Woozy Grbac is clear he will play

Scared by concussion, QB set to face Browns

October 16, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

While his head remains cloudy, his intentions are clear.

A day after suffering a concussion and a sprained neck in a 31-23 loss at Green Bay, Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac announced that he expects to practice tomorrow and play Sunday at Cleveland.

Nearly 24 hours since that painful hit by Packers defensive tackle Santana Dotson, Grbac acknowledged that the concussion was the scariest point of his nine-year career as he slowly began to resemble his old self. Besides battling constant headaches, he is sensitive to loud noises and bright lights.

"I'm feeling OK and I'll be ready to go Sunday," said Grbac, who was 11 of 21 passing for 138 yards and two interceptions against the Packers. "I'm still a little foggy, and my wife was waking me up every couple hours to see if I was alive."

His painful ordeal came as a result of one missed block and a double impact.

Getting caught overextended, Ravens right guard Bennie Anderson was beaten on an inside move by Dotson with 3:13 left in the first half, paving a clear path on an unsuspecting Grbac.

With his arm cocked to throw and his head turned to the left, Grbac took a blow underneath the chin from Dotson's helmet, causing a whiplash effect on his neck. Then, after fumbling, Grbac landed flat on his back, snapping his head against the grass turf of Lambeau Field.

He suffered a Grade 1 concussion - the least severe - and never lost consciousness. It's the third concussion of his career and the first since a couple of years ago. During tests after the game, Grbac felt a pain shooting down the left side of his neck, but the X-rays were negative.

At this point, the Ravens would list him somewhere between questionable and probable. But like Grbac, the team anticipates that he will progress enough on the off day to return to practice tomorrow.

"The neck is the problem right now," trainer Bill Tessendorf said. "He's sore. But unless something goes awry, I would anticipate him working on Wednesday."

On the next possession after receiving the concussion, Grbac was intercepted when he forced a pass to Travis Taylor in heavy coverage down the sideline.

He was given smelling salts at halftime and began the third quarter by connecting on his first four passes. That strong start abruptly ended when he was intercepted again by throwing off his back foot and across his body.

It was Grbac's third turnover in a span of fewer than eight minutes, and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh noticed a change.

"Usually we have real good communication in between series," said Cavanaugh, who had one concussion during his 14-year career as an NFL quarterback. "I could say something and he acknowleges and gives me his response. On Sunday, it was pretty much a stare at me and a nod. I knew that was not him."

During that time in the third quarter, Grbac said he would close his eyes on the sideline and start to fall asleep.

"That was the scary part of it," he said. "That's what kind of got me."

Eight minutes into the fourth quarter, the Ravens pulled Grbac from the game.

"I started to get nervous and thinking, `What am I exposing him to?' " Cavanaugh said. "Then, I mentioned to Brian, I think we ought to yank him. It was a foregone conclusion after the third quarter."

Grbac, though, refused to use his concussion as an excuse for his mistakes.

"If I could get the plays in and call them, I should be able to execute them, too," Grbac said. "I just didn't play smart."

At yesterday's film session, Grbac cringed when seeing the replay of that hit for the first time. He watched as he stood there vulnerable with his arm pulled back and took the head-on hit.

Yet interestingly enough, he felt lucky after viewing it.

"It was pretty nasty, but he [Dotson] kind of eased up a little bit, too," Grbac said. "It could have been one of those situations where the guy could have put his shoulder in me and he didn't. Thank God, my arm didn't get caught a certain way and tear my rotator cuff. I was blessed in a certain way."

The other pressing concern is Grbac's erratic performances.

In three wins, he has passed for three touchdowns and one interception. In the two losses, he has thrown five picks and fumbled twice.

With six straight games against AFC Central teams, Grbac understands the importance of the road ahead.

"The mind-set for the next couple of weeks is the divisional opponents," Grbac said. "We could really set the tone for the rest of the year."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Cleveland Browns

Site: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Off the board

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