Billick: 'It's a mild sprain'

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For a while Thursday night, Brian Billick experienced every coach's nightmare: an injury to a star in the meaningless last exhibition game.

In this case, it was All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden, who sprained his left knee late in the first period of the Baltimore Ravens' 27-17 win over the New York Giants. He was able to get to his feet, but had to be helped from the field with his arms around two trainers.

It turned out to be what Billick described as "a mild sprain."

"I think J.O. is fine," he said, adding later that he didn't know if the 6-foot-9, 345-pounder would even have to undergo further examinations.

"The doctors who worked it around said there didn't seem to be any real damage," Billick added.

But for a while, Billick conceded, he feared the worst, until coaches who watched the replay of the injury in the press box said they were optimistic. They could see that Ogden's leg wasn't planted in the turf and turned, the way most serious knee injuries occur.

"It's very scary," Billick said. "Your heart just sinks. You pray it will come out all right. The object of this final game is to fine-tune and not to get anybody seriously hurt. As it turned out, we played well, and we came out all right on the injury side, too. But even with what the guys upstairs said, I was still worried until I heard from the doctors."

Ogden was hurt on a sweep to the left side by Chester Taylor. He was lying on the ground when players from both teams fell over him as his leg was in the air.

His importance to the Ravens was never more evident than last season, when Ogden was the leader of an offensive line that cleared the way for Jamal Lewis to rush for 2,066 yards, second-best total in NFL history. A majority of the runs were to the left side behind Ogden, who has made the Pro Bowl in seven of his eight seasons and is perhaps the best lineman in the league.

"It was very scary," echoed quarterback Kyle Boller, one of several Ravens who hurried to Ogden's side when he was hurt. "I got over there right away to see if he was all right. He's a great offensive lineman and we need to have him out there."