In pickoff move, Ravens sign Daniel 14-year cornerback has 35 career INTs

September 18, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

In an effort to improve one of the league's worst pass defenses, the Ravens yesterday signed cornerback Eugene Daniel, 14-year veteran with 35 career interceptions.

Daniel, 36, began practicing with the team yesterday. His workout was limited, mostly participating in individual drills. He was expected to spend most of last night going through a few defensive crash course meetings.

Coach Ted Marchibroda said he didn't expect Daniel to play Sunday against the Tennessee Oilers, but he said the former Indianapolis Colt should get some playing time the following week when the Ravens travel to play the San Diego Chargers.

Marchibroda said Daniel would be the team's fourth cornerback, but there is a strong indication he eventually will battle for a starting job because nickel back DeRon Jenkins and starting right cornerback Donny Brady are struggling. The Ravens have allowed an average of 285.0 passing yards per game, ranking No. 28 among the league's 30 teams.

Daniel, 5 feet 11 and 180 pounds, has 35 career interceptions, ranking third on the Colts' all-time list behind Bobby Boyd's 57 and Don Shinnick's 37.

"He is a good cover guy who is very dependable, stable," said Marchibroda, who coached Daniel in Indianapolis from 1992 through 1995. "I saw him play for four years, so I know he is a very high character player. He lines up to play every down."

Daniel was an eighth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 1984 and spent his entire career with the franchise. The Ravens worked out Daniel and cornerback D. J. Johnson, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons, but chose Daniel yesterday after he passed a physical.

"It feels good to be with a winning team getting a fresh start in a new place," Daniel said. "I'm hoping it won't take me long to get into playing condition. I've never missed a training camp before. When can I contribute? That's up to the coaches.

"I believe I can be the starter. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here."

Daniel negotiated with the Colts before training camp, but the team chose not to re-sign him. He said the Ravens contacted him last week.

"I was a little surprised the Colts didn't try harder to re-sign me, but that's their decision," Daniel said. "But I was an eighth-round draft pick and God brought me through that and I knew he would bring me through this."

Daniel said he has been running and lifting weights daily in his hometown of Baton Rouge, La.

"I just tried to stay in shape because you never know who is going to call," he said. "They say as you get older you lose some things, but you also get smarter. You do other little things, maybe like watching more film, to gain that edge."

Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde said, "This is great for our team. He is a guy who has been to the playoffs. He knows how to win and be ready on Sunday. We're excited to have him here."

NOTE: Starting center Quentin Neujahr, who missed Sunday's game because of a sprained ankle, practiced for the first time yesterday, mostly with the second unit. Starting safety Rondell Jones (knee), defensive end Rob Burnett (knee) and defensive tackle Tony Siragusa (neck) did not practice yesterday.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Tennessee Oilers

Site: Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

TV/Radio: Ch. 11/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Line: Oilers by 3 1/2

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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