Players catch a break with end of two-a-days Marchibroda merciful, veterans are grateful

Ravens notebook

August 06, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda canceled two-a-day practices yesterday, scheduling only one per day until training camp ends on Aug. 15.

The move is not unusual. NFL coaches usually cancel two-a-day sessions after the first or second preseason game. The team will have meetings and brief walk-throughs each morning before full afternoon workouts.

"I've done this before. It just depends on the team, and we've got a lot of veteran ballplayers," said Marchibroda. "Sometimes, you have got to sacrifice to keep everybody healthy. We haven't had any serious injuries, the team has worked hard and we've gotten in about 95 percent of what we wanted to get in. You don't work a team just for work's sake."

According to the players, the move couldn't have come at a better time. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to upper-80s the rest of the week.

"It was hot today," said Tony Jones, the Ravens' starting left tackle. "I've been around a long time, and this was hard, very tough. We fought through it and had a good practice overall. heard it's going to be hot all week and that's scary."

'Caw' may hit the road

The loud Ravens "caw" that was played often over the public-address system during Saturday night's exhibition game may disappear soon.

"The caw may be going into semiretirement," said Ravens owner Art Modell. "It may be on waivers in a couple of days. I don't want to hear the caw as much as I did the other night. The caw drove me up a wall."

'Pepper' still in picture?

Just because rookie middle linebacker Ray Lewis played two great quarters the other night doesn't mean the Ravens still aren't interested in former middle linebacker Pepper Johnson.

Johnson's agent, Kevin Granader, spoke with the Ravens yesterday. According to Modell, the Ravens have about $400,000 available to sign another player, but sources close to the team said Johnson wants a package, including incentives, worth about $1 million.

The Ravens, though, are not sure if Johnson would return as a backup.

"To bring Pepper in as a backup to Ray Lewis would be a humiliation to him and a hinderance to us," said Modell. "Pepper is proud."

Then, in the same breath, Modell said: "I wouldn't rule it out. It's a long season."

Granader said: "Pepper still has some options. We've kept in steady contact with Baltimore. If the price is right, and they want to pay Pepper a nice sum to sit on the bench, hey, then we'll come in and sit on the bench. I don't have a problem with that."

According to Modell and Marchibroda, the team could be in the market for a defensive tackle.

Chance to catch breath

The players had a rare day off Sunday, and most of them spent the time relaxing, but not at training camp headquarters in Westminster.

Safety Eric Turner went to the Inner Harbor for dinner.

No. 2 quarterback Eric Zeier also had dinner with his parents, who flew in from Atlanta.

Defensive tackle Larry Webster's day seemed to be the norm.

"I spent the day with my wife at home," said Webster, an Elkton native who lives in Hagerstown. "I also spent a lot of time in the hot tub, where I put in a lot of Epsom salt."

Lewis' calls get nod

Ray Lewis not only impressed the coaching staff with his play Saturday night -- seven tackles -- but also with his play-calling. Lewis was the team's signal-caller.

"He'll eventually master it," said Marchibroda. "He made a few mistakes, but those were ones we anticipated."

Defensively, Marchibroda was also pleased with linebackers Mike Caldwell, Jerrol Williams and Craig Powell and cornerback Donny Brady.

According to Marchibroda, Williams has made significant progress in the last week.

Marchibroda said there will be no changes in the team's two-deep depth chart defensively, but, offensively, fullback Carwell Gardner has moved ahead of Earnest Byner on the first team and Jermaine Lewis has taken over the No. 1 punt returner spot previously held by wide receiver Derrick Alexander.

Alexander missed the last week of practice because of a death in his family. He is expected back in camp today. Lewis returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown Saturday night.

Ravens safety Bennie Thompson, a special teams ace himself, said Jermaine Lewis is the real deal.

"I'll bet anybody $100,000 that Jermaine Lewis returns at least five kicks for touchdowns this season," said Thompson. "He is the next Mel Gray."

Ravens camp

Where: Western Maryland College, Westminster

Practices: Run through Aug. 15. All are free and open to the public. With end of two-a-days, they are scheduled to run from 2: 40 p.m. to 5 p.m., but are subject to change.

Hotline: 1-888-9RAVENS

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 1 mile and turn left at Monroe Street. Turn right at Winters Alley. Parking lot is on left.

Ravens preseason

Saturday

Opponent: New York Giants

Time: 1 p.m.

Site: Giants Stadium

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Aug. 17 Green Bay 7 p.m.

Aug. 23 at Buffalo 7: 30 p.m.

Pub Date: 8/06/96

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