As starter, Smith not debugged in '08 debut

The uneven-play bug appears to have infected quarterback Troy Smith, too.

In his first start of the preseason, Smith helped the Ravens score a touchdown on their first offensive series and guided the offense into Minnesota Vikings territory last night.


But the offense could not collect any points on its two other forays across midfield, and Smith capped his evening with a poorly thrown slant pass behind wide receiver Mark Clayton that was intercepted by safety Darren Sharper.

Smith showed flashes of what he could provide as the team's quarterback.


Smith completed three of four passes for 25 yards but posed the biggest threat to the Vikings' defense with his feet.

He carried the ball three times for 35 yards, and his 10-yard bootleg on third-and-2 from Minnesota's 16-yard line put rookie running back Ray Rice in position to score his first NFL touchdown from 6 yards out with 6:11 left in the first quarter.

But the offense stalled in Vikings territory on two ensuing possessions, and Smith was sacked twice by Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen.

"We didn't protect the quarterback the way you have to," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said.

Three and (not) out

A troubling trend for the Ravens' defense involves a category in which they have enjoyed immense success: third downs.

Minnesota converted seven of 10 third downs during the first half of last night's game. Six of those conversions involved yards-to-go of at least five yards, and two were of 11 yards each.

"We gave them too many plays," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "We didn't close. If you get near the quarterback, you have to make the play. We didn't do that."


End zone

The list of Ravens players who did not play included: cornerbacks Chris McAlister (right knee), Samari Rolle (left leg) and David Pittman (undisclosed); tight ends Todd Heap (right calf), Daniel Wilcox (toe) and Aaron Walker (left knee); offensive tackles Adam Terry (sprained left ankle) and Jared Gaither (right ankle); defensive tackles Kelly Gregg (arthroscopic knee surgery) and Kelly Talavou (sprained shoulder); linebackers Terrell Suggs (unexcused absence) and Dan Cody (right foot); wide receivers Demetrius Williams (physically-unable-to-perform list) and rookie Patrick Carter (dislocated shoulder); free safety Ed Reed (undisclosed); and running back Willis McGahee (arthroscopic knee surgery). ... Cornerback Fabian Washington started despite dealing with what coach John Harbaugh called "neck spasms."