McAlister fined by league for taunting incident

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister was fined $5,000 by the NFL for taunting the Arizona Cardinals during his interception return for a touchdown in Sunday's game. The disciplinary action is for unsportsmanlike conduct and represents the Ravens' franchise player's third fine this football season. It's his first from the league.

McAlister pointed the football toward the Cardinals' offense after intercepting his second pass of former Baltimore starting quarterback Jeff Blake. He turned around at the 25-yard line and coasted backwards into the end zone to complete an 83-yard return.

"The Baltimore Ravens are governed by and abide by the rules of the National Football League, and Chris is being dealt with under those rules," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Do we condone what he did? No."

McAlister, 26, declined an interview request. The former first-round draft pick previously has been fined $5,000 for missing a day of training camp following a driving under the influence charge after being pulled over for speeding in Virginia.

McAlister was benched for the San Diego Chargers game for reportedly breaking curfew and missing a team meeting the next morning. He was fined the maximum allowable amount by the team, which wasn't disclosed.

Because McAlister wasn't suspended for the game, he received his game check of roughly $350,000 as a portion of his $5.962 million salary. "If Chris hadn't been taunting, if he hadn't done what he did, he wouldn't have been fined," secondary coach Donnie Henderson said. "There's a direct cause and effect."

INJURY UPDATE: Offensive guards Edwin Mulitalo and Casey Rabach were upgraded on the injury report from questionable to probable. A starter, Mulitalo has a sprained left ankle. Rabach has a hip contusion.

"They came through real well," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "They are feeling pretty good."

Rabach said his mobility hasn't been limited by the injury. He called Mulitalo a fast healer and said he anticipates Mulitalo starting the football game.

Offensive tackle Orlando Brown and running back Jamal Lewis are both listed as probable with shoulder injuries.

Wide receiver Ron Johnson is out after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago. "I've been running in the pool, but no jogging yet," Johnson said. "I'm not sure when I'll be back, but the swelling is down and it doesn't hurt as much anymore."

Meanwhile, the Bengals hope to have Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon (groin) back to revive the league's No. 28 rushing offense. He is listed as questionable.

"Dillon affects my decision big-time," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "We want to make sure we don't leave ourselves at risk at some other position based on how he feels. He's willing, but let's just make sure he's totally able and he's back to where he can be Corey."

SMITH SET TO PLAY: Rookie running back Musa Smith said he has cleared the obstacle of not having a special teams role.

The third-round draft pick said he is practicing with the kickoff team, kickoff return and punt team. Smith has yet to play this season after injuring his knee during training camp.

Billick has said that Smith needed to prove his capabilities on special teams to see action on Sundays.

"I think everything is clear for me to play," Smith said. "I've definitely got to make a statement on special teams to get to play."

INCREASED ROLE: Nickel back Tom Knight's role increased on both special teams and in pass coverage against the Cardinals, playing roughly 30 snaps. The former Arizona first-round draft pick has battled through chronic leg injuries to record four tackles last game.

"His role is growing and growing," Billick said. "He's a veteran corner who is beginning to understand the system and gives us a great deal of experience. He's a starter in my mind, a guy that takes 30-35 snaps and another 15 on special teams."

QUOTABLE: Billick on his initial impression of blue-collar nose guard Kelly Gregg: "What the hell is he doing here? I just looked at Rex Ryan and said, 'God Almighty! Is that some bastard son of yours?' You just have to fall in love with the kid. He's every man's dream, a guy who shouldn't be out there doing what he is doing, but that's all he does."

QUICK HITS: Billick said the Ravens will limit NFL rushing leader Jamal Lewis' exposure to contact in practice drills for the remainder of the season. … As a result of a lost wager to University of Miami football alums Ray Lewis and Ed Reed following the Hurricanes' win last weekend over Florida State, former Seminole standouts Peter Boulware and Corey Fuller are practicing this week in Miami jerseys.

"Ed Reed is upset," Billick said. "He said they don't deserve to wear those jerseys. That made it kind of fun." … Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna kept mistakenly referring to Boulware as Michael Boulware, the younger brother of the Ravens' Pro Bowl linebacker. Michael Boulware is a standout linebacker at Florida State.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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