The Ravens had another changing of the guards yesterday, moving veteran Leo Goeas back into the starting lineup in place of first-year player Ben Cavil.
Goeas, who was signed to a three-year, $2 million contract in March, said offensive line coach Kirk Ferentz informed him of the move Monday, and the transition took place yesterday in the Ravens' first practice for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Memorial Stadium.
Cavil started for Goeas the past four games at left guard, but the two probably will alternate quarters for the next couple of games.
"Ben is a tough kid. We really feel that Ben is going to be a fine football player, but he is making some first-year mistakes," said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda.
Marchibroda rarely gets specific when he changes the starting lineup, but when Goeas was benched, it was clear the Ravens wanted to be more physical and beef up their running game. Goeas' return doesn't necessarily mean the Ravens will return to a pass-oriented offense, but there are indications that Cavil had some problems learning the offense.
Another possible reason for the move is that Cavil played with the Eagles last season, and they likely know his weaknesses. He was obtained from Philadelphia by trade in late August for a seventh-round draft pick in 1998.
"Hey, I'm the type of person that doesn't want to give up starting," Cavil said. "I feel I was getting better and better every day, and I was preparing myself well. But I'm still learning the system, details and stuff of the offense."
Goeas didn't seem fazed by the promotion yesterday. But he was disturbed about his benching nearly a month ago and said he was never was given a reason for it. Goeas said he didn't believe he was playing that badly.
There is speculation that Goeas may have been benched because of contract incentives involving his playing time, but Ravens officials have denied that was the motive. Goeas declined to comment on that issue again yesterday.
"Kirk just called me in [last month] and told me they were going to give Ben a shot. There was never a reason," Goeas said. "Of course, as a player, I was upset about it, really ticked off. We don't get graded, but I think I had done well. They told me that I didn't have the greatest of camps because of the pounding my knee took, but they said I had been playing well once the season started.
"But that was a decision made by the coaching staff," said Goeas, who split time with Cavil in the past four games and also slightly outplayed him, according to Ferentz. "I decided the best way to approach it was as a professional and to not have a negative attitude. I was going to turn it up on the practice field, in meetings, and do the best job I could. It was a hard thing to do, to have a positive attitude."
The decision to move Goeas comes a few days after the Ravens suffered their worst loss, 37-0, to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Incidentally, the last time the Ravens shook up the starting lineup was after blowing a 21-point, first-half lead against Pittsburgh on Oct. 5 in a 42-34 loss. Marchibroda benched Goeas and rookie outside linebacker Jamie Sharper after the defeat.
Is Marchibroda trying to send another message?
Ferentz said, "I don't look at it as a change; we've been playing both. It's just in the last few weeks, the edge has been swung over toward Leo's favor. I'm pleased with both. When it comes to a point where I don't think we can win with both of them, one won't play."
Next for Ravens
Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles
Site: Memorial Stadium
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)
Line: Ravens by 2 1/2
Pub Date: 11/13/97