R. Lewis, Reed still out of lineup

OWINGS MILLS -- As they prepare for yet another challenge against a formidable offense, the Baltimore Ravens will be without their two top defensive players. Safety Ed Reed (high-ankle sprain) and middle linebacker Ray Lewis (thigh) -- the past two NFL Defensive Players of the Year -- will miss their sixth and fifth consecutive games, respectively, Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Ravens (3-7) are fairly banged-up and have been installed as a nine-point underdog against Cincinnati (7-3).

Offensive guard Keydrick Vincent (thigh) is out for his second game in a row and Brian Rimpf will start again at right guard.

Cornerback Samari Rolle (concussion) is listed as questionable on the injury report, but said he will play.

"I'll be there, no problem," said Rolle, who doesn't have a history of concussions but suffered a spinal concussion when he was with the Tennessee Titans.

Six other players are regarded as questionable, including: offensive tackle Orlando Brown (back), cornerback Dale Carter (head), Rimpf (thigh), cornerback Chris McAlister (thigh) running back Musa Smith (leg) and running back Chester Taylor (ankle).

Quarterback Kyle Boller (back) is probable along with offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo (thigh).

"It's definitely sore and doesn't feel that great, but that's part of the game," Boller said. "I'll be ready to rock and roll on Sunday."

SHARPE FACTOR: For the past week, former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe has condemned Boller with stinging criticism.

Sharpe has said he's convinced that Boller can't play and is only good enough to get himself cut and his coaches fired. Predictably, Boller said Wednesday that he's through answering questions about the CBS analyst.

"I love Shannon Sharpe, I really do, I respect the man," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I'm not sure that Shannon Sharpe, the player, would particularly care for Shannon Sharpe, the commentator.

"I'm not going to let it change my affection for Shannon. I enjoy the man too much. A lot of people on television do a lot of things that make a lot of money and it's, ‘OK, everybody's got a price.' Evidently, Shannon's is pretty good."

Sharpe, a close friend of Ray Lewis, issued another rebuke directed at Boller on CBS' Sunday pregame show: "You're right. You do have your teammates behind you: your fullback and your halfback, and that's only because they have to be."

Responding to that specific allegation about Boller not having the support of his teammates, Billick replied: "When was Shannon here last? They're going to support whoever's the quarterback. That's the way it works. That's what you do as a team."

UNFORGIVEN: Billick isn't as forgiving of Boller's ill-advised decision to pitch the football from his knees off running back Jamal Lewis' face mask, a fumble that was overturned on instant replay review.

"You try to help players and ask, 'Why did you do this?' and the discussion ends when the player says, 'I was trying to make something happen,'" Billick said. "'I don't know how to help you with that. That's not what you do. Don't do that again.' If I know Kyle, I doubt that he'll do that again."

APOLOGY: As kicker Matt Stover was named the NFL Special Teams Player of the Week for his game-winning kick against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he issued a clarification of his post-game remarks.

Stover said that he was mistaken when he related that Steelers coach Bill Cowher told him not to kick a game-winner prior to kickoff.

"[Cowher] did not say, ‘I hope you don't hit the game-winner,'" Stover said. "He said, ‘I hope you don't win.' And I said, ‘Well, I hope we do.' I really respect Bill Cowher, respect his organization. The last thing I want to do is make something out of nothing. I apologize."

QUICK HITS: The Bengals' most prominent injuries were to running back Rudi Johnson and offensive tackles Willie Anderson and Levi Jones, who are all listed as probable with knee injuries. … During last week's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson made a mock proposal to a cheerleader after scoring a touchdown. Billick seems to enjoy the antics. "You could get upset except he's witty as hell," Billick said. "He says some funny stuff. I think he'll mature past that at some point, but he is certainly one dynamic player." … Billick isn't looking forward to one tradition that might follow the Thanksgiving holiday. "There will be the meat sweats," Billick said. "You do not want to be at practice on Friday, particularly if we have to go inside. That, I'm not thankful for."

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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