McCrary stumbles in sack race AFC leader as Seahawk last season, defensive end promises to 'keep pushing'

Ravens notebook

November 15, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston | Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens right defensive end Michael McCrary looks at his sack total and sighs.

"I'm disappointed. I'm paid to do it, and I haven't done it enough," he said. "I've just got to keep pushing."

As a Seattle Seahawk last year, McCrary led the AFC with 13.5 sacks. The Ravens signed him to a three-year, $6 million contract to fill a glaring, pass-rushing need. Ten games into the season, McCrary is second on the team with four sacks.

"There are reasons [for the decline], but I should be overcoming those reasons," said McCrary, alluding to his arthroscopic knee surgery three months ago.

McCrary's recovery has been frustrating. Persistent soreness in the knee has hindered his weightlifting routine. That has affected the strength in the leg, which is extremely important for an undersized (255 pounds) end like McCrary, who relies heavily on quickness and finesse. His knee problems have made pushing off in the trenches difficult.

"It affects a lot of things, and it's affecting me mentally," he said. "I definitely won't improve if I give up. I want to help out our secondary more."

To his credit, McCrary has shown the all-out hustle that made him so attractive to the Ravens. He ranks third on the team with 50 tackles, a high number for a defensive end.

Alexander denies report

Wide receiver Derrick Alexander denied he has missed any team meetings during this season as previously reported. A team spokesman said Alexander has been late for two meetings, which is why he might not start tomorrow against the Philadelphia Eagles at Memorial Stadium.

If Alexander does not start, the Ravens will start second-year player James Roe in his place, coach Ted Marchibroda said.

Alexander, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, leads the team in catches with 45 for 614 yards and seven touchdowns. Roe, who started his first game Sunday against the Steelers, had two receptions for 15 yards.

Take-aways lacking

The Ravens' struggling offense, which has committed 20 turnovers during the team's 1-5 streak, could use a little help in that area from the defense.

Since linebacker Ray Lewis picked off a deflected Gus Frerotte pass to seal a 20-17 win over Washington three weeks ago, the Ravens have not forced a turnover.

Since intercepting Kordell Stewart three times in the first half of their 42-34 loss to the Steelers on Oct. 5, the Ravens have forced two turnovers in four games.

During the 1-5 streak, they have forced only eight turnovers.

And there is more to the drought than funny bounces of the ball. In last week's blowout loss to the Steelers, safety Rondell Jones dropped an interception in the end zone. Later, cornerback Antonio Langham dropped another interception deep in Ravens territory.

By not securing those turnovers, the Ravens allowed Pittsburgh to score 10 points.

"The defense is playing better. Now, we need more turnovers," Marchibroda said. "You have to play good football, but good football alone is not enough. You also need the big play."

Miscellaneous

Fullback Kenyon Cotton, who suffered a sprained left knee Wednesday and is questionable for tomorrow, practiced yesterday. The Eagles are 11-1 when Ricky Watters rushes for 100 yards. The Ravens have not won at home since Week 2, when they beat Cincinnati, 23-10. Ray Lewis needs three tackles to surpass his total of 142 last season. The Eagles' defense is second only to Dallas in third-down efficiency (29.4 percent). Tomorrow's kickers -- the Ravens' Matt Stover and the Eagles' Chris Boniol -- both played at Louisiana Tech.

Pub Date: 11/15/97

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