Ham's X-rays negative, says he'll play next game


Baltimore quarterback Tracy Ham couldn't finish this game, but he vows he'll start the next one.

Ham twisted his right ankle when sacked by linebacker Marvin Pope in the Calgary Stampeders' 42-1 6 victory over Baltimore in the CFL regular season home opener last night before 39,247 at Memorial Stadium.

Ham went out after the hit that occurred on Calgary's first possession of the fourth quarter and didn't return. John Congemi directed the team the rest of the way.

"When I went down, one of their guys rolled on my ankle," Ham said. "It got twisted."

Ham made light of the injury after X-rays proved negative and he was seated on a stool in front of his locker minutes after the game. He had already had an ice treatment, and there was no sign of swelling.

"I'll be fine, Ham said, adding that he'll play Saturday against thShreveport Pirates.

Before he heard about the X-ray results, coach Don Matthews said he had "no idea" if Ham would play against Shreveport. "But if he's healthy, he'll play."

When he went down, Ham had put up some strong numbers. He completed 23 of 33 passes for 286 yards and one touchdown (to Chris Armstrong), with one interception. He ran four times for 47 yards.

It was in keeping with his job in the opening win over the Toronto Argonauts. In that game, the former Georgia Southern quarterback was 21 of 41 for 260 yards and two TDs and rushed four times for 17 yards.

"Tracy played very well," Matthews said. "He moved the team and had enough time to throw. There was the one sack [by Pope], but for the most part he was protected."

Congemi, an ex-Pitt star, completed one of three passes for nine yards.

Matthews put none of the blame for his team scoring only 16 points (three in the second half) on Ham. Several "deficiencies," as he called them, disturbed him, however.

"We were on the 1-yard line and jumped offsides," Matthews said. "We turned the ball over [three times on two interceptions and a fumble]. The fumble led to a Calgary touchdown. We've got to get better inside the 20. We can't turn the ball over. We stopped ourselves. We were our own worst enemy."

For the second straight game, Baltimore gave up a touchdown on a punt return. In the second quarter, Pee-Wee Smith raced 58 yards with Josh Miller's punt to raise Calgary's lead to 15-6.

"We worked on it during the week," Matthews said. "Our coverage people are overrunning the kick. We've got to do a better job of reading the returner when he runs up to catch the ball."

Still, Matthews said, the team accomplished a few things. He was pleased, for example, with the 127 rushing yards after a meager 62 in the opener against Toronto.

Ham, however, had few kind words for the offense.

"We had costly turnovers that put the defense back on the field," he said. "We're searching for consistency, play in and play out, but we're not closing out drives because of costly turnovers. There are no excuses."

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