Bengals' young receivers pose challenege

Ravens say they won't rest because T.O., Ochocinco out

December 31, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

The Cincinnati Bengals will meet the Ravens Sunday without wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. That, however, doesn't make the task any easier for the Ravens defense.

On--field antics and chatter could be non-existent without Ochocinco ( bone spur in left ankle) and Owens (torn meniscus in left knee), but the Ravens insist that Andre Caldwell, Jerome Simpson and slot receiver Jordan Shipley are worthy adversaries.

"You know, he and Owens are both great wide receivers," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said Thursday. "Anytime you take somebody like that out of their lineup, that's going to affect something. But, the other thing is Caldwell and Shipley, they do a great job also. And sometimes when you have a young receiver that's trying to make the team and trying to make his mark, sometimes he steps his game up even more"

Both Caldwell and Simpson are 2008 picks, but Caldwell, the team's second third-round choice, has gotten more opportunities, catching 80 passes for 761 yards and three touchdowns while starting 11 games.

But Simpson registered six catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns in Cincinnati's 34-20 upset of the San Diego Chargers last Sunday.

"They had a good week, and they're two fun, energetic guys," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said during a conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday. "I've had them both sitting in these chairs in front of me here, not feeling so good about things, and I keep pumping them up and blowing air up their tails, just telling them, 'Keep your head down, and keep working. Your day's coming.' "

No one on the Ravens is saying that Caldwell and Simpson are as dangerous or as experienced as Ochocinco and Owens, but cornerback Josh Wilson said the secondary can't afford to take the two young players lightly.

"There's no difference," Wilson said. "You've got to prepare every week, and these guys are getting an opportunity to play. As you saw last week, they've taken advantage of it. They're going to try to show that they are the guys. So it's the same preparation because these guys are going to come ready to play. If anything, you've got to prepare more."

Heap, E.Reed expected to play

The Ravens should have tight end Todd Heap and free safety Ed Reed back Sunday. Reed practiced fully Friday after missing Thursday's workout with a neck injury and is listed as probable.

Sitting Reed for one day was "just precautionary," according to coach John Harbaugh said.

"He was a little bit tight," Harbaugh said after Friday's practice. "We just felt like we could give him a chance to recover and rest up."

Heap has missed the past three games with a pulled right hamstring suffered on Dec. 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had his first full week of practice since sustaining the injury, but is listed as questionable.

"I came out feeling really good, and I ran well, and I'm looking forward to this weekend to see how it goes Sunday," Heap said after Friday's practice. "… It's been a while since I've been out on the field. So I'm definitely excited and looking forward to it."

Wrist, not concussion, could sideline D.Reed

David Reed is no longer plagued by the concussion he sustained almost two weeks ago, but another injury could prevent the Ravens rookie kick returner/ wide receiver from playing Sunday.

Reed's left wrist has been heavily wrapped and taped, and while he declined to discuss how he injured his wrist, the team's fifth-round pick in April said after Friday's practice that the wrist is bothering him.

"It is a problem," said Reed, who was upgraded from limited to full participation Friday and is questionable. "Mentally, I'm ready. Physically, I'm a little banged up, but I'm ready."

Gooden, Zbikowski out

The Ravens ruled out linebacker Tavares Gooden (dislocated left shoulder) and free safety Tom Zbikowski (bulging disc in back), both of whom did not practice for the third straight day.

Listed as probable are wide receiver Derrick Mason (ankle/abdomen), center Matt Birk (left calf), cornerback Fabian Washington (back), linebacker Prescott Burgess (illness) and rookie tight end Dennis Pitta (concussion).

The Bengals ruled out Ochocinco (bone spur in left ankle), who missed his third straight day of practice.

Rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham (knee) sat out for the third consecutive day and is listed as doubtful. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph (ankle) did not practice for the third straight day, but is questionable.

Rookie defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who leads the team in sacks with eight, fully participated in his second consecutive day of practice and is probable.

Bulger not worried about lack of snaps

Marc Bulger is aware of Harbaugh's desire to get the backup quarterback some snaps Sunday. But Bulger said he is prepared to take his usual position on the sideline watching starter Joe Flacco lead the offense.

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