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OWINGS MILLS — Although the Baltimore Ravens are taking measures to limit the physical toll that goes along with playing their second football game in five days Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, the short turnaround raises concerns for coach Brian Billick.
The Ravens (9-2) are only practicing twice with a pair of light walk through sessions. However, cramming in an intricate game plan in less than half their usual preparation time represents an unprecedented factor.
â€œTo play a Sunday game this late in the year and then come back and play Thursday is a lot for the players to have to deal with,â€ said Billick, whose team is coming off a 27-0 shutout of the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. â€œThanksgiving is fine, but to do this for the rest of the year, I hope they are selling a lot of beer because thatâ€™s tough on the players.
â€œYou worry about covering all the little details. You only have so much time, so you worry about if you covered enough, have you covered too much, do you have too much in, too little in. It does press you.â€
Of course, the Bengals (6-5) are dealing with an identical set of circumstances following a 30-0 shutout over the Cleveland Browns. They’re on a two-game winning streak and have averaged 34 points over the past three games.
Wide receiver Derrick Mason dismissed a suggestion that thereâ€™s not enough time to get adequately ready. Baltimore rested several players, including running back Jamal Lewis, in the second half of the Pittsburgh game.
â€œThereâ€™s no concern,â€ Mason said. â€œThe way we played Sunday, it gave us an opportunity to pull some guys out to rest. We have no concern about going down to Cincinnati.
"Our only concern is about going to play a very good team thatâ€™s very hot right now. Anything else is secondary.â€
TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens ruled out linebacker Dan Cody (torn posterior cruciate ligament) and defensive tackle Justin Bannan (dislocated toe). There’s a strong possibility that Cody could be out for the remainder of the season, especially if he needs surgery. Bannan is believed to be on a much shorter time table.
Cody, who was sidelined for an entire season last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his other knee, expressed optimism Sunday that he might not require surgery and could return at some point this year.
â€œI donâ€™t know what the long-term is for Dan,â€ Billick said. â€œI think theyâ€™re waiting for swelling to go down to determine the best course of action.â€
Neither player was available for comment Tuesday.
Meanwhile, tight end Todd Heap (back) is questionable, but practiced and is expected to start along with Lewis (foot) and outside linebacker Adalius Thomas (ankle). Offensive guard Keydrick Vincent (groin, questionable) is in danger of missing his third consecutive start with promising rookie Chris Chester replacing him at right guard again.
Tight end Daniel Wilcox (hamstring) was limited in practice, but might return Sunday. If he can’t go, he would be replaced again by rookie tight end Quinn Sypniewski, a strong blocker who lacks Wilcox’s receiving skills.
QUICK HITS: Return specialist B.J. Sams’ original Dec. 12 trial date for an Oct. 3 driving under the influence arrest was postponed until March 6 in Baltimore County District Court. â€¦ Linebacker Bart Scott won ESPNâ€™s weekly â€˜Jacked Upâ€™ segment for his body slam of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. â€œDoes anyone have the tape?â€ he said. â€œIâ€™d like to check it out. Ray Lewis beat me out last time, so I can kind of give him some stuff back after being on there twice.â€ â€¦ Cincinnati ruled out offensive tackle Levi Jones (knee) and offensive guard Bobbie Williams (appendix). Defensive tackle John Thornton (knee) is doubtful. … Bengals coach Marvin Lewis quipped that it seemed like defensive coordinator Rex Ryan was employing extra defenders as Baltimore registered nine sacks against Pittsburgh. â€œRex was cheating and playing with 12 a little bit,â€ Lewis said. â€œHis theory is, â€˜You ainâ€™t cheating, you ainâ€™t trying.â€™â€ â€¦ Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer hasnâ€™t forgotten how much he struggled in the first game against the Ravens when he threw two interceptions on 12 for 26 passing as the Bengals converted only 1 of 10 third downs. â€œItâ€™s just embarrassing to get beat like that,â€ Palmer said. â€œYou donâ€™t want to put that on film because other teams and other players see you. Weâ€™ve had a bad taste in our mouths since that game, and weâ€™re all extremely excited and canâ€™t wait for this game to get here.â€
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Join the GAMETIME crew, Ravens mascot Poe, Ravens cheerleaders and other surprises at Della Rose’s Avenue Tavern in White Marsh prior to the Ravens @ the Bengals on Thursday Nov. 30 at 6:30PM. There will be authentic autographed memorabilia given away and there is a free sign up for a Toyota raffle — the prize being a brand new 2007 Yaris!
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland