Ross prepared to step in

The Baltimore Sun

There won't be any surprises for Cory Ross this time.

Unlike last season when Ross was thrust into the role of return specialist after B.J. Sams fractured his right ankle, Ross said he has been preparing himself if a knee injury prevents rookie Yamon Figurs from suiting up Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I've been doing that the whole year, preparing for times like this, because you never know who's going to go down," Ross said, adding that he has been taking all of the kickoff and punt returns in practice this week. "It's relevant because last year, I took that for granted because I thought B.J. was going to be there all year, and when it happened, it was like, 'Whoa.' So I've been doing that all year so that if it's my time, I can come out and help out."

Ross' playing time will be determined largely by Figurs, who sprained his right knee in the second quarter of Monday night's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and has been limited in practice this week.

"I'm just getting back, working on it and stuff," Figurs said. "I feel like it isn't going to be a problem. I'm just going to go out there and run around tomorrow and see what happens."

If Figurs can't play, Ross likely will handle kickoff and punt returns. Ed Reed is listed second on the depth chart on punt returns, but the free safety has been limited in practice this week because of injuries to his head and neck.

Ross, who averaged 21.6 yards on nine kickoff returns and 2.8 yards on 13 punt returns in four games last season, said his goal is to help the offense win the field-position battle.

"You just want to get in there and do the best that you can to help your team win," he said. "Right now, I think we're all frustrated, and we're ready to get it going and get back on a winning streak. I'm just as frustrated as the rest, and so if I get that chance to get in there, I'm going to do as much as I can to help the team win."

Injury update

Terrell Suggs (knee) missed his second consecutive practice yesterday, and Billick expressed uncertainty about the Pro Bowl linebacker's availability for Sunday.

"I don't know," Billick said. "He has continued to work through it. We deal with [injuries] at this time of the year with everybody. We'll see what he does [today], but the fact that he wasn't out there [yesterday] is always a concern."

Reed, cornerback Chris McAlister (strained knee) and tight end Todd Heap (strained hamstring) were among the players the team described as limited in practice. Also on that list were Figurs, safety Gerome Sapp (thigh) and linebacker Prescott Burgess (quadriceps contusion).

Cornerback David Pittman (concussion) was downgraded, not practicing yesterday after being limited Wednesday. Tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained toe) did not practice for the second straight day.

End zone

The Ravens have placed linebackers Dan Cody (foot) and Mike Smith (shoulder) on injured reserve. They had been on the physically unable to perform list. ... The team re-signed tight end Lee Vickers to the practice squad. ... Four Bengals starters -- wide receiver Chad Johnson (neck), defensive tackle John Thornton (neck), cornerback Deltha O'Neal (knee) and tight end Reggie Kelly (knee) -- did not practice yesterday. Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who missed Wednesday's session with a knee injury, returned to practice. ... The Ravens could open next season with two road games because the Orioles will have an 11-game homestand from Sept. 5 through Sept. 14.

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