Morris claims no bitterness toward Pittsburgh Steelers' Cowher doesn't expect RB to be pleasant

Ravens notebook

November 29, 1996|By Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht | Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Running back Bam Morris said it will be just another game when the Ravens play host to his old teammates, the Pittsburgh Steelers, on Sunday at Memorial Stadium.

It will be the first time Morris has played against the Steelers since his release by the club in July after a drug suspension stemming from a marijuana-possession charge.

Morris gained 836 yards and scored seven touchdowns for the Steelers last season. He signed with the Ravens on Sept. 22.

"I know a lot of players on the team, but there is no bitterness," Morris said. "I have moved on in my life and so have the Steelers.

"I'm treating it just as another game. The only thing I'm telling my new teammates is to prepare for 60 minutes of war because that's what the Steelers are about."

But Steelers coach Bill Cowher suspects there is some bitterness between Morris and the Steelers' organization.

"I wish Bam nothing but the best," Cowher said. "He was a big part of our success last year and I'll always be thankful. Bam never had any problems here and he was always a positive influence in practice.

"I'll say hi if Bam says hi. I don't think he'll come over and shake hands."

Hill is finalist at Fresno

Tight ends coach Pat Hill is one of the three finalists for the head coaching job at Fresno State. Hill said he expected the school to make the decision on who will replace Jim Sweeney within the next 10 days.

Sweeney retired nearly a month ago, and Fresno officials have pursued Hill, who was an assistant under Sweeney from 1985 through 1989, and they interviewed him last weekend. Hill has been with the Ravens/Browns since 1992.

"Right now, my No. 1 focus is on the remaining games on our

schedule," said Hill, who is a Los Angeles native. "I am happy here with the Ravens, but because of my ties with Fresno State, that opening became a great opportunity. If it works out, fine, it not, then I'm contented to stay here. I'm not the type to apply for just any job or toss my name in just to toss my name in, but Fresno is a special place to me."

Cowher expects good effort

The Ravens supposedly have an edge in preparation for the Steelers because Pittsburgh had to play the Miami Dolphins on Monday night (a 24-17 victory).

But with the Steelers able to clinch the AFC Central title with a win over the Ravens, Cowher isn't giving his team any excuses for losing.

"Coming off a short week, preparing for them is going to be a challenge, but we've played 11 Monday night games since I've been here, so there shouldn't be a problem," Cowher said. "We know the schedule by now. We have no excuses."

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said: "They're playing on Monday night, then traveling back home and by that time you're way into Tuesday. I think that gives us an edge going into the game."

Everitt to play, won't start

Marchibroda said yesterday that center Steve Everitt will not start Sunday, but is expected to get playing time early in the game.

Everitt has missed nearly five weeks because of a partially torn pectoral muscle. Everitt, who started the first seven games, will gradually return to the starting lineup. This has been his first full week of practice since the injury.

"We wanted to see what he could do in practice and how he held up," Marchibroda said. "He'll get his time early."

Morris (knee) and starting strong safety Stevon Moore (hip pointer) did not practice yesterday, but both are expected to start Sunday. Marchibroda had practice two hours earlier than usual and shortened team meeting so players could enjoy dinner with their families.

Croel no longer unnoticed

Mike Croel went unnoticed for most of the first eight games, but the veteran outside linebacker has put together his best football of the season in November.

Over his past three games, Croel has 17 solo tackles, two sacks and has two forced fumbles.

Croel, a six-year veteran who was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1991 with Denver, spent last season with the New York Giants after the Broncos waived him. He signed a one-year contract with the Ravens shortly before training camp.

Croel cited two factors in his resurgence -- his health and the Ravens' switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense six weeks ago. Croel's battle with early-season knee and ankle injuries has not stopped him from starting all 12 games, but the ailments limited his movement. And the 3-4 has allowed him to roam more effectively in the open field. That's the way Denver used him with much success.

"I like this new defense a lot," said Croel, 6 feet 3, 240 pounds. "It gives me more of an opportunity to use my speed and go in more of a straight line to the play.

"The nicks and bangs kind of hindered me earlier. But my speed is coming back, and I'm feeling a lot better now. It's showing on the field that I'm moving a lot better." Michael Jackson is third among AFC receivers in yardage (938), second in scoring (10 touchdowns) and is on an 80-reception pace. He has a career-high 59 catches. This week, Jackson and Derrick Alexander (875 yards, eight TDs) could become the first duo to record 1,000-yard seasons in the NFL this season. The Ravens have three games remaining against the AFC Central, and are the only team in the conference that has failed to beat a division opponent. The Ravens' defense has allowed an AFC-high 269 first downs and has given up a conference-high 30 touchdowns from inside its 20.

Pub Date: 11/29/96

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