Boulware, McCrary likely back for preseason finale


Status of Baxter, Weaver still uncertain

Trapp hurt

Pro Football

August 26, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The Ravens have been without four starters in their three preseason games.

That, though, should change somewhat this week as linebacker Peter Boulware and end Michael McCrary likely will make their debuts in Thursday's preseason finale against the New York Giants.

Cornerback Gary Baxter and end Tony Weaver are less likely to play. Baxter was able to participate in the walk-through yesterday and expects to play a limited role, but the team will be cautious not to agitate his sore hamstring.

"They are going to work me in slowly at the nickel position before putting me back at corner," Baxter said. "If everything goes well, I'm going to be back in there with that first group at corner [for the season opener]. It just depends on how I feel, and how things go for me."

Boulware, who had minor ankle surgery in June, could have played last week, but the Ravens chose to keep him off the Veterans Stadium's artificial turf.

McCrary has not been in pads since a season-ending knee injury last November. The Ravens had hoped he would be back earlier, but McCrary suffered a slight setback while working out individually early in camp.

"Obviously, we have a game after this when it counts," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "Michael McCrary will get some reps, but it probably will be primarily in a sub package."

While McCrary is virtually assured a starting spot for the regular-season opener, Weaver may not be so lucky. The Ravens' second-round pick out of Notre Dame has not practiced since Aug. 5.

"It is slow and frustrating but at the same time I realize that I am getting better," said Weaver, suffering from a high ankle sprain. "I just have to patient."

Just what will these additions do to the defensive continuity?

"They've been studying the things they have to do, but they haven't been playing," Nolan said. "And that's a world of difference. We just continue where we are and go forward. Good football players know how to play.

"I think we mapped it out with the intentions of those guys will be here. It's not like they've all of a sudden surprised us and, `Wow, we have a good player!' We'd been hoping all along that the guys will be there."

Also on the injury front, cornerback James Trapp tore his pectoral muscle and will miss Thursday's game. Trapp could be out a considerable amount of time if he fails to regain strength in his shoulder. The Ravens will have a better idea of his status later this week, according to trainer Bill Tessendorf.

Shawn Byrdsong replaced Trapp as the nickel back, but the team may work Robert Tate in that position in practice.

Roster trimming

The Ravens do not have to officially release their cuts until tomorrow, but a number of borderline players were not at the walk-through yesterday.

Safeties Josh Robinson and Jeremy Unertl, linebackers Louis Green and Gary Davis, defensive tackle Josh McKibben, offensive tackles Dawani Fladger and Dave Pruce, quarterback Cleo Lemon, running back Derek Homer, fullback Sean Gregory, tight end Josh Bright, receiver D.J. Humphries, punter Alan Cox and long snapper Brian Smith were not on the field or in the locker room afterward.

The Ravens had 82 players on their roster going into Friday's game and have to be down to 65 by tomorrow afternoon.

End zone

Receiver Antonio Freeman, who expressed interest in returning to Baltimore, where he starred at Poly, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles over the weekend.

"He's a natural fit for them," Billick said. "He's a fine athlete. It would have been nice to have him here locally, but we feel very good about our young guys. And we've committed to that. We anticipated he would sign some place, so that is not a surprise." ...

Running back Jamal Lewis will play Thursday. ... Carolina Panthers running back DeShaun Foster will miss the season opener against the Ravens after injuring his left knee. Although Lamar Smith is the starter, Foster, a rookie out of UCLA, had been impressive this preseason. ... Cornerback Jason Olford, who missed Friday's game because of a hip injury, returned to practice. ... Receiver Lonny Mitchell sprained his ankle against the Eagles and did not practice.

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