Aching Testaverde optimistic on start X-rays prove negative

R. Lewis again unlikely

November 19, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde said yesterday he expects to start Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Memorial Stadium, but the prognosis for rookie linebacker Ray Lewis isn't as good.

Still hobbled by a sprained ankle, Lewis missed his first game as a Raven on Sunday, a 38-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. That increased to nine the number of training-camp defensive starters who have sat out at least one game this season. Safety Stevon Moore and outside linebacker Mike Croel are the only players who have not been sidelined.

"It's going to be a little hard for Ray to come back," said coach Ted Marchibroda. "It's a severe ankle sprain and I think he may be lost again this week."

If so, fourth-year veteran Eddie Sutter will start again at left inside linebacker. He had seven tackles, including five solos, against the 49ers.

"Eddie did a commendable job," Marchibroda said. "He gives you everything he has. That's all you can ask."

Testaverde sustained bruised ribs and a hip pointer early in the second quarter and was replaced by Eric Zeier -- the first time all year someone other than Testaverde has taken the snaps.

"I'm still a little sore," Testaverde said. "When I landed, I landed on my left side, and as I hit the ground, somebody landed on me and it kind of forced my elbow into my ribs and hip. Nothing cracked. I didn't feel any pops in there, which was a good sign. The X-rays came out negative and the doctors felt like [yesterday], I didn't need to take any further X-rays.

"I feel very optimistic that everything's settled down. With the right treatments, I'll be ready to go on Sunday."

For now, he'll apply ice to his hip and ribs. "As we go further in the week, it'll be hot and cold [treatments], maybe some ultrasound, things like that. But nothing crazy," he said.

Testaverde had a similar injury in the season's second game at Pittsburgh. But unlike Sunday, it occurred on his left side, which didn't prohibit him from playing because his throwing motion wasn't affected.

Against the 49ers, Testaverde said: "I tried to do everything I could to get back into the game. I kept trying to put my shoulder pads back on, but I was having trouble lifting my arms to put them through the pads and my shirt. I kept trying over and over and, finally, I was able to do it and I came back out on the field late in the fourth quarter.

"You sit and watch and you feel helpless. One of my goals this year was to play every game and not get knocked out. Knowing I went through the first part of the season taking every snap and knowing there haven't been many quarterbacks to do that this year -- it's a pride thing. I'm going to do my best to get back out there and finish the season and not miss another snap.

"We'll see how [tomorrow] goes when I start to throw in practice."

Marchibroda said Testaverde's status is "a day-by-day thing, but we're very optimistic and hopeful that he'll be able to play."

Zeier will be ready again in case he's needed. Seeing his first game action since the preseason finale in Buffalo, he was 10-for-21 for 97 yards and a touchdown, but couldn't move the team in the second half.

"It's not really fair to Eric to judge him," Marchibroda said. "It's the first ballgame he's been in all year and it was the toughest defense we've faced all year. I think he did a commendable job. He did a fine job under the circumstances."

Marchibroda said he feels that way about the team as a whole.

"I've become more proud of the fact that this ballclub is showing a tremendous amount of character. And I think that's an indication of very good things to come," he said.

Marchibroda said he hasn't seen any signs that the players are taking on a losing attitude. "We have five games to go and they're five ballgames I feel we can win. They've played very, very hard and they give us a total effort."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: Memorial Stadium

TV/Radio: Ch. 11/WLIF (101.9 FM), WJFK (1300 AM)

Record: 4-7

Sunday: Lost to Steelers, 28-3

Pub Date: 11/19/96

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