RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Jarret Johnson says he’ll play despite back injury

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Jarret Johnson says he’ll play despite back injury

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OWINGS MILLS – Although Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson didn’t practice for consecutive days due to a back injury, he predicted that he won’t have any problems playing Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

He’s listed as questionable on the injury report.

“I’m good,” Johnson said Friday after practice. “I’m good to go.”

Johnson is known for his durability. And he downplayed the severity of the injury, which involves back spasms.

The last time Johnson missed a game was seven years ago: Dec. 21, 2003.

“We decided not to take a chance of putting it back into spasms,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “So, they do a good job of taking care of that.”

Meanwhile, tight end Todd Heap expects to play Sunday after being limited in practice for the past two days with a strained right shoulder.

“I’m feeling better every day,” Heap said. “I feel good right now. I have to see how it feels on Sunday. It felt better.”

Rookie nose guard Terrence "Mount" Cody is hoping to make his NFL debut after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee during the preseason.

Cody was out for the opening game against the New York Jets, but practiced on a limited basis this week and is questionable on the injury report.

“I feel like it’s pretty good,” said Cody, who indicated that his knee isn’t quite 100 percent yet. “The only thing that could stop me is if the coaches don’t let me play. I’m just real excited to get out there and show what I can do and how much of a good player I am.”

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis said that his foot injury isn’t a big issue. He practiced all week, but is questionable on the injury report as well as inside linebackers Jameel McClain (knee) and Tavares Gooden (thigh).

“I’m good,” Lewis said.

The Ravens appear to be getting cornerback Lardarius Webb ready for Sunday.

He’s no longer on the injury report.

“I think there’s a chance he’ll play,” Harbaugh said. “It just depends on how he feels as we get close to the game. We said last week he practiced 100 percent, and he did. And he’s practiced 100 percent again this week. So, he’s doing well.”

Webb, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Dec. 20 against the Chicago Bears, predicted that  he’ll be a game-time decision.

“Ain’t nothing really changed,” Webb said. It’s the same thing, going to be the same decision.”

BLOCKING ODOM: The Ravens have to contend with Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom, one of the top pass rushers in the league.

Odom is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, but is being allowed to play while he goes through the appeals process.

“Is he going to be in the game?” Harbaugh said. “Darn, I still had my hopes up for that. He’s a premier pass rusher, got to account for him. Got to know where he’s at all times.”

As a rookie last year, Michael Oher shut down Odom after the veteran entered the game with a league-high eight sacks.

“He’s a good player,” Oher said. “He’s a proven player. You definitely got to come to play.”

Odom ended last season on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles’ tendon.

Odom wasn’t especially effective in a loss to the New England Patriots last season, but he has the Ravens’ full respect.

“He’s a darn good football player,” offensive tackle Marshal Yanda said. “It looks like he’s back and healthy, so he’s a good pass rusher. He gets a bunch of sacks. We need to look out for him and do our best against him.”

The Ravens don’t plan to change their offensive line configuration. Yanda will remain at right tackle and Chris Chester will start again at right guard.

INJURY UPDATES: Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was upgraded to full participation in practice Friday after being limited Thursday with a thigh injury. He’s listed as probable as well as wide receiver Marcus Smith…The Bengals ruled out defensive end Jonathan Fanene (hamstring). Running back Cedric Benson (shoulder) participated fully again and is probable. Linebacker Keith Rivers (foot) was limited and is listed as questionable as well as running back Brian Leonard (foot). Cornerback Brandon Ghee (head) and wide receiver Andre Caldwell (foot) are probable.

LEARNING THE ROPES: The Ravens have used cornerback Josh Wilson sparingly since acquiring him in a trade from the Seattle Seahawks.

Wilson only played on special teams against the Jets.

 “I guess so,” Wilson said. “I can’t call it.”

The former University of Maryland standout said he has absorbed the playbook.

“I’m good to go,” he said. “I’m out there practicing every day. I’ve picked everything up.”

BIG GAME: Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura is eagerly awaiting his return to Cincinnati, where he played collegiately for the University of Cincinnati.

“I have a lot of friends and family that are going to be there,” said Nakamura, a Cleveland native. “It’s a second home to me. You don’t want to screw up in front of family.”

Nakamura graded out highly for his work as a nickel back, guarding the Jets’ slot receivers.

“It will probably be something similar this week,” Nakamura said. “Everybody said I did a great job. It’s just one of those things where it was fun being out there. I got a lot of texts from Cincinnati people. They said to make sure I don’t do it against them.”

TOUGH MATCHUP: It’s impossible to miss hard-hitting Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga.He’s a big, talkative presence who’s extremely active against the run.

“I’m going against another great linebacker, but the game I had last week against the Jets I could be pretty much ready for any game throughout the season,” fullback Le’Ron McClain said. “This is a big challenge. He’s a downhill, fast-flow type of guy. He gets to the ball fast. He uses his hands well.”

Maualuga was a standout at USC, but fell to the second round due to concerns about off-field issues involving alcohol. After being arrested for driving under the influence this offseason, Maualuga went to a rehab center.

“He’s just a good football player,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “I think we all saw it in college, and he’s played well since he’s been in the league. He plays hard. He’s not afraid. He’s aggressive. He’s downhill. Good football player.”

The Ravens are game-planning for Maualuga.

“He’s physical, he’s kind of like a Bart Scott,” Yanda said. “Runs fast, downhill type of guy.”

QUICK HITS: Rookie wide receiver David Reed was credited with four tackles on special teams against the Jets. Reed normally is a kickoff returner, but excelled in kick coverage in his first NFL game. “I tell you, he’s come a long way with that,” Harbaugh said. “He never did it before. He really struggled early. He was kind of getting his rear end handed to him early on, and then all of a sudden, about halfway through camp, he started flipping that. He did a nice job.” … Jameel McClain recorded six tackles in his first regular-season game starting at inside linebacker. “He did a good job,” Mattison said. “He did a good job. I thought he was very physical, and he helped us.” … Rookie punt returner Prince Miller said he doesn’t know yet if he’ll be returning punts Sunday or Tom Zbikowski. “It feels good to be back,” Miller said. “I had a good week of practice.” … Running back Willis McGahee is involved in a promotion with baltimoreblackout.com, which is encouraging fans to wear black T-shirts and wave black towels at the Ravens’ Sept. 26 home opener against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium. Money goes toward McGahee’s charitable foundation.


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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 Ravens24x7.com. 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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