First, there was Tastykakes. Now, there is Honey Buns.
In the revolving door known as the Ravens' offensive line, the latest possible starter to spin out is 6-foot-2, 310-pound first-year guard Ben Cavil. Or is that center Wally Williams?
Cavil looks like Williams. Cavil is built like Williams. They sport pretty much the same hairstyle, and Williams wears the number Cavil wore and adored in college (63).
And both have an affection for sweets.
"Wally eats at least two Tastykakes a day," said offensive tackle Orlando Brown. "Then here we get Big Ben, and every day he has a honey bun in his hand. He'd rather eat a honey bun than meat, so that's how he got that name. But, man, does he look like Big Wally, or what? They play alike, even have the same pass set."
Cavil answered: "It's kind of frightening when you hear that somebody looks like you and when you see them, they actually do."
Williams, 6-2 and 305 pounds, is probably out for the next four games, still rehabilitating a ruptured Achilles' tendon. His replacement, Quentin Neujahr, is doubtful for Sunday's game against the New York Giants with a sprained ankle. If Neujahr doesn't play, then left guard Leo Goeas will replace him and Cavil will fill in for Goeas.
Cavil, from the University of Oklahoma, wasn't signed by the Ravens until a week before the season, when team officials decided there wasn't enough depth on the line. But when Goeas left for a few minutes in the opener against Jacksonville Jaguars, Cavil stepped in and kicked right tackle Don Davey all over the field for a few plays.
When Goeas filled in for the injured Neujahr for most of the second half last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cavil came in and graded out high.
"In those situations, I didn't have time to talk with him; he just had to get in there," said Kirk Ferentz, assistant head coach and offensive line coach. "Both times, we continued to move the ball and were productive when he was in there. He is a good athlete who needs a little polish and experience, but he is a tough competitor."
Cavil also has a lot of pride, which he needed for survival in the NFL. The Ravens are his third team since he signed a free-agent contract with the San Diego Chargers in April 1995. He spent last season on the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad and was traded to the Ravens on Aug. 24 for a seventh-round draft pick.
"Basically, we had to make a move," Ferentz said. "We had looked hard at both him and [offensive lineman] Bernard Dafney through the preseason, the first exposure coming through the Eagles scrimmage. We know Ben has been around a little bit, but we're just concerned about what he does here."
Cavil, a native of LeMarque, Texas, said, "I was on injured reserve my first year in San Diego after dislocating my wrist. That was probably my lowest time. I had watched some of the guys I played with in college make it, and that bothered me.
"But my mother told me to be patient, that things were going to work out for me. But even at that point, I never thought about quitting. I wasn't going to go out that way. I was a free agent, and I felt I had something to prove."
Cavil has been impressive during his short time with the team. He has gone through crash courses learning the system in early-morning meetings with Ferentz and late-night sessions with Goeas and right guard Jeff Blackshear.
And he has fit right in with his line mates. Cavil is an easygoing guy who collects comic books of superheroes such as Superman and Batman and enjoys bowling. His mother, Dolores, is a librarian, and his father, Ben, is an assistant superintendent for the LeMarque public schools.
According to Brown, Cavil has passed all the initiation rites of being an offensive lineman, such as buying breakfast in the morning, having a few late-night dinners and being physical on the field.
"I told him we're into being physical, just beating guys up; that's our style," Brown said. "He said, 'I'm into that. I'm with you, dog.' Since then, he has been one of the boys."
"He still has to buy dinner out on the road," Goeas said.
And being a Wally Williams look-alike helped. Wide receivers Michael Jackson and Derrick Alexander noticed it right away. Cavil caught them laughing about it in the locker room.
Now, he gets constant harassment.
"They are brothers at birth," said Goeas.
"Wally's twin," said Blackshear.
During Wednesday's practice, the offensive linemen had paired up for a drill when Ferentz noticed that Cavil was teammed with Williams. Even Ferentz couldn't resist. He stopped practice.
"What is this," Ferentz said, "a family reunion?"
Next for Ravens
Opponent: New York Giants
Site: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
TV/Radio: Ch. 11/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)
Line: Giants by 3
Pub Date: 9/12/97