Receiver Turner's status is uncertain Colts dispute Baltimore's claim to wide receiver

Ravens notebook

July 17, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Several hundred fans turned out yesterday at Western Maryland College to watch the first training-camp practices in Baltimore Ravens history. About a dozen veterans joined some two dozen rookies for two workouts.

The rest of the veterans will report tomorrow, then take the field Friday for the first, full-squad practice.

Will wide receiver Floyd Turner be among them? Turner, an eight-year veteran, left the Indianapolis Colts when he signed a one-year contract last week with Baltimore Turner for $300,000 plus incentives, then collected a $150,000 signing bonus.

Problem is, the Colts are claiming that since the NFL did not receive Turner's Baltimore contract by July 15, his rights automatically revert back to them.

The league's collective-bargaining agreement stipulates that if an unrestricted free agent -- which Turner was -- is not signed by July 15, his original team inherits his rights, as long as that team had tendered the player a contract worth at least 110 percent of his previous salary.

The Colts did that, but Turner's agent and Ravens officials say they have a signed contract with Turner, which they say invalidates the Indianapolis claim.

"Floyd has a signed contract, it's dated July 10, and it's legal and binding," said Ozzie Newsome, Baltimore's director of football operations. "There are still some procedural things that have to get done."

"There was a clerical, logistical foul-up that will be corrected," team owner Art Modell said. "The contract wasn't sent to the league early enough, but it has since gone in. Floyd Turner belongs to us, and he will report to us this week. That's my prediction. For Indianapolis to make an issue out of this is insanity."

Ted Marchibroda Jr., Turner's agent, said Turner intends to fly to Baltimore tomorrow and report to camp as scheduled.

"I talked to the players association, and they are behind us 100 percent on this," Marchibroda said. "We have a valid contract with Baltimore and, as far as we see it, that's it."

But Colts coach Lindy Infante disagreed.

"A rule is a rule, and it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. We'd like to have Floyd back," said Infante. "We told him that before he signed with them. The Colts did nothing wrong. The league came to us and said he is yours. We're under the assumption he's ours until someone tells us otherwise."

The NFL agrees with the Colts.

"The league's position is that his contract reverts back to the Colts," said Greg Aiello, a spokesman. "He's the property of the Colts."

Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde reported to camp early, but don't be surprised if he leaves suddenly to head back home to Tampa, Fla., by this weekend.

Testaverde's wife, Mitzi, is pregnant with their second child. She is due on Friday.

"Thursday and Friday might be a little more hectic for me," he said. "I might find myself wanting to be home more than on the football field. Whatever needs to be learned while I'm gone, I'll learn it quickly."

Comfortable feeling

Coach Ted Marchibroda kicked off his first Baltimore training camp in 17 years, and he said, in a way, it seems like he never left.

"I've sort of felt that ever since minicamp started [in April], I felt like we'd been in Baltimore all of the time, because everything else went so smoothly. This is tremendously satisfying," said Marchibroda, who added that the rookies are looking at a crucial week.

"Now is when we have time to give them more individual instruction," he said. "Once the veterans get here on Friday, the rookies will lose a lot of reps and won't get as much attention. We have to get these guys ready for Sept. 1 [the home opener against Oakland], and they really don't know what they're in for."

Ravens camp

Where: Western Maryland College, Westminster

When: Rookies and selected veterans reported Monday. Veterans will report tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Practices: Run through Aug. 15. All are free and open to the public. Times are from 9 a.m. to 11: 30 a.m. and 2: 30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

What to bring: Pens for autographs, cameras, binoculars, sunscreen.

What not to bring: Video recorders, pets, alcohol, cans or bottles.

Directions from Baltimore: Take I-695 to Exit 19 to I-795 north to its end. Follow signs to Westminster via Route 140 north to Route 97 north. Turn left on exit ramp onto Pennsylvania Avenue. Go about one mile and turn left on Monroe Street. Turn right at Winters Alley. Parking lot is on left.

Pub Date: 7/17/96

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