Ravens' Brightful retaining his job

OWINGS MILLS - Lamont Brightful has apparently escaped from the Baltimore Ravens' doghouse. Ravens coach Brian Billick confirmed Thursday that Brightful will remain the return specialist Sunday night against the St. Louis Rams over veteran Dedric Ward following a strong performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Brightful will be our return guy," Billick said. Brightful had lost his job to Ward against the Denver Broncos because of concerns about his fumbling, but returned to the lineup against Jacksonville, in part, because of an injury in the secondary. The diminutive West Baltimore native returned three kickoffs for 101 yards in a 24-17 win over Jacksonville, including a 58-yard return that set up a Matt Stover field goal. Can he stay in the coaching staff's good graces? "I understand that I still have to go out there every day like someone is after my job," Brightful said. "My job is always on the line. I can't afford to relax." 

Brightful ran back a punt 95 yards for a touchdown last season against the Cincinnati Bengals, but hasn't scored this season. The sixth-round draft pick from last year is averaging 26.7 yards on seven kickoff returns. He's averaging only 6.8 yards on 22 punt returns with a long return of 44 yards. "I welcome everything, punts, kickoffs, defensive back," Brightful said. "I'm up for whatever. I just want to stay on the football field."

BLITZED: While the Ravens haven't indicated if they'll duplicate how the San Francisco 49ers generated pressure on Rams quarterback Marc Bulger in last week's 30-10 loss, they would definitely take the results. San Francisco defensive coordinator Jim Mora kept sending linebackers after Bulger for five sacks."We just need to block the right guys," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "We got a little unsettled. The officiating and some of the things that happened shook us up a little in a lot of respects. We did a very poor job of taking control of that."

INJURY UPDATE: The Ravens didn't upgrade cornerback Corey Fuller's status. He's still listed as questionable for Sunday's game, and the team plans to have Gary Baxter start at cornerback again with Will Demps starting at free safety." I'm feeling better," said Fuller, who has a strained hamstring and groin. "I guess the plan is for me to play some nickel. I'm sure it will work out for the best." Safety Chad Wiliams (lower back) remains questionable and linebacker Bart Scott would play in the dime package if he's not available. Running back Chester Taylor, wide receiver Travis Taylor and punter Dave Zastudil were all added to the injury report. They are listed as probable along with NFL rushing leader Jamal Lewis (shoulder). The Rams' extensive injury report includes: defensive linemen Damione Lewis (ankle) and defensive end Leonard Little (pectoral) being listed as doubtful, running back Lamar Gordon (ankle), linebacker Tommy Polley (elbow) and cornerback James Whitley (foot) are questionable with safety Adam Archuleta (ankle), tight end Cam Cleeland (concussion), safety Rich Coady (groin), running back Marshall Faulk (knee) and safety Jason Sehorn (foot) down as probable.

QUICK HITS: According to Stats, Inc., receiver Travis Taylor has dropped six passes to rank first in the AFC. These statistics aren't officially kept by the NFL.The statistical service also keeps obscure statistics such as passes not caught, which credits tight end Todd Heap with 25 and Taylor with 21. Offensive tackle Orlando Brown has been penalized five times in eight games.Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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