A secondary study in pain Moore among Ravens grinning, bearing it

October 25, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Amid the collection of ice bags and bandages that symbolizes the Ravens' secondary, veteran strong safety Stevon Moore stands out like a poster boy.

Moore worked out yesterday with a sore groin muscle, which he injured during last week's 24-13 loss to Miami. Also, the right knee he hurt during week two against Cincinnati is still bothering him. And, occasionally, the pain in his left knee reminds him of his arthroscopic surgery nine months ago.

Through it all, through two seasons of nagging hurts to injuries of more severity, Moore has yet to miss a start in a Ravens uniform. And he isn't about to miss tomorrow's date with the Redskins.

Not that he feels he has much of a choice.

"I don't like being in that training room. I don't like looking at my medical sheet, which is about this thick," said Moore, spreading his hands about six inches apart. "It seems like I can't get over that hump.

"What puts more concern on my behalf is we're going into this

[Washington] game limited with defensive backs. I don't understand why we've got so many guys hurt, but we do."

Moore has a point. Let's take a look into the Ravens' training room.

There's veteran cornerback Eugene Daniel nursing two sore hamstrings, which he strained on the same play in last week's Miami loss. There's free safety Rondell Jones, bothered by a groin injury, on top of the knee and shoulder ailments he has endured.

Those injuries figure to put more pressure on the Ravens' youthful defensive backs in tomorrow's pivotal matchup in Landover.

Although he ran well on the side the past two days, Daniel did not practice all week and most likely will only be available off the bench against the Redskins. And, whether or not he starts, Jones will not be expected to play the entire game.

Under that scenario, the Ravens will be calling on second-year right cornerback DeRon Jenkins to make his first professional start. In addition, safety Kim Herring can expect to see the most playing time of his rookie season.

"We feel real good about Kim, and with Rondell banged up the way he is, we're not afraid to put Kim in there. He's going to play a lot," Marchibroda said.

"Our front seven is probably the healthiest they've been all year," he added. "But our secondary is a little dinged up."

Marchibroda, who complained earlier this week about how the Ravens' defense had helped turn around slumping players like San Diego wide receiver Tony Martin, Pittsburgh quarterback Kordell Stewart and Miami running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar during the team's three-game losing streak, is hoping they don't do struggling Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte the same favor.

The coach is counting on his front seven to shut down Washington's running game, get the Redskins into more third-and-long situations and apply enough pressure on Frerotte to keep the Ravens' secondary from getting exposed again.

The Ravens reach the season's midpoint tomorrow with the lowest-ranked pass defense in the NFL. Frerotte has completed just 50.7 percent of his 213 passes, has already thrown nine interceptions and holds a quarterback rating of 72.2, or 11th in the NFC.

But, even though Redskins wide receiver Michael Westbrook is out with a knee injury, the Ravens are worried about veterans Henry Ellard and Leslie Shepherd. Ellard has only caught 14 passes, but still owns two of the most dependable hands in the business and has averaged 16.4 yards per catch. Shepherd leads the NFC with an average of 20.3 yards per reception.

"He [Frerotte] is a guy who might get them going. He's definitely a focus point for us," Moore said. "The difference between the wins and the losses is the big plays are being made against us now. In the games we were winning, we were making the big plays that helped us pull games out."

If Jenkins falters, the performance of the Ravens' pass defense could come down to how long and effectively Daniel can go. Daniel is counting on his track record as a fast healer. In his 14 seasons, he has started an average of 13 games.

"I want to say I'm still a fast healer," the 36-year-old said. "I'm glad I only strained [the hamstrings]. If I had pulled them, I wouldn't have been out there running today. It's gotten a lot better from day to day this week, and it feels good right now.

"You just have to put [an injury] out of your mind and do your job. I'm watching the World Series and I see [Florida third baseman] Bobby Bonilla playing with a pulled hamstring in cold weather. You just go out and play."

Next for Ravens Opponent: Washington Redskins

Site: Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, Landover

When: Tomorrow, 1 p.m.

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

Line: Redskins by 6

Pub Date: 10/25/97

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