It's official: Year over for Sams, Bannan, Green

Ravens notebook

December 05, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun Reporter

The Ravens placed return specialist B.J. Sams, defensive tackle Justin Bannan and fullback Justin Green on injured reserve yesterday, ending their seasons.

Sams' injury was initially reported by the team as a broken fibula in his right leg suffered during the Ravens' 13-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night, but was changed yesterday to a fractured ankle. Green suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Cincinnati, and Bannan dislocated a toe in a 27-0 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 26.

"We've said all along that the depth was going to be the strength of this team, and this is when it gets tested," coach Brian Billick said during his weekly media briefing at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills yesterday. "When you get into December, what do you have left? And I still hold that opinion. I think that - when it's all said and done - is going to be something that is going to prove to be very valuable to us in a lot of different areas."

There's some concern that linebacker Dan Cody could join that group on injured reserve. Cody, the team's second-round draft choice in 2005, said he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against the Steelers.

Right guard Keydrick Vincent, who has missed the past three games after suffering a groin injury, and tight end Daniel Wilcox, who has sat out the past two with a pulled right hamstring, could return for Sunday's game at the Kansas City Chiefs (7-5).

To fill the spots vacated by Sams, Bannan and Green, the Ravens promoted defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison to the active roster from the practice squad and also signed linebacker Tim Johnson and fullback Nick Luchey. The team re-signed defensive tackle Remi Ayodele to the practice squad.

Johnson signed a free-agent contract with the Ravens in May, but was released at the end of training camp. Luchey was picked up by the Houston Texans during the offseason, but also did not survive final cuts after training camp.

Billick said the team chose to sign Luchey over former Raven Alan Ricard, who was released during the offseason.

"It would have been great to have Alan back, but once we went through the whole process on the personnel side and the coaching and the doctors and the medical people, everybody came together and said this is what the sum total is," Billick said. Signing Luchey "just seemed like a prudent way to go. I'm anxious to get him on board. ... We definitely needed the presence of a legitimate I-fullback in here to back up Ovie [Mughelli]."

Return-game platoons

The Ravens will use a few players to fill in the void created by the loss of Sams, who ranks eighth in the NFL in kickoff-return average and sixth in punt-return average.

Undrafted rookie running back Cory Ross, who was listed second on the depth chart on kick and punt returns, will handle kickoffs.

Although nickel back Corey Ivy, who fumbled a punt return in the fourth quarter against Cincinnati, is listed as the primary punt returner on the depth chart, Billick said wide receiver Mark Clayton could be used.

"We're getting to the point now where the season has some very real definition to it, and you are willing to press yourself just a little bit more by way of a Mark Clayton," Billick said. "Mark will obviously bring a certain element of explosiveness to that as well. We're getting to the point where that could be very valuable to us. So we'll crank him up and give him some opportunities probably in the games as well."

Extra points

Billick said he had no reservations about giving the players the weekend off and not planning team workouts or drills until tomorrow. "You can spend too much time on an opponent," he said. "We could've brought them in Tuesday, we could've brought them in today and done a short workout and give them some time off. If you install that game plan too early, it can become stale. ... We have more than enough time starting out anew with Kansas City on Wednesday morning to get ourselves prepared for that."

... Unlike the 2000 season, there will be no ban on the word "playoffs" among the Ravens. "This is a different group, a different heritage," Billick said. "That organization had never been to the playoffs. This organization has been to the playoffs. It's real for us, but this group is very focused on the task at hand." ... Despite Thursday's loss, the Ravens moved up in the league rankings in defense (from second to first) and offense (from 24th to 23rd).

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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