ATLANTA - As he snapped in the new season, Ravens center Mike Flynn did so from an old position.
Flynn had been the Ravens starting center from 2001 to 2003 before getting hurt last season and remaining on the bench behind Casey Rabach. Flynn broke his collarbone in the preseason, and when he returned nine weeks later, he split his time at guard with Bennie Anderson.
Now free of injury and with Rabach in Washington with the Redskins, Flynn has the position again, leading the Ravens in last night's preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
"It's good to be back at center full time," Flynn said. "I like being the focal point of the offense where I get to make the calls. I feel like I'm kind of in control of what everybody is doing."
Flynn returns to an offensive line with only one new face, guard Keydrick Vincent, who spent the past four seasons with Pittsburgh. According to Flynn, his experience at center with this group of players will make the transition to the regular season easier for everyone.
"When you've been playing with these guys for a long time, you can communicate a lot easier than a guy they've never played next to before," Flynn said. "They kind of know where you're going to block, how you're going to line up, how you're going to doubleteam a guy. They're used to me, I'm used to them."
Flynn is working hard to return to his old form as he starts his eighth season with the Ravens but hasn't reached his goal yet.
"I'm halfway there," Flynn said. "I'm feeling pretty good, but until I get back into the swing of things back at center, get used to making calls again, things are going to be pretty difficult."
With special teams coordinator Gary Zauner at home recovering from a staph infection, assistant Bennie Thompson assumed his duties last night.
Thompson said Friday he was not nervous about running the special teams alone for the first time. "Everyone thinks I'm supposed to be nervous or whatever but it's no big thing to me," Thompson said. "I've been doing it so long that I'm comfortable with doing it."
Though he was not given any specific instructions from Zauner as to how to run the team, he did not stray too far from normal game play.
"I'm going to try to get the guys to be more physical and run faster," Thompson said, "but that's the same thing Gary would do so there won't be anything different."
Falcons linebacker Ed Hartwell said he made some calls to a number of his ex-teammates on the Ravens.
Hartwell spent the first four seasons of his career with the Ravens, where he was a fourthround draft choice and threeyear starter. He started the week off with some good-natured trash talk, then backed it up by intercepting Kyle Boller on the second play of the game.
"I got some phone calls and I made some, too, probably about a dozen of them," Hartwell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "They all were basically the pretty same message. I told them that if you have a falcon and a raven in real life and they were in a fight, I think I'd pick the falcon."
The Ravens made little attempt to re-sign Hartwell.
"I have a lot stored up for this game," Hartwell said earlier in the week. "I'm definitely ready to put a lick on somebody, especially with it being the Ravens."
Bumps and bruises
Fullback Alan Ricard (leg) and safety Ed Reed (knee) did not play in last night's game. Reed hurt his leg near the end of Thursday's practice, but the injury is not believed to be serious.
Ricard limped off the field during Friday's walk-through. Both players are expected to return next week. Ovie Mughelli started for Ricard, while Chad Williams took Reed's place in the lineup.
Tight end Todd Heap (ankle, shoulder), linebacker Adalius Thomas (knee), linebacker Dan Cody (knee), cornerback Dale Carter (knee), running back Musa Smith (knee) and running back Jamal Lewis (ankle) did not play.
Former Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa returned as a sideline reporter for the team last night. Siragusa showed off a slimmer figure, with estimates having him weighing less than 330 pounds. Receiver Patrick Johnson returned the opening kickoff 16 yards. Johnson is competing with incumbent B.J. Sams to be the team's kickoff returner.
Next for Ravens
* Preseason matchup: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Ravens
* Site, when: M&T Bank Stadium, Saturday, 8 p.m.
*TV/Radio: Ch. 45, Comcast SportsNet/WJFK (1300 AM),WQSR (102.7 FM)