McAlister, Rolle likely out against Browns

Street Talk McAlister, Rolle likely out against Browns

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OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens are expected to be without both their top two cornerbacks again Sunday against the Cleveland Browns since Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle are both saddled with chronic injuries.

Both are listed as doubtful and haven’t officially been ruled out, but are considered not likely to play.

McAlister has been dealing with a problematic right knee all season, consulting a second medical opinion this week with a specialist. There is no definitive word yet on whether he will continue to play this season or if he’ll undergo season-ending surgery and be placed on injured reserve.

“He’s out for the game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of McAlister. “He has not practiced all week with the knee.”

Rolle has missed the past five games due to a neck ailment that required surgery earlier this month. Although Rolle returned to practice this week, he wore a red jersey that signifies he’s off-limits to contact.

“It wouldn’t have been smart without getting my timing down,” said Rolle, who indicated that he’s not playing this week. “I think it was the right decision.”

Rolle expressed optimism that he has made enough progress to return next week against the Houston Texans, who feature Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson.

"He’s done real well," Harbaugh said. "I don’t think he’s real comfortable with it right now, so we’ll say doubtful."

Two days ago, Harbaugh said that a decision could be in the offing on McAlister’s outlook for the remainder of the season. However, Harbaugh said he has yet to huddle with McAlister and general manager Ozzie Newsome.

"I don’t know yet," Harbaugh said. "He was in meetings this morning."

Fabian Washington and Frank Walker will start at cornerback for the third consecutive game for a defense that ranks second overall and third against the pass.

"I think Frank has played well," Harbaugh said. "He can play a lot better."

Meanwhile, Harbaugh predicted that offensive tackle Jared Gaither (neck stinger) will play after not practicing this week. He expressed optimism that offensive tackle Adam Terry may return after recently undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.

"It’s getting better, I just rested it," Gaither said. "There’s no tingling. I’ll be out there."

Terry said that his knee feels much better. There has been some consideration of moving him inside to right guard, but he practiced at left tackle Friday with Gaither watching from the side.

The Ravens ruled out tight end Daniel Wilcox (thigh) and strong safety Dawan Landry (spinal cord concussion)

Gaither (neck), Terry, running back Willis McGahee (ankle) and Walker (thigh) are listed as questionable.

Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (sprained ankle), return specialist Yamon Figurs (left knee contusion), tight end Todd Heap (neck), fullback Le’Ron McClain (ankle) and safety Ed Reed (nerve impingement) are probable.

IN DEMAND: The Ravens made signing Syracuse linebacker Jameel McClain a major priority this spring when he went undrafted, targeting him as their top defensive rookie free agent and enlisted Newsome and Harbaugh to recruit him.

The extra effort paid off against the Oakland Raiders when McClain sacked quarterback JaMarcus Russell for a safety in his defensive debut.

“He was our No. 1 guy on defense, as far as a free agent goes,” defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. “We threw the big hitters at him, and we were fortunate to get him.”

At 6-foot-1, 250 pounds, McClain was an undersized college defensive end who also played tackle and linebacker. However, he fits in with the Ravens’ modus operandi of converting college defensive linemen into NFL linebackers.

McClain is intelligent enough that he has learned how to play both inside and outside linebacker in the Ravens’ complicated scheme.

“We like the way he plays the game," Ryan said. "We never realized that he was going to be this smart and could learn our system, which I think is fairly complicated if you’re learning multiple spots. He picked it up really well.”

McClain will be at the Westminster Shoppers grocery store Monday night from 6:30 to 8 p.m., bagging groceries and signing autographs to kick off the team’s annual food drive with proceeds going to the Maryland Food Bank.

HEAVY-DUTY: Massive Browns nose guard Shaun "Big Baby" Rogers is listed at 6-4, 350 pounds, but the former Pro Bowl defensive lineman is likely closer to 400 pounds.

His hefty impact was felt last week in win over the Jacksonville Jaguars with five tackles, three quarterback pressures, one sack and a blocked field goal.

For the season, Rogers has 37 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, a team-high 10 quarterback pressures and two tackles for losses. He’s surprisingly athletic for his size.

"He’s playing at an extremely high level," Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "It’s as high a level as any guy in the league. You just come up with a plan and the interior guys, Ben Grubbs, Jason Brown, Chris Chester, those guys have got their hands full. They’re doing some new things with him in their sub package that we’ve had to adjust to, but he’s having a Pro Bowl year."

GUSTY: The Ravens are bracing for the blustery winds that have a tendency of impacting punts, kickoffs and field goals at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

"It’s really unpredictable," special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "You have to get out there and feel it because sometimes it’s going in two directions at the same time. So we’ll have to figure it out when we get there because in a certain part of the field it’s blowing in one direction, and the other part of the field it’s blowing in another direction.”

Ravens kicker Matt Stover has converted five consecutive field goals, but regards this as one of the most difficult kicking venues in the league.

"The field conditions can play havoc on you," he said. "In November, we’ll have to see what they’re like."

QUICK HITS: Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco was named NFL Rookie of the Week after throwing a touchdown, rushing for a touchdown and catching a long pass in a 29-10 win over the Raiders. Cameron said that he’ll be careful about overusing Flacco as a wide receiver. "Our season is so long, you’ve got to be careful of getting guys beat up, and I understand that," Cameron said. "The play to Joe was great, but, if he loses a shoulder there, it’s not so great. We’re going to be clever to a point, but it’s going to be done with a very specific purpose." … Ryan is prepared in case the Browns put wide receiver and return specialist Josh Cribbs in the backfield. Cribbs played quarterback at Kent State. "The tough ones are the ones that have a quarterback who can do that," Ryan said. "Whether it’s a Troy Smith, whether it’s a Kordell Stewart, whether it’s a Michael Vick or anybody else that has that kind of ability. Steve Young would have been fantastic at it. They give you a traditional passing set, and yet they’re running the football out of it using the quarterback." Of course, there’s a potential drawback and risk for offenses utilizing this scheme. "Anytime a guy breaks a line of scrimmage, he’s now a ball carrier," Ryan said. "You’re going to tackle him like you would anybody else. I will say this: Fran Tarkenton, I saw him do this many years ago when my dad was coaching with the Vikings. I think he got a concussion and 18 stitches later in his chin. I’m just saying that has a tendency to happen." …

In light of all the gadget plays, wide receiver Derrick Mason was asked if he can throw. Before he could answer, Flacco quipped: "I catch better than he throws." … The Browns ruled out offensive guard Ryan Tucker (knee), listing fullback Lawrence Vickers (ankle) as doubtful. Cleveland listed several players as questionable, including safeties Sean Jones (knee) and Mike Adams (hamstring), linebacker Shantee Orr (foot), defensive tackle Shaun Smith (hand), wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth (quadriceps) and defensive end Corey Williams (shoulder). … Ravens rookie safety Haruki Nakamura is a Cleveland native who attended St. Edward High School before signing with the University of Cincinnati. "It’s going to be a big deal for me to go back," said Nakamura, who has acquired 16 tickets. "I’ve been to one Browns game before. I’m very excited because a lot of my family and friends haven’t seen me play in person since high school." …
Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas said he has ended his feud with Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata that stirred up last year. "The two teams have a great rivalry and sometimes it gets real heated on the field and it gets a little chippy," Thomas said. "No grudges are still going on. We reconciled after the game last year. There’s no love lost, and I think we both respect each other, and I don’t think there’s going to be anything of that sort."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.
Photo by Sabina Moran.

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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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