Ailing defensive line loses Lyle for season Backup to injured Pleasant breaks leg in 4th quarter

Oilers 29, Ravens 13

September 16, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

HOUSTON -- Losing Anthony Pleasant was hard enough on the Ravens' defensive line.

For the past two weeks, while Pleasant has been trying to overcome a sprained ankle he suffered in the season opener against Oakland, the Ravens have missed his presence and consistent play at right defensive end.

Yesterday, the Ravens got thinner at that position when Rick Lyle, a third-year player who has been filling in for Pleasant, suffered a broken left leg early in the fourth quarter and had to be carted off the field.

Lyle will miss the remainder of the season. And the bye week couldn't come soon enough for the Ravens, who expect Pleasant to return in their Sept. 29 home game against the New Orleans Saints.

"We're a little banged up right now," said veteran left defensive end Rob Burnett, who missed some time briefly after getting kicked in the head yesterday. "But we've just got to fight through it.

"This is part of the game. This is the NFL, and every week somebody is going to go down or get banged up. No one ever feels like they're 100 percent during the season. Hopefully, we'll get AP [Pleasant] back. We've been a team [on the defensive line] since 1990, and we play well together. I'll be glad to get him back."

Lyle's injury forced the Ravens to insert second-year player Mike Frederick at right end. Since training camp, they have been grooming Frederick to play tackle after he played outside last year.

That put even more pressure on the Ravens' defense, which gave up only 131 yards in the first half -- 45 yards rushing -- then tired during a second half in which the Ravens barely moved the ball.

It certainly put more pressure on linebackers such as rookie Ray Lewis.

"Anytime you lose one of your own, it puts more pressure on your whole defense," said Lewis, who also injured his lower back in the second half. "Lord, I hope we regroup. I hope they don't stay injured for long."

Veteran James Jones, who has played defensive tackle and end since joining the team late last month, figures to see more playing time in the immediate future at either spot.

Either way, the Ravens' defensive line, one of the team's perceived strengths before the season began, will be challenged to overcome its injuries, starting in two weeks against New Orleans.

"This is a results game, and we're going to find out soon if we're good enough to regroup," Jones said. "When one guy goes down, the next guy has to step up. They're not going to stop the game. You've got to respond in a hurry."

Pub Date: 9/16/96

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