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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Disheartened and humbled by how receivers have dashed past him for multiple touchdowns over the past month, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle decided to take action.
After allowing a pair of touchdown passes in a 23-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Rolle devoted himself to studying more film.  He consulted with one of the top cornerbacks in NFL history, his mentor Deion Sanders. And he met with defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and secondary coach Dennis Thurman after surrendering four touchdown passes over the past four games.
“It’s been frustrating to not play up to my own standards,” said Rolle, a former Pro Bowl cornerback who was one of the Ravens’ most reliable defenders last season. “I can’t lie. Giving up touchdowns like that does make you question yourself. 
“It shakes your confidence, but you have to have a short memory at cornerback. You can’t dwell on the past. You have to move on and play better and that’s what I’m trying to do."
Rolle allowed a 72-yard touchdown catch to Steve Smith that clinched the game for Carolina largely because of a busted assignment. He released Smith to the middle of the field, believing that safety Ed Reed would pick him up.
Reed, however, reacted toward Keyshawn Johnson. Earlier, Rolle, who has been hampered by a foot injury, was beaten on a 42-yard touchdown to Drew Carter.
Plus, Rolle allowed a touchdown pass to Cleveland Browns standout Braylon Edwards and slipped on a touchdown pass to San Diego Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd.
“We’re not worried about Samari,” linebacker Adalius Thomas said. “Nobody’s pointing the finger at anyone. He knows he needs to play better. We all need to play better.”
GAMBLERS?: Although the Ravens rank third in the NFL in yards allowed per game (252) and points allowed per game (11.5), they are coming off a game where they allowed 414 yards of total offense.
Baltimore has surrendered 12 passes longer than 25 yards this season with only five teams in the NFL allowing more. And the Ravens have given up four touchdown passes of 30 yards or more.  Against the Panthers, the Ravens gave up receptions of 31, 32, 42 and 72 yards.
It hasn’t escaped Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ notice that the Ravens’ defense seems based on high risk, high reward.
“I watch the film and I see them taking chances and gambling a little bit,” he said. “There are times when you can get a big play here or there, but they really thrive on getting pressure on the quarterback and trying to get you to make bad decisions.”
Linebacker Bart Scott took exception to the suggestion that the Ravens are gambling.
“I just think you study film and you try to make a play,” he said. “I wouldn’t call it gambling. Guys are just trying to make plays.”
BALANCED: Saints running backs Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush along with receivers Marques Colston and Joe Horn are on pace to each finish with 1,000 yards from scrimmage, which would make them the first NFL team to have two running backs and two receivers achieve that feat.
Only four other teams have had four players eclipse 1,000 yards individually: the 2004 Indianapolis Colts, the 1995 Atlanta Falcons, the 1990 Houston Oilers and the 1989 Washington Redskins.
“You talk about some balance,” McAllister told New Orleans reporters. “You’ve got speed. You’ve got a tall receiver. You’ve got a versatile Bush that can line up anywhere. You’ve got Joe, who’s obviously a proven receiver. So, the defenses have to account for each individual.”
TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens upgraded three players to probable Friday, including quarterback Steve McNair who’s recuperating from a Grade 2 concussion and neck sprain. McNair participated in all team drills after being held out of some activity Wednesday and Thursday.
Rookie safety Dawan Landry, who’s coming off a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee, was upgraded to probable and declared that he should be fine to start.
Backup safety Gerome Sapp (thigh, probable) said he’s ready to play if Landry experiences problems, but acknowledged that he’s unlikely to be in the starting lineup.
Punter Sam Koch remains probable with an illness.
QUICK HITS: Linebacker Ray Lewis predicted that his protégé, San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, will overcome his violation of the NFL steroid policy. The former University of Maryland star is playing while appealing a four-game suspension. “It’s a bad situation for a great guy who has always been a fiery guy, who has always loved to play the game one way, and that’s full speed,” Lewis said. “He’s destined to do some great things in this league once he gets past this little whatever-he’s-going-through right now. He told me he told me he took whatever, but, at the same time, don’t try to explain it to everybody. Deal with what you’ve got to deal with, be a man, get it over with and come back and play football.” … Scott doesn’t sound overly concerned about Bush, the Heisman Trophy winner from USC drafted second overall. “He’s a running back? I thought he was a receiver,” he said of Bush, who has caught 38 passes for 285 yards, rushed for 196 yards and returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown. “He’s a good talent, and they have some great passes for him. He’s a difficult matchup, but I think we have athletes on this team that can match up with him, and will be a good test.” … The Saints are 3-0 at the Louisiana Superdome, but haven’t begun 4-0 at home since 1991. … New Orleans is 8-9 following a bye. … The Saints have committed eight turnovers in six games. Last season, they had 19 after six games and finished with 43 for the second-highest total in the league. … The Ravens seem to be pretty relaxed as linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs played a prank Friday on receivers Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason by hiding their helmets in strength and conditioning coach Jeff Friday’s office. Mason eventually found both helmets. … Former team owner Art Modell has been nominated for the Hall of Fame.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland

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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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