Dry run whets game-day appetite


Banks efficiently runs two-minute offense in team's mock game

August 08, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Call it the dress rehearsal before the dress rehearsal. Yesterday, five days before their preseason opener and in front of about 2,000 fans at Western Maryland College's Bair Stadium, the Ravens staged a mock game.

The hourlong "game" featured limited contact, no tackling. It simulated game conditions, beginning with the playing of the national anthem. Players wore shorts. Coaches wore headsets. The Ravens substituted players freely, mixing first-teamers with third-teamers. And for four, 10-minute quarters, the clock ran continuously.

Among the more notable achievements was backup quarterback Tony Banks engineering the two-minute offense efficiently as time wound down in the fourth quarter. Banks, who lost a fumble earlier in the fourth quarter without being touched, got the offense in field-goal range with back-to-back completions to Qadry Ismail.

The exercise ended with kicker Matt Stover missing a 45-yard field-goal attempt.

In addition, starting quarterback Scott Mitchell threw the ball better than he had in Friday night's intrasquad scrimmage. Cornerbacks Duane Starks and Chris McAlister each spent most of the hour on the field.

"[Player evaluation] wasn't as much of a priority today. This morning had a specific purpose. Obviously, this was a very controlled situation," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

"We were rolling a lot of [players] through. It was like the controlled madness of game day. I'm glad we got a couple of two-minute drills in. I like the way we were able to get the offense in position to kick a field goal at the end."

Linebacker Peter Boulware, whose ailing shoulder will keep him out of game action most likely until at least the middle of the preseason, worked with the first team. Fullback Tony Vinson (ankle), safety Stevon Moore (hamstring) and defensive end Michael McCrary (knee) did not participate.

Billick gave the players last night off, and there is no practice today.

Aparicio `wins' challenge

Before players broke into a 30-minute autograph session with fans after the mock game, a mock race of sorts unfolded on the Bair Stadium track.

Baltimore radio personality Nestor Aparicio and Billick agreed several months ago to stage a charity event, in which Aparicio would try to run the 40-yard dash in under 5.7 seconds. If he accomplished that feat, Billick would donate $1,000 to the charity of Aparicio's choice.

Under the rules, Aparicio would get three chances to beat the clock. His first attempt yesterday produced a time of 5.94, his second, 5.72. Somehow, Aparicio hit 5.47 seconds on his final sprint.

Numerous players voiced their suspicions, saying their 40-yard dash times always rise with each attempt, since the body tires with each run.

Billick, who held a stopwatch and announced each time as Aparicio lumbered past the finish line, took the high road with a wink and a smile.

"I was just hoping he wouldn't pull up [before the finish]. It was a very favorable 5.4," Billick said to a group of skeptical reporters.

McAlister `on the move'

Ravens No. 1 draft pick McAlister has been one of the fan favorites at training camp, but he hasn't been out socializing much with the adoring public. Training camp doesn't allow for a lot of free time.

"I got a condo near the Owings Mills facility, which is about 10 minutes away," McAlister said. "The only places I know are here and Owings Mills. I probably won't get acquainted with the city until the off-season. Ever since I got here, I've been on the move."

No takers

Before settling on an intrasquad scrimmage, Billick had hoped to line up a date with another team this summer. The Minnesota Vikings, Billick's former team, scrimmaged other NFL teams annually during training camp. The Ravens last did so when they traveled to Lehigh University to face the Philadelphia Eagles in July 1997.

Billick wondered about scrimmaging the Eagles, Washington Redskins or New York Giants. The Eagles said no, since the Ravens face them in the preseason opener on Thursday. Billick added that the Giants passed because of scheduling conflicts, while the Redskins were unavailable because of "political reasons."

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