Ravens again find no defense Newsome's search uncovers no roster help

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Barring any last-minute negotiations, the Ravens' roster will remain intact in the wake of Sunday's 46-38 loss to the New England Patriots at Memorial Stadium.

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of personnel, said he had spent time looking over the waiver wire days before the Ravens allowed Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe to complete 25 of 39 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns.

As of yesterday afternoon, he said he still didn't see any defensive players who could help his team, which allowed the Patriots to score on seven of 11 possessions. The Ravens' most pressing need is a cornerback, and the trade deadline is today.

"Who is out there? Nobody is out there," said Newsome. "Nobody has called me to make a trade, and trades don't happen very often any more because of the acceleration you have in the cap [with signing bonuses].

"Basically, the pool of talent in the free-agent market is so limited, and it's compounded by the process of having to teach someone your system," said Newsome.

"So, we're not going to get Eddie Murray, huh?" said Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, with a smile.

Nope. Not Roberto Alomar, either.

The Ravens have decided to stay the course, and coach Ted Marchibroda and Lewis were looking for ways to cure a defense that has problems on the line, in the secondary and with the linebackers.

Marchibroda met with his defensive staff last night to discuss changes and also began preparations for the Indianapolis Colts game Sunday.

"Bringing in someone is not an option," said Marchibroda, "and you don't win with your scheme. Everybody has a scheme. We're going to look at some of our personnel."

About the meeting last night, Marchibroda said, "There was nothing drastic. Nothing that will be noticeable."

The Ravens have few moves they can make. The only cornerback on the roster not to start is rookie DeRon Jenkins. Right cornerback was expected to be the weak spot going into the season, but the Ravens have gotten solid play from second-year player Donny Brady, who replaced Issac Booth two weeks ago.

Because Booth's play was suspect, the Ravens designed the defense to give that position a lot of help with the safeties, thus leaving left cornerback Antonio Langham in single coverage.

Langham, a third-year player, has repeatedly been beaten this season, and might be a little afraid to gamble for fear of giving up another play.

The Ravens can't be too confused with their defensive coverages. Lewis simplified them two weeks ago.

"Already done that," said Lewis. "There are no magic defenses, no magic offense and no magic words. We've just got to play. We had a great week of practice last week and we have to transfer that to the football field on game day.

"We keep breaking down fundamentally. Sometimes we get the coverage, but we don't have a pass rush. Other times we get the pass rush, but we don't contain the quarterback."

The Ravens' pass rush has been almost nonexistent. The Ravens have only six sacks this season, two of those by outside linebacker Mike Caldwell, who will miss at least another two weeks because of a knee injury.

Even if starting defensive end Anthony Pleasant (listed as day-to-day after missing four games) returns from an ankle injury, he may not have a dramatic impact on this team. The Ravens don't have a pocket pusher or collapser in the middle of their defensive line, and besides Caldwell, the outside linebackers have not provided a pass rush even with blitzes.

"I think if Anthony was available, it would definitely help our pass rush because he and Rob Burnett were two of the steadier defensive ends around," said Marchibroda. "But we're going to have to look into some other options."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Indianapolis Colts

When: Sunday, 8 p.m.

Site: RCA Dome, Indianapolis

TV/Radio: TNT/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Line: Colts by 9

Pub Date: 10/08/96

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