Ravens make safety a priority; Perry is signed; Moore put on IR; Poindexter activated


The Ravens shuffled their defensive backfield yesterday by signing veteran safety Darren Perry, placing veteran safety Stevon Moore on injured reserve and activating rookie safety Anthony Poindexter from the physically unable to perform list.

Moore is on injured reserve for the second time as a Raven, and he could have arthroscopic knee surgery soon, according to Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of player personnel.

Moore, an 11-year veteran, missed the final three games of the 1997 season after having reconstructive surgery on both knees, yet came back to start every game in 1998 while finishing third on the team with 96 tackles.

Moore, who was unavailable for comment yesterday -- players were off -- lost his starting job to Kim Herring last spring, and he had been reduced to a backup and special teams contributor this year.

Newsome said Moore began experiencing soreness in one knee during a recent practice.

"It happened in practice over the last couple of weeks," Newsome said. "Our doctors have talked to him about the potential of going in and seeing what they can find. Moore is going to continue to rehab. He'll still be traveling with us."

"Stevon is one of our leaders," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He gives maturity and toughness to us. He'll play an important role for the remainder of the season just by his presence."

Perry will join the Ravens for today's practice and take Moore's spot on special teams.

An eight-year veteran who signed last spring with San Diego, Perry was drafted by Pittsburgh in 1992 and started all but two games during his seven years there. He started 11 postseason games with the Steelers, including Super Bowl XXX in January 1996.

Perry, 5 feet 11, 200 pounds, left San Diego under unusual circumstances. He suffered a neck burner during training camp and told the Chargers he was going to retire. Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said Perry contacted the Chargers near the end of preseason and said he would still like to play, but he was not interested in continuing his career on the West Coast.

Perry then returned the $1.4 million signing bonus he had collected from San Diego, and he became a free agent.

"We liked [Perry] as a free agent, but we obviously weren't going after safeties for that kind of money," Newsome said. "We like his playoff experience, and the system and terminology here are the same as Pittsburgh's."

As expected, the Ravens released kicker Joe Nedney yesterday to make room for Poindexter, the seventh-round draft choice out of Virginia who has made a remarkable recovery from major knee surgery a year ago. Before his knee injury, Poindexter had been projected as a first-round pick.

The 6-foot, 220-pound Poindexter has been practicing with the team for the past three weeks. The Ravens had to either activate him yesterday or place him on injured reserve.

"When we drafted him, there was no way he was going to be ready at this point," Billick said. "Our trainers and doctors are amazed at his progress in this short time period. We are not going to press him into duty. But he may show up on special teams in our active 45-man [game-day roster] at some point in the next few weeks."

The Ravens also have lost right offensive tackle Harry Swayne to a broken right foot for at least four weeks and possibly the rest of the season. Swayne had surgery yesterday to repair a bone fracture.

The Ravens plan to replace him with Spencer Folau, who has nearly recovered from a sprained right knee he suffered four weeks ago in practice.

NOTES: If history means anything, maybe wide receiver Jermaine Lewis is due to have his first big game. Lewis, who has yet to score a touchdown and has caught only 15 passes this year, has 15 receptions for 279 yards and five touchdowns in his career against Jacksonville. Defensive end Rob Burnett is tied for third on the team with seven pass deflections. Bennie Thompson leads the team with 14 special teams tackles. Only Edgerrin James of Indianapolis has more 100-yard rushing games that Errict Rhett, who has four.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Jacksonville

Jaguars Site: ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.

When: Sunday, 4: 05 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Line: Jaguars by 13

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