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OWINGS MILLS — It was a grand entrance for the smallest player on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster.

Before stocky rookie return specialist Cory Ross held his first formal press conference since making the team as an undrafted free agent, there was a humorous introduction for the 5-foot-6, 201-pounder.

“A lot of wiggle, 5-foot-9, 250 pounds,” said linebacker Bart Scott, sounding like boxing announcer Michael Buffer. “Watch out, baby. Kirby Puckett. Come on, Kirby.”

Ross laughed sheepishly, unaccustomed to the attention and perhaps not too fond of his nickname.

“I guess the laugh is on me,” he said. “That comes with the territory. Call me Cory.”

With highly regarded return specialist B.J. Sams out for the season with a fractured right ankle, Ross will shed his relative anonymity since his days as the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ starting running back and will handle kickoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

“It’s unfortunate how I got the chance, but that’s the way football is,” said Ross, who was impressive during training camp on returns. “I’m just going to get in there and do the things I can do to help the team win.

“I knew there was a possibility. It’s a long season. Some guys take a pounding.”

Starting wide receiver Mark Clayton is slated to split punt-returning duties with nickel back Corey Ivy, and Ross caught a few punts Wednesday along with safety Ed Reed as the Ravens are taking a committee approach to filling in for Sams.

“I may be able to get in there and do both, I’m working hard at doing some punt returns,” Ross said. “Haven’t caught any in a while, but I’m definitely feeling good and confident out there.”

Ross dropped a few punts Wednesday and Clayton appeared to catch the ball smoothly.

“I’m ready if they need me,” Clayton said. “It’s just another opportunity to contribute.”

Ross has been inactive for the first dozen games, biding his time in case the team needed him. The Ravens, who have a history of utilizing undrafted free agents, were an attractive destination for Ross when he was sifting through offers following the draft.

“[Special-teams coach] Frank Gansz came in and looked at me at
Nebraska ,” Ross said. “I thought there was an opportunity for me to make the team, and I guess I chose right. .. Now, I can feel like I’m actually helping again.”

TRAINING ROOM: Outside linebacker Dan Cody is optimistic that he can come back in two weeks after tearing his posterior cruciate ligament, and said he won’t require surgery.

Cody is listed as doubtful on the injury report and didn’t practice.

“It’s coming along really good, I just feel like it’s a big difference everyday,” Cody said. “They say like 1 in 10 guys has to have surgery for this injury. It makes me not worry about it as much.”

Meanwhile, running back Musa Smith (neck) is doubtful for Sunday and didn’t practice.

Offensive guard Keydrick Vincent (groin) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (hamstring) are expected to return this week, and are listed as questionable along with linebacker Dennis Haley (ankle).

The Chiefs listed linebacker Derrick Johnson (ankle), safety Sammy Knight (ankle), defensive tackle James Reed (groin) and defensive tackle Jimmy Wilkerson (hamstring) as questionable. Tight end Tony Gonzalez and offensive tackle Kyle Turley are probable with shoulder injuries.

A LONG WAIT: Fullback Nick Luchey had been dutifully going to tryouts with several NFL teams since the Houston Texans cut him this summer.

It was a long enough period of unemployment that the 6-foot-2, 273-pounder briefly considered ending his eight-year football career prior to Baltimore signing him Monday to replace fullback Justin Green, who’s out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“I had never been in this situation before in my life,” Luchey said. “To be honest with you, I had thought about retiring. I watched the games on television and it made me want to get back into it. I’m really thankful to be here because this is what I was born to do.”

Luchey, who has experience playing tight end and H-back, is slated to back up starter Ovie Mughelli.  He has rushed for 170 career yards and two touchdowns, catching 27 passes for 258 yards.

“I can do a lot of different things,” Luchey said. “I’ve always been an athletic guy for my size. I can do whatever they need me to do.”

PLAYOFF SCENARIO:There is one remote scenario where the Ravens can clinch a playoff berth this weekend. It would require the combination of the Ravens winning in
Kansas City
combined with losses by the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and the Denver Broncos, which would assure the Ravens of an edge over
New York in the strength of victory tiebreaker.

“You know what, they’ll come tell us,” Ravens coach Brian Billick said. “I won’t change anything.”

QUICK HITS:The Ravens have no plans to pipe in artificial crowd noise to prepare for raucous Arrowhead Stadium. “We’ve been through that before,” Billick said. “There’s no way to simulate it. You do some things in terms of the play-calling, the snap count, those type of things to account for it. It’s a tough environment.” … To a man, the Ravens said they were refreshed after five days off from practice following the 13-7 loss to the Bengals. “One thing about having time off is that when you get away from football, you come back and you are recharged,” middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. “Coach Billick is very strategic when he does that, and I always appreciate it because I get away from it all. When we step out on the field, we are so fresh that we are almost feeling like we’re playing the first game of the year.”

Aaron Wilson covers the
Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson


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