Williams hopes to be a hit in 1997 debut Sidelined since April, center gets start Sunday

Ravens notebook

October 16, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Do you think Wally Williams is eager to complete his comeback from the injury that has kept him on the sideline since April?

Listen to the Ravens' center talk about his return to the lineup on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, especially how it will affect the team's suspect running game.

"We can't come out and tap dance with these [Dolphins] guys. It's a matter of going full speed and butting some helmets," Williams said. He will start in his first appearance since tearing his right Achilles' tendon.

"My job is to provide that cockiness," he said. "It's going to be a nice feeling being back out there in the huddle for the first time. It's a feeling of getting ready for the battle. We're going to be a more physical, dominant line."

Williams said he can't wait to get back in the trenches with players like left tackle Jonathan Ogden, right guard Jeff Blackshear and right tackle Orlando Brown. And he welcomes the addition of left guard Ben Cavil.

"Everybody knows about those [three] guys," Williams said. "Now we've got Ben in there starting in front of Leo [Goeas]. Ben has to grow up fast. We're going to be firing off the ball."

How much does Williams enjoy hitting? Consider that, coming out of high school, Williams was a good enough baseball player to get drafted by the Montreal Expos. He chose to pursue football at Florida A&M, primarily because of the contact that sport provided.

"You can't hit people in baseball," he said. "You can run over the catcher, but that doesn't happen every game. There was no simulation for that [during his rehab], unless I had put on a helmet and gotten hit by a bus."

Vinny vs. Jimmy

Miami coach Jimmy Johnson won a national championship at the University of Miami and won two Super Bowls coaching the Dallas Cowboys. And he still frets about the one that got away -- the Miami Hurricanes' 14-10 loss to Penn State in January 1987 that cost Miami a title.

That was a loss that has followed Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde ever since. Testaverde threw five interceptions that night.

"I felt like we had the best college team of all time. We had 450 yards of total offense to [Penn State's] 118, and we came up short," Johnson said.

In retrospect, Johnson, who blamed Testaverde in an interview before the Cowboys' last Super Bowl victory, said he blames himself more than Testaverde, who was injured in a moped accident shortly before the end of the regular season in 1986. He missed the finale against East Carolina, then missed lots of practice time leading up to the Fiesta Bowl.

"I fault myself more than Vinny. He missed a lot of preparation time with his injury, and he wasn't at the top of his game," Johnson said.

Testaverde downplayed his relationship with Johnson when asked if it adds any more meaning to Sunday's game against the Dolphins.

"I don't see this as a team coached by Jimmy Johnson. Coaches coach. Players play," Testaverde said. "I've been in this business too long to let that affect me, emotionally or any other way. To me, this has nothing to do with Jimmy Johnson. I'm worried about Miami's secondary, their linebackers and their defensive line."

DE Washington signs

The Ravens signed free-agent defensive end Keith Washington, a day after they waived rookie linebacker Tyrell Peters, who could return to the team by being signed to the practice squad.

Washington, 6 feet 4, 270 pounds, played in 13 games for Detroit last year, with no starts. He recorded six tackles and five special teams tackles. He spent the 1995 season with the Minnesota practice squad. Washington, 24, played at Nevada-Las Vegas.

Pub Date: 10/16/97

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