Falcons win, but hope rookie White is OK

Roddy White

ATLANTA - As bad omens go, this hardly compared to the loss of quarterback Michael Vick two years ago.

The sight of Roddy White limping off the field, however, with a high ankle sprain seemed like cruel fate in the Atlanta Falcons' 16-3 preseason victory Saturday night over the Baltimore Ravens.

Perhaps White's right leg isn't injured badly, as the Falcons can only hope. The team offered no immediate public diagnosis after three trainers accompanied White into the locker room.

"Every time I get hurt, it's a setback for me," White said. "I'm trying to catch up anyway. It was hurting pretty bad, but I didn't want to come out."

Nearly 30 minutes after the game ended, head coach Jim Mora wasn't sure of White's condition because the team still awaited X-ray results. White added that he thinks he will return to practice later this week, but other players sometimes miss three to five weeks with a similar injury.

Other than upgrading the speed of the defense, Atlanta was most concerned about the results it would have this year from its receiving corps. President-general manager Rich McKay drafted a wideout late in the first round for the second straight year when the Falcons took White No. 27 overall in April.

Last year's first-rounder, Michael Jenkins, beat out incumbent Peerless Price before the first day of camp to become the starting flanker.

White, though, has a tangible asset that no other Atlanta receiver, save tight end Alge Crumpler, can offer. He literally attacks the football in the air, regardless of how well he's covered.

"Roddy made some big plays," Vick said. "You've got to love what he brings to the table."

On a simple out pattern in the left flats, White caught an 8-yard pass from third-string quarterback Ty Detmer early in the fourth quarter, but the receiver's right foot appeared to plant awkwardly as he turned to run and cornerback Mark Estelle made the tackle.

He stayed in the game for one more play, running a short out pattern from the Baltimore 12-yard line, but he was clearly in pain as he left the field.

Two years ago against many of these same Ravens, Adalius Thomas tackled Vick from behind and broke the superstar's right ankle. The Falcons never recovered as Vick missed 12 starts, the team lost 10 games without him and Dan Reeves was fired as head coach.

The severity of White's injury will affect an Atlanta corps that caught 15 passes for 173 yards and one touchdown. Mark Anelli, a fourth-string tight end, was the recipient of Detmer's 18-yard scoring pass for a 10-3 lead early in the fourth.

White's four catches were a game-high as he worked with second-string quarterback Matt Schaub, who was 6-of-16 passing for 86 yards, and Detmer, who was 7-of-13 for 79.

Vick played the first quarter only and sustained two of the four sacks the Falcons surrendered. The first looked as if it hurt worse, at least physically, as linebackers Tommy Polley and Ray Lewis blitzed from the left side on the Atlanta's second play from scrimmage.

Fortunately for Vick, Polley arrived first and took him down before Lewis, the perennial All-Pro superstar, crashed from behind to finish the play.

On the second sack, courtesy of former Falcons star Deion Sanders, caused Vick to lose a fumble that the "Prime Time" cornerback recovered on the ensuing drive at the Baltimore 18.

"I think they were able to come out and put pressure on us, and we handled it well," Vick said. "We had a (long) drive that didn't end the way that we wanted it to, but it shows growth in the offense. I do everything I can to get the ball out of my hands as quickly as possible, but if I have to take a sack, I have to take a sack."

New linebacker Ed Hartwell taunted his former Ravens teammates and made a great impression in his first home appearance after intercepting Kyle Boller on the second play from scrimmage. Dropped into coverage near the Ravens' sideline, Hartwell rambled 13 yards to the Baltimore 14 to a create a roar from the crowd.

"To start the second play with a pick and to almost take it to the house made me feel really good," Hartwell said. "I was able to go out there and have a good day, and I felt really good to go out there and compete against people that I know and who I played with."

Todd Peterson soon kicked a 29-yard field that gave the Falcons a 3-0 lead.

Baltimore's third-string quarterback, Derek Anderson, lost a fumble on his first snap, and Rich Coady recovered for the Falcons. That play set up Peterson's 34-yard field goal that made it 13-3.

Atlanta rookie linebacker Jordan Beck made two efficient tackles of Ravens running back Alex Taylor following consecutive 4-yard gains before Peterson returned to end the scoring with a 27-yarder at the 4:47 mark.

Cole Magner, an undrafted rookie from Bowling Green, had a 23-yard catch at the end of the third. Third-string tight end Dwayne Blakley, who spent all of last season on the active roster behind Alge Crumpler and Eric Beverly, had a 36-yard reception that came early in the quarter and was the biggest gain of the night.

Unfortunately, Peterson hooked a 46-yard attempt wide left to end the drive.

Jamal Lewis, a former 2,000-yard rusher, didn't play for the Ravens. He reported to camp earlier in the week after spending four months in federal prison and two months at a halfway house after his conviction for arranging a cocaine deal five years ago.

Of Boller's 57 yards passing, 30 went to Clarence Moore to set up Matt Stover's 23-yard field goal late in the first.

Falcons receiver Brian Finneran made a nice move on Atlanta's 78-yard scoring drive early in the first. With Vick scrambling behind the line of scrimmage, Finneran caught a sharp pass and beat star cornerback Chris McAllister with a nice spin move and a 14-yard catch.

Junior Glymph, who's battling for one of the backup defensive end positions, blocked Stover's 39-yard attempt with four minutes left in the third. Fourth-string cornerback Jontae Buhl, an undrafted rookie from Texas A&M, ended the last Baltimore scoring threat by intercepting Anderson in the Atlanta end zone and running eight yards with two minutes remaining.

A running game that led the NFL last year averaged just 2.7 yards per carry, and the Falcons committed seven penalties for 81 yards.

"This gave us an opportunity to see a dominant defense, and we had to make adjustments on the run," said Warrick Dunn, who ran five times for 19 yards. "I thought it was good for us to see that. I felt OK out there. I can always improve on my game and get better each week."

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