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OWINGS MILLS — Quarterback Steve McNair is closing in on his goal of returning to the starting lineup Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals while offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden still looks like a question mark.
McNair isn’t listed on the injury report with a groin pull that kept him out of a 20-13 win over the New York Jets, and took the snaps with the first-string offense.
"I feel good," McNair said. "Still not where I want to be, but, at the same time, I’m getting better. I didn’t have any problems."
Barring any setbacks, McNair looks to be on track to start after watching backup Kyle Boller throw two touchdowns last Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
"That’s my objective," McNair said. "Could I have played Sunday? Yes, but my mobility would have been really limited. Right now, it’s just coming on pretty good."
Meanwhile, Ogden was limited in practice with a hyperextended left big toe. He left the field with trainer Bill Tessendorf minutes after hitting the blocking sled to have an insert placed into his cleat.
Ogden was deactivated last week after injuring the ball of his foot while being bull-rushed by Justin Smith during the season opener.
"I’m still trying for this week," said Ogden, who estimated trying at least a dozen different combinations of pads and support devices. "All I can do is go through practice and see how it feels. If it feels OK, then you’ve got to go in the game."
Ogden reiterated that the major problem is a sprained left foot and that his left big toe remains the same. Walking is bearable, but painful, Ogden said.
"It’s not very comfortable, and trying to absorb a bull rush is not very comfortable, either," Ogden said. "There’s a lot of things that I need to be comfortable with before I really give it that old college try and go full-speed again.
"But the foot is improving a whole lot faster than the toe did. Hopefully that will be gone and then we’ll see what happens Sunday. It’s frustrating. I want to get out there and do something."
APOLOGY: Ravens coach Brian Billick issued an apology to Jets coach Eric Mangini for accusing his defense of illegally imitating Boller’s cadence to try to get offensive linemen to jump offsides. Baltimore was flagged for three illegal procedure penalties.
"I was being critical of the officiating," Billick said. "It had nothing to do with Eric Mangini. I was more upset that they were doing it better than we were. We all do it. The official usually gets on it right away and stops it.
"That’s all I was saying. It’s not fair to Eric. Eric didn’t deserve the grief he got for that. That was not my intention."
Mangini phoned Billick on Tuesday to clear the air following a controversy that was gaining prominence around the league. Especially in light of the New England Patriots’ so-called "Spygate" with the New York Daily News dubbing Billick’s complaints as "Crygate."
"I apologize for being that naive," Billick said. "I kind of get myself bunkered in and had no idea it created that. Those that misinterpreted it, I apologize if it was me.
â€œThose that did so purposefully have their own agenda. I have huge respect for the man and I feel badly if someone’s been put in that position that I created a little difficulty for him because he did not deserve that."
Mangini told New York reporters that he considered it a closed matter.
"I talked to Brian and we had a good conversation," Mangini said. "It was important for me to talk to him and make sure we didn’t have a misunderstanding. We don’t coach things to cause penalties."
INJURY UPDATE: Tight end Daniel Wilcox (ankle) and linebacker Gary Stills (knee) didn’t practice. Stills had his knee drained, but is expected to play Sunday. He hasn’t missed a game since 2001.
Cornerback David Pittman (ankle) and tight end Quinn Sypniewski (neck) were limited in practice.
Safety Ed Reed (ankle), cornerback Samari Rolle (foot, ankle), wide receiver Mark Clayton (toe, ankle) and wide receiver Demetrius Williams (bruised arm) practiced and weren’t listed on the official injury report.
MCNABB REACTION: In the wake of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb’s claims that African-American quarterbacks are judged more harshly than their white colleagues, McNair didn’t want to touch that hot potato.
"No Donovan McNabb questions, please," McNair said.
Rookie quarterback Troy Smith said that he hasn’t experienced racism while playing football, adding that "all quarterbacks get criticized."
Billick, who has coached several African-American quarterbacks including McNair, Smith, Tony Banks, Randall Cunningham, Jeff Blake, Anthony Wright and Warren Moon, said he hasn’t watched the HBO interview.
"I’d kind of like to think we passed all that, but that’s probably a little naive, too," Billick said.
LINEBACKER SIGNED: Nick Greisen went from unemployed to being signed Wednesday as middle linebacker Ray Lewis’ new backup. The former Wisconsin standout, who started 31 career games in five seasons with the New York Giants, was signed after linebacker Dennis Haley was cut. The 6-foot-1, 244-pounder is expected to primarily play on special teams.
He has 237 career tackles, four sacks, five forced fumbles and an interception, including a career-high 82 tackles last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 10 starts.
"You can look at it as an overwhelming opportunity, but I look at it as just a fantastic opportunity to step in and be able to help a great defense out," said Greisen, who was cut by Jacksonville on Sept. 1. "If they need me, I’ll be ready. It’s going to be a long week and a lot of hours in the book to learn all of the information.â€
QUICK HITS: Cardinals center Al Johnson (knee) is out, and defensive tackle Alan Branch (hand) and cornerback Eric Green (team’s decision) didn’t practice. â€¦ Baltimore tried out former UCLA defensive end Dave Ball this week, but didn’t sign him. … Former Ravens guard Keydrick Vincent tried out for the Washington Redskins and the St. Louis Rams. … Former Ravens quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, who was cut by Baltimore in 2001 and is married to The View’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck, will call the game for FOX.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.