Siragusa may not play Sunday; Tackle is questionable due to sore left knee; Dalton, Chase ready to go

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Second-year reserve defensive tackles Lional Dalton and Martin Chase are both getting set to play in Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns after starter Tony Siragusa missed practice yesterday because of swelling and soreness in his left knee.

Near lunchtime yesterday, Siragusa walked into the locker room and said he had been ordered to get a magnetic resonance imaging by team trainers. But that decision was changed, and Siragusa is listed as questionable.

"We were looking at the possibility of doing an MRI, but not now," said Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf. "We think there was a little loose [material] in there and it moved over. But it doesn't seem to be in that position anymore. We've agreed to let him play and get ready for Cleveland. That all could change in a day or two, though."

Said Siragusa: "I'm playing. I'll be there, baby. I can't let those guys have all the fun."

Siragusa is off to a great start. He is third on the team in tackles with 12 behind middle linebacker Ray Lewis' 28 and weak-side linebacker Jamie Sharper's 16.

Dalton has also played well subbing for Siragusa and fellow starter Larry Webster. Dalton has four tackles and has caused a fumble. Chase has yet to be on the active roster for a game this season, but the Ravens like his potential. They believe both players can develop into starters.

"Goose will be all right," Dalton said. "If he is ready to start or not, I'll be ready to play. So far, I've had average performances. I've missed about three sacks. I have to learn how to finish, not to get too excited. My goal is to keep working. The more time I play, the better I get."

Chase said: "I don't know for sure if I'll be activated. That's a coach's decision. But I'll always be ready. I've noticed how the other guys have handled themselves, and I want to be just as professional. I'm anxious and hungry. I've worked hard to put myself in position to play. I just have to wait for my time."

Armour: Browns camp 'insane'

Wide receiver Justin Armour had a brush with Cleveland that he would rather forget.

Armour, who was drafted by Buffalo in 1995 and also played in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver through last season, was taken by the Browns in the February expansion draft. He was released on May 26 after a minicamp.

"We had 110 guys in camp. Fourteen receivers. It was insane," Armour said. "You'd take a rep, then get another one 10 minutes later. If you got a running play and a clear-out, that was your practice. It was difficult to get a look. Pretty chaotic."

The experience left Armour feeling a bit sour. Then, life changed when the Ravens called, looking for a big receiver. All Armour, 6 feet 4, 209 pounds, has done is become one of the team's prime big-play threats through the first two games.

He is averaging a team-high 19.8 yards on six receptions. Coming into the season, Armour had caught one pass since 1995.

"I thought, why did [Cleveland] even bother to take me in the expansion draft? But it ended up being the best thing for me," he said of being cut. "I landed here, in an offense I feel very comfortable in and very good about."

Kopp watched, waited

For the two Sundays linebacker Jeff Kopp was unemployed, he went to Baltimore-area sports bars to catch all the NFL games on television.

Kopp was not watching the games as a fan, but more like someone waiting for his chance to get back on a team. And the easiest way that was going to happen was if someone went down with an injury.

"We [Kopp and his wife] watched the games to see if special teams played bad or if linebackers got hurt," Kopp said. "It is a cutthroat business, but that is what you have to do."

The Ravens fit Kopp's criteria on both counts. The special teams looked bad in giving up a 37-yard return to Pittsburgh's Will Blackwell, setting up the game-winning field goal Sunday. And earlier in the game, backup middle linebacker Tyrell Peters went down with a hamstring injury.

J. Mitchell solid at center

Coach Brian Billick did not have a whole lot of praise for an offensive unit that has sputtered through the first two games, except for center Jeff Mitchell.

Billick said Mitchell had solid games in both outings coming out of a training camp, where he competed with offensive lineman Everett Lindsay for his starting spot.

Mitchell said he feels more comfortable in Billick's system after each game and is looking to stay consistent.

"Last year, I started out playing pretty good too," Mitchell said. "Then I was up and down. My biggest thing is to stay consistent."

Peters sidelined

Peters' injured hamstring will keep him out of Sunday's game against Cleveland, he said.

His absence leaves the Ravens without a proven backup middle linebacker. If Lewis goes down, the Ravens would have to use outside linebacker Brad Jackson or move starters Sharper or Cornell Brown to the middle. The Ravens cut last year's backup middle linebacker, Tyrus McCloud.

Peters hopes to be back practicing next week in time for the Atlanta game. He injured the hamstring on the opening kickoff of the second half against Pittsburgh.

O. Brown has little to say

Former Ravens right offensive tackle Orlando Brown, now with the Browns, has been relatively quiet this week about returning to Baltimore. Brown has blasted the organization twice since leaving during the off-season, but he may have been humbled last week by Tennessee rookie defensive end Jevon Kearse, who had three of the team's seven sacks.

But Ravens strong-side linebacker Peter Boulware isn't concerned whether Brown is talking or not. He expects Brown to bring his "A" game.

"Orlando is a competitor," Boulware said. "We'll see how I do. I've been studying some film. It will be a challenge and a good matchup."

Miscellaneous

Cleveland has returned 200 of the 500 tickets that it was allotted. The tickets can be purchased at 410-481-SEAT. Browns starting right guard Steve Zahursky went down with a sprained right knee in practice yesterday. He'll probably be replaced by Scott Rehbreg in Sunday's game. Also, Darius Holland might start at defensive tackle for John Jurkovic, who is nursing a clavicle injury.

Pub Date: 9/24/99

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