Starks follows in the footsteps of Woodson Rookie cornerback gets on-job lessons from master

Ravens notebook

June 03, 1998|By Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht | Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Ravens No. 1 draft pick and former University of Miami cornerback Duane Starks had his first official day of on-the-job training yesterday. His tutor was Rod Woodson, one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history.

As the Ravens opened their two-week minicamp, Starks was running second team at left cornerback behind Woodson. The 12-year veteran and the rookie had already started to bond. Everywhere Woodson went, Starks was a step behind.

When Woodson talked, Starks listened.

"Sometimes the older players don't take time to teach, but when you have one who does like Rod Woodson, then you learn as much as possible," Starks said. "Already, you can see the receivers are bigger, faster. The biggest difference is the routes and how precise they run them."

It was a relatively light day for the Ravens. No shoulder pads, just helmets and shorts. But Starks got a brief taste of life against NFL receivers. He got beat occasionally by James Roe. Battles against Michael Jackson and Jermaine Lewis will either come later in the week or in July's training camp.

But Starks had a few heads turning, too.

Woodson said: "He is a good, young player with speed and talent. I remember when I came into the league, I was lucky to have some outstanding coaches and players help me. What I'm trying to do is give him the inside, what may or may not work, what works for me. He is already picking up some things and that's good. He is very coachable and a good athlete, that's a pretty good combination."

Kinchen, Stover on hand

Two of the Ravens' older veterans were newcomers in a sense yesterday, when the team took the field for the first day of minicamp practices.

Tight end Brian Kinchen and kicker Matt Stover, who have spent a combined 18 seasons in the NFL, were among the 83 players at the team's Owings Mills facility. They were also among the few holdover players from 1997 visiting Baltimore for the first time in 1998, since they elected to skip the off-season strength and conditioning program.

Stover, an eight-year veteran, said he has chosen to stay at his Georgetown, Texas, home for the past few off-seasons.

"I stayed [with the team] for the first five off-seasons [1991-1995] in Cleveland, and I figured out what to do to stay in shape," said Stover, who added that his duties as a team representative with the NFL Players Association often conflicted with his workout schedule.

Kinchen, who lives in Baton Rouge, La., said he has always trained on his own in the off-season. He trains daily at a new gym that recently opened near his home.

"I'm running my gassers at 5: 15 a.m., and I'm taking my kids to school by 7," Kinchen said.

Buxton, Kinchen mix it up

In yesterday's morning practice, Kinchen and rookie free-agent linebacker Chris Buxton had a testy exchange during seven-on-seven drills.

Kinchen did not take kindly to Buxton's hands-on coverage technique, and after catching a pass from quarterback Eric Zeier, Kinchen hit Buxton with the football as he headed back to the huddle. Buxton responded with an expletive. Both players resumed the business of the day without further incident.

"I'm used to dealing with rookies," Kinchen said. "I just told the guy it was just a flash of emotion. Don't worry about it."

Rookie signings on agenda

The Ravens typically have waited until the week before training camp to begin signing their draft picks. Pat Moriarty, the team's chief financial officer, said the Ravens could sign some picks this month.

"June might be the time when some things happen. We've had discussions with all of the agents, and we've exchanged proposals," Moriarty said.

Moriarty, who is concentrating on signing the top three choices -- Starks, wide receiver Patrick Johnson and defensive end Martin Chase -- is expected to meet this week with Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for Starks.

Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of player personnel, will work on signing the other four draft picks -- safety Ryan Sutter, linebacker Ron Rogers, offensive lineman Sammy Williams and tight end Cam Quayle.

Et cetera

As expected, center Wally Williams did not show up for practice, leaving second-year man Jeff Mitchell to take his place with the first unit. Meanwhile, Sale Isaia worked with the first group at left guard, the only unsettled position on the offensive line. Baltimore County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger watched practice and visited with team officials yesterday. Free agent offensive tackle Shabaka Abdul-Majid, listed at 6 feet 6, 320 pounds, is the first casualty of minicamp, and he never even got started. The Ravens sent Abdul-Majid home on Monday after he reported for his physical some 20 pounds over his playing weight.

Pub Date: 6/03/98

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