Heap optimistic, McAlister questionable.

TRAINING ROOM: Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap (ankle) proclaimed that he's more optimistic than ever that he might return Sunday against the New England Patriots (9-1) after missing the last eight games.<br> <br> "This is the first time where it really felt like I've kind of turned the corner" Heap said. "I was kind of excited after running routes the other day. I wasn't experiencing the pain I had before. I'm hoping that I'll possibly go."

Heap said he doesn't have a high ankle sprain, just a severe sprain. He didn't fully participate in practice Wednesday along with three other players with questionable listings: linebacker Cornell Brown (infection), cornerback Chris McAlister (shoulder) and nickel back Deion Sanders (toe).

"The nerve itself hasn't settled down," said McAlister, who suffered a stinger against the New York Jets. "The strength is 100 percent back. It's a matter of taking another blow that could cause it to flare up and miss three to four weeks. I hate being on the sidelines."

Sanders, who has missed the last two games, is still noticeably limping around.

The Ravens will be without Jamal Lewis (ankle) and punter Dave Zastudil (shoulder). Linebackers Bart Scott (ankle) and T.J. Slaughter (wrist) are probable.

The Patriots' injury situation isn't much better, especially on defense.

Ty Law (foot) is out, and fellow cornerbacks Tyrone Poole (knee) and Asante Samuel (shoulder) are doubtful and questionable, respectively.

Plus, quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder) and backup Jim Miller (right shoulder) are probable.

SHORT MEMORY: Corey Fuller will likely start at cornerback and work in tandem with Ray Walls if McAlister is unavailable for the second week in a row.

Fuller claims he doesn't remember the argument he had with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in the locker room following the Ravens' 30-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

"I'm a cornerback, so I don't have a good memory," Fuller said. "I don't recall what you're talking about. Whatever it is, it's behind me."

ROSTER MOVES: Besides signing former Cleveland Browns running back Jamel White, the Ravens acquired Tellis Redmon, who was in Baltimore's 2002 training camp as an undrafted rookie, for the practice squad.

"It's good to see some of my old friends," said Redmon, released by the Seattle Seahawks in September.

Running back Musa Smith (broken leg) was officially placed on injured reserve. He underwent successful surgery for his compound fractured tibia Monday.

"We're hopeful that he's going to make a complete comeback and possibly be ready for minicamps," running backs coach Matt Simon said. "He's responding well physically. He's a tough guy."

The Ravens terminated the contract of practice squad defensive back Brandon Pinderhughes to make room for Redmon.

TIME CHANGE: The NFL has changed the kickoff time at Gillette Stadium from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. to accomodate CBS television.
QUOTABLE: "I would like to be like Tom Brady some day with two Super Bowl rings on my fingers," Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller said.

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