Depth is minimal for injury-plagued secondary

OWINGS MILLS -- Chad Williams has become a valuable rarity in the Baltimore Ravens' secondary. He's the only completely healthy safety on the roster heading into Sunday's game against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium.

With rookie B.J. Ward (probable, thigh) joining Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed (questionable, high-ankle sprain) on the injury report, Williams is in the most optimum shape among an injury-riddled safety corps.

Safety Will Demps was scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery Thursday to repair a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He's out for the season.

Barring a game-time decision that allows Reed, who practiced for the second consecutive day, to return after missing the last six games, that probably means that Williams and Ward will be the primary safeties.

Nickel backs Dale Carter and Deion Sanders are the other options at safety along with 6-foot-2, 270-pound outside linebacker Adalius Thomas or linebacker Bart Scott.

"You could see three, maybe four different guys out there, but we'll get the job done and try to get this win," Williams said. "With the injuries, you should see a lot of me and B.J., but we may see Dale or Prime or a few other people at safety, too."

The Ravens could also employ a radical 4-4-1 alignment with one true safety as defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is preparing several different game plans depending on which personnel is available at kickoff.

"Ed moved through it particularly well," said Ravens coach Brian Billick, who estimated this may be as many game-time decisions on injured players as he's had to make in recent memory. "He was sore, but manageable."

Cornerback Chris McAlister, who's questionable with a sore hamstring and said he probably shouldn't have played last week in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, ruled out a suggestion that he could move inside to safety.

"If I'm able to go, it means I'm 100 percent healthy to go and I will be on an island," McAlister said.

QUICK HITS: Tight end Todd Heap (probable, foot) practiced, but middle linebacker Ray Lewis (questionable, thigh) and running back Chester Taylor (questionable, foot) didn't. It's unlikely that Lewis will play after missing the last five games. "He's having some people check it, and we'll see as we go forward," Billick said. … Offensive tackle Orlando Brown (questionable, back) remains questionable and will be a game-time decision. Asked if this was the kind of season Brown anticipated, Billick replied: "No, I don't think so, but that's the way it goes." … One day after Sanders' passionate defense of Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens, Billick said he had nothing to add: "The topic has been exhausted."

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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