Notebook: Rolle returns to practice
OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle practiced in full gear Wednesday for the first time since being sidelined with an undisclosed illness that briefly hospitalized him and kept him out of the past three games, expressing optimism that he might return Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Rolle declined to elaborate on an illness that sent him to the hospital for two days, citing privacy issues and that his wife, Danisha, preferred he not go into detail about what was bothering him. The medication he was prescribed for the ailment caused him to have a lethargic reaction and coordination problems. "Definitely just to wake up one morning and think you're going to work and end up in the hospital, it's scary," Rolle said. "The medication put me back a whole week because I didn't feel good and it made me feel worse. "Just to be able to put a helmet on and practice and not have any problems and be able to complete a practice, it's very gratifying. I appreciate football a whole lot and it's made me understand the game a lot more, the team, all 53 guys." Rolle said that his illness was never regarded as life-threatening. When asked if it involved brief memory loss, Rolle laughed and replied: "Quite possibly." Rolle hasn't practiced fully since Sept. 20, so even getting back on the field on a limited basis represents major progress. The former Pro Bowl selection would like to resume his starting role Sunday, but was noncommittal on whether he would be able to do so after missing the past three games. "It really depends on how I feel," Rolle said. "This is the first time in three weeks I've done anything, so we'll see how it goes. It's a day-by-day thing. I do feel a whole lot better, though." Rolle, who signed a six-year, $30.5 million contract in 2005, started 34 consecutive games through the second week of this season. He hadn't missed three games or more since 2004 when a knee injury forced him to miss the Tennessee Titans' final five games. Without Rolle, the Ravens have been starting Corey Ivy at cornerback opposite Chris McAlister. Ivy is expected to start again with Rolle getting acclimated again with some work in the nickel package. "Huge, the cascading effects we've talked about," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of the prospects of having Rolle back. "To have him back allows Corey to go back to the nickel spot, where he's so, so good. And the guys who had to step into that nickel role can now step back into their special-teams role." Meanwhile, Ivy, who has 16 tackles, two sacks, four pass deflections and one fumble recovery and forced fumble, will continue to prepare for either contingency plan. "I'm anticipating playing both," he said. "If he comes back, I'll go to my old position and do what I do. If he's not able to go, then I'll try to do better than I did last week. There's always room for improvement." INJURY UPDATE: Tight end Todd Heap (hamstring) returned to practice after missing Sunday's 9-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers and should start against St. Louis. "I'm feeling better," Heap said. "Practice went well, so this week's looking a lot better." Heap was limited in practice along with offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (turf toe), Rolle and linebacker Gary Stills (knee). Ogden acknowledged that if he doesn't play this week then he probably won't return until after the Ravens' bye in two weeks. "It's nothing I can put a finger on," Ogden said. "If I don't go this week, then it would make sense to wait until after the bye. No matter what I'm going to try to get back after the bye. I've got to try to do something." Offensive tackle Adam Terry (sprained left ankle) is off crutches, but isn't expected to play this week with rookie Jared Gaither preparing for his first NFL start. That means three rookies -- Gaither, right guard Ben Grubbs and right tackle Marshal Yanda -- would start upfront. "Adam Terry obviously is going to be the most questionable," Billick said. Also not practicing center Mike Flynn (right knee sprain), meaning Chris Chester is going to start again at center, tight end Daniel Wilcox (toe) and wide receiver Derrick Mason (illness). In graphic fashion, Billick described Mason's stomach problems. Defensive end Trevor Pryce (broken wrist) remains out. The Rams are even more banged-up with offensive tackle Orlando Pace out for the season, and running back Steven Jackson (groin) expected to miss this game along with quarterback Marc Bulger (broken ribs). Wide receivers Torry Holt (knee), Isaac Bruce (hamstring) and Dante Hall (ankle) didn't practice. QUICK HITS: The Ravens can win their 100th game in franchise history Sunday against St. Louis. … Safety Ed Reed has 30 interceptions in 79 career games. … Matt Stover hasn't missed an extra point since 1996, a streak of 329 that ranks third in NFL history. ... The Ravens signed wide receiver Matt Willis (UCLA) and offensive lineman Brandon Torrey (Howard) to the practice squad. Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.
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