Daniel is making presence known Newest addition brings stability to corner with interception, deflections

September 29, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- Eugene Daniel tried to downplay his contribution, although the Ravens' newest addition -- and their most experienced cornerback -- made too many plays to hide.

Daniel, acquired less than two weeks ago after spending 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, made an immediate impact after replacing the struggling Donny Brady at right cornerback.

Besides lending some stability to a position that has been a powder keg -- witness Brady biting on a play-action fake, then allowing Tony Martin to run by him and catch a 72-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter -- all Daniel did was pick off one Stan Humphries pass and deflect three others, two of which he also could have intercepted.

"I just thank the good Lord for putting me in a position to make a couple of plays," Daniel said. "But I've got to come up with some of those balls. I'd rather take an interception back for a touchdown than just knock the pass down."

Daniel, who did not play in last week's victory over Tennessee, said he found out shortly before yesterday's 21-17 loss that he would probably see some action. He just wasn't sure how much.

Because of the heat that wore down the Ravens and the ineffective play of Brady in the first half, the Ravens went with Daniel for virtually the entire second half in Brady's place.

"We felt we needed to give Donny some rest, and we wanted to give Eugene a chance to play," Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said. "Eugene did a good job. He got out there and obviously was productive."

When asked if Daniel would start in place of Brady against Pittsburgh next week, Lewis backed off.

"We got Eugene to be our fourth corner, and we'll see what happens from there. I don't know [if Daniel will start]. We'll see."

Yarborough gets chance

Receiver Ryan Yarborough was much more involved than expected yesterday. He became the Ravens' lone backup when the team decided to deactivate James Roe, choosing to promote rookie defensive tackle Leland Taylor to the 46-man roster to provide depth with the loss of Tony Siragusa (ankle injury).

Yarborough became much more important after Jermaine Lewis went down in the first half with a mild concussion, thanks to a wallop to the head by strong safety Rodney Harrison after Lewis failed to make a leaping grab down the middle.

Yarborough ended up leading the Ravens with five catches for 55 yards.

But Yarborough smeared his productivity in crunch time. On the last possession, with the Ravens facing third-and-20 at the Chargers' 34, Yarborough allowed a Vinny Testaverde pass to go through his hands inside the San Diego 15. A completion would have given the Ravens a first down.

"Vinny threw it right where it needed to be. I just put my hands up late and [the ball] went right through them," Yarborough said. "No excuses. It was a good ball. I just didn't make the play."

Second-guesses

Besides his two fourth-quarter interceptions, Testaverde would like to have back the several incomplete, downfield passes that occurred after he missed Bam Morris wide-open in the flat.

"There were at least two times where I could've gotten him the ball and gotten good yardage out of it," Testaverde said.

Said Morris: "I'm the decoy [on passing plays], but I am a safety valve. Maybe Vinny saw something I didn't see, and maybe I couldn't have made big yards, but I was wide-open several times."

Lewis takes his hits

Just think if Jermaine Lewis could stay healthy. Lewis missed significant time in the first half with a mild concussion, then left the game in the fourth quarter after pulling a hamstring.

But the Ravens' second-year receiver was around long enough to catch a 37-yard touchdown pass, return three kickoffs for 77 yards and bring back two punts for 27 yards. He also returned a second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown that was called back by an illegal block.

Lewis doesn't even remember the blow he absorbed by Harrison, who knocked him out of action for much of the first half. Lewis spent the half sitting on the bench with a towel draped over his head.

"I remember seeing the ball, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. I got up in a daze and kind of staggered," said Lewis, who already has missed two games. "My vision was messed up. I couldn't really focus right away.

"I keep getting hurt. My knee, now my hamstring, a concussion. I just want to get my body right. But this is part of the NFL. I've got to adjust."

Goeas says no to holding

Guard Leo Goeas is eager to see the films of the play when he was called for holding on a critical play in the fourth quarter.

The call wiped out Testaverde's scramble to the Chargers' 11 and forced the Ravens into a second-and-20 at the Ravens' 34.

But Goeas insisted he didn't hold on the play. He said the officials either called the wrong number or simply blew the call.

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