Ravens add ex-Chargers fullback

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Notebook

Harbaugh says Neal is 'kind of guy we want'

August 13, 2008|By Edward Lee and Jamison Hensley | Edward Lee and Jamison Hensley,Sun reporters

In an effort to allay some concerns about their offensive backfield, the Ravens signed four-time Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal yesterday.

Neal, who spent the past five seasons with the San Diego Chargers and four of the first five with current Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (2003 to 2006), was welcomed to a post-practice huddle by linebacker Ray Lewis and wide receiver Derrick Mason.

"He passed his physical this morning, and he is a Raven," coach John Harbaugh said after practice. "He's got a history with Cam. ... The thing about him is that the players all know him. They all respect him. All of our linebackers have been hit by him. [Defensive tackle] Kelly Gregg has been hit by him. As a matter of fact, he threw off Kelly Gregg's face mask a few years back. Kelly still has the face mask in his den. He's the kind of guy we want on our football team."

Neal, 5 feet 11, 255 pounds, is a powerful blocker who has helped pave the way for a 1,000-yard rusher in 11 straight seasons. Neal was released by the Chargers in February, just one season removed from being the league's highest-paid fullback.

Neal, 37, adds depth to the backfield for the team, which waived running back P.J. Daniels and fullback Justin Green and will be without Willis McGahee, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Cameron said the Ravens would play Neal and Le'Ron McClain at fullback and also use them in tandem. When Neal is at fullback, the Ravens will consider playing McClain at tailback.

"That's a realistic possibility," Cameron said. "That's not something we're going to do in an emergency. With Willis' situation, it helps us. It gives us some depth that we didn't have."

Neal was not available to reporters.

The team also added former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Keith Heinrich. To make room for him, the organization released tight end Lee Vickers.

Stover comes through

The players were excused from practice yesterday afternoon and meetings in the evening when kicker Matt Stover converted a 48-yard field goal during the morning session.

Harbaugh issued the challenge to Stover, who was mobbed by his teammates after the kick.

"John knows how to put pressure on a guy," Stover said. "You've got to be able to put yourself in those situations as a kicker. There's nothing that can replicate that other than a game, and that's as close as you can get. In fact, I think that was worse than kicking a game-winner because you don't want to let your guys down."

End zone

Cornerback Fabian Washington hasn't practiced since the preseason opener Thursday night because of what Harbaugh called "neck spasms." Wide receiver and return specialist Yamon Figurs has missed the past two days of training camp to celebrate the birth of his baby. Harbaugh said he expects Figurs to be able to play Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings. ... Linebacker Prescott Burgess (broken left wrist) and Daniels (separated shoulder) were injury-waived. ... Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was in full pads for the first time since spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee July 27. Ngata was limited to individual drills. ... The Baltimore school board last night approved naming Mervo High's football field after former Ravens owner Art Modell in recognition of the Ravens' funding renovation of the field.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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