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Bye week critical for Ogden's year

The Ravens have begun to work on a contingency plan if 10-time Pro Bowl selection Jonathan Ogden cannot play again this season.

Paired with linebacker Ray Lewis, Ogden has been one of the cornerstones of the franchise since it moved to Baltimore for the 1996 season, but the coaching staff has started making preparations to finish the season without the left offensive tackle.

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The key, according to coach Brian Billick, will be whether the sprained left foot and hyperextended left big toe that have forced Ogden to miss the past five games will have healed when the Ravens return from their Week 8 bye and begin planning for the Nov. 5 game against the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers.

"You've asked me many times, am I worried about this being it for J.O. in terms of him not coming back this season." Billick said yesterday during his weekly media briefing. "And I, watching him work, keep holding off that idea that it looks like he might be ready to go. But if not by then, then yeah, it's a very legitimate question."

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Ogden, who rested during the offseason and much of the preseason so that the toe would heal, sprained the foot in the Sept. 10 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Wednesday, Ogden seemed frustrated by the pace of the healing process.

"It just gets better, but it gets better so slowly, and it's nothing that I can put a finger on right now," he said before Sunday's win against the St. Louis Rams. "If I don't go this week, it would make sense to wait after the bye. But no matter what, I'm going to try to be back after the bye. I've got to do something."

With the Ravens starting an offensive line composed of three rookies and with injuries sapping depth at tight end and linebacker, deciding whether to put Ogden on injured reserve, which would end his season, is a looming priority.

"Because at some point, if it's not [healed], then we have to consider holding a roster spot," Billick said. "But the way he moves around, I'm fairly optimistic. But he's the only one that can really answer it, and he's working very hard."

Terry improving

The crutches are gone and only a slight limp remains, but offensive tackle Adam Terry said he would have to see more before he can declare himself ready to return.

The left ankle injury that sidelined him Sunday is just a sprain, according to Terry, and no bones were broken and no ligaments were torn. But Terry said he must be able to practice before he can consider playing against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday.

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"I can sit in the training room and say that I want to play, but if I'm not out there doing it, then that doesn't put any confidence in the people that need to see me out there," he said. "Now I've got to do football stuff on it. That's the determining factor of the whole thing. I can walk around, but if you can't play football, then you shouldn't be out there."

Billick said he was optimistic tight end Todd Heap (strained hamstring) and center Mike Flynn (sprained knee) would be able to play. Cornerback Chris McAlister, who tweaked his knee, is day-to-day.

Edwards raises his game

After posting nine tackles in his previous three starts, defensive lineman Dwan Edwards elevated his performance yesterday.

Edwards, who has been starting in place of defensive lineman Trevor Pryce (broken wrist), had four tackles and an interception off Rams quarterback Gus Frerotte that led to a field goal by Matt Stover.

On the interception, Edwards dropped into coverage and watched wide receiver Drew Bennett cross the middle on an underneath route.

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"The ball just went up in the air," Edwards said of the pass that bounced off Bennett. "I just went up and got it. I wish I would have had the mind to turn around and start running, but you never know what's going to happen. My back was turned to everybody. I was just glad I caught it."

End zone

With the offense scoring just one touchdown in five red-zone opportunities, the Ravens have now scored six touchdowns in 21 trips (28.6 percent) inside their opponents' 20-yard line. "So we'll continue to try to crack that nut," Billick said. "Not coming away with touchdowns will at some point cost us. It hasn't the last two games." ... With the injuries to Heap and Daniel Wilcox (sprained toe), Billick said he might consider using center Chris Chester and/or offensive tackle Mike Kracalik as tight ends. "It's a little bit of a giveaway when Chris Chester or Mike Kracalik are in at tight end," Billick said. "I don't know if they're going to roll out their coverages onto those guys." ... Although he sounded optimistic about linebacker Mike Smith coming off the physically-unable-to-perform list, Billick said linebacker Dan Cody would not be activated because of a left leg injury he suffered several weeks ago. "Dan's injuries - and with the recent injury that he had - that's not going to happen for Dan Cody," Billick said. ... Running back Mike Anderson received his first action of the season, carrying the ball once for 2 yards in the second quarter. "It was good," Anderson said. "Just came out and had to go in. It played out that way."

edward.lee@baltsun.com


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