Four-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Willie Anderson confirmed last night that he will fly to Baltimore today to sign a three-year contract with the Ravens.
"I'm looking forward to coming in and fitting in and doing whatever I can to help this team," Anderson said from his home in Atlanta. "I'm not trying to come in with an ego or anything, just coming in and trying to work hard and do my part. It's definitely exciting for me. It's a new challenge."
The deal, first reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer, is worth $11 million over the length of the contract.
Anderson, 33, was released by the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday after losing the starting right tackle job to Stacy Andrews and refusing to take a pay cut.
After taking a tour of the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills on Wednesday, Anderson told team officials he planned to visit, among others, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams before making his decision.
However, Anderson never made those visits.
"After I left [general manager] Ozzie Newsome and after I talked to players like [linebacker] Ray Lewis and [fullback] Lorenzo Neal, it seemed like a good fit," Anderson said. "It felt like home because I had a familiarity with all of the players. Most of the guys there, I've played against them for so long, and I think there's a mutual respect and one that I've always had for the Ravens. Over in Cincinnati, we were always kind of envious of how this organization was run and the success that they had. So I'm looking forward to coming in."
Anderson was named to four consecutive Pro Bowls until last season, when injuries limited him to seven games. Much of Anderson's success came at right tackle, a position occupied by Adam Terry.
"I'm just trying to fit in with those guys on the offensive line," said Anderson, who - entering his 13th season in the NFL - immediately becomes the elder statesman of that unit.
"I'm not trying to come in and mess up the continuity. I'm just trying to catch up to their speed."
The Ravens' season opener Sunday is against Anderson's former employer, the Bengals. Anderson chuckled when reminded of the potential matchup.
"Things always work out in strange ways," he said.
Not optimistic on McGahee
While Willis McGahee sounded hopeful about playing against the Bengals on Sunday, his Ravens coaches did not sound as optimistic about the running back's availability.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said the status of McGahee, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 11, could be a game-time decision for the season opener.
"You can see that he's getting close," Cameron said yesterday. "Whether that'll mean this week or not, I don't know."
McGahee, who missed all four preseason games, was limited in practice for the second consecutive day but said he is aiming to start against the Bengals.
"That's the plan, but it all depends on how the knee reacts on Saturday [tomorrow]," he said. "If it's not ready to go, then it doesn't make any sense to go out there. But if it's good, then it's a go. So I'd say it's about 50-50."
McGahee rushed for 1,207 yards last season - good enough for fourth place on the franchise's all-time list - but if he cannot play, rookie Ray Rice would line up behind rookie quarterback Joe Flacco.
Rice, a second-round pick out of Rutgers, started every game in the preseason, rushing for 146 yards on 26 carries (5.6 yards per carry).
"If [McGahee is] back and healthy, I think our offense will be a lot better because of what he can contribute to this offense," Rice said. "When he's back, he's back. But if not, when I'm in there, I'm the starter whether I started the game or when I come in the game. I have to take that approach every rep I get."
Like McGahee, free safety Ed Reed (nerve impingement in neck and shoulder) and tight end Todd Heap (right calf) were limited in practice yesterday.
For the second straight day, defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (left knee) and quarterback Troy Smith (tonsil infection) did not practice.
If Gregg cannot play, Justin Bannan and Marques Douglas would likely share time on the defensive line.
"You're always hopeful Kelly will play," assistant head coach-defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "People don't notice him until he's not there."
Right guard Marshal Yanda (thumb) and rookie offensive tackle Oniel Cousins (back) fully participated yesterday.
The Bengals will play without fullback Jeremi Johnson, who was placed on injured reserve after injuring his knee during practice Monday. Dan Coats, a second-year player who is a converted tight end, will get his first career start.