OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens don’t anticipate former Pro Bowl cornerback Samari Rolle playing football this season due to a chronic neck problem that could signal the end of his career.
Rolle, 33, remains on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing neck surgery several weeks ago after an offseason procedure failed to repair the problem of a bulging disc in his neck.
The Ravens’ beleaguered secondary could have used Rolle’s veteran leadership and cover skills, but that’s not in the cards due to safety concerns.
“I can’t speak for Samari in that sense, but I would say right now based on what the medical people are saying, I’m not very optimistic at all that he’ll be able to play this year,” Harbaugh said. “He had the surgery, and you just don’t want to mess around with the neck. Samari’s too important to us as a person to even think about that. That’s not the advice we’re getting medically, so that’s probably where that stands.”
Rolle was recently at the Ravens’ training complex to consult with team officials before returning to his home in Florida.
He hasn’t played in a game since the Ravens’ AFC divisional round playoff victory over the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 10. Rolle has said that he thought he returned too soon from a neck surgery he underwent last season.
The Ravens signed Rolle to a four-year, $10 million contract this offseason after he was cut at his request.
Before the season, Rolle’s friend, wide receiver Derrick Mason, said that Rolle should probably not play again due to the risk of hurting his neck even worse.
TRADE TALK: General Manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged holding discussions with several NFL teams regarding potential trades heading into today’s NFL deadline, but emphasized that nothing is imminent.
Although Newsome didn’t rule out the possibility, it appears unlikely that the Ravens will be involved in a trade.
"I’ve had dialogues with several different teams," Newsome said in a telephone interview. "I’ve got nothing pending right now."
Among the players linked to the Ravens in trade rumors: wide receivers Terrell Owens, Dwayne Bowe and Joey Galloway.
Realistically, though, a wide receiver isn’t what’s needed for the 3-3 Ravens.
They could use a cornerback or a pass rusher, and the odds of someone unloading a quality cover guy or someone that can apply heat on the quarterback is extremely unlikely.
Harbaugh, who coached in Philadelphia during Owens’ stormy tenure with the Eagles, chose his words cautiously when asked about the prospects of a trade for the combustible wideout.
"All I can say about T.O. is this, I’m going to jump out on a limb here, I’ve got a lot of respect for T.O., OK? Always have," Harbaugh said. "He’s a football player, he practices hard. I think he’s got a really good heart, always have. We have a good relationship.
“Now is anything happening there? Not that I know of. And I think I would know if something was happening, but he plays for another team. We have a ton of respect for him, and I’ve always liked him and I want to be positive about him. .. It’s hard to make a trade in this league.”
JARED ALLEN RESPONDS: Ravens rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher spoke positively about his play against Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen on Sunday, stating, “In the second half, I feel like I shut him out. There’s nothing really special about him.”
During his FOXSports.com radio spot Monday, Allen responded to Oher’s comments with some verbal blasts of his own.
"Well, that’s just some idiot trying to talk himself up," Allen said. "I beat that dude like a red-headed stepchild. Let’s be honest. If he was so good why did they have to chip me all day? Ask him that. That’s just a rookie trying to build his self confidence up.”
Allen finished with seven tackles, one sack and two quarterback hurries.
Oher was flagged twice for false starts in his second start at left tackle.
"Besides, you lost and your quarterback spent his whole day on the back of his head until the fourth quarter,” Allen said. “That guy will watch film and realize. Everybody else in the world saw me abuse him."
INJURY UPDATE: According to Harbaugh, offensive tackle Jared Gaither was inching toward returning Sunday as he missed his second game with a neck injury.
“He was close,” Harbaugh said of Gaither, who hasn’t played since getting hurt Oct. 4 against the New England Patriots. “We’ll see. You can’t speak to a neck, so I don’t want to sit here and say he’s definitely going to play against Denver. But we would expect him to play against Denver.”
Meanwhile, quarterback Joe Flacco said that his left foot got stomped on in the first quarter against the Vikings.
And that triggered a sprained right ankle.
“It’s not a big deal,” Flacco said Monday. “I’m walking pretty good and running and stuff.”
STICKING UP FOR HAUSCHKA: Harbaugh defended kicker Steve Hauschka in the wake of his last-second 44-yard field goal try that could have won the game.
Hauschka has drawn heavy criticism for the miss inside a domed stadium with fans wishing that Matt Stover was still on the roster, but Harbaugh indicated that the blame should be shared with long snapper Matt Katula.
“The snap was not perfect,” Harbaugh said. “The kick was not perfect, so it didn’t go through. We all try to do as good a job as we can to help our kicker make a kick. And the thing you’ve got to remember about that is we knew from Day One that our young kicker was going to miss a kick and we were also pretty sure that it was going to come during a hugely critical moment.
“And there’s no guarantee that any kicker is going to make any kick in any situation, and it’s painful. He’s disappointed, but he’s determined at the same time. He wants to be in that situation again.”
Harbaugh emphasized that the Ravens still have confidence in Hauschka going forward.
“If he had knocked that thing through the uprights, we’d all be going, ‘We’ve got our kicker!’” he said. “Well, we believe we’ve got our kicker. We’ve seen enough of him to believe that he’s going to be our kicker. In the end, do we know?
“We see where it goes from there. That’s the best we can do. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him. I think he’s got the mettle for it. I’m a little biased because he’s our kicker and we’re going to give him a chance.”
ENCOURAGED: The Ravens are extremely upbeat about running back Ray Rice.
After catching 10 passes for 117 yards and rushing for 77 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, he leads the NFL with 766 yards from scrimmage.
“We were hopeful that we’d see this Ray Rice,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got as good an attitude as any player. For a young man to be that mature and just have that big of a heart.
“In a sense, no, it doesn’t surprise us. I’ll admit this: He’s probably a little more talented than maybe we even thought when we drafted him.”
QUICK HITS: The Ravens started Dwan Edwards at defensive end ahead of veteran Trevor Pryce with both players recording sacks. “I felt like more reps were good for Dwan and for our run defense,” Harbaugh said. “Now we want Trevor to get more reps than what he got and that’s kind of just the way it shook out, but I was happy. I though Trevor played very well in the snaps he was in there and made a difference, especially in the pass rush. And Dwan played well.” … The Ravens will practice today and Wednesday during the bye week. Then, the players will be off until next Monday. … Harbaugh didn’t predict any changes to the starting lineup. “As far as making lineup shuffles, that’s not in any plans,” he said. “Our starting lineups are pretty much intact.” … The Ravens scratched new wide receiver David Tyree partially because of a slight hamstring injury and also because he’s still getting acclimated after being signed last week. “There’s a little bit of an element of getting into football shape,” Harbaugh said. “We’re plugging him in here in the last second, so it’s hard. He’s going to be playing for us.”
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.