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OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns due to an undisclosed illness, and it remains unclear when he might return.
Ravens coach Brian Billick emphasized Wednesday that the major problem isn’t the illness. It’s the medication that Rolle is taking having sapped his energy and athleticism for the rigors of practice.
Rolle hasn’t practiced in a week, and was held out of the Ravens’ 26-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
"It’s evidently something that he is going to have to monitor for a while," Billick said. "I hesitate to make comparisons because everybody will go, ‘Oh my God, you mean he has..’ No, no, but it takes medication and you have to have the right balance. That’s the best I can offer you.
"The illness that he’s dealing with takes a certain balance of medication and that’s what they’re working on right now. Right now, the medication is leaving him a little lethargic."
Rolle and team officials, who cited privacy issues, have declined to disclose what’s bothering him. Rolle was in the locker room briefly Wednesday and said, "I feel good."
When asked when he might return, Rolle replied: "We shall see, we shall see."
The team is preparing to be without Rolle for an undetermined period, and nickel back Corey Ivy is expected to start again at Cleveland. In Rolle’s absence last Sunday, Cardinals star wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught a career-high 14 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
"If Samari can’t go, then I’ll try to follow a good performance like last week," Ivy said. "If the opportunity presents itself, you want to take advantage of it."
Ivy expressed concern about Rolle’s outlook, but was optimistic that his teammate could eventually return.
"We’re keeping him in our prayers and we hope for the best," Ivy said. "Hopefully, he’ll get well and come back and join us. Hopefully, he’s not in danger. He’s in good spirits and he’s a strong person."
INJURY UPDATE: Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said he’s significantly improved from a hyperextended left big toe and sprained foot, but wasn’t ready to predict he’ll return against Cleveland after missing the past two games.
"I practiced, took a step forward, but it’s still going to be a game-time deal," said Ogden, who had full participation in practice. "I feel a lot better. This time last week, I tried to go in practice and I couldn’t really do it. That’s progress, and you’ve got to be happy with that.
"It’s hard for me to say, ‘I’m ready to go.’ It’s been so long and so frustrating that I’m just optimistic that I might be able to go out there soon. Real soon."
Meanwhile, quarterback Steve McNair (groin pull) and tight end Todd Heap (concussion, calf) both practiced without incident Wednesday and forecasted that they would play against the Browns.
"I didn’t have any soreness like I thought I would," McNair said. "I think I’m progressing pretty good."
Wide receivers Mark Clayton (calf) and Demetrius Williams (heel) and linebackers Ray Lewis (ankle) and Gary Stills (knee) were limited in practice.
Practicing fully but listed on the injury report: fullback Justin Green (thigh), Heap, wide receiver Derrick Mason (back), McNair, Ogden, safety Ed Reed (wrist) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (ankle).
"I was very encouraged by what I saw," Billick said regarding Wilcox.
CLEVELAND ROCKS?: Outspoken linebacker Bart Scott was already unpopular in Cleveland for rejecting the Browns’ offer sheet as a free agent two years ago to re-sign with Baltimore.
Now, Scott has practically condemned Cleveland Browns Stadium as a dump.
Initially, he said he thought it was next to a junk yard and made a "Sanford & Son" joke. Then, Scott was informed by Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne that the stadium was actually built on an old landfill next to Lake Erie.
"That’s what it smells like," Scott said. "It’s on a landfill that’s toxic, and I think it gets to some of the fans’ heads a little bit. They struck up the lake and put it on a landfill, and all of the algae and stuff is coming up through the end zone.
"We’re going to take some soil samples. Before I go out there and play on the field, I usually put some hydrocortisone on to make sure that I’ll be straight when I hit the ground. They have a lot of staph infections out there."
HONORED: Return specialist Yamon Figurs was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
The rookie leads the NFL in kickoff returns (38.3 average), ranking second in punt returns (19.0).
"Most of it is instinct," Figurs said. "Sometimes, you get another player up to top speed and stop on a dime and cut back the other way."
QUICK HITS: Wide receiver Devard Darling was fined $7,500 for his excessive celebration penalty Sunday where he leapt into the stands after Figurs’ 75-yard touchdown return. … The Ravens signed former North Alabama defensive end Lee Vickers to the practice squad. The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder will play tight end for Baltimore. The Ravens cut tight end Jake Nordin to clear space for Vickers, who was the backup to San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in high school. … Besides Vickers, the Ravens’ scouting department tried out defensive ends Xzavie Jackson (Missouri) and Shaun Nua (Brigham Young). … The Ravens practiced on a distant field at their training complex for the first time this season because it is the same grass as the Browns’ stadium. "We’ll give it back at the end of the week," Billick quipped. "But I wanted them to practice on the same surface they’re going to play on Sunday."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.