All signs are go for Williams in return Amid negatives, center's health is a positive note


October 20, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Alan Goldstein and Vito Stellino contributed to this article.

Sure, Ravens center Wally Williams would have liked to crown his return to the playing field with a victory. But in the aftermath of yesterday's 24-13 loss to Miami, Williams was fairly content with his personal victory.

Less than six months after he tore the Achilles' tendon in his right foot, Williams was back in action for the first time in the 1997 season.

His first live test went well. He fired off the line of scrimmage sharply, showing no effects of an injury that restricted him to walking as recently as nearly two months ago. He blocked effectively, especially on several occasions in the first half when he tangled with Miami middle linebacker Zach Thomas.

"Yeah, me and Zach Thomas got into a little mouth-to-mouth game out there a few times. I'm not an observer. My job is to go out and hit people," Williams said.

"From a personal standpoint, nobody likes to come out with a loss. But this was a stepping stone to the rest of the season for me. It was a long rehab, and it could have been a lot longer. I made a few mental mistakes, but I felt good pushing off, running down the field. I thought I'd be a lot more banged up. I'm anxious to see how I'm going to feel tomorrow."

Problems up front

The heart of the Ravens was supposed to be their defensive front. After the Dolphins' offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage so convincingly, allowing running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar to have his best game of the season, left defensive end Rob Burnett was left to ponder a big reason for the team's third straight defeat.

"It wasn't our best showing [up front] by far. I'm a little demoralized right now," said Burnett, who had three tackles and a pass deflection. "I'm not going to sit here and make excuses. They were the better team today. They had a good game plan and they stuck to it. They were hitting on all cylinders.

"We just have to bounce back, and I know we can do it."

Not Daniel's day

Cornerback Eugene Daniel's day got off to a bad start. Daniel felt a twinge in one hamstring during pregame warm-ups. He decided to try playing through it. But near the end of the first quarter, he said he pulled his other hamstring. That ended his day prematurely.

"They tried wrapping my hamstring on the sideline," Daniel said. "It felt better, but I couldn't run full speed. And there's no use trying to play the corner if you can't run full speed."

Moore disgusted

Safety Stevon Moore turned in one of his best efforts, recording nine tackles, including some excellent hits on Abdul-Jabbar at the line of scrimmage.

Moore shook his head when asked about the Ravens' poor, third-down percentage. Miami was 9-for-13 in third-down situations.

"If we can't get off the field on third down, we'll be facing you guys every week, feeling disgusted," Moore said.

Visit from Orioles

The home crowd had little to cheer about yesterday. The fans saved one of their warmest responses for a group of Orioles who showed up in the first half.

At the end of the first quarter, third baseman Cal Ripken, pitcher Scott Erickson, center fielder Brady Anderson, catcher Lenny Webster and right fielder Eric Davis walked onto the field, where Ravens vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome presented them with Ravens jerseys.

Morris isn't distracted

Ravens running back Bam Morris, who'll play five more games before he has a bail revocation hearing Nov. 25 in Texas, said his court problems aren't a distraction.

"I can't worry about that," he said. "If I worry about that, I can't focus on football. I have no control. Whatever happens, happens."

Brigance back in town

There was a familiar face in the visitors' dressing room, former Baltimore Stallions linebacker O. J. Brigance.

Picked up as a free agent last year, Brigance, a defensive mainstay on the CFL championship team, is playing on special teams with Miami but not complaining.

"It felt good just being back in this stadium," he said. "A lot of old Stallions fans came around to say hello and hug me. I'm not used to playing on special teams, but I'm getting better at it each week."

Brigance also left with a special gift, as stadium administrator Jobie Waldt presented him with an old Stallions helmet.

McDuffie is 'big time'

Wide receiver O. J. McDuffie was singled out for praise by Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino after making seven catches for 77 yards, most of the receptions coming in third-down situations.

"O. J. is a just big-time player," Marino said. "He's a tough guy who'll do anything to help you win. He'll make a big block, come over the middle and make a big catch. And when he makes a catch, he'll always find a way to turn it into a first down."


Et cetera

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