Ravens shorthanded for preseason opener

WESTMINSTER -- A growing list of multiple starters will probably be unavailable for the Baltimore Ravens for Saturday night's preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, tweaked his right hamstring and will be a game-time decision at the Georgia Dome, according to Ravens coach Brian Billick. Reed didn't practice Friday as a precautionary measure, but indicated the injury isn't serious.

Fullback Alan Ricard strained his left calf muscle during Friday's walkthrough and might not play.

Reed would likely be replaced by Chad Williams, and Ricard would be replaced by Ovie Mughelli with rookie fullback Justin Green also seeing a lot of action.

The group of inactives will definitely include running back Jamal Lewis (ankle), tight end Todd Heap (ankle, shoulder), linebacker Adalius Thomas (knee), linebacker Dan Cody (knee) and nickel back Dale Carter (leg).

Chester Taylor will start at running back, Darnell Dinkins will start at tight end, Jarret Johnson will play strongside linebacker and will alternate with Terrell Suggs at that spot and at defensive end. Rod Green will be the situational pass rusher, and Deion Sanders will play nickel back in addition to Zach Norton, Jamaine Winborne and Calvin Carlyle.

BOULWARE UPDATE: The Ravens' pursuit of linebacker Peter Boulware continues, and Baltimore could face competition for the four-time Pro Bowl selection's services from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The defending AFC North champion Steelers, who will be without linebacker Joey Porter for a month with a knee injury, took a look at Boulware in a workout earlier this summer. The Ravens reportedly could work out Boulware as soon as this weekend or early next week.

As the Ravens' all-time leading pass rusher with 67 1/2 sacks, Boulware does represent a major injury concern after missing all of last season with knee and toe injuries. Baltimore released him this spring as a $6 million salary cap casualty.

"We'll just have to wait and see how it progresses," Billick said regarding Boulware.

Typically, Billick is only this vague when the Ravens are intent on completing a deal. General manager Ozzie Newsome declined to comment, a common response from him when he's pursuing a free agent.

FAMILIAR FACE: Former Ravens inside linebacker Ed Hartwell is now the Falcons' middle linebacker after signing a lucrative free agent contract this offseason.

The former Baltimore starter told the Times this winter that he was better than Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis, complaining that his tackles were often credited to Lewis.

"We'll have to give him a Valium or something to keep him from getting too hyped up in his first preseason game at home against this old team," Falcons coach Jim Mora said. "I'm sure he'll be excited. If he starts to feel comfortable in our scheme, then the sky is the limit for a guy like him."

ZAUNER UPDATE: Special teams coordinator Gary Zauner, who has a staph infection in his leg, won't make the trip because of concerns about swelling. Bennie Thompson, the former Ravens safety and special-teams ace, will take over for Zauner.

VICK EVERYWHERE: Falcons quarterback Michael Vick dots several downtown Atlanta billboards for AirTran Airways, bumping singer Elton John for the endorsement.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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