R. Lewis' status unclear for Jags

Star linebacker may not test injured shoulder until Ravens' workout Friday

Other 3 starters expected back

October 15, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Trying to move past Sunday's controversial pass interference penalty, the Ravens may have to endure another late call.

Ray Lewis likely will be listed as questionable when the team returns to practice tomorrow, and his status may not be clear until Friday. The All-Pro linebacker partially dislocated his left shoulder nine days ago in Cleveland and sat out Sunday's 22-20 loss in Indianapolis, ending his streak of 63 consecutive starts.

Team officials said there is a chance that they could have a read on Lewis' injury by tomorrow. But it's also possible Lewis could miss practice tomorrow and Thursday and test his shoulder in Friday's light workout.

"The key will be: Is it OK structurally?" Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Does another week make a difference in terms of the strength and the chance of re-injuring it? That's the doctor's and Ray's decision. But we're optimistic."

Lewis has been sidelined five games in his seven-year career, with the Ravens going 1-4 in his absences.

An electrical stimulant was attached to his shoulder for the first time yesterday. It is intended to increase circulation in the area and speed up the healing process.

If Lewis is cleared to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he will wear a protective harness that reduces the risk of the shoulder sliding out again yet restricts his movement. Fellow linebacker Peter Boulware wore one in the 1999 season to support his dislocated shoulder.

When asked about the odds of him playing Sunday, Lewis declined to comment yesterday.

"It's better than it was last week at this time," Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf said. "He'll go out there when it's minimum risk. That means it's got good strength and good range of motion."

The Ravens' other three starters who were inactive Sunday - center Mike Flynn (ankle), receiver Brandon Stokley (ankle) and defensive end Michael Mc- Crary (knee) - may be listed as questionable tomorrow, too.

But those three starters are projected to suit up on Sunday and could have gone last game if it was played on a grass field. Stokley is the biggest concern of this group because his position requires more cutting.

"We'll see how it does," said Stokley, who aggravated his high right ankle sprain during last Thursday's practice. "It's feeling better every day. Hopefully, it responds like it did when I hurt it a couple of weeks ago. I'm hoping to go this week."

Coming off a 23-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Jaguars have injury concerns of their own.

Starting right tackle Maurice Williams broke his right leg and is out for the season, and quarterback Mark Brunell was feeling the effects of a moderate concussion that sidelined him for the last three quarters. Jacksonville's backup quarterback is David Garrard, a rookie out of East Carolina.

"The doctors feel confident Mark will be ready to go [against the Ravens]," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said at yesterday's news conference.

Dealing with injuries wasn't the only matter of business for the Ravens.

The team sent a tape of Gary Baxter's questionable pass interference penalty to the NFL office for review. Baxter, a first-year starting cornerback, was flagged after a collision with Colts receiver Qadry Ismail.

The Colts contend it's a penalty because Baxter never looked back at the ball. The Ravens argue the throw was uncatchable, and Baxter never did anything to gain a competitive advantage on Ismail.

"Right now, today, I don't know what to tell Gary to do in that situation short of, `Let him catch the ball,' " Billick said. "I feel very inadequate as a coach because I don't know what to tell my player to do differently."

In yesterday's team meeting, Billick told his players to put that play in the past and focus on what they could have done to put the game away earlier.

The Ravens have to shore up their ball-handling after fumbling seven times.

They have to make smarter decisions after quarterback Chris Redman had a forced throw intercepted near the end of the first half. That turnover led to a Colts field goal.

And they have to secure their pass protection. In the fourth quarter, Redman was sacked because of his blockers' poor technique.

"I told them that I didn't want to hear any more about the officials and kind of put it back on them," Billick said. "Look, you put the game in that situation with some of the errors that you made.

"We had an opportunity not to put it in the officials' hands. But if you put it in the officials' hands, it's usually not going to turn out very well."

Next for Ravens

Opponent:Jacksonville Jaguars

Site:Ravens Stadium

When:Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio:Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line:Off the board

SunSpot:For more coverage, visit sunspot.net/ravens

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