There is no doubt that left tackle Jonathan Ogden is the most talented player on the Ravens' offensive line. But the consensus in the team's locker room is that right guard Jeff Blackshear deserved Ogden-like recognition among the fans, players and coaches who decided on this year's Pro Bowl team.
At 6 feet 6, 323 pounds, Blackshear cuts an imposing figure. He has become known for his no-flash, bruising style of punishing defensive linemen and linebackers. His toughness and consistency may be his biggest assets.
Then again, the Ravens are only 5-9, they already are sending five players to Honolulu, and the Ravens' offense has been a model of mediocrity in 1998.
"It [the Pro Bowl] is something I want to be in before I finish this game," said Blackshear, 29, a six-year veteran out of Northeast Louisiana and an eighth-round draft pick of Seattle's in 1993.
"I feel like I'm coming into my own as a professional player," he added. "As far as making mistakes, I thought I had a great deal of consistency this year. If I've got a shot to drop a guy, I'm going to do it. Whatever it takes. That's what keeps me moving."
Said center Wally Williams: "It's unfortunate that our record influences what's happening in Hawaii. Black has had a very consistent season driving guys in the dirt, which he has done since he's been here. He's steady. He's a bully. He's going to get you. He's had a great year. With his contract up next year, I'm sure he's going to have an even better season."
Blackshear, who is due to make $1.2 million in the final year of a three-year contract next season, has been equally durable and dependable. He has not missed a start in the past two seasons, and he overcame an abdominal muscle pull that knocked him out of a game against Tennessee on Dec. 6 to play on nearly every offensive snap against Minnesota last week.
Ravens eyeing Palmer?
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Chris Palmer is one of several serious candidates to replace coach Ted Marchibroda, according to a league source.
Palmer, 49, has been one of the driving forces behind Jacksonville's explosive offense and is known for having great relationships with quarterbacks.
Palmer has worked under New Yorks Jets coach Bill Parcells as well as Tom Coughlin with Jacksonville. He has also coached receivers with the Houston Oilers and quarterbacks with the New England Patriots, where he tutored Drew Bledsoe.
Meanwhile, Oregon coach Mike Bellotti's name is being circulated as a candidate for several of the the NFL jobs that may open.
"I haven't heard from Baltimore," said Bill Moos, Oregon's athletic director. "I have a good relationship with Mike and I would expect him to tell me if there was anything going on. We've talked earlier in the season and he said there might be some other interest, but right now I don't think so. But I wouldn't blame anyone for trying to lure him away. We think he is an excellent football coach and person."
J. Lewis' ankle better
Wide receiver Jermaine Lewis reported his sore ankle felt better at yesterday's practice. Williams is not nearly as optimistic. He has a severe neck muscle strain which prevents him from turning his head without pain. Williams could be done for the season.
"I had my helmet on for the first time [on Wednesday], but my neck still feels very sore. I'm not playing until I have full range of motion in my neck, unless it's for emergency reasons," Williams said.
"If I was a wide receiver, it wouldn't be as big a deal. But I take so many shots on my head [at center], and [defensive linemen] are stunting, so I've got to turn my head to see what they're doing. Right now, I can't do that."
Equipment man to Pro Bowl
The Ravens have one more Pro Bowl pick -- equipment manager Ed Carroll.
Each year, the equipment staff from the losing team in the AFC title game automatically goes to Hawaii. In addition, the league -- office requests a manager from another AFC team. This year, Carroll got the call. This marks his first working assignment in Hawaii.
Carroll worked for the Cleveland Browns in the early 1980s, then left to work in private business, before returning to the Browns in 1990. While he was gone, the Browns lost three AFC title games.
Field all wet, Anderson says
Fans in Baltimore got to see Minnesota kicker Gary Anderson go 6-for-6 on field-goal attempts in last week's 38-28 Vikings victory over the Ravens. Anderson's performance was all the more impressive, considering the field was wet from rain that had fallen for much of the 24 hours before kickoff.
Anderson says the field may have been a little too wet.
"I don't think it rained that much, and that maybe [the Ravens] had watered down the field to slow our offense down," Anderson said. "That field was a lot wetter than I thought it would be. My brother [Terrance] lives in Baltimore, and he told me they were having a drought there."
Vince Patterozzi, the Ravens' head groundskeeper, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Team spokesman Kevin Byrne scoffed at Anderson's accusation.
"It rained the night before and the day of the game, and it didn't seem to affect his kicking," Byrne said. "Maybe we should have watered down the field."
The Ravens took linebacker Brad Jackson, 6 feet, 230 pounds, off their practice squad and signed him to their 53-man roster yesterday. They also signed defensive end Dwaine Robinson and offensive lineman Brandon Dyson to their practice squad. Robinson, 6-4, 290, is out of Virginia Union and spent last December on Baltimore's developmental team. Dyson, 6-4, 290, is out of Utah State and was with the Ravens in training camp.
Pub Date: 12/18/98