Atkins likely to sit out against Falcons


Offensive lineman strained hamstring in Eagles game

August 19, 1999|By Mike Preston and Brent Jones | Mike Preston and Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens starting left offensive guard James Atkins will probably sit out Saturday night's preseason game against the Falcons in Atlanta.

Atkins, who was splitting time at left guard with Everett Lindsay, strained his hamstring in the first half of last Thursday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Atkins said the injury occurred when he changed direction on a running play and, after jumping over a player, another player stepped on his foot.

Atkins took a cortisone shot recently and said he felt better. But the Ravens probably won't risk further injury against the Falcons.

"I don't know yet," said Atkins about playing. "It feels pretty good. I assume they'll hold me out if I can't stride consistently."

"He probably won't play," said Ravens coach Brian Billick. "The injury is better and he feels real good about it. It's a decision we will make later on."

Atkins hasn't practiced since last week. He currently has a basic routine of some stretching, light running, cycling for conditioning and working with weights to improve the hamstring muscle.

McCrary update

The Ravens are set to begin the negotiations of a contract extension for defensive end Michael McCrary today. McCrary has one year left on his contract and has said he will hit the free-agent market if there is no new deal agreed on by the start of the 1999 regular season.

McCrary may have issued the deadline, but the Ravens have the upper hand. They can always put the franchise tag on McCrary after the season and pay him the average salary of the top five defensive ends in the NFL for the 2000 season.

McCrary didn't take kindly to that idea yesterday.

"The way I look at the franchise tag, it's one of the worst things you can do to a player," said McCrary. "It's more of a negative tag, not a good thing, especially for a player who has worked his butt off and has been committed to the organization.

"That's why I would like to get this put behind me before the season starts," said McCrary. "You can say you're not going to think about it or say you're going to black it out, but you really can't. People are going to ask you about it every day."

Right offensive tackle Orlando Brown and center Wally Williams went through similar situations last season. Williams had a decent year, but Brown turned in the worst of his young career.

Training camp blahs

The Ravens have been in training camp for a little more than three weeks, but despite some oppressive heat and the hard work, Billick isn't about to let up. Training camp will end next Thursday as practices become closed to the public at the team's Owings Mills training facility.

"They're tired and they're ready to move on," said Billick. "I said on the first day of training camp this is going to feel like a long training camp. This is the week it's going to feel that way. When I came in this morning I felt tired, so I knew the players were going to be that way. It's something you fight through.

"You go back to the mule and the two-by-four; you've got to gain their attention," said Billick.

Billick said he has purposely picked up the tempo this week because the Ravens are playing the Falcons, the defending NFC champions who lost to Denver in last year's Super Bowl.

Douglas shows signs

On the last play of the morning practice, rookie free-agent defensive end Marques Douglas chased quarterback Stoney Case out of the pocket and forced him into an incompletion.

Because it wasn't McCrary chasing Scott Mitchell, that play drew no reaction from the fans, but it could be a glimpse of what Douglas could do for the Ravens this preseason.

"I'm just looking to go out and play hard," Douglas said. "I'm not looking to be complacent as far as just being happy to be out there. I want to make some plays."

Douglas has been having a good camp and is one of the players defensive line coach Rex Ryan said has a chance at making the team. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Douglas finished as the all-time leader in sacks (39.5) at Howard.

The biggest adjustment for Douglas: not having the same amount of reps working with the third string as he did at Howard. He said the mental work he does while watching film and those in front of him get him ready when it's his turn.

"Things are going pretty well," Douglas said. "There are a lot of things that I have to learn in terms of the tempo of the NFL and working on my technique."

Vinson OK

The ankle injury that sidelined fullback Tony Vinson for the Eagles game last Thursday has healed well enough for him to practice.

Vinson returned to practice Monday and is expected to play Saturday against the Falcons. The former Towson State star is returning from a shoulder injury that forced him to spend the season on injured reserve.

"I'm not too bad, just a little stiff," Vinson said. "Especially missing some practices last week, it really took a toll so my legs were hurting a little bit. We're starting to tone it down getting ready for Atlanta."

Kickoff luncheon

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