Zastudil Strains Hamstring - Camp Notes

Baltimore Ravens punter Dave Zastudil suffered a strained hamstring in his kicking leg and estimates he will be out two to three weeks. That necessitates a battlefield promotion for rookie Derrick Frost who will make his NFL debut in Saturday night's preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium.

Zastudil said he felt a twinge in his left hamstring Thursday morning. He initially stretched it out and believed it was going to be alright. Then, the Ravens' fourth-round pick from last year felt the muscle seize up on a subsequent punt and he left the practice field in pain. "It's a real bummer," Zastudil said. "I didn't think it was going to be that serious, but it really tightened up on me. I'll be back, but it was pretty painful." 

A magnetic resonance imaging exam didn't reveal a tear. 

Zastudil averaged 41.6 yards per punt last season and tied for second in the league with 31 punts inside the 20-yard line. "At least this didn't happen during the season," special teams coach Gary Zauner said. 

In Zastudil's absence, the punting duties go to Frost, a rookie from Northern Iowa whom Baltimore claimed off of waivers when the Philadelphia Eagles released him this spring. The Ravens primarily envisioned Frost competing for the kickoff specialist job, not acting as a stand-in for the reliable Zastudil.

 "You never like to be happy about taking advantage of somebody else getting injured," Frost said. "I hope Dave has a speedy recovery, a lot faster than the doctors think. I'm going to do a good job I hope this weekend." 

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Frost averaged 41.2 yards a punt in college with a long of 75 yards. As a senior, he averaged 43.9 yards. Playing at the Division I-AA level, though, he's not accustomed to the crowd size of an NFL contest even with past games against opponents like Iowa State on his resume. "Hopefully, I'll just relax and everything will go smooth," Frost said. 

Frost spent the majority of Thursday getting acclimated not only to the fact that he'll be starting for Baltimore in his first NFL game, but also practicing as the Ravens' holder for kicker Matt Stover. An added wrinkle to the transition is the fact that Frost held for a left-footed kicker for his last three years of college. Stover is a right-footed kicker. Asked if he was nervous about his holding, Frost said, "Somewhat, because you never like to screw something up for somebody. This is kind of different. It makes it a little more difficult to control the ball, but I'm getting the hang of it." 

WAITING GAME ENDED: Linebacker Johnny Rutledge was getting impatient as he waited for a telephone call once the Arizona Cardinals released him. The Ravens officially signed Rutledge to a two-year contract and he practiced Thursday. "I was at home sweating, waiting on the call," Rutledge said. "The phone call never really came. Then, at the 12th hour I got the phone call and I was really happy." 

Rutledge never fulfilled the promise Arizona saw in him as a second-round pick in 1999 after a standout career at the University of Florida. At 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds, Rutledge can play both inside and outside linebacker and bolsters the Ravens' depth in the wake of Bernardo Harris' broken leg. "He can play both inside and outside," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "So, we are excited to see what he can do for us." 

MEDICAL UPDATE: Offensive tackle Orlando Brown returned to practice drills Thursday and wants to play Saturday after recovering from a thigh injury above his knee, but Billick didn't share Brown's optimism. Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap (back spasms) will also miss Saturday's game along with running back Musa Smith (knee), center Mike Flynn (knee), safety Ray Perryman (dislocated shoulder), linebacker Bernardo Harris (broken leg), Zastudil (hamstring) and receiver Todd Devoe (leg). It's unclear whether return specialist Lamont Brightful (hyperextended knee) will miss the game. It's likely that defensive lineman Joe Salave'a, who practiced Thursday after spraining his left medial collateral ligament to open camp, will be held out, too. Receiver Javin Hunter ruptured his Achilles' tendon this week and is out for the season. 

QUICK HITS: Cornell Brown will start at outside linebacker Saturday, but first-round pick Terrell Suggs will receive playing time with the first defense, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. … Billick gave rookie quarterback Kyle Boller a tutoring session on the proper way to receive the snap from center with Boller snapping to Billick … The Ravens moved today's practice from McDaniel College to M&T Bank Stadium and it won't be open to the public. The Ravens resume practice in Westminster on Monday morning. … Receiver Marcus Robinson won a team bowling competition with a score of 221 on Wednesday in Westminster.


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