Ham gives up crutches, wants to play Saturday

August 22, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

The morning after wasn't quite as dark as the night before for the Baltimore CFLs yesterday.

Tracy Ham wasn't on crutches.

Some 12 hours after the Baltimore quarterback suffered a slight tear of his right quadriceps muscle, Ham left open the possibility of returning to the lineup for Saturday's game in Hamilton.

"It's day-to-day," he said, standing -- without support -- in the team offices at Memorial Stadium. "It's feeling better than yesterday. If it stays on that pace, I'll try to get back in there. . . . I would rather miss one [game] than five, though."

Ham was hurt on a sprint-out early in the third quarter of Saturday's 31-24 loss to the Toronto Argonauts. Just as he neared the Toronto bench and was preparing to throw the ball, his right leg buckled and he went down.

The team said later the injury was not thought to be serious, but that Ham would be out for 10 days -- and would miss this week's game. He left the stadium on crutches.

Overnight, the prognosis improved significantly. Yesterday, there was no swelling and no need for crutches.

"He certainly couldn't run now," coach Don Matthews said. "He has a chance [to play] for this week. He's moving better [yesterday] than he did [Saturday] night."

Ham, 30, has six days to heal, and the CFLs don't practice until tomorrow. Matthews hedged when asked whether Ham could play without practicing. But Ham has shown this season he can perform with pain and minor injuries.

If Ham can't go, veteran backup John Congemi takes over. Splitting the game almost by halves, the two quarterbacks had comparable numbers against Toronto. Ham completed 13 of 19 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception before he was hurt four minutes into the third quarter. His interception on the Toronto goal line came when his receiver broke the route and drifted deeper into the end zone.

Congemi completed nine of 20 for 184 with two long touchdowns and one interception. He teamed with Joe Washington on a 62-yard scoring play -- Matthews said yesterday that Washington should have been ruled down on the play. Congemi beat an Argos blitz when he found Chris Armstrong for a 32-yard touchdown pass. But it was not enough to erase a 17-point Toronto lead.

A dropped pass by Washington at the Argos' 40 and an interception by Toronto one play later proved critical in the loss.

"We'll see where Tracy is Tuesday," Matthews said. "Until Tracy is ready, John will get the No. 1 [quarterback's] reps and Shawn [Jones] the No. 2 reps in practice."

It was not a total loss for the CFLs (4-3), though. Because they beat Toronto by eight in the season opener and lost by seven Saturday, they have a tie-breaking edge over the Argos (3-4). That was why Matthews ordered a punt from his 30 with little more than a minute left in the game and a seven-point deficit -- to protect the tie-breaker.

TC Tie-breaking considerations also were the reason Matthews had Donald Igwebuike kick a 46-yard field goal in the final minute of a 30-15 victory over Hamilton the week before.

The CFLs nevertheless found themselves out of at least a first-place tie at the conclusion of the week's play for the first time this season. They trail the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-2) by one game in the Eastern Division.

NOTES: Matthews said the CFLs had better quarterback pressure but broke down in their containment of Toronto's Reggie Slack, who scrambled for 102 yards and several critical first downs. Toronto finished with 230 rushing yards and 170 passing yards. "Defensively, we've got to be more disciplined in our lanes," Matthews said. "We missed a bunch of tackles. We had chances to get him; we just missed him. . . . Hamilton changed quarterbacks in its 30-26 win at Shreveport on Saturday. New coach Don Sutherin replaced Timm Rosenbach with Todd Dillon in the second period, and Dillon threw for 94 yards and one TD.

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