Surgery is next foe for Boulware to tackle

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Shoulder operation could come this week

P. Johnson goes out with 9-catch bang

January 03, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

FOXBORO, Mass. -- The Ravens have yet to schedule a date, but outside linebacker Peter Boulware could have surgery on his right shoulder as early as this week.

"That's our intention," Ravens coach Brian Billick said after yesterday's 20-3 loss to New England. "We're headed that way, and it will happen fairly quickly, but I don't know any specifics."

Boulware, who was picked to play in his second straight Pro Bowl but will miss the Feb. 6 game in Honolulu, gave up his starting position yesterday to Cornell Brown for the fourth time in the past six weeks.

Brown finished with five tackles. Boulware was on the field for "seven or eight snaps" by his own count.

"I pretty much knew I wasn't going to go much," said Boulware, who has played more infrequently in recent weeks. He went through the last five games of the season without a sack.

"It's the last game of the season," he added. "These past few games, I've been really cautious with [the shoulder]. It's almost like it's not worth the risk."

Boulware played for the entire year while wearing a restrictive harness that protected his damaged shoulder and reduced him essentially to a one-armed defender. He dislocated the shoulder in the second game of the 1998 season, played through his first Pro Bowl year with the injury, then elected to rehabilitate the shoulder without surgery during the off-season.

Then, on the final day of the team's final minicamp in June, Boulware reinjured the shoulder during a non-contact drill. He worked lightly throughout training camp, missed the first three preseason games as a precaution, then reinjured the shoulder in the preseason finale.

Still, he managed to collect 10 sacks -- second only to end Michael McCrary -- in the team's first 11 games.

, Career day for Johnson

Wide receiver Patrick Johnson ended his second season by justifying his standing as a second-round draft pick.

Johnson, possibly the team's most improved player during the season's second half, wound up the year with the best game of his career -- nine catches for 114 yards, career highs on both counts. It marked his first 100-yard game.

"I never really had doubts about myself. I've always felt that I was a player," said Johnson, who finished the season with 29 receptions for 526 yards and three touchdowns.

Due partly to injury and Billick's preference for other receivers earlier in the year, Johnson played in only 10 games. Yet, he finished third on the team in receiving yards behind Qadry Ismail and Justin Armour.

What impressed Billick most about Johnson's day against the Patriots was the way Johnson rebounded from a poor beginning. Following his first reception, he had the ball stripped by cornerback Kato Serwanga. The Patriots recovered, stopping a promising drive at the New England 34.

"Most guys would have been hiding on the other side of the bench after something like that," Billick said. "After the fumble, [Johnson] made a beeline right to me on the sideline and said `Keep coming to me.' Patrick has made a huge step. He's a guy you look to now."

Said Johnson: "I was just trying too hard to make a play. I tried to stiff-arm [Serwanga] and I had the ball sticking out too far. I had to come back from that. I couldn't get down. I told everybody I was sorry. I know if I had made another mistake, I would have been out of there."

Instead, Johnson was all over the place, catching at least one pass on all but one of the Ravens' possessions. Immediately following his fumble, Johnson sparked Baltimore's only scoring drive with two receptions for 38 yards. That helped put Matt Stover in position to kick a 19-yard field goal, giving the Ravens their only lead at 3-0 with 13: 33 left in the half.

"Last year, I was in there primarily on third down, and I always ran the same route," said Johnson, who had 12 catches for 159 yards as a rookie. "A lot of times, somebody was standing right there, and it looked like I wasn't making plays. I felt like I had a fresh start this year."

Carroll: Possible finale `fun'

Pete Carroll strode to the podium, spoke animatedly about having fun, then left with a light wave of his right hand and the words, "See ya."

Yesterday's post-game news conference might have been the last public sighting of Carroll as New England's coach.

He's expected to be fired with two years left on his contract. He avoided questions about his future as successfully as his defense battled the Ravens.

"I just loved the day today," Carroll said when asked if he didn't think he'd have another enjoyable day as Patriots coach. "I'm always savoring everything I have an opportunity to savor."

He loved Troy Brown's three long kick returns and a defense that allowed one touchdown in its last two games.

"Our whole thing was to have fun," Carroll said. "Sometimes in the bitterness, we miss the fun."

Ragged line

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