Marchibroda: Seize the moment Optimistic coach: 'Our goal for the year is the playoffs'

Ravens notebook

September 01, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The week before his previous two season openers here, Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda talked about winning enough games to make the playoffs. Remember the "Why Not Us" slogan from 1996?

Yesterday, Marchibroda exuded a sense of urgency about Sunday's regular-season opener against Pittsburgh, and about making it to the postseason with this team -- which has won 10 games in two years -- for the first time.

"The fans are going to be excited, and we have to keep them excited," said Marchibroda, referring to the sellout crowd that awaits at Later To Be Named Stadium at Camden Yards.

"Our goal for the year is the playoffs. It's going to be tough. It's going to require a lot of sacrifice. Our schedule is as tough as it's ever been, and it's always tough to get to the playoffs in this league.

"This is the most talent we've had [since he's been here]. We had a great off-season. We're going into this year in a good frame of mind, and we're healthy. This is the most positive feeling I've had going into a season."

Ofodile has backing

Count tight end Eric Green among those not in favor of the decision to waive fellow tight end A.J. Ofodile, who finished the preseason with a team-high 12 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown.

Ofodile was a victim of unique circumstances as much as anything. The Ravens, uncomfortable with the notion of entering Sunday's game depending on backup tight end Brian Kinchen to snap on punts, field goals and extra points -- Kinchen snapped yesterday for the first since returning from thumb surgery -- retained Harper Le Bel as insurance.

The team also decided to carry six receivers instead of five, which left them in no position to carry four tight ends. In short, receiver Ryan Yarborough survived the final cut at Ofodile's expense. Marchibroda also expressed doubts about Ofodile's blocking.

"A.J. could just look and learn [about blocking] from me and Ken [Whisenhunt, tight ends coach]," said Green. "Personally, I'm not happy about it. I would rather have kept five receivers instead of six.

"I hope we get him back. I think A.J. is the tight end of the future around here. For a guy who worked so hard, it's hard to see him let go like that. I don't want him to let his confidence suffer. He'll get back on his feet. This is just a minor setback. You're talking to a guy who's been released."

Kinchen reported few problems with his right thumb after snapping to punter Kyle Richardson for about 10 minutes. Kinchen said he asked to snap against the Giants last Friday, but to no avail.

"I've been feeling useless, just standing around all this time," Kinchen said.

Flynn makes mark

Second-year offensive lineman Mike Flynn came into training camp as a dark horse to make the 53-man roster. Flynn parlayed a tough off-season of work, improvement on the field, his versatility and the extended absence of center Wally Williams at training camp into a spot on the team.

"I was told it would be an uphill battle, and [line coach] Kirk [Ferentz] told me to come in ready to play guard and center," said Flynn, who beat out Alex Bernstein for the final offensive line spot. "Wally's holdout helped me."

With Williams out, Flynn got more repetitions at center than anticipated.

He also played guard well, and even gave the Ravens another look in the preseason finale, when he had to replace the injured Sammy Williams at right tackle.

"How far [Flynn] has come between last year and this year is unbelievable," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel.

Rhett ready just the same

Marchibroda stuck by his plan to start second-year tailback Jay Graham over Errict Rhett on Sunday, even though Rhett rushed for 203 preseason yards to Graham's 68. Graham averaged 1.9 yards a carry to Rhett's 4.0.

"I feel Errict and [Priest] Holmes had the opportunity to do something. I'm not sure Jay had the opportunity to do anything," said Marchibroda, alluding to the poor offensive line play in the final two games.

Said Rhett: "Not starting is not going to keep me from my mission, from what I want to accomplish. Look around this room. Look at my eyes. Am I ready? Does anyone's eyes look as ready as mine? I came out of my mom's womb ready to play football."

Pub Date: 9/01/98

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