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NFL Preseason Preview - Detroit (0-1) at Baltimore (1-0)
By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - While both teams would be extremely pleased with sharp performances, the main goal of the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens may be to come out of their preseason encounter at M&T Bank Stadium in relatively good health.
The Ravens came into last week's visit to the Georgia Dome somewhat banged up, and the injury total increased following the team's 31-17 comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons that kicked off its 2012 schedule. Two offensive starters, wide receiver Torrey Smith (sprained ankle) and tight end Ed Dickson (shoulder subluxation), were forced to exit early, while reserve defensive lineman Ryan McBean suffered a fractured left ankle that could sideline him for the entire upcoming season.
Baltimore was already without 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs until at least November after the standout pass rusher tore his Achilles tendon during the spring, while Dickson's injury further depletes a tight end position that's also minus No. 2 option Dennis Pitta, who'll miss all of the preseason after breaking his hand early in camp.
Dickson will be held out for the final three exhibition games as well, but Smith was able to practice on Monday and could be available for Friday's tilt.
The Ravens also got good news this week on two other ailing players that sat out the Atlanta game. Veteran center Matt Birk, who's been dealing with recent back spasms, has resumed practicing this week and is expected to go against the Lions, while rookies Courtney Upshaw (shoulder) and Bernard Pierce (hamstring) may be ready to make their anticipated debuts after missing portions of camp.
Upshaw, Baltimore's second-round selection in April's draft, is ticketed as the replacement for free-agent departure Jarret Johnson at strongside linebacker, while third-rounder Pierce is competing with second-year pro Anthony Allen and undrafted rookie Bobby Rainey to be the primary backup to star running back Ray Rice.
Rainey helped his cause with a good showing against the Falcons, rushing for 36 yards on 12 carries and adding 28 yards on three catches, including an 18- yard touchdown grab from quarterback Curtis Painter.
Painter, an eight-game starter for Indianapolis last season, threw for three second-half scores to help the Ravens score 24 unanswered points over the final two quarters and overcome a 17-7 deficit to the Falcons. He's battling athletic youngster Tyrod Taylor, who led Baltimore with 51 rushing yards on five scrambles in the opener, to be the No. 2 signal-caller on the depth chart.
The Lions invade M&T Bank Stadium for this matchup of 2011 playoff participants with health issues at running back and the secondary. Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure, Detroit's projected top two ball-carriers, will both be held out a second straight week, with Best still yet to be cleared from a lingering concussion and Leshoure just getting back from a hamstring injury. In addition, starting free safety Louis Delmas won't play at all in the preseason following a knee procedure earlier this month.
Strong safety Amari Spievey, who was inactive for the Lions' 19-17 home loss to Cleveland due to headaches, is slated to participate in Friday's test, however, as is defensive end Cliff Avril. The talented pass rusher wasn't in uniform against the Browns after reporting late to camp because of a brief contract dispute.
Other Detroit members not expected to suit up include defensive linemen Kyle Vanden Bosch (knee) and Sammie Hill (back) and rookie wide receiver Ryan Broyles (knee).
With Best and Leshoure still sidelined, rushing duties for Friday's game will again fall upon veteran Kevin Smith and backups Joique Bell and Keiland Williams. Bell gained 89 yards on 16 carries in the Cleveland loss, with Williams adding 71 on nine attempts as Detroit ran for 198 yards as a team.
The Ravens have won each of the previous two preseason clashes between these clubs, both of which took place at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore earned a 12-6 decision over the Lions in 2002 and posted a 17-6 triumph two years later.
Baltimore is 11-2 over its last 13 preseason outings, while Detroit had won seven consecutive warm-up games dating back to 2010 before last week's defeat.
08/15 12:29:04 ET