Quote of the year: Ravens owner Art Modell after 6-foot-8, 320-pound rookie G Jonathan Ogden took a red-eye flight from California to Baltimore, and then his mother called to request that he miss the first day of rookie training camp because he was tired. "Yeah, so we sent him to his room with some milk and cookies," said Modell.
Fortune teller: Waived RB Leroy Hoard left some parting advice for TE Harold Bishop and RB Earnest Hunter after it had been speculated for weeks all three would be cut to free up money to sign Bam Morris and Eric Green: "When your coach says things like that about you that I've seen in the paper, he might as well start boxing his [stuff], too," said Hoard, who was cut on Sept. 25. Hunter was waived on Oct. 8. Bishop was waived on Oct. 29.
Free agents Ravens may take a look at: OLB Vinson Smith, Chicago; S George Teague, Dallas; LB Broderick Thomas, Dallas; OLB Chris Slade, New England; CB Steve Israel, San Francisco; OLB Demetrius DuBose, Tampa Bay; DL Tony Casillas, Dallas; DL Sean Gilbert, Washington; DT Reuben Davis, San Diego; LB Wayne Simmons, Green Bay.
Bonehead award: On Sept. 8, Hunter fumbled on first-and-goal at the Steelers' 2 midway through the final period to kill a drive as Pittsburgh won, 31-17. Actually, Hunter took the handoff and immediately started diving at the 3, putting him in coach Ted Marchibroda's doghouse. The following week, Hunter failed to field a kickoff and then watched the ball lay at the 5-yard line without covering it. The Ravens were saved by rookie Jermaine Lewis, who fell on the ball. The Ravens cut Hunter on Oct. 8 after he reportedly assaulted his girlfriend. Hunter now plays for the New Orleans Saints.
Ravens Player of the Year Award: QB Vinny Testaverde completed 325 of 549 passes for 4,177 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Quick healer: Ravens medical miracle belongs to reserve DT Rick Lyle, who broke his left leg on Sept. 15, but returned to action on Oct. 27.
Something special: Reserve S Bennie Thompson lead the team in special teams tackles with 15. Thompson has 147 career special teams tackles.
Free agents who made an impact with the Ravens: RB Bam Morris, P Greg Montgomery, DT James Jones.
Top off-season story: The Ravens' financial situation, and if they decide to trade down in the draft and how much money will be available under the salary cap to sign top free agents. The Ravens also may have to restructure contracts of WR Michael Jackson ($2.5 million base next season), S Eric Turner ($1.7 million), Testaverde ($1.5 million) and OT Tony Jones ($1.25 million).
Most comical moment: The five Ravens coaches and two Jaguars assistants getting stuck on the elevator at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 24. Returning to the mezzanine box from the locker room at halftime, the coaches got hoisted through an 18-inch space after the elevator doors were pried open, then raced up a stadium ramp with a police escort. In all, they missed 8 minutes and 10 seconds of the third quarter. The Ravens outscored Jacksonville 6-0 without the coaches, but lost the game 28-25.
Hot seat: Mark Holmes, in the Ravens marketing department, sat in every seat at Memorial Stadium during April and May after the Maryland Stadium Authority miscounted 5,000 seats.
Rookie of the Year: Ogden was simply everything the Ravens hoped for when they made him the first draft pick in team history. As the fourth player chosen overall, Ogden moved from his natural position at left tackle and barely missed a beat, especially as a pass blocker. He developed quickly as a run blocker, started every game, drew only two holding penalties, allowed one sack and showed his toughness by playing through a midseason knee sprain. And he is only going to get bigger and better.
Restricted free agents: The Ravens have until Feb. 15 to tender offers or these players become unrestricted free agents: S Vashone Adams, CB Dorian Brew, CB Donny Brady, LB Sedric Clark, CB Corey Dowden, DT Elliott Fortune, G Sale Isaia, DE Rick Lyle, C Quentin Neujahr, QB Scott Otis, TE Frank Hartley.
C Steve Everitt is a restricted free agent whom the Ravens have designated as their transition player. The Ravens have the right of first refusal, meaning they can retain the rights to Everitt by matching any other offer.
Unrestricted free agents: Ravens can negotiate with these players until Feb. 15, when they become unrestricted free agents: G Jeff Blackshear, LB Mike Croel, LB Mike Caldwell, LB jTC Keith Goganious, LB Jerrol Williams, LB Eddie Sutter, TE Eric Green, S Stevon Moore, FB Carwell Gardner, WR Floyd Turner, DE Anthony Pleasant.
Re-signing priorities -- Pleasant is an established player who had subpar year due to a severely sprained ankle that hampered him throughout the year. Team officials liked the heart he showed while playing in pain in December. Everitt missed the last half of the season after tearing a pectoral muscle, and was having his best season. He is entering his prime. Blackshear gives the line depth. Caldwell's pass rushing was a welcome addition. Brady and Brew should be part of a spirited training camp battle to see who will play opposite Antonio Langham.
What the Ravens need among top college prospects: Defensive line -- Florida State ends Reinard Wilson (6-2, 249) and Peter Boulware (6-5, 255) have emerged as two of the nation's better pass rushers, which is what the Ravens need the most.
Linebacker -- Alabama junior Dwayne Rudd (6-2, 233), James Farrior (6-1, 232) of Virginia, North Carolina's James Hamilton (6-4, 230) and Jamie Sharper (6-2, 235) are some of the better ones.
Defensive backs -- Kansas State junior cornerback Chris Canty could be the best cover guy in the country. Ohio State junior Shawn Springs and Bryant Westbrook of Texas are in the same mold.
Up and coming stars: On offense, WR Derrick Alexander rebounded from a disappointing second year to become one of the league's more dangerous receivers. Alexander, who missed most of the last two games with a left shoulder strain, averaged 17.7 yards on 62 catches, scored nine touchdowns and had 1,099 receiving yards.
On defense, ILB Mike Caldwell showed excellent speed and fine pass rushing ability, before knee injuries cut his season short. Caldwell led the Ravens with 4.5 sacks.
Thriller of the Year: Who else could it be but WR Michael Jackson? Besides shattering all of his career highs with 76 catches for 1,201 yards and 14 touchdowns, Jackson caught the game-winning touchdown passes in victories over New Orleans and St. Louis.
Former Ravens who have enjoyed success: WR Andre Rison, released just before training camp, could earn a Super Bowl ring with Green Bay. RB Leroy Hoard, released to make room for Morris, is in the playoffs with Minnesota. WR Calvin Williams signed last week with his old team, the Philadelphia Eagles, who are headed for a wild-card playoff game.
Pub Date: 12/24/96