Ravens lose Sheppard to Chargers Receivers coach will run offense under Gilbride

Mann takes his spot

Marchibroda: Return to Calif. no surprise

February 27, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

After two attempts that failed to land him the promotion he sought, Ravens receivers coach Mike Sheppard found the right job in the right place yesterday when the San Diego Chargers hired him as their offensive coordinator.

Sheppard, who had been considered for that position with Jacksonville and the New York Jets, will head back to his native Southern California to work under first-year Chargers coach Kevin Gilbride.

"Obviously, the West Coast was appealing to him. Plus, he'll get a chance to coordinate the offense and work with Kevin Gilbride," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel. "I think the chance to be closer to his family was a big part of it. He landed at home."

After he returned here from San Diego last night, Sheppard said: "You always have mixed emotions, and I do, because [head coach] Ted [Marchibroda] is great to work for and we did some neat things on offense. That's a hard situation to leave.

"[However] to get a chance to coach with Kevin and learn from him and get closer to home is a pretty good move."

Sheppard's contributions to the Ravens' offense, which generated 371 points last season -- fifth-highest in the NFL -- were significant. Besides working with receivers such as Michael Jackson and Derrick Alexander, who had career years by producing 1,000 yards apiece and combining for 23 touchdowns, Sheppard also was responsible for calling plays.

Marchibroda said it was only a matter of time before Sheppard, 45, climbed another rung on the coaching ladder.

"I wasn't sure if it was going to happen this year," Marchibroda said of Sheppard's move. "But, if it didn't happen this year, I knew it would happen by next year. Mike did a good job here, and I'm happy for him. He's a West Coast person."

Marchibroda said that Richard Mann, who coached receivers with the Cleveland Browns from 1985 to 1993 and was recently hired as a tight ends coach by the Ravens, will move over to fill Sheppard's position. Marchibroda added that Don Strock, his quarterbacks coach, would assume play-calling duties.

"We're fortunate that we have Don here," Marchibroda said. "He's done that [call plays] all his life as a player."

Originally hired by Cleveland in 1993 as a tight ends coach, Sheppard took over as receivers coach after Mann left to coach receivers with the Jets. Before that, Sheppard had spent eight years as a head coach at the collegiate level. He coached in 1984-86 at Long Beach State, then went on to five seasons at New Mexico.

Sheppard grew up in Burbank, Calif., and graduated from Cal Lutheran in 1973. He entered the coaching profession the next year as a receivers coach.

NOTES: Yesterday, the Ravens worked out free agent Raylee Johnson, a four-year defensive end with the San Diego Chargers. Johnson, 6 feet 3, 272 pounds, is considered by some to be one of the up-and-coming pass rushers in the league. A fourth-round pick out of Arkansas in 1993, he recorded two sacks in San Diego's Super Bowl loss to San Francisco in his rookie year. He has started only three games in his career. Johnson started one game last season, when he recorded 18 tackles and two sacks. The Ravens are one of six teams pursuing Pittsburgh free agent defensive end Ray Seals, with San Diego, Minnesota, Atlanta, New England and the Steelers being the others.

Pub Date: 2/27/97

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