Notebook: R. Lewis calls out McAlister

OWINGS MILLS -- Ray Lewis hasn't confined his critical gaze toward the Baltimore Ravens' defensive scheme. The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year took a shot at Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister for allowing a 78-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards during the Ravens' 27-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

"Bottom line, what I'm talking about, is just stop giving people stuff," Lewis said. "Just make people earn everything because that's our reputation. Nothing's free in this league.

"When you have people running down the field wide open, my little boy told me he could hit that pass to Braylon Edwards. There are things that you don't want to happen, bottom line."

The Ravens rank 10th in total defense, second against the pass, but have surrendered seven touchdown passes and intercepted just two passes. Lewis said the breakdowns can't be attributed to alignment alone.

"Bottom line, it's never a scheme when somebody's running wide open down the field," Lewis said. "That's somebody doing something they are not supposed to be doing. That's what I'm saying.

"Get it out of the way now because when you come to November and December, you can't have these same mistakes. There's nobody running free. Nothing's free in this league, so let's not make it free."

McAlister bit on an inside fake by Edwards, who easily bolted upfield on a lob pass from Derek Anderson for the score.

Other than that play, though, McAlister has been having a stellar season. Most quarterbacks avoid his side of the field.

"That's what you sign up for when you're a cornerback and you're out there on the island," McAlister said. "There isn't a cornerback in the league who hasn't been burned. Nobody is harping on it around here. That's the good thing."

BILLICK REACTS: In the wake of Trent Dilfer's public apology Wednesday for the bitterness he had harbored for six years toward Brian Billick since he wasn't retained after the team's Super Bowl title, the Ravens coach expressed appreciation of the quarterback's mea culpa.

Dilfer will start against Baltimore for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and plans to meet with Billick.

"It's a tough situation and you kind of hoped that we could get to that point," Billick said. "It's been one of those things in my career that's been hard personally to deal with because of the disappointments that you have to deal with and because of the business side. "I've said it a thousand times: 'Just business,' dehumanizes it. I'm very appreciative of Trent reaching out that way. I'm very much looking forward to visiting him on Sunday."

MAKING CORRECTIONS: Matt Stover doesn't have many weeks like this one.

The veteran kicker hadn't missed multiple field goals in a game since the 2005 season when he went 0-for-3 in a game. After missing two wide of the right upright against the Browns, Stover has spent this week analyzing what went wrong.

"I understand what I have to do to make those adjustments," he said. "I made them on the field, it went real well and I went 4-for-4. "I plan on doing the same thing so when we get to San Francisco, I'll have the confidence and swing down perfect. Why did it happen? Different conditions, different things. I didn't handle it well and I missed them."

INJURY UPDATE: Billick said that linebacker Dan Cody, who's on the physically unable to perform list, following offseason knee surgery, injured his foot.

"We'll make it clear what it is later on," Billick said.

Wide receiver Derrick Mason (knee) was downgraded on the injury report. He didn't practice Thursday after participating on a limited basis Wednesday.

Also not practicing: tight end Todd Heap (hamstring), cornerback Samari Rolle (undisclosed illness) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained toe).

Practicing on a limited basis: quarterback Steve McNair (groin), return specialist Yamon Figurs (shoulder stinger) and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (turf toe).

Linebacker Terrell Suggs (pink eye) practiced fully.

"It's all right, it's healing," Suggs said. When asked if the Browns' stadium could be blamed for his ailment, Suggs replied: "No, that's Bart, The Mad Backer's theory. I woke up one morning and I had it."

HIGH PRAISE: Billick was complimentary of two 49ers rookies that the Ravens spent time scouting, including offensive tackle Joe Staley.

The 49ers jumped ahead of Baltimore to draft Staley in the first round with the No. 28 overall selection.

The Ravens had planned to pick Staley, but wound up with Auburn offensive guard Ben Grubbs.

"We did covet him," Billick said. "We thought he was going to be an excellent lineman."

Billick also singled out middle linebacker Patrick Willis, the No. 11 overall pick from Ole Miss who has recorded a team-high 51 tackles.

"He's impressive athletically," Billick said. "We liked him out of the draft very, very much and I've seen nothing to dissuade that opinion of him. He's going to be an excellent middle linebacker for a long time."

QUICK HITS: 49ers coach Mike Nolan praised former University of Maryland quarterback Shaun Hill, who will back up Dilfer on Sunday. "He's a very knowledgeable guy," Nolan said in a conference call. "He's probably as instinctive of a quarterback as we have here. He's got good talent. If he had to go into a game, I'd feel confident that he'd do a good job." ... The Ravens will maintain their schedule on Eastern Standard Time, Billick's usual custom for West Coast trips. The team will leave Baltimore today. "Six o'clock is nine o'clock," Billick said. "Nine o'clock at night curfew, that's midnight. You ought to be tired and in bed by midnight. That's what your body's going to say." ... Heap pledged $1 million for a new pediatric center at Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore County. The Todd Heap Family Pediatric Center will be part of a planned seven-story patient care tower. The donation will be recognized Oct. 10 at the groundbreaking. Heap and his wife, Ashley, have three children.

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

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