malcolm Goodwin had their moments in the exhibition opener, Matthews is calling for reinforcements on the defensive line. Veteran CFL rush end Lorenza Baker, hampered by a tender hamstring, figures to return for Wednesday's home exhibition game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

And Matthews said he would try William King, an outside linebacker until now, at the position. Benson had moved to rush end a week ago.

* There was the specter of the Colts' running game running to darkness. Although they totaled 91 rush yards, much of it was compiled by quarterback Ham's improvisational runs and by Jamal Farmer's late touchdown run of 34 yards.

Only Peter Tuipuluto (30 yards on five carries) was consistent, and he gained most of his yardage on his own.

Concerned about the offensive line, Matthews said he will bring in two new recruits today to enliven the competition at center and guard. Starters Friday were Diego London at left guard, Jerry Sharp at center and Keith Ballard at right guard.

"I don't know if it's a problem," Matthews said. "It's in the assignments, learning what to do. We were blocking the wrong people.

"Physically, they're good enough to play. Now we've got to find out if an adjustment in mental preparation will put them over the hump."

Nick Subis, a center/guard from San Diego State, is one of the players signed. Subis, 6 feet 5 and 280 pounds, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 1991 who was cut in 1992 by the Broncos and in 1993 by the Los Angeles Rams.

In the big picture, Matthews called the team's effort "remarkable," and pointed to the Colts' six penalties as a positive. Shreveport was penalized for 13 infractions.

Most of the Colts' offense came out of the no-huddle series. Although he committed two turnovers, Ham threw for 184 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He refused to use a sprained finger on his throwing hand -- he hit a helmet early in the game -- as an excuse for a poorly-thrown pass that was intercepted in the second quarter.

"I turned the rock over because I made a bad decision," he said. "I was rusty. I've got to get the rust off.

"The thing about it is, we're going to get better. Now we've got film to work with other than [practicing against] ourselves."

Congemi played the second half, when the Colts broke the game open with a late fourth quarter surge. He completed 12 of 23 passes for 138 yards. Together, Ham and Congemi threw for 322 yards.

"We made some mistakes, but a lot of things were correctable," Congemi said. "We hustled and played hard."

Turnovers evened out in the game. The Colts gave the ball up four times, and their defense got it back four times. In one sequence in the second quarter, there were three turnovers in four plays.

"I believe the team has character," Matthews said. "At the end, Shreveport was in field-goal range, and we sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble."

The defense also threw in the final touchdown, a 35-yard interception return by halfback Charles Anthony.

"The defense played real well," Anthony said. "Our defensive front is one of the best in the league. Having a guy like Baylis makes our job easier."

Baylis wasn't happy with his role in the team's first win, though.

"I wasn't consistent at all," the veteran nose tackle said. "I had a lot of mistakes. I blew our consistency because I wasn't

consistent."

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