Ravens may lose Lewis 3-5 weeks Defensive leader has no significant ligament disruption

LB may be back for Oilers

Marchibroda says McCloud must step up

September 22, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the Ravens' defensive catalyst, could miss three to five weeks because of a dislocated left elbow he suffered in the team's 24-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Lewis went down after tackling Jaguars running back Fred Taylor for a 1-yard loss on the last play of the first quarter. As he hit the ground, Lewis planted his left arm but his left shoulder and elbow were smashed by defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, who was assisting on the tackle.

Lewis' magnetic resonance imaging results reveal no significant ligament disruption and he might only have to miss Sunday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals because the Ravens then have a bye before playing the Tennessee Oilers. Second-year linebacker Tyrus McCloud will start in Lewis' place against Cincinnati. McCloud finished with nine tackles against Jacksonville.

Coach Ted Marchibroda said the Ravens need to respond to Lewis' injury just as Jacksonville did when starting running back James Stewart went down with a sprained knee in the first quarter and had to be replaced by Taylor, who finished with 128 yards.

"We have to look at Ray's injury and look at the one Jacksonville had," Marchibroda said. "Very early in the ballgame they lose their best runner. Our guy has to now come in and do the job Ray is supposed to do. Losing Ray hurts, but good teams overcome those type of things."

Trainer Bill Tessendorf said of Lewis: "He has got some swelling in the back of the triceps but we think we have a chance for Tennessee."

Lewis, one of the team's two first-round draft picks two years ago, has led the club in tackles each season and had a team-high 22 going into the Jacksonville game. Lewis led the league in tackles last year with 210.

His speed and instincts were his biggest advantages and the Ravens also will miss his leadership. The 6-foot-1, 250-pound McCloud is 10 pounds heavier than Lewis, and just as strong (McCloud once bench-pressed 225 pounds 36 times), but he won't try to copy Lewis' reckless style.

McCloud, selected in the fourth round by the Ravens in the 1997 draft out of Louisville, played in all 16 games last season, recording nine tackles. He also had nine special teams tackles.

"I really didn't critique myself that hard," McCloud said of Sunday's performance against Jacksonville. "The bottom line is that we didn't play well enough to win. With Ray out, our defense needs to step it up, press on for next week.

"I feel as though I can step up and contribute. I'm not going to try to emulate Ray Lewis. He is probably the best middle linebacker in the league. That's a tough act to follow and I don't want to be compared with him because I don't have his knack for the ball. But I have confidence in myself and the coaches have confidence in me. I look forward to playing."

Marchibroda said McCloud "did a commendable job in there for Ray. He'll have to do a better job this week and he probably will because he has some playing time under his belt."

McCloud's biggest weakness is pass defense, but Lewis also had the same problem.

"Tyrus will get the job done, especially against the run, because he is bigger than Ray," said outside linebacker Jamie Sharper. "But he isn't as quick and that will hurt as far as pass defense and pursuit. My advice to Tyrus is drink plenty of fluids. Because if he cramps up out there, I'm probably the next middle linebacker."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

Site: Ravens stadium

When: Sunday, 8: 20 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Tickets: About 3,000 remain

Line: Ravens by 5 1/2

Pub Date: 9/22/98

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