Mulitalo to play '05 season finale with '06 in mind

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Ravens notebook

December 31, 2005|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

This last game, meaningless when it comes to playoffs, could hold significance for Ravens left guard Edwin Mulitalo's future.

Mulitalo can end his subpar year on a high note with a strong showing tomorrow against the Cleveland Browns. It may take such a late push to guarantee a starting job for Mulitalo next season.

"I definitely can get better," Mulitalo said. "That's just the way I am. You try not to let your circumstances dictate what you do, your outgoing play. I really have no excuses."

Mulitalo had surgery to repair a torn triceps muscle and another surgery to remove gout from his knee during the offseason, limiting his ability to train for the regular-season grind. Mulitalo also lost his father before the second preseason game.

All of the obstacles led Mulitalo, known for his strength and durability in starting 90 of 95 games the past seven seasons, to uncharacteristically lose some one-on-one battles earlier this year.

"It started off an off-year," said Mulitalo, who recently has been bothered by a knee injury. "I had a rough offseason with a couple of surgeries. I feel better now. I try not to blame those kind of things on what I do."

Much as the line as a whole, Mulitalo has recovered lately. Quarterback Kyle Boller has been sacked just twice in the past two games, and the Ravens rushed for 182 yards against the Green Bay Packers.

Mulitalo has looked good, but so has right guard Brian Rimpf, who might have played himself into competing for a starting role next season. It leaves the Ravens with three guards - including the injured Keydrick Vincent - fighting for two positions.

Rimpf will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Ravens will keep him in all likelihood. Mulitalo, meanwhile, is scheduled to make $2 million, second most of the offensive linemen behind Jonathan Ogden.

"I'll leave that up to the scouts and coaching staff," Mulitalo said. "I'll go up there and give it my best, and if my best isn't good enough, then that's the business."

McAlister update

Cornerback Chris McAlister (shoulder/thigh) was downgraded from probable to questionable. Return specialist B.J. Sams (lower leg) was downgraded from questionable to doubtful.

Tight end Dan Wilcox (ankle) and linebacker Mike Smith (thigh) were placed on injured reserve. The Ravens signed defensive back Robb Butler and end Bernard Thomas to the active roster off the practice squad.

Billick vs. Dilfer

If there is to be a friendly exchange between Ravens coach Brian Billick and Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer, Dilfer will have to be the one to initiate the meeting.

Dilfer led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title after the 2000 season but was not retained the next season. He and Billick have had little contact since.

"That's up to Trent," Billick said. "It really is. I'd love to talk to him, I really would. But given the circumstances and what transpired and where Trent is right now, that is for Trent."

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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