Ravens notebook: O-Line under microscope

OWINGS MILLS -- Between quarterback Kyle Boller being used as a human piñata by the Jacksonville Jaguars and a slumbering running game, the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line is under increased scrutiny and subtle changes could be afoot. After the line allowed four sacks in a 30-3 loss at Jacksonville, Ravens coach Brian Billick said that popular left offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo will likely rotate at times with Brian Rimpf.

"Edwin had a lot to do deal with in the offseason: injuries and the rehab, the ankle, the gout and his crisis with his father," Billick said of Mulitalo, whose father died after a lengthy illness. "We may need to get Brian Rimpf in there a little bit to give Edwin a chance to be fresher and impact the game the way he normally can.

"You have to be careful in doing that with the offensive line, but that's something we might do to give Edwin a chance to get his legs underneath him."

Under first-year offensive line coach Chris Foerster, Baltimore has surrendered 24 sacks and ranks 25th in rushing offense with 91.6 rushing yards per game.

"They are a part of the success and lack of success we've had," Billick said. "They've done some good things and they've done some things that need to be better individually and collectively."
Billick said the right-tackle rotation of Orlando Brown, who has creaky knees at age 34, and Tony Pashos is holding up.

"That's really what Orlando has to do to get himself through the season," Billick said. "Tony has been doing pretty well."

Billick ruled out elevating rookie offensive linemen Adam Terry and Jason Brown from their weekly spot on the inactive list.
The Ravens substituted Rimpf for first-year right offensive guard Keydrick Vincent in the fourth quarter because of a quad contusion that isn't believed to be serious.

"Keydrick has played progressively better with every game," Billick said. "Cincinnati was an outstanding game by Keydrick. A couple of times [Sunday], he left himself vulnerable and didn't play as well as he had the two or three previous games.

"We've seen some signs that he's getting better and better with the system, understanding what it is he needs to do."

TRAINING ROOM: Safety Ed Reed has missed four consecutive games with a high-ankle sprain and is out of a protective boot, but there's no guarantee he'll play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Ed seems to think he might be able to go this week, but we will wait to see how the week progresses and what the doctors say," Billick said.

It's improbable that middle linebacker Ray Lewis (thigh) will be back this month after missing the last three games. The soonest he's projected to return is Dec. 4 against the Houston Texans.

"It's unlikely that Ray is ready to be that aggressive yet," Billick said.

The Ravens might have safety B.J. Ward (thigh), cornerback Dale Carter (thigh) and fullback Ovie Mughelli (ankle) back this week.

TAYLOR TO RETURN: Running back Chester Taylor didn't touch the football against the Jaguars after missing practice last week for personal reasons. He will have a greater role against Pittsburgh after being limited to special-teams duty Sunday.

"Offensively, we thought it would be a lot to put on Chester to be thrown in there with absolutely no practice and no preparation at all," Billick said. ‘We felt that would put him at risk and put us at risk. He will be put back into a steady rotation and be a big part of the game plan this week."

NORTON PROMOTED: Because of the injury situation in the secondary, the Ravens were forced to cut tight end Terry Jones who had been with the team since being drafted in 2002. Defensive back Zach Norton was promoted from the practice squad.

"Terry is a great young man," Billick said. "Given how depleted we were, we had to get another defensive back up. [Tight end] was one area where we had an inordinate amount of depth."

MENTAL STATE: Billick said he's unconcerned about his team showing up flat against the Steelers, who are tied atop the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Emotionally because it's the Steelers, I don't worry too much about this week," Billick said. "They will be cranked up this week."

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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