Ravens closing in on full-strength

OWINGS MILLS -- In dire need of a silver lining after the Baltimore Ravens' sloppy and undisciplined loss to the Buffalo Bills, at least coach Brian Billick has designs on an almost completely healthy roster following the bye.

With the exception of tight end Daniel Wilcox due to a nagging sprained toe and other injuries, Billick said that he expects to have every player available for a pivotal Nov. 5 road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That includes starting quarterback Steve McNair, who missed Sunday's 19-14 loss to the Bills with a back injury.

"I think we're where we hoped we would be in terms of his health going into Pittsburgh," Billick said. "I have nothing to lead me to believe that he won't be as healthy and as fresh as when we started the season, which is kind of unique. His countenance was pretty good from the standpoint of I think he feels pretty good midway through the season."

Meanwhile, All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden emerged unscathed from his first action since the season-opener with no setbacks for his hyperextended left big toe. Ogden resembled his old self during a dozen snaps, walling off Bills Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel.

"He played well," Billick said. "As Jonathan said, 'I don't know if I could have gone the whole game,' but that has to do with being in playing shape. It wasn't the foot.

"That is encouraging for the Pittsburgh game. We got done what we needed to do in that regard."

Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister, who was sorely missed against Buffalo as wide receiver Lee Evans exploited Corey Ivy in single coverage, is expected to return against Pittsburgh after missing Sunday's game with a strained knee. McAlister is hopeful that this will be a short-term injury following speculation of him being out four to six weeks.

"Chris was very optimistic," Billick said. "Again, we'll see. It's the typical, 'I'll tell you after the first day of practice when we come back how the knee feels the next day.' Right now from a medical standpoint, he seems to be clear for the game."

The Ravens are anticipating Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap returning after sitting out Sunday. Plus, Baltimore is counting on getting back offensive tackle Adam Terry (ankle), center Mike Flynn (knee) and defensive end Trevor Pryce (broken wrist).

Tight end Quinn Sypniewski, who felt woozy after the game, is scheduled to have his knee examined.

"He took a little bit of a tweak," Billick said. "I don't know the extent of it. That prognosis seems good, but we'll have to wait and see."

Because of Wilcox continuing to be sidelined, he's a potential injured-reserve candidate as the team might need his roster spot.

"The Pittsburgh game will put us right on that outer edge that we'll have to see: 'Has he made the progress we think he can and is therefore worth holding onto it?'" Billick said. "Or do the doctors tell us, 'No, you're still another couple weeks out.' Then, we'd have to think about that."

DEHYDRATED: Billick suggested that running back Willis McGahee may have gotten caught up in the moment of playing against his old team.

McGahee needed intravenous fluids due to dehydration and was limited toward the end of the game following his 46-yard touchdown run. He rushed for a season-high 114 yards.

"He was just playing hard," Billick said. "Was the emotion of the game getting to him as well? Why he particularly needed an IV compared to the others, it wasn't a particularly hot day, I don't know if I can answer that medically as to why he needed that."

EVALUATION: Backup quarterback Kyle Boller completed 21 of 36 passes for 191 yards, one touchdown and one interception for an 82.1 rating.

However, he misfired on two of his six final throws after a 15-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason, including three consecutive incompletions during the Ravens' final drive.

Although sacked once, he was pressured consistently and often reverted to throwing off his back foot.

"When you look at the film and you look at the circumstances Kyle played with and the pressure he was under in a number of instances because of the young line, you can't help but come away feeling that Kyle played very, very well," Billick said. "Made a couple of incredible, incredible throws with guys right in his face. Not perfect, obviously things that could've been better. He played very, very well in my opinion."

SHAKY: Rookie return specialist Yamon Figurs mishandled two kickoffs with one caroming into the hands of running back Mike Anderson. He was replaced on punt returns by safety Ed Reed.

Afterward, Figurs said he needs to concentrate more.

"I just need to play better," Figurs said. "I need to think about ball security first instead of thinking about trying to make something happen."

Billick defended Figurs, mentioning the wind and sun as factors in his poor outing.

"He's a young man that's learning with every game what it is to be a professional week in and week out," Billick said of the third-round pick from Kansas State. "He will get there. I have no doubt in my mind, but he has to stiffen a little bit in terms of his resolve and his mental toughness in tough situations."

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

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