So far, Sharpe man of few words on Titans

Diplomacy on display on 1st full day of work

Herring unlikely to play

RAVENS Vs. TITANS

January 04, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Shannon Sharpe didn't have anything bad to say about the Tennessee Titans yesterday. Don't worry. It was only the Ravens' first day of full preparation for their AFC divisional playoff game.

Sharpe, the loquacious tight end, began last week saying only nice things about Denver, his employer the previous decade. By week's end, he was making proclamations that the Broncos couldn't cover him. Earlier this season, he had some disparaging things to say about the defending AFC-championship Titans, but he passed on the chance to reiterate them yesterday.

"When I was younger, I did a lot more talking," Sharpe said. "As I've gotten older, I kind of phased that out of my repertoire."

It's not as if Sharpe is without ammunition when the subject is Tennessee. The Ravens are the only visitors to win in 2-year-old Adelphia Coliseum. Sharpe had eight catches for 92 yards, including a clutch 36-yarder on the game-winning drive, in that Nov. 12 victory. In an Oct. 22 loss at PSINet Stadium, he burned the Titans for 104 yards on eight receptions.

"They [the Titans] play a lot of man-to-man, and they've got a lot of confidence in their linebackers and safety," Sharpe said. "That puts me in a situation with a lot of 1-on-1 matchups that I feel I can win. I've made my living being able to be successful against linebackers and safeties, even though as I've gotten a little older, I don't run as well as I once did. I do know how to get open, and Trent [Dilfer] has a lot of confidence in me."

Herring doubtful

Safety Kim Herring's bruised left ankle has been slow to improve, and coach Brian Billick doesn't expect him to play against the Titans. Billick expects Corey Harris to start in Herring's place, and Anthony Poindexter, the second-year pro out of Virginia, should see his most meaningful action of the season.

"His [Herring's] status is a little bit better today, but we have him listed as doubtful," Billick said. "Those high-ankle sprains, they're tough. I would not be overly optimistic about his ability to be available on Sunday. Obviously, Corey would start for us and then you'll get a chance to see Poindexter and some of the others on nickel and dime situations."

Tight end John Jones, who turned an ankle last Thursday, was placed on injured reserve, and the Ravens signed wide receiver Germany Thompson to their 53-man active squad. Tight end Jason Gavazda, who spent time with Tennessee, Carolina and Green Bay this season, took Thompson's place on the practice squad.

Practice at PSINet

The Ravens worked before a raucous, record crowd that became a factor in Sunday's wild-card dismantling of the Broncos at PSINet Stadium. It was a tad quieter when they returned there yesterday, as the combination of frozen turf at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills and the fact that they won't have another home game until next summer led the Ravens to practice at PSINet Stadium.

"The guys loved it," Billick said. "We've been on it [their practice field] enough and they really needed to get on a softer surface. It was kind of neat going down the stadium, a different atmosphere. It was almost like bowl game preparation, like you did in college. It energized them a little bit and I know they were appreciative of getting on the soft surface."

The Ravens, coaches and training staff were bused from Owings Mills to PSINet Stadium for a two-hour workout. They'll repeat that drill today.

New home?

The logistics of losing an hour to transportation in the midst of the biggest week of the season underscored the Ravens' desire for a new practice facility. The Owings Mills complex was built in the 1970s for the Colts, and renovations could only do so much to upgrade the facility. Ravens president David Modell said that the team will explore the feasibility of a new facility in the off-season.

"Eventually, we'll do that," Modell said. "We'll probably work on that this off-season, but that's a year-and-a-half project. We probably need to have a first-class training facility. This is OK, but it's not as good as it ought to be. We need to have a state-of-the-art training facility, and we need to put it where it makes the best sense. We need to have everyone under one roof, to create a certain efficiency. We'll do that wherever it makes the most sense."

The Ravens have 22 employees at their downtown front office.

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