Grbac set to throw himself back in mix Monday for Ravens

His bruised ribs healthy, QB to take back job as starter after 2-week layoff

Pro Football

November 06, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

When Baltimore makes its way back to Monday Night Football next week, Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac expects to make his return, too.

After sitting out the past two games with bruised ribs, Grbac indicated yesterday that he should be fully recovered when the Ravens play at Tennessee. Although he was listed as the emergency third quarterback on Sunday, he threw with authority in pre-game warm-ups and did not feel soreness afterward.

"I feel pretty strong about coming back this week," Grbac said.

Grbac hasn't played a down since Oct. 21 in Cleveland, where he strained the cartilage near his sternum from a third-quarter sack. He left the field a series later when another sack forced him to fumble.

After missing the next week of practice, he returned to take reps on Wednesday. A day later, Grbac said he threw with velocity using his natural passing motion for the first time since his injury.

"I would believe I would be ready by Monday," Grbac said.

With Grbac out, Randall Cunningham won both starts, completing 70 percent of his passes for 380 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. In his six starts with the Ravens, Grbac compiled a 3-3 record by connecting on 59 percent of his throws for 1,348 yards, six scores and eight interceptions.

During his weekly news conference, Ravens coach Brian Billick was asked about some public sentiment favoring Cunningham to remain the starter. Billick then reiterated his decision to stay with Grbac, who signed a five-year, $30 million contract in March.

"Elvis Grbac is our starting quarterback, plain and simple," Billick said. "I've said that all along. We're lucky to have Randall Cunningham here. When Elvis is healthy and ready to play, Elvis will be the starting quarterback. ...

"Randall understands this is Elvis' football team."

In the past, missing consecutive games would throw off Grbac's rhythm. In 1997 and 1998, he needed a couple of games back from clavicle and shoulder injuries to regain his form.

But Grbac doesn't anticipate any similar rust when he takes back his starting job.

"I think more than anything, I'm going to probably feel like in the beginning of the year where my timing is crisp and coming alive," Grbac said. "After the two weeks that I had off, I'm fresh and mentally I'm back into it."

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