Green steps in at fullback, gets Billick's praise



Ravens fullback Justin Green had only a few moments to spare before heading to the running backs meeting room, aka his second home. It is where the rookie spends most of his free time trying to make up for his lack of experience.

"The biggest thing is you have to really be mentally able to grasp all of it," said Green, who figures to make his second start of the season tomorrow against the Cincinnati Bengals. "The physical part is going to take care of itself. The more you know, the easier it is to play at the highest level you can. I spend a lot more time in the film room, especially now. I have to head to these meetings. You have to really do homework."

Green is the first rookie to start in the Ravens' backfield since Jamal Lewis in 2000. Though his playing time is due to injuries to Alan Ricard and Ovie Mughelli, Ravens coach Brian Billick has nothing but praise for his fifth-round pick.

In Monday night's 20-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green had his finest game. Against the Steelers' blitz, Green found himself one-on-one with either a linebacker or safety, but the rookie held his own, serving more as a wall to the quarterback than a speed bump. Green did not give up a sack.

"There is a lot going on back there in run, pass, protections, checks," Billick said. "And Justin has been great in picking it up. That is one of those things that you don't anticipate because of the mental part of it. You expect a guy to come in and maybe be some special teams help. You are scared to death to put a guy in [the lineup], if for no other reason, probably protection. But he has been very good."

Green may be adept at stopping linebackers from reaching the quarterback, but now he must knock them off the line of scrimmage if he is to win the trust of Lewis.

"The style of runner he is, you have to know what he likes," said Green, who also has two catches for 15 yards. "Watching film, I noticed things, just like everybody else, of what he likes to do. He's a big, bruising type running back."

Smith decision due

The Ravens have until Wednesday before they must make a decision on running back Musa Smith.

Smith, on the active physically-unable-to-perform list while coming back from a broken leg, has been practicing the past two weeks. His presence might be needed most in special teams, where the Ravens are 23rd in the league in kickoff coverage.

"He's progressed very well, although he won't be up this week," Billick said. "But we'll have to make that determination next week."

Carter may be busy

Facing the first pass-oriented team in Cincinnati since the season opener, Dale Carter may play more at safety in place of Chad Williams. Carter, who usually splits time with Deion Sanders at nickel back, has played a handful of snaps over the past two games at safety.

"It's really no big difference," Carter said. "As long as I'm on the field, I'm happy."

Williams has started the past two games in place of Ed Reed, who is out with a high ankle sprain. But Carter can cover more ground, though this is his first experience playing safety as a professional.

"Dale played safety in college," Billick said. "Because of our situations and our numbers, it's something we have to do. He's getting more and more comfortable with it."

Injury report

Quarterback Kyle Boller may be able to be the team's No. 3 quarterback against the Bengals. Boller was to have served in that capacity a week ago but had a slight setback in practice.

Billick said Boller is experiencing a minimal amount of soreness. Receiver Mark Clayton (ankle, questionable) looks like he may be able to play as well. Clayton has missed the past two games.

"We're looking pretty good, made substantial progress with Mark, with Ovie [Mughelli]," Billick said. "So we feel very good about that. And Kyle seems to be progressing well."

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