Healthy outlook for the opener

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Mason, McAlister say they're ready to play

Pro Football

September 05, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason and cornerback Chris McAlister declared themselves healthy and available for the team's regular-season opener at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday.

Both players missed Thursday's preseason finale against the Washington Redskins, but Mason (left knee bruise) and McAlister (sore right thigh) practiced yesterday and said their injuries shouldn't prevent them from suiting up against the Buccaneers.

"It's feeling fine," Mason said. "It was just one of those things where just a little rest [was needed], and once I got a little rest, it was feeling a lot better. I'm good to go for this week."

Added McAlister: "I always feel great."

Fullback Justin Green said a magnetic resonance imaging exam on the sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee showed no structural damage. Both he and running back Jamal Lewis, who missed the final two preseason games to rest his left hip flexor, said they should be ready to play Sunday.

Also, safety Gerome Sapp (intestinal infection), linebacker Mike Smith (sprained knee), wide receiver Clarence Moore (sprained knee) and defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (sore hip flexor) returned to practice.

"I think we're healthy across the board," coach Brian Billick said.

Clayton: QB in a pinch

With Steve McNair and Kyle Boller as the only two quarterbacks on the team's 53-man roster, Billick said the team's emergency quarterback would be wide receiver Mark Clayton.

Undrafted rookie Drew Olson is on the practice squad, while Brian St. Pierre, who joined the Ravens last season, was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who need depth after Ben Roethlisberger underwent an emergency appendectomy and will miss at least Thursday's NFL opener against the Miami Dolphins.

"Obviously, it's not what you hope to get, but a number of teams are starting to do this type of thing," said Billick, who said the team has no plan to sign a third quarterback. "At least - knock on wood - in the seven years I've been here and the previous seven I had in Minnesota, I've never gotten by injury to the third quarterback. So hopefully, it won't be a problem."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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