Graham's sore ankle worsens Rookie RB misses practice, still hopes to play Sunday

Ravens notebook

November 20, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Three days after he rushed for 154 yards on 35 carries, rookie running back Jay Graham was unable to practice.

Graham's sore left ankle had improved remarkably by Monday, but not enough for him to suit up yesterday. Graham, listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Arizona, could practice today on a limited basis.

"It's one of those deals where [Graham] had a little setback between Monday and Tuesday. The soreness actually moved down the side of the ankle, and he is having trouble pushing off," Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf said.

Coach Ted Marchibroda said he expects Graham to play, and Marchibroda would like to start him. If not, he will turn once again to Bam Morris, who practiced with the first team yesterday, two days after he was charged with second-degree assault.

"I've been through this [sharing playing time] before in dTC Pittsburgh with [Erric] Pegram," said Morris, whose sore toe kept him out of the starting lineup against Philadelphia. The Ravens then decided to keep Morris on the sidelines because Graham was so effective.

"I'm always ready to play," Morris said. "It ain't who's starting. It's who's finishing. I'm going to finish it. Controversy doesn't bother me."

Cavil back in

The Ravens set about patching up their offensive line by reinserting Ben Cavil at left guard yesterday in place of the injured Leo Goeas, who will have season-ending surgery in the next two weeks to repair a torn left pectoral muscle.

In addition, starting center Wally Williams worked at yesterday's practice with the second team as a left guard, next to backup center Quentin Neujahr. Also, backup lineman Spencer Folau, inactive for the past five games, got some work at right tackle in place of Orlando Brown.

Marchibroda said Folau will be activated for Sunday's game.

Receiver added

The Ravens addressed their depth problem at receiver -- once again, slot receiver Jermaine Lewis, who missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury, did not practice -- by signing five-year veteran Nate Singleton.

Singleton, 5 feet 11, 190 pounds, had a tryout with the Ravens on Sept. 30, eventually signed with Tennessee, and was released by the Oilers two weeks ago after playing in one game.

Drafted in 11th round out of Grambling in 1991 by the New York Giants, Singleton has played in 41 games, all but one with San Francisco. His most productive season was in 1994, when the 49ers won their last Super Bowl, when he caught 21 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns.

Marchibroda said Singleton would be used this week on special teams.

Jones solid inside

Defensive ends Michael McCrary and Rob Burnett get the sacks on the outside. Right tackle Tony Siragusa is the massive run stopper who has the most recognizable face around town. But the steadiest, most underrated performer on the Ravens' fine front four this year?

Left tackle James Jones, who might be having the best season of his seven-year career. With five games to go, Jones is sixth on the team in tackles (44), third in sacks (five) and tied for the lead in forced fumbles (two).

Jones attributes his solid season to several factors. Last year, he signed with the Ravens just before the season opener. This year, he has been much more comfortable with the Ravens' defensive system, and prepared for 1997 with a full training camp with new faces like Siragusa and McCrary.

Having Larry Webster available as a strong backup also has enhanced Jones' productivity.

"Last year, going for 80 to 90 plays a game wore me down. You're more productive when you're out there for 60 plays," said Jones, who has played through an ankle injury.

"When you're playing as well as we are as a group, it makes it that much easier for me to play better."

Et cetera

Tight end Eric Green had a wisdom tooth removed on Tuesday, and did not practice yesterday. He was listed as probable for Sunday's game. There are approximately 6,200 tickets left for the Cardinals game, which will be blacked out on local television.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Arizona Cardinals

Site: Memorial Stadium

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: No TV/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Line: Ravens by 4

Series: First meeting

Tickets: 6,200 remain

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