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OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis is slated to be a game-time decision Sunday against the Buffalo Bills due to a knee injury, according to coach Brian Billick.
The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year didn’t practice all week and was listed as questionable on the Friday injury report.
"We’ll see," Billick said. "Game-time decision on Sunday."
On Thursday, Billick expressed optimism that Lewis would likely be available.
"He’ll work his way through it, he usually does," Billick said. "I never expect Ray Lewis not to play."
Meanwhile, cornerback Samari Rolle didn’t practice Friday, but Billick emphasized that the former Pro Bowl cornerback will start after practicing the majority of the week.
"He’ll be fine," Billick said. "He’s been through two good days."
This would mark Rolle’s first start since the second week of the season. He was limited to nickel situations in a 22-3 win over the St. Louis Rams last week, making his return after missing three games with an undisclosed illness that briefly hospitalized him.
It appears that Rolle was just resting Friday.
"I’m good, I’m fine," said Rolle, who wasn’t listed on the injury report. "I’ll be there on Sunday."
Center Mike Flynn is also expected to be a game-time decision with a sprained right knee and is also listed as questionable.
"It’s feeling much better," Flynn said of his sprained medial collateral ligament. "I’m gearing up for Sunday."
Tight end Todd Heap (hamstring), cornerback Chris McAlister (strained knee) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (foot) aren’t expected to play Sunday. All three didn’t practice all week and are listed as doubtful.
Offensive tackles Jonathan Ogden (turf toe) and Adam Terry (sprained ankle) were limited in practice and are listed as questionable.
Quarterback Steve McNair is out with a back injury and backup Kyle Boller will start in his place.
TOUGH ASSIGNMENT: One week after his encounter with St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little, rookie left tackle Jared Gaither is bracing for another challenging pass rusher.
Gaither will line up across from Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel, a Pro Bowl selection who registered 14 1/2 sacks a year ago and was rewarded with a seven-year, $50.5 million contract that included $21 million in guaranteed money.
"He’s another very good football player, just like last week," Gaither said. "There are no weeks off in the NFL. I’ll do what I have to do to get ready."
Little blew past Gaither to sack Boller last weekend, forcing a fumble.
When asked if that helped prepare him for Schobel, Gaither replied: "Going against [Terrell] Suggs every day and going against those guys have prepared me for pretty much anybody I’ll see."
Although Schobel has just 1 1/2 sacks this year under heavy double-team blocking attention, the former Texas Christian star has 62 sacks for his career.
"Man, he’s good," Boller said. "Their down guys are pretty aggressive, fast guys that make plays, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They run around and make plays."
20-20 HINDSIGHT: At first glance, it looked like rookie offensive guard Ben Grubbs had delivered the best block of his young career on running back Willis McGahee’s six-yard touchdown run.
Pulling from his left guard spot, Grubbs ran interference for McGahee and caused a collision with safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, knocking him into middle linebacker Will Witherspoon as McGahee tumbled into the end zone.
On the coaches’ review of the tape, though, Grubbs said he didn’t execute his assignment perfectly.
"Actually, I got ripped," Grubbs said. "Willis shouldn’t have even been touched."
REUNION: This marks defensive tackle Justin Bannan’s first game in Buffalo since leaving the Bills as a free agent two years ago. The former fifth-round draft pick said it will be an emotional return.
"You have to control those emotions, but they’ll be there," Bannan said. "That town and those people and that team were so good to me for four years. I’ll never forget that.
"When the game starts, you have to put that behind you and concentrate. If we have a good game and win, that makes it even sweeter obviously."
EXPLOSIVE: The Bills’ special teams are especially dangerous with punt returner Roscoe Parrish and kickoff returner Terrence McGahee both returning kicks for touchdowns this season.
"Excellent return people, very physical in their coverage units," Billick said. "You’re going to have to be at the top of your game or they’re going to create a short field or an advantage for themselves."
QUICK HITS: Wide receivers Derrick Mason and Demetrius Williams, linebacker Gary Stills and McGahee are all listed as probable with minor knee injuries. … The Bills declared out defensive end Ryan Denney (foot), safety Jim Leonhard (calf) and wide receiver Peerless Price (neck). Wide receiver Sam Aiken (hamstring) and cornerback Ashton Youboty (ankle) are doubtful. Offensive guard Brad Butler (hip), quarterback J.P. Losman (knee), defensive tackle Kyle Williams (illness) and linebacker Coy Wire (knee) are probable. … Offensive guard Jason Brown and his wife, Tay, are expecting their first child, a boy, during the bye week. "This is a great blessing for us," Brown said. "I can’t wait for Jason Brown II to get here."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.