Ravens Notebook: Rice doubtful for Sunday

Street Talk Ravens Notebook: Rice doubtful for Sunday

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OWINGS MILLS — Although Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh declared that Ray Rice will be a game-time decision Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the rookie running back isn’t expected to play due to a serious contusion on his left shin.

Rice was listed as doubtful on the final injury report and didn’t practice all week. He’s off crutches and isn’t limping as badly as he was a few days ago.

"He’s definitely getting better, moving around a lot better," Harbaugh said. "We’re hopeful that he can get back, so I’d say it will be game-time."

If Rice is sidelined, then newly-signed rookie running back Jalen Parmale could potentially be active after being acquired off the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad Tuesday.

Parmale has undergone a rapid education in the Ravens’ playbook with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery. The sixth-round pick from Toledo stayed after practice Friday to catch passes from director of pro personnel George Kokinis.

"From a crash-course perspective, yeah, there are a lot of things at the running back position that are the same across the board," Harbaugh said. "He’s just got to take the terminology and apply it. I would think he’s got a percentage of it that he may be ready to have Sunday. If he has to play, then we’ll give him that part of it. But it wouldn’t be all of it, for sure, right now."

Besides Rice, the Ravens got healthier Friday as wide receiver Derrick Mason (dislocated left shoulder) and kicker Matt Stover (sprained right ankle) practiced for the first time this week.

Mason participated in team and individual drills, and Stover kicked field goals on the side.

Mason, Stover, offensive tackle Jared Gaither (sprained right shoulder) and safety Jim Leonhard (illness) were limited in practice, but are regarded as probable for the game.

The Ravens also listed cornerback Samari Rolle (hamstring), safety Ed Reed (hamstring), return specialist Yamon Figurs (left knee bruise) and rookie offensive guard David Hale (left ankle) as probable. Figurs said he will be returning punts and kickoffs Sunday.

Wide receiver Marcus Maxwell (hip) is doubtful.

Offensive tackle Willie Anderson has a splint on the ring finger of his right hand, but wasn’t listed on the injury report. He’s still expected to start at right tackle ahead of Adam Terry.

The Steelers ruled out defensive end Brett Keisel (sprained medial collateral ligament, left knee) and offensive tackle Marvel Smith (back).

Pittsburgh listed strong safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and outside linebacker James Harrison (knee) as probable. Running back Carey Davis (calf) is questionable.

FINISHING STRONG: The Ravens are cognizant of the Steelers’ ability to mount a fourth-quarter comeback, particularly after their 20-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys built on scoring 17 unanswered points in the final period a week ago.

Plus, Pittsburgh came from behind to win 23-20 in overtime over Baltimore earlier this season to overcome a 13-3 deficit.

"We play running backs and we say, ‘You have to tackle this guy to the ground,’" linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "That might be an odd statement, but it means that you have to wrap up and bring them all the way to the ground. Pittsburgh is like that as a team.

"You can’t just beat them in the first or second quarter. You have to beat them the entire game. Pittsburgh is a 60-minute team. You have to beat them into the ground."

The Ravens have proven to be strong finishers, though. They have outscored opponents 98-33 in the fourth quarter with just 13 points surrendered in the fourth quarter over the past nine games.

BIG HITTER: Middle linebacker Ray Lewis leads the Ravens with 134 tackles, including several emphatic hits. He has inflicted a lot of pain this season.

He nailed Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis during the Ravens’ 24-10 win last week, and knocked Steelers rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall out for the season with a fractured shoulder on another brutal shot in the third game of the year.

Lewis consciously bulked up to 260 pounds in order to pack more power into his tackles, and so he would have a little extra padding to absorb some of the force from the blows he delivers.

"He’s playing big," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "He’s hitting people, and they’re going backwards. It’s funny because he looks like it’s the same Ray Lewis, but, man, he really is delivering some shots this year. Big hits turn games, the momentum of games. I’m glad he’s on our side."

In a recent Sports Illustrated poll, Lewis was named by NFL offensive players as the one defensive player they would rather not run into.

"I always want to be remembered as that guy that every play you’ve got to deal with me," Lewis said. "That’s the respect you look for. You don’t look for it outside. You look for it from your peers and people that you play against. So when you get that type of respect, it just goes to show you that all the hard work that you do put in, it pays off."

HIT MAN II: The Ravens are well aware of Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward’s penchant for vicious downfield blocks, especially after he broke Cincinnati Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers’ jaw.

Plus, Ward upended an unsuspecting Reed and linebacker Bart Scott a year ago with painful results.

"A lot of times when you peel around, you have to keep your head on a swivel because you’re going to get cracked," Johnson said. "A lot of teams don’t have the receivers willing to block. He’s willing to throw it in there."

Ward has no intentions of changing his hard-nosed approach to the game.

"I’m not going to wait around to be hit," Ward told Pittsburgh reporters. "I’m going to continue to go aggressively after guys."

Ward knows that he’s owed a few revenge shots by the Ravens. It’s a rare occasion when he gets the worst of a confrontation.

"My day’s coming," Ward said. "Hey, I’ve been hit before. Ed Reed hit me a couple of times, but I’m not going to sit there and worry about guys talking about how they’re gonna get me back."

QUICK HITS: The Ravens have cut down significantly on personal fouls. The last one assessed was on linebacker Antwan Barnes for taunting against the Miami Dolphins. "We remember those," Harbaugh said. "It’s been a point of emphasis from the get-go, and we’ve been applying it. Our team understands that things that aren’t helpful we just can’t do. Most of those things aren’t helpful. So, I’m proud of the fact that they’ve cleaned that stuff up, but it needs to carry over into Sunday and through the rest of the season." … The Ravens piped in crowd noise to simulate the conditions at M&T Bank Stadium during Friday’s workout at their indoor practice field. "Our concern is that our defense has to communicate, that’s why we did crowd noise on the defensive side of the ball," Harbaugh said. "We want our fans being loud to disrupt their offense, but we can’t let it disrupt our defense. So, we’ve got to handle communication with that." … Harbaugh said he didn’t have to advise his players to avoid providing the Steelers with any bulletin-board material. It has been a relatively quiet week in both cities with virtually nothing that could be considered trash-talking. "Our guys just understand what is effective and what’s not, what’s important and what’s not and what’s going to help us win and what’s not," he said. "Those other things certainly aren’t going to help us or help the Steelers. Obviously, both sides understand that."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.
Photo by Sabina Moran.

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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. 

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