Boulware to start, `knock rust off' in preseason finale

Ravens notebook

Linebacker says shoulder is ready

5 players cut

Slaughter may be next

August 31, 1999|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Pro Bowl linebacker Peter Boulware will return to the Ravens' starting lineup for the final preseason game Friday against the New York Giants.

Boulware, who practiced last week but did not dress against Carolina in what was a game-time decision, missed most of training camp with an injured right shoulder. He said he could have played against the Panthers but the Ravens decided to scratch him as a precautionary measure.

"I'll be out there this week," Boulware said. "I need to get at least one preseason game in to knock the rust off. I'm going to give it all I have this week in practice and hopefully I'll be ready for the opener."

His backup, Cornell Brown, has filled in adequately for Boulware, tying for fourth on the team with 10 tackles. Boulware, who originally separated his shoulder in the second game of the 1998 season, reinjured it in the team's final minicamp practice on June 12.

"I feel pretty good. My shoulder is getting a lot stronger every week," Boulware said. "The shoulder gets stronger even though I don't get the work on the field."

Coach Brian Billick said he has not decided how long Boulware will play.

5 are cut; 1 more due today

The Ravens waived 10-year veteran running back Steve Broussard yesterday along with defen- sive back Jermaine Derricott, wide receiver Kendrick Nord, defensive end Charles Preston and fullback Rob Robertson.

The team also placed safety Anthony Poindexter on the physically unable to perform list, which does not count against the roster.

The team has until 4 p.m. today to waive one more player to reach the 65-player limit. There is a good chance veteran wide receiver Webster Slaughter will be that player, a team source said.

The roster will be reduced to 53 with a final cut on Sunday.

Graham breaking out

Jay Graham can say that he is the only Ravens running back to cross the goal line this preseason.

Graham has two touchdowns while the rest of the running backs have none, which should help his case for the backup role to Priest Holmes.

More impressive than the touchdowns is the number of tackles Graham is breaking, though most are against second- and third-string defenses.

"I've just been getting more confidence in the offense," Graham said. "I'm trying to be the type of running back that I know I can be -- each week trying to get a little bit better. I'm trying to run as hard as I can."

The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Graham is dueling with Errict Rhett, who leads the team in rushing yardage (96) and yards-per-run average (5.6) in the three games.

Graham's 2-yard touchdown leap against Carolina cut the Panthers' lead to 24-22 late in the fourth quarter.

The run before that, on a second-and-six, was Graham's best of the preseason, breaking numerous tackles up the middle for a 9-yard gain.

"The biggest thing that I want to be is a tackle-breaker," Graham said. "I think that I have that ability. You have to concentrate on that while you play and not just waiting for the offensive lineman to give you wide-open holes."

Ofodile keeps the faith

For a player on the bubble like tight end A. J. Ofodile, making mental mistakes like the one Saturday against the Panthers, which caused the Ravens a penalty for having 12 men on the field, can hurt one's chance of making the team.

Ofodile said he simply missed the signal for the change in personnel. Billick laid into him on the sideline, but Ofodile is trusting that the good he brings the team outweighs an occasional mental error.

"If one little thing like that can affect you being around, you don't have too much status on the team anyway," said Ofodile, who has two catches for 10 yards this preseason. "I think it goes a lot deeper than one play or one mistake.

"Ultimately, the decision is the front office and coach's decision. All I can do is play. And beyond that I know God is going to have me where he wants me. He is in control of my life. And I can't go against what he wants. If it is his will that I'm here than that is great."

Fans' excitement is catching

For a preseason game, out of the 66,247 in attendance at PSINet Stadium, a good number of them stuck around to watch the Ravens' dramatic comeback unfold Saturday against the Panthers.

Offensive lineman Jonathon Ogden said he sees the fans' optimism as a result of the new coaching staff and change in philosophy.

"Fans are happy to see a new coach, new philosophies around here," Ogden said. "Hopefully we can keep it going. We came back during the game, and hopefully we'll have a lot of that this year. I think they hope we have a lot of that as well."

Linebacker Ray Lewis added, "Baltimore has been wild since we've been here just waiting for a winner. Now Billick is here. He gave them what they wanted, and everything turned out really well."

It was a different environment for quarterback Scott Mitchell than his last year in Detroit.

"I got really charged up. Here's a preseason game and you can tell they were really ready for football to start," Mitchell said. "They were excited about what we were doing.

"As a player, that makes you want to try all the harder so you can have that energy. It is a real addictive thing."

Medical report

Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa missed practice yesterday because of a swollen knee. He may be able to practice today.

Also missing practice were James Atkins (hamstring) and Michael McCrary. Jermaine Lewis, who missed Saturday's game with a back injury, returned to practice.

Billick said the starters will play about a quarter Friday. Backup quarterback Tony Banks will play the second quarter, and quarterback Stoney Case will play the entire second half.

Pub Date: 8/31/99

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