RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Chester may sit Sunday out

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Chester may sit Sunday out

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OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens starting right offensive guard Chris Chester was hospitalized due to a skin infection that could prevent him from playing Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Chester wasn’t at practice Friday, but hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday and is listed as questionable on the injury report.

"Chris has a skin issue, had to go to the hospital," coach John Harbaugh said. "It’s not serious, but it’s something that was causing him a lot of pain. I don’t know what the name of it is, but they’re going to work on the infection and make sure it’s OK. So, we think he’ll be there for Sunday, but you never know with those things."

The Ravens are preparing reserve offensive tackle Tony Moll to start in place of Chester, who has started all nine games at right guard this season.

Moll is a former Green Bay Packers fifth-round draft pick who hasn’t played guard in a regular-season game in two years. He took every snap at right guard on Friday.

"This is the position I was acclimated to," Moll said. "In the NFL my rookie year, I played mostly at right guard for Green Bay. Not really a big deal.

"I don’t feel any more pressure or anything like that playing right guard. It’s just one of those things that we do. That’s why everyday at practice, you see people playing every position."

If needed, Moll said he expects to be able to assimilate the playbook and step into the lineup.

"Oh yeah, I think everyone at this level is able to play the game," Moll said. "It’s how much you dig into the playbook and you know your opponent that makes the difference."

NO FINE FOR ED REED: Star free safety Ed Reed won’t be fined for elbowing Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan last Thursday night at the Georgia Dome, according to a league spokesman.

Reed wasn’t penalized on the play.

Reed said he suffered ligament damage to his ankle on the play when Ryan slide into him. It took him a while to get up.

Reed appeared to elbow Ryan when the quarterback lowered his helmet, but he wasn’t sure what happened.

"Once he hit my ankle, I have no clue what hit him," Reed said. "Once he hit my ankle, I knew he was down already. I was just like, ‘Oh, my God, he slid right into my ankle.’"

INJURY UPDATE: The Ravens ruled out safety Tom Zbikowski for the fourth game in a row due to a bruised right heel, but Harbaugh emphasized that he’s definitely not out for the season. According to Harbaugh, Zbikowski could be back next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"We were targeting this week," Harbaugh said. "We were hopeful, but it didn’t happen. We’re shooting for next week."

As far as the possibility of ending Zbikowski’s season by placing him on injured reserve, Harbaugh said that’s not going to happen.

"There’s no chance he’ll be put on IR," Harbaugh said.

WASHINGTON RETURNS: Backup cornerback Fabian Washington returned to practice Friday after suffering from flu symptoms over the past few days. Washington said he plans to play Sunday and has improved markedly after taking antibiotics.

"I’m feeling a lot better," Washington said. "I would just say it was a bad cold. I had flu like symptoms, but not the flu. It was a bad cold that put me down. I feel like I’m starting to come back.

"I’m trying to flush out the system. I felt like if I’m going to have a shot at playing Sunday, I had to start getting my legs back under me. I’m confident, as long as it keeps going the way it’s going and I keep getting better."

Washington was removed from the injury report.

"He was 100 percent, so he’ll play," Harbaugh said.

Meanwhile, tight end Todd Heap (chest) and inside linebacker Tavares Gooden (head) are probable.

The Panthers ruled out quarterback Jimmy Clausen (concussion), safety Marcus Hudson (ankle), offensive tackle Travelle Wharton (toe), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (concussion), running back Tyrell Sutton (ankle) and running back Jonathan Stewart (concussion).

Middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee) is probable as well as defensive ends Greg Hardy (concussion) and Charles Johnson (hip) and linebacker Nic Harris (knee).

PAPA YANDA: Offensive tackle Marshal Yanda and his fiancée, Shannon, are the proud parents of a baby boy, their first child.

Graham Yanda was born at 7:43 p.m. on Thursday. He tipped the scales at 8 pounds, 6 ounces and is 21 ¾ inches.

Yanda missed practice Thursday and returned to work Friday.

"It was awesome," Yanda said. "Best day of my life, no question. Watching it come out and then cry, and then to be able to hold him and stuff, it was awesome.

"There’s nothing better. People always tell you that’s a life changer, and you keep it in the back of your mind, but you don’t ever prepare for it until it comes out like that. Awesome day."

Yanda is engaged to be married with the big day set for July 1, 2011.

He was relieved that the baby arrived in time before today’s road trip to Charlotte, N.C.

"We actually had her induced, because she was probably going to have it this weekend and I didn’t want to be gone for the Carolina game," Yanda said. "So, we induced her on Thursday and kind of figured it’d be best. So, we planned it that way."

