Ravens mull ways to fit Green, Morris under cap RB Hoard, TE Bishop among players considered for possible release

September 22, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Ravens owner Art Modell sounded enthusiastic yesterday about the team's impending free-agent signings of running back Bam Morris and tight end Eric Green.

"We've got ourselves two winners," Modell said.

But the Ravens also have themselves a problem -- how to clear enough room under the salary cap to sign the pair.

Team officials, including Modell, vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome and coach Ted Marchibroda, met after yesterday's practice to begin formulating ideas.

"It was third-and-eight when we went in there, and it was third-and-eight when we left," Marchibroda said. "We really won't be able to make a complete decision until Tuesday."

Green and Morris already have agreed in principle to contracts that are believed to be for two years. The Ravens expect both to arrive in Baltimore tonight, and an announcement on their signings could come as early as Tuesday.

A source said running back Leroy Hoard, who didn't carry the ball in last Sunday's loss at Houston, and third-year tight end Harold Bishop are the two leading candidates to be released. But a team official said there are five player combinations under consideration.

Besides getting ready for next Sunday's home game against the New Orleans Saints, Hoard is busiest trying to ignore the rumors about his future with the Ravens.

"I just come out here and do what I have to do and block it out. Whatever happens, happens," he said. "I can only control what happens on the field."

The amount of time he's spending there on game days has dwindled. Hoard, 28, came into training camp as the starting tailback, but lost the job to 13-year veteran Earnest Byner before the season opener. He rushed for 52 yards against the Steelers in a Sept. 8 loss, then disappeared against the Oilers.

"I can play, there's no question about that. I don't think anybody questions that," Hoard said.

"Just because [Morris] is who he is doesn't mean he's going to be running all over the place and be the savior. Until we're playing better as a team, no one player is going to excel."

Byner said he was all for Morris joining the Ravens if he can help the team win.

When asked if he expected to be used in the backfield at the same time as Morris, Byner said, "I'm not going to speculate. The coaches make that decision. Whatever I'm called upon to do, I'll do."

Modell said Green, a former All-Pro tight end with the Pittsburgh Steelers who was released by the Miami Dolphins this summer, will work out tomorrow and take a physical Tuesday to see if his injured left knee is sound.

Marchibroda said he didn't know if Green would be able to play right away. He also needs to see how quickly Green and Morris learn the system.

Marchibroda did say he would want to use Green in some two-tight-end sets with Brian Kinchen, who has started the first three games. Kinchen didn't speak with reporters yesterday.

Morris rushed for 1,395 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in two seasons with the Steelers. He can take a physical, but won't be able to work out or start practicing until Oct. 7 because he pleaded guilty to a marijuana-possession charge in late June and was suspended by the NFL.

He wouldn't be available to play until the Oct. 13 game against the Colts in Indianapolis.

"With Bam, we'll see if he can get in shape on his own," Modell said. "He looked awfully good in a brief workout [Wednesday]. I know what he did against us and for the Steelers. If he has that talent, he'll make a big difference for us. He wants to restore his reputation and his career."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: New Orleans Saints

When Next Sunday, 1 p.m.

Site: Memorial Stadium

TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Series: Former Browns lead, 9-3.

Last meeting: Browns won, 17-13, in Cleveland in 1993.

Pub Date: 9/22/96

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