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OWINGS MILLS –The Baltimore Ravens are down, but they’re not about to declare themselves a football disaster.
Two days after a 38-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that represents the worst loss in coach Brian Billick’s nine-year tenure, the Ravens returned to work Wednesday to try to clean up the rubble of their mediocre season heading into Sunday’s contest against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"We’re not at a point where we need government assistance," linebacker Bart Scott quipped. "There’s no time for that. We don’t need to call FEMA."
Perhaps not, but the Ravens can’t commit four turnovers and surrender five touchdown passes as they did against Pittsburgh. Baltimore (4-4) ranks third in the AFC North and has already lost more games than it did during last year’s franchise-record 13-3 campaign.
"We’re better than what we’ve been putting out, from what we’ve been doing since training camp," running back Willis McGahee said. "We’ve got the potential, but we’re not following through. We really weren’t on the same page the other night. I wouldn’t call it a disappointing season because we’re still right there. If we keep losing, it’s a disappointing season."
Turning the page, though, on how the Ravens were physically dominated, especially wide receiver Hines Ward’s crushing blocks on unsuspecting safety Ed Reed and Scott, is a difficult task to undertake.
"You don’t forget a butt-whipping like that," Scott said. "I haven’t been beaten up too many times in my life. That’s what I compare that to. You want to move on. But forget? It stays in the back of your mind.
"You want to represent yourself well and show your fans that we’re not that team. I believe we’re a top-tier team. We can only say that for so long. We have to go out and prove it."
In striving toward that goal, a little solidarity is probably in order.
Two days after middle linebacker Ray Lewis singled out the offense as the main culprit in the Ravens’ latest debacle, his teammates respectfully disagreed with his opinion.
"We gave up five touchdown passes," Scott said. "Who are we to point the finger at anybody?"
That notion was seconded by outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.
"When you point the finger, you’ve got four fingers pointing right back at you," Suggs said. "We don’t point the finger. A coward can point fingers and say, ‘They did this, they did that,’ but you’ve also got to take a look at yourself. The day when we all play perfect, then this definitely should not be an issue."
FEUDING: Scott admitted threatening Ward with bodily harm after being slammed to the ground by a receiver he outweighs by nearly 50 pounds, reinforcing Ward’s postgame claims.
"He tackled me and said he was going to kill me," Ward told Pittsburgh reporters.
"But as long as you don’t shoot me, I’ll be fine. I don’t think there’s any place in the game for that type of stuff. I always thought he was a great player, but I guess he doesn’t like me."
Scott threatening Ward again during his weekly radio show, vowing to "knock his head off his shoulders," adding that he would gladly pay a hefty fine to get revenge on the feisty wideout and extended his threat to Ward’s teammates, too.
"It’s not an idle threat," Scott said. "It’s a promise. I’m coming after Hines. I will never pass up a hit on him or anybody else who plays for the Steelers. It’s on."
One day later, Scott remained on the warpath.
"Damn right, I threatened him," Scott said. "If I see him again, I’ll threaten him again."
Added Suggs: "Hines Ward, he’s a competitor. We don’t like him, but we respect him. Anybody that’s not wearing purple and black, Bart’s got a problem with them. That’s why I love Bart. Iâ€™m going to let him be the â€˜Mad Backerâ€™ and I’m going to be right behind him."
INJURY UPDATE: Cornerback Chris McAlister returned to practice on a limited basis from a knee strain and Billick said the team is very hopeful he’ll play Sunday. Meanwhile, cornerback Samari Rolle has been ruled out with an undisclosed illness for the fifth time this season. There’s no apparent time table for his return.
When asked if Rolle could be out for the remainder of the season, Billick replied: "I don’t know about that. It’s really not for me to answer. It’s for the doctors to see if they can get this thing under control."
Reed didn’t practice due to head and neck injuries.
"Ed, with the hits he took, is a little sensitive to light," Billick said. "He should be fine."
Suggs (knee) didn’t practice, but guaranteed he would play Sunday. Tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained toe) remains out.
Tight end Todd Heap (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis.
"Todd moved around pretty good," Billick said. "Again, it’s, ‘How does he feel during the course of the week?’"
Linebacker Prescott Burgess (quad contusion), return specialist Yamon Figurs (knee sprain), cornerback David Pittman (concussion) and safety Gerome Sapp (hamstring) were limited in practice.
McGahee (concussion) and defensive back Jamaine Winborne (ankle) were able to practice.
"Feeling pretty good, can’t let that hold me down," McGahee said. "Everything went smoothly."
QUICK HITS: The Ravens re-signed rookie outside linebacker Edgar Jones, much to his relief. "I was praying I wouldn’t get signed by someone else," Jones said. "I love being a part of this organization. To go somewhere else would be a whole 360-degree turn." … The Ravens had a late practice, working out indoors due to concerns about fading daylight. … Billick chuckled at the irony of fans wanting once-derided backup Kyle Boller to replace Steve McNair under center. "It’s amusing," he said. "Obviously across the board, that’s standard operating procedure. I’ve been at this long enough and seen enough of it that I always find it interesting." … Baltimore cut tight end Lee Vickers, but he’s expected to rejoin the practice squad.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.