Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle underwent surgery on his injured neck and will be out for at least a month.
Coach John Harbaugh announced Rolle's operation yesterday after the team's final practice before meeting the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans tomorrow. Harbaugh said Rolle felt tingling in his shoulder and compared the injury to a stinger.
Fabian Washington, who immediately becomes the starting cornerback opposite Chris McAlister, said Rolle - like Washington himself - was hampered by a bulging disc in his neck. But whereas Washington chose a noninvasive approach as treatment, Rolle, 32, decided to undergo surgery this week.
"We have a time frame on him, and it's maybe a month-plus," Harbaugh said. "That's where it's at right now. He had surgery this week on his neck, just to kind of clean things up in there a little bit. And it'll be multiple weeks. We just don't know how long right now."
Rolle was initially diagnosed with an injured right shoulder after intercepting Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson with 1:46 left in the fourth quarter of the Ravens' 28-10 win Sept. 21. But further examination revealed the source of Rolle's pain and discomfort was his neck, and it appears the earliest Rolle - who sat out the team's 23-20 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night - will return is Nov. 2 at Cleveland.
"He had the same exact injury as me, but he chose to get his disc taken out now instead of waiting until the end of the season," Washington said. "He wants to return later in the season. That's why he didn't want to prolong it. It's better for him to get it done now than to wait a little bit later down the road and see it get worse to the point where he's out for the year."
This is Rolle's third major ailment in the past two seasons. Last year, the cornerback missed six games because of seizures from epilepsy and the final four because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. Rolle missed most of the preseason to mourn the death of his father and heal a tweaked hamstring.
The NFL's top-ranked defense against the pass will lean on Washington, who was acquired from the Oakland Raiders in a draft-day trade in April.
Washington said he knows the expectations his teammates, coaches and fans will have for him.
"Don't be the weak link," he said. "You've got to go out there and run around and fly to the ball and make plays. This defense, the way it's designed, it's made for people to make plays. Me being a corner, I love it."
Harbaugh also said the team has received no news on the status of defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, who injured his left knee during training camp in July and underwent arthroscopic surgery in early August.
"We're hopeful that he'll play this year," Harbaugh said of the veteran, 31. "There's no guarantee right now. We're up in the air. We'll have to see what we find out."
Notes: : Running back Willis McGahee (ribs) is questionable for tomorrow. If McGahee can't play, fullback Le'Ron McClain and rookie Ray Rice will rotate at tailback. Linebacker Antwan Barnes (shoulder) is also listed as questionable, while cornerback Derrick Martin (shoulder) is doubtful. Linebackers Nick Greisen (quadriceps) and rookie Tavares Gooden (hip) and wide receiver-return specialist Yamon Figurs (hamstring) are probable. For the Titans, running back LenDale White (shoulder) and quarterback Vince Young (knee) are listed as probable. While White will rotate with rookie Chris Johnson at tailback, coach Jeff Fisher has already said quarterback Kerry Collins will remain the starter. Punter Craig Hentrich (back) is questionable, while starting wide receiver Justin Gage (knee) is doubtful. Gage leads the team in receiving yards with 176. ... Ravens offensive tackle Willie Anderson wore a splint on the ring finger of his right hand, but Anderson and Harbaugh said the injury is not serious. ... Chris Chester has officially made the switch from center to tight end. Chester, who dumped the No. 65 jersey for No. 48, played tight end at the University of Oklahoma and Tustin (Calif.) High. "It's something I've done before, so I have no problem with it at all," Chester said. "And I'm still an option to play center if the need arises." ... Quarterback Kyle Boller (shoulder surgery) watched practice from the sideline. ... Harbaugh said he and rookie safety Tom Zbikowski are still hashing out the details of a wager on today's Stanford-Notre Dame game. "We haven't agreed yet on the point spread," said Harbaugh, whose brother Jim is the head coach of the Cardinal. "It's going to be in South Bend, and he's trying to get points from me. Imagine that."
Tomorrow, 1 p.m.
TV: Chs. 13, 9
Radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM
Line: Titans by 3