Marchibroda stays mum on QB Coach firm on tomorrow as deadline for naming of Testaverde or Zeier

Ravens notebook

December 09, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

A day after watching backup Eric Zeier turn his first start of 1997 into a 31-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda declined to alter his timetable on naming a starting quarterback for Sunday's Memorial Stadium finale against the Tennessee Oilers.

Marchibroda repeated that he will wait until tomorrow to decide between Zeier and Vinny Testaverde, who sat out with a knee injury and watched Zeier throw for 302 yards and a touchdown.

"It gives me a little more of a chance to think about it, talk to the guys, and it doesn't hurt not to let Tennessee know [so soon]," Marchibroda said. "Anytime you get into a controversial quarterback situation, it's usually not a good thing."

Zeier said, "I don't want to get caught up in that stuff. I just want to help us win."

Testaverde, who said his ailing left knee is feeling "very good," said he thinks he should assume his starting role against the Oilers.

"I'll be honest," Testaverde said. "My position is that I should start this week. But I'm not the coach; I'm one player among many. What kind of a leader would I be if I didn't accept the word of our leader? I'm the starting quarterback unless [Marchibroda] says otherwise. I'm in a tough situation, no question.

"I don't think a player likes to go through some of the things I've gone through this season. When things are going bad, a lot of [the blame] is going to fall on the quarterback. That's life in the NFL. That's why it's great to be a backup."

Boulware's target

Peter Boulware said he always sets personal goals that appear unattainable in order "to push myself." One goal Boulware set for 1997 was to break the rookie NFL record for sacks.

With two games left, Boulware has a team-high 10.5 sacks, two shy of the record shared by Leslie O'Neal, now of the St. Louis Rams, and second-year Arizona Cardinals end Simeon Rice.

"It would cap off a great season [to break the record]. Getting a record in my first year is something I never dreamed about," Boulware said. "Relative to where I was drafted [fourth overall], I guess that would be expected."

Boulware recorded two sacks against Seattle, including a second-quarter hit that was the beginning of a premature end to Warren Moon's afternoon.

Boulware credited teammate and right defensive end Michael McCrary for administering the knockout blow to Moon, six minutes into the third quarter. Moon played one more series, before giving way to backup John Friesz.

"I saw Moon's eyes after that [McCrary] hit, and I knew he was gone," Boulware said.

McCrary blooming

McCrary said that about four weeks ago he noticed his knee injury seemed to be healing noticeably for the first time since arthroscopic surgery four months ago.

His performance Sunday seemed to validate that perception. In an inspired showing against his former team, McCrary led the Ravens with eight tackles, including his third-quarter drilling of Moon, and tipped a Friesz pass late in the fourth quarter that safety Ralph Staten intercepted to preserve the lead.

"I've got more quickness, more movement from side to side now. I don't have to do as much bull rushing," said McCrary, who ranks second on the team with nine sacks and is third with 73 tackles.

Since strong safety Stevon Moore (86 tackles) is out for the season with a knee injury, McCrary has a chance to finish second in tackles, virtually unheard of for a defensive lineman.

"He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played," defensive line coach Jacob Burney said of McCrary.

McCrary's hit on Moon capped off probably his best game of the year.

"It was electrifying," McCrary said. "I knew [Moon was hurt] when I hit him. I kind of patted myself on the back when I stood up. It was a great day because we beat Seattle, and now their chance to make the playoffs is absolutely zero. I'm glad I'm gone."

Moore's surgery

Moore had surgery yesterday to repair osteochondral fractures in his left knee. Team doctors knew about one fracture but discovered a second when they explored the knee. Damaged cartilage was also on the repair list.

Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said the team does not know how long Moore played with such bad knees.

"[Trainer] Bill Tessendorf told me that [Moore] has got to be one of the toughest players he's ever seen," Byrne said.

Guest at school

Boulware will appear at Riviera Beach Elementary School in Pasadena this morning as a guest of Steven Vierra, 10. Vierra's name was randomly selected in the JCPenney/Starter Take A Player contest. A student in each NFL city will take a player to school this month, and the NFL, JCPenney and Starter will donate $1,000 to each school.

After visiting with Vierra's class, Boulware will speak at a special assembly about the value of education.

Miscellaneous

About 3,800 tickets remain for Sunday's game. While the Ravens await word on the possible Pro Bowl selections of left tackle Jonathan Ogden, middle linebacker Ray Lewis and kicker Matt Stover, there is growing sentiment that special teams ace Bennie Thompson should earn a trip to the game. Thompson, one of the league's most renowned coverage people, leads the Ravens with 17 special teams stops.

Pub Date: 12/09/97

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