Harbaugh still trying to find comfort level Despite history with coach, QB is 'fine-tuning' game

Ravens Notebook

August 22, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF Staff writer Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.

If Ravens quarterback Jim Harbaugh is only 80 percent comfortable with the offense after two preseason games, then the Ravens might have a pretty good season.

Harbaugh, signed by the Ravens on Feb. 14, has completed 19 of 25 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. He has thrown only one interception, which bounced off an official's head into a defender's arms.

He has complemented a running game as the Ravens have averaged 366.5 yards a games, 183.5 rushing. He has also answered a lot of questions about his arm strength.

"I still have a ways to go before everything totally clicks," Harbaugh said. "I hate to put it in percentages, but I guess I have about 80 percent of the offense down. We're still adding and fine-tuning."

Harbaugh was expected to catch on to the offense quickly because he played for coach Ted Marchibroda in Indianapolis, but the blocking assignments are not exactly the same. The terminology has changed some, too.

"I find myself thinking sometimes," Harbaugh said. "You've always got to think, but I want to get to the point where I see a look, know it and then throw, not see it, look, think about it and then throw. It has to happen quickly, like it's second nature."

Harbaugh has been low-key in the locker room and doesn't have the star presence usually associated with quarterbacks. He is enjoying this team.

"I'm happy, having fun," Harbaugh said. "This team is jelling. Guys like one another."

Washington on mend

Reserve defensive end Keith Washington left the practice field Wednesday because he had his knee rolled on in practice. )) Washington, who played well last season, was back on the field yesterday at full strength.

L The injury was diagnosed as a bruised knee, Washington said.

"It's a whole lot better than yesterday," he said. "I've got to go at full strength. Once you touch the field, you've got to come with it."

Preseason games are sometimes lackluster, but Philadelphia Eagles coach Ray Rhodes is expected to have his team primed for Monday night's game against the Ravens.

"This is our first road game coming up and it's important," Rhodes said. "It's important to our football team regardless if it's preseason or not. We want to try to get started on the right foot as far as playing on the road. So we'll work a little harder this week and come out of this thing with a win some kind of way."

Ready to rumble

In this corner, we have 5-foot-11 and 211-pound running back Errict Rhett. In another corner, we have 6-1, 240-pound linebacker Ray Lewis. Both were state wrestling champions in Florida, Rhett winning two consecutive titles.

Rhett says he has one more match left in Baltimore before he might retire and that's with Lewis. Since signing with the team in February, Rhett has wrestled with 6-6, 323-pound guard Jeff Blackshear and 6-3, 320-pound defensive tackle Tony Siragusa after practice.

Rhett says he is unbeaten.

"I'm a state champ, neighborhood champ, everything champ," Rhett said. "I used to wrestle so much that I didn't even have a childhood. In January, you're going to see me on TV in the Ultimate Fighting Championships.

"You know, I've been wrestling linemen since I started playing football. I ran through the Buccaneers team and I've been through this one. I got one more left, and he knows who I'm talking about."

Let the trash-talking begin.

"During the off-season, we're going to go at it," Lewis said. "Right after the off-season program, we're going to get everybody around the ring. And if your butt gets thrown out the ring, then they're going to throw you back in. Last man standing wins."

Harris fitting in

Safety Corey Harris, who was signed earlier in the week, said he is learning the Ravens' defensive system quickly after only four days of practice.

"It's coming along good," Harris said. "My coaches and teammates are doing a good job of helping me out. The defense is pretty much the same to what I'm used to, but there are a few more details It's a matter of going over the playbook on a two-a-day process since I missed two-a-day practices."

Harris played one season for the Miami Dolphins, but he was waived in training camp. He said that eight teams had contacted him to try out, but he only went to three, with Baltimore being the final one.

"It's a good situation for me here," Harris said. "This organization is close to winning and I wanted the opportunity to be here."

Another shot for Richardson

Marchibroda said that he will play starters sparingly in next Friday's exhibition against the New York Giants, meaning third-string quarterback Wally Richardson will get another opportunity to play.

Richardson, a second-year player out of Penn State, made his first game appearance against the New York Jets last Saturday and is looking forward to playing again in the final two preseason games.

"I am approaching this week feeling like I am going to play a lot," Richardson said. "I'll be looking at lots of tape, looking at the different coverages I might see and just get familiar with the game.

pTC "The whole time I've been here, I've tried to prepare myself for playing in a game and staying positive. With that, I think positive things will happen and I'll be able to do the job I am capable of doing."

Miscellaneous

The Ravens have sold out four of eight regular-season home games -- against Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Oakland and Indianapolis. Only 2,500 tickets remain for the Tennessee game Oct. 11. "The tickets are going faster than anticipated," team vice president Kevin Byrne said. The players' locker room at Owings Mills has been remodeled. The Ravens Foundation for Families has donated Macintosh computer equipment, valued at more than $13,000, to the Boys and Girls Club of Central Maryland. Siragusa left practice early yesterday with neck and back spasms.

Pub Date: 8/22/98

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