Maese longs for days of anonymity

Ravens long snapper noticed for miscues

Pro Football

January 02, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

His name is starting to circulate among Ravens followers, rendering one of long snapper Joe Maese's fears a reality.

Maese spent much of the season in relative anonymity, but after trying to fight through a medial collateral ligament strain in his left knee that limited his ability to stop Tampa Bay's Todd Yoder from blocking a punt in the Ravens' 22-10 loss to the Buccaneers on Saturday night, he is starting to receive his share of unwanted publicity.

"You don't want to have your name as a long snapper known," Maese said. "It shows a job well done when nobody knows who you are. But I got a lot of recognition Saturday night, and that's not a good thing.

"Injuries are always a problem. There is a big difference between being injured and hurt, and I'm not injured. I can still play, and I'm very fortunate."

Whether he can still play through the pain is a decision the Ravens will make over the next couple of days.

Ozzie Newsome, the club's senior vice president of football operations, said the team will work out two or three veteran long snappers in the next few days.

The Ravens could place Maese on injured reserve to open up a roster spot in time for Monday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings at PSINet Stadium.

With the Ravens possibly having to win that game to make the playoffs, the team likely will not take a chance with Maese unless his knee gets better quickly.

"Joe does have a situation with his knee, and it happened in the Bengals game [Dec. 23]," Newsome said. "We have an extra two days because we played on Saturday and don't play until Monday; he has a chance to improve. But we are going to bring in long snappers over the next couple of days and take a look at them."

Maese also was hit with a holding penalty on another punt attempt against Tampa Bay, and a second holding penalty against him was declined.

"What happened to me Saturday, it bothers me a lot," Maese said. "I'm disgusted by my performance because I know I'm better than that. That is why I'm going to do everything to not let it happen again. I refuse to feel sorry for myself and think too much about it, though. I'm going to think about it enough so it drives me this week.

"I've had games where I felt like I didn't snap as well as I wanted to, or I didn't block or cover as well as I wanted to. But I think it was probably the worst game I've ever played in my life. So that is something to deal with, but it is not going to happen again, I'll tell you that."

The Ravens drafted Maese in the sixth round to replace the combination of veterans Frank Wainright and John Hudson, both of whom handled the duty last season.

Wainright was placed on injured reserve after a back injury in October of last season, and Hudson did the snapping the rest of the season. The Ravens could opt to go with Hudson again, but Wainright, because of his injury, is unlikely."[Maese] has got to be able to move around a little better," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We fell victim to that, thought he could move better than he did. But he's getting better, so we'll see how the week progresses. If not, we'll have someone in here. If there is a chance it could heal, we'll let it heal.

"There are a bunch of people out there we're looking at. We'd love to have Frank Wainright back, but medically, which was his problem last year, he'd be at risk. [Hudson] is a possibility."

Maese wears a brace on the knee throughout the week and was one of the last members out of the locker room following Saturday night's game after getting treatment.

He has made every snap on field goals, extra points and punts this season."[Maese] can play, it's just the level of play," trainer Bill Tessendorf said. "It's going to get better, but it takes time. For an MCL, with his, it will take probably somewhere between four to eight weeks for it to fully be healed."

NOTES: The Ravens will resume practice tomorrow. ... Tickets dated for the original day of the Minnesota game (Sept. 17) are good for Monday night's game. ... Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, left tackle Jonathan Ogden and safety Rod Woodson finished in first place in fan voting at their respective positions for the Pro Bowl. ... The 90 percent of season-ticket holders who opted to purchase home playoff tickets should receive them in the mail within the next few days.

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