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On McNair and Boller and last year's Steelers

Word from the Ravens' walking wounded is that MLB Ray Lewis (triceps) will play against the Jets on Sunday, OT Jonathan Ogden (toe) will not and QB Steve McNair (groin) is a maybe.

As Sun beat reporter Jamison Hensley wrote today, McNair may wind up being a game-time decision. Kyle Boller took all the snaps in practice but as McNair pointed out, there's been plenty of times in his long personal history of being banged up where he didn't take many or any practice reps but still played effectively.

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Here's the concern, though. This is a groin injury. While I'm not trying to play doctor, it has been the type of injury that can be aggravated. And I am reminded of the Steelers last season when Pittsburgh rushed Ben Roethlisberger back into the lineup after the motorcycle accident and the appendicitis attack.

If you recall, Pittsburgh won its opener against Miami with Charlie Batch playing great. Then the Steelers put Roethlisberger back in and lost six of their next seven as Big Ben played extremely poorly in five of them. By mid-November, Roethlisberger started getting his bearings and except for the two games against the Ravens, played well the rest of the way as the Steelers finished 6-2 -- but 8-8 and out of the playoffs. And that begs the question: How might Pittsburgh's year have gone had they been more patient with Roethlisberger and let Batch play another game or two in the beginning?

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Which gets us back to McNair and Boller. The Jets may be without Chad Pennington. The Ravens are at home. Boller has given the fans and team reason to have some confidence in him as a result of his relief appearances last year. You can see where I'm going with this.

Obviously, if McNair can play with minimal risk of re-injuring himself, he should be the guy. But in a borderline case, the 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers would seem to provide a lesson.

What's your opinion? Vote in our poll -- should the Ravens start McNair or Boller?

Photo credit:  Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun (Boller), David Mawell/Getty Images (McNair)

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