This is not the way the preseason was supposed to begin for James Roe.
When the Ravens face Chicago tonight in their new stadium at Camden Yards, Roe will be on the sideline, nursing a tender hamstring. Not exactly the course he had in mind when he came to training camp to battle veteran Floyd Turner for the No. 3 receiver position.
"There's no question this isn't good," said Roe, a third-year receiver out of Norfolk State. Roe made noticeable strides in 1997 by catching seven passes for 124 yards over 12 games. Five of his receptions went for first downs.
Roe had problems with a quadriceps muscle earlier in the week, before his hamstring caused him to miss his first practices on Thursday. He did not participate in the team's walk-through yesterday.
"I've been working hard, and I caught an unfortunate break," Roe said. "But I can't worry about that. I just have to worry about making plays when I do come back. Everything will be OK."
Roe said he expects to practice Monday.
In addition to Roe, defensive tackle Martin Chase (knee), tight end Brian Kinchen (thumb), defensive back Donny Brady (knee), cornerback Alfred Jackson (hamstring), running back Tony Vinson (shoulder) and fullback Rob Robertson (knee) will sit out tonight's game with injuries.
Robertson, a rookie free agent out of Northwestern State (La.), tore cartilage in his right knee while running sprints at the end of Thursday afternoon's workout. He said he expects to find out by Monday if he is out for the season.
Defensive variety show
Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said the Ravens probably will show a variety of blitz packages -- including a zone variety that calls for defensive ends Michael McCrary and Rob Burnett to drop into coverage.
Coach Ted Marchibroda has said he would like to see his starters play for up to a half before rotating the backups into the game. On defense, the players who figure to have the most first-half playing time are cornerback DeRon Jenkins, safety Kim Herring, and outside linebackers Peter Boulware and Jamie Sharper.
The Ravens will be cautious with cornerback Rod Woodson, safety Stevon Moore and their first-string defensive line, which features McCrary, Burnett and tackle Tony Siragusa. Each of them is not far removed from post-surgery knee problems.
Rookie wide receiver Pat Johnson enjoyed a fine moment at the team's first appearance at Camden Yards. Johnson stretched out to make an outstanding catch of a long Eric Zeier pass down the middle of the field. He'll try to come up with an encore tonight.
Johnson will run with the second team of receivers, but he also could be the first Raven to touch the ball if they win the coin toss. Johnson is on the first kickoff receiving team with Tyrone Hughes. Jermaine Lewis is on the second team.
"I'm ready to go. If I get the opportunity to make a big play, I'll make one. If I get the opportunity to make two, I'll make two," Johnson said. "Expect some things to happen."
Punter Greg Montgomery's attempt to secure a roster spot starts in earnest with tonight's effort. Free agent Kyle Richardson also has performed well.
"Greg is punting much better now than he was at this time last year," Marchibroda said. "But he also has some good competition. Neither one of them is a lock."
Pub Date: 8/08/98