Vincent, Wilcox show improvement

Ravens Notebook

November 23, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

Although Ravens right guard Keydrick Vincent and tight end Daniel Wilcox are questionable, both players said yesterday that they are optimistic about playing in Sunday's AFC North game with the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.

Linebacker Ray Lewis, recovering from surgery to drain a pool of blood from his bruised back, is listed as questionable. He did not participate in yesterday's practice and was not available to comment.

Vincent, who sat out Sunday's 24-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, participated in drills yesterday for the first time since tweaking his groin last week.

"It feels much better," Vincent said. "I was able to do some stuff on it today. It's getting better and better every day."

If Vincent can't return, rookie Chris Chester, who made his first career start Sunday, likely would play. But Vincent said he is hopeful of playing.

"It's a long time until Sunday, so you never know," he said. "We just have to make sure that we don't reinjure it. I'm just doing things to make sure that it gets better and better."

Wilcox, who pulled his right hamstring in the third quarter of Sunday's win, said the soreness is slowly dissipating. "It's much better than Sunday," he said.

Wilcox, who would be replaced by rookie Quinn Sypniewski, said he anticipates the hamstring recovering quicker considering that Pittsburgh is coming to town.

"I definitely don't want to miss this game," Wilcox said. "I can't wait to get out on the field against that black and gold. I can't stand Pittsburgh."

In other injury-related news, free safety Ed Reed (knee) and linebacker Adalius Thomas (ankle) are probable.

Of the seven players on the Steelers' injury report, four are starters. Wide receiver Hines Ward (hyperextended knee) is listed as questionable. Linebacker Clark Haggans (quadriceps), center Jeff Hartings (knee) and cornerback Deshea Townsend (ankle) are probable.

Burying the hatchet

Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said the feud between him and Lewis is a thing of the past.

The linebackers clashed in the 2003 season opener, trading words before the game and afterward in the bus area at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. But Porter said yesterday that the two have mended the fence.

"It's been over with," Porter said. "He spoke to me during the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl and stuff like that. It was kind of like me just being young at the time when it kind of happened. It's not like he did a whole lot to get me going, but that was just part of the dislike for each other.

"I probably took it out of character [more] than I had to, but at the same time, it makes us play hard against each other. I wouldn't change that now, but there's nothing between us. We're out there playing football."

Staying mum

Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan smiled when asked if he would employ his "Steeler" defense.

The alignment - fashioned to counteract Pittsburgh's two-running back, two-tight end set - involves three linemen, five linebackers, two cornerbacks and one safety. The brainchild of Ryan, the scheme might be used extensively Sunday.

But Ryan declined to tip his hand, saying: "I don't know. They're going to have to wait and find out, I guess. There's probably a pretty good chance of it."

Rolling returns

Covering B.J. Sams could be a conundrum for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are last in the NFL in kickoff coverage and third to last in punt coverage. Sams, meanwhile, ranks fifth in the league in kickoff returns (26.0-yard average) and third in punt returns (12.5).

"There's another bad combination right there with the way we're covering and the way B.J. Sams is returning," Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher said. "That's going to be one of the biggest challenges we have this week. ... He's coming off a big game. There's a lot of confidence there, and in this football game, field position has always been critical. That is a challenge our football team understands this week."

Et cetera

The Ravens re-signed offensive lineman Mike Kracalik to the practice squad. ... After practicing outside for the first 90 minutes, the team finished the remaining 60 minutes indoors. ... Left guard Jason Brown earned a WWE T-shirt for correctly answering a trivia question during the televised pro wrestling event at 1st Mariner Arena on Monday night. Brown gave the T-shirt to a youngster sitting behind him.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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