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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.
â€œItâ€™s been frustrating to not play up to my own standards,â€ said Rolle, a former Pro Bowl cornerback who was one of the Ravensâ€™ most reliable defenders last season. â€œI canâ€™t lie. Giving up touchdowns like that does make you question yourself.
â€œIt shakes your confidence, but you have to have a short memory at cornerback. You canâ€™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.
â€œWeâ€™re not worried about Samari,â€ linebacker Adalius Thomas said. â€œNobodyâ€™s pointing the finger at anyone. He knows he needs to play better. We all need to play better.â€
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 hasnâ€™t escaped Saints quarterback Drew Breesâ€™ notice that the Ravensâ€™ defense seems based on high risk, high reward.
â€œI watch the film and I see them taking chances and gambling a little bit,â€ he said. â€œThere 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.â€
Linebacker Bart Scott took exception to the suggestion that the Ravens are gambling.
â€œI just think you study film and you try to make a play,â€ he said. â€œI wouldnâ€™t call it gambling. Guys are just trying to make plays.â€
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.
â€œYou talk about some balance,â€ McAllister told New Orleans reporters. â€œYouâ€™ve got speed. Youâ€™ve got a tall receiver. Youâ€™ve got a versatile Bush that can line up anywhere. Youâ€™ve got Joe, whoâ€™s obviously a proven receiver. So, the defenses have to account for each individual.â€
TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens upgraded three players to probable Friday, including quarterback Steve McNair whoâ€™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, whoâ€™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 heâ€™s ready to play if Landry experiences problems, but acknowledged that heâ€™s unlikely to be in the starting lineup.