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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Following his second driving under the influence arrest in the past 14 months, B.J. Sams’ status remains unchanged with the Baltimore Ravens other than being read the riot act from coach Brian Billick.
He’s still the team’s return specialist for Monday night’s game against the Denver Broncos even though he could potentially be facing a four-game suspension from the league.
That decision will depend on how Sams’ pending case is adjudicated following an early Tuesday morning arrest in Baltimore County, and whether he entered the first stage of the NFL’s substance-abuse program after his first DUI arrest in August 2005. Sams received a probation before judgment sentence for driving while impaired in that case. No action from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appears to be imminent.
“Until the court process plays itself out, it would be imprudent and inappropriate for us or the league to do anything,” Billick said.
However, Billick’s tone wasn’t nearly as comforting when asked if he had scolded Sams in his office.
“I’ll go back to the Chris Rock example: ‘You never disrespect someone and hit them, but you would sure like to shake the [expletive] out of them," Billick said.
Like the rest of the NFL, the Ravens offer extensive counseling programs for troubled players.
“We counsel, we mentor and we do everything we can,” Billick said. “At the end of the day, everyone has to take responsibility for their own actions.”
However, Billick took exception when it was pointed out to him that Sams joined a growing list of NFL players with transgressions against the law, calling that a misperception.
“In no way am I enabling or making excuses,” Billick said. “Take any segment of the population — Congress included — and look at the percentage of issues vs. our population — and I don’t think it’s particularly out of whack. It’s more noteworthy and more publicized.”
Sams, who ranks second in the NFL in kickoff returns (30.9 average) and ninth in punt returns (10.8), practiced Thursday.
He received a stern message from middle linebacker Ray Lewis.
“The one thing I told him was, ‘You just have to make smarter decisions,’” Lewis said. “Everyone’s going to make a mistake. Don’t crucify yourself for a mistake. Just make sure that there are people around you that can take care of you, too.”
Sams nearly struck a vehicle with his Chevy Tahoe on Interstate 83 prior to being pulled over at nearly 2 a.m. on I-695 near Greenspring Ave., by a Maryland State Police trooper who arrested Sams after judging that he had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, according to a police report.
Billick didn’t attempt to dispute whether Sams heeded his advice for how players should spend their day off: “He obviously wasn’t listening.”
TRAINING ROOM: Five players are listed as questionable on the Ravens’ injury report, but none are believed to be in danger of being unavailable Monday.
Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs (hamstring) and Adalius Thomas (neck), tight end Daniel Wilcox (thigh), cornerback Evan Oglesby (thigh) and fullback Justin Green (neck) all missed a portion of team drills.
Suggs, who played against San Diego after missing practicing all week, said his leg feels much better.
"I know everybody was worried last week, but it’s all good," said Suggs, who played paintball Tuesday in Taneytown. "I’m going to play."
The Broncos have ruled out running back Cedric Cobbs (ankle) and defensive end Courtney Brown (knee) is doubtful. Brown didn’t practice and isn’t expected to play. Kenard Lang is scheduled to start in his place.
QUICK HITS: The Ravens don’t plan to travel to Denver early to adjust to the altitude. Instead, they will fly out Sunday night. “You’ve got to be out there a good 72 hours or beyond to offset that effect, or you get in as late as possible,” Billick said. “It’s a little bit tough on us, but it is what it is.” … Linebacker Bart Scott, who said he’d rank the Ravens’ linebackers against anyone in the league, was called the “wild man” of the trio by Lewis. Outspoken on the field and prone to outrageous, humorous remarks, Scott embraced that description. “Somebody has to be the crazy one,” Scott said. “We all have to assume roles and I don’t mind being the crazy one when it comes natural to me. It’s not out of character.” … Defensive end Trevor Pryce, who has repeatedly criticized how he was used last season in Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer’s schemes since joining the Ravens this spring, declined to discuss his former team Thursday. “They’ll be more concerned about me if I don’t say anything,” he said. "I’ll talk after the game."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland