Starks is ready -- to stay out Top pick bides his time

Ravens notebook

Modell: 'We don't cave'

Williams visits camp

July 24, 1998|By Mike Preston and Eduardo A. Encina | Mike Preston and Eduardo A. Encina,SUN STAFF

Ravens top draft pick Duane Starks said yesterday that he is prepared to hold out indefinitely.

Starks, a cornerback out of the University of Miami and the No. 10 pick overall, missed the third day of training camp and did not report with the veterans to Western Maryland College.

The sides have traded proposals, with the Ravens offering a multi-year package worth nearly $8.5 million. Drew Rosenhaus, Starks' agent, said the deal doesn't hinge on getting voidables, and Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, said Rosenhaus's last proposal did not contain a voidable clause.

Rosenhaus has said several deals negotiated before and after the 10th slot were "bad" deals and he feels Starks deserves more because he would challenge second-year player DeRon Jenkins for a starting job. Several prominent agents agree with Rosenhaus.

The Ravens counter that their offer is a market deal.

"My agent is still working the contract," Starks said. "I don't know what's going on. I'm just playing it by ear. If I have to wait it out to get what I deserve, then that's what I have to do. They're kind of low and I don't know why. It bothers me in a sense. I'm ready to practice. I'm ready to come in."

Owner Art Modell said the Ravens aren't about to cave in and that the sticking point is the amount of the signing bonus -- that Rosenhaus basically wants the bonus the Ravens have offered for six years in a five-year deal.

"Nothing has developed," said Modell, who won in his holdout confrontation with outside linebacker Peter Boulware last year, when Boulware was the No. 4 selection overall.

"I think people would have learned from the Boulware experience last year. The agent wants us to cave. We don't cave. I didn't spend 38 years in this business caving to the advantage of agents. We want to be reasonable and fair. We are fair."

The Ravens sweetened the deal yesterday, adding an incentive or escalator clause.

"I'm not asking them to cave in," Rosenhaus said. "I'm asking for a fair deal. We made a small amount of progress today and each day we've had communication. In situations like this, we both have to compromise and we're slowly getting to that point."

Williams makes appearance

Starting center Wally Williams, the team's franchise player who has promised a two-week holdout because of his dispute with the team over a long-term contract, made a surprise visit to camp.

Williams looked fit and ready to go, but said he still won't practice with the team until after 14 days. He did receive some compliments from assistant coaches on his appearance -- he appeared to be at or close to his required weight of 315 -- which team administrators said was a concern during brief negotiations months ago.

"Hey, I came here to say hello to the guys," Williams said. "There's nothing wrong with that. We're in this together and I have nothing against them. This is all about getting paid the market value."

One other player whose weight the team has been concerned about, defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, also showed up looking fit. He arrived on a purple Harley-Davidson.

Slipping, sliding

Yesterday marked the last day of camp before veterans report this afternoon, meaning rookies and free agents will get a lot fewer repetitions. It didn't help that showers caused practice to be cancelled an hour early.

Rookie wide receiver Patrick Johnson was one of a few who didn't allow the rain to have an effect. While several receivers slipped running patterns, Johnson caught several passes.

"I come from a place where you get used to playing on wet surfaces, in Oregon," Johnson said. "But it was rough out there. You just have to have good foot control and hand control. I slipped a few times. You just have to get back up and keep with it."

Waiting to watch

Most of the rookies and draft picks are eager for the vets to arrive so that the learning process can move up a notch.

"We had to take advantage these past three days," rookie defensive tackle Martin Chase said. "But I'm looking forward to the veterans coming so we can pay attention to what they're doing, and that'll make us better players."

Rookie linebacker Ron Rogers said: "This was definitely the last day that we would get reps like this, and from here on out, we're going to have to go out and earn our reps."

But it's been a different story for rookie quarterback Bill Ward, who's already benefited from a veteran presence, since quarterbacks had to report with the rookies on Monday, the first day of camp.

A free agent out of Georgetown, Ward is battling second-year player Wally Richardson for the third quarterback spot, and to Ward, that's been a help.

"It's more of a subtle friendship with Wally rather than competition," Ward said. "He's been helping me out. With reads and stuff, I can just check with Wally."

Experience counts

Veterans began pouring into the Ravens' team hotel in Westminster yesterday, among them running back Jay Graham, who in his second year said he comes to camp wiser than in his first season.

"I think this year, I'm coming in knowing how to keep myself mentally focused." Graham said. "I know what training camp is all about and I've learned all the little things that help you get through it, like not turning the air-conditioner on full blast because you'll cramp up -- little things like that."

Camp will be critical to Graham because he will be fighting newcomer Errict Rhett for the starting halfback position.

Byner breaking in

Former Ravens running back Earnest Byner is becoming accustomed to his new, off-field position. Byner is now the team's player development director.

"I have a job to do now, just like I had a job when I was playing. Whatever I can do to help the team win and the players to develop, I will do," Byner said. "It's not that much different."

Pub Date: 7/24/98

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