At a time when the Ravens' offense is getting healthy - starting quarterback Steve McNair is expected to return Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals - their defense must deal with a major loss.
Defensive lineman Trevor Pryce is expected to miss three to five games after having surgery Sunday night for a broken left wrist.
A four-time Pro Bowl player, Pryce led the Ravens last season with 13 sacks and recorded his first sack this season in Sunday's 20-13 win over the New York Jets.
"Trevor has meant a lot to us, and it's great that he'll be back," coach Brian Billick said at his news conference yesterday.
Billick estimated Pryce, who will play with a cast, could come back as early as the Oct. 14 game against the St. Louis Rams, but he is not expected to be out longer than the Oct. 28 bye week.
"Our coaches are genuinely excited about where Dwan is right now," Billick said. "He's playing as well as he ever has since he's been here."
The Ravens' offense seems to be on the mend.
Along with McNair, Billick said receiver Mark Clayton (toe) will return to the starting lineup and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (foot) could come back as early as this week.
McNair missed his first game as a Raven on Sunday with a sore groin muscle. He suited up and participated in warm-ups, but he remained on the sideline as the backup.
Given eight days to rest, Billick said McNair should be ready to participate in a full practice tomorrow.
"He felt pretty good on Sunday, so that bodes well for us beginning the week on Wednesday," Billick said.
Although McNair will reclaim his starting job, Billick was quick to point out the maturity Kyle Boller showed Sunday. In his first start since January 2006, Boller was 23 of 35 passing for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
"He conducted himself throughout the entire game in a way that I don't know if I've seen before," Billick said. "There were a couple of times when Kyle might have forced a ball in and maybe it would have been a big play, maybe it would have been a key turnover. But he recognized the situation and he operated the game very, very well."
Unlike McNair, Ogden's status is more uncertain. After he left early in the second quarter in the Sept. 10 season opener, there had been speculation he could miss months or the entire season.
Ogden said last week that he aggravated his toe injury. But Billick said yesterday that the 10-time Pro Bowl lineman's injury is really his foot and not his toe.
Billick indicated he is "hopeful" that Ogden will practice tomorrow.
"Jonathan has been at this long enough," Billick said. "He and [trainer] Bill Tessendorf know exactly what they're doing. When Jonathan feels like he can go, he'll go."
Clayton, who sprained his ankle in the preseason, has been limited to passing situations because of a toe injury. He has one catch for minus 1 yard this season.
But his health has improved.
"Based on what we saw the other day, I think he's going to be ready to go," Billick said. "Mark will be able to reinsert himself into the rotation. I think he's as healthy as he's been since that first [preseason] week against Philadelphia."