Burnett's back pushes Washington to the front Injury leaves starting end questionable for Sunday

Ravens notebook

November 05, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Backup defensive end Keith Washington saw his value rise a notch yesterday, after veteran Rob Burnett suddenly found his name on the Ravens' injury report.

Burnett injured his back while lifting weights at the team's Owings Mills facility before practice, and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the visiting Oakland Raiders. Burnett did not practice yesterday.

"[Burnett] reached awkwardly and strained a muscle in his mid-back. He went into some spasms," head trainer Bill Tessendorf said.

Tessendorf said Burnett probably will miss today's practice.

Washington, who has recorded nine tackles and a sack this season, could make his first start of 1998.

"I'm a team player who prepares well every week. I've been learning a lot since I got here," said Washington, who signed with the Ravens six weeks into the 1997 season. "Me and [defensive tackle] James Jones stay after practice and watch a lot of film together. If I do have to [start], it doesn't concern me, because I know I have to prepare well each and every week."

Washington, a four-year veteran, already has filled in capably for Burnett. Last Dec. 21 against Cincinnati, Burnett sat out with an injured knee -- he tore an anterior cruciate ligament and missed the final 10 games of the 1996 season. Washington responded that day with a career-high eight solo tackles and a sack.

Burnett, in his ninth season, ranks fifth on the team with 41 tackles, including 25 solos. He also has two sacks.

Role sinks in on Jenkins

Although he admitted the change disappointed him, cornerback DeRon Jenkins took his benching in stride yesterday. The Ravens decided to elevate rookie first-round pick Duane Starks to a starting role, while demoting Jenkins to No. 3 cornerback status, where he will take over Starks' old role as a nickel back.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. I think I've played some pretty good ball this year. I'm a lot better than I've been the last two years. I'm moving forward," Jenkins said. "It's something the coaches want to do. If they feel like it will help the team, I'm for it. It's not really for me to decide.

"I know I'm capable of being a starting cornerback in this league, there's no doubt in my mind. I've given up two [touchdown] passes, one to [Cincinnati's] Carl Pickens and one to [Jacksonville's] Jimmy Smith. That's part of playing corner in this league. I know they drafted the kid [Starks] in the first round. He's a good player."

Said Starks: "I've been anxious to play a lot. I stayed patient. I tried to sit back and wait for my turn. If I hadn't made anything happen in the time I was out there, I'd probably still be waiting to play. Those three interceptions probably closed the deal."

Starks trails only Rod Woodson, who leads the team with four interceptions. Woodson sympathized with Jenkins, and cautioned that Starks is in for more learning experiences, as opponents will surely throw his way often to exploit his youth.

"Everybody can improve, not just Duane. He's had some good and bad [plays]. If you don't learn from the bad, you're not going to be any good," said Woodson, who pointed to this week's challenge. He and Starks will be charged with covering Tim Brown and James Jett, one of the best receiving tandems in the AFC this year.

"Corners become a scapegoat -- corners, coaches and quarterbacks. Corner is the only position where you can have a guy go deep on you 10 times, and if you give up one [score], you've had a pretty bad day. This is [Starks'] first test. This will be a good bookmark for him, to see where his career is going to go."

Moore picked for Ed Block

Safety Stevon Moore has been chosen among his teammates as the Ravens' recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.

Moore, who had surgery last December to repair fractures in both knees, spent six weeks in a wheelchair and rehabilitated the knees for three months. His injury ended a 77-game starting streak. In training camp last July, Moore suffered a separated shoulder that caused him to miss the entire preseason, but he made it back to the lineup for the season opener, and has yet to miss a game.

Moore ranks second on the team with 50 tackles.

The Ravens Courage House will honor Moore at a fund-raising dinner on Dec. 1 at the team's Camden Yards stadium. The national recognition dinner for all 30 NFL players will take place on March 9.

Pub Date: 11/05/98

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