Painful prognosis?

The Baltimore Sun

Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle appears doubtful for tomorrow night's AFC championship game in Pittsburgh after missing his third straight practice of the week with an unspecified groin injury.

Reserve cornerback Frank Walker said he hasn't been told he will start in place of Rolle against the Steelers, "but it's looking like that."

"We're hoping that Samari can get back, but if not, I'll be stepping in for Samari," Walker said.

Rolle injured his groin late in the second half of last week's game against the Tennessee Titans and did not return.

There was no news on the injury front yesterday for the Ravens, and that wasn't good news. Linebacker Terrell Suggs also missed his third practice with a shoulder sprain, and he was listed on yesterday's injury report as questionable. Rolle was listed as doubtful.

Coach John Harbaugh wasn't ready to declare Suggs in or out.

"He improved throughout the week, and we'll just have to see," Harbaugh said. "We can't make predictions. We don't know. He's worked hard, he's done a good job, and we'll just have to see what happens."

The Ravens were loose and laughing at a formal news conference in their facility yesterday. At one point, speaking of Suggs' dejected appearance, linebacker Ray Lewis offered this: "We've got him on the board as being whiny right now."

Suggs, 26, has not missed a game in his six-year NFL career. Rolle, 32, missed six games this season with neck and shoulder injuries, but he still has four interceptions, including the postseason.

"It's tough because he's had a great season when he's been healthy," safety Jim Leonhard said. "He allows us to do so many more things in the sub-packages. That will hurt [if he can't play]."

Ryan on hold

Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said yesterday that he has heard nothing more from either the St. Louis Rams or the New York Jets about their head coaching vacancies.

The Rams announced they have eliminated interim coach Jim Haslett from consideration and might be close to a decision. Ryan had interviews with both teams Sunday, hours after the 13-10 win over the Titans. Various reports have indicated Ryan is a prime candidate for the Jets' job.

If the Ravens beat the Steelers tomorrow and reach the Super Bowl, Ryan could have more interviews next week.

Tale of two games

Left tackle Jared Gaither's progress this season could be measured in the Ravens' two games against the Steelers. In the first, Sept. 29, Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison had a huge game with 10 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble, not all necessarily against Gaither.

In the second game, Dec. 14, Harrison had a quiet five tackles and did not have a sack or quarterback pressure.

It's a matchup to watch tomorrow, Gaither, 6 feet 9, against the 6-foot Harrison, who used his speed and strength to record 16 sacks and force seven fumbles this season.

"I have to be prepared to go up against one of the great linebacker-defensive ends in the game on Sunday," Gaither said. "He has quickness. He has strength. Me being a bigger guy, it's tough to get on him. He's already down there leveraging, and that just makes me have to get lower and prepare for any moves he makes."

End zone

Quarterback Joe Flacco celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday by getting an ice bath from his teammates at the end of practice. "They do that to everybody, and I figured I wasn't going to run from it," he said. ... Reminder: Buses carrying players, coaches and other team officials will greet fans outside Boscov's at the Owings Mills Mall after tomorrow's AFC championship game. Boscov's is directly off the Red Run Boulevard mall entrance, and the buses are expected to arrive at the mall between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. Monday. The Ravens will go from their plane onto buses on the tarmac before heading to the mall, and fans arriving at the team's training facility in Owings Mills will be directed by Baltimore County Police to the mall. ... Harbaugh's father, Jack, flew back from Nashville, Tenn., on the team plane, and he and wife Jackie spent the week with John and his wife, Ingrid. John Harbaugh said his father and brother Jim would be on the sideline in Pittsburgh. ... O.J. Brigance and Tony Siragusa, members of the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl champions, will serve as honorary co-captains tomorrow. ... Wide receiver Derrick Mason missed his third straight practice with a knee injury but is expected to play.

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