Ravens notebook: Taylor could get more time

OWINGS MILLS -- For the first time this season, Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick didn't dismiss the notion of increasing backup running back Chester Taylor's workload.

Billick has bristled previously when asked whether Taylor should carry the football more in light of starter Jamal Lewis' struggles. Heading into Monday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Lewis has rushed for only 326 yards on 113 carries, a 2.9 average.

"We're going to do everything we have to do to run the ball well," Billick said. "Jamal has run well against the guys before with that physical style of running, although Chester has run the ball as well. We're going to use any combination we have to get the job done."

Despite 76 less carries, Taylor has 223 yards and has more than doubled Lewis' rushing average with 6.0 per carry.

In a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters, Billick said: "Jamal has got to get on track and run a little bit more physical and get back to the style of running that he is used to. I think he's ready to do that."

Lewis pointed out that he has taken himself out of games in the past to get Taylor more snaps in the past and make the offense less predictable.

When asked if Taylor will carry the ball more, Billick quipped: "Hell, I'll go in and carry the ball if I thought it would be make a difference. We have a great deal of faith in our two backs."

CELEBRITY CALLER: Former Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary took the unusual, unprompted step of calling into a post-game talk radio show Sunday to defend Jamal Lewis after his 34-yard performance in a 10-6 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Besides criticizing the offensive line, the retired McCrary said that Lewis probably wasn't running as well because the team allegedly broke a promise to grant him a new contract if he accepted a plea bargain in his federal drug conspiracy case. McCrary said that Lewis didn't have the same passion for the game, which both Lewis and Billick have since denied.

The team claims that McCrary has apologized for causing any controversy.

"Mike feels bad about what he said," Billick said. "Particularly, Mike recognized that Mike hasn't been around here a lot, but Mike is a warrior and I appreciate Mike's perspective."

Lewis said he has no problems with McCrary's remarks, but said he hasn't spoken to him.

"Michael McCrary knows me, he knows what type of player I am," Lewis said. "He knows I am going to go out there and fight every play and every practice."

PUTTING IT BEHIND HIM: Tight end Todd Heap isn't inclined to hold grudges, but it would be understandable if he was still mad at Steelers linebacker Joey Porter.

Last season, Porter shoved a defenseless Heap to the ground even though he clearly had an injured ankle. Heap missed 10 games.

"It's nothing I'm going to be thinking about on Monday," Heap said. "It's not about me and Joey Porter. It's about our 11 guys beating their 11 guys."

Porter said too much was made out of what the Ravens consider a cheap shot.

"It's overhyped," Porter told Pittsburgh reporters. "I never did anything out of the ordinary, but you never know what's going to happen on Halloween."

TAKING A SHOT: Hard-nosed Steelers fullback Dan Kreider has excelled against Baltimore, particularly when taking on middle linebacker Ray Lewis on the physical isolation play.

With Lewis out with a hamstring pull, his likely replacement, linebacker Tommy Polley, isn't impressed with Kreider.

"We've faced tougher guys than him in the league, we've faced guards and things like that," Polley said. "He's just another guy, really."

QUICK HIT: Quarterback Kyle Boller, who's doubtful with a toe injury, imitated Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the scout team offense and took part in team drills for the first time since hyperextending his right big toe in the first game.

Barring a setback, it's likely that Boller will be the third quarterback Monday and a candidate to play next week against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Kyle this week will go through everything," said Billick, who made no changes to his injury report. "We're very confident that he's turned that corner."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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