"I haven't even given it any thought," Testaverde said with a straight face to reporters after yesterday's practice. "If it doesn't happen, I'm still proud of this team and of the year that I've had."
The NFL will announce its Pro Bowl selections today, and Testaverde stands a good chance of making the squad for the first time in his 10-year career. He leads the AFC with 29 touchdown passes, has thrown for a career-high 3,630 yards -- second in the AFC -- and is ranked second in the conference with an 89.7 rating. He has thrown only 15 interceptions in 480 attempts.
Testaverde's most likely path to the Pro Bowl would be as the third passer chosen behind Denver's John Elway and New England's Drew Bledsoe. Testaverde will get strong competition from Jacksonville's Mark Brunell, who has thrown for a league-high 3,914 yards and beat the Ravens twice this year.
Miami's Dan Marino (2,270 yards, 13 touchdowns, nine interceptions) is still a fan favorite. That could affect the voting, which is done by players, coaches and fans. Another drawback to Testaverde's chances is the Ravens' 4-10 record.
"I think Vinny has had a Pro Bowl year," coach Ted Marchibroda said. "He leads the AFC in touchdowns and he ranks right up there in every other category."
The other Ravens with the best chances of making the Pro Bowl are wide receivers Michael Jackson and Derrick Alexander. Jackson ranks third in scoring (10 touchdowns) and seventh in yardage (1,019), and Alexander leads the AFC with 1,093 yards, is fourth in scoring (nine TDs) and is second with a 17.9-yard average.
Either Jackson or Alexander could be taken as the AFC's fourth and final receiver.
Free safety Eric Turner, who is tied for third in the conference with five interceptions, has an outside shot at his second Pro Bowl.
The other player garnering some mention is rookie left guard Jonathan Ogden, who has lived up to expectations as the fourth overall pick in this year's draft. The fact that rookie offensive linemen are virtually never picked for the Pro Bowl figures to hurt Ogden's chances.
Said Marchibroda: "I don't know when, but I know he's going to be there [in the Pro Bowl] before long."
Panthers defense tough
The Ravens' offense has moved the ball efficiently against every opponent this season, and the Carolina Panthers might offer their toughest challenge yet on Sunday.
The Panthers have the 10th-ranked defense in the NFL and have surrendered a league-low 188 points. They also are the premier pass-rushing team in the league, with an NFL-high 52 sacks.
Outside linebackers Kevin Greene (13.5) and Lamar Lathon (12.5) are first and second in the NFL. They have combined for nearly as many sacks as the Ravens (29).
"When you look at the scouting report and you see they've got 50-something sacks, you know they're doing something right up front. When you see they've got two linebackers who are No. 1 and 2 in the league in sacks, you know you've got problems," said left tackle Tony Jones, who, along with right tackle Orlando Brown, will have their hands full with Greene and Lathon.
"As an offensive lineman, you know if you don't prepare well, you could be in for a long day [against the Panthers], and even if you do prepare well, you still could be in for a long day," Jones added.
Morris, R. Lewis to play
Bam Morris [knee] and linebacker Ray Lewis (hip pointer) did not practice yesterday, but Marchibroda expects both to play on Sunday.
The news was not as encouraging for center Steve Everitt, whose pectoral muscle injury will probably keep him out of action for the second straight week.
Ogden covers youngsters
One hundred and fifty football players with high academic achievements from 15 Baltimore high schools received Ravens jackets donated by Ogden yesterday.
Pub Date: 12/12/96