Notebook: Dilfer still angry at Billick

OWINGS MILLS -- The icy relationship between Trent Dilfer and Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick has yet to thaw, at least not as far as Dilfer is concerned. Dilfer, who was replaced under center by Elvis Grbac in Baltimore after quarterbacking a defensive-dominated 2000 team to a Super Bowl title, has reiterated that he remains extremely bitter about a decision that he blames Billick for.

The popular former Ravens starter has even said that he has no plans to speak to Billick ever again.

Now, Dilfer is about to face his old team Sunday as he steps in for injured San Francisco 49ers starter Alex Smith.

"It's regrettable," Billick said Monday. "I have huge respect for Trent. I can understand why this is something that he doesn't want to let go. I don't know if there is anything that I'm ever going to be able to say or do to rectify it."

Dilfer's chief lament was not being given the opportunity to try to repeat as the leader of a championship team as Baltimore's front office decided to go with Grbac, a former Pro Bowl quarterback who washed out after one disastrous season with the Ravens and retired rather than accept a paycut demand.

The decision to replace Dilfer, who went 11-1 after replacing Tony Banks, was made by the entire leadership structure of the organization during personnel meetings led by general manager Ozzie Newsome.

Still, Dilfer's anger has been directed primarily at Billick. Dilfer has also said that he got the bad news about losing his job initially from former offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh.

"He's very focused on me in that regard as opposed to what we did organizationally," Billick said. "And maybe that's the way it should be anyway because I know he still holds a fond regard for the organization and a lot of people in the organization. If his feelings about me isolates it to where he can feel good about them, then that's OK."

INJURY UPDATE: Tight end Todd Heap's hamstring injury is regarded as the most serious one from Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

His status for the 49ers game remains unclear.

"It's a lower hamstring, which is good," Billick said. "High hamstring injuries are ones that can linger for a while, so we'll see how it progresses."

With tight end Daniel Wilcox having injured his toe, although Billick stressed that it's not a turf toe, second-year pro Quinn Sypniewski, who caught a touchdown and six passes Sunday, is the only healthy tight end on the active roster. The Ravens have 6-foot-6, 275-pound tight end Lee Evans, a converted defensive lineman, on the practice squad.

"You've only got three and two are down, it's a tough one," Billick said. "Quinn Sypniewski did a great job stepping in and filling a role that he's not particularly used to."

Billick expressed optimism that cornerback Samari Rolle, who has missed the past two games with an undisclosed illness, could return this week.

"I'm hopeful that he will," Billick said.

Return specialist Yamon Figurs, who fumbled Sunday, is recovering from a shoulder stinger. Center Mike Flynn has a leg contusion that's not considered to be serious.

RED-FLAG REDUX: Billick defended his late throw of a red flag to challenge whether running back Jamal Lewis had broken the plane of the end zone on a disputed 1-yard touchdown run, saying he didn't get the proper information from the coaches' booth in time.

"You get the images from upstairs when you get them," Billick said. "You get the information as quickly as you can, and I get the flag out as quickly as I can. The mechanism is there. It's not perfect.

"It was late, I realize that. I would like for them to have seen it and there's a guy on the back end that's supposed to see it, but it's imperfect. It really is a guess at times."

Billick said he isn't even certain that an instant-replay challenge would have been successful, but the Ravens will never know because the coach threw the flag after the football had been snapped for kicker Phil Dawson's extra point.

"Was Jamal going over?" Billick said. "No one really knows because the angles are inconclusive. I've read and heard that clearly he didn't break the plane. My hunch is that had we even reviewed it and they saw the same things you saw, they would say it's inconclusive.

"When you challenge it, it really is a guess. I wish it was more scientific than that. What I saw on the big screen, what they saw up in the booth, we have no idea whether the officials are going to see that view or not."

FAMILIAR FACES: Playing against Dilfer and 49ers coach Mike Nolan (a former Ravens defensive coordinator) marks two consecutive weeks where the Ravens are competing with former players and coaches.

Against the Browns, it was Lewis, quarterback Derek Anderson, tight end Darnell Dinkins, punter Dave Zastudil and general manager Phil Savage.

"It's like competing against your brother," Billick said. "You always want to beat your brother."

QUICK HIT: With 33 receptions, wide receiver Derrick Mason is tied for the NFL lead with San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.

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

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