Weighty Morris given night off Fullback is impressed by old team's new digs

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

August 09, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht and Eduardo A. Encina | Gary Lambrecht and Eduardo A. Encina,SUN STAFF

One of the first players spotted during pre-game warm-ups was former Ravens running back Bam Morris, who signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears last week.

Morris did not play last night, and judging by how heavy he looked running sprints two hours before kickoff, it was probably a wise move by coach Dave Wannstedt. Morris signed with Chicago the day after Kansas City worked him out and said no thanks.

"They asked me [at Kansas City] what kind of shape I was in on a scale of one to 10, and I said about five," said Morris, who declared his weight to be 249 pounds, but appeared to be at least 20 pounds heavier. "They gave me a pretty intense workout, and I was tired. I guess they wanted me to be in tip-top shape.

"I think this is a good situation for me. They [the Bears] want to pound the ball a lot, and that's my game."

As for the Ravens' new stadium, Morris gave it a thumbs-up.

"It's sure better than Memorial. This is top of the line," he said. "Me and Ray Lewis used to talk about this place being our house. Now it's going to be Ray's house. I've got to move on. Chicago is going to be my house."

Snap troubles

The loss of Brian Kinchen to a thumb injury was felt during last night's game. Kinchen, expected back in about a month, is the team's primary long snapper.

The Ravens, who signed 10-year veteran Harper La Bel to fill Kinchen's spot, had their share of problems in the snapping game. Late in the third quarter, holder Greg Montgomery had to turn his body about 180 degrees to field La Bel's errant snap. Montgomery recovered impressively, giving kicker Matt Stover a chance to boot a 28-yard field goal, although a holding penalty nullified the score.

On the ensuing 38-yard field goal by Stover, Montgomery plucked La Bel's low snap off the grass before setting up a perfect hold.

Slot shifts

The Ravens have rotated a handful of receivers into the slot position during training camp, including Floyd Turner, James Roe, Ryan Yarborough and even Jermaine Lewis, who expects to play primarily at wide receiver this season.

Roe sat out last night's game with a tender hamstring.

Into the slot stepped Yarborough, who could be battling for the final receiver spot on the team. Yarborough caught three passes for 30 yards.

Ogden's big shadow

Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden has been a presence in training camp thus far, but that's nothing new for the 6-foot-8, 325-pound All-Pro.

Ogden, a third-year player out of UCLA, was one of the centerpieces the Ravens wanted to build around when they made him their first draft pick since relocating the franchise from Cleveland. Now, after a Pro Bowl season, Ogden is a major part of a talented offensive line that includes Orlando Brown, Jeff Blackshear and Wally Williams when he returns from a holdout. When you first see Ogden, the thing that comes to mind is his size, but Ogden said that size is just one aspect of being a great player.

"It helps to be big, and a lot of people are big but they can't play football," Ogden said. "It's not all about size. It's about technique for as long as I can remember -- but I do like to kick a little butt."

As Ogden, who turned 24 last month, attempts to continue his All-Pro play, he said that the pressure to play well comes mostly from within.

"I try to go out there and play my best," Ogden said. "And if I feel like I'm playing badly, then that's all the pressure I need. The pressure from outside is not nearly as great as the pressure I put on myself to perform."

Graham gets start

Ravens running back Jay Graham was named the team's starting tailback on Thursday. Graham, whose training camp battle with trade acquisition Errict Rhett for the starting spot has been one of the most intriguing battles in camp, started three games last year as a rookie after Morris was suspended.

Graham has spent most of training camp getting used to the Ravens' new two-back offensive scheme, a set that Graham said he has knowledge of since his college days at Tennessee.

"I've always liked running out of the two-back set. I ran out of it in college," Graham said. "We've got a lot of two-back formations now. It's different from a year ago, but not difficult to learn."

Garner getting his kicks in

This time last year Ravens kicker Nelson Garner was getting ready for his senior year at Division I-AA James Madison. Now, the free-agent rookie is fighting for a spot on the Ravens' roster.

Garner was brought in to put some heat on kicker Matt Stover, who missed his last five field-goal attempts of 1997. During practice, Garner has gotten most of his playing time on kickoff drills. He figures to see some action on kickoffs during the preseason, but beyond that Garner is unsure of where his future lies.

"I think I've come in here and shown that I can kick. It's been a

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