Webb ready if needed on 'D'

First start looms if injured Washington can't play corner

November 13, 2009|By Edward Lee | edward.lee@baltsun.com

There are conflicting indications regarding cornerback Fabian Washington's availability for Monday night's game against the Cleveland Browns.

Washington, who bruised his left thigh while tackling Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry in the second quarter of the Ravens' 17-7 loss Sunday, said Wednesday that he expects to play, but he did not practice Thursday and might miss the contest in Cleveland.

If that is the case, secondary coach Chuck Pagano said, the unit is prepared to go forward with a rotation that could include Chris Carr, Frank Walker and rookie Lardarius Webb.

"We feel like we've got a good group of guys," Pagano said. "We ... tell them all, 'You prepare and practice like starters, because you never know when your opportunity is going to come. And when you do get that opportunity, you want to go out there and you want to play well.' "

If Washington can't play, Webb might get his first career start opposite Domonique Foxworth. Webb played well in Washington's place Sunday, with six tackles, one tackle for a loss and one pass break-up.

Webb said Washington's injury is not serious and that his primary focus is on kickoff returns.

"Special teams, that's the big role around here, and that's the role I carry until something happens," Webb said. "If 'Faybo' goes down, I come in and take up the spot where he left off. But going into the game, it's special teams. Return my kicks and do all my gunner and kickoff stuff. That's how it is."

Webb could also play nickel back if the Ravens choose to start Carr or Walker at cornerback. Either way, Foxworth said, the unit will be fine if Washington can't play.

"We have confidence in Webb, and we have confidence in Chris Carr and other guys in our secondary to make it up," Foxworth said. "I think more pressure falls on other guys when you lose a starter, but it's not uncommon in this league. It's not a surprise. It's not something that threw us off. You kind of always expect injuries."

Lewis, Ngata miss practice
Two other defensive starters, linebacker Ray Lewis (foot) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (sprained right ankle), did not practice Thursday. Cornerback Carr and rookie linebacker Dannell Ellerbe also sat out because of illness.

Left offensive tackle Jared Gaither (neck) was limited. Safeties Ed Reed (wrist) and Haruki Nakamura (strained abdominal muscle), linebacker Jarret Johnson (left shoulder), tight end Todd Heap (ankle) and wide receiver Kelley Washington (back) participated fully in practice.

Browns down five
Five Browns starters - former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis (ankle), linebacker David Bowens (knee), defensive end Kenyon Coleman (groin), fullback Lawrence Vickers (hamstring) and right guard Rex Hadnot (knee) - were limited.

Three more starters - tight end Robert Royal (finger), center Alex Mack (wrist) and former Ravens punter Dave Zastudil (right knee) - practiced fully.

Debate over Bannan
Ngata's continued absence could open the door for a possible second consecutive start for Justin Bannan, who made four tackles against the Bengals.

"When you get that time on the field, you're really able to get into a rhythm and play a complete game," Bannan said. "It was nice to do that on Sunday. I felt good out there and felt like I did my job."

Bannan, who made 15 starts in place of Kelly Gregg last season, said he became more comfortable as the game wore on.

"It's hard to come in and out," Bannan said. "You've got to get in while you can and do what you can while you're in there. So it was nice to be out there the whole game. I felt like I played the run strong in my area. I can always get better at pushing the pocket and pass rushing."

Walker at work
Walker did not sound alarmed about being a healthy scratch last Sunday for a second consecutive game.

"Ain't nothing I can say," he said. "I just practice hard and prepare like I'm starting every week."

Walker said he had not heard from coaches about his status for Monday night's game against the Browns. Asked whether that was bothersome, Walker said, "I've been playing for seven years, and nothing's ever been given to me. I was a sixth-round draft pick from Tuskegee. So nothing surprises me. I can pretty much handle anything."

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