Fans may not yet know all the Ravens, but there will be no lack of facesfamiliar to Baltimore football fans when the NFL officially returns hereSunday.
Ceremonies before the opener against the Oakland Raiders will featureabout 50 former Colts players and the Baltimore Colts' Band. After theex-Colts are introduced, Ravens players will run between lines formed by theColts and the marching band.
In addition, a "mystery guest" will present the game ball to referee DaleHamer.
Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Art Donovan, John Mackey and Bert Jones areamong former Colts expected to attend. Ted Hendricks, who played for theRaiders after starting his career as a Colt, also will participate.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is not expected to attend.
Ceremonies are scheduled to start at 12: 40 p.m.
Opening weekend festivities will begin Saturday night at Harborplace with"Celebrate the Return," a concert and fireworks show starting at 7 p.m. Ravensowner Art Modell, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and someplayers will attend.
The biggest question mark for the Ravens entering the season is at tightend, where Frank Hartley's knee injury may force him to miss the opener.
The team has been in contact with free agents Eric Green and JohnnyMitchell, but if no move is made, the team may start the season with only twotight ends.
Starter Brian Kinchen and backup Harold Bishop are healthy but, despiteKinchen's solid preseason, coach Ted Marchibroda apparently isn't convincedeither one is the permanent answer.
Green's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said yesterday that he expectednegotiations to begin with the Ravens and Miami Dolphins. Both clubs wouldlike to sign Green for a minimum contract.
The Ravens also had been interested in tight end Tyji Armstrong, who wascut Sunday by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the Fort Worth (Texas)Star-Telegram reported today that he has agreed to terms with the DallasCowboys.
Accolades for linebackers
A big concern for Marchibroda going into training camp was at linebacker,but that situation has played out to the coach's liking.
"[Mike] Croel has played fine football," he said. "Jerrol Williams hascome along. Craig Powell and Mike Caldwell have played well. Ray Lewis hasprogressed even faster than what we had thought. I guess I've mentioned themall. They've all played well."
Two top picks to start
Lewis and left guard Jonathan Ogden, first-round draft picks just fourmonths ago, will both start Sunday.
Neither is fazed at the prospect of playing in his first NFL game.
"I don't look at it like that," Lewis said. "A game is a game to me. I'mjust going to go out there and do my job."
Ogden, the team's first pick and fourth overall, said: "I've improvedevery game in the preseason. . . . I think we both have the same confidencethat we both feel we deserve to be out there."
The Raiders will have a different look Sunday.
Starting quarterback Jeff Hostetler will not play because of a kneeinjury, and wide receiver Rocket Ismail was traded to the Carolina Panthers onSunday. Two weeks ago, defensive coordinator John Fox resigned.
Billy Joe Hobert will start in place of Hostetler.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times