R. Lewis' return vs. Oilers in doubt Linebacker hopeful, but elbow still swollen; Herring likely to play


As the Ravens began preparation yesterday for next Sunday's game against the Tennessee Oilers, one of the busiest people at the team's Owings Mills training complex was team doctor Claude T. Moorman.

Forty-five minutes into the team practice, Moorman was examining starting middle linebacker Ray Lewis' dislocated left elbow and trying to find him a special brace. Nearly 30 minutes later, Moorman watched starting free safety Kim Herring and his once-dislocated left shoulder work through team drills before having him go into some individual testing.

The results: Herring should be ready for the Oilers, and Lewis is still questionable.

"Kim is ahead of schedule," said Moorman, of the University of Maryland Medical System. "Ray is coming along well, but we'll have to wait and see. We're not just going to put him out there."

Lewis was injured on Sept. 20 on the last play of the first quarter against Jacksonville. While making a tackle on Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, teammate and tackle Tony Siragusa accidentally fell on Lewis' arm.

Lewis went through the team sessions of yesterday's practice ++ and then ran wind sprints with a brace on his left elbow.

Lewis, the team's leading tackler the past two seasons, said it didn't work and the Ravens were sent back to the drawing board.

"The biggest problem is finding one where he has full mobility," said Moorman. "The one he used today was for practice. He'll have a better one, one with more contour, if he plays in a game."

Lewis said he has made significant progress since the injury, but admitted there was still a lot of swelling. He said he can't touch the top of his forehead with the injured arm.

"Right now, it's not looking very good," said Lewis of the Tennessee game. "It hasn't progressed as much as we would have liked. I can't even straighten it out yet. There is still a lot of swelling, which is restricting the movement. The brace was no good; it kept pinching me.

"But I've got five days until next Wednesday [the beginning of next week's serious game planning] and another seven to eight days until we play. Until then, I'm going to remain hopeful that I can play."

Herring didn't seem bothered by his shoulder, which he injured in Week 2 on Sept. 13 against the New York Jets. He did all of the drills until he went to see Moorman and trainer Bill Tessendorf. Herring worked with the second team, and isn't quite sure when he'll move back with the first unit.

"I'm going to try to play," said Herring, one of the team's two second-round draft picks in 1997. "The shoulder is fine as far as strength and movement, but the question marks are about taking a hit and delivering a hit."

Herring won't be tentative when he plays. He had major knee surgery in 1994 at Penn State. The recovery route is a familiar one.

"It's natural to be hesitant," said Herring. "But I won't be that way. I want to test it right away. I want to get hit there. When you're tentative, that's when you get hurt, like having some big, fat dumb lineman fall on you.

"As far as starting, I couldn't tell you if I was starting. Corey Harris [Herring's replacement] came in and did a nice job for us, but I haven't done anything not to start. It's the coaches' call. I'm just a spectator."

Harris, though, isn't as aggressive as Herring against the run. Second-year player Tyrus McCloud has started for Lewis, and had an average game against the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday with five tackles.

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said the game plan doesn't change much with or without Lewis.

"Kim worked well today and he seemed to do everything that pointed to him playing next Sunday," said Marchibroda. "With Ray, we'll have to wait and see. If he can't go, then Tyrus has to step up and do what Ray can usually do."

Pub Date: 10/03/98

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