Ogden's status questionable for tomorrow

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Lineman suffers hip flexor

Bentley/Stover showdown `a dead heat,' Billick says

August 11, 1999|By Mike Preston and Brent Jones | Mike Preston and Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens starting left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden missed yesterday's practices with what has been initially diagnosed as a hip flexor. His status for tomorrow night's preseason opener against the Eagles in Philadelphia is questionable.

Ogden, selected to the AFC Pro Bowl team the past two years, was the first draft choice in Ravens history, in 1996. He has been the cornerstone of the offensive line, and it was strange not having him line up on the left side yesterday.

Ogden said he suffered the injury early yesterday morning.

"I came out in the morning and I felt all right," Ogden said. "Then, after a couple of plays, I felt some discomfort. I'll check with the doctor to see how if feels. If I can, I'll play against the Eagles."

If Ogden can't play, the Ravens will start third-year player Spencer Folau at his spot. Ravens coach Brian Billick will also have to make similar decisions on receivers Jermaine Lewis (sore hamstring) and Floyd Turner (tendinitis in calf). Lewis is a starter and would be replaced by Webster Slaughter, based on the team's depth chart.

"Jermaine seems to be OK," Billick said. "Certainly if he isn't, then we wouldn't risk putting any of our front liners out there if they aren't ready to go."

Billick had said previously that he would play his starters for only the first quarter, but he said their playing time might run into the second period, especially with so many new faces on offense.

"We might take them into the second," said Billick, whose offensive players have had trouble staying onside lately in practice. "Maybe we're thinking too much. After so many practices without a scrimmage against another team, it's time to play a game."

Kicking competition close

In the past, the Ravens have brought in kickers to challenge veteran Matt Stover for the starting job because they thought he needed motivating. But bringing Scott Bentley to training camp was no ploy.

The race for the starting job is even and heated. Bentley out-dueled Stover in a field-goal kicking contest Friday at halftime of a team scrimmage. Bentley has had a lot of strength in his leg. Stover made 21 of 28 field-goal attempts last season.

"Scott Bentley is not here just for window dressing," Billick said. "Contrary to what some of you are writing, it's a dead heat."

According to Bentley, he and Stover will alternate every two kicks against the Eagles.

"So far, so good," Bentley said. "I trained hard for training camp because it's a marathon, not a sprint. Matt is a great guy, and he has been successful over the years. But this is a great opportunity for me to show them what I can do. I got to beat him in the kicking competition, and that felt great."

Webster a starter at last

Defensive tackle Larry Webster has been penciled in for a starting job for the first time in his seven-year career. Webster hired a personal trainer in preparation for the 1999 season.

He is looking forward to playing against the Eagles.

"I'm still learning out there trying to get comfortable with Goose [defensive tackle Tony Siragusa]," said Webster, a former University of Maryland standout. I need to work on being more consistent on things like getting off the ball. I think I have improved tremendously with the pass rush."

Buddy Ryan checks out son

Breaking away from his farm in Kentucky, former Philadelphia Eagles coach Buddy Ryan was at Ravens practice yesterday for the second straight day, watching his son and what he says is one of his new favorite teams.

Ryan's son Rex is the Ravens' defensive line coach, prompting coach Brian Billick to invite the elder Ryan to attend practice.

Ryan said he jumped at the chance to get away from his farm, where he raises horses and cattle, and get back to the football field.

"Most NFL camps are about the same," Ryan said. The Ravens "look like they are well organized. I think the defense is going to be good."

Ryan orchestrated one of the best defenses ever as defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, who won the 1985 Super Bowl. He went on to coach at Philadelphia; Houston, where he became infamous for throwing a punch at colleague Kevin Gilbride on the sideline; and Arizona.

"I miss coaching a little bit," Ryan said. "But I get to watch Rex coach on Sunday, and I watch his game on Sunday. His brother Rob is the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, and I watch his on Saturday. So I get my football fix on the weekend."

Shafer's wisdom rubs off

Secondary coach Steve Shafer's 31 years of coaching, including 16 in the NFL, have captured the attention of some Ravens defensive backs.

Cornerback DeRon Jenkins said Shafer is more of a technician than previous coaches. Jenkins said he stresses more of the fundamentals of football.

Safety Stevon Moore said the unit is running more drills in practice under Shafer to keep from giving up some of the explosive plays that hurt the team last season.

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