Turner hopes to see what a difference a year makes Receiver eager to play after injury-riddled 1996, then sitting out 1997

July 26, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht XTC | Gary Lambrecht XTC,SUN STAFF

Wide receiver Floyd Turner can sense the rust disappearing with each pattern he runs, with each pass-coverage scheme he recognizes, with each pass he grabs.

The last time he wore a uniform was with the Ravens in 1996. That Turner year turned out to be the strangest, most frustrating season of his eight-year career. Shortly after reporting to training camp, Turner injured his left knee and had arthroscopic surgery. After coming back in time for the fourth game of the regular season, he suffered injuries to his calf and hamstring that kept him out of two more games.

He ended up with a respectable 38 catches for 461 yards and two touchdowns.

"It's almost like that whole season wasn't meant to happen," Turner said.

Getting back on the field has been invigorating to Turner, who is looking to win the No. 3 receiver job. His injuries have healed. His legs have a bounce to them that comes with being away from the strain of the game for a year.

Not that he didn't enjoy his time off. He dabbled in real estate and helped run a construction company back home in Houston. He ended up dissolving the company. And he never lost sight of the game.

"I was sure I wanted to play, and I worked out like I was going to play again," said Turner, 32. "I still had all of this energy and nothing to do with it. It got totally boring at times. But life is about more than football. I realize that when I retire from this game, I'll still be very young."

Turner has looked strong in his first three workouts. Just ask quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who played with Turner in Indianapolis in 1994 and 1995.

"Floyd has proven he's a gamer who makes plays, and he looks faster. He doesn't look like he's missed a step at all," Harbaugh said.

Turner said, "I'm getting some of the rust off my back. No matter how hard you work out [away from the game], once you get here things get much more intense. You've got to get used to the throws, the routes, the timing. It's like a feeling-out thing. It takes a few days. But since I sat out for a season, I don't have any time to waste."

Brady injury not serious

The initial word on third-year defensive back Donny Brady is encouraging. Brady injured his right knee during Friday's first full-squad workout.

A magnetic resonance imaging test revealed a bone bruise just below the knee. Brady probably will not need surgery, but team officials will wait about two more days before conducting another MRI because of swelling.

Shaky footing

A number of players have complained about the footing on the Western Maryland College field.

After three days of rookie practices, a noticeable amount of ruts already had appeared. On Thursday, before a thunderstorm ended a workout an hour early, hardly a receiver completed a pattern without falling down. And after the first full-squad practice Friday, some veterans grumbled.

"It's sticky. It just seemed like every step was like going up a hill or down a hill, instead of level," offensive lineman Alex Bernstein said.

"It felt a lot better [yesterday]," said defensive tackle Tony Siragusa. "It's like that on a lot of new fields. You're not sure what kind of shoes to wear to give you the best footing until you step out there. It's a little soft from the rain."

Defensive end Rob Burnett dismissed those complaints.

"Hey, it's not that bad. It could be AstroTurf, and we could all be really hurting," he said. "You can complain about anything at camp. I don't like the soap they use in the laundry, because it makes me itch.

"Everything at camp is an adjustment. The first couple of days are all about getting your legs under you, getting used to contact, getting used to technique, your shoes, the pads, the field, everything from soup to nuts. You can pick anything to complain about. Just turn it off and go."

Pub Date: 7/26/98

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