Herring injury leaves secondary in pain Safety could miss 4 weeks with dislocated shoulder

Ravens Notebook

RB Graham sees action

September 14, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Vito Stellino and Alan Hahn contributed to this article.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- At the beginning of training camp, the Ravens' young secondary loomed as one of the team's most glaring question marks.

As the secondary continues to improve, the question now is, can the Ravens keep their defensive backfield healthy?

With about three minutes left in the first quarter of yesterday's 24-10 victory, second-year free safety Kim Herring became the latest casualty. He suffered a dislocated left shoulder after colliding with Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet, following a 16-yard gain. The Ravens lost veteran strong safety Stevon Moore for almost all of the preseason with the same injury. Moore was out for nearly four weeks. Herring, who will be re-evaluated today, could be out for a similar stretch.

"I won't know until [today]," said Herring, whose arm was in a sling after the game. "I've never done this before. It was a clean shot [by Chrebet]. I think his helmet caught me right on the shoulder. I didn't expect him to go into a ball [after he caught the pass]. I'll be back."

Herring, who recorded three tackles, gave way to Corey Harris, who also finished with three tackles. Look for Harris to start against Jacksonville on Sunday.

Graham up, Rhett down

In the postgame locker room, Jay Graham was as animated as Errict Rhett was uncharacteristically reserved.

Graham saw his first action of 1998 yesterday, and he did so at Rhett's expense. Rhett, who backed up Graham throughout the preseason, then won the starting job four days before the season opener and contributed 92 yards from scrimmage last week, started too ineffectively in coach Ted Marchibroda's eyes.

With about three minutes left in the first half, Marchibroda sent Rhett to the bench and gave Graham the call. "I'm not sure we were getting that much done with Rhett, so we decided to go with Jay," Marchibroda said.

Graham did not exactly overwhelm while rushing for 31 yards on 13 carries, but he showed more aggressiveness and decisiveness than he had in August. Rhett carried eight times for 64 yards. His final yardage was deceptive, because he picked up 46 yards on his final run late in the game.

"It was nice to get out there and break a sweat. I felt a little rusty, but I did the best I could," said Graham, who also nearly broke a kickoff return for a long gainer. "I've got to be ready at any time. I think I did all right, but I've got to watch the film."

Rhett seemed puzzled by Marchibroda's decision.

"He just told me [Graham] was going in for a series, and that's the last thing I heard," Rhett said. "I just ran the best I possibly could."

Marchibroda said he will consider starting Graham against the Jaguars.

Playing with pain

You couldn't tell by watching him roam from sideline to sideline while recording a game-high nine solo tackles, but middle linebacker Ray Lewis spent the afternoon in pain ranging from nagging to excruciating.

Lewis, bothered by a pulled left hamstring, had his left thigh wrapped heavily during warm-ups. He removed the wrapping before kickoff, because he could not push off and run properly. By halftime, Lewis already had six solo tackles. He seemed like his old self, but looks can be deceiving.

"You should have seen me in here [at halftime]," Lewis said. "It was killing me. I was crying. But you've got to keep going."

Stover's fate undecided

If yesterday's victory was the start of something big for the Ravens, kicker Matt Stover might not be around to enjoy the ride.

Although the Ravens' special teams performed much more efficiently than they did a week ago -- no botched snaps, for example -- Stover still irritated Marchibroda when his 44-yard field-goal attempt floated wide right three minutes into the fourth quarter. Stover could have given the Ravens a 20-10 lead.

"I thought he was hesitant," said Marchibroda, who gave Stover an earful as he came to the sideline. "If you kick it with everything you have, and it doesn't go through, that's going to happen. But I think he tried to place it a little too much."

The Ravens worked out veteran kicker Cary Blanchard last week. Stover's days could be numbered.

"They're going to do what they think is right for the best of the team. They'll have to make that decision solely on what they see," Stover said. "If they see that something needs to be changed, they'll do it. If they don't and they stick with me, so be it."

Marchibroda was pleased with the snapping, which hurt the Ravens badly in the season opener. Ten-year veteran Harper Le Bel snapped flawlessly to punter Kyle Richardson and also took over short-snapping duty from veteran Brian Kinchen, who fractured the index finger on his left hand.

J. Lewis plays middle man

Jermaine Lewis broke only one long play, but that was enough.

On his second punt, the Jets' Brian Hansen kicked it right to Lewis in the middle of the field. Lewis took it 69 yards for a #F touchdown, after returning one 97 yards for a touchdown against the Jets in a preseason game.

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