Johnson may get start if Ismail is unable to go

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Both receivers on mend

Starks slowed in practice

Pro Football

September 14, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Ravens receiver Patrick Johnson lost his starting job because of an injury and may gain it back the same way.

But there's a catch.

Although starting split end Qadry Ismail didn't practice yesterday because of a sprained ligament in his knee, he hasn't ruled out playing in Sunday night's game at Miami. After practice ended, he caught passes at full speed for 15 minutes from backup quarterback Trent Dilfer and pulled up hopping once.

"There's an outside chance," Ismail said on the possibility of playing. "The game plan is not something that I can't grasp ahold of, obviously. So, that's a plus. I'm feeling pretty good where I'm at. I feel a little ahead of schedule."

Ismail, who was injured in Sunday's win over Jacksonville and was to have missed one to two weeks, has improved during rehabilitation and is listed as questionable, meaning he has a 50 percent chance of playing.

"I don't see a change in his status," trainer Bill Tessendorf said after Ismail's workout. "But I'm pleased with his chances."

If Ismail is sidelined, Johnson would step in for him, and rookie Travis Taylor would stay the starting flanker. Sunday, Taylor played split end for the injured Ismail, but coach Brian Billick doesn't want to hinder Taylor's progression by shuffling him around since Ismail could return at any time.

Johnson, though, had been penciled in as the starting flanker entering training camp until he broke his collarbone the second day. He has been cleared to play since the season opener, but has been inactive for the past two weeks.

It could be Johnson's first start since catching a career-high nine passes for 114 yards at New England in last season's finale.

"I've been ready to go," Johnson said. "I feel like a caged up animal right now. I'm ready to pick up where I left off."

Starks nurses hamstring

Left cornerback Duane Starks is not only trying to shake off his lackluster performance Sunday, but a nagging injury as well. After starting practice, he stopped as a precautionary measure because of a pulled hamstring suffered in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars.

James Trapp filled in at practice for Starks, who said his hamstring didn't feel tight. Starks is listed as questionable.

"I expect to play," Starks said. "I didn't want to go out today and do something stupid."

Woodson OK to play

Free safety Rod Woodson is still foggy about Sunday's game because of a mild concussion, but he has been cleared to play. Billick said Woodson would engage in minimal contact in practice yesterday.

"I don't remember all of it," Woodson said of Sunday's game. "But I know who my family is and I know these guys in the locker room. So that's all that matters.

"I feel fine."

It was the fifth concussion in Woodson's career. He last sustained one three years ago with San Francisco, forcing him to miss the 49ers' season finale.

Mitchell's knee better

Jeff Mitchell has received only positive effects from playing Sunday with a knee injury. The Ravens center has started 21 straight games and seems more confident with his knee this week.

"I didn't think about it too much," said Mitchell, who bruised the knee Sept. 3 against Pittsburgh. "It's getting better. It's not like it got worse from playing either. So, that was really encouraging."

Billick, Fiedler familiar

Once an understudy, now the leading target.

Dolphins starter Jay Fiedler was a reserve quarterback with the Vikings in 1998, when Billick was the offensive coordinator there. Fiedler saw only limited action in five games that season.

"It'll be fun seeing him again," said Fiedler, who has completed just 49.1 percent of his passes this season. "But I'm sure he'll be letting them know my strengths and weaknesses from what he thinks and what he's seen of me. And they'll attack me accordingly."

Oops

Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa received sort of a backhanded compliment this week.

He was given a T-shirt and sweatshirt from Fox Sports for being named one of analyst Howie Long's "Tough Guys." The only problem: Each had Siragusa's named misspelled as "Sarigusa."

End zone

The other injured Ravens are Siragusa (knee) and defensive end Keith Washington (shoulder), both of whom are probable. ... The Ravens signed 6-foot, 285-pound defensive tackle Kelly Gregg to the practice squad. A sixth-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999, he was waived by the Philadelphia Eagles after two games on the inactive list this season. ... Running back Priest Holmes is second in the AFC in rushing with 173 yards. ... The Dolphins have the best turnover ratio in the NFL, with 10 take-aways against two giveaways. ... The Ravens are only one of four NFL teams not to allow a touchdown in the red zone.

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