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PRO FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : AFC

Byner Beats Out Hoard, Will Start

August 27, 1996

Earnest Byner is poised to become the answer to this future trivia question: Who was the first player to carry the football for the Baltimore Ravens?

Byner, a veteran of 179 games spanning 12 seasons, will start at running back Sunday when the Ravens launch their inaugural season at home against the Oakland Raiders.

Byner began the preseason as the backup to Leroy Hoard. But Byner gained a team-high 122 yards in four exhibition games, averaging 6.8 yards on 18 carries, while Hoard managed only 90 yards in 41 attempts.

"I think overall Earnest had a better preseason than Leroy did," Coach Ted Marchibroda said. "Leroy's preseason wasn't as good as he would like to have had, or what we would have liked to have seen him have."

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Bruce Smith, angry about slow progress being made with renegotiating his contract, considered walking out on the Buffalo Bills, but his agent, Leigh Steinberg, advised against it.

"I'm unhappy with the way that things have progressed," Smith said. "Whether I'll hold out or not, I don't know yet. I'm listening to my agent right now, and we'll make those decisions as we come across."

Smith is scheduled to be paid $2.2 million the next two years and became unhappy when others around the league signed for more money. . . . Keith Byars will start for the Miami Dolphins at tight end, Coach Jimmy Johnson said.

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