Ravens owner Art Modell addressed the team after practice yesterday in what was interpreted as an old-fashioned pep talk.
Modell spoke for about five to 10 minutes and easily held the Ravens' attention. The Ravens are 3-9 and have lost seven of their past eight games, including four in a row.
The Ravens play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, but that was not on Modell's mind.
"We just talked about football in general," Modell said. "I've been in this business for a long time, going back to Lombardi and Halas. I told our guys that things have a way of balancing out. "The injuries, officiating and fumbles may not be going our way now, but they will over time," he said. "I told them to hang tough and play hard, to play for their own integrity and the dignity of the organization."
Said Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde, "He has been around the league for a long time and he knows what he is talking about."
Unofficial word on officials
Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said Jerry Seeman, the league's director of officiating, agreed that the crew for Sunday's 28-25 overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars blew at least three calls.
Seeman was unavailable to comment.
"He said some of the calls were erroneous, especially the one with the inadvertent whistle on the fumbled punt and the pass interference call on Bam Morris and the failure by the crew to call the roughing the punter on Greg Montgomery," said Marchibroda.
"I've always thought that crew was a bunch of good guys, a really good crew," said Marchibroda. "We all make mistakes, and that could happen to anybody. But the bottom line is wins and losses in this league, and all I got from Seeman was conversation. That's all you ever get in that situation."
The Ravens signed tight end A. J. Ofadile to the practice squad yesterday, filling the fifth and final roster spot. Ofadile (6-7, 260) was a fifth-round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills out of of Missouri and was signed to the Steelers' practice squad on Aug. 29.
Ozzie Newsome, Ravens vice president of football personnel, said Ofadile has a lot of potential.
"Our No. 3 quarterback had been doing a lot of work at tight end on the practice squad, and Ofadile gives us a better look," said Newsome. "Eric Green is also not completely healthy, and we think this guy has a lot of long-range potential."
Ravens defensive tackle Dan Footman practiced with the team for the first time since fracturing his forearm on Oct. 13 against Indianapolis. Footman wore a big cast yesterday, but said he doesn't expect to play for a few more weeks.
One reason for the delay is that the last time Footman played, the Ravens were running a 4-3 defense. The team is now in a 3-4. Marchibroda said he is not hopeful about outside linebacker Jerrol Williams (knee) returning for the rest of the season. Morris will celebrate Thanksgiving by providing meals for approximately 250 homeless at Wesley African Methodist Church in Baltimore. Morris will visit the church at approximately 2 p.m. Dinner will be served between 12: 30 and 3: 30 p.m. Wesley Church is at the corner of Ashland and Washington streets.