Stallions due for more change as Craft, Dixon named starters

September 13, 1995|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

The offensive line and defensive backfield of the Baltimore Stallions have had their share of new faces this year, and that trend will continue Friday, when Baltimore begins a back-to-back, home-and-home stretch in Shreveport.

Douglass Craft, one of four players signed Monday, will start at right cornerback, making him the third to play that position since All-CFL cornerback Irv Smith was moved four weeks ago to the left side. Craft had seven interceptions and 133 pass knockdowns for Calgary last year.

On the offensive line, rookie Mark Dixon, who was signed two weeks ago and replaced injured right guard John Earle for the final three quarters of the Stallions' 28-20 victory over Birmingham on Saturday, will move to left guard Friday in place of rookie John James, who suffered a sprained ankle in the closing minutes of Saturday's game. James had started three straight games at left guard.

"When it first happened [James' injury], I thought he'd be ready by Wednesday or Thursday, but he is very doubtful for Saturday," Baltimore coach Don Matthews said.

Now that he has his first Canadian Football League game behind him, Dixon, fresh out of Virginia, said he is more comfortable.

"It was different," he said. "I had to get used to how quick the game is. I'm so used to three plays [downs]. I wanted to stay on the line for one more. I know the offense pretty well. I also had enough people telling me who to block. That made things easier."

After sitting out the Birmingham game with a tender left hamstring, running back Mike Pringle practiced for the second straight day yesterday and expects to start against the Pirates, where he'll resume pursuit of his second straight CFL rushing title.

And offensive tackle Shar Pourdanesh, who has missed the past three games with stress fractures in both ankles, could return next week; Shreveport visits Memorial Stadium on Sept. 23.

NOTES: Mark Orlando will join the active roster this week as a backup receiver. Orlando had been on the practice roster for the past two games, making room for recent signee Mike Cook, who will be out four to six weeks with strained knee ligaments. . . . Kicker Carlos Huerta missed yesterday's practice with an illness. . . . The Stallions would clinch a playoff spot with a victory Friday. . . . Quarterback Tracy Ham needs only six rushing yards to reach 6,000 for his career and 38 passing yards for 28,000. His next touchdown pass will move him past Doug Flutie and into fifth place on the all-time CFL list; Ham, in his ninth season, has thrown 194 touchdown passes.

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