Webster questionable for opener Pulled hamstring healing, but Marchibroda cautious

Ravens notebook

September 05, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Defensive tackle Larry Webster is listed as questionable for tomorrow's season opener, which means he has taken a big step after three frustrating weeks.

Webster, the top backup interior player on the line, was enjoying a productive training camp, then played well in the preseason opener against Chicago on Aug. 8. Four days later, while he was doing some extra running at the end of practice, Webster felt a pop in his hamstring.

Little did the six-year veteran know that the rest of the month would be lost.

"I've never pulled a hamstring before," said Webster, who practiced for the second consecutive day yesterday. "I thought it was one of those slight things. It turned out to be a lot worse than I expected."

Coach Ted Marchibroda said there is a chance that Webster will play tomorrow, although he seems to be leaning toward getting Webster ready for the long haul, beginning with next week's game against the New York Jets. Since they have decided to deactivate rookie tackle Lional Dalton this week, the backup duty figures to fall on Mike Frederick tomorrow.

"Sure, I want to be out there on Sunday, but if they don't play me, I'll just have to be ready for the next one, the next 15," Webster said.

Strength coach injured

The day before Webster rejoined the Ravens on the practice field, he was involved in the team's most serious injury of the week.

During Wednesday's workout at the team's Camden Yards stadium, Webster was doing some conditioning with strength coach Jerry Simmons. Specifically, Webster was wearing a harness with a bungee cord attached. As Webster ran, Simmons stood some 15 yards behind him holding the cord, creating necessary resistance.

Suddenly, a cord -- and the metal clip attaching it to the harness -- came undone, whipped back and struck Simmons, shattering a bone in his right hand and injuring his right thigh as well.

Simmons had surgery on Thursday and worked yesterday with his hand heavily wrapped. A plate has been inserted in his hand, and he will need surgery again sometime next month. Complete recovery will take eight to 10 weeks.

"Potentially, it could have been real bad," said Simmons, alluding to a possible head injury. "I've heard of the tubing breaking before, but I've never heard of a clip coming off like that before."

Welcome back, A. J.

The Ravens gave tight end A. J. Ofodile a warm welcome back to their Owings Mills facility this week. Four days after he was waived, Ofodile re-signed. He said he also received calls from Jacksonville and Philadelphia.

"Baltimore was going to have the inside track. As soon as [vice president of player personnel] Ozzie [Newsome] called, I jumped on it," said Ofodile, who becomes the team's No. 3 tight end.

Ofodile's old teammates greeted him with a parade of backslaps and handshakes.

"In most cases, people couldn't care less about the No. 3 tight end. It's really a good feeling to see how people cared about whether I was on this team or not," he said.

Said No. 1 tight end Eric Green: "A.J. is the future."

Ofodile, 6 feet 6, 260 pounds, who is in his second year with the Ravens, made major strides as a receiving threat during the preseason. He caught a team-high 12 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.


Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher is 2-4 in season openers, including 1-1 on the road. Marchibroda is 7-4 in openers. Rookie cornerback Duane Starks, bothered by soreness in his ribs and listed as questionable, said he expects to play against Pittsburgh.

Pub Date: 9/05/98

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