LANDOVER, Md. — It was only a few minutes into the Baltimore Ravens’ preseason finale before a starter suffered an injury. Fullback Justin Green sprained his knee with 7:44 remaining in the first quarter and had to be carried off by trainers after catching a short swing pass from quarterback Steve McNair.
Green didn’t return and it’s unclear whether he’ll be available for the Ravens’ Sept. 10 season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Afterward, Green said he could have returned if it had been a regular season game and stressed that he didn’t think he would miss anytime.
Meanwhile, backup defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin left the game with a hip injury and didn’t return. Linebacker Mike Smith banged-up his knee, but it wasn’t viewed as serious.
TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens were already shorthanded heading into the fourth preseason game. Cornerback Chris McAlister was held out of the game as a precautionary measure after missing a few practices with hip and thigh pain.
Plus, wide receiver Derrick Mason was a late scratch to rest his knee. Like McAlister, it isn’t considered serious and both could have played if they had been needed.
The Ravens were also without safety Gerome Sapp (abdominal infection), running back Jamal Lewis (hip) and offensive guard Brian Rimpf (hamstring).
Rimpf has been out since straining his hamstring early in training camp and is a major candidate to be placed on injured reserve, which would end his season before it ever started.
PUNTING UPDATE: Rookie Sam Koch, the team’s sixth-round draft pick from Nebraska, pretty much has a stranglehold on the punting job. He boomed a 58-yard punt down to the Redskins’ 12-yard line on his first try. Koch averaged 52.3 yards on four punts in the first half.
It’s regarded as a forgone conclusion that Koch will win the job and that the Ravens will release veteran Leo Araguz. Koch’s ability to kick off, too, could alleviate the need for kickoff specialist Aaron Elling.
QUICK HITS: The Ravens started Devard Darling at wide receiver in place of Mason. … Nickel back Corey Ivy ran with the starters in place of McAlister. … Fullback Ovie Mughelli took even more repetitions than usual with Green out. … Eight different Ravens caught passes in the first half, led by rookie Demetrius Williams’ two catches for 30 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Boller. … Rookie safety Dawan Landry led Baltimore with five tackles in the first half, a mark tied by linebacker Bart Scott. … Offensive guard Keydrick Vincent and offensive tackle Tony Pashos played two extra series after the first-string offense was relieved.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.