This is the third baby for a Ravens player born this season.

Rookie nose guard Terrence Cody recently became a father for the first time.

"It was neat for him to be able and go experience that," Harbaugh said. "It was really important. It speaks a little bit to what we want to be as an organization. That’s something that you just don’t get those things back. Guys have got to make those decisions.

"Ed Dickson made a decision earlier in the year because it was a game and it was coming up and he didn’t know, and he ended up playing in that game and missing that, but he was there that night. We were fortunate enough for Marshal for it to be a Thursday, and we can practice without Marshal for one day."

LOOKING FOR MORE: Wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth got a taste of playing time against the Falcons, an appetizer he feasted on with two reverses for 34 yards.

Now, he’s looking for a larger role.

Stallworth was out for the first seven games of the season with a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

"It’s amazing," Stallworth said. "I look forward to just being able to play and expanding my role in the offense as the coaches get more confidence in my foot. I just want to work back into the games and just be able to get a feel for the offense and be able to do more and more.

"It felt good. I hadn’t had the ball in my hands in a really long time. I almost forgot how to run with the ball. The guys did a great job of blocking. We obviously have a good running game here. That helped out a lot as well with the deception."

Stallworth is also looking for his first reception of the season.

He has caught 27 career passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns against the Panthers.

"That’s the next step," Stallworth said. "I’ve been beating Lardarius Webb all week. I look forward to continuing that in Sunday’s game."

Special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said that Stallworth is one of the candidates to return punts against the Panthers.

Webb is the primary punt returner, but lost a fumble against the Falcons.

"Yeah, if they let me do that, too, that would be great, every now and then," Stallworth said. "If Webb needs a break and the coaches have enough confidence in me then hopefully I’ll be able to make a play out there."

READY TO BREAK OUT: Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice could be on the cusp of a breakthrough game. He’s about to square off with the 27th-ranked run defense in the league. The Panthers are allowing 131.6 rushing yards per contest.

Rice has rushed for 665 yards and two touchdowns, catching 34 passes for 279 yards.

However, Rice hasn’t scored a touchdown in four games. And he hasn’t topped the 100-yard mark during that span, gaining 88, 72, 83 and 59 yards over the past month.

"I definitely feel like the big game is coming where the numbers will be great," Rice said. "I’m right where I need to be right now. We’re going great as a collective group. I’m just trying to keep plugging away."

Rice’s primary obstacle: athletic middle linebacker Jon Beason, the Panthers’ leading tackler.

"I’ve always respected Jon Beason," Rice said. "It’s always a challenge. He’s going to give it his all on every single snap.

"That guy is always a beat ahead of a lot of players. He’s fast, he’s not the hugest linebacker in the world, but his speed and his ability makes up for a lot of that. He’s very strong. I’ve got a lot of respect for that guy."

LIMITED INFORMATION: All the tape the Ravens could find on Panthers journeyman starting quarterback Brian St. Pierre was 37 snaps. The former Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Ravens third-string quarterback has thrown only five passes in regular-season games.

"We went back and studied all of our reports that our pro personnel department had since he’s been in the league," Harbaugh said. "I think you get a pretty good sense of him, and we’ll be ready for him. We’ll be ready as much as we can.

"That’s the 37 that they came up with, so I don’t know how many he’s played, but that’s the ones that we were able to find, including preseason. I’m sure he had more in preseason over the years. You just do the best you can. It’s what we had."

QUICK HIT: Harbaugh insists that the Ravens blitz just as much under defensive coordinator Greg Mattison as they did when Rex Ryan was in Baltimore.

"No, I know that Greg doesn’t blitz any less than Rex blitzed," Harbaugh said. "There’s no question about it, it’s the same. The team that blitzes the most in the NFL right now is the Carolina Panthers. So, look at the numbers.

"You can find those stats and see what they are and people will have a more educated view on things. And I think I would encourage you guys to do that when you write articles about it; you can pull up those stats anywhere and you can see how much we blitz."

The Ravens have only 16 sacks, ranking 21st in the league in sacks per pass play.

"We blitz a lot," Harbaugh said. "Do I want to blitz more? Personally, I want to blitz every play. To me, that’s fun, that’s aggressive, that’s how you want to do it. Can you get away with it in this league, the way the offenses are spread out, and the speed they put on the field and all that?

"Nobody’s blitzing every play. Not in New York, not anywhere. And I’m talking about either one of the New York teams that generate some pass rush. But we’re going to keep fighting for more pressure, we’re going to keep fighting for more sacks, and we’re going to come up with blitz and pressure packages as we go."


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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.  More from Aaron Wilson


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