Billick will remain as the play-caller

OWINGS MILLS -- Regardless of whether the Baltimore Ravens choose to go with Steve McNair or Kyle Boller as their starting quarterback, one major change is not on the horizon. Ravens coach Brian Billick insisted Monday that he will remain the play-caller, acting as his own offensive coordinator for the NFL's 23rd-ranked offense.

Despite a three-game losing streak and general downward spiral that ranks Baltimore (4-5) in third place in the AFC North after winning the division a year ago, Billick will continue to design and orchestrate the game plan.

"Yeah, that's my plan right now," Billick said. "That will be under constant review by me. That's my obligation.

"If the first inkling that I get that there's a better way to go about it, I'll make that change in a New York second. I'm going to put this team in the very best position I can as the head coach each and every Sunday as we go forward."

Fan and player discontent has been rising steadily as the Ravens have lost all four division contests by a combined score of 103-47. The Ravens have committed 10 turnovers over the past two games, being outscored 59-14.

"Our fans deserve better than what they saw," Billick said. "We've got to find a way to not turn the ball over and leave ourselves vulnerable that way. Not that in and of itself is the only answer. It is not, but that is job one right now."

Billick admitted being acutely aware of the rancor from the fans, who expressed their disapproval during Sunday's 21-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals with a mass exodus from M&T Bank Stadium after constantly booing the offense.

There might not be a worse case of fan disconnect during Billick's nine-year tenure.

"If there was, it certainly doesn't feel that way right now," Billick said. "I understand that, I appreciate that. We need to give our fans better play.

"I'm very, very much aware of that and want very much for the fans to get a better return on their time and energies than they are getting right now."

Billick said he wasn't worried about players shutting it down for the season with the playoffs likely out of their grasp in terms of injured players no longer trying to get back on the field. He gave the players off from meetings Monday.

Getting a handle on the emotions of the locker room is another priority for Billick, who is expected to meet with several key veteran players.

"I don't know that I could characterize the players' emotional state," Billick said. "I have a lot of faith in this team and their ability to deal with their emotions. I trust this team very much, but I can't say I can speak to it right now. There again, need a little more information."

INJURY UPDATE: Tight end Todd Heap aggravated his strained hamstring against the Bengals and is a question mark for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.

"It's been better," said Heap, who left the game in the third quarter and didn't return. "It's been hampering me for a while. It's definitely something that's frustrating and something I haven't dealt with before.

"I don't know what to expect from it. I'm just trying to do everything I can to get back as soon as possible."

Wide receiver Demetrius Williams is on crutches after suffering a high-ankle sprain, an injury that forced Devard Darling into the lineup. Rookie linebacker Prescott Burgess aggravated his left quadriceps injury.

Billick was uncertain if cornerback Chris McAlister (knee strain) will return Sunday.

Cornerback Corey Ivy (concussion) is expected to be back this week.

"He was moving around pretty good the latter part of last week," Billick said. "We'll see what this week brings."

Billick was noncommittal when asked if cornerback Samari Rolle (undisclosed illness) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained toe) are about to be placed on injured reserve.

"Not necessarily," he said.

QUICK HITS: Billick was complimentary of how safety Ed Reed played six days removed from a concussion and neck injury. "For Ed Reed to go out and play the way he did, I didn't think he could impress me more than he already has in his career," he said. "It was clearly his choice to go out and play because we had done all the appropriate things medically to make sure the player is not at risk, for Ed Reed to put himself out there because of his commitment to this organization and his teammates, was inspiring to me." ...

Billick expressed public condolences to 49ers coach Mike Nolan, the former Baltimore defensive coordinator whose father, Dick Nolan, died Sunday. "His dad is one of those people why you get into the business," Billick said. "I'm very fortunate to have been able to spend some time with Dick because of Mike. Obviously, our hearts and prayers go out to Dick's family." ...

With eight receptions for 107 yards, wide receiver Mark Clayton moved into eighth-place on the Ravens' all-time receiving yardage and receptions list. With 136 career catches and 1,682 yards, he eclipsed wide receiver Jermaine Lewis and tight end Shannon Sharpe. It was the sixth 100-yard receiving game of his career. "You've got to leave it on the field," Clayton said. "It's not easy. Nobody likes losing." Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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