Veterans' arrival in camp is overshadowed by rain Turner to report today after signing is approved


July 20, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens got off to a soggy start yesterday, when downpours forced their first two full-squad training-camp practices indoors at Western Maryland College.

Rain reduced the morning practice to a walk-through in a dance room at the Gill Center.

By lunchtime, the sun was shining, and by 2: 10 p.m., 78 players were on the field for the afternoon session.

But 35 minutes later, the rains came again, this time with some lightning, forcing practice to be completed in a wrestling room.

"They were all business in minicamp, and it looks like they've come to training camp the same way," coach Ted Marchibroda '' said. "We look forward to this day, and we accomplished as much as we possibly could. There were a minimum number of mistakes in the walk-through."

"We can't control the weather, but we made do. Whether we're ahead or behind, I don't know," said Ozzie Newsome, the director of football operations. "But we've got everybody here, and hopefully, we can play football tomorrow."

Turner to check in

The Floyd Turner watch officially ends today, when the former Indianapolis Colts receiver joins the Ravens on the practice field at 9 a.m., ending one of the strangest episodes of his career.

The Ravens signed Turner, an unrestricted free agent to whom the Colts had tendered an earlier offer, to a one-year contract last week. But the Ravens sent the contract to the NFL after the July 15 cutoff date. That sparked a weeklong battle between the league and the players union over which team had rights to Turner.

Yesterday, the league ruled that Turner belongs to Baltimore. The NFL is considering penalizing the Ravens for their procedural oversight.

"After obtaining additional information, the management council has decided the player should be allowed to go to Baltimore," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.

"However, we are receiving all of the facts of the situation and expect to work out something with the union so this type of confusion does not occur in the future."

Turner, who flew into Baltimore on Thursday -- only to find out he could not report with the rest of the Ravens' veterans -- was thrilled to hear the news.

"Is this thing finally over with? I'm sitting here in the hotel, watching TV and wondering what's going on," said Turner, who has already collected a $150,000 signing bonus from Baltimore.

"I didn't create this. I've never heard of a situation like this before. It was a surprise, but it wasn't surprising that Indy pursued it as hard as they did. What they were trying to do was basically unacceptable."

Said Marchibroda: "He didn't do anything wrong. He just got caught in the middle of it. We're delighted to have him here."

One hot topic yesterday was the absence of wide receiver Andre Rison and linebacker Pepper Johnson, two veterans who were released for salary cap reasons nearly two weeks ago.

Rison has since signed with AFC Central division rival Jacksonville. Johnson, who worked out for Philadelphia this week, could end up re-signing with the Ravens.

While talking about the loss of Rison and Johnson, veteran running back Leroy Hoard knew when to bite his tongue.

"I'm going to miss those guys," Hoard said. "Everybody in that building [Gill Center] is going to miss those guys. "Even the guys who said 'You got to go' are going to miss them. But decisions had to be made. If I comment any more, a decision might have to be made on me."

Jenkins in the fold

The team signed cornerback DeRon Jenkins, its second-round pick from Tennessee, to a three-year contract. Jenkins will practice today. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

To clear salary cap room for Jenkins, the Ravens released veteran cornerback Johnny Thomas.


Quarterback Vinny Testaverde left last night for Tampa, Fla., so he could be with his wife, Mitzi, who is about to give birth to their second child. . . . Veteran defensive end Anthony Pleasant sat out yesterday's abbreviated workout with a strained chest muscle that he aggravated three weeks ago lifting weights. He is listed as day-to-day. . . . Quarterback Jon Stark, a seventh-round draft choice who is recovering from surgery two months ago on his throwing shoulder, has been throwing a baseball softly for the past 10 days. He could begin throwing a football next month, but will most likely spend the season on injured reserve. . . . The Ravens signed free-agent wide receivers Orlando Parker and James Bowden. Parker, drafted in the fourth round out of Troy State by the Jets in 1994, has been out of the league since being waived that year. Bowden is a rookie out of North Carolina A&T. . . . The Ravens agreed to terms with free-agent linebacker Jerrol Williams.

Ravens roll call

Earnest Byner

Pos.: Running back

Height: 5-10

Weight: 215

Age: 34

College: East Carolina

Pro experience: 12

How acquired: Free agent in 1994 from Washington Redskins

Highlights: Has averaged 3.9 yards a rush over his 12 seasons. . . . Caught a career-best 62 passes last season for 494 yards and two touchdowns. . . . Carried the ball 115 times last year, his most since 262 rushes in 1992. . . . Was NFL's fourth-leading rusher from 1989-1992 behind Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas and Emmitt Smith.

Personal: Byner returned to Cleveland in 1994 after five productive seasons with the Redskins. . . . Was a 10th-round pick of the Browns in 1984. . . . Selected to the Pro Bowl in 1990 and 1991. . . . He and wife, Tina, have four daughters.

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