McAlister optimistic he'll play vs. Browns

The Baltimore Sun

Cornerback Chris McAlister said yesterday that his knee is improving and he thinks he could return for the Ravens' game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Although McAlister was limited in practice because of a strain he suffered in the Ravens' 22-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 14, he seemed optimistic afterward that he could end his three-game absence.

"I get better every day," he said. "Being able to do the majority of things that I was able to do today with very little pain gives me a lot of confidence. As long as we don't have any setbacks, things are looking good."

Getting McAlister back would be a boost for a secondary that has been exposed by injuries and big plays.

McAlister said that although he is eager to play, he won't jeopardize the health of his knee by accelerating his return.

"Rushing back would only set me back for the rest of the season," he said. "It's a matter of making sure that I'm ready to go and able to go out and do my job without putting myself or my teammates at risk."

The Ravens have ruled out cornerback Samari Rolle (a starter who has missed five games because of an undisclosed illness), quarterback Steve McNair (partially dislocated left shoulder) and wide receiver Demetrius Williams (high ankle sprain) for the Cleveland game.

Tight ends Todd Heap (strained hamstring) and Daniel Wilcox (sprained toe) and safety Gerome Sapp (thigh) did not practice. Rookie return specialist Yamon Figurs (sprained right knee) and linebacker Gary Stills (knee) were limited. Figurs said his knee is improving and that he thinks he'll be ready to play Sunday.

Backup plan

Because of McNair's injury, rookie Troy Smith will back up starting quarterback Kyle Boller.

"I'm going to have to be there every play, practicing and playing as if I'm in the game," Smith said. "I have to get ready to play some football."

End zone

The team made several roster moves yesterday. Rookie linebacker Prescott Burgess (quadriceps) was placed on injured reserve. Rookie wide receiver Matt Willis was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad, and rookie linebacker Edgar Jones was re-signed to the active roster after being waived before Sunday's loss to the Bengals. The Ravens also signed rookie cornerback Willie Gaston and kicker Rhys Lloyd to the practice squad and added linebacker Robert McCune, the Washington Redskins' fifth-round draft pick in 2005, to the practice squad. ... Two of the Browns' four starting linebackers - Willie McGinest (hamstring) and D'Qwell Jackson (ankle) - did not practice yesterday. Starting cornerback Leigh Bodden (back) was limited. ... Baltimore's Marching Ravens will perform at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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