Hurt for preseason, Weaver gets 1st start


Rookie defensive end tackles big adjustment

September 08, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

It would be appropriate if the Ravens' defense would be announced before today's 2002 opener at the Carolina Panthers, because it's a unit that needs an introduction. Six of the 11 will be making their first NFL start, and none is as green as Tony Weaver.

The rookie defensive end was all of 21 years old when he reported to training camp. A second-round pick out of Notre Dame, he was sidelined with a high ankle sprain and didn't get a single snap in the preseason. Yesterday Weaver was upgraded from questionable to probable on the injury report, so the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder will start at left end.

"I'm not going to get nervous," Weaver said. "It's still football. It's going to be a little faster, but I'm just going to go out there, adjust and play ball."

Weaver resumed running early last week, and could have played in the preseason finale against the New York Giants.

"I've got to get in game shape," Weaver said. "In practice, I've approached every down like I'm in a game, that's how I get ready. Toward the end of last week, it felt good, where I could move. There's still pain there, but it's nothing that's going to stop me from playing. When I was a [college] sophomore, I missed one game with a sprained MCL [medial collateral ligament], and played the next week. I'm used to playing through pain."

Left cornerback Alvin Porter's last start in a game that counted in the standings came in 1999, but Oklahoma State's finale against Baylor didn't carry much meaning. The NCAA ruled him ineligible to play in 2000, but he beat the odds last season, when he made the Ravens as a rookie free agent and appeared in all 16 games, usually on special teams.

"I'm thrilled about it," Porter said. "My intention was to make the squad any way possible last year. I got the opportunity to play some at corner last year, and that experience helped tremendously this year."

Gary Baxter (thigh), who was projected to start over Porter at left corner, was upgraded from questionable to probable.

Extra points

Peter Boulware signed his new seven-year contract before the team departed for Charlotte yesterday. The deal is worth $42 million with a signing bonus of $13.5 million, an NFL source said. ... Defensive back James Trapp was downgraded from doubtful to out with a chest injury. ... Art Modell was a regular at practice this past week, but he'll miss the first opener of his 42 seasons as an NFL owner. Modell, 77, is recovering from a mild stroke he suffered earlier this summer. ... The Panthers won't be on TV in their home market today for the first time in team history. The NFL has blacked out the Panthers-Ravens television broadcast because about 1,900 tickets remained unsold by Friday's deadline. "Our preference would be to have the game on television, but we must respect the guidelines of the NFL," Panthers president Mark Richardson said.

Sun staff writer Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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