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Atkins makes short-lived return to offensive line; Guard exits in 1st quarter with groin strain; Stokley hurts shoulder

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The return of James Atkins did not even last for one quarter.

Atkins, who went into training camp as the team's starting left guard, lost that job to Everett Lindsay after he tore his right hamstring midway through training camp.

Atkins made his first appearance of 1999 against the Chiefs last night -- as a starter at right tackle and a replacement for the injured Harry Swayne.

And the return of Atkins, who collected a $1 million roster bonus in March, was short-lived. Near the end of the first quarter, he limped off the field with a strained groin muscle.

The loss of Atkins forced the Ravens to go to a two-man left guard rotation of veteran Mike Flynn and rookie Edwin Mulitalo.

Mulitalo, playing in his first NFL game, helped to spring Errict Rhett on an 18-yard run in the second quarter. He also was penalized for holding in the third quarter.

Stokley has painful evening

Rookie wide receiver Brandon Stokley finally got a taste of live action last night, and his evening ended disastrously.

Stokley, who had not played since the season opener, staggered off the field with a dislocated shoulder with just over a minute left in the first half.

Stokley, who did not catch a pass last night, dislocated both shoulders in training camp.

Had quarterback Stoney Case performed better, Stokley would have gone to the locker room with two touchdown receptions to show for his efforts. But Case missed him on both counts.

During the final minute of the first quarter, Stokley had cornerback James Hasty beaten on a slant-in route inside the Chiefs' 10, with no one behind Hasty to help. Case's pass was behind Stokley and nearly intercepted by Hasty.

Then, near the end of the first half and just before he suffered his shoulder injury, Stokley got behind cornerback Eric Warfield down the left sideline, only to be under-thrown inside the Chiefs' 5, where Warfield leaped to bat away another possible touchdown.

The injury to Stokley apparently means second-year receiver Patrick Johnson will be playing a lot in the coming weeks. Johnson and Stokley had been alternating active roster spots. Johnson was inactive last night.

Moore makes appearance

Veteran safety Stevon Moore made his first appearance on defense, after Kim Herring left the action in the third quarter with a heel injury.

Herring rejoined the action in the fourth quarter.

Moore lost his job at strong safety before the team's first minicamp. Herring, a third-year player and second-round draft pick out of Penn State, entered last night's contest ranked seventh on the team with 17 tackles.

Boulware racks up sack

Linebacker Peter Boulware moved into a tie for the NFL sack lead, racking up his sixth in the first quarter.

Had it not been for a last-second move by Chiefs quarterback Elvis Grbac to get out of the end zone, Boulware would have provided the Ravens with their only points in the first half.

Instead, Boulware's 6-yard sack put the Chiefs back at their own 4.

"We played very well in the first half," Boulware said. "We only gave up the one play for the touchdown."

Boulware finished the first half with four tackles.

Sharper contains Vanover

Linebacker Jamie Sharper continued his outstanding play on special teams -- this time making it a point to contain one of the NFL's most dangerous punt return men, Tamarick Vanover.

Sharper stopped Vanover after a 5-yard put return in the second quarter. Sharper made a similar open-field tackle on the speedy Vanover in the first quarter after a 6-yard gain.

Unfortunately for Sharper, he got beat in his primary role as linebacker at the start of the fourth quarter by Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez for a 22-yard touchdown.

Sharper finished the game with four tackles.

Nedney sits out

Coach Brian Billick brought in Joe Nedney for kickoffs but has yet to activate him.

Nedney spent his second game on the inactive list. Initially, Nedney was to handle the kickoff duties with Matt Stover kicking the field goals.

Stover missed a 37-yard kick in the first quarter after first making a 32-yarder, which was nullified because the Ravens had too many men on the field.

When the referee marched the ball back 5 yards, Stover hit the right crossbar.

It ended any momentum the Ravens had after moving the ball 46 yards on 10 plays with the help of two pass interference calls.

Billick's dirty dozen

Billick jokingly refers to them as "the dirty dozen." He has called them a collection of talent taken off "the trash heap" of the NFL.

Billick is talking about his offense, which entered last night's game against Kansas City ranked 24th in the NFL, including the 28th-ranked passing game. Specifically, Billick is talking about players like quarterback Stoney Case, wide receivers Qadry Ismail and Justin Armour, running back Errict Rhett and tight end Aaron Pierce.

Case has been a career backup until he found a starting job here. Ismail had not caught a pass since 1996 before signing with the Ravens. Armour has been with four teams in four years and had caught one pass since 1995 before joining Billick. Pierce sat out the 1998 season.

Then there's Rhett, who is resurrecting a career that stalled after 1995 in Tampa Bay, where he had notched his second, 1,000-yard season in two years.

Each player has signed a one-year contract.

"We're kind of the rag-tag, dirty dozen on offense, and we're kind of thriving on it," Billick said. "We got a lot of guys nobody wanted. A lot of them have something to prove. Frankly, it has been a lot of fun to work with them. They're hungry to succeed."

A young 50 for Lewis

Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis played in his 50th career game last night, and what a ride it has been for the fourth-year veteran.

Lewis already has two Pro Bowl appearances behind him. His reputation as a relentless tackling machine is fairly secure. With 14 tackles last night, Lewis has 86 (14.3 a game) and is on pace to surpass his career-high, 210-tackle season of 1997.

Among Lewis' 14 tackles was a highlight film hit on Chiefs running back and former Raven Bam Morris.

"We knew they were going to try and come out and run the ball," Lewis said. "Everybody just stayed focus in and stayed with their responsibilities. We maintained them for the most part."

Rhett in the ring

Rhett has been known to wrestle a teammate occasionally. Last year, he went a few rounds with 330-pound guard Jeff Blackshear.

Rhett actually has wrestling experience. He was a state champion at MacArthur High School in Hollywood, Fla.

"I started wrestling at an early age, and I think it really helped my football," Rhett said. "It helped my balance. It really helped my blocking because of the leverage in the one-on-one battles. Plus, it made me more aggressive, willing to attack."

McCrary still slowed

Right defensive end Michael McCrary is still not quite right physically. Seven months removed from arthroscopic knee surgery, McCrary said he has had trouble generating maximum push when he tries to power his way past blockers and get to the opposing quarterback.

"I'm just trying to keep working hard to get where I need to be physically," McCrary said. "I'm almost there, but not quite."

For the third straight game McCrary was held without a sack, the first time that has happened to him since coming here from Seattle.

Cunningham on Ravens

Chiefs coach Gunter Cunningham praised the Ravens for having a "championship" defense and said coach Brian Billick doesn't have a full deck on offense.

"That's not him. He's playing a little bit left-handed."

Throwing Stoney

Case is the only quarterback with 75 or more throws this season who has failed to complete half of his throws.

Sun staff writer Brent Jones contributed to this article.

Case's woes

Ravens quarterback Stoney Case is yet complete 50 percent of his passes in any game.

Opponent Com. Att. Pct. Yds. TD Int.

Steelers 7 15 46.7 130 1 0

Browns 12 25 48.0 165 0 3

Falcons 13 27 48.1 192 2 0

Titans 15 37 40.5 207 0 0

Chiefs 15 37 40.5 103 0 3

Totals 62 141 44.0 797 3 6

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