Ricard injury may spoil plan

Ravens might have to look elsewhere to boost run game if fullback can't play


The Ravens' return to a smash-mouth running attack might have hit a snag.

Fullback Alan Ricard reinjured his right calf in Thursday's practice and is considered questionable for tomorrow's game against the New York Jets.

The Ravens wanted to revert to a run-heavy philosophy, which meant going back to their old I-formation look. Ricard, who had been inactive the first two games, would have an integral role in that game plan as Jamal Lewis' lead blocker.

"Unless he can [fully] go, he will not play," Billick said. "This is not a game to be halfway there. They're optimistic he could be fine [by] game time. What we're asking him to do, you got to be healthy and going."

Ricard did not participate in every drill in practice yesterday.

Asked if he would be able to play tomorrow, Ricard said, "I'm good, I'm good."

If Ricard can't play, the Ravens would either line up tight end Daniel Wilcox in the backfield or use backup fullback Ovie Mughelli.

With the Ravens ranking last in the NFL in rushing, there had been increasing questions why Ricard remained inactive this season. Team officials said he had not recovered from a preseason calf injury, but Ricard said he was medically fine to play. He was never listed on the injury report before yesterday.

"Alan is a warrior, and he wants to play," Billick said. "He feels like he can and hold up. But all you had to do is watch him prior to these two weeks, there was no doubt in my mind that he was not ready to go in and perform the way he was going to have to."

Ricard said he understood Billick's position.

"Sometimes players want to play with injuries and coaches try to make the best decision for the team," said Ricard, the team's starting fullback for the previous three seasons. "It's out of my hands right there."

The Ravens wanted to push Ricard during this week's practices to make sure his calf would hold up for the game.

A team spokesman said Ricard pulled up with soreness on one of the final plays of Thursday's practice. His injury was unknown yesterday because he was not listed on the injury report and reporters are only allowed to watch the first 45 minutes of practices during the regular season.

If a player is injured in practice, he might not be added to the injury report that day because his team might not be able to diagnose the injury or know the extent of it, an NFL spokesman said.

In a season that has started 0-2, Ricard's injury is just the latest blow the Ravens have had to encounter.

"[We have to] improvise and adjust," Billick said. "Maybe they'll take up a relief fund for us."


Jets@Ravens Tomorrow, 4:05 p.m., Ch. 13, 1300 AM, 102.7 FM Line: Ravens by 7

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