Offense set to get green light Marchibroda says return of tight end will help alleviate scoring problems

Ravens notebook

October 27, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

The last time tight end Eric Green played an entire game, the Ravens scored three offensive touchdowns and beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 31-24.

Since he suffered a ruptured air sac in his lung when he fell on the football against Tennessee, the Ravens have scored just one touchdown in three games.

Coach Ted Marchibroda said that's no small coincidence, and that Green's expected return Sunday against Jacksonville will help the offense.

"I think at this particular time, our leader on the offensive club is Eric Green," Marchibroda said. "Before he left, he was our go-to guy. He was the guy who's one of the outstanding blockers in the NFL. He was our guy as far as passes are concerned. He's the guy I think we could least afford to miss over these last three weeks."

Green, who said he's excited about returning, said Marchibroda didn't put any pressure on him with his glowing remarks.

"That's not pressure for me," Green said. "That's something I relish. For the better part of my career, it's been the case. I don't see anything different now. That's what you're in this game for to compete and be successful. I've had my fair share of both of those."

Williams to center?

Although Marchibroda's likely switch at quarterback from Eric Zeier to Jim Harbaugh will get most of the attention, he's also considering a move in the offensive line.

He wouldn't give details, but that may mean he's considering moving Wally Williams from guard to center in place of Jeff Mitchell and putting Ben Cavil in at left guard.

Williams, who missed most of camp in a contract dispute, probably would be happier at center than guard. If a switch to center improves his frame of mind, it might also help his good friend, Orlando Brown, at tackle.

Both Williams and Brown have had disappointing seasons. There's been much speculation that Williams' failure to get a new contract from the Ravens -- he's playing for the $3 million franchise number -- annoyed both players, although they say the contract situation hasn't affected their play.

The line also suffered a setback Sunday when left tackle Jonathan Ogden suffered a knee sprain. He came back and played and said he'll play Sunday, but he probably won't be at the top of his game.

Another possible shift would be moving Cornell Brown ahead of Jamie Sharper at linebacker.

McCrary vs. Boselli

Defensive end Michael McCrary, who was held without a sack by the Packers' Ross Verba -- with some double-teaming help from a running back -- faces another tough task Sunday.

He goes against Jacksonville's Tony Boselli, who is widely regarded as the league's best left tackle and held McCrary without a sack in the Jaguars' 24-10 victory Sept. 20.

McCrary says he got three sacks against Boselli when he was in Seattle, but Boselli's version is that he wasn't on McCrary for all those plays.

"It showed up as three sacks on my stats. That's all I cared about," McCrary said.

But there will be none of the trash talking that took place between Boselli and Miami's Jason Taylor two weeks ago.

"I think there's mutual respect between us," McCrary said. "I think he's one of the best players I go up against every year. There's really no need for that type of talk. He's a hard aggressive player."

J. Lewis' dry spell

Since Jermaine Lewis had 115 yards in punt returns on Sept. 27 against Cincinnati, including an 87-yarder for a touchdown, he has been held to 20, 24 and 14 yards in punt returns the past three games.

"It's getting frustrating," he said.

Teams are mainly kicking to the sidelines to pin him to one side.

"It's like you're trapped in a little area," he said. "I've just got to keep being patient. When you get your shot, you've got to be ready. It'll come."

Modell lying low

Owner Art Modell, who said the Ravens would be an "elite" team this year, kept a low profile yesterday and didn't return several calls to his office.

There's been much speculation that Marchibroda's job could be on the line with the team at 2-5. In Cleveland, Modell fired Sam Rutigliano with the Browns 1-7 in 1984, and Bud Carson was fired with the Browns 2-7 last year.

Modell also had high expectations for this season, saying earlier this year that the team would be "outstanding" and was "on the verge of a major breakthrough."

Game plan vs. execution

There's been much criticism of the team's game plans and play calling recently, particularly the absence of the long pass.

But Marchibroda said some sacks prevented long passes, and Zeier said he was hindered more by a sore thumb than the game plans.

"As a player, whatever we're given, we have to execute. We haven't done a great job of that," Zeier said.

Injury report

Backup linebacker Tyrus McCloud will have arthroscopic knee surgery today to repair ligament damage and said he's likely to be out three to four weeks. Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa will be questionable with an ankle sprain. So will backup linebacker Tyrell Peters, who missed last week's game with a thigh injury. Cornerback Rod Woodson said he had no problem with a sore Achilles' tendon, and rookie wide receiver Patrick Johnson, who missed last week's game with a hip injury, is supposed to be ready to return. Johnson has missed three games and has caught only seven passes this year.

Pub Date: 10/27/98

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