The Ravens found a replacement for injured fullback Le'Ron McClain on Tuesday, signing free agent Jason McKie, who spent seven years with the Chicago Bears.
To make room for McKie on the roster, general manager Ozzie Newsome announced the team had released safety Ken Hamlin.
McKie, 5 feet 11 and 247 pounds, played with the Bears from 2003 to 2009. He started 11 of 16 games in 2009 with Chicago and was released last March. In 88 career games, including 47 starts, he contributed on goal-line offense, catching passes and blocking. For his career, he has rushed 29 times for 84 yards and three touchdowns, and caught 68 passes for 364 yards and three scores.
On his weekly WBAL radio show Tuesday night, coach John Harbaugh did not count McClain out of Sunday's showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also said the team would evaluate McKie's ability to pick up the offense and see what he was comfortable with.
"We'll find out as we go," Harbaugh said about the role he foresees for McKie. "Le'Ron may still be playing. We'll get Jason involved. … We'll see how much he can learn, and whatever he feels good about, that'll be part of his game plan."
McClain injured his left ankle blocking on a kickoff in the Ravens' 17-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, and left M&T Bank Stadium in a walking boot. Harbaugh declined to reveal how serious the injury was in his weekly news conference Monday, but the probability is that McClain will be forced to miss some time.
McKie, 30, was an undrafted free agent in 2002 out of Temple. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was on the practice squad, and then with the Dallas Cowboys before joining the Bears in 2003. Cut by the Bears, he signed with the New Orleans Saints and played in three preseason games before being released in September.
Hamlin played in seven games with the Ravens as a reserve safety and special teams player. He had one interception and three tackles on defense. He was waived Sept. 22 and re-signed Sept. 29.
Nakamura fills in well
The 'next man up' refrain resonates with the Ravens. When Dawan Landry had to leave Sunday's game in the third quarter with a concussion, third-year player Haruki Nakamura replaced him at strong safety without a hitch.
It's not a position where Nakamura gets a lot of practice reps, but he handled the assignment well and helped makes tackles on LeGarrette Blount and Arrelious Benn in the second half.
"The coaches do a good job of making sure whether you're in or you're not in, everybody gets coached," he said. "It's not just coaching starters, it's coaching everybody."
Nakamura said he gets mental reps at different spots in the backfield, even if he's not expected to play that position. He also polishes his technique while serving on the scout team defense, which presents the opponent's system.
"Coach [Chuck] Pagano is one of the best," Nakamura said. "He wants you to know every situation, whether you're a backup or a starter."
Roethlisberger expected to play
Mike Tomlin believes injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will start Sunday night at the Ravens, the Pittsburgh coach said Tuesday.
Roethlisberger has a protective boot on his sprained right foot and might not practice Wednesday, Tomlin said.
Roethlisberger re-injured his foot Sunday in an overtime win at Buffalo. If he can't play, the Steelers are expected to start Byron Leftwich.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.