Green, Morris almost Ravens Veterans must pass physicals, work out

September 21, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko and Mike Preston | Roch Eric Kubatko and Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens owner Art Modell said yesterday that the team has agreed in principle with former All-Pro tight end Eric Green and running back Bam Morris.

Green, who was released by the Miami Dolphins during the summer, was in Pittsburgh yesterday to have his left knee examined. He is expected to work out Monday at the Owings Mills complex and take a physical on Tuesday.

Morris is expected to arrive tomorrow night. He would take his physical on Monday.

"Nothing has been signed," Modell said, "but I feel comfortable they'll become Baltimore Ravens if they pass their physicals and field tests."

Modell said the contracts would be for roughly the one-year league minimum of $275,000 with incentives that could "raise it significantly."

Green's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said it's not a certainty that the tight end will sign with the Ravens if he passes a physical. "We're still in negotiations and we haven't reached an agreement, per se. But we are talking," he said.

The competition to sign Green boils down to the Ravens and Miami. When asked if Baltimore was the front-runner, Rosenhaus said, "Absolutely, without any doubt. They're the heavy favorite.

"Eric Green has been very impressed with Art Modell. He's been directly involved with this, very aggressive. It's obvious he wants to see this team win."

A source close to the Ravens said discussions about player movement or possible restructuring of salaries to accommodate the additions of Green and Morris have been limited and will heat up in the next two days.

Miami would be willing to sign Green only if he drops his injury grievance against the team. Green says he reinjured his left knee during minicamp, but the Dolphins said it happened while he was running at home.

Green, who had arthroscopic surgery last October and again in May, caught 43 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns in his only season in Miami. That was a far cry from his best year in Pittsburgh, 1993, when he had 63 receptions for 942 yards and was voted to the Pro Bowl. He was the first Steelers tight end to lead the team in receptions since 1966.

A Ravens official said signing Green, who spent five seasons in Pittsburgh, is the top priority, and Morris is second.

Green is the prototype tight end that coach Ted Marchibroda has wanted. He would fill the void left by injured tight end Frank Hartley (knee), who will miss the next two weeks of the season, and can stretch defenses with his pass-catching ability.

Morris has been out of football since being cut by the Steelers before training camp after pleading guilty to a marijuana-possession charge on June 26.

He appealed the NFL's ruling that he must serve a four-game suspension upon signing, and since has been cleared to begin practicing on Oct. 7 and playing on Oct. 13. He would be able to fill two roles with the Ravens, as either the featured back or a fullback. Carwell Gardner is the only fullback on the roster.

The Ravens worked out running back Ricky Ervins on Wednesday, the same day tight end Johnny Mitchell met with team officials. But Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, said that, for now, Green and Morris are the only players being brought back.

Mitchell's agent, Anthony Hilliard, said talks with the Ravens were "fluid and positive. They're a first-class organization and Johnny is very impressed."

Hilliard spoke with Miami coach Jimmy Johnson yesterday, and also has been in contact with Kansas City and Dallas.

"If I had my way, Johnny would have played last Sunday," Hilliard said. "My goal is to get him in and playing as soon as possible."

NOTES: The secondary will undergo a couple of changes for the New Orleans game. Donny Brady will start at right cornerback in place of Issac Booth, and DeRon Jenkins, the Ravens' second-round draft choice, will play in the nickel package. "It means a lot to me. This is what I've been working for for a long time," said Brady, who was waived by the Cleveland Browns in August 1995 and re-signed as a free agent four months later. Ray Ethridge might join rookie Jermaine Lewis on kickoff returns against New Orleans. If so, he would replace the struggling Earnest Hunter.

Pub Date: 9/21/96

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