Three days before the season finale against the Detroit Lions, Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda was still trying to juggle a starting lineup because of a rash of injuries that have hit the team.
The team's top five offensive linemen have been slowed by injuries, and the Ravens could be without three starters for the third straight game. Both center Wally Williams (torn muscle in his neck) and left tackle Jonathan Ogden (ankle) had limited workouts yesterday, but neither is expected to start Sunday against the Lions (5-10).
Both players, however, will be dressed for emergency use. Williams said he took a couple of hits in practice Wednesday, and his neck was sore yesterday morning.
"I doubt if I can play," Williams said. "It's the same situation as it has been the past couple of weeks. I took some shots to the head Wednesday, and it re-aggravated it. Hopefully, I'll feel better at the end of the week where I might be able to play."
Ogden's ankle has been getting better but probably not to the point where he can be effective pushing off. The Ravens seemed to have already ruled out right tackle Orlando Brown, who also has a severe ankle sprain.
The latest casualties, though, were reserve guard Ben Cavil and reserve tackle James Atkins, both starters the past two weeks. Cavil has a sprained ankle but has practiced the past two days. Atkins, who also has a sprained ankle, went through a light workout Wednesday and practiced yesterday.
The Ravens are hurting just as badly in the receiving corps. Starting wide receiver Jermaine Lewis hasn't recovered from the ankle injury he suffered against the Indianapolis Colts, and tight end Eric Green is out with a knee injury. Receiver Floyd Turner pulled a hamstring last Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
"With Jermaine, he is still limping like he can't get it loose," Marchibroda said. "Maybe it's the cold weather. Floyd should be ready to go, but I don't know how effective or how long he can go with that hamstring. Brian Kinchen will start for Eric Green, so we'll be all right there."
The Ravens had their usual two-hour workout yesterday and will practice today at 1 p.m. Despite suggestions by several Ravens that some players may have quit playing in Sunday's 24-3 loss to Bears, Marchibroda hasn't. He is still full steam ahead.
"We're going to prepare like we always prepare this week, and I expect the players to give their best effort," Marchibroda said. "I don't think we're going to fall off the table. The players want to win, and you can't make it to this level without some pride. I'm OK with the effort in Chicago. I don't think we had guys who quit, but we did have some guys who didn't play very well.
"We'll face one of the great players in the history of the game, Barry Sanders," Marchibroda said. "You hope to contain him, but he'll make us hold our breath every time they give him the ball. They have outstanding weapons outside with Herman Moore and Johnnie Morton. This will be real challenge for our defense."
Next for Ravens
Opponent: Detroit Lions
Site: Ravens stadium
When: Sunday, 1:01 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)
Tickets: Sold out
' Line: Ravens by 1 1/2
Pub Date: 12/25/98