By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun
10:23 PM PDT, August 9, 2012
ATLANTA -- Tight end Ed Dickson salvaged an otherwise disappointing night for the Ravens' first-team offense by going up high and snatching a Joe Flacco pass for a 9-yard touchdown early in the second quarter of the preseason opener Thursday.
But on a night where Flacco was hit several times, Ray Rice found little room to run and the first-team offense had 9 total yards in three drives in the first quarter , even the touchdown drive ended poorly.
Dickson, the starting tight end who caught 54 balls for 528 yards and five touchdowns last season, subluxed his shoulder on the touchdown catch, coach John Harbaugh said. He will undergo tests Friday.
“We’re pretty sure it’s just a sprain but we’re going to get an MRI," Harbaugh said. "We’re probably looking at a couple of weeks.”
The loss of Dickson for a significant stretch would be a blow to the Ravens who are already without tight end Dennis Pitta. One of Flacco's favorite targets, Pitta broke his right hand during practice last week.
That leaves the Ravens with four healthy tight ends: veteran Billy Bajema, Davon Drew and undrafted rookie free agents Matt Balasavage and Bruce Figgins.
McBean also goes down
The Ravens' other significant injury of the first half came when nose tackle Ryan McBean suffered an ankle injury. McBean was carted off the field in the second quarter. He will have an X-ray on his left leg on Friday.
The former Denver Bronco figured to be a part of the Ravens' defensive line rotation. McBean is already facing a three-game suspension for violating the league's ban on performance-enhancing drugs.
Lewis sits but Reed plays a series
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said on Tuesday that a couple of his veterans wouldn't play in the preseason opener so it was hardly a surprise when the Ravens announced an hour before the game that both middle linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed would sit out.
What was a surprise was Reed running on the field with the first-team defense for the game's first possession. Reed played the first series for the Ravens — an eight play, 80-yard Falcons scoring drive — before giving way to Emanuel Cook.
Veteran Brendon Ayanbadejo got the start in place of Lewis and intercepted Matt Ryan to thwart a Falcons' scoring bid in the first quarter. He celebrated the interception and 40-yard return with a brief rendition of the "Dirty bird" dance.
More inactives for Ravens
As Harbaugh vowed, most of the Ravens who have not practiced much in training camp due to injuries did not suit up for the game.
That list included rookie running back Bernard Pierce (hamstring), wide receivers Tandon Doss (hamstring), Patrick Williams (leg) and David Reed (knee); tight end Dennis Pitta (hand), Matt Birk and tackle Jah Reid (calf), linebackers Josh Bynes (back), Terrell Suggs (Achilles), Darryl Blackstock (groin) and Courtney Upshaw (shoulder), defensive end Arthur Jones (hip) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (back).
Albert McClellan started in place of Upshaw who vowed on his Twitter page that he will return soon.
"Got to wait till I'm back in M&T [Bank] to showcase my skills," Upshaw said a couple of hours before the game on Twitter. "For my real fans know that I want to be out there no matter what but I have to be smart and [when] they allow me back I will be ready!!"
Wide receiver Jacoby Jones, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), defensive end Pernell McPhee (knee) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (hamstring) were among those who have either missed practice recently or were out early in training camp who did play Thursday .
Jones started the game returning kickoffs and punts. He did not return kickoffs for the Houston Texans last season .
Rough sequence for replacement officials
With the regular referees in the midst of a labor dispute with the NFL, there is plenty of attention being paid to the replacement officials who made a rather forgettable gaffe on a replay challenge in the first quarter.
The Falcons challenged an incompletion call and after confirming the call on the field was correct, head referee Craig Ochoa announced that "Arizona" will not be charged a timeout.
Ochoa, a Ohio business man and highway commissioner who has also referred semi-pro and college football, was 0-for-2 with the announcement. He then opened himself up for more derision later in the half by again referring to Atlanta as Arizona.
Flacco, Ayanbadejo and linebacker Jameel McClain served as the Ravens' captains … The Ravens entered the night with a 38-25 all-time record in preseason play. Under Harbaugh, they were 11-5 in the preseason, and had won 10 of their last 12 games entering Thursday. … The Falcons' coaching staff has a distinct Ravens' flavor as head coach Mike Smith, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and offensive line coach Pat Hill were all former Ravens' assistants. … Former Ravens quarterback Chris Redman was the second quarterback in for the Falcons on Thursday behind starter Matt Ryan. ... Other minor injuries included wide receiver Torrey Smith (right ankle sprain), Chykie Brown (right hamstring), Asa Jackson (hamstring), Tyrod Taylor (hamstring).
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