WR Jackson questionable Raven strains groin

Yarborough would be replacement vs. Oilers

October 10, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Gary Lambrecht contributed to this article

Ravens starting receiver Michael Jackson strained his groin while diving for a pass yesterday at practice and is questionable for tomorrow's game against the Tennessee Oilers at Ravens stadium.

The Ravens were working on their passing offense inside the 20-yard line when Jackson dived for a low pass that hit his outstretched hands near the back line of the end zone. Jackson didn't make the catch and slid several feet on his back before he got up slowly.

Jackson, the team's leading receiver, was helped from the field by trainer Bill Tessendorf.

"I would list him as questionable," Tessendorf said. "He is sore right now, but at least the injury was sustained in an area where you usually don't get the injury. That's a good sign, because it wasn't totally in the groin area."

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda and Jackson will make the decision at game time. If Jackson can't play, he'll be replaced by Ryan Yarborough, and then Floyd Turner would become the third receiver.

"We'll have to work him out Sunday morning and see," Marchibroda said. "It's too late to make drastic changes in the game plan. The backup has to do the job he is called upon to do."

The injury comes at a critical time for the Ravens. The team was just starting to work Jackson and fellow wide receiver Jermaine Lewis into an offense that became more wide open when Eric Zeier became the starting quarterback two weeks ago against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jackson, 6 feet 4 and 195 pounds, had four catches for 80 yards in the game, a 31-24 Ravens victory, and is leading the team in receptions with 13 for 196 yards. Jackson has caught at least one pass in 23 straight games.

The Oilers (1-3) have the 11th-ranked pass defense and two of the best safeties in the league in Blaine Bishop and Marcus Robertson. On Dec. 22, 1996, Jackson set career highs against the Oilers with three touchdowns, including a career-long, 86-yard touchdown reception.

Jackson did not return phone calls yesterday.

Yarborough, a four-year veteran and Baltimore native, has only one catch for six yards this season and was on the inactive roster for the opener against Pittsburgh. Yarborough, 6-2 and 195 pounds, was claimed off waivers by the Ravens in August 1997.

Turner, 5-11 and 199 pounds, has more experience than Yarborough, but he has been working on the other side behind Lewis. Turner has four catches for 90 yards this season and has 253 catches for 3,383 yards and 26 touchdowns during a nine-year career in the NFL.

NOTES: Although Marchibroda had considered suspending linebacker Cornell Brown, who was charged with drunken driving a week ago, he will keep Brown on the active roster tomorrow, since his absence would leave the Ravens with only four linebackers. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who will miss tomorrow's game with a dislocated elbow and has not played for seven consecutive quarters, still leads the team with 25 tackles. The Ravens have made several changes in their nickel and dime coverages, including alternating strong safety Stevon Moore on certain situations.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Tennessee Oilers

Site: Ravens stadium

When: Tomorrow, 1: 01 p.m.

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

Tickets: Sold out

Line: Ravens by 3 1/2

Pub. Date: 10/10/98

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