Green mending for Le Bel, ending

Snapper put on IR

release will follow

October 14, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens welcomed back tight end Eric Green from the hospital yesterday morning, two days after he suffered a ruptured air sac during the first quarter of Sunday's 12-8 loss to the Tennessee Oilers.

The team also said goodbye to veteran long snapper Harper Le Bel. Sort of.

Le Bel, who had his second disastrous outing in five games on Sunday, was placed on the injured-reserve list with an elbow ailment. Once Le Bel is deemed healthy, the Ravens will release the 10-year veteran, who still stands to collect the rest of his $325,000 salary for the 1998 season.

The team worked out four potential replacements yesterday, and is expected to sign one today. Veteran tight end Brian Kinchen, who will step in for Green as a starter, could end up assuming all snapping duties this week against Pittsburgh. Previously this season, Kinchen has snapped only on field goals and extra points.

"A change had to be made, and we still need two guys [including a backup snapper]," Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said. "He [Le Bel] is saying he's had an injured elbow. He's been placed on IR."

"We have to see [Kinchen] perform in practice," added Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of player personnel. "We've talked about [Kinchen doing all of the snapping]. That will be decided on Sunday."

There will be no such decision this week regarding Green, who left Maryland Shock Trauma Center yesterday and was riding an exercise bike at the Ravens' Owings Mills facility by 10: 30 a.m.

Green, who cannot lift weights for two weeks, will miss at least the next two games and possibly the Jacksonville game on Nov. 1 before returning to the lineup.

Green suffered the lung injury after making his second reception of the game, a 17-yard play that concluded with his falling on the ball.

"I guess it just hit me in the right spot. When I came over to the sideline after that series, I couldn't catch my breath and I couldn't talk," said Green, who re-entered the game. His condition worsened throughout the first half before team doctors decided around the two-minute warning to get him to the hospital, a few minutes from Ravens stadium.

"I knew something was wrong internally," Green said. "I kept telling Zeus [offensive tackle Orlando Brown], 'I'm hurting bad.' I couldn't get any punch [while blocking] on my running plays. I started feeling lethargic."

Team doctor Claude T. Moorman said Green will have daily chest X-rays and will be re-examined this weekend.

"We think he ruptured a small air sac in the bottom of the lung. There is no rib fracture or sternal fracture," Moorman said. "It's similar to what we'll see with a punctured lung. We have to wait for [the sac] to seal on its own. We were concerned that he might have torn his esophagus. It was a potentially serious problem."

Meanwhile, the rehabilitation of middle linebacker Ray Lewis continues. Lewis could see some limited work at practice as early as today, but he is still trying to achieve full range of motion in the left elbow he dislocated in Jacksonville on Sept. 20. He is questionable for Sunday's critical game in Pittsburgh.

"I'm working my behind off trying to get there," Lewis said. "My game is running people down and grabbing them. Hopefully, I'll know by Friday or Saturday if I can do that. I'm feeling better, but it's not giving me the range of motion I thought I'd have by now.

"I don't want to do nothing to hurt my career, but I know how big this [Pittsburgh] game is. When you love the game as much as I do, it kills you to sit there and watch the game."

Moorman described Lewis' progress as "slow but steady." He said Lewis might try playing with a brace on the elbow temporarily after he returns to the lineup.

"Ray has got to have near full motion and near full strength before we put him back out there," Moorman said. "The joint is very stable, but it's very stiff. This is really tough on him. He's like a caged animal on the sidelines."

NOTES: Kicker Matt Stover, who missed three of his first four field-goal attempts, is quietly on a roll. He has connected on six of his last seven tries. Running back Priest Holmes, who leads the team with 18 receptions, set a team record with 13 catches against the Oilers. In one day, Holmes caught more passes than wide-out Jermaine Lewis (11) has recorded for the season. Cornerback Rod Woodson leads the Ravens with three interceptions, nine pass deflections and 22 solo tackles. When asked if he has special motivation going against his old team this week, Woodson shrugged and said: "The best part about going back to Pittsburgh is seeing my family. I have nothing against the Steelers. I have tremendous respect for [coach] Bill Cowher, and I still have some good friends on that team. Football is a business. The organization made a business decision [by letting him go after the 1995 season]. That's life in the NFL. I understand that."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

Site: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh

When: Sunday, 1: 01 p.m.

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

Line: Steelers by 5 1/2

Pub Date: 10/14/98

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