Kicker understudies two veterans Free agent from Air Force can make a football fly

Ravens notebook

July 23, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

One could say Chris MacInnis has a sense of perspective.

A free-agent rookie out of Air Force who three years ago was one of the nation's top kicker/punters, MacInnis is competing for his first NFL job after completing his military service requirements.

At first glance, he seems to be in the wrong place, what with kicker Matt Stover and punter Greg MacInnis Montgomery -- with Pro Bowl credentials and 15 years of NFL experience between them -- standing between MacInnis and a spot with the Ravens.

Not so, says MacInnis, 24, whose strong right leg is hard not to notice. During the first week of training camp at Western Maryland College, he has sent kickoffs booming into the end zone routinely. But MacInnis knows his place.

"I'm here to compete, make no mistake," he said. "I'm also here to soak up the 15 years of veteran experience I can learn from. A lot of teams are looking for a guy who can kick off and put it in the end zone every time. That's me. I'm only 24, so I've got plenty of whip left in my leg. And I can be a consistent punter."

MacInnis, 5 feet 11, 190 pounds, is more than just sales talk. He finished his career averaging 44 yards per punt, after averaging 47 yards -- tops in the nation -- as a senior in 1993. That same year, he led the school in scoring and was named a first-team All-American.

"My kicking style is not nearly as defined as Stover's," said Mac-Innis, who spent last summer in the Cleveland Browns' training camp. "He's got great technique. He's helped me a lot with my shoulder alignment. I'm more of a brute force kind of guy."

MacInnis prepared for training camp diligently. Between the Ravens' two minicamps at their Owings Mills complex and training camp, he could be found kicking and punting on his own in Owings Mills. He moved from Patrick Air Force Base in Florida to be closer to the team. If he doesn't crack the Ravens' roster, another NFL team could come calling.

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime the average Joe doesn't get to experience. I just want to see where it takes me. Finding a niche with a team that can use you is the key," he said. "Once I knew I was good enough to compete, I always wanted to give it a shot. I don't want to be 40 years old, watching 'Monday Night Football,' crying in my drink and saying, 'What if I had tried this?' "

Injury updates

The news was not good yesterday for backup defensive lineman Tau Pupua. Then again, the news could have been worse.

Pupua went down near the end of Sunday's practice and probably will not practice for at least two more weeks after spraining his foot.

"He stepped on somebody's ankle and rolled it over," trainer Bill Tessendorf said. "We'll immobilize it for a while, and we'll have a better read on it later in the week. But it doesn't look good."

As for the other injured Ravens, defensive lineman Rick Lyle (hamstring), cornerback Mario Bradley (hamstring) and wide receiver Curtis Brown (ankle) could be practicing by Thursday, said Tessendorf. Defensive end Mike Frederick, who pulled a hamstring during drills Saturday, may miss more time.

In other injury news, right tackle Orlando Brown continues to be hampered by a broken bone in his right hand. Brown is wearing a protective cast on the hand.

"It impedes some of his hand placement, but he's out there battling," offensive line coach Kirk Ferentz said. "It will be much easier once he gets it healthy."

Miscellaneous

Coach Ted Marchibroda got a visit yesterday from his nephew, Andrew Dolecki, and his family. The Pittsburgh residents were vacationing nearby in Gettysburg, Pa. . . . After yesterday morning's rain, the Ravens moved their afternoon workout to their artificial turf field at Owings Mills. There, quarterback Vinny Testaverde rejoined the team after returning from Lutz, Fla., where his wife, Mitzi, gave birth Saturday to a son, Vinny Jr. He weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces.

Ravens roll call

Issac Booth

Pos.: Defensive back

Height: 6-3

Weight: 190

Age: 26

College: California

Pro experience: 2

How acquired: Fifth-round draft pick, 1994

Highlights: Made 10 tackles and one interception in nine games last year. Collected 24 tackles and assisted on three others in his rookie season.

Personal: Graduate of Perry Meridian High in Indianapolis. . . . Was Cal's best cover corner as a junior and senior. . . . Working toward a degree in sociology. . . . Wants to become a social worker after football career. . . . Nicknamed "Ike" and "Spidey."

Pub Date: 7/23/96

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