Ravens' blockers shorthanded again

OWINGS MILLS -- As the Baltimore Ravens' injury-riddled offensive line hustled through drills today (Thursday) inside their indoor training facility, a television reporter stood a few feet away and described them as a makeshift unit while the camera whirred.

Although offensive tackle Tony Pashos bristled slightly when he overheard the description, it was an accurate statement.

The banged-up blockers will have to contend with the Denver Broncos' athletic defense on Sunday at Invesco Field, and the line could be shorthanded by as many as three to four starters.

Right guard Keydrick Vincent (thigh) was ruled out Thursday and right tackle Orlando Brown (back) was downgraded to doubtful. Brian Rimpf and Pashos will start again on the right side.

"I can't talk about it," Vincent said. "Ask the coach."

Meanwhile, left guard Edwin Mulitalo's knee remains a concern and he's listed as questionable.

All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden isn't on the injury report after missing almost all of last week's 16-15 win over the Houston Texans with a hamstring problem. Of course, it could flare up again.

If Mulitalo can't play, the Ravens would have to start rookie Jason Brown. If Ogden's hamstring can't hold up, then rookie Adam Terry would be inserted after allowing two sacks in his NFL debut last week.

Even center Mike Flynn (hip) is probable. Either Brown or Flynn could play guard, but it would likely be Brown to maintain continuity with quarterback Kyle Boller on snaps.

The Ravens have nine offensive linemen on the roster, and they may need most of them against Denver.

"We're having to use a lot of people on the offensive line right now in a lot of different positions," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

ROSTER MOVES: With middle linebacker Ray Lewis officially placed on injured reserve Thursday after undergoing successful season-ending surgery to repair his torn right hamstring, it opened up a roster spot for reserve quarterback Brian St. Pierre.

St. Pierre, who showed loyalty to Baltimore early in the season when he had a chance to leave the practice squad and rejoin the Pittsburgh Steelers' active roster, was rewarded with a promotion.

He'll earn a significantly higher weekly salary, and he'll get a chance to suit up as the third quarterback. Plus, he'll likely be invited to training camp next summer.

"They told me early on they wanted to bring me up at some point and they held true to their word, which is refreshing and appreciated," St. Pierre said. "It worked out good for me. I was looking for a fresh start, and I got it here.

"The money wasn't the biggest part of it for me. Hopefully, I have a future here. I would love to be here."

The Ravens signed rookie linebacker Zac Woodfin (Alabama-Birmingham) to the practice squad.

TRAINING ROOM: The initial prognosis for Lewis is he'll need two to three months to recover from surgery, which would make him available for minicamps.

"It looks very promising in that regard," Billick said.

Defensive end Tony Weaver, who remains doubtful with a back injury, might play again this year. Billick said earlier this week that Weaver could possibly be placed on injured reserve.

"It sounds like it maybe is not as serious and there is a reasonable chance he could be back," Billick said.

Cornerback Chris McAlister (questionable, hamstring) didn't practice along with Vincent and Brown.

QUICK HITS: In six starts, outside linebacker Bart Scott ranks third on the team with 75 tackles and second with 4 ½ sacks. That kind of productivity is likely to earn the impending free agent some interest on the open market. "With the amount of time he's played, I don't think anybody would have any qualifications of, ‘Geez, is he a starter?'" Billick said. "I think he's played enough that he's verified that. Bart's always had the ability. Bart's like a wild stallion. He's all over the place, but he's developed that focus and discipline that position needs." … Visiting the thin atmosphere of the Mile High City where the Broncos haven't lost a December home game since 1999, the Ravens are reminding their players that the higher altitude will be an adjustment to their breathing. "Some of them in pregame are going to be sucking air and it's going to shock some of them who have not done that before," Billick said. "You got to school them up to make sure they know that, ‘You're not dying. Relax. Get a little oxygen. Slow down, pace yourself.' You got to get that aerobic process cranked up."

 

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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