Ravens' job gets tougher: R. Lewis out

Shoulder injury means end to star's string of 63 consecutive starts

Billick: `Smart thing to do'

In all, 4 of team's starters could miss Colts game

October 12, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Ravens coach Brian Billick said yesterday that Ray Lewis would miss tomorrow's game in Indianapolis as injuries continue to mount for the AFC North leaders.

The Ravens may have to play without four starters, with Lewis (partially dislocated left shoulder) headlining the group. Defensive end Michael McCrary (knee) is officially listed as out, receiver Brandon Stokley (ankle) is considered a game-time decision, and center Mike Flynn (ankle) is scheduled to be a backup.

Lewis, an All-Pro linebacker, will sit out for the first time since Oct. 11, 1998, ending his streak of 63 consecutive starts. He has missed only four games in his seven-year career, with the Ravens going 1-3 in his absences.

"Under different circumstances, Ray might have pushed himself through it," Billick said. "It's still sore. In our doctor's opinion, it's too early and a week will make a major difference. We are all in agreement - and Ray, as well - that this is the smart thing to do."

Lewis was unavailable to comment, but his teammates understand the challenge of playing without one of the game's most dominating defenders.

"Everybody has to pick up their game," said Ed Hartwell, who plays inside linebacker beside Lewis. "Everybody has to raise their own personal bar when you lose a player like that."

McCrary, who had offseason knee surgery, played over his 40-snap limit the past two weeks, and the Ravens don't want to risk long-term injury on the RCA Dome artificial turf. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Adalius Thomas.

Flynn missed parts of Sunday's game with his ankle injury and will be relegated to backup duty, ending the longest starting streak of any Ravens offensive lineman at 36 games. Casey Rabach will take Flynn's spot.

Stokley became an addition to the injury report when he hurt his right ankle in Thursday's practice. Bothered by injuries throughout his career, Stokley is the team's third-leading receiver with 16 catches for 253 yards and delivered the Ravens' only two touchdowns Sunday in Cleveland.

If Stokley cannot go, rookie Ron Johnson would likely step in for him.

Asked about his chances of playing, Stokley said: "It's kind of hard to say. I haven't really tried to cut on it. Cutting is the big thing for me. All I do is cut. If I can cut on it, I'll definitely play. If I can't cut on it, I don't want to go out there and hurt the team."

Billick hopes this rash of injuries is just a one-week deal.

"Rather than doling it out, let it all hit at once," Billick said. "If that's our fate, then I'll take it."

Next for Ravens

Opponent:Indianapolis Colts

Site:RCA Dome, Indianapolis

When:Tomorrow, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio:Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line:Colts by 7

SunSpot:For more coverage, visit sunspot.net/ravens

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