With center Nick Subis bothered by a rib injury, don't look for any changes in Baltimore's offensive line for Saturday night's game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Memorial Stadium.
Last week, before the team left for San Antonio, Subis had X-rays taken that revealed two cracked ribs. He was scratched from the game, which the Stallions won, 28-23, and replaced by left guard Mike Withycombe. Rookie John James filled in at left guard, joining tackles Shar Pourdanesh and Neal Fort and right guard John Earle.
Coach Don Matthews said Subis, who was moving slowly during yesterday's practice at the stadium, is "questionable to doubtful." Subis was able to snap the ball to quarterback Tracy Ham yesterday while working out of the shotgun formation but looked uncomfortable bending over.
The offensive line played well Saturday despite the late changes. James, 6 feet 3, 300 pounds, was making his first professional start after being acquired as a free agent in February. He attended the Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons training camps the past two years after starting for three seasons at Mississippi State.
"John did an excellent job," Matthews said. "The line gave good protection, and he was especially good."
James wasn't as glowing in his assessment, saying he performed "all right."
"I still have a lot of learning to do, getting used to playing next to these guys. I've got a lot of improvement I can make," he said.
When the expansion Memphis Mad Dogs come to Memorial Stadium Aug. 12, a familiar face may be doing the kicking for the opposition -- and receiving the warmest ovation.
Baltimore has transferred the rights to Donald Igwebuike to Memphis, meaning the Stallions get nothing in return for perhaps the most popular player in the franchise's brief history.
Tough on himself
Strongside linebacker Tracey Gravely said there were some plays in Saturday's game that he should have made but didn't: a missed interception, a couple of blown tackles.
Hard to believe, listening to Gravely critique his performance, that he set a team record with 13 defensive tackles.
A former halfback before coming to Baltimore, Gravely led the team in defensive tackles last year with 64. He also had four special teams tackles, six pass breakups and two interceptions.
The Stallions were in a zone for much of Saturday's game, and Gravely took advantage of San Antonio's tendency to "throw a lot of checks down to the backs," said linebackers coach Daryl Edralin. "He did a nice job of coming up and making the tackles. He's really coming into his own now as a linebacker."
Gravely, who was on the New York Giants practice roster in 1990 and received a Super Bowl ring, said he didn't realize he had racked up so many tackles until he watched the game film. "A lot of plays were coming my way," he said.