Peters makes move to middle with the departure of McCloud; Outside linebacker returns to his college position; McCrary, club talking


The good thing about Tyrell Peters' switch from outside linebacker to middle is that he is returning to the position he played at Oklahoma.

The bad news is that Peters has not practiced or played there in his two years and one preseason with the Ravens.

With former backup middle linebacker Tyrus McCloud getting cut, Peters is an injury to Ray Lewis away from being the man in the middle for the Ravens.

"I know that they were thinking about putting me in the middle sometimes but I didn't know why," Peters said. "I thought they would just give Tyrus a break. But when they cut Tyrus, it kind of stunned me. I didn't know what to expect. Then I came in on Monday and they said they were going to put me in the middle."

History dictates that Peters will see minimal time backing up Lewis, who has missed only four games in three years with injuries. But Lewis does have a reckless style of play, meaning Peters has to be ready at any point, including Sunday at St. Louis after just one week of practice.

Peters, 6 feet and 235 pounds, is undersized compared to the average middle linebacker. He said what he lacks in size he will make up with his quickness, one of the reasons the coaching staff went with Peters instead of McCloud.

"I'm going to watch Ray," Peters said. "I was watching Jamie [Sharper] in practice. Now I have to know the coverages and checks in the middle. The advantage I have is speed. I read and react to the ball well, even though I'll have a disadvantage with my weight."

Peters had a good preseason on the outside, recording six tackles and a sack last Friday against the New York Giants.

He knew he needed a good game because at the time, it looked as though he was competing with Brad Jackson for that final linebacker spot.

As for whether the switch is going to stunt his progress, Peters does not think so.

"I just have to work a little harder," Peters said. "I did well in camp at the weak-side position. Now I just have to learn the middle now and approach it the same way. I'm happy because I'm on the team. I just thank the Lord that I'm still able to play football for the Ravens."

McCrary update

The Ravens have been in negotiations with defensive end Michael McCrary about a contract extension for the past three days, and sent a proposal to his agent, Michael George, yesterday.

The Ravens expect an answer from George today, which could signal the beginning of serious negotiations or the end.

The Ravens have increased their six-year, $36.5 million offer, but it does not meet the $7 million per season demand by McCrary, who is in the last year of his contract.

McCrary has said if he doesn't get a new contract by the beginning of the regular season, he'll hit the free-agent market.

The Ravens have implied they could put the franchise tag on McCrary, which would force him to play in Baltimore for the 2000 season for the average salary of the top five players at his position in the league.

"We're working and we've made some progress," said Pat Moriarty, the team's vice president of administration. "There are a lot of issues. It's a big deal, not only by numbers, but structure. We've been kicking around a lot of things."

Banks returns

Quarterback Tony Banks is returning to the scene of many a bittersweet Sunday when the Ravens play at St. Louis in the Trans World Dome.

He played in St. Louis his first three seasons, starting 43 of 44 games played.

"I still have a lot of friends up there," Banks said. "Hopefully, I'll have a lot of trash to talk after the game."

Banks is rumored to be on the trading block after third-string quarterback Stoney Case's back-to-back comeback wins this preseason.

Banks said he cannot control the possibility of a trade and he is happy with his progress with the Ravens.

"This is big business, and it is also funny business," Banks said. "All I can do is go out and prove what I can do each and every day. I have no idea what is about to happen. All I can do is go out and practice hard."

Mulitalo making strides

Fourth-round pick Edwin Mulitalo is slowly becoming a steal in the draft for the Ravens.

The former University of Arizona offensive tackle was moved to left guard this season and had problems early in training camp. But he has made steady progress and was impressive in the team's final preseason game, a 28-24 win over the New York Giants.

The 6-foot-3 and 328-pound Mulitalo doesn't look so mechanical anymore, especially when pulling. Because he also still plays tackle, that gives the Ravens three or four reserve offensive linemen who can play several positions.

"The more repetitions I get, the better I will get," said Mulitalo. "When I pull, those are things people look for in guards. You always want to be the puller. It shows you can be physical. We've been working on that and I'm glad I was able to do that correctly.

"Overall, I think I've done OK. I think there is room for improvement. I know I have to become a better guard if I want to be an asset to the team. Being that this is my first time being a guard, pulling is fun. I want it to be one of the strongest parts of my game."

One more Anthony

Nearly two years ago, Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa described his hometown in a humorous way.

"How heavy is the Italian population?" asked Siragusa. "Well, let's put it this way. On every Sunday morning, a mother walks out on her porch and calls for Anthony. About 35 kids come running, yelling, 'What, Mom?' "

Siragusa and his wife, Kathy, had a second child in their hometown of Kenilworth, N.J., on Monday night.

The 8-pound, 6-ounce and 22-inch boy was named, what else? Anthony.

Siragusa is expected to rejoin the team today. He said he had been up most of the night Monday, but that wouldn't deter him from having more children.

"I want my own basketball team," said Siragusa, laughing.

Johnson questionable

Ravens reserve receiver Patrick Johnson has been bothered by a pulled calf muscle and is questionable for Sunday.

Coach Brian Billick gave the team two days off after Friday's win over the Giants, but Johnson stayed in town to get medical treatment three times a day.

Johnson, Siragusa and left guard James Atkins (hamstring) did not practice yesterday.

"It already feels better," said Johnson. "I did some running today. I don't know if I'll play or not, but I'll keep getting treatment and see what happens."

The Ravens signed defensive tackles Larry Fitzpatrick, Marques Douglas, receiver Kendrick Nord, defensive back Anthony Mitchell and offensive tackle Cleve Roberts to the practice squad. Mitchell was on Jacksonville's practice squad last season.

Pub Date: 9/08/99

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