The Ravens began thinking about possible moves yesterday after finding out starting left guard Leo Goeas will be out the rest of the season with a torn left pectoral muscle.
The Ravens did get a bit of good news, however, as trainers reported little swelling in the left ankle of rookie running back Jay Graham, who is expected to make his second start Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at Memorial Stadium.
Goeas, who started for the first time Sunday since being benched four weeks ago, left the game late in the third quarter. Doctors will wait for the swelling to go down before operating on Goeas in about two weeks.
The Ravens are not too concerned about replacing Goeas in the starting lineup. First-year player Ben Cavil, who replaced Goeas earlier in the season, will start in his place, but the Ravens have little depth after Cavil.
"I feel bad for Leo. Obviously, it's a bad break for him. You always feel badly for the player," said Kirk Ferentz, the team's offensive line coach. "We're limited with our options, but we'll adjust. It's just part of the season."
The Ravens' coaching staff is expected to meet today to begin discussing options. One is to have starting center Wally Williams become the top backup guard if either of the two starters, Jeff Blackshear or Cavil, goes down with an injury.
Quentin Neujahr, who started the first six games while Williams was out with an Achilles' heel injury, would replace Williams at center. Spencer Folau and Bernard Dafney would become the No. 7 and 8 offensive linemen.
"We haven't talked about it as a staff, but that seems to make the most sense to me, because Wally has played [at guard] and Quentin played very well at center," Ferentz said. "My gut feeling to let Wally work there because he has game experience."
Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said Graham, the team's third-round pick out of Tennessee, would start against the Cardinals and might be able to resume practice with the team tomorrow. The Ravens' players are off today.
Graham made his first start for Bam Morris, who was out with an injured big toe, Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles and rushed for 154 yards on 35 carries.
But Graham suffered an ankle bruise midway through the overtime period after gaining 2 yards on a run up the middle to the Ravens' 35. He left the game and later was diagnosed with an ankle contusion. Graham spent most of yesterday getting the ankle iced.
"I've still got a little limp, but I think [the ankle] is getting a whole lot better. Last night, I couldn't even do this," said Graham, who stood up and put some of his weight on his left foot. "It's more of a bruise than a sprain. You can always stick a pad on a bone bruise."
Marchibroda said Morris' recent off-the-field problems had no bearing on his decision to either start or stay with Graham.
Morris served a four-game NFL suspension at the start of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy and faces a Nov. 25 bail revocation hearing in Texas. Yesterday, he was charged with second-degree assault on a Texas woman after an incident at a party for teammate Orlando Brown on Sunday night.
"I could have played, but it was Coach Marchibroda's decision," Morris said. "But Jay did a nice job. As a matter of fact, he was great. Regardless of the coach's decision, I should be able to go this week."
His teammates treated the latest incident as another in the saga of Morris.
"It puts your will to win to the test," said Ravens center Wally Williams. "This tends to follow you in that situation. You have to be aware of stuff going in, especially outside the locker room, regardless of what it is or where it is."
"You live and die by the choices you make," said Ravens defensive tackle Larry Webster, who has tested positive at least twice in violation of the league's drug and alcohol policy. "Things you choose to do reflect on you."
Injuries hamper J. Lewis
He may be the Ravens' most exciting, big-play performer, but second-year slot receiver Jermaine Lewis, all 5 feet 7, 172 pounds of him, is feeling the strain of life in the NFL.
Lewis' ankle injury flared up in the middle of practice last week. After warming up at Memorial Stadium, Lewis said he could not push off or land on the ankle without pain. The Ravens placed him on the inactive list, and thus could not exploit the inevitable mismatches Lewis creates in the slot during their 10-10 tie with Philadelphia.
"I couldn't do anything in practice, couldn't run in warm-ups. No way I could play on [the ankle]," Lewis said. "I haven't really practiced in three weeks. I'm starting to get rusty. I've got to get some reps."
Overall, Lewis has caught four touchdown passes and recorded 31 receptions for 523 yards and a team-high 16.9-yard average. But since catching six passes for 105 yards against Miami four weeks ago, Lewis has managed seven receptions for 123 yards in his past three outings. In his last game against Pittsburgh nine days ago, Lewis caught just one pass.
Lewis also has returned 26 kickoffs for a 21-yard average and 12 punts a 14.6-yard average.
Are the Ravens demanding too much from the little guy?
"I'll never say I can't handle something, but it might be too much," said Lewis, who has suffered knee, lower leg and ankle problems.
"I'm just trying to get over one [injury], and I pick up another one. Then, I get over that and I pick up another one. I've just got to find a way to deal with it."
Williams to be honored
Ravens owner Art Modell will present a $25,000 check tonight to the Ravens' Courage House in conjunction with a dinner honoring center Williams, the team's 1997 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.
Williams overcame a torn Achilles' tendon he suffered last April. He returned to action against Miami on Oct. 19.
"It made me stop, gave me a better perspective on something I might have taken for granted," Williams said of the injury.
Next for Ravens
Opponent: Arizona Cardinals
Site: Memorial Stadium
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 45 (subject to blackout rule)/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)
Line: Ravens by 4
Series: First meeting
Tickets: 6,500 remain
Pub Date: 11/18/97