Peter Boulware knows he will not be allowed to enjoy a full meal, but he promises to savor every morsel that comes his way.
While he is nursing his sore right shoulder, Boulware will have to become accustomed to being a part-time player. Beginning with Sunday's season opener in St. Louis, Boulware will be used on third down or in other passing situations.
Coming off his first Pro Bowl season, having grown into the role of linebacker after making his name at Florida State as a defensive end, Boulware wishes things could be different as he begins his third year.
"I'm not extremely happy with going on the field on third down. To me, it's better than nothing," said Boulware, who re-injured the shoulder in the first quarter of Friday's preseason finale against the Giants.
Cornell Brown will start in Boulware's place.
"It's not like me to sit on the sideline watching somebody else," Boulware added. "Better to play a little than not at all. I'm glad I don't have to watch the whole year."
Boulware, who suffered a mild dislocation of the shoulder -- the same one he injured a year ago against the New York Jets -- near the end of the Ravens' final minicamp practice on June 12, nearly watched the entire preseason.
Boulware says that by functioning as a pass-rushing specialist, he will be able to use his speed in the open effectively, while protecting his shoulder. On a typical run play, Boulware would have to use his hands to counter the block of a tight end or a tackle. That is the type of hand-to-hand battle that will readily expose the shoulder to further injury.
Boulware, who will wear a protective harness, said he will consider having surgery after the season. He said he feared having surgery in June, since it might have kept him from returning until around midseason.
"If I'm having trouble with it after the season, the no-brainer would be to get the surgery and I won't have to worry about it anymore," he said.
Tight end Aaron Pierce and safety Stevon Moore are heading into St. Louis with different vantage points.
Pierce made it back to the starting lineup after sitting out the 1998 season. Moore will be on the sidelines as a backup for the first time since 1992.
"I know my role. I'll be playing a lot of special teams and backing guys up," said Moore, who lost his strong safety job to third-year man Kim Herring. "I look at it as an incentive to work harder and compete. The level of competition is greater around here."
Moore, who has recovered from two knee surgeries that ended his 1997 season prematurely, is coming off a strong preseason. He recorded nine tackles, one forced fumble and three pass deflections.
"I'm pleased with my preseason. I'm pleased with how I moved. I'm pleased with the way I stayed healthy in training camp," Moore said.
Pierce is pleased to make it through his first preseason in two years relatively unscathed. A heel injury in minicamp gave way to a quadriceps problem in training camp, but Pierce missed only one exhibition game and barely missed practice time.
"This is the time to look forward to things, but I'm trying not to look too far forward," said Pierce, who started only seven games over 1996 and 1997, before leaving football after his release by the New York Giants in February 1998. "Physically, camp was a challenge. My body just wasn't used to it.
"It took some time to adapt. I still don't feel like I'm quite over the hump. Training camp is the toughest physical test. The rest of the year is more of a mental test. It's a constant battle."
Pierce, 6 feet 5, 250 pounds, caught three passes for 31 yards in the preseason.
Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa made it back to Baltimore yesterday, just in time for a game-plan meeting and his first practice in nine days.
Siragusa, who has been bothered by knee soreness and distracted with family matters, has not had much sleep lately. His wife, Kathy, gave birth to their second child and first son, Anthony, on Monday afternoon.
"The Ravens and [head coach] Brian [Billick] made it as easy as possible on me. They didn't put any pressure on me. It was the easiest transition to make," Siragusa said.
Siragusa, listed as questionable for Sunday's game, said his knee felt "a little sore" after yesterday's two-hour workout. He did not play against the Giants on Friday.
"I've got to work through that. I couldn't not practice," he said. "I needed to get to work. We only ran six plays in nine-on-seven [drills yesterday] and I took all six of them. I needed to pick it up.
"I've got to be able to go in the fourth quarter. That's where you're going to win, and that's when the defense really has to turn it on. That's when I have to be at my best."
Left guard James Atkins (right hamstring) did not practice and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game. Wide receiver Patrick Johnson (right calf) did not practice and is listed as questionable. If Johnson does not practice today, Billick said he probably would be ruled out of the St. Louis game.
Pub Date: 9/09/99