Ravens' Thomas still known for injuring Vick

WESTMINSTER -- A year ago, Adalius Thomas burst toward electrifying Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.<br><br> Thomas quickly pounced on the mobile quarterback, whose cleats caught in the Georgia Dome turf as he crumpled underneath the weight of the Baltimore Ravens' 270-pound outside linebacker.<br><br> The result from that encounter was Vick breaking his leg in a stadium that sounded like a tomb. One of the NFL's elite players was out for the majority of the season.<br><br>

Now, Vick is healthy again and poised to play one series tonight as the Ravens open the preseason against the Falcons at M&T Bank Stadium.

"Injuries are a part of the game, but people ask me about that play all the time because Vick is such a famous, marquee player and it was a devastating blow for the league," said Thomas, a Pro Bowl special-teams ace. "As long it wasn't a cheap shot, nobody holds a grudge. I've seen Vick a couple of times since it happened and he was cool.

"If he has a problem with that, it's between him and God and there's nothing you can do. If I knock you out, so be it. Everybody has a claim to fame and I guess, for better or worse, that's mine."

It was trademark aggressiveness by the Ravens' defense, which ranked third in the NFL last season.

Vick said recently that he doesn't hold a grudge.

"It's something that didn't leave a bitter taste in my mouth towards the team or anything," Vick told Atlanta reporters. "My mind-set going into that game wasn't right. Thursday will be a totally different Michael Vick."

The Ravens led the NFL in sacks (47), finishing first in the league in allowing the fewest yards per play (4.2).

"It doesn't matter if it's Michael Vick, or whoever, we want to neutralize you," defensive end Marques Douglas said. "We're coming after you is the message we want to send."
Meanwhile, the Ravens' offense is looking to adopt a similarly nasty attitude.

The running game is rock-solid behind NFL Offensive Player of the Year Jamal Lewis. He rushed for a league-high 2,066 yards last season, second-most in league history.

However, the passing game was the lowest-ranked in the NFL last season.

"We want to see a jump-up in our consistency, and we would like to see a few big plays," quarterbacks and receivers coach David Shaw said. "We don't want to be just a ball control offense."

Second-year quarterback Kyle Boller is slated to play about a quarter, or roughly 15-20 snaps against the Falcons, along with the rest of the offensive starters.

Last season, Boller was 5-4 as a rookie starter before injuring his leg. He finished with the second-lowest passer rating (62.4) in the NFL.

Boller has devoted himself to trying to improve his accuracy and fundamentals. Senior consultant Jim Fassel keeps a close eye on his mechanics.

"I don't want him to think he has to play lights-out every game," Fassel said. "He's still inexperienced. If he tries to do that, he could end up costing the team a game. All he has to do is be good to very good. That's why I want him to become fundamentally sound.
"What we need to do is get him in a consistent mode with his mechanics and make him an efficient drop-and-throw quarterback. He can do that."

Besides the steady progress the Ravens are hoping to make with their passing game, they are closely analyzing several competitions.

Most notably, incumbent Bennie Anderson and former third-round pick Casey Rabach grappling over right offensive guard, Lamont Brightful and rookie Derek Abney in the return game and several players, including Randy Hymes and rookie Devard Darling, vying for the third receiver spot.

"This is the purest form for evaluation because it's legitimate competition," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

For rookies like defensive end Dwan Edwards, a second-round draft pick, tonight represents a proving ground.

"Here, everyone is good," Edwards said. "At the college level, I could pretty much overpower people with my strength. You learn that being a defensive lineman in the NFL, there's a lot of technique work involved.

"It's just me wanting to go out there and play well. That's all I'm nervous about. I'm happy we get to hit the quarterback."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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