Ravens' Wright is likely to miss half the season

Surgery goes well, but QB can't throw for 4 months

Stewart leads backup candidates

Billick urges patience to look at `all the options'

May 25, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Although yesterday's surgery on quarterback Anthony Wright's right shoulder was a success, the result turned out to be the disappointment the Ravens had feared.

Wright will be unable to throw a football for the next four months, meaning the Ravens will have to sign a backup quarterback. There was a sliver of hope that Wright's shoulder injury would not keep him out into the season, but that disappeared as surgeons repaired the torn labrum of his throwing arm.

The Ravens will likely place Wright on the physically-unable-to-perform list, which would put the sixth-year veteran out the first six weeks of the season.

After Oct. 17, Wright can practice for three weeks before the Ravens have to decide whether to place him on the active roster, to put him on injured reserve or to release him.

As for Wright's replacement, team officials plan to sign a player within the next two weeks but likely not before June 1, when quarterbacks Tim Couch (Cleveland Browns) and Kurt Warner (St. Louis Rams) are expected to be released by their respective teams for salary cap reasons.

Couch has been linked to the Green Bay Packers much of this offseason, and Warner to the New York Giants. The Ravens, however, still plan to talk to representatives for the players when they become available.

"Right now, the market is what it is, but we're apt to wait for [June 1] to happen to see exactly where we're at and who is available before we take any steps," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

The Ravens have already contacted the agent for former Chicago Bears quarterback Kordell Stewart. Former Giants quarterback Kerry Collins also drew interest from the Ravens, but he signed a three-year contract with the Oakland Raiders yesterday.

Stewart, who was 5-0 with the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Ravens in games played in Baltimore, appears to be the front-runner, but the team could show interest in Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson should he be released.

"He was very energetic about his desire to be here," Billick said of Stewart. "And he is very much an option for us. But we are going to make sure we look and see what all the options are."

Meanwhile, the Ravens continued to publicly stand by cornerback Corey Fuller, who last week had additional charges of felony firearm and misdemeanor gambling added to charges of operating a gambling house at his Tallahassee, Fla., home.

"Until we are given information differently that indicates Corey is culpable and that there is more substance to this than what we have been made aware of, our position won't change," Billick said.

Fuller was arrested last month after authorities charged him with hosting high-stakes card games in which pots frequently reached into the thousands of dollars. Fuller allegedly collected 10 percent of the pots.

"On behalf of my client, Mr. Fuller denies the allegations contained in the information filed by the State of Florida on Friday pertaining to the gambling and firearm allegations," attorney R. Timothy Jansen said. "We believe the facts will undermine the unsubstantiated allegations contained in the charges."

In other news, lawyers for Ravens running back Jamal Lewis will reconvene in court tomorrow, at which time a ruling on what information the defense will be allowed to have is expected. There will also be a hearing for co-defendant Angelo Jackson on the admission of evidence from a search of his car and the admission of a statement he made after his arrest.

Lewis is accused of helping broker a cocaine deal for Jackson, a childhood friend, during conversations with a federal informant in 2000 before joining the Ravens. Lewis was indicted on federal drug charges Feb. 25 in Atlanta.

His lawyers are seeking 20 items from the government, including transcripts of recorded phone conversations involving Lewis, surveillance reports, information involving broken tapes and names of alleged co-conspirators.

NOTES: The Ravens added an additional passing camp to take place June 2-3. The workouts are voluntary. ... With the signings of Ed Hartwell and Alan Ricard, the Ravens have all their restricted free agents under contract.

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