Ravens lose Herring for 2-4 weeks Dislocated shoulder idles improving safety for 'just slight pause'

QB decision still on hold

Reinjured Harbaugh retains hope of playing

September 15, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Gary Lambrecht contributed to this article.

Ravens free safety Kim Herring was progressing well in his second year, but his development was slowed yesterday after team officials announced he will miss the next two to four weeks with a dislocated left shoulder.

The Herring pronouncement was the only definitive answer to come yesterday from Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda, who did not name his starting quarterback or running back for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Herring had to leave Sunday's game, a 24-10 win over the New York Jets, with three minutes left in the first quarter after Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet caught a 16-yard pass and hit Herring on the shoulder. Seven-year veteran Corey Harris, signed by the team Aug. 17, is expected to start in Herring's place.

"If he is an extraordinary healer like Stevon, then he could return in two weeks," said Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf, referring to strong safety Stevon Moore, who dislocated his shoulder and missed much of the preseason. "Most people fall in the four-week range."

Said Herring: "I'll come back in two weeks. It was just a freak accident. I was trying to pop it back in place while I was out on the field. They got it back in, and that's a good sign.

"I thought I was making some progress, much more than in my first year. But I'm not looking at this as a major setback, just a slight pause."

Herring has five tackles in the five quarters he has played. His replacement, Harris, played well Sunday despite limited time learning coordinator Marvin Lewis' defense. Harris had three tackles against the Jets and also assisted on a special teams tackle.

He got called for pass interference on one long pass intended for Dedric Ward in the third quarter when he never turned his head to look for the ball, but the coaching staff was impressed with his all-around play.

"He did an excellent job," said secondary coach Al Reynolds. "He graded out pretty high. If there is one major thing he has to improve on, it will be communication, getting aligned from front to back."

Said Lewis: "He did a great job tackling. He knows what we're doing; he just needs to get some of the finer details down. Football is football. When we get in the heat of battle, we want his technique to match up with what we want. He'll get a lot more practice time now."

The Ravens also will rotate Ralph Staten and Donny Brady at both safety positions in case Moore or Harris gets injured. In the Ravens' scheme, both safety positions are interchangeable.

"I'm familiar enough to play like I did [Sunday]," said Harris, 5 feet 11 and 205 pounds. "I think I held my own, but I want to be familiar enough where I can make plays. In this system, you don't have to worry about the run, because you have guys in the box who can take care of it. Sometimes, safeties are called on for run support. This system is built on athleticism."

While Herring was walking around with his arm in a sling, quarterback Jim Harbaugh was in the locker room answering questions about his status as the starter. Bothered by a hyper-extended ring finger on his right throwing hand and tendinitis in his right elbow, Harbaugh has played less than one half in the Ravens' two games.

He was replaced with three minutes left in the first half against the Jets by Eric Zeier, who completed 13 of 20 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. Marchibroda said he might reach a decision tomorrow, when the team has its first practice of the week. Zeier is bothered by a sore calf muscle.

"We'll take it one day at a time," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, I want to play well. I want to do my job, but whatever works. I played for Ted for a long time, and I don't second-guess him. I've seen him make a lot of right decisions."

Harbaugh reinjured the finger early in the Jets game when he hit an opposing player's helmet during his follow-through.

"It's a little sore and swollen from the game," said Harbaugh, who completed five of 10 passes for 36 yards. "It bothered me [during warm-ups], but I've played games before when I wasn't 100 percent. Obviously, I want to play [this week] and I want to do well. Whether it's Eric or myself, you can be sure we'll be giving it 100 percent."

Said Zeier: "The more you play, the more comfortable you feel, but my approach won't change one way or the other."

The decision at running back won't have much effect on the team one way or the other. Neither Jay Graham nor Errict Rhett, as well as the offensive line, has been impressive in trying to establish a running game in the first two games.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

Site: Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.

When: Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

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

Line: Jaguars by 7

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