Injury is a pain in the neck for Jonathan Ogden

The irritation he has felt lately in his neck was showing on the face of Jonathan Ogden.

"J.O. wants to go out and compete, but his neck is still bothering him," Ravens right guard Jeff Blackshear said. "Even though he isn't ready to go right now, he's a hard worker who still comes out to practice to work on his technique. He's preparing to play next Thursday, so I'm looking forward to him being there."

The Ravens' bye weekend came at an ideal time for Ogden, the team's 6-foot-8, 335-pound left offensive tackle. On Wednesday and Thursday, Ogden avoided contact while working lightly on the practice field, with an eye on the next game against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs.

Ogden is tired of hurting and eager to start hitting people again without feeling pain. He is determined to make his sixth consecutive start of the season, which would mark the 51st start of a four-year career that already has been highlighted by two Pro Bowl appearances.

He also sounded relieved that the pain he has felt since suffering a sprain and nerve irritation in his neck -- known as a "burner" -- has subsided, for the most part.

"It feels all right, but at the same time [the neck] hurts if I hit it right," Ogden said. "I still feel the pain. It felt good before the game on Sunday [in Tennessee]. Then I went out and got hit, and it wasn't ready. I can't worry about it. I've got to get with the game plan and get ready for Kansas City."

Ogden initially was injured when he was struck on top of his head while scrambling after a loose ball against Atlanta on Oct. 3.

When the tingling sensations in his neck did not disappear quickly, the Ravens' medical staff exercised caution by taking Ogden off the field and to the hospital on a spine board. Tests revealed no spinal damage.

Ogden said he resisted the advice of team doctors by starting last week's game in Tennessee. He then re-injured his neck early against the Titans, before leaving that game for good.

"The [team] doctor thought it would take a couple of weeks [to heal], but I tried to come back in a week," Ogden said.

As for his availability for the Chiefs game, he said, "We'll know a lot by Sunday, definitely by Monday. I don't want to chance it right now. We have a bye week, so I'm going to use it to try to get better."

The plan is for Ogden to step up his practice pace tomorrow. That is the day the Ravens return from a two-day break to resume practice and intensify preparation for the Chiefs game. That is also the day they hope to get Ogden into contact drills and get their best lineman ready for three hours of nasty trench work that includes lots of head-butting.

Lately, Ogden has spent much of his time in the training room, getting electronic and massage treatments.

Ogden is wearing a protective collar to keep his head stable and protect it from being snapped backward, which could re-aggravate the injury. He also is working to strengthen his neck muscles.

Tessendorf said Ogden should be ready to play against Kansas City and for the rest of the season.

"It's a matter of taking some time and getting the muscles strong. We've kept [Ogden] from getting hit. On Sunday, we'd like to get him [in practice] bouncing around," Tessendorf said.

"We've put some protection in his shoulder pads to limit the motion of his head, to keep it from getting whipped back. Once it settles down, he'll be fine, unless there is a new injury."

Ogden has missed only three starts since becoming the first draft pick in Ravens history in 1996. An ankle injury knocked him out of the final three games of last season.

"[Ogden] is coming along steadily," said Claude T. Moorman, the team's head physician. "It's not a bad [injury]. I feel very good about the likelihood that he'll be at full speed next Thursday."

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