Opening ceremony will honor fans Two ticket holders to be given footballs on behalf of Baltimore


August 02, 1996|By Mike Preston and Kevin Langbaum | Mike Preston and Kevin Langbaum,SUN STAFF

Now that the NFL has officially returned to Baltimore, Ravens owner Art Modell plans to follow through on the slogan from the 1993 expansion campaign and "Give Baltimore The Ball."

Two fans were selected at random to receive game balls before tomorrow night's exhibition opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. The fans will accept the balls from Modell and his family on behalf of Baltimore, team spokesman Kevin Byrne said.

Mark D'Anna, 35, of Perry Hall was selected from among the season ticket holders. D'Anna, whose six season tickets are split in groups of four and two, said he grew up going to Colts games with his father.

"We went out there as kids in playoff games when your feet were numb, but it was good," he said. "One of the things I wanted to do was start a new tradition with my kids."

D'Anna was at Ravens camp with three of his five children yesterday, all four sporting Ravens baseball caps.

Lisa Rossell of Baltimore was selected from the single-game buyers and will share her honor with her father. Ron Rossell, an Eagles fan who lives just across the New Jersey border from Philadelphia, was at Veterans Stadium for the first Eagles game there.

He said he is excited to see the first Ravens game, especially against his favorite team.

"I'm excited about football coming back to Baltimore. It's been richly deserved by the city," he said. "I'm a sports fanatic. That's one of the reasons we purchased the tickets down here."

Lewis due long look

University of Maryland rookie receiver Jermaine Lewis will get a long look from Ravens coaches as a punt and kickoff returner tomorrow night at Memorial Stadium.

Lewis, perhaps the team's fastest player, may return the opening kickoff.

"It's the first game for us, so I just want to try and stay focused," said Lewis. "The game will be something special; there hasn't been an NFL game in that stadium for quite a while. I have to block out the crowd, just get things going. If I'm going to make this team, my mark may have to be made on special teams."

Seeking good start

It may only be a preseason game, but coach Ted Marchibroda wants to beat the Eagles.

"Every time you lose, it takes something out of you," said Marchibroda. "I want our team to go in and play with intensity. I want to see them ready to play because the Eagles are already a proven, playoff-caliber team. We have to develop an edge."

Great expectations

The Ravens are expecting some big things from halfback Earnest Hunter, but Hunter doesn't know what to expect tomorrow night.

"All the running backs are getting the same amount of reps, the same amount of time," said Hunter, who is challenging Earnest Byner and Leroy Hoard for playing time, "so nobody really knows what is going to happen Saturday night.

"I know I've put a lot of effort into special teams, so I assume I'll see a lot of action there. But I'm just here to handle my own business, and if I take care of it, then I'll have no problem being on the roster."

Getting well fast

It's easy to tell the first preseason game is near because the number of players on the injury list is decreasing.

Of the starters, only left tackle Tony Jones (elbow) and outside linebacker Mike Croel (calf strain) missed practices yesterday.

Seventy six of the 80 players are expected to dress for the game. Croel is listed as questionable, but receiver Floyd Turner (knee) and defensive linemen Tau Pupua (ankle) and Corey Sears (knee) won't dress. Sears expects to have knee surgery today and will miss a significant part of the season. He was not expected to have much impact on the Ravens. Starting receiver Derrick Alexander also will not dress because he will be attending his brother's funeral in Detroit.

Ravens roll call

Mike Croel

Pos.: Linebacker

Height: 6-2

Weight: 240

Age: 27

College: Nebraska

Year: 6th

How acquired: Free agent 1996 from N.Y. Giants

Highlights: Started 14 of 16 games for the Giants last season, making 55 tackles and one sack. . . . Was Denver's first-round pick (fourth overall) in 1991, starting every game in 1992-93. . . . Named NFL Rookie of the Year by five press organizations in 1991 after compiling 84 tackles and 10 sacks.

Personal: Consensus All-Big Eight selection as a senior for the Cornhuskers, earning several All-America honors. . . . Was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award as a senior. . . . Standout in track, having won the New England prep 100-meter title as a sophomore in high school. . . . Majored in art at Nebraska. . . . Married to Cassaundra.

Pub Date: 8/02/96

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