Although Rolle hasn’t been ruled out on the injury report, backup Frank Walker is preparing to start in his place opposite Fabian Washington. It became common knowledge in the locker room shortly after the Ravens’ 13-10 win over the Tennessee Titans that Rolle would be sidelined this week.
"That’s a big loss," Washington said. "He’s our starting corner. If anyone else goes down on this team, we can’t afford that. Frank is very capable and he shows me every day that he can cover with the best of them. I expect him to play well and excel."
Added Walker: "I’m trying to do a little something, do what I do. Samari’s not all the way out yet. I guess you could write him in, in pencil."
Meanwhile, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is listed as questionable with a partially dislocated right shoulder and is expected to be a game-time decision. He’s at least expected to try to play, possibly with a special harness to hold his shoulder in place.
One day after Suggs’ emotional interview Thursday that raised eyebrows on whether he was engaging in gamesmanship to try to convince the Steelers and reporters that he was extremely doubtful to play as he intimated that he might have major ligament damage, teammates responded with amused reactions toward his downcast demeanor.
"’Sizzle’ is in his own world right now," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said before bursting into laughter. "We’ve got him on the board as being whiny right now."
Suggs wore a sling for the second day in a row and didn’t practice all week. However, he may have laid it on a tad thick during his interview to try to make the Steelers believe he’s out for this week.
"He looked like it, too, didn’t he?" wide receiver Derrick Mason said with a smile when asked if Suggs seemed doubtful for the game. "The first time I saw it, he looked bad, didn’t he. Goodness gracious, I mean, like the guy was never going to play again."
If Suggs is unavailable, then Edgar Jones, Jameel McClain and Marques Douglas would combine to take his place.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh issued his stock noncommittal answer when asked about Suggs and Rolle.
"We’re hopeful, just like we always are," he said. "They’re working hard to get back. All our guys are. We’ve got a lot of guys with different nicks and bruises and things like that. We’ve done a great job in the training room and we’re looking forward to seeing who can play on Sunday."
Harbaugh acknowledged that Suggs’ condition improved throughout the week, but didn’t offer any predictions on whether he’ll play or how much, adding that the decision will be a collective one determined by Suggs, team doctors and the coaching staff.
As far as Suggs’ mental state, which Suggs himself portrayed as sad Thursday, Harbaugh isn’t worried.
"He seems okay," Harbaugh said. "We don’t take too much time analyzing that stuff. He’s a mature guy, and he seems like he’s okay."
Also listed as questionable: Mason (knee/shoulder), tight end Todd Heap (back), linebacker Jarret Johnson (calf), wide receiver Mark Clayton (hamstring), defensive tackle Justin Bannan (foot), and running back Le’Ron McClain (ankle). Mason didn’t practice all week, but is expected to start.
Bannan and Clayton returned to practice.
Lewis (shoulder), free safety Ed Reed (knee/nerve impingement) and fullback Lorenzo Neal (shoulder) are probable.
RICE EXPECTED TO GO: Rookie running back Ray Rice proclaimed that he’s 100 percent recovered from a left shin contusion, a development that could lead to an increased workload against the Steelers.
Rice played on a limited basis against the Titans, but says he’s ready for more action now.
"I’m ready to go full speed," Rice said. "I was ready to play against Jacksonville, I suited up for Miami. Tennessee, I was ready to go, and I played a couple plays in the third quarter. I feel brand new again."
The Ravens have averaged just 100.5 rushing yards in two playoff games after ranking fourth in the league with 148.5 yards per game during the regular season. They were held to just 50 yards on 30 carries last week.
Rice hasn’t played much since injuring his leg Dec. 7 against the Washington Redskins.
"We think he’s an outstanding football player," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "He’s smart. He’s tough. Little more quickness in some areas than some guys. We’re going to need him in this game. There’s no doubt about it. He’s probably the healthiest guy we have."
Rice ranks third on the team with 454 rushing yards, catching 33 passes for 273 yards.
The former Rutgers star said the injury was similar to experiencing a high ankle sprain, and limited his ability to cut.
"The straight ahead stuff was there, but if you can’t cut as a running back, you can’t play," Rice said. "That’s your livelihood, but now it’s better. I can cut and make plants.
"My legs haven’t felt this fresh since I came into camp. My legs feel great. Definitely feel like I got my step back."
WORKING OVERTIME: All season, Walker has quietly returned to the Ravens’ training complex at night for extra film study.
He doesn’t do it for attention since few people other than coaches, security officers and janitors are working that late.
"I got to do it, man, because the game goes so fast and I try to stay on top of it that way," Walker said. "I just try to keep it as my thing. I don’t do it because nobody else is doing it. I do it because it could give me an edge."
QUICK HITS: The Steelers listed safety Troy Polamalu (calf strain) and center Justin Hartwig (knee) as probable. … Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward continues to relish his hated status in Baltimore. "I guess it’s a great honor, I don’t know why Baltimore dislikes me so much," Ward told Pittsburgh reporters Friday. "I love the crab cakes there. I love the view in Baltimore. I’m a likeable guy. I don’t know what there is not to like about me. I smile all the time and I give 110 percent every time I step on the field. But I could care less if they dislike me." … Ward also weighed in on his reputation as a cheap-shot artist. He broke Cincinnati Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers’ jaw earlier this season, but wasn’t penalized or fined. "You’re hearing the guys, ‘Oh, you’re not going to break my jaw,’ or you’re running around and they’re looking at you," Ward said. "I take pride in trying to get up under their skin because I guess they’re trying to knock the smile off my face. To have that impact on the field, they were trying to fight me literally rather than try to stop our offense from running plays, I’m just going to do whatever it takes to win ball games." … With reports swirling that the St. Louis Rams have narrowed their choices down to Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Ryan hasn’t heard from the Rams regarding a second interview. NFL teams can’t make Ryan an offer until after the Ravens’ season is over. If the Rams don’t make a hire this weekend, it could be an indication that they’re willing to wait for Ryan. Ryan is reportedly the frontrunner for the New York Jets’ head-coaching vacancy. … Director of player development O.J Brigance, who is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease, and former Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa will act as honorary game captains Sunday. … The Steelers’ honorary captains are former Ravens and Steelers safety Rod Woodson and former center Dermontti Dawson. Both are Hall of Fame finalists. An NFL Network analyst, Woodson joked that the Steelers personally invited him and he would wait to hear from Ravens team owner Steve Bisciotti. … Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce will be playing in his fourth AFC title game, his third against the Steelers. Pryce played for the Denver Broncos when they beat the Steelers in 1998 and lost to them in 2005. "That’s really bizarre to me," Pryce said. "I guess I’m always looking at them every time I see the schedule, and I’m like, ‘Here we go again.’" … Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco celebrated his 24th birthday Friday by having a bucket of ice water dumped on his head. "It was his birthday, so he got a little ice bath from the guys," Harbaugh said. "That was kind of fun." Added Flacco: "Yeah, they do that to everybody and I figured I wasn’t going to run from it. I’ll just try to let them do it and hopefully they won’t enjoy it as much as if I was running from them." … Wide receiver Derrick Mason turns 35 today. "He’s a lot older than me," Flacco said with a laugh. … Harbaugh said his father, Jack Harbaugh, and brother, Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, will be on the sidelines with him Sunday."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.