The Baltimore Football Club moved to shore up its wounded secondary yesterday by signing defensive backs Gary Wilkerson and Corris Ervin and adding them to the team's practice roster.
Wilkerson, 6 feet, 180 pounds, who was a college teammate of Baltimore receiver Mike Alexander at Penn State and was drafted by the NFL Cleveland Browns in 1988, spent the previous five seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This year, he was traded to Memphis for the first pick in the Las Vegas dispersal draft, then went to Shreveport last month, before the Pirates waived him a week ago. He has 216 tackles and 15 interceptions in his CFL career.
Ervin, 5-11, 185 pounds, spent the past four seasons as Wilkerson's teammate in Hamilton. Last year, he had 18 tackles in four games. In 1991, he played for the London Monarchs of the World League, where he was a teammate of Baltimore cornerback Irv Smith.
The moves became necessary after veteran cornerback Karl Anthony suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first half of Friday's 37-34 loss to the B.C. Lions. Anthony, who is believed to have suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam yesterday.
"We'll miss Karl, because he's a good guy and a good player," Baltimore coach Don Matthews said. "But we don't feel this is a catastrophe. We're not going to dwell on what we lose. We can't concentrate on what we don't have. We have to rise above it."
Anthony went down early in the second quarter against the Lions, when he took a bad step while covering wide receiver Matt Clark.
"I didn't hear it [the knee] pop, but I felt it pop. I knew it was bad from there," Anthony said. "It's the first serious injury I've ever had. I'm looking forward to getting to rehab."
Courtney Griffin filled in for Anthony. After getting beaten several times on a B.C. scoring drive in the second quarter, Griffin went on to record seven tackles and saved a touchdown with excellent coverage in the Baltimore end zone. He could start in Anthony's place in Saturday's home opener against San Antonio.
The news wasn't all bad for Baltimore's secondary. The team learned that cornerback Irv Smith and halfback Ken Watson, who suffered shoulder and knee injuries, respectively, during the second half against the Lions, will play this week.
Baltimore also welcomed back veteran offensive lineman Keith Ballard by signing him to the practice roster yesterday. Ballard, who was suspended after failing his physical at the start of training camp, has rehabilitated his injured knee and has dropped to 315 pounds, down 29 from five weeks ago.
Also added to the practice roster was 6-3, 300-pound offensive lineman Ivory Dillard. A former All Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player at Florida A&M;, Dillard recently was released by the NFL expansion Jacksonville Jaguars. He was cut by the New York Giants during training camp in 1994.