The Baltimore Ravens had 10 fewer players than usual during a light workout today, among them place kicker Scott Bentley and former Pro Bowl punt and kickoff return specialist Eric Metcalf, but Coach Brian Billick refused to say whether they had been cut. The team has until Sunday at 4 p.m. to trim its roster from 65 players to 53.
"We're trying to be humane, treat guys with respect and not string them out," Billick said. "But we would prefer not to have the league, ahead of time, know who we're letting go. There's room in there in terms of possibly a trade. Or someone maybe letting someone go that we might want to pick up."
Bentley's challenge to veteran Matt Stover had been the most visible of training camp. Bentley kicked well and seemed to have the stronger leg. But he has played in just one regular season game, for Denver as a rookie in 1997, and was embarrassingly wide on a 40-yard field goal try at the end of the first half of Friday's final preseason game.
"Ten years and running," said Stover, who enters the season as the 11th most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history but needs to improve his distance on kickoffs. "It's always tough. . . . The reason for the challenge: New [head] coach. Doesn't know me. He's seen what I've done in the past, but show me now."
The Ravens signed Metcalf as a free agent July 1 in hopes that he still had something left in a career that saw him gain 16,280 yards as a running back, receiver and returner in 10 years. Metcalf averaged 10.5 yards on 31 catches, 21.4 yards on 57 kickoff returns and 6.9 yards on 43 punt returns for Arizona last season.
None of the other players missing from practice was a surprise. Wide receiver Floyd Turner started three games last season but did not play much during this preseason. Cornerback John Williams had distinguished himself on special teams during his two seasons with the Ravens.
Rookie defensive lineman Marques Douglas (Howard University) was among the missing. But he is regarded as a fine prospect and may end up on the Ravens' developmental squad when the final maneuvering ends.
The others absent today: defensive tackle Larry Fitzpatrick, offensive linemen Bob Sapp, Sammy Williams and Chris Harrison and defensive back Corey Chamblin.
Billick said Pro Bowl linebacker Peter Boulware would play as long as possible with a right shoulder he re-injured Friday in his first appearance of the preseason.