Injuries mount for Ravens As many as 5 starters on interior lines may sit out against Bears

December 18, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens have become the Who's That of the NFL.

Injuries could force as many as five new faces into the starting lineup on the interior lines, including two new defensive and offensive tackles and a center, when the Ravens face the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Starting offensive tackles Orlando Brown and Jonathan Ogden did not practice yesterday because of sprained ankles. Center Wally Williams also sat out practice because of a sprained neck. All three did not play in Sunday's 38-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Defensively, starting tackles Tony Siragusa (sprained neck) and James Jones (knee) did not practice, and neither did top tackle reserve Larry Webster, who sprained his Achilles' tendon Wednesday in practice.

"In all my years, I've never seen anything like this," said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda.

"I think Larry will be ready to go. We're just holding him out as a precautionary measure," said Marchibroda. "I think Orlando is the least likely to play on the offensive line, but as far as everyone else, we probably won't know for sure until either Saturday or Sunday."

The Ravens had a patchwork offensive line last week. Spencer Folau and James Atkins started at the tackles and Jeff Mitchell was the center. Atkins and Mitchell had extensive experience before the game, and the group didn't allow any sacks.

But the Ravens never really got much of a test as the team committed six turnovers and the defense spent most of the time on the field. Marchibroda expects Williams to at least dress for the Bears game just for emergency situations.

"We were really happy with the way that they performed," Marchibroda said of the group he used last week. "It was a second chance for some of these guys and they performed well. We ended up not giving up a sack. You have to take your hats off to them. Spencer did a really fine job. He was the one guy we were more concerned with than the others because at least the others have played before."

The Ravens' defensive line was fairly healthy entering the Minnesota game, but Siragusa didn't play the second half and Jones tried to play in the final two quarters, but the knee injury prevented him from being much of a factor.

Jones, in his eighth season, says he will play Sunday. But Jones is a free agent after this season. Retirement is not out of the question.

"Like I've said, this has been a disappointing year," said Jones. "I felt we should have won more games. Any decision I make will not be made until after the season and during the off-season. But I'm still having fun. If I wasn't having fun, I wouldn't be trying to come back this week."

Webster said he is definitely going to play. Marchibroda pointed out that Webster has been playing his best during the last couple of games.

"I had my leg planted and someone just fell on my ankle," said Webster. "I'll be there."

Yesterday, the Ravens worked rookie Lional Dalton at one starting tackle and moved veteran reserve defensive end Mike Frederick to the middle to start at the other tackle. Marchibroda said reserve ends Keith Washington and Paul Frase were also candidates.

Jones is the seventh-leading tackler on the team with 66 and third in sacks with 5 1/2 . Siragusa is tied for eighth in tackles with 63.

Key injuries

Questionable for Sunday:

T Orlando Brown (ankle)

TE Eric Green (knee)

DT James Jones (knee)

WR Jermaine Lewis (ankle)

T Jonathan Ogden (ankle)

DT Tony Siragusa (neck)

C Wally Williams (neck)

Probable for Sunday:

G J. Blackshear (abdomen)

WR Michael Jackson (foot)

DE M. McCrary (knee)

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Chicago Bears

Site: Soldier Field, Chicago

When: Sunday, 1: 01 p.m.

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

Line: Pick 'em

Pub Date: 12/18/98

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