No doubt for R. Lewis: 'I'm not ready to play' Still nursing injured elbow, LB targets Oct. 18 return

Ravens notebook

October 08, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens have listed middle linebacker Ray Lewis as doubtful for Sunday's game against Tennessee, but Lewis has no doubt regarding his immediate future.

Lewis ruled himself out for this week, and hopes to be ready for the team's rematch with Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium on Oct. 18.

"Everybody has been pushing me to be back this week, but I'm definitely not ready to play," said Lewis, who is nursing a &L dislocated left elbow he suffered at the end of the first quarter against Jacksonville on Sept. 20. "This is a five-week injury. I want to make sure it's totally healthy before I come back."

Lewis, who spent time at yesterday's practice talking extensively on the side with his replacement, Tyrus McCloud, had fluid drained from the elbow on Monday, and has received acupuncture treatment to help alleviate swelling in the joint.

"He's kind of stalled [in his recovery]," head trainer Bill Tessendorf said of Lewis. "He's getting better slowly. Unfortunately, it's not as quick as we would like. Based on the way he recovered from injuries as a rookie, I would have thought he'd be further along by now. But now it's truly a day-to-day thing."

Harbaugh feeling better

The bye week was good to quarterback Jim Harbaugh, since it allowed the Ravens backup quarterback to rest his weary right arm. Harbaugh, who consulted a specialist last week about his arm, said his injured right ring finger and right elbow benefited greatly from the week off.

"I picked up some new strengthening exercises for my elbow, and I'm feeling as well as I have in five or six weeks," Harbaugh said.

"The rest really helped. It's like night and day. The finger really is healing nicely. As far as my elbow [where he has tendinitis] being completely healed, that might need five or six months of rest, but I think I can manage it now."

Harbaugh's new beginning in Baltimore has not exactly gone according to plan. Five weeks into his first season, he finds himself trying to win back a starting job that now belongs to Eric Zeier.

"It's not the way you plan it out when you come to a new team," he said. "I look forward to getting an opportunity to contribute around here."

Jenkins defends himself

Third-year cornerback DeRon Jenkins is looking forward to putting his shaky performance against Cincinnati behind him with a strong showing Sunday.

Jenkins, who gave up two touchdowns to Bengals receiver Carl Pickens, including a 67-yarder, bristled at suggestions he needs to rebound to keep rookie Duane Starks from taking his job.

"It would be great not to ever allow a completion as a cornerback, but I guess people need to understand this is the NFL," Jenkins said. "In the first three games, I didn't hear anything from the media. Then I got pushed in the back [by Pickens] and he catches the ball [on the long touchdown] and now I'm the worst cornerback in the league.

"I had to guard Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell in Jacksonville a week before, and why didn't they exploit me? The media feeds off of negative things, and I'm not going to upset myself with negative thoughts."

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda defended Jenkins.

"DeRon has played some good football for us, but it seems like he can do no right," Marchibroda said. "He was in position to make some big plays against the Bengals, but those [bad] things happen in this league."

Marchibroda discounted the notion that Jenkins needs a quick recovery to save his job. "I haven't made any decisions on that. I haven't even looked that far ahead," he said.

Starks shrugged when asked if he thought he was getting closer to starting opposite Rod Woodson. "I can only take my role as it comes," Starks said. "If they want me to start later on this season, I'll step in and do what I can. Special teams is one of my primary roles right now, and I'm having fun with it and doing my best at it."

Starks is faring quite well in that role. He smiled when reminded of the devastating block he used to spring teammate Jermaine Lewis on an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown against Cincinnati 11 days ago.

With each such play he delivers -- and Starks has had several eye-catching blocks on special teams -- he continues to debunk the theory that, at 5 feet 10, 170 pounds, he would not hold up physically at this level.

Sorry, Jermaine

Judging by the comments made yesterday by Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, Ravens fans probably should not expect Jermaine Lewis to get too many chances to break a long punt return on Sunday.

"He's very difficult to corral," Fisher said. "On behalf of all [the Ravens] opponents, you can't afford to punt the ball down the field between the hashes [to Lewis]. If you don't want him to catch the ball, there's only one alternative, and that's not to kick it to him."

Pub Date: 10/08/98

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