One holdout signed, one to go for Ravens

2nd-round pick Weaver agrees to 4-year contract worth nearly $2.6 million

1st-rounder Reed only one left

Probable starting safety could sign deal as early as today, source says

July 27, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

When first delivered after yesterday's morning practice, Ravens coach Brian Billick's warning to get into camp pertained to a pair of draft picks.

By the afternoon practice, though, word had circulated that second-round pick Tony Weaver had agreed to terms, leaving safety Ed Reed as the lone holdout by the end of the first day of training camp.

Weaver, a defensive end out of Notre Dame, signed a four-year deal worth close to $2.6 million, with a signing bonus in the range of $1.25 million.

Like Reed, Weaver is penciled in as a starter this season. But that status, according to Billick, was in jeopardy of being erased with a higher incidence of missed practices.

"It's great to have him in camp. I'm sorry he missed [yesterday], but at least he is in for what we are going to get done," Billick said.

Weaver was scheduled to arrive late last night and is expected to be at this morning's practice. He will start in place of Omari Jordan, who took Weaver's repetitions with the first team during the shortened morning session that was moved inside the gymnasium at McDaniel College because of rain and lightning.

Reed's arrival date is still undetermined. The Ravens' first-round pick out of the University of Miami (Fla.) was certain he would be in camp on time earlier this off-season but softened his stance earlier this week.

According to a source, both sides are close, and a deal could be announced as early as today. Reed could not be reached for comment.

Chad Williams, the last of the Ravens' four sixth-round picks, took Reed's place with the starters during both practices.

"It felt good getting the opportunity," Williams said. "It's a pretty good chance for me to show people what I can do. It's unfortunate Ed not being here yet, but he'll be in sooner or later.

"I go at it like this; my job is to come in here and help the team as much as I can. It's just like if somebody was injured, I'd probably be the next person in line."

Williams in for Reed is a fitting substitution because both players have similar styles. Both are slightly undersized - Williams at 5 feet 9, Reed at 5-11 - but have tremendous field awareness and a knack for making plays.

Williams was an All-Conference USA first-team selection at Southern Mississippi, where he totaled 303 tackles and 10 sacks for his career.

Although he was a starter the past three seasons in college, Williams was realistic about his chances to unseat Reed.

"Coach told us at minicamp to remember as much as you can because when you come back, it's going to go quick," Williams said. "I just tried to come back and show how much I remembered.

"But when Ed comes back, it's Ed's job. I'll be happy with my role backing up unless someone goes down or until my time comes. It's a good situation to be in."

There is speculation that for tax purposes, Reed would prefer to sign the contract in Florida rather than Maryland, which is part of the holdup, according to a source. Oakland Raiders linebacker Napoleon Harris, the 23rd pick in the draft, signed a five-year contract worth $7 million with a $3 million signing bonus. Reed, selected 24th, can expect a deal slightly less than that.

"It is unfortunate for [Reed], it's unfortunate for us," Billick said. "It's part of the business; we'll get it done. The silly part is what we will agree to today will be what we agree to tomorrow and the next day. So get in here and go to work."

As for what this means to Williams, Billick said, "It's a great opportunity to say, `Hey, I'm here, and someone is going to have to push me out.' "

And just how long will it take before it would become impossible for Reed to push him out of the first preseason game, which is Aug. 9 against the Detroit Lions?

"It depends on how long he is gone," Billick said. "When we drafted him, we had something very specific in mind. It is unique to have a rookie put right into a starting position, but this a unique set of circumstances."

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