Holmes hits ground running this season Year under belt helps reserve back make favorable impression


August 02, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

A year ago, Priest Holmes was a rookie free-agent running back from Texas who was a long shot to make the Ravens. A year later, he should play a major part on special teams and has become the No. 3 running back behind Jay Graham and Errict Rhett.

While running with the offense, Holmes has broken off several long runs in practice, much to the delight of coach Ted Marchibroda. He has filled in for Rhett, who is expected to join the team today after spending the past 2 1/2 days with his family in Florida because his brother was in an automobile accident.

"I'm happy with my play in training camp," Holmes said. "One year under your belt can make a lot of difference. I'm starting on several special teams and backing up on several others."

"It's his second year and he understands his role," Marchibroda said. "He is performing much better and running the ball much better. We're developing confidence in him to the point where if one of our two top runners goes down, he can step in and do the job for you. We'll see how he does in preseason games."

Injuries a minor problem

Marchibroda said he wasn't too concerned about the recent buildup of camp injuries. With the exception of guard Sale Isaia's torn Achilles' (out for the season) and tight end Brian Kinchen's torn tendon in his right thumb (out four to six weeks), most of the injuries haven't required players to miss substantial practice time.

"Really, there haven't been many of a serious nature," Marchibroda said. "We've had three good days of practice in a row so there aren't many concerns. As a matter of fact, this has been our best week of practice since we've been here."

The silver lining to the rash of minor injures is that several backups, like defensive end Mike Frederick, are getting more repetitions with the first unit. Frederick has been filling in for Rob Burnett, who has missed the last several days of practice with bronchitis.

"At this point, we have to get his strength back up before he gets back on the field," defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said of Burnett. "Mike has had two good days of practice and it has been beneficial for him to get repetitions with the first unit."

"Mike has been holding his own, making his presence felt," Marchibroda said. "This is a big year for him."

Coaching is no sweat

Veteran cornerback Rod Woodson had a day off from practice, but he didn't spend it standing on the sideline. Woodson worked with secondary coach Alvin Reynolds coaching a lot of the younger players.

Woodson, 33, has no plans to go into coaching when his football career is finished.

"Nah, I don't think so. I have no plans to do it," Woodson said. "You have more responsibility, spend more time than when you're playing. I'm not ready to commit to that when I'm finished playing."

But Woodson sure looked comfortable out there pointing and showing players how to position themselves.

"I was comfortable because I wasn't out there sweating," Woodson said, laughing.

Talking about QBs

Tight end Eric Green said the major difference between quarterbacks Vinny Testaverde and Jim Harbaugh is that Harbaugh is more vocal.

"Vinny was a good quarterback to me," Green said. "He had all the tools to be a great quarterback in this league, but the team decided to go in another direction. They wanted a leader.

"Vinny was a leader on the field, but just a quiet leader. A lot of people thought he wasn't because he was quiet, but that was just his demeanor. I had no problems working with Vinny."

Bigger band sound

The Ravens have pumped $1 million into the new marching band, which has 200 musicians and is the largest of its kind in the country. The team has all new instruments and uniforms and members are from Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina.

"We have a much more powerful sound," band director John Ziemann said. "The old Colts band couldn't touch this."

Ziemann said the Ravens are still auditioning musicians. Interested parties can call 410-557-8335.

Camp update

Wally Gator: Center Wally Williams, in Florida, hinted that his holdout might last until the second week of August or until the second preseason game. He previously said the holdout would last only two weeks, which would have put him in training camp near the end of this week.

King of the autographs: Maybe no player signs more than receiver Michael Jackson, who usually stays after practice for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

Injuries: Cornerback Donny Brady (knee), fullback Tony Vinson (separated shoulder), receiver James Roe (knee), safety Rondell Jones (knee) and defensive tackle Martin Chase (knee) did not practice. Chase suffered his injury early in the morning practice and did not participate in the afternoon session. The injury is not believed to be serious.

Potts shots: After taking two days off to rest a sore knee, fullback Roosevelt Potts was back in practice breaking off a long run in the morning practice and then crushing safety Stevon Moore as the lead blocker on a running play.

Starks update: This is the 12th day of the holdout. Here's what Duane Starks' agent, Drew Rosenhaus had to say: "The situation is totally unpredictable right now. We're trying to compromise, to meet us halfway."

Fear factor: One rookie free agent quit the team on the morning after he had gotten into a fight at practice with who else, right offensive tackle Orlando Brown. There is strong speculation that a teammate of the 6-foot-6, 323-pound Brown told the player he )) better keep his head on a swivel for the rest of the camp.

Help wanted: Without cornerback Rod Woodson on the field, the Ravens' secondary gave up more long passes yesterday than usual. Reserve safety Ralph Staten had a particularly tough time matching up with tight end Eric Green.

Pub Date: 8/02/98

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