In the Ravens' first season in Baltimore last year, they sold out every home game. This year, only two of the eight games have been sold out, and about 7,000 tickets remain for the opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 31, raising the possibility that the game might not be on local TV.
The NFL's blackout rule stipulates that home games can't be shown on local TV unless they are sold out 72 hours before kickoff. That means the Ravens have until next Thursday at 4 p.m. to sell out the opener and get the blackout rule lifted.
Even televisions at local businesses that carry Sunday Ticket, a subscription to every NFL game across the country, are subject to the blackout rule and cannot show non-sellouts.
The Ravens have sold out games against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 5 and the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 19, and fewer than 2,000 tickets remain for the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 16. About 9,000 tickets remain for the Sept. 7 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"We expect it to be sold out," Ravens owner Art Modell said of the opener. "It will pick up. Historically, it picks up the week of the game. We are very happy where we are right now."
Modell attributes the slower sales to the opener falling on Labor Day weekend.
"It's the earliest opening in NFL history. A lot of people are at the shore," Modell said.
Also, for the first time, the Ravens and the Orioles are playing at home on the same day. The Orioles-New York Mets game will begin at 1: 35 p.m. at Camden Yards, about 2 1/2 hours before the start of the Ravens-Jaguars game at Memorial Stadium. So far, ** the Orioles and Ravens have combined to sell more than 100,000 tickets for that day.
"That is quite a tribute to the city of Baltimore," Modell said.
J. Jones impressive
Ravens defensive tackle James Jones had a decent season last year, but he has been dominating at times during this preseason. Jones, signed by the Ravens last Aug. 26, has eight solo tackles in the three preseason games.
"James has his weight down, plus he has a whole season and training camp under his belt, as opposed to last year," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel.
Jones also has Tony Siragusa at the other tackle. A year ago, teams intending to run up the middle focused on stopping Jones. Now, the team has two legitimate run-stoppers as starters, and a third, Larry Webster, is improving rapidly.
Final cutdown day is Sunday, which means several more sleepless nights for some players. Rookie fullback Steve Lee has tried not to worry.
"I really don't want to think about it," said Lee, out of Indiana. "I believe that you play hard, do the best that you can; play hard on special teams, you can make it. I sleep all right at night."
He may be the exception. Second-year receiver James Roe, for one, had a lot of anxiety last year.
"I know how some of these guys feel," said Roe. "I tried not to worry about it last year, and left it in the Lord's hands. I went home after the last game of the preseason to relax, and didn't know I had made the team until I came back. But this can be a very stressful time."
Rookie running back Jay Graham was in full pads yesterday. '' Graham had been sidelined with a knee injury since the team's second preseason game against the New York Jets.
Graham said he felt fine after yesterday's practice, but had not received word if he was going to play in the fourth preseason game tomorrow night against the Buffalo Bills at Memorial Stadium.
Running back Bam Morris (hamstring), receiver Ray Ethridge (ankle and knee), center Wally Williams (Achilles') and defensive end Michael McCrary (knee) did not practice yesterday.
Date, Opponent, Result
8/2, N.Y. Giants, L 21-20
8/8, at N.Y. Jets, L, 39-29
8/16, at Phila., L, 24-13
Date, Opponent, Time, TV
8/22, Buffalo, 7:30, 45
Ravens roll call
Pos.: Offensive tackle
Highlights: Spent half of last season as a starter for the Rhein Fire of the World League. An honorable-mention, All-Big Sky selection, he started every game at offensive tackle for Idaho in his junior and senior seasons. Recorded 70 tackles and three sacks as a defensive tackle as a freshman at Idaho.
Favorite TV show: "Seinfeld"
Leisure activities: Golf
Favorite vacation spot: Monterey Bay
Childhood sports idol: Lawrence Taylor
Pub Date: 8/21/97