Ravens' Friday PM Notes

TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens officially ruled running back Jamal Lewis (ankle) out, and it appears he won't be playing next week against the New York Giants, either. Lewis' foot remains in a protective boot.<br><br> When asked Friday if he would return in two weeks against the Indianapolis Colts, Lewis said: "I don't know. I guess we're going to find out. I was surprised to hear that, but you never know. I feel great."

Lewis' absence means Chester Taylor will start his fourth game of the season. He rushed for 61 yards on 16 carries in a 24-3 loss to the New England Patriots after gaining 89 yards and 78 yards in previous starts.

Taylor struggled with his pass blocking against New England, whiffing on linebacker Tedy Bruschi, whose sack and forced fumble on quarterback Kyle Boller led to a touchdown.

"I am fine," Taylor said. "I will be ready to go on Sunday. It's no different than any other weekend."

Meanwhile, tight end Todd Heap practiced for the entire week and appears poised to return after missing nine games with a sprained ankle. However, it's likely to be a brief cameo appearance.

The Ravens will also be without offensive tackle Orlando Brown (knee) and nickel back Deion Sanders (toe), who haven't practiced all week but are listed as doubtful. They will be replaced by Ethan Brooks and a tandem of Corey Fuller, Ray Walls and Chad Williams. Sanders has resumed jogging, but it's unclear when he might return this season.

The Bengals downgraded cornerback Deltha O'Neal (ankle) to questionable.

QUICK HITS: Ravens coach Brian Billick will speak at a banquet tonight honoring paralyzed Loyola High football player Van Brooks.

Linebacker Ray Lewis has visited Brooks regularly in the hospital. "The game's a very intense atmosphere, but we all have external things going on in our lives that we can't lose sight of particularly now in the holidays," Billick said. "You have to recognize what's going on in your community and you can't shut yourself off from things that you need as a member of the community just because we're knee-deep in a playoff hunt."

… The balance of power has clearly shifted in favor of the AFC ahead of the once dominant NFC. The AFC features a pair of 10-1 teams in the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. Plus, it has three eight-win teams in the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers along with seven-win squads in Baltimore and the Denver Broncos.

The NFC has the 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles and the 9-2 Atlanta Falcons, but no eight-win teams and Seattle (6-5) leads the NFC West. "I think it switched," Ray Lewis said. "The NFC had their years, now the AFC has pretty much taken over. Now, is where you separate the men from the boys."

… Nick Murphy's 42.9 punting average is better than injured starter Dave Zastudil (41.4), a fourth-round pick. Zastudil (shoulder) is expected to return in the next few weeks, which will mark the end Murphy's brief tenure in Baltimore.

Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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