Rolle's past points to quick recovery

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Notebook

November 22, 2005|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

Cornerback Samari Rolle has missed games because of knee, elbow, ankle and neck problems in his eight-year career. Although he had suffered a spinal concussion in the past, Rolle had never been knocked out of a game due to a head concussion before Sunday, good news in evaluating Rolle's chances to play against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Rolle left with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of the Ravens' win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, hurting himself while attempting to tackle Steelers receiver Hines Ward.

Although Rolle did not return, he was coherent in the locker room afterward, a good sign as the Ravens prepare to face a Cincinnati offense that racked up 492 total yards (328 through the air) in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Even better for the Ravens is Rolle's lack of history with concussions.

Coaches sometimes sit players who have suffered multiple concussions in their career for at least a game even though they may be able to play physically.

"I don't know Samari's history. That tends to be more to do with a player's history with [concussions]," Billick said.

"We certainly wouldn't want to put him at risk."

If Rolle cannot play, the Ravens' defense would be at risk of giving up big plays to quarterback Carson Palmer and top-notch receiver Chad Johnson. The two hooked up eight times for 189 yards and a touchdown Sunday.

Rolle's potential absence would leave the Ravens' secondary depleted, much as they were in overtime Sunday when B.J. Sams was forced into the dime-back role. Ed Reed missed the game with a high ankle sprain and will probably not be ready to play against the Bengals.

Ravens a model?

In the copycat league that is the NFL, The Ravens might have provided Steelers opponents a blueprint for halting their usually relentless rushing attack.

The Ravens used four linemen and four linebackers on first-down situations, holding Pittsburgh to 70 yards on the ground. Most of the time, the linebackers were going toward the line of scrimmage, disrupting the play and daring Tommy Maddox to throw with limited time.

Pittsburgh was held 66.9 yards under its season average on the ground.

"You can blitz and pressure to stop the run as well as to affect the pass," Billick said. "It changes gear halfway through the play if you're doing it because you think they're going to run and you want to get more people to the line of scrimmage than they have, then all of a sudden it's a pass, you got a blitz situation.

"I'm sure their game plan anticipated running the ball much better than they did. You got to give the defense credit for [holding] what is maybe the best running attack, the most committed running attack in the league to under 100 yards."

Vincent, Brown mending

Although the Ravens started two new players on the right side of the line in Tony Pashos at tackle and Brian Rimpf at guard, the change is not expected to be permanent.

Both Keydrick Vincent (thigh) and Orlando Brown (back) could return this week. As for Pashos and Rimpf, it was the longest either player had played in his career.

"I hated that Keydrick and Orlando missed, but it was good to get those substantial snaps by Rimpf and [Pashos]," Billick said.

End zone

The Ravens moved up a spot to second in the NFL in total defense, first in the AFC (272 yards a game). ... Billick said he was encouraged by the progress Ray Lewis (thigh) made, but he will know more about his status for Sunday later this week. ... Bart Scott (defense), Chester Taylor (offense) and Ovie Mughelli (special teams) were awarded game balls.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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