Ravens' backfield shopping may shift focus to Hearst Dolphins reportedly trade Kirby to 49ers


August 18, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston | Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

As the Ravens look for ways to improve their offensive backfield, Arizona Cardinals running back Garrison Hearst may have moved into the picture, and Miami Dolphins running back Terry Kirby apparently has moved out of it.

The Dolphins traded Kirby to the San Francisco 49ers for a 1997 draft pick contingent on his performance with the 49ers, the Miami Herald and San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News reported.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are ready to part with Hearst. They reportedly sent him home on Friday night after telling him he would be waived unless rookie second-round draft pick Leeland McElroy were injured in Arizona's preseason game against the San Diego Chargers late last night.

"We would have interest in him [Hearst]. We're always looking for ways to upgrade our football team," said Ozzie Newsome, Ravens vice president of player personnel.

Newsome also expressed concern over what Hearst would cost. He is due to make $2.1 million in 1996. Although that contract would be terminated upon Hearst's release, Newsome said Hearst likely would have to take a huge pay cut to play in Baltimore.

The Ravens are $62,000 under the salary cap.

"Is this guy going to come in and play for the minimum [salary]?" Newsome said. "People might say this would be just the right spot for him. But a lot of things would have to be done for that to happen."

Hearst, the third pick overall in the 1993 draft out of Georgia, was hampered by knee injuries his first two seasons, then rushed 284 times for 1,070 yards last season.

But he scored only one touchdown and lost 12 fumbles -- more than any other non-quarterback in the NFL. Hearst lost two fumbles last week in a preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Ravens had expressed interest in Kirby, a fourth-year back out of Virginia.

The Dolphins will receive a fourth-round pick that could turn into a No. 3 if Kirby plays 65 percent of the offensive downs, the Herald said.

Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson did not formally confirm the deal, the Herald said, because the 49ers have to figure what to do with running back Johnny Johnson, who likely will be cut to make room for Kirby.

"I do believe this will take place and I'll be talking to 49ers president Carmen Policy today and tomorrow in trying to finalize this thing," Jimmy Johnson said.

Newsome, who has not talked with Kirby's agent, said the Ravens' reluctance to trade for Kirby stemmed from salary cap concerns. Kirby, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the 1996 season, is scheduled to make $783,000 this year.

"We don't have any cap money," Newsome said. "It would be very tough for us to get it done."

Kirby, selected by the Dolphins in the third round in 1993, carried 108 times last season for a career-high 414 yards.

The Ravens also may pursue two-time Pro Bowl tight end Eric Green, a free agent. Agent Drew Rosenhaus told the New York Daily News that the Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings have expressed interest.

Packers impressed

Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre was impressed with Baltimore and its football team.

"I think Baltimore is going to have a really good football team," Favre said. "It's a great place to play. It's good to see football back in Baltimore."

Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren said: "I've never been here before. It's a great stadium, and some of the football players that I admired a lot when I was growing up played here."

Lewis still learning

Wide receiver Jermaine Lewis had three catches for 39 yards, but inconsistency is still a problem for the Ravens rookie from Maryland.

"He still has things to learn," said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda. "There are times he does a good job. Once he becomes that consistent receiver that comes with playing time, he is going to be all right."

Thompson for the defense

Veteran Bennie Thompson is known primarily as one of the league's top special-teams players. Last night, playing with the second unit at safety, Thompson made a team-high six tackles, and he forced the fumble by Green Bay fullback Brian Satterfield that Donny Brady recovered.

"I can play on defense, too, and that's what I have to show them," Thompson said. "I know my role, but if ET [Eric Turner] gets hurt, I have to show them that I can step in and do the job."

Cullors gets chance

Free-agent running back Derrick Cullors, a rookie who had not played in the first two preseason games, finally got his chance in the fourth quarter last night.

Cullors rushed four times for 31 yards, and caught two passes for 15. His 25-yard run around the right side started the Ravens' final scoring drive.

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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