Over the past two weeks, no offensive player has been more productive for the Ravens than nine-year wide receiver Floyd Turner. And yet, Turner could find himself watching Sunday's game in Chicago from the bench.
A day after Turner matched a career high with 10 receptions against Minnesota, coach Ted Marchibroda said he expects Jermaine Lewis to return to the lineup after missing two games with an ankle sprain. Turner has replaced Lewis the past two weeks.
When asked if Turner could move to the other wide-out position -- where James Roe had replaced the injured Michael Jackson for the past three games -- Marchibroda said Turner's lack of familiarity with the position would weigh against him.
"Floyd has not played the other position [Jackson's spot]. He's done a little bit of work over there, but it's hard to [relearn] it in a week's time," Marchibroda said. "I think we'd be asking too much of him, and it could hurt the team."
Turner said, "I'm going to hurt the team, huh? I don't know what Ted is thinking. I don't know what the rest of them [offensive coaches] are thinking. I guess if worse comes to worse, I might not play on Sunday. I think I cause more problems by playing well than by not playing."
Jackson, who was available to play against Minnesota after practicing late last week, did not get on the field. His return to the starting lineup appears inevitable this week.
Meanwhile, no one has made more of his sudden playing opportunity than Turner. Through the season's first 11 games, Turner had recorded only 13 receptions. Through the first 11 games, Turner had few chances to play slot receiver, where the Ravens said they envisioned him after signing him to a one-year contract five months ago.
Turner has put together back-to-back, 100-yard efforts in the last two weeks. His 147-yard game against Minnesota marked the highest output for any Ravens receiver in 1998. Sunday marked the third straight game in which he has scored a touchdown. Turner, who is second among receivers with five scores, has four touchdowns over his last nine quarters.
"To be realistic, I expected it. I realize you don't lose a job to an injury," Turner said. "I can't control what they [coaches] do or what they say. It's kind of been like that the whole year, so why would I expect anything different?"
Turner is tied for fifth, with Jackson, with 27 receptions, including in his last two games, and is averaging 17.1 yards per catch, second only to Lewis.
Folau fills role
A day after his first NFL start, third-year offensive tackle Spencer Folau gave himself a pat on the back for surviving and thriving against the Vikings. Of all the pieces on the Ravens' makeshift offensive line, Folau provided the most pleasant surprise at right tackle, where he was filling in for the injured Orlando Brown, who missed what would have been his franchise-high 72nd straight start.
"They usually put me [on the inactive list] on Friday. To go from that to being someone they are really counting on is a big deal. It's mental," said Folau, who admitted to a case of brittle nerves going into Sunday's game.
"It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, although it was tough getting into a groove in the [turnover-filled] first half," he said. "[After a while] I was thinking, hey, I can block these guys. I'm competing with these guys. I felt like I owed my teammates my best."
"I think they [coaches] should have given Spencer a shot at that left guard spot [in training camp]," said right guard Jeff Blackshear, who played most of Sunday's game with a pulled abdominal muscle, which he aggravated late in the fourth quarter. "Spencer's technique is sound. He really stepped up."
As for the rest of the line, center Wally Williams has yet to regain the full range of motion in his sore neck, although head trainer Bill Tessendorf said he anticipates Williams coming back this week. Tessendorf is not as optimistic about Brown or fellow tackle Jonathan Ogden, who each missed Sunday's game with severe ankle sprains.
Green defends play
Since suffering a ruptured air sac in his chest Oct. 11, tight end Eric Green has had trouble holding onto the football. Green, who has played in six of the last seven games, has lost three fumbles over that stretch, including one against the Vikings.
Green scoffed at the notion that he is exposing the ball dangerously as a result of the chest injury.
"One guy wrapped me up low, another guy put his helmet right on the ball [in the Vikings game]," Green said. "All I can do is protect the ball, and I failed in that effort. I don't think the injury has anything to do with it."
Marchibroda begged to differ. "I think we're finding that a lot of [the fumbles] have taken place after the injury," the coach said.
Siragusa, Jones status iffy
The status of defensive tackles Tony Siragusa and James Jones is up in the air for the Bears game. At this stage, Jones is faring better.
Jones, who suffered a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sunday, also pulled a muscle behind the same knee. Neither injury prevented him from re-entering the game.
Siragusa's case is more troublesome. He badly aggravated a neck muscle pull he had suffered Dec. 6 in Tennessee, and probably will not practice today.
The Ravens spent part of yesterday participating in the players' voting for Pro Bowl honors. The Pro Bowl teams from the AFC and NFC will be announced Thursday. The most likely Ravens to be selected are Ogden, Jermaine Lewis and defensive end Michael McCrary, while middle linebacker Ray Lewis, outside linebacker Peter Boulware and cornerback Rod Woodson also are expected to be considered. Corey Harris is tied for the NFL lead with a 28.4-yard kickoff return average. Punter Kyle Richardson is third in the league with a 38.1-yard net average. Running back Priest Holmes needs 141 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season.
Pub Date: 12/15/98