Ravens hoping for a healthy lineup

OWINGS MILLS -- Depending upon how the rigors of practice are handled, the Baltimore Ravens could potentially field a relatively intact lineup Sunday against the New York Giants.

The Ravens have multiple players listed as questionable, including: running back Jamal Lewis (ankle), nickel back Deion Sanders (foot), offensive tackle Orlando Brown (knee), punter Dave Zastudil (shoulder), cornerback Gary Baxter (shoulder) and wide receiver Travis Taylor (back).

Lewis has missed the last two starts since spraining his right ankle against the Dallas Cowboys, but returned to practice Wednesday along with Sanders. Sanders has missed the last four games.

"We expect them to do more," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It's not just a matter of how they practice, but how they feel the next day. We'll have to monitor that. You've got to be careful about throwing them into full duty."

Lewis declined to comment following practice.

For Zastudil, his return wouldn't mean the immediate departure of Nick Murphy, his replacement for the last few games. Murphy would merely be deactivated after averaging 44.3 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Even if David can go, Nick's done a great job for us," Billick said. "We'll keep him around for a while, just to make sure that shoulder is indeed OK. That was a great pick-up."

In Sanders' case, he has been limited to six games since ending his three-year retirement. The 37-year-old has intercepted three passes, returning one for a touchdown.

"He's an outstanding player," Billick said. "He's part of the chemistry and mix that we'd hope to have, that we've haven't had."

The Ravens listed wide receiver Clarence Moore (knee), fullback Alan Ricard (knee) and cornerback Ray Walls (wrist) as probable.

Besides Lewis' four missed starts, tight end Todd Heap missed nine games, linebacker Peter Boulware missed the entire season with knee and toe injuries, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden missed four games and Brown has missed the last two.

"It's a big if, brother, if these guys come back, this will be the first game at week 14 this team will be in any semblance of the team we thought we were going to take into the season," Billick said. "If you look at who we anticipated our starting lineups would be, this potentially could be the first time we get to look at that team."

ROOKIE WALL: Moore had a rough outing in a 27-26 loss to the Bengals.
He dropped two passes, including one in the end zone. After diving for a catch short of a first down, he stayed on the ground unaware that he could get up and run unlike the college game.

The sixth-round draft pick acknowledged that he's fatigued, whether or not he has crashed-landed into the rookie wall.

"It's not as literal as they make it seem to be, as if we just hit a wall and sat down, but I'm sleepy right now," Moore said. "I want a nap right now. It's just ridiculous."
Moore noted how at Northern Arizona he typically only played 10 games, and the Ravens are entering their 13th game.

"There's a point in the season when your body is ready to shut down," Moore said. "It's how you bounce back from it."

Moore has caught 19 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns, but those scores came a month ago against the New York Jets.

When asked if he needed to earn quarterback Kyle Boller's trust again, Moore said: "He knows he can go to me. The next time he goes to me, I'm going to catch it. If he did that, a lot of people can't be trusted, if he stopped trusting people after one incident."

AFFECTED: Billick acknowledged that cornerback Chris McAlister wasn't 100 percent in his first start since incurring a stinger. Bengals receiver Chad Johnson caught 10 passes for 161 touchdowns and two touchdowns with McAlister attempting to shadow him.

"Chris wasn't the only one that had some difficulties and we're going to support him and make sure he doesn't put himself at risk," Billick said.

A Pro Bowl selection in 2003, McAlister said his health wasn't the central issue.
"I will never make any excuses for my performance," McAlister said. "When I put my uniform on, I'm ready to go. A lot of it is on technique. There were no physical mismatches out there."

FAMILIAR GROUND: Ravens senior consultant Jim Fassel coached the Giants until last year's 4-12 nose-dive that included eight losses in a row to end the season and his tenure in New York.

"I'm sure Jim has taken a special note and has an emotional tie to this game," Billick said. "He'll be there this weekend, not surprisingly.

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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