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Webster Suspended For Season by NFL

August 20, 1996

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) _ Larry Webster, a reserve defensive tackle with the Baltimore Ravens, was suspended Tuesday by the NFL for the 1996 season for violating the league policy on drug and alcohol abuse.

Webster, a five-year veteran, was suspended for six games last season after testing positive for a controlled substance. His latest positive test was his third, which means he is banished from the league for at least a year.

The Ravens and the NFL would not disclose the type of drug that Webster was allegedly using. Webster did not attend Tuesday’s practice and his agent, Tony Paige, was not available for comment.

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens director of player personnel, said the team learned of Webster’s positive test three weeks ago. Webster appealed the suspension, but his plea was denied.

Webster, 27, signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent in May 1995. Before he agreed to terms, the Miami Dolphins reportedly rescinded a contract offer to Webster for violating an unspecified team and league rule.

He played 10 games after his suspension last season, registering 30 tackles and knocking away two passes. This year he started training camp as the starting left tackle, but he eventually lost the starting slot to Tim Goad.

The loss of Webster leaves the Ravens shorthanded on the defensive line.

``It’ll hurt us. We thought we had seven good defensive linemen going into the season, and now we’re down to six,″ coach Ted Marchibroda said. ``He’s been practicing well and playing well. Larry provided tremendous depth for us, and I’m not sure he might not have ended up as a starter.″

Webster was more to the Ravens than just a number of the depth chart.

``Certainly, when a guy has a problem like that he needs to get some help,″ quarterback Vinny Testaverde said. ``It hurts the team to lose a guy with Larry’s ability, but at the same time you want to see him get his life straightened out.″

Owner Art Modell said, ``I’m saddened by it. I feel sad for Larry, but rules are rules and he violated the rules. He knew what was at stake, and sadly, he saw fit to violate the rule.″

Webster was a three-year starter at the University of Maryland before being signed by Miami, where he missed only three games in three seasons. He has 100 career tackles and 1 1/2 sacks.

``He was a friend of mine and he will be missed,″ offensive tackle Tony Jones said. ``I think he was a good player, and he would have helped this team out a lot.″

In other news Tuesday, the Ravens reduced their roster to 58 players by placing defensive tackle Corey Sears (knee injury) and wide receiver Curtis Brown (ankle) on injured reserve and putting quarterback Jon Stark (shoulder) on the physically unable to perform list. Stark can stay on the PUP list until the sixth week of the season, and the Ravens then have three weeks to add him to the roster or cut him.

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