O. Brown placed on injured reserve

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown's season officially ended Friday as he was placed on injured reserve because of recurring back problems suffered in a minor car accident. Brown had missed the past three games since his Mercedes-Benz was rear-ended on his way to work at the team's training complex nearly a month ago.

"Unfortunately for Orlando, this accident he had started him on a cycle with his back spasms and compounded his lack of ability really to train and rehab the things he's been fighting all year long with regards to knees, quads," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I hate to make the move, but Orlando understands that's what we need to do and, hopefully, his presence still being around will help us out."

The 6-foot-7, 360-pound Brown is in his 10th season in the NFL, and he turned 35 last month. He has started nine games this season, but always rotated with Tony Pashos. Pashos will start again Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

Brown received a multi-million dollar, confidential settlement from the NFL stemming from a lawsuit he filed for an eye injury incurred in a bizarre penalty flag incident where he was hit with an official's flag when he was with the Cleveland Browns. Nicknamed "Zeus," the imposing veteran returned from a three-year hiatus in 2003 and regained his reputation as an intimidating, albeit penalty-prone blocker.

Brown, who entered the league undrafted out of South Carolina State in 1993 with the Browns, will be faced with the offseason decision of whether to retire or attempt another comeback.

"He's got to look at what he wants to do," Billick said. "We'll support him in whatever way we can, give him whatever advice we can. Of course, we're going to do right by him, but, yeah, he's got some decisions to make."

Brown was unavailable for comment.

"He's a warrior," left guard Edwin Mulitalo said. "We're definitely going to miss him."

Brown's vacated roster spot was filled by center-guard Thatcher Szalay, a 6-4, 303-pounder who was released Sept. 3 after spending last year on the practice squad.

WATCH OUT: Hard-hitting Broncos safety John Lynch is one of the most intimidating enforcers in the league. And he's highly protective of what he considers his territory: the middle of the field.

Lynch was fined $75,000 for a huge hit on Colts tight end Dallas Clark last season, and he narrowly escaped a fine this week for helmet-to-helmet contact with Chiefs receiver Eddie Kennison.

"Hitting is what he's known for doing, that's what he's done for a long time," rookie receiver Mark Clayton said. "Getting hit is part of football, and you've got to do your job. I'm looking to make plays against him."

FIRST IN PENALTIES: The Ravens have committed a league-high 114 penalties for 877 lost yards, one ahead of the Oakland Raiders' total. Being flagged a franchise-record 21 times in a loss to the Detroit Lions raised questions about the team's discipline.

"The penalty thing, it is so hard to address sometimes," Billick said. "You have some young guys who got into situations the other day where sometimes you think you can get away with it and sometimes not."

QUICK HITS: When asked if embattled starter Kyle Boller is the ultimate answer at quarterback, safety Ed Reed replied: "He's our quarterback. He still has a lot to learn, just like all of us in this league. There's very little patience in this world and the NFL for the success or non-success rate at this position. All you can do is continue to encourage him."… Reed offered this insight on linebacker Ray Lewis' decision to have season-ending surgery on his hamstring. "Me and Ray were shooting to get back for the Houston game, come to find out he didn't realize it was that bad until the last couple of weeks," Reed said. … Deion Sanders turned 38 this summer, but has managed to remain fairly healthy despite increased playing time. "Those little guys if they can just stay slim, they can run until they're 45," Broncos defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban said. … Billick hinted that running back Jamal Lewis might be retained for 2006. "Is he indeed on that kind of cycle where we can anticipate a 2006 much like we did the 2003 season, but that's part of the analysis we'll make in the offseason," Billick said. … With Mulitalo questionable with a sore knee, rookie Jason Brown is the emergency starter. "It's 50-50 on Edwin's knee, and I have been getting a lot of preparation for this game at center and guard," Brown said. "I'm not as nervous and anxious as I would have been early in the season."

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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