— Cornerback Fabian Washington’s neck felt strong enough for him to start Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers as he made his regular-season debut with the Baltimore Ravens.
has expressed concern that a bulging disc in his neck may require surgery after the season, but he was still able to replace Samari Rolle in the starting lineup.
“I’ve been working well in practice, and I think I’ll be good enough to play,”
said. “Time is pretty much the only thing that’s going to heal it, and I don’t have much time right now.
“I just want to make it through the season and get it handled after the season. I hope I won’t need surgery, but I may have to if my body can’t reabsorb the disc.”
A former Pro Bowl selection, Rolle was out due to shoulder and neck problems.
The Ravens had been conservative in their assessment about
‘s availability with defensive coordinator Rex Ryan sayin g prior to kickoff: "Fabian’s progressing, I think. That would be great to get him back also. That would be a bonus."
was suspended for the season opener due to a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy stemming from a domestic violence arrest. A former first-round draft pick from
, for a fourth-round draft pick in a trade from the Oakland Raiders.
was acquired by
Corey Ivy and Frank Walker had been preparing to play opposite three-time Pro Bowl selection Chris McAlister. In the Ravens’ defensive sets, they wound up using all three cornerbacks. Ivy recorded a sack of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the first quarter.
"We’ve prepared Corey and Frank," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said late in the week. "Fabian is day to day. He’s improving. Whether he’ll be ready to play Monday or not, we’re not sure."
INACTIVES: Besides Rolle, the Ravens were also missing two other defensive starters: nose guard Kelly Gregg (left knee) and strong safety Dawan Landry (spinal cord concussion).
Gregg remains hopeful that he will play again this season despite a hole in the cartilage in his left knee that is causing him significant pain. He has been receiving cortisone shots an d injections to simulate the missing cartilage.
Gregg underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery in August and hasn’t played yet this year after missing the entire preseason.
"I had a setback a couple of weeks ago, but I’m working toward coming back," Gregg said. "I took some injections and tried everything. There’s really not much else you can do.
"Just treat it every day and hope it settles down. You bet I’ll be back this year. Ain’t nothing going to knock me down."
Until this year, Gregg hadn’t missed a game since 2004. Justin Bannan has been starting in Gregg’s place in the middle and has eight tackles and one sack entering Monday’s game.
"They shut me down last week," Gregg said. "It’s a slow process. I’ve never dealt with anything like this."
The Ravens also ruled out linebacker Nick Greisen (quadriceps), offensive tackles Oniel Cousins and David Hale, cornerback Evan Oglesby and deactivated Troy Smith as the third quarterback.
STEELERS’ LINEUP CHANGES: With Pro Bowl running back Willie Parker sidelined with a sprained knee, the Steelers started rookie first-round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall.
The Steelers were also missing two defensive starters in nose guard Casey Hampton (groin) and defensive end Brett Keisel (calf). Chris Hoke started in place of
with Travis Kirschke getting the nod with Keisel out.
started Bryant McFadden over Deshea Townsend.
also deactivated offensive tackles
and Trai Essex, linebacker Donovan Woods and quarterback Dennis Dixon.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.