ATLANTA -- They wanted him to say something, anything that could help explain the loss of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Mike Vick to a fractured right fibula in the first quarter of last night's game at the Georgia Dome.
Adalius Thomas tackled Vick by his shoulder pads on a third-and-six play from the Falcons' 5-yard line. The play made the Ravens look good and showcased Thomas' speed and athleticism as he stopped Vick 2 yards short of the first down after he broke from the pocket.
But it was a devastating play to the Falcons, who will be without their star for at least six weeks.
With his locker surrounded by those waiting for his viewpoint, Thomas reacted with a mix of sorrow for NFL fans at large and optimism for the quarterback's speedy return.
"I don't know how it transpired," Thomas said. "You're out there playing football. My prayers go out to him. He's a great player, exciting player to see. Just like Ray [Lewis] came back, hopefully he can come back."
Thomas started at outside linebacker for an injured Terrell Suggs. Thomas had been in the midst of a training camp battle with Marques Douglas to start at right end, but he looked at home last night after practicing at linebacker for the previous few days.
He and the defense held Vick to 0-for-4 passing, with an interception. The defense forced a turnover and three three-and-outs on the Falcons' first four possessions, all under Vick.
"It's not a good feeling anytime somebody gets hurt," Thomas added. "You have to have some type of decency about yourself. It's a game, and you come out and play the game. You never are out there to hurt anybody, but it was a clean, legal hit."
If you adjust for his position, Ravens nose tackle Kelly Gregg squeezed enough effective plays in one half for two games.
Gregg was literally all over the field in the first half last night -- from a spot that usually requires hardly any movement.
He led the team with five tackles, had two pressures on the quarterback, clogged up a third-and-one and was generally unblockable by Atlanta's offensive line.
He was the leader of a defensive effort that yielded a turnover and three three-and-outs on Atlanta's first four possessions.
"We played with good speed and tempo," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said.
Nolan could have singled out Gregg for defining those attributes. Gregg was having a fairly quiet training camp before busting out against Atlanta.
Heap wastes no time
Heap quickly became quarterback Chris Redman's go-to guy, catching three of Redman's first four completions for 24 yards in the first quarter.
Heap missed the first preseason game and scrimmage because of back spasms.
"It's always good to come back and get some meaningful reps in," Heap said. "This was my first game back and I was really ready to hit somebody."
After avoiding mental mistakes a week ago, the Ravens looked in vintage preseason form against the Falcons.
Twice on their first five offensive possessions, they faced long-yardage situations (25 or more yards) because of penalties and sacks.
They were hit with three false-start penalties (Bennie Anderson, Marcus Robinson and Ethan Brooks), plus a call for offensive pass interference on Robinson in the first half.
Frost shows well
The Ravens' special teams received an unexpected boost with timely punting by Derrick Frost.
Frost pinned the Falcons inside their 10-yard line or better four times in the first half. All those drives ended in punts and turnovers by the Falcons.
Kickoff specialist J.R. Jenkins sent both of his kicks into the end zone; neither of the returns made it past the 22-yard line.
Fuller suffers strain
Cornerback Corey Fuller strained a groin muscle midway through the second quarter and did not return. He was the only starter to suffer an injury.
Alvin Porter replaced Fuller and intercepted quarterback Doug Johnson with under two minutes left in the first half.
Still looking strong
Receiver Ron Johnson continued his preseason heroics. Playing the entire second half, he finished with four catches for 108 yards.
"Ron continues to show up," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He did a couple of things that needed to be straightened out."
Robinson started in place of Frank Sanders (toes) and Thomas started at outside linebacker for Suggs (neck). Punter Dave Zastudil (hamstring), receiver Todd Devoe (hamstring), cornerback Tom Knight (hamstring), safety Ray Perryman (shoulder), running back Musa Smith (knee), fullback Harold Morrow (knee), return man Lamont Brightful (knee), linebacker Bernardo Harris (leg), center Mike Flynn (knee), tackle Orlando Brown (knee) and linebacker Cornell Brown (hamstring) did not play last night. Receiver Javin Hunter (Achilles' tendon) and tight end Trent Smith (leg) are out for the season.