Making decision on punter no snap Montgomery, Richardson very close in performance

August 29, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- They have run neck-and-neck since the beginning of training camp and through four preseason games.

And after last night's 14-6 victory over the New York Giants, punters Greg Montgomery and Kyle Richardson are separated only by a decision that will be reached among the Ravens' coaching staff and personnel department by tomorrow, when the team must finalize its 53-man roster.

Is it Montgomery, the 10-year veteran who has spent two full seasons here? Or Richardson, the second-year player with the intriguing potential? Experience over youth or youth over experience?

"At my age, I like youth. I don't know that we came to a decision after today's punting. It's a hard decision," said coach Ted Marchibroda, who then hinted that he'd already decided. "We could go either way. It's one of those things where you don't know [if you've made the right call] until after you've done it."

Montgomery and Richardson came into the preseason finale separated by only one yard in average distance. Each had shown the same proficiency with distance, hang time and touch inside the 20.

Last night was no different, and the Ravens' sputtering offense put both punters on the field for their share of opportunities.

Richardson turned in an excellent effort. He averaged 39.3 yards on four punts, and three times he pinned the Giants inside their 20. He also hit a 54-yarder.

Montgomery, who has answered Richardson's challenges gamely all summer, answered again last night. In three attempts, Montgomery averaged 46 yards, hit a 52-yarder for his game-high and dropped one inside the New York 20.

"I've enjoyed the competition in camp," said Montgomery, who had no competition in last year's training camp. "It was a good experience. It kept me focused every day. It fuels the fire. You wake up in the morning knowing that you've got to compete every day. That's good."

Said Richardson: "I don't know what [the Ravens] are going to do, but it's going to be an uneasy time for me. I'm not looking at this negatively at all. I think I've held my own. There's no reason to dwell on any missed opportunities. I can't do anything more.

"I know I'm going to be kicking somewhere in this league. If not here, someplace else."

If the Ravens decide to go with the more seasoned Montgomery, it would mark a fine comeback for him after an inconsistent 1997 season and a strange off-season.

Montgomery, after a strong 1996 season, battled more than an inconsistent 1997 on the field, when he ranked among the league's lower-rated punters with a 42.7-yard average. He suffers from bipolar disorder, a condition that causes soaring emotional highs and equally devastating lows. Montgomery controls the disorder through medication, nutrition and a strenuous workout schedule.

What's more, near the end of this year's minicamp, he fractured his right foot when he kicked a video camera during the filming of a Ravens' commercial at the team's Owings Mills facility. He was still hurting when he reported to training camp. Not anymore.

As for what he expects this weekend, Montgomery refused to predict.

"I'm not going to call that shot," he said. "I like Baltimore. I'd like to be here. The rest is up to them."

Pub Date: 8/29/98

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