Hurting Ravens try trade talk

Ailing Grbac, Allen are questionable for Sunday vs. Jaguars

Source: Gary deal rejected

NFL deadline looming, deal for running help a remote possibility

October 23, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

In the fallout of the Ravens' 24-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the injuries are causing a stir while the trade talk is seemingly dying down.

Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac (bruised ribs) and running back Terry Allen (sprained left ankle) were both feeling the aches after getting knocked out of the game early, and are listed as questionable for Sunday's contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I'm day-to-day right now," Grbac said. "I feel pretty sore in the chest area.

"It really comes down to me making the decision and see how I feel. Can I throw with comfort? Am I putting myself in position that if I get hit again, will I do some damage?"

As for a possible trade, Ravens senior vice president of football operations Ozzie Newsome confirmed that he talked to four teams yesterday, with two of them offering running backs. Although Newsome declined to name teams, a league source indicated a trade is considered unlikely before today's 4 p.m. league-wide deadline.

Another league source said last night that the Ravens declined Denver's bid earlier in the day to trade Broncos running back Olandis Gary for Ravens defensive tackle Lional Dalton and draft picks. The Broncos' asking price on those picks proved to be too high, the source said.

"If we get the right guy and we can make a good trade, we'll do it," Newsome said. "But I'm not out there calling people, asking if they have anyone they want to trade. We feel pretty good about our roster."

But the current roster has some question marks because of injuries.

Grbac suffered bruised ribs just 2:11 into the second half, when he fell on the ball after getting sacked by strong safety Earl Little. A series later, Grbac coughed up a game-turning fumble and exited the field.

After the game, the soreness on the left side of his ribs was about two fingers in width. Yesterday, the pain had spread further.

The first test will come tomorrow when he will try to use his upper body to effectively throw a pass.

"It'll be interesting what I can do during the week," said Grbac, who bounced back from a concussion and sprained neck to play last week. "I'm going to do everything I can do to get ready."

If Grbac cannot go, the Ravens will start backup Randall Cunningham, who has finished the past two games. Against mostly prevent defenses, Cunningham has engineered three touchdowns on seven drives.

"You've seen some of the things that Randall can do," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He has an understanding of the offense. You can see that he can still throw the ball. He has that extra dimension that worries teams. So if we felt that Elvis' ribs needed the extra week -- if that was the prudent thing to do -- obviously, we'd be very comfortable in going into a game with Randall as the starter."

Besides improving Grbac's health, the Ravens need to fix their frequent mistakes on offense. Grbac has fumbled four times this season and has thrown four interceptions in his past 30 passes.

In his past five games, he has been intercepted eight times on 165 attempts, which is about one every 20 passes. That's a troubling ratio considering Grbac came to the Ravens without an interception-prone reputation, averaging one pick every 31 throws.

According to Billick, only two of Grbac's interceptions this season can be blamed on the nine-year veteran.

"With regards to Elvis, I can help him by protecting him better and not putting him in positions where he has to force the ball," Billick said. "Because he's got a history of taking care of the ball pretty well and we need to get back to that. That's us as opposed to Elvis."

Billick said that tinkering with the offensive philosophy may be in order.

"If we have to be a little less vertical to diminish the turnovers," he said, "I'm willing to make that trade."

The Ravens' other injury concern is Allen, who left after the fourth play in the team's opening possession. The 11-year veteran sprained his left ankle on a 7-yard run two plays earlier.

Like Grbac, his status will be re-evaluated over the next couple of days.

The issue at running back has remained a volatile one since Jamal Lewis went down with a season-ending knee injury on Aug. 8.

The Ravens have been seeking a replacement for Lewis, and have been in talks with the Broncos regarding Gary since August, a league source said.

Dalton said yesterday afternoon that he hasn't heard a word.

"It's a business, but I don't think I'm going anywhere," said Dalton, an unrestricted free agent after this season. "I think I'm an asset for the Baltimore Ravens and, hopefully, I'm a future starting defensive tackle."

With the cumbersome salary cap red tape, trades in the NFL have become rare.

"I'm sure there's a lot of buzzing going around the league," Billick said. "We get a number of calls about a number of players, but there's a lot of rumors flying around now."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

Site: PSINet Stadium

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

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

Line: Ravens by 7 1/2

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