The Ravens soon will say goodbye to assistant head coach Kirk Ferentz, who is expected to sign a five-year contract today to become head coach at the University of Iowa.
"We're pretty close [to an agreement]," said Ferentz, who will be introduced at an Iowa news conference tonight. "I really have a love for that area and those people, no question about it."
Ferentz, who also coaches the Ravens' offensive line and has worked with the Ravens/Cleveland Browns since 1993, coached the offensive line at Iowa under Hayden Fry from 1981 through 1989. Fry announced his retirement last week.
"You can't be around anybody for nine years and not pick up an awful lot," Ferentz said. "I've been around a lot of good people. That's the story of my coaching career. Coach Fry obviously has a special place in my heart."
Said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda: "Kirk is a real good coach and a real good man. He's as fine an assistant as I've been around. Iowa couldn't get a better man than him."
Ferentz, 43, a 1978 graduate of Connecticut, played linebacker and coached there before moving on to coach at Worcester Academy (1978-1979) and Pittsburgh as a graduate assistant in 1980, before joining Iowa. After leaving Iowa, Ferentz was head coach at the University of Maine for three seasons.
Ferentz will remain with the Ravens for the rest of the season. He survived the coaching purge in Cleveland when coach Bill Belichick was fired before the team moved to Baltimore. If the Ravens dismiss Marchibroda at the end of the season, Ferentz may not have been retained, as the offensive coaching staff has come under criticism for the team's glaring problems in that area.
Ferentz reportedly will earn between $500,000 and $600,000 a year at Iowa.
Jackson, J. Lewis doubtful
As expected, wide receivers Michael Jackson (sprained foot) and Jeramine Lewis (sprained ankle) did not practice yesterday. Each is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game in Tennessee. Former backups James Roe and Floyd Turner, who each caught a touchdown pass in last week's 38-31 victory over Indianapolis, worked with the first unit in their place.
To add some depth at that suddenly depleted position, the Ravens signed practice squad receiver Phil Savoy to the active roster and added Valdosta State rookie receiver Mike Bowman to the practice squad.
"It's a blessing," Savoy said. "My mom was dancing more than I was."
Savoy, 6 feet 2, 195 pounds, originally was drafted out of Colorado in the seventh round by Arizona. He was waived by the Cardinals on Aug. 25, claimed by Miami the next day, then waived four days later by the Dolphins. Savoy ranks second in school history with 152 receptions.
Bowman lettered two years in track at Florida (1993-94) before transferring to Division II Valdosta State in Georgia, where he caught 43 passes for 728 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior.
The Ravens also placed second-year free safety Kim Herring on injured reserve. Herring, who has played in only seven games this year, has not played since Nov. 8, when he suffered his second dislocated shoulder of the season.
Starks still starting
Rookie cornerback Duane Starks' job is safe for another week. Coming off his worst performance since taking over as a starter on Nov. 8, Starks will line up opposite veteran Rod Woodson for the fifth straight game.
"Duane has to play," Marchibroda said. "We know he's going to get beat, but he has to play if he's going to get better."
Starks, who was burned for two touchdowns against the Colts, has given up four scores since replacing third-year man DeRon Jenkins, who has outplayed Starks in the past two games.
"I had a bad game, and it's up to me to get better," Starks said. "The mistakes I made were not mistakes that can't be fixed. Some guys just have bad days. I had one of those."
Thompson endorses Belle
Ravens reserve safety Bennie Thompson has known new Orioles slugger Albert Belle for several years, and Thompson said local baseball fans should not be too quick to judge Belle, whose popularity among fans and the media in no way matches his lofty power numbers.
"People just see [Belle] as this bad guy. I thought the same as the public did. You've got to get to know him to really understand him," Thompson said. "He sort of reminds me of Bill Belichick. He didn't get along with the media. At the same time, he's a good guy.
"He's going to come here and help the Orioles win a lot of baseball games. If he could play football, I'd love to have him on our [special teams] strike force."
Pub Date: 12/03/98