Redman is taking it slow, steady

Ravens notebook

After back surgery, focus for QB is strength, caution

Pro Football

February 12, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Quarterback Chris Redman began rehabilitating his back this week at the Ravens' training facility and is on pace to start throwing lightly in three to five weeks.

Redman had surgery Jan. 17 after living with a herniated disc throughout the second half of the season and is working on strengthening his upper body, putting little stress on his back.

"There really is no schedule per se," Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf said. "His first football commitment here is the first week in May. Three to five weeks from now, maybe the snow will be gone and we can do something outside."

Redman, who started the first six games of the season, was a surprise scratch from the lineup Oct. 27 against the Pittsburgh Steelers when the injury was revealed earlier that week. He was put on the inactive list for the next five games and then was the backup to Jeff Blake the final five games.

"We have to be careful that he doesn't push it too quick," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He's going to be very anxious, but we're at a time now where we need to let the healing process take its full course. But he feels good about it."

Redman, who likely will remain the backup if Blake re-signs, is a restricted free agent. That means the Ravens can match any offer he gets from another team, and they need only offer a one-year tender to keep him.

As for Blake, his agent, Ralph Cindrich, said there is nothing new in contract negotiations with the team, and it is too early to tell whether Blake will hit the free-agent market Feb. 28. Both sides are working on a multi-year, incentive-laden deal.

Meanwhile, receiver Brandon Stokley, recovering from season-ending surgery in December, will have pins removed from his left foot the first week in March. Stokley, who also will be a free agent, is expected to start running at the end of May. The Ravens would like to re-sign Stokley to a short-term, cap-friendly deal but will probably not do so in time to keep him off the free-agent market.

Ravens vs. Redskins

The Ravens will face the Washington Redskins in the preseason for the first time in team history.

Final dates and times of preseason games will not be announced until April, but the game will be at FedEx Field between Aug. 21 and Aug. 25. The Ravens will open the preseason at home against the Buffalo Bills between Aug. 7 and 11, travel to Atlanta between Aug. 14 and 18, and end at home against the New York Giants between Aug. 28 and 31.

The Ravens and Redskins held a scrimmage before the 2000 preseason, but it was cut short by lightning. Before, the two sides could not agree on a preseason game. This coming season is the first time the league set the exhibition schedule.

"I think it's great," Billick said. "There was a great deal of frustration on our part, on my part, that this was not able to be orchestrated before now. It only makes sense. I hope it's the league's intention to do this forever, because it's great for the fans. Given the physical proximity, for us to at least not play in the preseason is criminal."

End zone

The Ravens will not designate cornerback Chris McAlister as their franchise player this week. The team likely will wait until Feb. 20, the last day teams can use the tag, for McAlister if a long-term deal is not reached. He would then be tendered a one-year offer sheet worth the average salary of the top five players at his position ($5.9 million) and be kept off the free-agent market. ... The Ravens allocated running back Dameon Hunter, guard Mike Collins, offensive tackle Lawrence Smith, defensive tackle Nate Bolling, receiver Marc Lester (Morgan State) and guard Jim Jones to NFL Europe.

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