General talks held with TE Mitchell Agent trying to set up visit to Owings Mills

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

August 28, 1996|By Mike Preston and Kevin Langbaum | Mike Preston and Kevin Langbaum,SUN STAFF

The agent representing tight end Johnny Mitchell said he would like to negotiate a deal with a team by the end of this week, and the Ravens were high on the list.

Mitchell's agent, Anthony Hilliard, said he is trying to set up a date for Mitchell to visit the Ravens' complex in Owings Mills soon, possibly as early as this week.

"We're holding talks. There is no doubt about what Johnny brings to the table and the Ravens," said Hilliard. "We're trying to work out something that fits contractually on both sides of the table."

"So far, the discussions have been in general terms, a lot of small talk," said Hilliard. "But we'd like to get something done by the end of this week so we can get Johnny into practice and started. We feel very positive about Baltimore."

Miami, Dallas and the Ravens are the three teams interested in Mitchell. The Ravens also have interest in former Miami Dolphins tight end Eric Green. Ravens vice president Ozzie Newsome and Green's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, exchanged contract proposals yesterday, according to Rosenhaus.

"Drew faxed me a proposal, and we spoke briefly," said Newsome. "We're trying to work out arrangements with Johnny Mitchell so he can come to town and meet with Ted and I. There are no visits scheduled for Eric Green."

The Ravens also were interested in Philadelphia Eagles running back Vaughn Hebron (Cardinal Gibbons). Hebron is expected to sign with the Denver Broncos this morning, according to his agent. The Ravens still have an eye on former New York Jets fullback Brad Baxter.

Hoard deals with demotion

Ravens running back Leroy Hoard is an Earnest Byner fan, although that does not make losing his starting job to Byner any easier.

Statistically, the preseason comparison between the two is no contest. Hoard rushed a team-high 41 times for only 90 yards. Byner averaged 6.8 yards a carry on 18 attempts. Part of the reason for the difference is Byner did most of his damage against second-team defenses. Hoard sometimes had no place to run against front-line opponents.

Hoard also missed more than a week of training camp practices with a knee sprain and a flu bug. But, in the eyes of the Ravens -- who may be considering shopping Hoard around -- Byner clearly outplayed Hoard.

"From a height, weight, strength and speed standpoint, Leroy has the qualities you want in a player," Ravens running backs coach Al Lavan said. "But you have to put all of those things together to produce on the field. At this point, the level of performance puts Byner ahead, no question about it."

Hoard, who is expected to get significant playing time in the season opener against the Raiders on Sunday, took his demotion in stride publicly. Privately, he is said to be steamed about it.

"Right now, I just have to deal with it," said Hoard, who is scheduled to earn a $1.5 million salary this season, a year after he did not score a touchdown and two years after a Pro Bowl appearance. "I've been in this situation before, and all this does is fire me up and make me want to work harder. I'm not going to cry about it. They made the decision, and I respect that."

Booth is probable

The Ravens are entering the regular season relatively healthy, with only one scheduled starter listed on the injury report.

Cornerback Issac Booth is probable with a thigh injury and head coach Ted Marchibroda said he should start.

Wide receiver James Roe is also probable. He had a deep calf bruise that needed to be drained of fluid last week. Tight end Frank Hartley (knee), wide receiver Calvin Williams (thigh) and linebacker Jerrol Williams (neck) are all questionable.

Roe gets chance

Roe looked to have the leg up on the sixth receiver spot early in training camp, but the rookie was challenged when Ray Ethridge turned in a terrific preseason.

But both names were on the roster after final cuts were made Sunday. The team kept seven wide receivers.

"I just have to work harder to go out there and prove that it was the right thing to do," said Roe, a sixth-round draft pick out of Norfolk State.

Miscellaneous

When left tackle Tony Jones takes the field Sunday, it will be his 100th consecutive regular-season start. Jones' streak dates to 1989. . . . Third-string quarterback Scott Otis is the only rookie free agent to make the final roster.

Pub Date: 8/28/96

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