Billick not in rush to push Boulware


Linebacker could play vs. Panthers Saturday

August 25, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens could get a first glimpse of one of their top two pass rushers this weekend.

Linebacker Peter Boulware, who has been practicing at full speed for nearly a week, said he is ready for his first preseason test against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.

"I'm not going to try to be superman out there. I just want to try a few things and see what I can do," Boulware said.

Ravens coach Brian Billick said he will decide later this week about playing Boulware.

Boulware, who suffered a dislocated shoulder on June 12 at the end of the team's final minicamp -- the same shoulder he injured early last season -- has been rehabilitating it ever since. He elected not to have surgery on the shoulder after wearing a harness to protect it last season. He might try surgery after the 1999 season.

"He's got good shoulder strength. That [playing Boulware this week] is going to be a coaching decision," Ravens head trainer Bill Tessendorf said.

As for right defensive end Michael McCrary, who also has practiced at full speed this week, Tessendorf said the plan remains the same. McCrary is scheduled to play against the Giants in the preseason finale on Sept. 3.

Said McCrary: "I haven't felt this good since [playing in] Seattle, but I'm not playing Saturday due to medical precautions. Tess wants to make sure my knee is completely ready."

Atkins has setback

The Ravens aren't sure about the availability of wide receiver Jermaine Lewis against Carolina, but they know left guard James Atkins will be unavailable.

Atkins had a major setback early in yesterday morning's practice, when he tore the tender right hamstring that has kept him out of most practices since the team's preseason opener in Philadelphia on Aug. 12.

Tessendorf said Atkins could miss the rest of the preseason, and that he would not be available against Carolina.

"It's a pretty significant tear. He's going to be out for a while," Tessendorf said. "It's tough to say at this point, but I would say the Giants game is a question mark."

Atkins went down shortly after the run-offense drills had begun, and lay on the field for five minutes in pain before being helped into the trainer's room.

Everett Lindsay will start in Atkins' place for the second straight game.

Lewis missed his first full day of practice since suffering back spasms during Monday morning's workout.

"It doesn't appear to be anything serious. What it means for the weekend, I don't know," Billick said. "It doesn't appear to be threatening for the weekend, but we're not going to jeopardize it if he has any stiffness."

Lewis, who has had trouble staying healthy for a 16-game season throughout his four-year career, did not seem too concerned. He did some light walking on a treadmill yesterday and could do some jogging today. Tessendorf said he is questionable for the Panthers game.

Lewis said he felt a twist in his back as he was finishing a pass route early in Monday's practice.

Rhett surprises Billick

Billick had heard the stories about running back Errict Rhett. The one about how Rhett could not pass-block. The one about how Rhett had trouble absorbing an offense and remembering his assignments.

After watching Rhett in two preseason games and a nearly full training camp, Billick has formed a different perspective.

As the man trying to unseat incumbent Priest Holmes as the team's featured back, Rhett leads the Ravens' backs with 50 yards rushing on 10 carries.

"The most pleasant surprise of training camp has been Errict Rhett," Billick said. "It goes back to the conventional stereotypes of what a player is supposed to be, and don't assume it was just the former [Ravens coaching] staff [talking]. Part of the rap was, mentally he struggled with his assignments.

"I have not found that in Errict Rhett. He's picking up the offense. He's done a good job in pass protection. For the most part, like all of the players, he knows where he is supposed to go and he's going there."

It's a snap

Frank Wainwright may be listed as a tight end, but he was signed for one purpose only -- snapping the ball on punts and field-goal and extra-point attempts.

Wainwright, a nine-year veteran, has been a long snapper exclusively since 1996 with the Miami Dolphins. Kicker Matt Stover has already endorsed Wainwright, who replaced veteran Brian Kinchen, now with Carolina.

"The timing [with holder Kyle Richardson and Stover] is already there. It's been automatic since minicamp," Stover said. "You know the ball is going to be in the vicinity where Kyle can handle it, and I can just worry about attacking the ball. The first snap I took from Frank [in the Eagles game on a field-goal attempt] was a game-winner."

Wainwright already has tuned in to the fans' sensitivity toward long snappers here. He has been reminded of how former long snapper Harper Le Bel -- who had replaced an injured Kinchen -- made costly mistakes in home losses last year to Pittsburgh and Tennessee.

Wainwright values the anonymity that should come with his job.

"I've had more attention paid to me by fans here than in any other training camp I've been in," Wainwright said. "I just tell them you don't know me and I don't want you to know me."

Next for Ravens

Preseason opponent: Carolina Panthers

Site: PSINet Stadium

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Line: Ravens by 3 1/2

Pub Date: 8/25/99

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