Tony Vinson has spent the past three weeks of his second training camp in the training room, and he may be on the sidelines for the 1998 season if the condition of his dislocated right shoulder fails to improve soon.
Vinson, a backup running back who established himself as a force on special teams last year, could be headed for surgery and a trip to the injured reserve list -- a roster move that would knock him out of action for the year.
"I've got to talk with our team doctors this weekend, but we've already talked about that possibility," Vinson said. "We're trying to avoid surgery if possible."
Vinson, who suffered the injury in practice on July 30, said he has regained the full range of motion in his shoulder, but remains in too much pain to build up necessary strength through weightlifting.
Now, he is watching the promise of 1997 -- he ranked fourth on the Ravens with nine special teams tackles despite missing three games with thigh and hamstring injuries -- and a productive off-season of work go for naught.
"It's been real gloomy these last two weeks, just sitting and watching them [his teammates] go out and do the things I knew we could do, and all I can do is sit and wait," said Vinson, referring to the Ravens' 2-0 start in preseason.
And, if he ends up on injured reserve, Vinson realizes the hardest days, the days of grueling, post-surgery rehabilitation, are just beginning.
"I've thought about how to approach it, if that does happen," he said. "Get stronger, get better, get faster, get more ready for next year. If I beat myself and let this get me down, that's not going to help me get ready for next year."
Parcells likes Thompson
Ravens special teams captain Bennie Thompson, a nine-year veteran, is a well-known commodity around the NFL. He has recorded double digits in special teams tackles in eight consecutive seasons, averaging 19 per year. He is recognized widely as one of the best at his craft.
New York Jets coach Bill Parcells has seen plenty of Thompson over the years. While talking with reporters this week, Parcells, furious at the lackluster play of his special teams during Saturday's 33-0 Ravens victory over the Jets, held Thompson up as an example to his young players.
Thompson recorded two special teams tackles on kickoff coverage in the game.
"That guy [Thompson] is 35 years old and he wasn't asking his coach how many plays he was going to get," said Parcells. "He was just running down there killing people. I told them he ought to be an inspiration to some of you jerks -- 35 years old, going right through the wedge with the score 27-0. That gets me fired up."
Said Thompson: "You've got to look at what he [Parcells] has done with the players he's had. He's been to the playoffs, he's won Super Bowls. Look at all of his accomplishments. He knows good players when he sees them."
Although cuts must be made on Tuesday to trim the roster to 60, the rookies already have gone through some cuts.
Tuesday night was rookie night, an initiation rite for first-year players that included being forced to sing in front of the team. Also, the veterans got to play barber.
Every one of the 21 rookies came to practice yesterday with strange-looking haircuts, each a casualty of the veterans who cut or shaved large divots out of their hair. The rookies had to go through the morning walk-through yesterday with the new hairdos and then shaved their heads.
"It looked worse yesterday," said rookie kicker Nelson Garner. "They took big old chunks out of my hair. You knew something like this was going to happen to us, so why fight it?"
"I had a crown around my head," rookie linebacker Ron Rogers said. "We had to keep it like that for a while so the coaches could see us. I really don't care. If that's something I have to do to be on this team, then that's fine with me."
"I always wondered what it would be like to be bald," said rookie tight end Cam Quayle. "But I never really had the guts to do it."
Brady is back
Defensive back Donny Brady returned to full practice yesterday on the final day of training camp and says he has set a goal to play Monday night against Philadelphia.
"I hope to get out there," Brady said. "Right now, I want to go out there and just play and see how it is."
Brady injured his knee the first day that veterans reported to training camp. He continues to rehab the injury and is day-to-day for practice. He returned to full practice one day last week but he re-aggravated the injury.
Defensive tackle Larry Webster (hamstring), wide receiver Michael Jackson (shoulder), safety Stevon Moore (shoulder), receiver Jermaine Lewis (ankle), cornerback John Williams (arm), defensive tackle Martin Chase (ankle) and fullback Rob Robertson (knee) did not practice. With Jackson and Lewis sitting out yesterday's final practice of training camp, Ryan Yarborough got repetitions at wide receiver and in the slot, and caught every pass within reach. Tailback Jay Graham did not end his camp as crisply, dropping two passes. Tailback Errict Rhett delivered the send-off of the day. During kickoff return drills, Rhett, running on coverage, knocked blocker Corey Harris to the ground with a crushing blow.
Pub Date: 8/20/98