New acquisitions haven't ponied up as group on field Woodson's contributions can't mask disappointment

Ravens notebook

talks begin with R. Lewis

September 25, 1998|By Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht | Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens were delighted with their off-season signings when training camp started in mid-July, but the only one of the four players who has contributed significantly so far has been veteran cornerback Rod Woodson.

Woodson is fourth on the team in tackles with 14, has knocked down four passes and intercepted two, including one for a touchdown. He also blocked a Jacksonville field-goal attempt Sunday.

In contrast, quarterback Jim Harbaugh has yet to complete a half in three games and has been bothered by hand and elbow injuries to his throwing arm. He has completed 13 of 26 passes for 128 yards and hasn't thrown a touchdown.

The two other players who were expected to help get the Ravens over the proverbial hump -- fullback Roosevelt Potts and halfback Errict Rhett -- have made minimal contributions. Rhett has 136 yards rushing on 24 attempts, but 46 of those came in the fourth quarter against the Jets after the game had long been decided. In defense of Rhett, he has been bothered by a hamstring injury.

In his place, Jay Graham got the call. But Wednesday, Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda demoted Graham to third team behind second-year player Priest Holmes, a former free agent from the University of Texas, and Rhett. Holmes will get his first start against the Bengals.

Potts has 29 yards on 13 rushing attempts and nine catches for 36 yards. The latter is a sign that the Ravens aren't going downfield much, because Jermaine Lewis, the team's big-play wide receiver, has only six catches but has 193 yards and three of the team's longest plays from scrimmage this season.

Potts hasn't shown the ability to break tackles this season, and with Holmes having supplanted Rhett and Graham, can Kenyon Cotton for Potts be far behind?

"We hope to give him [Cotton] some additional work this week," Marchibroda said. "Rosy has done the job blocking-wise, but we really haven't given him much opportunity to run."

"Three games does not make a season or a career," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens vice president of player personnel. "I have confidence that they will play important roles in bringing this team success this season."

Talks begin with Ray Lewis

The Ravens have begun initial talks with middle linebacker Ray Lewis about a new contract, even though it appears nothing will be resolved until the end of the 1998 season or later. Lewis has two years left on his contract.

"It's nothing unusual to have some preliminary talks before the player begins his final season," said Pat Moriarty, the team's chief financial officer. "We've had some brief discussions, but nothing serious."

Lewis signed a five-year contract worth $3.8 million after being drafted 26th in the first round in 1996.

Boulware's high standards

After an outstanding game against Jacksonville, strong-side linebacker Peter Boulware is tied with defensive end Michael McCrary for the team lead in sacks with 2 1/2 . McCrary was shut out against Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli.

Boulware said he would like someday to be mentioned in the same breath as former New York Giants sack specialist Lawrence Taylor and the Kansas City Chiefs' Derrick Thomas.

"The guys I used to watch were the Lawrence Taylors, Derrick Thomases and the Reggie Whites," Boulware said. "When they're in the game, the whole offense knows where they are and exactly what they're going to be doing on that play. They have to. If they don't, it will mess up the whole offensive play. Those guys dominate every game. Hopefully, someday I can fit into their category."

McCrary feels hungry

McCrary is still smarting about being shut out in Jacksonville.

"Finishing a game with no sacks is like going through a day without a meal," he said. "It makes me even more hungry this week."

McCrary, who has 23 sacks over his past 25 games, is setting his sights on Cincinnati left tackle Kevin Sargent and quarterback Neil O'Donnell. Sargent is no Boselli, O'Donnell is a statue compared to the Jaguars' Mark Brunell, and McCrary will be charging from his customary position -- the passer's blind side. (Last Sunday, the left-handed Brunell was facing toward McCrary's right end spot.)

McCrary smiled at the thought of enjoying a meal Sunday night. Then he was asked about his next date with Boselli Nov. 1, when the Jaguars come here.

"I'm still thinking about that rematch," McCrary said.

Stover still feels pressure

The Ravens worked out Cary Blanchard a few weeks ago as a possible option to Matt Stover. The Washington Redskins signed Blanchard on Tuesday, but Stover wasn't relieved.

Stover is 4-for-8 on field-goal attempts this season, but 1-for-5 from 40 to 49 yards.

"There is somebody else out there. There is always somebody else," Stover said. "It all comes down to performing. Look at the Redskins. They cut Scott Blanton for a younger guy, then he misses, and they cut him for Blanchard. Despite what happens, I'm not going to change my approach and the way I prepare for a game. Am I relieved? Never."

Tickets available

The Bengals are returning a couple of hundred tickets for Sunday's game, and they can be purchased as early as this morning either through Ticketmaster at 410-481-SEAT or the Ravens' ticket office at the stadium at 410-261-7283.

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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