Overhaul of roster expected Off-season turnover might reach 40 percent


Ravens vice president of football personnel Ozzie Newsome said yesterday that he expects 25 percent in roster turnover by next season, and that the figure could reach as high as 40.

Newsome said the 25 percent figure is about the average for the league. The Ravens will have 12 free agents at the end of this season and are expected to sign seven draft picks.

Newsome said the team won't begin serious evaluation of the players until the second week of January. He also said the last three weeks won't have much bearing on the evaluations because the players have been giving good efforts all season.

"This isn't an intense period where we're going to be watching people because these guys have been putting out solid efforts every week. There is no loafing," Newsome said. "Right now, it's hard to determine what our turnover rate will be, but it could get up there."

Most of those changes will be on defense. The Ravens are ranked 29th in the league in total defense, 23rd against the rush and No. 29 against the pass.

Dowden joins active roster

The Ravens signed cornerback Corey Dowden to the active roster yesterday. Dowden came out of Tulane in 1991 and has been around the league with stops in New Orleans, Green Bay and Atlanta. He will wear No. 36, which belonged to Issac Booth, who was cut by the team Nov. 21.

Dowden, 5 feet 11 and 190 pounds, practiced with the team yesterday and will be used mostly on special teams. The Ravens, though, held out linebackers Mike Caldwell (knee), Jerrol Williams (knee) and cornerback DeRon Jenkins (thigh). Neither Caldwell nor Williams is expected to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Caldwell, a starter, will be replaced by Ed Sutter.

Ravens reserve safety Bennie Thompson was not at the complex yesterday. Coach Ted Marchibroda said Thompson is in New Orleans appearing as a witness in the trial of those charged with the Feb. 5, 1995, murder of his former wife and son. Thompson is also expected to miss today's practice.

Pro Bowl for Testaverde?

Marchibroda and Ravens owner Art Modell have begun endorsing quarterback Vinny Testaverde for a Pro Bowl appearance.

Testaverde has completed 261 of 441 passes for 3,425 yards and 27 touchdowns. He is the top-rated quarterback in the AFC.

"What has he done, thrown for over 300 yards in like six games?" Modell said. "He is playing exceptionally well. I don't know of many playing any better."

Testaverde also has received praise from Bengals coach Bruce Coslet.

"He came highly touted and recognized out of Miami," Coslet said. "He played well in Cleveland, even though he was benched when he was having a great season last year. He has found a new life and new home in Baltimore with Marchibroda.

"He's a talented guy having a marvelous year. He is in the right spot and playing well. You can't hold talent down."

Testaverde said: "I've been in the league 10 years, and it would be nice to go there, especially because the voting is done by your peers."

Hill to finish season

Ravens tight end coach Pat Hill was named the head coach at Fresno State on Tuesday, but he will remain with the Ravens until the season ends Dec. 22. Hill will shuttle between the Ravens and Fresno State until then to set up a coaching staff and get ready for recruiting.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

Site: Cinergy Field, Cincinnati

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 11/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Last meeting: Bengals beat Ravens, 24-21, at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 3

& The line: Bengals by 3

Pub Date: 12/05/96

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