Modell says name hunt almost over Pick from shorter list may come in 2 weeks

March 07, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's NFL franchise could have a name and colors in less than two weeks, and the team, nameless or not, will move into its Owings Mills training complex early next month.

"Hopefully, we'll have a name within two weeks. The list is getting shorter," said team owner Art Modell, who added the club has concluded its use of focus groups that have examined a variety of names, including Bombers, Marauders, Ravens and Mustangs. Modell said he did not know how many names still were being considered.

Yesterday, Modell, coach Ted Marchibroda and several members of Baltimore's front office and coaching staff checked out the 15-year-old Owings Mills complex -- formerly occupied by the Baltimore Colts and most recently by the Baltimore City Police Academy -- where the team is scheduled to begin its off-season conditioning and strength program April 2.

The team plans to use the 38,000-square-foot building for two years before moving into a new facility much like the 75,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art complex it will leave behind in Berea, Ohio.

The Owings Mills facility includes 2 1/2 football fields, which are being regraded and installed with drains. One of the fields will have artificial turf.

"We're leaving the Taj Mahal, but this place looks good to me," said strength and conditioning coach Jerry Simmons. "Facilities don't win games. This is more than adequate."

Said Marchibroda: "I was concerned about whether we would have enough space in the locker rooms and for our coaches, but this suits our needs."

While the team searches for a summer training camp site, it will conduct two minicamps in Owings Mills. A three-day, full-team minicamp will take place April 26-28 and will include players taken in the April 20-21 draft. After April 28, a veterans minicamp will continue until May 9.

The team then will conduct a rookie minicamp June 3-7.

Going into the draft, the team's most pressing needs are at linebacker and running back, where the Cleveland Browns lacked a breakaway threat last year. Marchibroda, who will handle the offense along with assistant head coach Kirk Ferentz, hinted that Baltimore might go after a game-breaking type on offense, possibly Texas A&M's Leeland McElroy. Baltimore has the fourth and 26th picks in the draft's first round.

"We want to be able to make the big play," Marchibroda said. "That first guy [pick] has to be an impact player. He'd better be, if he's the fourth-best in the country."

The team's offensive approach "is going to reflect his [Marchibroda's] personality," Ferentz said. "The only thing I believe in is balance between run and pass. And you've got to be able to threaten the defense with play-action passes, reverses, those kinds of things, regardless of whatever type of personnel you're dealing with. A lot of it depends on what our personnel looks like after free agency and the draft."

Baltimore is hoping to re-sign numerous players, starting with four restricted free agents -- linebackers Mike Caldwell and Ed Sutter, center Steve Everitt and defensive tackle Dan Footman. Among the team's unrestricted free agents, the team especially covets running back Earnest Byner, tight end Brian Kinchen, safety Louis Riddick and punter Tom Tupa.

The team has released linebacker Carl Banks, running back Lorenzo White, defensive tackle Tim Goad, safety Dana Hall and guard Rob Dahl, who was recently signed by the Washington Redskins.

Look for Baltimore to try to resign Goad and White.

NOTE: Von Paris B & Sons, Inc., has been awarded the contract to move the team from Ohio to Maryland, said Bob Eller, the Baltimore team's director of operations and information. Von Paris, which moved the Orioles from Memorial Stadium to Camden Yards, was one of 200 companies to bid for the move.

Pub Date: 3/07/96

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