Harbaugh's elbow is hurting, too Ravens QB's finger improves, but his arm clouds status for Jets

Tough 'getting zip on ball'

Pain 10 days old

Unitas says tendinitis common

September 10, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Mike Preston contributed to this article.

Ravens quarterback Jim Harbaugh, already hampered by a hyperextended ring finger on his throwing hand, pulled out of practice early in yesterday's workout, then revealed he also is suffering from tendinitis in his right elbow.

Harbaugh, listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the New York Jets, said he should know by today if he is capable of playing this week. The Ravens could decide as early as today to replace him with backup Eric Zeier.

"You've got to be able to make the throws. Judging by the way I was throwing, my arm is not performing the way me or my coaches thought it had to today," said Harbaugh, who left Sunday's season-opening, 20-13 loss to Pittsburgh in the second quarter with the finger injury.

"The finger is not my concern right now," he added. "Something has been wrong with my elbow for the last 10 days. I've never had problems with my elbow before. I had problems getting zip on the ball today. [Today] is the pivotal day. It's not a pain thing, it's a performance thing. If I can't do it, Eric will."

Zeier came off the bench to complete 16 of 27 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown, a 64-yarder to wide receiver Jermaine Lewis. Harbaugh played long enough to go 4-for-7 for 33 yards.

"We're going to wait and see until tomorrow with Jim," coach Ted Marchibroda said. "He woke up with some more swelling [in the finger yesterday], but he's made a lot of progress. If he's not happy, I'm certainly not happy, either."

Harbaugh said he was considering acupuncture treatment on his elbow.

Bill Tessendorf, the Ravens' head trainer, said Harbaugh began complaining about persistent pain in the elbow early last week. Tessendorf added that he was concerned Harbaugh would put more stress on the elbow by altering his throwing mechanics as a result of the finger injury.

When Harbaugh began throwing some shaky passes in practice, quarterbacks coach Don Strock and Marchibroda opted for Zeier.

"Today is Wednesday. The feeling of the quarterbacks coach was we have plenty of time. Let's not irritate it," Tessendorf said.

He continued: "Jim has been icing the elbow since training camp, but he hasn't missed any time because of it. I haven't seen one quarterback who hasn't had a case [of tendinitis].

"It's a common problem, and we don't think it's anything out of the ordinary. What I gathered today is the finger felt pretty good. This [the elbow] is a nuisance for him."

Harbaugh, a 12-year veteran who has battled injuries throughout his career, said he could not recall ever having an elbow problem.

Marchibroda, who coached Harbaugh in Indianapolis in 1994 and 1995, said he thought two days of resting the arm last weekend would provide enough relief for Harbaugh.

"I don't think [the tendinitis] is a concern, and it won't have any impact on playing him this Sunday," Marchibroda said.

Hall of Famer and former Baltimore Colts quarterback John Unitas said tendinitis bothered him often.

"I always had a pain in my elbow. The tendons get inflamed from throwing," Unitas said. "It's not career-threatening. You just have to play through the pain.

"All you can do is rest it. There is no cure for it. When the season is over, it basically goes away."

Former Baltimore quarterback Bert Jones added: "If you get your arm in shape, you shouldn't have tendinitis. I base that on throwing a football for 20 years."

NOTES: Wide receiver Michael Jackson (ribs) and cornerback Rod Woodson (back spasms) did not practice yesterday. Marchibroda and defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis had said they expected Woodson to practice, although Woodson, who left the Pittsburgh game in the fourth quarter, had said on Monday he would not be available. "He ran during the walk-through [yesterday], which means he could have run during practice. That's good enough for me," Lewis said. Woodson said he would work out today or tomorrow. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who has yet to miss a practice this year, pulled up during yesterday's workout with a hamstring pull not believed to be serious.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: New York Jets

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

When: Sunday, 1: 01 p.m.

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

Line: Jets by 5 1/2

Pub Date: 9/10/98

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