Sub role still tasty to Webster Ravens reserve missed stadium-opening game, eager for Bengals feast

Siragusa is questionable

Aching defense to get test from Cincinnati

September 25, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens defensive tackle Larry Webster likes the idea of his former Maryland teammate, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Neil O'Donnell, being invited to his coming-out party.

"You always like to hassle old teammates," Webster said. "Maybe when I knock him on the ground, I'll lay on top of him and get a chance to say hello. He'll appreciate that. I haven't talked to him in a while."

Webster missed the grand opening of the Ravens' $223 million stadium at Camden Yards on Sept. 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers because of a pulled right hamstring. But with starter Tony Siragusa questionable because of a neck injury, Webster may start Sunday against the Bengals (1-2).

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said a lot of the tingling in Siragusa's arms had subsided and his status would be determined Sunday. Siragusa missed his second straight practice yesterday.

But either way, Webster, a native of Elkton, will get a chance to be on display at home for the first time.

"I was most definitely disappointed about not playing in the opener," Webster said. "I had practiced the entire week leading up to the opener, but they didn't feel I was ready. Now, I'm just fine-tuning, getting my timing down. I think I'm ready to go."

Webster, 6 feet 5 and 288 pounds, injured his hamstring while running extra sprints after practice and missed the final three preseason games and the opener. He finally played about 17 plays in each of the past two games against the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Only now is he rounding into decent shape.

"I definitely could have played better against Jacksonville, but it was better than the last game," said Webster, who had two tackles against the Jaguars. "The first week you come back from an injury you're kind of hesitant, and then it's the second week you go all out. The injury really slowed me down. It set me back."

Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis agreed.

"Larry is the kind of player that needs his time on the practice field," Lewis said. "He is an improved player from a year ago, but the injury was quite a setback."

Lewis has contingency plans. He has already gotten defensive end Mike Frederick some work at tackle this week and the Ravens (1-2) could put rookie Lional Dalton on the active roster for the first game this season. But Webster has his own plans as well. He wants to greet O'Donnell, Bengals running back Corey Dillon, center Darrick Brilz, and guards Rich Braham and Ken Blackman.

"Corey Dillon is a great back and he runs hard," Webster said. "He can break your back if he gets into the open field. Neil has been doing a good job of getting the ball down the field to the receivers. We've got to put some pressure on him."

There is pressure on Webster. The 6-3, 320-pound Siragusa was off to his best start in recent years. He was the team's sixth-leading tackler with 13, but more importantly he was getting penetration into the other team's backfield or keeping offensive linemen off middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who won't play this Sunday because of a dislocated left elbow.

Webster, who is part of a regular rotation with Siragusa and James Jones, is just as imposing, just as strong. Siragusa probably has more athletic talent.

"Goose was coming off the ball, playing in vintage style," Webster said. "Whether I start or not, I'll be prepared to play. I'm taking all of this in stride. I want to make sure the other 10 guys will be comfortable with me when I'm out there. I can't be Goose, so I've got to relax, be myself."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

Site: Ravens stadium

When: Sunday, 8: 20 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 2, ESPN/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Tickets: Sold out

Line: Ravens by 5 1/2


Sun staff selections

Week 4

Bengals at Ravens (-5 1/2 )

John Eisenberg .. Bengals

Gary Lambrecht .. Bengals

Mike Preston .... Bengals

Ken Rosenthal ... Bengals

Vito Stellino ... Bengals

Cardinals at Rams (-3)

John Eisenberg .. Rams

Gary Lambrecht .. Rams

Mike Preston .... Cardinals

Ken Rosenthal ... Rams

Vito Stellino ... Rams

Redskins at Broncos (off)

John Eisenberg .. Broncos

Gary Lambrecht .. Broncos

Mike Preston .... Redskins

Ken Rosenthal ... Broncos

Vito Stellino ... Broncos

Packers (-6 1/2 ) at Panthers

John Eisenberg .. Packers

Gary Lambrecht .... Packers

Mike Preston .... Packers

Ken Rosenthal ... Panthers

Vito Stellino ... Packers

Jaguars (-3) at Oilers

John Eisenberg .. Oilers

Gary Lambrecht .. Oilers

Mike Preston .... Jaguars

Ken Rosenthal ... Jaguars

Vito Stellino ... Jaguars

@Chiefs (-8) at Eagles

John Eisenberg .. Chiefs

Gary Lambrecht .. Chiefs

Mike Preston .... Chiefs

Ken Rosenthal ... Eagles

Vito Stellino ... Eagles

Saints at Colts (pick)

John Eisenberg .. Saints

Gary Lambrecht .. Colts

Mike Preston .... Saints

Ken Rosenthal ... Saints

Vito Stellino ... Saints

Raiders at Cowboys (-5)

John Eisenberg .. Cowboys

Gary Lambrecht .. Raiders

Mike Preston .... Cowboys

Ken Rosenthal ... Cowboys

Vito Stellino ... Cowboys

Seahawks at Steelers (-3)

John Eisenberg .. Steelers

Gary Lambrecht .. Steelers

Mike Preston .... Steelers

Ken Rosenthal ... Steelers

Vito Stellino ... Steelers

Giants (-1) at Chargers

John Eisenberg .. Giants

Gary Lambrecht .. Chargers

Mike Preston .... Chargers

Ken Rosenthal ... Chargers

Vito Stellino ... Giants

Falcons at 49ers (-10 1/2 )

John Eisenberg .. Falcons

Gary Lambrecht .. Falcons

Mike Preston .... Falcons

Ken Rosenthal ... Falcons

Vito Stellino ... 49ers

Vikings (-6 1/2 ) at Bears

John Eisenberg .. Vikings

Gary Lambrecht .. Bears

Mike Preston .... Vikings

Ken Rosenthal ... Vikings

Vito Stellino ... Vikings

Bucs (-1 1/2 ) at Lions

John Eisenberg .. Bucs

Gary Lambrecht .. Bucs

Mike Preston .... Bucs

Ken Rosenthal ... Bucs

Vito Stellino ... Bucs

Last week's record

John Eisenberg .. 7-5

Gary Lambrecht .. 8-4

Mike Preston .... 8-4

Ken Rosenthal ... 5-7

Vito Stellino ... 6-6

Season record

John Eisenberg .. 23-19

Gary Lambrecht .... 23-19

Mike Preston .... 26-16

Ken Rosenthal ... 22-20

Vito Stellino ... 23-19

Note: Selections made against the spread; off-the-board game considered pick'em.

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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