Ogden a question mark for opener

OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden is guardedly optimistic about his medical outlook after spraining his medial collateral ligament in his left knee Thursday, but it's unclear if he'll be available to open the season.<br><br> Ogden termed himself as 50-50 for the Sept .12 opener against the Cleveland Browns. The seven-time Pro Bowl blocker is more likely to be listed as questionable than probable on the injury report Wednesday because of the time factor.

"If it continues to respond well and keeps getting better, then I'll probably be out there," said Ogden, adding that a magnetic resonance imaging exam didn't reveal any major damage. "If it plateaus, who knows? I'll keep my fingers crossed.

"I'm walking, bending it. It's still too early to tell, but at least I'm making progress and that's a good thing."

The 6-foot-9, 345-pound left tackle has played in 58 consecutive games, a stint that dates back to 2000 when he missed a game against Jacksonville. If Ogden is unavailable, Ethan Brooks would start.

"You can't blink," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It's a bit of a façade. It's, ‘Ok, fine, put the next guy in,' but, my God, you're talking about the best tackle in football."

Ogden is icing his knee five times daily and undergoing treatment around the clock. He was injured in a pileup while running interference for running back Chester Taylor.

"I was like, ‘Why is this happening to me in the last preseason game?'" Ogden said. "I knew after a minute that it wasn't anything too serious, but I just hate being questionable for the first game of the year.

"I'm just thankful it wasn't more serious than it was. At least I have a shot to get back this Sunday."

BROWN RETURNS: Offensive tackle Orlando Brown returned to practice after missing the Giants game to care for his ailing mother.

He's expected to play against his former team on the road next Sunday, but this continues to be extremely difficult time for him and his family.

"We all have jobs and we have to deal with those jobs, even though in our personal circumstances, we may be hurting," Billick said. "I don't know that the regular fan or John Q. Public appreciates that. They have the same problems and difficulties that everybody does."
HIGHER EXPECTATIONS: The Ravens' quarterbacks rebounded from a shaky August with sharp performances in the preseason finale.

Kyle Boller completed 6 of 7 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown for a 156.2 passer rating. Backup Kordell Stewart completed all eight of his passes and committed no turnovers.

"Now, I've got them," Billick quipped. "They screwed up because now I know what they're capable of and I can always point to that and say, ‘No, no, no, I've seen better than this.' They kind of fell into our trap."

MUM'S THE WORD: Chris McAlister signed his $7.1 million tender last week after skipping training camp. Now, the Pro Bowl cornerback is seeking a long-term contract, but doesn't want to be involved or informed about the negotiating process.

"I'm not even dealing with the contract is the bottom line," said McAlister, whose agent, Mitch Frankel, hasn't been optimistic about striking a long-term deal. "I don't even think about it. If it happens before the season ends, then it happens. I told my agent not to talk to me about it until there's a deal. Talk to them about it, don't bring it to me."

TRAINING ROOM: Billick said linebacker Ed Hartwell (quadriceps) will be available for the opener after being held out against the Giants as a precautionary measure.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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