Ravens shorthanded in Atlanta

ATLANTA – As anticipated, the Baltimore Ravens' starting lineup was dramatically transformed Saturday night at the Georgia Dome due to multiple injuries.

Defensively, Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed didn't play in the preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons because of a slight knee injury and was replaced in the starting lineup by Chad Williams. Plus, reserve defensive end Jarret Johnson started at strongside linebacker in place of Adalius Thomas. Thomas hyperextended his knee earlier this week.

Running back Jamal Lewis (ankle) didn't dress and was replaced by Chester Taylor. Lewis returned to practice earlier this week after missing the opening week of training camp while completing his sentence for a cocaine conspiracy charge and meeting with probation officials.

Lewis underwent surgery on his right ankle this winter and didn't participate in full-contact drills this week. The 2003 NFL Offensive Player of the Year is being eased back into the lineup.

With tight end Todd Heap (ankle, shoulder) still on the physically unable to perform list, the Ravens opened the game in a two-tight end set with Darnell Dinkins and Daniel Wilcox.

The Ravens were also without running back Musa Smith, who's on the physically unable to perform list as he recovers from a broken leg he incurred last season, along with nickel back Dale Carter (leg), fullback Alan Ricard (calf) and linebacker Dan Cody (knee).

Ovie Mughelli and Justin Green filled in at fullback for Ricard, and Mughelli opened large holes for Taylor, who gained 55 yards in the first half on eight carries.

RETURN SHUFFLE: Patrick Johnson, who's vying to earn a spot as the Ravens' fourth receiver, returned two kickoffs. He gained 16 and 22 yards as the Ravens auditioned possible alternatives to primary return specialist B.J. Sams.

First-round draft pick Mark Clayton caught a 6-yard pass in the first half. The former Oklahoma standout receiver called for a fair catch on a punt that rolled out of bounds at the Ravens' 1-yard line.

QUICK HITS: Wiliams had three tackles in the first quarter. ... Zach Norton and Jamaine Winborne saw extensive action at cornerback. ... With special teams coordinator Gary Zauner unable to travel because of a staph infection in his leg, assistant special teams coach Bennie Thompson took over his duties.

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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