Health, coverage issues

The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens will go up against one of the NFL's most potentially dangerous passing offenses without at least one former Pro Bowl player in their secondary, and possibly as many as three.

While cornerback Samari Rolle has been ruled out of tomorrow's home game against the Cincinnati Bengals because of a reoccurrence of an undisclosed medical condition, cornerback Chris McAlister and safety Ed Reed are listed as questionable.

Reed, still feeling the effects of a hit he took from Pittsburgh's Hines Ward in Monday night's 38-7 loss to the Steelers, did not practice yesterday in Owings Mills.

McAlister, who missed the past two games because of a knee injury, practiced on a limited basis, as did cornerback David Pittman, who suffered a mild concussion against the Steelers.

"I've been playing against these guys going on nine years. I know their game plan," McAlister said this week. "I understand the defense. Even with limited practice, I don't think it will bother me on the field. By the same token, I have to be smart about my situation."

Reed was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Asked about the possibility of playing against the Bengals without three starters in the secondary, Ravens coach Brian Billick said yesterday: "Sure it's a concern, absolutely. Even with a healthy secondary, that's a good team you worry about. We've got a handful of guys we have a lot of faith in, and they're going to go out and play as hard as they can."

Billick said after the practice yesterday that the status of Reed and the other players who were either held out of workouts this week or participated on a limited basis would all be "game-time" decisions.

Others who were listed as questionable included tight end Todd Heap (thigh), safety Gerome Sapp (thigh), as well as kick and punt returner Yamon Figurs (knee).

The only other Raven listed so far as out of tomorrow's game is tight end Daniel Wilcox (foot).

Heap closer

Heap, who missed two games earlier this season because of a hamstring injury and then suffered a thigh injury early in the game against the St. Louis Rams, is hopeful he will play against the Bengals.

Though acknowledging that he is closer to playing this week than he was before the game against the Steelers, Heap said: "You don't want to rush it. You want to make sure you're as close as you can get to being healthy before you go out and press it. We'll see on Sunday."

Live from Baghdad

As part of the pre-game activities tomorrow, the Ravens will show members of the Maryland Army National Guard's 58th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 104th Fighter Squadron currently deployed to Iraq on the SmartVision scoreboards at M&T; Bank Stadium.

Other Maryland National Guard soldiers and airmen in Iraq will be featured with shout-outs and cheers during the game. Family and friends who cannot attend the game can watch the pre-game activities through an additional satellite connection at a local armory, Camp Fretterd Military Reservation at 5600 Rue Saint Lo Drive in Reisterstown.

Switching sports

Dennis Mannion, the Ravens' senior vice president for business ventures, left the organization earlier this week to join the Los Angeles Dodgers as the chief operating officer. Mannion, who has been with the Ravens for eight years, previously served for 16 years with the Philadelphia Phillies.

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