Baltimore Ravens Team Notes - Tuesday

The Baltimore Ravens will make their playoff run without their unsung player of the year. Adalius Thomas, a starting outside linebacker and leading special teams tackler, fractured his arm near his elbow Sunday and likely will miss the remainder of the season. Overshadowed by fellow linebackers Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware, Thomas has knocked down eight passes and made four sacks for a defense ranked fourth in the NFL.

He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and likely will earn a big contract elsewhere. His loss will impact the Ravens (8-5), who lead the AFC North by one game with three weeks remaining. "This is a bit of a hit for us," coach Brian Billick said, "but every team in December takes some type of hit, and part of going on is how you react to it and having the next guy step up."

Thomas will be replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Terrell Suggs. As a pass rush specialist, he has recorded a team-best 10 sacks and forced four fumbles. But Suggs, the 10th overall pick in this year's draft who was removed from the starting lineup in training camp, could be a liability if he doesn't pick up the defense. The Ravens didn't really have a choice since backup Cornell Brown was exposed in pass defense Sunday after Thomas was injured. "It's time for the young man to step up," Billick said of Suggs. "Most of the snaps that Adalius will give up in that regard will be absorbed by Terrell, and it's time. He's playing well. Now he's going to have an opportunity to play well more."

--LB Adalius Thomas likely is done for the season after suffering a fracture in his elbow area. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Terrell Suggs.
--LB Terrell Suggs will make his first start when he replaces injured Adalius Thomas, who likely is out for the season. Suggs has been used as the pass rush end, recording 10 sacks this season.
--RB Jamal Lewis is dealing with a sprained wrist, which has caused some concern for the Ravens. The league's leading rusher is on pace to nearly reach 2,000 yards.
--RS Lamont Brightful bruised his knee but is expected to practice this week. The Ravens would have a problem since they don't have a legitimate backup on punt and kickoff returns.
--TE Mike Solwold is expected to be signed from the practice squad when linebacker Adalius Thomas is put on injured reserve. He was about to be claimed off the Ravens' practice squad by New England.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think this is a statement game for us. I think we're peaking at the right time." -- Linebacker Ray Lewis on the significance of the Ravens' win over the Bengals.

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- For the second straight week, Anthony Wright's primary role was to manage the game. He completed only eight passes. Five of those completions, though, converted first downs. Wright also threw two inexplicable interceptions, staring down Todd Heap on both before overthrowing the tight end.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Jamal Lewis dominated, rushing for 180 yards, the fourth-highest total of his career. Of Lewis' 30 carries, 18 were for 4 yards or more. Lewis' three touchdowns marked a career high. The Bengals were dominated so badly up front that safeties Mark Roman and Rogers Beckett were the top two tacklers.
PASS DEFENSE: A-plus -- The secondary completely shut down mouthy receiver Chad Johnson. Johnson's first catch came early in the fourth quarter, and he finished with just two catches for 15 yards. A ferocious pass rush, the best all season, was part of the reason Jon Kitna could not get the ball to Johnson. Kitna was sacked six times, tying a season high for the Ravens, fumbled three times and was intercepted twice. Peter Warrick had 11 catches but averaged only 8.2 yards per catch. 
RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- As is usually the case when he faces the Ravens, Corey Dillon was a non-factor. The Bengals back rushed for just 45 yards on 11 carries. His understudy, Rudi Johnson, didn't do much better, gaining 10 yards on four attempts. The longest run came from third-down back Brandon Bennett, whose 19-yarder came late in the fourth quarter with the outcome decided. Only five of the Bengals' 15 first downs came on the ground.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Ravens kicker Matt Stover converted his 19th straight field-goal attempt, giving his team a seven-point lead at halftime. The Ravens recovered Warrick's muff of a punt at the Bengals' 27 to set up their first touchdown. Warrick had just 15 yards on three punt returns. Ravens punter Dave Zastudil's 32.6 net average on five punts was one of his worst of the season. 
COACHING: A -- The Ravens played with more intensity and were more prepared than the Bengals. The game plan designed to shut down receiver Chad Johnson did not create weaknesses anywhere else. When Jamal Lewis got rolling in the second half, the Ravens stuck with success and never let go control of the game.

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