Biceps injury may KO Jackson Ravens WR doubtful for Sunday

surgery would end season

November 06, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Ravens wide receiver Michael Jackson, already frustrated during a year in which he has gone six games without scoring a touchdown, could be facing season-ending surgery to repair a torn right biceps muscle.

Jackson, who did not practice yesterday, is listed as doubtful for Sunday night's pivotal AFC Central game in Pittsburgh.

"We're losing a big threat if Michael can't go on Sunday," coach Ted Marchibroda said. "But we're still hopeful that he'll be able to play."

Jackson said he thinks he might be able to play against the Steelers. He is hoping that periodic rest will relieve the pain enough to allow him to suit up this week, and for the remainder of the season.

"It's a matter of me letting it settle and getting the inflammation out of it, or possibly having surgery," Jackson said. "If it doesn't settle, I would have to [have surgery] and it would be a season-ending injury. Right now, I'm playing it by ear, day by day. Hopefully, it won't come to that.

"If the [Pittsburgh] game was today, chances are slim and none [that he would play]. If the game is tomorrow, my thoughts are that I'm playing. As of right now, I'm playing on Sunday."

Jackson originally suffered the injury during the Ravens' 21-17 loss on Sept. 28 in San Diego. It happened on a play in which Jackson made an unsuccessful dive for a Vinny Testaverde pass and landed awkwardly after getting shoved by a Chargers defensive back.

He said his arm and shoulder have bothered him to various degrees since that game. After making his first reception against the New York Jets and getting tackled on Sunday, Jackson felt a burning pain, but finished the game. An MRI on Monday confirmed he had suffered a biceps rupture.

"Every once in a while [in recent weeks], he'd get off the ground and roll his arm," Testaverde said. "You could see something was bothering him, but you were hoping it was just a bruise. Obviously, he's hurt."

Jackson, who said he has lost "about 10 percent" of the strength in his arm, and feels pain when performing such mundane acts as turning a key or a door knob, compared his injury to that of John Elway. After tearing a biceps muscle in August, Elway missed part of the preseason, but has yet to miss a regular-season start. Jackson said he plans to call Elway to discuss the nature of the injury.

Trainer Bill Tessendorf said earlier this week there's a good chance surgery won't be needed. He said there were three or four players with similar injuries when the team was in Cleveland and all were able to return without surgery.

Jackson is second on the team in receptions (41) and receiving yardage (565). But, with only two touchdowns, he is far off his AFC-leading pace of 14 from a year ago. He signed a three-year, $8.4 million contract extension last spring.

If Jackson cannot play on Sunday, the Ravens would be down to four receivers. Most likely, they would start Derrick Alexander and Jermaine Lewis as wide receivers. Lewis is normally a slot back in the team's three-receiver set. Ryan Yarborough would take Lewis' place.

Alexander, a close friend of Jackson's, practiced yesterday wearing Jackson's No. 81 jersey. Jackson has made 32 consecutive starts, third highest on the team.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

Site: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh

When: Sunday, 8 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 2, ESPN/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Line: Steelers by 6 1/2

Series: Steelers lead 2-1

Last meeting: Steelers won, 42-34, on Oct. 5 at Memorial Stadium

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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