The Ravens, intent on adding yet another upgrade at wide receiver, are closing in on a one-year agreement with free agent Billy Davis, team sources said.
Davis, a fifth-year player who has played his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys, stands to make a $400,000 salary plus incentives.
Davis enjoyed a breakthrough season in 1998 by catching 39 passes for 691 yards -- 17.7 yards per reception -- and scoring three touchdowns. Along with veteran Webster Slaughter, Davis would become the second late addition to a position the Ravens have been determined to improve before training camp opens on July 28.
The Ravens like Davis' speed and his ability to accelerate. At 6 feet 1, 205 pounds, he also would become their biggest receiver, and probably would battle Qadry Ismail for a possible starting job. And the arrival of Davis could signal the end of third-year receiver James Roe's days in Baltimore.
Roe, a sixth-round draft pick in 1996, has battled hamstring and depth-chart problems since arriving here from Norfolk State. He has started just seven games in three seasons. His career totals include 15 receptions for 239 yards.
"Billy Davis kind of fits what we're looking for," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He's a veteran receiver with size and speed. In addition, he's a dynamic special teams [coverage] player. He clearly has a chance to come in and try to establish himself as a starter. He's not the end-all here. But [with the addition of Davis], I'd feel better than I did a week ago about our receiver corps."
Davis, who could sign his contract today, was unavailable for comment yesterday. His agent, Jordan Woy, did not return phone calls.
The Ravens also received good news regarding the status of veteran linebacker Peter Boulware, who suffered a partially dislocated right shoulder near the end of Saturday's final minicamp workout. Boulware, who played most of last season with a bruised rotator cuff on the same shoulder, has begun an accelerated rehabilitation assignment to strengthen the shoulder in time for the start of training camp.
Bill Tessendorf, the team's head trainer, said a re-examination of Boulware's shoulder revealed no further damage. Tessendorf added that the two injuries could be related.
"That's possibly the case, because of some weaknesses in the musculature around the joint," Tessendorf said. "We're very pleased with what we saw. We've started [Boulware's] rehab already, and we anticipate a complete recovery."
Boulware's shoulder problems did not prevent him from starting all 16 games last year, which culminated with his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Boulware, who has been rehabilitating his shoulder during the off-season, re-injured it while swinging his arm at a pop-up dummy during an individual drill on Saturday. The shoulder popped back into place immediately.
"I hyper-extended my arm and tried to hit the dummy too hard and I felt [the shoulder] twist. There wasn't a lot of pain. It was more frustrating than anything," Boulware said. "I thought it was pretty much healed, but it's still there a little bit. I've just got to do more work on it and stay on top of it. My shoulder feels much better than it did last year, when I had to wear a brace for most of the season [after injuring it in the second game]. I'm not going to let this thing slow me down."
Billick said the Ravens have ruled out surgery for the time being.
"That was discussed, and it was dismissed categorically. It's way too premature for that," Billick said.
In other developments, the Ravens have initiated contract talks with their three lower-round draft picks -- receiver Brandon Stokley (fourth round), offensive lineman Edwin Mulitalo (fourth) and safety Anthony Poindexter (seventh).
Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' vice president of administration, could renew talks this week with Eugene Parker, the agent for cornerback Chris McAlister, the team's first-round pick.
The two sides are pursuing a four-year deal that figures to end up in the $7 million range. McAlister's signing bonus likely will end up around $3.5 million.
Pub Date: 6/16/99