Morris, Green try to take flight with the Ravens Back, tight end sign deals, hope to revive careers

Hoard cut

September 25, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

As veteran runner Leroy Hoard was saying goodbye at the front of the Ravens' training complex, former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Bam Morris was ushering in a new era at a side entrance.

The Ravens (1-2), in an attempt to improve their offense, signed Morris to a two-year deal and former Steelers All-Pro tight end Eric Green to a one-year contract yesterday.

In addition, the Ravens worked out free-agent linebackers Keith Goganious, Aubrey Beavers and Mark Williams to possibly add to a roster that has only five healthy linebackers. Beavers and Goganious will return for physicals later this week, and the Ravens hope to sign a linebacker before the New Orleans Saints game Sunday.

But the biggest developments yesterday were the signings of Morris and Green. According to Morris' agent Steve Zucker, who also represents Hoard, Morris' package is valued at $1.8 million, which includes a $500,000 signing bonus, $400,000 of which was presented up front.

Green, 29, had agreed to a two-year deal in principle last Friday, but had to accept a one-year deal yesterday after failing the team's physical. Green, who has had surgery on his left knee four times, will make $425,000 this season.

To make room for the signings under the league's $41 million salary cap, the team released Hoard, a seven-year veteran, to recapture $750,000 of his $1.5 million salary.

"Very few tight ends can do what Eric Green can do, and when he's fully ready we expect he'll be among the best in the league," said Ravens owner Art Modell.

"In Bam's case, we needed to find out more about his recent history and the background behind his problems. We're satisfied that he deserves another opportunity and we're confident he is heading in the right direction," said Modell.

Neither one of the players will be able to help the Ravens right away. Green spent most of yesterday morning undergoing an extensive physical. He had his last arthroscopic surgery on May 2 and was released by the Miami Dolphins on July 9.

But for the next couple of weeks, Green will work extensively with Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf, who estimates Green could practice within two to three weeks, or be out as long as eight.

Green said he was looking to join the team as soon as possible.

"I'm one of the hungriest guys in America," said Green. "Right now, all you guys are going to see from me is a lot of heart. I saw this as the best opportunity for me to excel. This is a group of young guys on the verge of doing something special."

Morris, 24, cannot practice until Oct. 7 or play until Oct. 13 because of an NFL-imposed suspension. Morris, who rushed for 1,395 yards in two seasons with the Steelers, violated the league's policy on substance abuse after pleading guilty to a marijuana-possession charge on June 26.

"I made a mistake. I took my punishment and I'm ready to get on with my life," said Morris. "It's a new city. It's a young team. I'm young. I want to prove everybody wrong and prove the Ravens right for picking me up and giving me a second chance."

Hoard's departure puts the team in somewhat of a bind. The Ravens will have only three running backs -- Earnest Byner, Earnest Hunter and fullback Carwell Gardner -- until Morris is ready to play.

The Ravens also will have to deal with the fallout from yesterday. According to a team source, if Green had passed his physical, the Ravens would have cut No. 2 tight end Harold Bishop. Instead, Bishop remains as Brian Kinchen's backup.

The Ravens also are not happy with Hunter, the team's No. 3 running back, and he could be released soon.

"I applaud Leroy for the way he handle himself and despite all the speculation, he never let it affect his practice or game preparation," said Newsome.

Hoard, though, left Bishop and Hunter with this parting advice: "When your coach says things like that about you that I've seen in the paper, he might as well start boxing his [stuff] too. I started boxing mine when I started reading about it in the paper."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: New Orleans Saints

When Sunday, 1 p.m.

Site: Memorial Stadium

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

Tickets: About 1,000 remain

*Only if game is sold out by tomorrow

Pub Date: 9/25/96

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