If there ever was a game tailor-made for the Ravens' run offense, Sunday's contest against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium would appear to be the one.
The Ravens enter the game with the NFL's fourth-best rush offense. On the flip side, the Colts are saddled with the league's worst defense against the run.
So could the Ravens hand the ball off to their running backs 40, 50 or even 60 times Sunday?
"I hope it comes down to that," said a grinning Le'Ron McClain, who leads the team in rushing (266 yards) and touchdowns (four). "But I'm sure that Coach [offensive coordinator Cam Cameron] will have a great game plan for this week. So I'm just looking forward to practicing and getting ready for this game."
The Ravens average 153.8 rushing yards and have run for at least 103 yards in each of their first four games this season. Seven of the team's nine touchdowns have come on the ground.
Left guard Ben Grubbs said there's a certain satisfaction that comes from pounding opposing defenses with the run.
"When you're able to run the ball right down the middle, it's a matter of us lining up man-against-man and let's see who wins," Grubbs said. "I think we've come out on top a lot of times, and as an offense, you want that."
Indianapolis has surrendered 183, 179, 236 and 156 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns this season. The Colts, who ranked 15th against the run last season, obviously miss the presence of strong safety Bob Sanders, who is out for at least another month because of a high ankle sprain.
However, Cameron said the offense can't ignore the pass.
"We want to run the football, and we'll do everything we can to protect the quarterback," he said. "But this is going to be one of those games where you're not going to win just running the football. You have to throw the football, protect the quarterback and keep them off balance."
Cornerback Fabian Washington tried to sound optimistic about his availability for Sunday's game. But Washington missed his second consecutive day of practice and said that if he can play, he would likely have to wear a harness to protect his dislocated right shoulder.
"Right now, I'm just going through a lot of rehab and preparing myself as if I'm going to play Sunday," said Washington, who would be replaced by either Frank Walker or Corey Ivy if he cannot play.
Starting right offensive tackle Adam Terry wore a black sleeve around his sprained right knee and participated in yesterday morning's walk-through. But he did not practice for the second straight day.
"Boy, he looks a lot better today than he did yesterday," Cameron said. "And he wants to play. We'll see how much work he gets done."
After being limited Wednesday, linebacker Ray Lewis (knee) and left offensive tackle Jared Gaither did not practice.
A fine mess
A day after the NFL fined Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward for a play involving Ivy during the teams' first meeting Sept. 29, Ward got some support from Ivy himself.
The league docked Ward $5,000 for what it described as "unnecessary roughness," and Ward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the play involved Ivy.
"I don't understand that because roughness is part of the football game," Ivy said. "I don't know, man. Tell him to appeal it."
Linebackers Antwan Barnes (knee) and Tavares Gooden (hip) and safety Tom Zbikowski (shoulder) were limited in practice for the second straight day. For the second consecutive day, running back Willis McGahee (knee) wore a red, non-contact jersey, but he was upgraded to full participation. ... For the Colts, starting cornerback Kelvin Hayden (knee) is not expected to play Sunday. Defensive end Dwight Freeney (strained hamstring) did not practice for the second straight day. Cornerback Marlin Jackson (ankle), defensive end Robert Mathis (non-injury reasons) and wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (concussion) were upgraded to full participation. ... Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg's weekly news conference was interrupted by crowd noise blaring through 16 speakers set up on the outdoor practice field to simulate conditions at Lucas Oil Stadium. Rosburg pretended to use the cheering and applause as his cue to leave. "Thank you very much," Rosburg said wryly before continuing his session.