Lung injury to cost Green 1 or 2 games Ruptured air sac sidelines tight end

Ravens notebook

Kinchen's status for long snapping weighed

October 13, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Depending on how quickly his injury heals, Ravens tight end Eric Green will miss one and possibly two games.

Green, who suffered a ruptured air sac in his lung in the first half of Sunday's 12-8 loss to visiting Tennessee, will not play against Pittsburgh this week. At the earliest, he would be available when the Ravens travel to face defending NFC champion Green Bay on Oct. 25.

In the meantime, veteran Brian Kinchen will start in Green's place. Kinchen came off the bench to catch four passes for 55 yards against the Oilers. The Ravens also will be forced to activate A. J. Ofodile, who has been inactive for the season's first five games.

"It looks like a two- to three-week thing with Eric. I talked to Eric, and he's feeling pretty good," Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said. "I think we'll get by with Kinchen. He's a very dependable guy. He does his job every week, and he's ready to play."

Kinchen, an 11-year veteran, caught a career-high 55 passes two years ago. Green has taken up Kinchen's playing time since.

Team spokesman Kevin Byrne said Green was in stable condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was expected to remain at least through yesterday. Byrne added that the pocket of air in Green's injured lung could dissipate, thus allowing the hole to close on its own. If it doesn't heal itself in the next day or so, a tube will be inserted to close the hole.

Green is averaging 17.1 yards per catch on 14 receptions. Only Jermaine Lewis (324) has more receiving yards than Green (240).

Snap judgment

While veteran long snapper Harper Le Bel -- who could be waived today -- was suffering through his second disastrous outing of the season Sunday, could Kinchen have taken over his duties? It depends on who is providing the explanation.

Kinchen, who has snapped on punts as well as extra points and field goals throughout his career, has battled injuries to his right thumb and left index finger this year. He has returned to short snapping, while Le Bel has continued to snap on punts.

Marchibroda said he thought about replacing Le Bel with Kinchen in the middle of the Oilers' game, after Le Bel's first two of five poor snaps. But after consulting with special teams coach Scott O'Brien, Marchibroda said he decided to stick with Le Bel.

At that point in the game, Kinchen had re-injured his thumb while blocking on the Ravens' punt return team. O'Brien said he saw head trainer Bill Tessendorf looking at Kinchen's hand near the bench, and decided using Kinchen as a long snapper would be too risky. Kinchen has not snapped on punts this year.

"The trainer had his glove off and was working on [Kinchen's] hand. There's no doubt he was hurt. You've got to make calculated decisions," O'Brien said.

Kinchen, who had snapped effectively to punter Kyle Richardson during pre-game drills, said he could have expanded his snapping role, despite the pain in his thumb.

"I never said [during the game] that I couldn't do it," Kinchen said. "If I'm in a uniform and there's no cast on my hand, I know I can get the ball back to the punter. It's the same principle as a short snap, only it's twice as long. Granted, I haven't done it this year in a game situation, but I've felt comfortable doing it [in practice] for a while."

Cheap shot?

Speaking of Kinchen, Oilers coach Jeff Fisher criticized him for taking cheap shots at Tennessee nose tackle Gary Walker in Sunday's game while Kinchen snapped on field goals. Fisher ZTC said film review of the game revealed Kinchen kicked Walker in the head after one play.

"There's no excuse for a guy going out of his way to kick a player in the face when he's down," Fisher said. "There should be some disciplinary action. I lost all respect for that player."

Said Walker: "[The Ravens] couldn't do anything with the ball, so they started doing it with their hands and feet. We play them again [on Dec. 6]. What goes around, comes around."

Said Kinchen: "The guy got in my face. If somebody comes after me, I'm coming after him. I was a contributor, but I have to retaliate. I can't just say, 'OK, yell at me some more.' Granted, it wasn't right. It was in the heat of the moment, and I did something about it. If Jeff Fisher tells you he doesn't want a guy like that on his team, he's lying."

Woodson challenges team

With such a critical stretch of games on tap, cornerback Rod Woodson delivered a message to his teammates and the organization. The Ravens face consecutive tests at Pittsburgh, at Green Bay and at home against Jacksonville, a team they've never beaten.

"Guys have to start sacrificing a little bit more, and stop believing they're as good as they think they are. Everybody needs to look in the mirror -- players, coaches and the front office," he said.

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