After salary-cap issues severely reduced the talent and depth of the former Super Bowl champions, the revamped Ravens are hoping to use this preseason opener as a learning exercise.
"Like every team, we're in need of someone else to hit," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Sometimes, it's real easy for us to dismiss preseason games as not being really competitive, not meaning anything. I think it's the other way around. "You have guys fighting for jobs, fighting for their lives here. You're talking about raw, real competitions."
Billick said he wants to get a long look at new starting quarterback Chris Redman, at least for 25-30 snaps, possibly for the entire first half.
Veteran Jeff Blake would take the remainder of the work, with rookie Wes Pate possibly seeing some action at the end of the game.
The Ravens are still being careful with running back Jamal Lewis after he missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Lewis won't play against the Lions, joining a long list of players who won't participate, including: defensive end Michael McCrary (knee), outside linebacker Peter Boulware (ankle), cornerback Gary Baxter (hamstring), defensive end Anthony Weaver (ankle), running back Chester Taylor (bruised leg), cornerback Jason Olford (hamstring) and linebacker Andre Arnold (knee). McCrary and Boulware are both still on the physically unable to perform list.
Billick said first-round pick Ed Reed will see some work at safety, but won't start after his holdout. At the most, Reed will play 15-20 snaps, because Billick doesn't want to risk an injury to the All-America from Miami (Fla.) after just four days of practice.
Undrafted rookie Tellis Redmon will start at running back for Lewis, receiving assistance from Dameon Hunter and Derek Homer.
"I'm always excited to come in and play," said Redmon, who rushed for 246 yards on 42 carries in his last college start at Minnesota in the Micronpc.com Bowl against North Carolina State. "A friend of mine plays for Detroit [cornerback Jimmy Wyrick], and he's been talking about what they're going to do to us. "I want to show the coaches I can play at this level. I want to make all my reads, hit all my holes hard and keep up with all of my assignments."
With three new assistant coaches, it's going to a changed experience for the Ravens' staff, too. Billick said the coaches would spend part of Wednesday going over sideline procedures. Like the players, he expects his staff to make some mistakes and have some growing pains. Mostly, Billick is looking to evaluate his roster and build timing.
"First and foremost, you've got to identify talent," Billick said. "I'm anxious to watch this very athletic, hard-working group fly around just to see how they let it loose, and how physical and athletic they can be."
ON THE MEND: After suffering a bruised leg last week, Taylor, the club's sixth-round pick out of Toledo, is slowly working his way back. "I think I'll be ready to play next week," Taylor said. "Nobody can control injuries. It's all about how you bounce back." Safety Chad Williams (leg), tight end Todd Heap (triceps) and punter Dave Zastudil (heel) continue to play through minor injuries.
SHENANIGANS: Much to their delight, the Ravens engaged in some hi-jinks following Wednesday morning's practice. Several veterans wrestled rookies to the ground, taped them up with medical tape and dunked the players in a tub of cold water. Among the rookies who got the full treatment were receiver Ron Johnson, defensive back Shawn Byrdsong and offensive guard Mike Collins. It reportedly took 8-10 vets to subdue the 6-foot-5, 290-pound Collins.
QUICK HITS: Inside linebacker Ray Lewis intercepted a pass and ran well behind a convoy of blockers. … Wide receiver Ron Johnson used his considerable size advantage to flatten return specialist Lamont Brightful with a crack-back block. Johnson is 6-2, 225 pounds. Brightful, who was practicing at cornerback, is listed generously at 5-10, 170. Assistant coach Bennie Thompson chided Johnson for not picking on someone his own size such as starters Gary Baxter and Chris McAlister. It was the second day in a row that Johnson roughed up Brightful, who bounced up after the contact. … Johnson made a nice reception by keeping his feet in bounds to catch a pass downfield on Alvin Porter. … Redman found Brandon Stokley on a crossing route in the end zone for a touchdown during seven-on-seven work. … Undrafted rookie safety Will Demps made a swift break on the football for an interception. Demps has been receiving repetitions with the first defensive unit with Reed's holdout and Williams' injury.