Ex-Vikings cornerback Tate likely to sign contract with team today

Ravens notebook

Veteran would add depth

he also has returned kicks

August 22, 2002|By Brent Jones and Paul McMullen | Brent Jones and Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

The Ravens are expected to sign cornerback Robert Tate today, provided the six-year veteran passes his physical, according to a league source.

Tate, 28, was released by the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday and likely will sign for the veteran minimum. He is coming off a shoulder injury that limited his strength last year and eventually forced him out of the starting lineup in favor of Eric Kelly.

With cornerback Gary Baxter having not played in any preseason games because of a hamstring injury -- which also will keep him out tomorrow in Philadelphia -- the Ravens could use the extra help at that position.

Tate started every game in 2000 and registered 58 tackles and two interceptions, plus two more picks in the playoffs. Tate played in 12 games last year with 34 tackles and no interceptions.

He would be the fifth veteran free agent to sign with the Ravens since the beginning of training camp, following tackle Ethan Brooks, defensive end Ben Williams and linebackers Bernardo Harris and Cornell Brown.

Tate, at 5 feet 10, 193 pounds, also has kickoff return experience, averaging 25.1 yards in 1999. The Ravens could use him to push current No. 1 returner Lamont Brightful and backup Javin Hunter.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers would be next in line for Tate, who is originally from Harrisburg, Pa., if the deal falls through.

Happy ending for Collins?

Mike Collins could be one of the feel-good stories to come out of the Ravens' preseason camp.

If Collins makes the team as the backup to Bennie Anderson at right guard, it would bring a happy ending to what has been a rocky few years for a prospect from Hickory, N.C., whose mother is unable to work because of emphysema.

The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Collins spent his first three seasons at Wake Forest as a left tackle, was switched to left guard when the Demon Deacons changed coaching regimes, then suffered through a depressing draft weekend in April.

Collins thought he would be taken in a late round. When he wasn't, he signed a free-agent contract with the Chicago Bears, but was let go at the end of minicamp. He caught on with the Ravens, and his versatile resume could help him survive into September and beyond.

"It's been a hard road for me this year," Collins said. "Everyone was predicting that I would be drafted. That didn't happen, and I've had to switch from team to team. I don't know if I'm going to be able to settle down with this team or not, but that's the price you have to pay if you want to play NFL football. Right now, I think I'll be OK."

The roster cut-down to 65 players will occur Tuesday, which will be Collins' 24th birthday. Best known in camp for the brawl he had with defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, Collins entered the first two preseason games in the second quarter and played most of the rest of the way.

"There have been little struggles here and there, learning the offense," Collins said. "It's coming slowly, but it's coming surely. I'm just happy to be on the team, taking it day by day. I pray every night to God that I hopefully make this team. It should happen, but if it doesn't, I can move on with my life."

Dance partners

Edwin Mulitalo had company Tuesday for what has become a Rookie Night ritual, his rendition of the "haka," a war dance rooted in the South Pacific. Maake Kemoeatu, a rookie from Utah trying to make the team as a defensive tackle, was born in Tonga and played scholastically in Hawaii.

"I heard that Mulitalo had always finished camp doing the New Zealand Maori war dance," Kemoeatu said. "I thought I would join him, finish off camp with a good note. I'd done it before back on the islands, and Ed said he liked having someone to do the haka with."

Rookies posted up

As the players walked off the field for the final practice of training camp, they surprised two rookies -- offensive tackle Dawani Fladger and safety Josh Robinson -- by taping them to the goal post and spraying them with shaving cream and water. It was payback for not participating in Tuesday's rookie talent show, which is a tradition for the last night of camp.

Fladger, however, said that he was wrongfully punished because he took part in a skit and sang at a local restaurant.

"If I had a second chance, I would do the same thing," said Fladger as he tried to work himself free from the goal post. "I participated but I don't think I did what they wanted me to do."

Et cetera

Contrary to an ESPN report, the Ravens have not eliminated the possibility of adding free-agent receiver Antonio Freeman. ... The agent for free-agent running back Jamal Anderson said there are six teams pursuing his client but would only name the Indianapolis Colts. Although the Ravens have talked with Anderson's agent over the past couple of months, they are not one of the teams actively seeking the former Atlanta Falcon. ... The Ravens released cornerback Yohance Scott yesterday.

Sun staff writer Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

Camp update

Thumbs up: Quarterback Jeff Blake looked sharp working with the first team and should see a decent amount of action with the starters in tomorrow's game.

Thumbs down: It was a relatively weak turnout by the fans for the last day of camp.

Quotable: "I went to jail for a day, and it was the worst experience of my life." Ravens linebacker Cornell Brown to the Bowling Brook Academy football team after practice.

Injuries: Ends Michael McCrary (knee) and Tony Weaver (ankle), linebacker Andre Arnold (knee) and cornerbacks Gary Baxter (hamstring), Jason Olford (hip) and Yohance Scott (arm) did not practice.

Today's schedule: The Ravens return to their facility in Owings Mills, where practices will be closed to the public. The team will have a morning practice before leaving for Philadelphia in the afternoon.

Countdown to season opener: 17 days.

- Brent Jones

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