Boulware limping, expects to play against Steelers

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Peter Boulware is still dragging his injured knee behind him as he trudges through the locker room. By Sunday evening's kickoff against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the limping Pro Bowl selection anticipates he'll be chasing quarterback Tommy Maddox in some sort of capacity.

Despite a sprained knee incurred in the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday that has him listed as questionable on the injury report, Boulware expects to play. He was limited in drills Thursday at the Ravens' training complex, and his status as a game-time decision remains unchanged. "I'll do whatever I have to do to get on the field," said Boulware, who didn't rule out taking a pain-killing injection. "Whatever it takes, I'm going to do it." 

If Boulware is limited to playing only in obvious pass-rushing situations, rookie Terrell Suggs and veteran Cornell Brown will be the starting outside linebackers. Boulware is second on the Ravens with 8 1/2 sacks behind Suggs' rookie-high dozen sacks. Boulware returned to action Sunday after the team's medical staff examined his knee. "It's really not about healing," Boulware said. "It's more about swelling. Once I get the swelling out of my knee, I think it will be all right." 

Suggs said Boulware's presence would be sorely missed. The first-round draft pick is chasing the rookie sack record of 14 1/2 established in 1999 by Tennessee Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse. "I think Pete will be out there," Suggs said. "I think we're better out there when it's us at both ends rather than just me. I'm going to hope and pray that Pete can be out there with us. We need him." 

SILENT TREATMENT: In a move that doesn't typify the typical Ravens-Steelers tradition of barb-trading, Baltimore players have apparently been instructed by the coaching staff to watch what they say. When asked if a gag order had been placed on the football team, usually-outspoken offensive tackle Orlando Brown said: "I plead the Fifth on that note." Nickel back Corey Fuller, another veteran known for speaking plainly about opponents or any general subject, is apparently heeding the coaches' advice. "I'm just mellow," Fuller said. "We don't have nothing to say about Pittsburgh. We're grown men. We've been playing this game for a while. "We take childish shots at each other, then in the offseason when we see each other, we want to be best friends." Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, who leads Baltimore with six interceptions, acknowledged that he was advised not to say much derogatary, or otherwise, about the Steelers. Reed has a bottom line: Win the game to earn the AFC North title and a playoff berth, then talk about what transpired. "It's no secret about what needs to be done," Reed said. "There's nothing that needs to be said. We're just going to come out and play some football." 

INJURY UPDATE: Offensive guard Bennie Anderson (knee), tight end John Jones (leg) and linebacker Ed Hartwell (chest) are listed as questionable, but are expected to play Sunday. The Steelers placed offensive tackle Marvel Smith on injured reserve with a neck injury. Safety Brent Alexander (broken hand) is questionable and might be replaced in the starting lineup by Chris Hope. Meanwhile, wide receiver Hines Ward (abdomen), running back Jerome Bettis (knee) and running back Amos Zereoue (quad) are listed as probable.

AWARDS: NFL rushing leader Jamal Lewis was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after his 205-yard outing against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Locally, Lewis was voted the Ravens' Most Valuable Player by reporters who regularly cover the team. Also, cornerback Gary Baxter was awarded the inaugural Ravens' Good Guy Award by the media for his cooperation and candor. 

QUICK HITS: While the Ravens worked on Christmas, Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher gave his players the day off as a reward for defeating the San Diego Chargers. Essentially, that means Pittsburgh (6-9) will only practice today, Saturday and Wednesday as preparation for their season finale. "It can be a distraction," Ward said. "With our veteran guys, we should be fine. If we go in and get the game plan and practice Friday, we should be fine." ... Steelers linebacker Joey Porter missed practice Wednesday to be with his wife for the birth of their fourth child, a son they named Jacob. ... With 21 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries on defense along with 18 interceptions and 18 lost fumbles on offense, the Ravens have improved to a zero turnover-margin. They are tied for seventh in the AFC with the Oakland Raiders and the Steelers. ... Ward leads the AFC in receptions with 93 catches for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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