Offense will face Eagles absent three key starters

OWINGS MILLS -- Chop-blocked by calamity all season, the Baltimore Ravens' languishing offense will likely duel Sunday with the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles without All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden because of a pulled left hamstring.

Ogden's injury in a 20-6 win over the Buffalo Bills coincides with Baltimore (4-2) still not having tight end Todd Heap due to a sprained ankle. Plus, running back Jamal Lewis' suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy doesn't end until after the Philadelphia game.

"For us to be without five starters, three Pro Bowlers, no one can excuse us of not being damn sporting," said Ravens coach Brian Billick, who said he wouldn't make a formal declaration on Ogden until Wednesday. "That's the biggest challenge for this team right now. We're not configured the way we had hoped we would be at this point in the season, but that's life in the NFL."

After limping into the locker room Monday, Ogden said he didn't know the results of his magnetic resonance imaging exam. However, Ethan Brooks declared that he's preparing to start in Ogden's place.

"I don't want to speculate. He might have some real tremendous healing powers," Brooks said. "I've got the mindset that I'm going to be playing. That's my focus right now."

Added Billick: "Fortunately, it's not a joint injury, which is always more of a concern although hamstrings can be a problem. We're too close to the event to find out exactly how severe it is."
Brooks broke his left thumb in the fourth quarter, and right tackle Orlando Brown smashed the tip of his left index finger against the Bills.

Brown required a pain-killing injection to continue, and Brooks thought he would need similar assistance against the Eagles. Both players expect to play Sunday with the aid of soft casts.

"How often do three tackles even play, it's odd," Brooks said. "Someone around here is a jinx. We haven't figured out who yet."

The Ravens do expect to have center Mike Flynn back two months after he broke his collarbone. Billick indicated that Flynn will back up Casey Rabach at center and substitute at right guard for Bennie Anderson.

"That wouldn't be fair to Casey, who has played brilliantly the entire season, so Mike's going to have to adapt to how we dole this thing out," Billick said.

Heap has been inactive since spraining his ankle awkwardly against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second game of the season and seems unlikely to return Sunday. "I hope so, but I'm at the point right now where I'm going to wait and see when Todd shows up," Billick said. "Ankles are a funny deal. We've MRI'ed and X-rayed him. He glows when he walks into the locker room now when the lights go on."

Meanwhile, the Ravens' offense managed only 17 yards in the second half against Buffalo with no passing yards.

"Three-and-outs are killing us," offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo said. "For me, I am frustrated."

On four interception returns for 155 yards, Baltimore's defense managed five less yards in returns than their total offensive output: 160 yards.

"To some people that may not be enough and they'll be upset with it and you're going to continue to irritate me and throw league stats at me, but that's OK as long as we fit the profile," Billick said. "There are going to be times when we're going to need more and we'll step up and be able to do so when that happens."

Kyle Boller threw for 86 yards on 10-of-19 passing and lost his fourth fumble of the season. He completed his first eight passes for 79 yards, but only 2 of his next 11 for seven more yards.
Without a 47-yard pass to Travis Taylor, Boller would have generated only 39 yards. Boller has a 61.8 passer rating, and Baltimore has the lowest-ranked passing game with an average of 107 yards per contest.

"We talk about Kyle, but all of us need to play better as an offense," Mulitalo said. "It's not just as if Kyle plays better and that's going to fix everything. I'm sure Kyle's going to respond and do the professional thing."

NOTE: Billick indicated that quarterback Anthony Wright has been cleared medically to practice, but injuries may delay him being taken off the physically unable to perform list.

"With the sum of the injuries we have right now, that's part of it," Billick said. "In a perfect world, we'd like to have Anthony active this week."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times and

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