Herring seems ready to shoulder his share

Ravens safety rebounds after two separations

August 18, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Now that Ravens strong safety Kim Herring has one preseason game under his belt, the rest of the season should be a snap, even though that's a sound he doesn't want to hear.

After two shoulder separations a year ago forced him to miss more than half of the 1998 season, Herring has rebounded well. There is no hesitation as far as run support. He can stay with almost any tight end in the league on a pass pattern.

The signature of his return may have been when he ran down a Philadelphia Eagles running back last Thursday night after a short pass in the flat for no gain, and then talked a little trash.

"I think he can become very good," said Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. "Obviously, he is still scratching the surface and he has to shed that whole stigma back there. He may not be the biggest guy, but he has great speed and intelligence.`

Herring, 6 feet and 195 pounds, also has little fear. Five years ago, he tore three ligaments in his left knee and a hamstring muscle, forcing him to miss the final month of the 1994 season at Penn State.

He suffered a mild shoulder separation during the second week of last season against the New York Jets and then was inactive for two weeks. Herring played five more games before the second separation against the Oakland Raiders.

Since then, Herring hasn't backed off either in rehabilitation or on the field.

When Herring hurt his knee, he was supposed to be inactive for five to six months. Herring was back in three. The shoulder surgery, which lasted for six hours and reattached ligaments to his bone, was expected to shelve him for four and a half months. Herring returned a month sooner.

"The shoulder is holding up pretty well," said Herring. "There is some stiffness and I have some soreness, but it's a fatigue soreness. There is no problem. You can't worry about injuries or what may happen down the road. This is football. You're going to have some type of injury sooner or later.

"I could have gone without surgery, but the only thing that would have been holding the shoulder together was scar tissue, so the surgery was the smartest thing to do.

"The knee operation helped me in my rehabilitation of the shoulder. I had done it before, I knew what to expect and what I had to do to get it better, as good as before."

Herring also had a model to emulate. Right behind him on the depth chart is veteran Stevon Moore, who had a 77 consecutive-game starting streak ended in 1997 when doctors found osteochondral fractures in both knees. After major surgery in the off-season, Moore had 96 tackles in 1998, third-best on the team.

Herring refuses to complain about his shoulder. He is so impressed with Moore that he won't say Moore is second string, but they share the position.

"He motivates me," said Herring, one of the team's two second-round picks in 1997. "When I see what he has gone through, the type of character he has exemplified to play at such a high level, there are no excuses for me. When I look at the things he has done to play 11 years in this league, I can only hope that I can play that long."

The time off allowed Herring to watch plenty of film. Also, when the team decided to move Rod Woodson from cornerback to safety, the Ravens shifted Herring from free safety to strong safety. That means Herring will have to give more run support than in the past. He'll also have to cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield on passing situations.

Herring isn't sweating. If he can come back from injuries, playing a new position is nothing.

"I've always looked at myself as a total all-around guy," said Herring. "I don't look at myself and see a total weakness or look at myself and see a total strength. It's not a major transition."

The worst part is over, and that was the shoulder injury. The concern ended against the Eagles.

"I had some contact in drills, but its not the same as a game even though each day was a test," said Herring, who has dropped seven pounds this season. "But now I'm happy to get it over with."

Lewis said: "Right from the first play he got into the action against the Eagles. He never missed a beat."

Ravens camp

When: Through Aug. 26

Where: Western Maryland College, Westminster

Today's practice times: 8: 45 a.m.-11 a.m.; 3 p.m.-4 p.m.

Directions from Baltimore: Take Interstate 695 to Exit 19 to I-795 north to its end. Follow signs to Westminster via Route 140 west to Route 31 south. At blinking yellow light, turn left (Route 31). At first traffic light, turn left on Main Street. Proceed up the hill. The parking entrance is on the left.

Information: 410-261-FANS

Pub Date: 8/18/99

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