Duffner puts UM years in past Ex-Terps coach happy with new job in the NFL

Ravens notebook

September 05, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach Mark Duffner said he has no hard feelings toward the University of Maryland, where he coached for five years before being fired last fall.

Duffner, who compiled a 20-35 record with the Terps, will accompany the Bengals to Baltimore for Sunday's game against the Ravens at Memorial Stadium.

"I've never been one to look back. I just thank them for the opportunity to coach there," said Duffner, 44. "I wish the program nothing but the best of luck. I enjoy coaching where I am right now, in the pros, and there are a lot of similarities to coaching in college.

"You get to coach some of the best athletes in the world, and unlike college, you get to spend a lot of time with them," Duffner said. "But the preparation is still the same, just as intense."

Bengals head coach Bruce Coslet hired Duffner on the recommendation of tight ends coach Bob Wylie, who had worked with Duffner when the two were at Holy Cross.

Coslet had never met Duffner until they interviewed.

"It was only minutes into the interview that I determined that this was a no-brainer," said Coslet. "Mark is a tireless worker who is dedicated to this game."

Duffner may get a chance to coach against one of his former players in Ravens slot receiver Jermaine Lewis, who has a sprained knee. Lewis had touchdown receptions of 17 and 42 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday and set up a touchdown with a 42-yard kickoff return to open the second half.

"Boy, I tell you, I'm so happy for him," said Duffner of Lewis. "He is giving them the same explosive big game he gave us at Maryland. He has worked tremendously hard. I wish him a lot of success this year -- except for in two games."

Lewis said: "I'm going over to say hello. Coach taught us a lot about growing up and being a man. I'm glad to see he made out OK, but I'd like to beat him Sunday." Ravens rookie outside linebacker Peter Boulware, the team's top draft pick, who held out for five weeks, said he expects an improvement in his play this Sunday.

Boulware, who played defensive end at Florida State, finished with three tackles, including one sack, in the opener. He progressed as the game went on, and team officials expect more improvement now that he has gotten his first game under his belt.

So does Boulware.

"There is nothing like getting that first game behind you," said Boulware. "Now, I'll be a little more disciplined, and each game I get more and more of my legs behind me."

Boulware said he hopes the Ravens don't get accustomed to losing.

"In college, I only lost four games," he said. "Winning comes from attitude. If we get this second game, then we're moving in the right direction. I think I'll be a little bit more relaxed for this game."

Boulware will get a chance to reunite with an old teammate Sunday. Former Florida State defensive end Reinard Wilson, also a first-round draft pick, will start at right outside linebacker for the Bengals. He'll meet Ravens tackles Orlando Brown and Jonathan Ogden head on a couple of times.

"During my first three years at Florida State, we both competed for the same job," Boulware said of Wilson. "In my junior year, that's when they split us up and we started. But I'll be watching to see if he is bringing it, because I know he'll be watching to see if I'm bringing it."

Any advice for Ogden and Brown? "Nope, Big Zeus and Big O got it together," said Boulware. "Reinard is a great pass rusher, but those guys have gone against some great pass rushers already."

Wilson said: "I'm pretty sure he wants to rush on every down, too. When you play with somebody that long, you'll always be friends. There is a bonding that takes place. You want to win for bragging rights after the game."

Injury update

The Ravens are in pretty good shape physically for the Bengals. Only center Wally Williams (Achilles), second-string guard John Elmore and starting slot receiver Lewis did not practice yesterday.

Starting right guard Jeff Blackshear was in full gear yesterday after missing Wednesday's practice with an injured ankle. Blackshear has never missed a game, dating to Pop Warner play, because of an injury.

Lewis' status is questionable, but he probably will play, according to coach Ted Marchibroda. If he can't play, the Ravens will use third-year receiver Ryan Yarborough in the slot. Yarborough had one reception for 5 yards last week.

"The thing we'll miss with Jermaine is his deep threat, which he gave us all during the preseason," Marchibroda said. "But Yarborough has a fine work ethic, runs out every play, has good hands and is a tough kid."

Elmore has a sprained knee. He also wears No. 61, which seems to be jinxed. Former Ravens center Steve Everitt wore that number, and he missed most of last season with a torn pectoral muscle. Rookie free agent Mike Flynn had the number in training camp, but he was cut. Offensive lineman Dennis Whitmore wore it until last week, when he got axed.

And now Elmore.

"You never want to be out," said Elmore. "I just want to get well and return as soon as possible."

When asked if he had heard about the No. 61 jinx, Elmore said: "No one told me about that. Really?"

Pub Date: 9/05/97

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