Barnes: 'That's just football'

WESTMINSTER -- Baltimore Ravens rookie outside linebacker Antwan Barnes is puzzled by his repeated bouts with ankle sprains, concerned enough that he underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam Thursday in a search for answers.

Barnes, who didn't practice after aggravating a previous sprained right ankle Wednesday afternoon, was awaiting results of the test following the Ravens' second practice at McDaniel College. It's unclear if he'll be available to play Sunday night against the New York Giants.

"I was just worried because I had that pain and it was the same pain from before," said Barnes, a fourth-round draft pick. "I want to know what's going on with it. Why is it hurting? I probably just broke up some tissue.

"It's pretty tough on me. I just need to calm down. I want to be practicing. You want to show the team what you've got, but you have to think about the future. Hopefully, I'll get to play Sunday."

Team officials downplayed the notion that Barnes' injury might be a serious one.

"I think we're OK," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It's not my ankle, so it's easy to say it's not more serious."

Barnes said his ankle felt much better, though, as he was able to do some light jogging and backpedaling with his ankle wrapped up. He said he doesn't have a history of ankle injuries during high school or at Florida International.

"I have no idea why this is happening," Barnes said. "It's crazy."

When it was suggested to Barnes that he might want to take some time off for his ankle to fully recuperate in order to be ready for the season, he wasn't opposed to the idea.

"I would have to go with a good decision," Barnes said. "What I want to do is get ready for the season. The coaches already know what I can do. If I have to sit down, I'll sit down."

STORMY WEATHER: Heavy thunderstorms forced the Ravens off the field Thursday morning nearly an hour before practice was scheduled to end.

The team considered moving the afternoon practice indoors to its Owings Mills training complex, ultimately opting to keep practice in Westminster after the weather cleared up.

"We'll get caught up," Billick said. "We'll make this up."

INJURY UPDATE: Nose guard Kelly Gregg might be ready to play against the Giants, but he might be held out as a precautionary measure.

Gregg, who has missed the majority of training camp with a right thigh bruise and a knee injury, increased his activity to include hitting the blocking sled.

"Kelly could go, but we're just being prudent with it," Billick said.

Gregg was noncommittal on whether he's going to play.

"I'm getting there," he said. "I wouldn't rule it out."

Reserve offensive lineman Steve Edwards incurred a major knee injury against Philadelphia, which could prompt the team to have to make a decision about his future.

"He's got a serious knee injury and we're determining what to do about it," Billick said.

Right guard Chris Chester didn't practice with a sprained foot for the second consecutive day, increasing the likelihood that rookie first-round pick Ben Grubbs could make his first NFL start Sunday against the Giants.

With Chester out, left guard Jason Brown filled in as the team's second-string center.

Tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained left ankle) and running back P. J. Daniels (hamstring) didn't practice.

'THAT'S FOOTBALL': Barnes has no regrets about his oft-replayed hit on Eagles punter Sav Rocca, a shot that drew heavy criticism from former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese during the NFC East champions' in-house broadcast.

"That's a cheap shot," Reese said. "That's unnecessary. You don't take shots at kickers. That's garbage."

Barnes, who met Reese in high school growing up in Miami, called the retired player "a really good guy," while insisting that he wouldn't change his aggressive approach toward special teams.

Rocca's helmet flew off, but the 6-foot-4, 265-pound former Australian rules football star was unhurt.

"That's football," Barnes said ."You're trying to tackle somebody so I'm going to block you. I apologize if I hurt him or shook him up. He is bigger than me. To Ike Reese, I say, 'Hey, how you doing? That's football.'"

QUICK HITS: Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata had a shoe-string interception of a deflected Troy Smith pass batted out of the air by linebacker Jarret Johnson. ... Drew Olson, who's battling with Smith for the third-string quarterback position, was intercepted by cornerback Chris McAlister on an errant throw intended for Matt Willis. ... Matt Stover connected on a 37-yard field goal just as the rain began to soak the field. ... Shortly after the Ravens completed their afternoon practice at Bair Stadium, the McDaniel College football team took the field.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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