Jets may start Testaverde Parcells wants to see former Ravens QB work with first unit

August 12, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens thought they had seen the last of quarterback Vinny Testaverde, but New York coach Bill Parcells is considering starting him Saturday night when the Jets play host to the Ravens in a preseason game.

After the Ravens cut Testaverde on June 2 and the Jets signed him on June 24, he was expected to back up Glenn Foley. But Parcells suggested otherwise yesterday -- at least for this game.

"There is a chance he would start this game," said Parcells. "I'm not saying that conclusively, but I will tell you there is a pretty good chance he'll start this game. This isn't out of curiosity, this is to get him reps with the first team, definitely. I think I have to give this guy a chance to play with the better guys, or who we think are the better guys."

Testaverde has outplayed Foley in training camp, and in the Jets' 29-15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday he completed 7 of 11 passes for 94 yards while Foley was 6 of 13 for 67 yards. Foley failed to complete six of his first seven passes.

Testaverde has caught on quickly to the Jets' offense, which is similar to the one he ran under coach Ray Perkins when he was with Tampa Bay earlier in his career.

"I just do what I think is right at the time," said Parcells.

The Ravens' secondary wasn't tested against the Bears in the 19-14 preseason win last Saturday night, but the Jets and Testaverde will be throwing more often this time.

"Wow, is that right? He is starting?" asked Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis. "It's different now because it's preseason and you're not trying to kill anybody, not trying to knock somebody out. But we'll get after him a little bit."

"We're good friends, but I'll still try to hit him," said Ravens defensive end Rob Burnett. "I'm not going to try to take his head off. I love the guy. He's great. But the situation has changed. He is with the opposition now. Sure, I'll shake his hand after the game, but there will be nothing like that for 60 minutes on the field."

Testaverde spent the past two seasons with the Ravens and completed 596 of 1,019 passes for 7148 yards and 51 touchdowns. He also had 34 interceptions, but has the distinction of being the team's first Pro Bowl player. Testaverde certainly knows about the Ravens' suspect secondary, ranked No. 28 in pass defense last season.

According to defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, the Ravens don't plan any special strategy for the Jets. Lewis is more concerned about building his own defense.

"Vinny is on the other team now," said defensive tackle James Jones. "I'll get after him like he is a regular opponent. He is a strong, tough guy. If you hit him, you have to run through him and follow through.

"He'll have a little advantage on us because he knows some of he things we do on defense," he said. "He knows about mixed coverages and guys dropping back, stuff he's seen over the years."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: New York Jets

Site: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

When: Saturday, 5 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Pub Date: 8/12/98

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