Ricard questionable with calf injury

OWINGS MILLS -- In the latest setback to the Baltimore Ravens' last-ranked running game, fullback Alan Ricard aggravated his right calf injury and is questionable for Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

Ricard was extremely limited in practice Friday with a wrapped-up leg and will be a game-time decision. A questionable listing means there's a 50-percent chance of availability. He could be replaced by fullback Ovie Mughelli.

"He pulled up with a little soreness, we'll see if he could be available on Sunday," said Ravens coach Brian Billick, adding that Ricard won't play if he's not 100 percent. "The calf is a legitimate injury. Unless he can go, he will not play. What we're saying is, 'This is not a game to be halfway there and not have all your faculties about you.'

"They're optimistic that he could be fine game-time. Certainly, if the doctors say he can't go he can't go. He has not been healthy, and you have to be healthy to play this game and this position."

Ricard, who missed the first two games with a calf injury, incurred the injury late in Thursday's practice. However, he wasn't added to the injury report until Friday. Team officials stressed that the timing of the injury is why Ricard wasn't added to the official injury report Thursday.

"That calf injury is very real," Billick said. "That is the reason why Alan Ricard missed almost all of training camp and why he wasn't available to us for the first two weeks."

The 2003 Pro Bowl alternate is regarded as one of the top lead blockers in the NFL and is highly valued by running back Jamal Lewis. Without Ricard blocking for Lewis, the former 2,066-yard rusher gained only 57 yards in two losses.

Ricard had insisted that he was healthy throughout the first two weeks of the season.

"Football is a physical sport, things happen," Ricard said. "Sometimes, players want to play with injuries and coaches make the best decision for the team. That's out of my hands. I'm a competitor. I like to compete."

Noting that quarterback Kyle Boller will be out of his walking cast Monday and will likely want to play Tuesday even though he has two to three weeks of rehabilitation ahead of him, Billick emphasized that players almost always want to play hurt.

"Alan is a warrior," Billick said. "He wants to play. He feels like he can hold up, but all you had to do was watch in practice prior to these last two weeks and there was no question in my mind that he was not ready to go in and perform."

It's unclear how Ricard's potential unavailability will affect the game plan. The Ravens had been planning to revive the I-formation and smash-mouth approach after averaging 45.5 rushing yards and 2.7 yards per carry through two contests.

"Improvise and adjust," Billick said when asked how the team will respond. "Maybe they'll take up a relief fund for us."

QUICK HITS: Lewis was upgraded from probable to healthy after a brief illness. … Wide receiver Randy Hymes (elbow) and defensive end Tony Weaver (knee) were added as probable. Both practiced without incident. … If something were to happen to Anthony Wright and Kordell Stewart, Hymes is the emergency quarterback. "Randy has been that disaster [option]," Billick said. "If Kordell can punt, I imagine Randy can throw." … The Jets reported no changes to their injury report. ... Nose guard Maake Kemoeatu will visit the Living Classrooms campus in Baltimore on Tuesday. … Offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo will help refurbish a home in the Sandtown community Tuesday with the Habitat for Humanity program.

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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