Watching an injured teammate limp off the field is never a welcome sight, but in today's NFL, the backup must be ready to take advantage of his opportunity.
In a 10-9 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, that's just what Allen Patrick did when running back Cory Ross went down in the second quarter due to a sprained ankle.
Patrick stepped in for his first-ever preseason action and became the featured runner for the rest of regulation, finishing 13 rushes for 30 yards and 2 catches for 35 yards.
"I think I went in with the flow of the game," said the seventh-round draft pick. "It was really my first time getting some real time, and I think I made a good impression out there. All I needed was the work."
Patrick, 24, made one of Baltimore's biggest plays of the night when he took a short pass from quarterback Casey Bramlet and turned upfield to break one tackle and tiptoe the right sideline for 25 yards.
Four snaps later and kicker Matt Stover was splitting the uprights from 31 yards.
"I ran my route and he made a great throw," Patrick said. "I thought, 'I have to get this.' [Wide receiver] Justin Harper made a great block for me, and I just grabbed the edge and tried to get what I could get."
As the Ravens' final draft pick this year, Patrick knows that one play won't earn him a spot on the 53-man roster. Of course, it can't hurt it either.
Patrick hopes his efforts on special teams all preseason, coupled with his showing Thursday night, will be enough to keep his locker when the final cut is made Saturday.
"You have to go out there and make plays when the plays are due," he explained. "I feel like I was just tying to capitalize on the chances I had."
When the Ravens needed an extra arm for Thursday's matchup, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron went to a familiar face.
Bramlet spent the last 10 weeks of the 2007 campaign with the Cameron-coached Miami Dolphins.
That's why the Ravens called Bramlet two days after he was released by the San Diego Chargers, and that's why Bramlet jumped on a red-eye flight from California to take another crash-course in Cameron's system.
With little more than a few hours to prepare for Baltimore's preseason finale, Bramlet completed seven of 21 passes for 100 yards. He may have thrown two interceptions, but he also engineered two scorings drives.
"I probably wouldn't have been able to do that without having some familiarity with the offense, but at the same time, I was just with San Diego, I was with Miami, so there have been a few offenses in my head," he said with a laugh.
With rookie Joe Flacco starting, Bramlet originally expected to perform mop-up duty in the game's waning minutes, but he ended up coming in during the second quarter.
"I was a little bit [surprised]. I knew there was a chance I was going in, but when he told me to go get ready, I was surprised," the former Wyoming signal-caller explained. "In this situation, I feel like I came in and did everything I could do."
Bramlet's only practice with his new teammates was a makeshift walk-through in the team hotel's ballroom Thursday afternoon.
"You can learn the snap count - that's about it," he said. "You can't get any read on your receivers, so coming into this game, I found a couple of guys I thought I might be playing with to run some routes before kickoff just to get a feel."
O-Line Welcomes Tackles
For the first time all year, the Ravens' offensive line started the game intact.
Left tackle Jared Gaither finally returned from an ankle injury after missing the majority of training camp, joining right tackle Adam Terry, who played last week in St. Louis after recovering from a similar ankle injury.
The unit seemed to gel from the start, giving Flacco ample time to make his reads in the pocket. Flacco was also not sacked and rarely hit the turf.
"They were awesome," Flacco said. "I was back there, and I didn't really feel too much pressure at all. I felt like I was back there with a 10-yard wall in front of me. They play their butts off, and they did that again tonight."
Terry attributed much of the instant cohesiveness to fiery offensive line coach John Matsko.
"Coach Matsko demands a lot out of all of us, and he had us ready to go," Terry stated. "Our goal was to play physical. We still have to clean some things up, but as a whole, I don't think there was a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and we moved the ball. That's the main thing - you do some good things in the preseason and hope to carry that over next week.
"We're getting better each game, and if we do that, we'll have a nice group this year."
The Ravens were without five starters: safety Ed Reed (shoulder), cornerbacks Chris McAlister (knee) and Samari Rolle (rest), running back Willis McGahee (knee), linebacker Ray Lewis (rest), and nose tackle Kelly Gregg (knee). In addition, cornerbacks Derrick Martin (shoulder) and Fabian Washington (leg), wideout Marcus Smith (shoulder), and linebacker Tavares Gooden (undisclosed) were out…Ross and Yamon Figurs (concussion) were the only players to leave the game.