Ravens, J. Jones reunited 3rd-round draft pick in '91, defensive tackle to fill Webster's spot

August 22, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

One day after the Ravens lost veteran defensive tackle Larry Webster to a one-year substance-abuse suspension, they replaced him with a familiar face, defensive tackle James Jones.

The Ravens and Jones agreed on a two-year contract yesterday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Jones, 6 feet 2, 290 pounds, knows the Ravens well. Before he pTC was released during training camp by the Denver Broncos -- with whom he started all 16 games and recorded 49 tackles last season -- Jones spent his first four seasons with the Cleveland Browns after they drafted him in the third round in 1991.

"I still have a lot of friends here. I know the coaching staff and the front office," said Jones, who chose Baltimore over the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets. "After playing for five years, I didn't want to go just anywhere. I wanted to go where I was comfortable, where I knew what would be expected of me."

The Ravens expect Jones to add depth to the interior defense, where he has proved to be an effective run stopper since he was drafted and started every game as a rookie. Jones' ability to play either tackle position also enhanced his value. Jones could push either Tim Goad or Dan Footman for a starting job.

"We put no limitations on him being a starter or a backup," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel.

"He gives us more depth on the defensive line. We're familiar with him, he is familiar with us. It's a good fit."

Jones Newsome said Jones is expected to sign his contract Sunday, the same day the Ravens must make their final cuts to get down to a 53-man roster. The Ravens are $524,000 under the salary cap, and Newsome said the team has enough to sign Jones now. Jones was seeking a two-year deal in the $1.6 million range.

By signing with the Ravens, Jones will be reunited with some linemen who learned about the NFL game with him. People like ends Rob Burnett and Anthony Pleasant, who were drafted in 1990 by the Browns and are now established starters with the Ravens.

"Jones is one of our guys from years past," Burnett said. "He's going to be able to step in right away, like he's been here the whole time. He's a quick learner. Me, A.P. and James were raised together in the NFL. It's good to have him back."

Said coach Ted Marchibroda: "We're certainly glad to have him. James is a popular fellow among his teammates, and I think he will give this football team a lift at a time when we need it after losing Larry."

Jones' stats

Yr .. Tm .. .. G .. GS .. UT .. A .. .. TT .. Sck

'91 . Clev. .. 16 . 16 .. 34 .. 17 . .. 51 .. . 1

'92 . Clev. .. 16 . 16 .. 31 .. 14 . .. 45 .. . 4

'93 . Clev. .. 16 . 12 .. 22 .. 17 . .. 39 ... 5 1/2

'94 . Clev. .. 16 .. 5 .. 30 .. 13 . .. 43 .. . 3

'95 . Den. ... 16 . 16 .. 26 .. 23 . .. 49 .. . 1

Totals .. . .. 80 . 65 . 143 .. 84 . . 227 . 14.5

Pub Date: 8/22/96

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